Van Nuys: September 21, 1960


Among the stranger aspects of modern American life is that we have gotten over old 1950s fears (Communists, homosexuals, fluoridated water, rock and roll) but have now supplanted new, sometimes exaggerated terrors to replace the old ones.

The above photograph by George Brich (LAPL) was published in the Valley Times on September 21, 1960 and read, “Jeanne Avery, 15, 14155 Cohasset St., Van Nuys, adds to the view along palm-lined Van Nuys boulevard, community’s main business street. The community is the largest in the Valley.” Van Nuys is nearing its 50-year anniversary and is being celebrated as one of the most beautiful and productive cities in the Valley.”

Can you imagine the outcry in 2016 if an adult male photographed a 15-year-old girl on the street and published her name and address in the LA Times?

“Thank you George Brich for violating my daughter’s privacy! Now every crazy pervert in the world will know where she lives!”

“This is completely wrong. No young woman, no matter how attractive should be photographed by a stranger and have her address published in the paper!”

In 1960, America had a benevolent and innocent view of itself. It was considered an honor for a teenage student to be photographed in the local paper. And nobody meant anything ironic in describing Van Nuys as “one of the most beautiful and productive cities in the Valley.”

In 2016, the average American, the average person living in Van Nuys is probably photographed hundreds of times a day, in security camera videos, in mobile phone images, waiting in a car at a red light, filling up for gas, withdrawing money at the ATM, driving through McDonalds, or stopping to shop at Target.

But the intentional photograph by camera on a public street has now become a provocative act. Its artfulness, its quirkiness, its freedom has been put on probation. Public photography itself is now under suspicion.An art form and a means of communication has volunteered to restrain and censor itself. Even when no law has been broken, and no privacy invaded. And this in itself is irrational and a denial of our American way of life.

There is nothing against the law in taking a photo of a person on a public street. You don’t need their permission.

They understood that in 1960.


8 thoughts on “Van Nuys: September 21, 1960

  1. Randy, if the place you spelled as “Entre’s” was a cafeteria, you may be thinking of Ontra. It was on Van Nuys Boulevard around the area you mentioned. I think it was on the east side of the street. My family used to eat there periodically.


    1. Hmmm.. Ontra’s perhaps? Could’ve sworn it had an ‘s’ at the end! Wasn’t sure of the spelling– only that it was pronounced ‘ontrays’, so you might be right! LOL! Remember Otto’s Pink Pig? You know, it’s been gone for 30’ish years and the building is still there just as it was (or at least it was the last time I noticed), never had anything else there. My dad worked there as a chef in its hey-day! He also worked at a place in Toluca Lake called Alphonse’s, ( not sure of that spelling) which was a big deal then, and he’d make chef salads for Bob Hope! Also the Smokehouse which I believe still exists! And who could forget Farrells? The best Farrells EVER!! Man, I could go on and on! So much fun to think of these things with you guys! So do you remember Du Galleys? ( once again, not sure of the spelling! Been a long time, man!!) The Fox and Capri theaters, Pup ‘n’ Taco, Nina’ Subs, or Union Sub? Golfland, woo-hoo! Mind’s starting to click! Loving this!!


  2. Oh yeah! Butler Bros.! Totally remember that. Also Grants, where my mother actually worked as a girl for a while! Ha! And back in the day Heads’ & Highs’ when they had that big waterbed in back and all those velvet black-light posters! SO much shenanigans went down back there! Anyone remember that? Also does anyone remember a place called Du Gallys? Was a two story show place with so many strange, odd things you could never sell today like real elephant feet made into big ash trays, giraffe skins, bear skins and parts, etc., that’s now illegal and/or not politically correct! I’ll never forget that place, but I never come across anyone who remembers that these days!! Also, my family used to always go to a place called Entre’s ( not sure how to spell that). Was across from Bobs South of Burbank Bl. Family also always went to Sir Georges Smorgasbord and Copper Penny a lot. My uncle Paul used to own a little hole-in-the-wall diner just off VN Blvd. on Gilmore St. I think it was, across from the old JC Penneys. Known for their chili then. Don’t remember what it was called, and everyone in my family that remembered that is now dead except me. Just thought about that one! Man, I remember SO much from back in the day still!! Nice to talk about it and bring it to the front of my brain instead of keeping it hidden way back in my mind for so long!


  3. The view is from southwest corner of Kittridge and Van Nuys Bl.–looking north on Van Nuys Bl.

    The sign for Butler Brothers–Van Nuys’ premier department store is where Deardens now is.

    Remember the lineup of stores from south to north?

    Butler Brothers
    The pharmacy w a palm courtyard
    The Swedish smorgasbord
    (In the ’50’s a restaurant w trains for kiddie birthday parties)
    Von’s market
    Harris and Frank clothiers
    Thrifty Drugs

    Takes me back to remember–


      1. And next to pharmacy(Horton and Converse. Still remember that!)was Kinney Shoes, though not sure if was there in ’50’s; only know was there in ’60’s & ’70’s(possibly replaced the smorgasbord?). There was also McMahans Furniture, which was next to Harris & Frank, if I remember correctly.


    1. The place you described as the “50’s restaurant w trains for kiddie birthday parties” was The Choo Choo Burger. There was a long U-shaped counter where people sat and on the other side of the wall was the kitchen and there was a model railroad that ran along the U-shaped counter, then through a little hole in the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining area…a tunnel. The kitchen employees put the food on flat cars on the train and sent it through the “tunnel” and onto the counter. The food-loaded train would stop in front of where the people were sitting who ordered the food. The plates would be taken off the train and it would continue on its journey around the long counter top and back into the kitchen. I loved that place!


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