Mementos From a 1950s Girlhood in Van Nuys

Anne Clark Seidel (1936-2018) was born in Ft. Smith, AR and moved with her parents to Los Angeles in 1942.  The family owned a house at 14936 Camarillo in Sherman Oaks where Anne grew up. 

An obituary from 2018 summarized her life.

Her son, Dave Cox, is a vintage dealer of antiques, cameras, and thrift store items and now lives in Maine and Florida. He graduated from Valley College. He has a Flickr page which I found years ago and in it he has archived thousands of photos, including his mom’s scrapbooks from her days as a teenager in 1950s Van Nuys and greater Los Angeles. 

There is a lot to look at in the sentimental and wonderful notes, photographs and souvenirs she saved from that time.

These include: a 1955 Van Nuys High School Graduation Commencement, a 1950 award for “Am I My Brother’s Keeper” from B’nai Brith, her 1954 interim California Driver’s License, a “Grease Monkey’s” membership card from Van Nuys High School, a ticket from “Crew Cut and Curls” a musical comedy performed at VNHS, a typed up sheet of rah-rah yells from that school, and a May 27, 1953 poster from “The Man Who Came to Dinner” also performed by the Van Nuys High School Drama Department.

Anne had nicknames too: Butch, Clark, Corkey and Muggsy. Her 9/15/52 book cover is emblazoned with them. 

It was a corny time of ridiculous humor, intentionally juvenile, feather-brained, nitwit, amusingly dumb and G-rated, naughty jokes that would pass the test of censors.

“They do say,” John said, “that kisses are the language of love.” 

“Well speak up!”

There were heartfelt, self-correcting mottos Anne wanted to embody: 

When I have lost my temper, I have lost my reason too. I’m never proud of anything that angrily I do.

It was an era of apologies, given by children to adults, students to teachers. There was morality in movies and songs, and wrongdoing and scandal were wrong and scandalous. 

She had a crush on hazel-eyed, curly-haired Richard Walter Peck, 6’2, whose favorite foods included ham and eggs and minced meat pie and whose hobby was model airplanes. He drove a ’41 Buick and worked at Hammond Electronics in Studio City, CA.

There are clippings from newspapers with advertisements for stores in Van Nuys such as Ceil Miller at 15243 Victory Bl.(STate 07921) which sold dresses, suits and gifts; and the Ru-Mae Shoppe at 14511 Sylvan St. with plaid, print or plain short, long or sleeveless dresses.  

There was Easter at Central Christian Church on April 2, 1953 with cut out photos of Minister RL Pryor and Youth Director Daniel M. Immel. There is the 1956 Van Nuys Mirror paper with presidential candidates Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai E Stevenson as headliners, and another story explaining plans for the upcoming conversion of Birmingham Hospital into a Junior High School.

There was Johnson’s Ice Cream Store, newly located at 6127 Sepulveda Bl. in Valley Market Town which was next to the Sepulveda Drive-In Theater. All of this was on the site of our present day LA Fitness and Orange Line Metro (Keyes Storage) Parking Lot. 

Those days are full of colorful events: sports, theater, holidays, miniature golf, friends, clubs, work, and crushes. The times were rambunctious and goofy, young and exciting. 

And Van Nuys was its epicenter, it contained everything needed for a happy and fulfilling life, its promises were delivered in productivity, positivity, and personalities.

I will let the visuals speak for themselves. And show more of Anne Clark Seidel’s life in future posts. 

My gratitude and appreciation to Dave Cox for his permission to use these images from his mom’s life in this blog.

6 thoughts on “Mementos From a 1950s Girlhood in Van Nuys

  1. I lived in Van Nuys 1956-1969. The house was on Cohasset, south of the General Motors plant and separated only by a large farm, mostly corn, my first job; I hear that the farm has long since become an industrial park; too bad. Hazeltine, Fulton then Van Nuys High. Valley State at Northridge was rough so I left home and moved north. Mostly good memories, the Sirloin Burger, A and W Rootbeer, Palleys, little league, the bowling alley (Bowlerland?), and a ’65 Mustang. Simpler, slower times. More space, less concrete. Idealized, maybe a bit, but spend time searching for “vintage” San Fernando Valley stuff.


  2. Who among us living now will leave a Treasure Box paper trail like this? We are everywhere digitally, but can be wiped from the collective memory at a keystroke.

    Liked by 1 person

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