Part Two of a chat between Avocado Memories' Wes Clark and Hal Lifson, author of Hal Lifson's 1966.
Hal Lifson, being the compleat repository of Sixties lore that he is, sent me a bunch of 1966 things to fire up dormant brain cells. Let's look at them.
1.) The Caravelle bar
Hal: The Caravelle bar was a favorite from Peter Paul; it is a sensational candy bar with Rice Krispies on it. They made the Almond Joy and Mounds bars (they still do).
Other candies I liked in the'60s:
Bag O' Gold: little pouch of gold colored bubble gum from Leaf candies.
Milk Shake Bar by Hollywood: there was also Hollywood Bread in the '60s… little small loaves.
Flicks in the tin foil paper tubes that were sold at movie theatres like the La Reina walk-in in Sherman Oaks where I saw the Batman feature film in 1966.
Adams sour fruit gums. Great flavors like sour strawberry and sour grape.
Wax skeletons on Halloween filled with Kool Aid.
Chocolate Babies by Heide, a politically incorrect candy that is now long gone.
I liked Jujyfruits too, once in a while (also made by Heide) but was worried about losing a molar, so I gave them up in the '70s.
Of course a really fresh Tootsie Roll is still good today.
I used to buy Razzles when they first appeared in the late 60's from the ice cream man.
Remember when the ice cream men in the Valley started using the old mail vans so they could have candy and gum...not just the refrigerated trucks that the Good Humor Man used to use where he would walk to the back of the truck to open the freezer?
Wes: Every now and then, just for a change, I'd buy some of those wax bottles filled with sweet liquid. On one scorching San Fernando Valley summer day in 1965 I ground one down onto a blacktop parking lot with my foot - that wax blob was there for years and years afterwards. (Occasionally I'd check.)
My favorite candy bar was Three Musketeers. My in-laws tell me that, before my time, this bar was so-called because there were three pieces covered in chocolate: one with a vanilla-flavored center, one with a strawberry center, one with a chocolate center. I don't know why they got away from that. I like it as a candy gimmick. But a similar idea was the Seven Up Bar, which I used to enjoy in or around 1966. (Could there actually have been seven pieces? I don't recall.) Each piece had a different flavored center.
2.) KHJ radio and the Boss Jocks
Wes: My dad used to watch the Real Don Steele show on KHJ every Saturday late afternoon. I wasn't interested, but would hang around to watch the part where he flung dancers onto the spotlight during a rendition of "Devil With a Blue Dress On." This was Dad's favorite part. Along with the rest of Los Angeles, I listened to the top ten hits of 1964 - nearly all by the Beatles - on KHJ from a tinny little transistor radio. My best friend Jimmy's sister Kathy, the president of the California Beatles fan club, borrowed my Candle transistor radio when she attended an arrival of the Beatles at LAX. She lost it. I have never forgiven her.
3.) Wham-O Water Wiggle
Wes: Didn't own one, mainly because we had a Sears Doughboy above-ground pool. I have some 8mm footage of me playing over a lawn sprinkler in my underwear, but this was in 1960.
4.) Wham-O Slip and Slide
Wes: Didn't own one of these for the same reason as above. But every now and then I saw kids playing on them, and had a sort of sense of being left out of the fun. I'm sure, if they could look at the big pool in our backyard, they'd feel the same way.
5.) Devonshire Downs concerts
Wes: Never attended one. I've heard of this place, but it was in another part of the San Fernando Valley from Burbank. Back when I was a kid, the earth was a far bigger place. Topanga Plaza seemed like the end of the world - "Here there be dragons."
6.) Valley Music Center concerts and production of The Wizard of Oz
7.) Cereals like Banana Wackies and Wheat Honeys with plastic dinosaurs
Wes: I do not recall those. 1965 introduced (for me, anyway) Capt. Crunch cereal. It was notable in that, as advertised, it stayed crunchy in milk. As not advertised, that same quality caused it to tear bits of flesh off the roof of one's mouth when chewing it. But I liked the taste and endured the discomfort. I got a kick out of the captain's voice and did imitations of him in the school yard.
Another cereal that caused me some discomfort - this time emotional - was Trix. The problem there for me was that the silly rabbit never got to eat any. Being a tender-hearted youth, this bothered me. I was heartened in later years when TV ads showed him occasionally getting some to eat. Why should animals suffer to give kids a sense of exclusivity?
8.) Dialing For Dollars on channel 13
Wes: By instinct, I think I was a young snob. But a snob trapped in a middle-class two-bedroom stucco house painted in avocado. I recall seeing Dialing for Dollars on channel 13, but thought, "Hmf. Low class." Come to think about it, I think I held that opinion of Channel 13 as well ("A Chris Craft Station" - What on earth was a "Chris Craft?").
9.) The Roller Derby LA Thunderbirds with announcer Dick Lane
Wes: Whoooooaaaaaaaaaa Nelly, do I have memories of this, but not from 1966. This "sport" peaked in about 1972/1973, when I used to watch it on Sunday nights on KTLA with my dreamy gal pal Angela. As she was persona non grata with my Mom for various reasons, my watching these games with her was spiced up by mom's disapproval. Angela's mom would fix us popcorn, which we'd throw at disliked New York Bombers players. (Always a thoughtful guest, I would clean the butter stains off the tube with glass cleaner afterwards.)
It seemed like dining out at a restaurant with Mom and Dad on Sunday nights would take forever before I was on my own time, heading up to Angela's on my bike.
Our favorite skaters on the L.A T-Birds were Ronnie "Psycho" Rains (who was something of a spiritual predecessor of wrestling's "Rowdy" Roddy Piper), Danny "Carrot Top" O'Reilly and Shirley Hardman - whom my Dad called "a tough case." In my high school French class I was required to script a dialogue with another classmate in French. I chose one of the countless semi-scripted argument/confrontation sessions between warring skaters. The pièce de resistance of my dialogue was my demanding "une match race" of my classmate. Poor French, perhaps, but it had the class howling.
10.) Baskin Robbins ice cream in '66
Wes: The one my dad and I haunted was run by the Ratners, a wonderful Jewish family. Their Baskin-Robbins store was near Zody's in Burbank. I remember the day I told Mama Ratner that I had enlisted in the Marine Corps - by the shocked look on her face you'd think I had told her I was convicted and had to report to a maximum security prison. But they were a warm, wonderful family. The daughter was a major babe with dark hair and green eyes. The son was a hipster who shared my enthusiasm for David Bowie's 1974 hit "Rebel Rebel." Dad Ratner was balding, and used to spray this black cover-up stuff on the back of his head - in addition to the most pronounced comb-over I have ever seen.
My favorite ice cream there was - and is - "Tin Roof." As I recall, I first tasted it in 1965. When I met the woman who is now my wife, however, she introduced me to Swenson's Swiss Orange Chip, which was wonderful.
But my favorite ice cream of all time was the Gilbert Brockmeyer's carob. It was one of the very first all-natural ice cream formulations - I think it hit the market in 1972 - and it was simply heavenly. But this isn't 1966 - I digress.
12.) Thrifty Drugs in 1966
Wes: Dad and I were Sav-On men. And, once again getting back to ice cream, I loved their cherry vanilla. It was during a Sunday afternoon visit to the Sav-On in the Burbank Golden Mall that I discovered Eden Gray's A Complete Guide to the Tarot paperback, which led me to investigate, for a time, the occult. Well, okay, OccultLite - after all, how spiritual could a thirteen-year-old get? But, once again, I digress. This was in 1968 or 1969.
I recall the bombastic Sav-On radio jingle, sung by a virile men's choir: Sav-On!/Sav-On!/Blah, blah, blah/It's fun to serve yourself and save/Sav-On drugstore!/Sav-On drugstore!/(Tympani strokes) BOOM! BOOM!/SAV-ON! For some reason I always had a mental image of wild, bare-chested men singing this while brandishing mortars and pestles.
(Note: Much more about Sav-On here.)