NOTE: Click on the appropriate links for letters archives from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1997 Also, various Avocado Memories reviews are here.
I stumbled on your page listing old vintage toys.
For some reason, I was remembering a toy my older brother got after going to the dentist.
I was curious if I could find any info on it. Sure enough, you had it listed. The old Kenner Airplane that stuck out of a car window. Not sure whatever happened to it, but I can vouch that there was at least one other person with it besides you, located in the bay area.
BTW, I also had that air gun with the Gorilla target. Your description made me laugh out loud. Really. You were spot on with the comment that the best use of the gun was to aim it at someone's ear. That was exactly what we did.
I also knew someone who had that radio rifle. I remember thinking how cool it was. He brought it to school one day and a teacher took it away. Not because it looked like a weapon, but because radios were not allowed at school. Times sure have changed.
Thanks for the toy info and the entertaining commentary.
Not sure the last time you were able to drive Coast Highway through Laguna, but the Pottery Shack is now a restaurant called Sapphire. I noted on your "what's new" Avocado Memories section that you'd added footage of the Pottery Shack in 1960. I first saw the greeter in 1965 and he scared the living daylights out of me.
I can snap a photo if you need an update. There was an elevated sign/figurine of the Laguna Beach Greeter and it is still in place.
Yes... my wife and I were sad to see the passing of the Pottery Shack some years ago. It was such an interesting store. I don't think an update is needed... it's rather depressing! - Wes
I came across the images for that copper-colored Mercury Capsule Bank, and there's a fact about that bank you might be interested about. In 1962, after John Glenn's flight, a lamp manufacturer bought ten thousand of them from the plastics manufacturer who injection-molded them. Seems they'd done business with them before, and someone at the lamp company got the great idea of using them as a sales gimmick on a "commemorative lamp." This was a simple brass rod lamp about 5' high fashioned so that when you bent the rod so that it sort of resembled a cent sign, you could punch a hole in the Mercury Bank, slide it up the rod, and the Capsule could sit inside the circle and spin around as if it were in orbit.
The bad news is that the lamps were crap, and would eventually break at the base. The good news is that when it did happen, Pop pulled the capsule off and gave it to me. The even better news is that the bank's base was only about 1/64th of an inch wider than the 1/48th scale Gemini capsule model, which meant it fit the retro section, and you had something new to frack around with when you decided your models were no fun just sitting there collecting dust!
Anyway, thought I'd pass that one on to you. We had a thread about that bank back in the early 00's on sci.space.history, but nobody ever came across a photo of one back then. Good to see I wasn't the *only* one who had one of these. Considering how thin the plastic was, and how it degraded over time, I was really surprised to see the base still on this one.
I can't believe that I have been reading Avocado Memories for thirteen years, I discovered AM back in 1999, and was so taken by the memories that came flooding back, I had to write to you way back then. What I really find interesting, is that I find that I return to AM a good number of times each year, checking in to see what new bits have been added, and re-reading favorite portions of your chronicle of a time that we shared, though on different ends of the country!
Today, I dropped by, and found your mention of the How and Why book of Planets and Interplanetary Travel - I had that book as a kid. Other books in the series that I had were Magnetism, Weather, Dinosaurs, Time, Electricity, and Atomic Energy (that book scared me for some reason - could it be that there was so much talk of the Cold War at the time? I guess that as a kid in the 60s, I was easily impressionable - I couldn't touch full color photos of insects while reading!) I wish that I had those books on my book shelves now - they were surprisingly gripping and educational.
What prompted me to visit AM a few minutes ago was because I was doing some Internet research on a chemistry-related kit that I used to enjoy, and I couldn't remember the name of the kit. I remembered that you had made mention of the Gilbert chemistry set (yes, I had that, too), and was hoping that there would be a notation about growing stalagmites that would jog my memory. A quick internet search provided the name of the kit - Magic Rocks - might you have had this little stalagmite growing kit back in the early to mid 60s?
Just thought that I would see if you remember having Magic Rocks as a kid. Keep the site additions coming, and do take care.
Thanks for the longtime readership!
Nope... never had Magic Rocks. It was inexpensive, but somehow that's a toy I was never interested in as a kid. Or if I had it it made no impression on me at all.
Thank you for the post and the history of the bellows table; I could not find anything by David Scher. I am happy to say that I have the other table which I bought at an estate sale in San Jose, California. I don't think it's the same one in the picture. Still in great shape, I was going to sell it but not anymore.
You have brought back many fond memories of my childhood along with a few pangs of jealousy. You seemed to have had every toy I did along with many I wanted, plus a bunch I never heard of. One toy you mentioned that you enjoyed and had not heard of another is one I have been trying to locate in my childhood home. One that I had not heard of another or even remembered the name of, till a Google search found me your blog. I remember on family car trips playing with the Kenner Car-Plane. Ours was red and yellow and I thought it had survived me and my two brothers, generally I got damaged by my brothers more than the toys when it was time for "MY TURN" shift changes at the window. But I can't find it and describing it to friends no none had ever heard of it. I now at least have a name and picture of one. I enjoy your blog and thanks for the memories,
You made my morning, Wes. I have wanted to see again the Space Map poster that I had as a kid growing up in Coos Bay, Oregon. What food for the imagination that was!
Just a little later in life, still in the Sixties I believe, I had a Viking ship toy that I'd like to see again but have not been able to track down. My memory is that it was about a foot long. The ship itself was brown plastic. It had a sail of the traditional Viking type. You could display it thus, but you could attach an orange weight to the underside, to stabilize it, and then play with it as a floating toy.
If you ever come across a picture of one of these, maybe you could let me know!
Thanks for the fun essays. I'll be revisiting your page.
I have been enjoying your website for at least 8 of your 15 years, maybe longer.
Thanks for the "memories" and for keeping it alive for your fellow boomers over the years. I always feel like we lived the same life, had the same toys, watched the same shows, etc. even though I grew up in the Philadelphia area and you were a California kid.
Now we are headed to Burbank area (actually Glendale) for about a month in July. My fifteen year-old daughter is an actress here in Chicago theatre and we are going to be out there so she can do a bunch of auditions, etc to get her face and resume into the hands of production companies in LA. We'll see what happens but it is a dream of hers so...off we go! I feel like I should swing by your old house while I'm there!
Well, again, thanks for the laughs and for sharing your memories.
Park Ridge, IL
Thanks, Jack! Hope your daughter does well in the auditions...
I'm not really sure of how I stumbled onto your website but I am sure glad that I did. Your Marine Corps stories were very interesting to me and I can relate to some of them because I served in the Marines from February 9, 1975 to March 10, 1979 and started boot camp at MCRD San Diego a month or so after you graduated.
I enlisted for four years under an open contract and I remember taking those tests you described during the first week or two and then having to go back and take some more tests. I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do and was ready to do whatever they decided was best for me. Just before graduation I was assigned the 5811 MOS which is a military policeman and after MP school at Fort Gordon, Georgia (Army Base) I was sent to Camp Lejeune, NC as a base MP and overall I really liked it. I ended up staying there until March 1979 when my enlistment was up.
After the military I went to college for four years and law enforcement turned out to be my career choice as I am currently a State Trooper for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and have been since 1986.
I just want to say that you are an excellent writer and I have really been enjoying looking over your website. Even though I have never met you in person I feel like I now know a lot about you and your family and where you grew up.
I think it is amazing how you have preserved the memories of your parents and your family and friends through all of the photos and stories that you so eloquently write about.
Wes, thank you very much for sharing your excellent and entertaining website and I still have a lot more of it to read which I am really looking forward to doing.
Jefferson City, MO
You may or may not remember having gotten an email from me. I wrote you a number of years back when I was stationed in Bosnia and it was one of those nightmarishly cold eastern European winters and I was alone and seeking solace on the web, searching for memories of a happy childhood that never existed and catching brief moments of respite when I could.
And I found Avocado Memories. Powerful stuff, to be sure. Wow--way. And I was looking at the site again, pleased and happy to see that it still exists. It is a bit of an oasis of sorts, and I get all sorts of ideas on decorating the dream home that I recently purchased for my wife and myself (without, of course, the garishness, or kitsch, or avocado... not that any of those things don't have their place --- but the 70's are, sadly, no more). And I just gotta say, thanks for keeping it going. Thanks for the documentation and the history... thank you, for the memories.
That being said, I just gotta know --- are you aware of what you had before it was gone, or did it just slip away really, as it seems to for so many of us?
Thanks for reading
Thank you for the kind words! As to whether or not I knew I had a sort of idyllic life when I was a youth, yes, there were times I suspected that this was the case. I recall one summer day in 1969 (I think it was) when Dad was in the pool and I was eating hot dogs and potato chips and gulping soda - I think we had friends over. The AM radio was playing, and I heard young men calling in to the station reporting their recently mailed draft numbers and asking the host if they were going to Vietnam. I reflected that life had become fearful for them - something that I was not at all experiencing on a nice summer day because I was only thirteen. I felt sheltered, as, indeed, I was.
Some years later, in 1972 or 1973, I was sitting by the pool on an equally pleasant summer's day, just before my parents and I planned to depart to have our usual Saturday dinner at Alfonses, elsewhere in the Valley (whether in North Hollywood or Burbank, I forget. The place was on Riverside Drive.) I was listening to a favorite classical piece playing over a radio, and can recall thinking how pleasant and more or less carefree life was just then.
As to pondering the time-sensitive nature of clothing, music or fashions - no. They just sort of came and went and it really didn't occur to me that in thirty or forty years these things would seem cherished in any way.
Now I'm at a point in my life where I look fondly back at raising my kids. Did I know that those days were special (even though tiring and hectic)? Yes, I did.
You may not believe this but, I was randomly looking through Google for images of Frankenstein (don't ask why) and as I scrolled down the image gallery, your picture with Jimmy comes up; you acting like Frankenstein with your arms extended. So I clicked on it and the link took me to your private website wesclark.com.
Hours later, I found myself looking at every picture, watching every 8mm video you posted on Youtube and reading every line about you and your family. You must have had a great childhood in California.
As I watched you video being narrated by you and your mom, I'm positive that I sense nostalgia in your voice, one that I envy a great deal. Having been an only child with two seemingly loving parents and a best friend name Jimmy and a future famous guitarist living on your property must have felt ideal. Hopefully Ethan enjoyed the same quality of childhood you had.
Congratulations to you and your wife on being grandparents. I spend my childhood in Haiti, and unfortunately it wasn't as nice as yours but as I look back, I cherish some great moments that I wish could have been recorded. But we were too poor and couldn't afford a camera to capture any of it. Through your videos, I was for a brief moment able to relieve some of the happier moments that play in my mind from time to time. May you and your family live and prosper. Thanks for posting all those amazing photos and videos.
I found a link to a selection of 1960's toys and followed the address back to your page as there was no contact info there. The main reason I was contacting you was on the copper colored Mercury capsule bank, made of blow molded plastic. I have one just like it, they were given out at one of our local banks when a parent opened a savings account for their child, most likely that's how you got yours, either your parents or grandparents opened a savings account in your name to start you on your way to learn about savings... I have had mine since about 1962 or 1963... hope this additional info is a help.
Sargent's: I can't believe I've tracked down someone from this little place. Back in the '60s I kept a horse in Burbank, Booth Stables, & a friend & i would go to Sargent's, split a sandwich just so we could have dessert. The only two I liked the best were the dark, dark chocolate pie & the incredible tapioca. I would kill to be able to replicate that pie. I make a flourless chococolate cake I call a "Heart Attack on a Plate," but that pie was to die for.
I remember people would stand in line outside just waiting for room to become available. What a great memory of a super little local eatery.
All the best,
I found your "Avocado Memories" page quite by accident, but have VERY much enjoyed looking over some of your reminiscences. You may find it interesting to know how I found you. I was scouring Google Images looking for a picture of the particular poster of the solar system that I had as a kid. It was tacked to my wall for years, and since I'm now writing a memoir about my experiences growing up, I wanted to see whether I might track down another poster like it, or at least a photo. I was amazed to see the JPG on your personal website, which is EXACTLY the same poster as I had, all those years ago.
I commend you on your work.
I just came upon your web site concerning the 20th while looking for info regarding this division.
My dad was in the 27th Tank Battalion (tank driver). I just spent several hours reading the letters that my dad had sent to my mom during the war. She had kept them in a shoe box, filed in order that they were written. It was an interesting read. I had known that these letters existed for many years, but I was asked (by my mom) not to read them until both my mom and dad were gone. Many funny stories were included in the letters, but very little of the bad stuff (except for Dachau). As I grew up he never would talk much about the bad side of the war, just the good times (few as they were).
Like you I am also proud of my dad's service, so it was nice to see your web site. There were a bunch of guys in the 20th but, who knows, maybe yours and mine had contact with each other during those years.
I'm 54 years old, and wanted to look up the name of a game from the 60's with a glow in the dark thing (Green Ghost - thank you!). That's how I found your amazing website, Avocado Memories. I wanted to thank you personally for putting in the time and effort to bring your memories to life in such an immediate, touching, and entertaining way. I'm halfway through your house tour, and I already love your parents madly. Today is the anniversary of my Mom's death in 1995, so I am especially vulnerable to memories about her. Interestingly enough, she also loved little-girl things such as dolls and girly collectibles all her life, and she also lost her mother at a young age.
Even though I grew up in New Jersey (a vastly different place, no denying it) and I have eight brothers and sisters, and I'm a woman, there is so much I can relate to in your memories that it's astounding. It's a small world in many ways, and I appreciate you sharing yours so generously!
Thank you! Green Ghost... my wife agrees with me that it was a letdown from what the ad depicted. But the game had such promise!
In the fifteen years that AM has been up, I see it again and again... no matter where we were raised, even outside of the United States, there is more we share than what sets us apart... - Wes
I can't tell you how much I LOVE your website. I grew up in that era too, though I'm just a few years older than you (I was born in 1951), and my early teens thru entering the Navy in 1971 were spent in Whittier, Santa Monica, and Newport/Costa Mesa/Santa Ana, where I still live.
Your site is so HUGE, I'm sure I've never seen it all, but man, can I relate to much of what you write about. Our stories are not complete parallels, but there's plenty to relate to.
To this day I still have two pieces of antiqued avocado furniture that Mom finished, a tall boockcase, and a nightstand. Over the last 2 years I've been painting the interior of my house, and rather than use boring off-white, I've gone with several colors, one of them being avocado (the paint chip calls it "Spanish Olive").
I love your work, all my best to you. Happy New Year!
Santa Ana, CA