NOTE: Click on the appropriate links for archives from 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998 and 1997.
Your web site continues to be a very awesome, nostalgic tribute to those of us who grew up during the 60s and 70s. Keep up the great work.
Keep the memories alive,
Bringing you fun memories of Marlow Heights and vicinity of the 60s and 70s!
I write to you every once in a blue moon. I found your site some years ago quite by accident and I come to it when I feel nostalgic. We grew up around the same time and lived in 70's houses with plastic fruit and shutters inside the windows. LOL
Wishing you well,
Thanks for Avocado Memories! So glad you were a photo-hound back then for a real peek into the 60s and 70s. I was born in '73, missed the best part of the last century.
I found your site because I was looking for a review of Paul Fussell's Class. Yours was the most interesting.
I grew up in a horrible 70s "Colonial" that had all the worst of the 70s in it (dark dark dark fake-wood paneling, popcorn ceilings, orange kitchen, a room floored in red linoleum...all of it). We lived in a middle-class neighborhood. Nobody in our neighborhood really had good taste. This always made my brother and me wonder why our mom had very specific "rich people" taste-related hang-ups that didn't seem to fit our demographic. For example...
- She despised all non-natural materials. Sweaters had to be 100% wool, cotton, or silk, no matter how difficult to care for. No polyester or acrylic allowed.
- No ready-to-assemble shelving or plastic storage boxes allowed. All storage modules had to be real baskets, wood, that sort of thing.
- When my parents built a new house in the 90s, they purposely didn't include space for a TV in the "Great Room" ("den" and "family room" were tacky words and concepts). My mom hated visible TVs. (Ten years later, when they sold, the house was on the market forever. Number one complaint? No den TV hookups.)
You get the picture.
Well, lo and behold, years later I am reading Class, and every single thing that my mom had a "thing" about is listed in that book. I never understood some of those things, but it all makes sense now: she must've read that book and taken it to heart! So this is why we never had anything fun, like the little wishing well, the sassy needlepoint bathroom signs, or the garden gnomes!
The funny part was the contrast between our actual life and the one in my mom's head. Here we were with private schooling, linen navy blazers and tennis whites...but Landmarks of the Bicentennial wallpaper in the bathroom and orange shag carpet.
Just wanted to share my Class story and thank you for a cool website.
Thanks for your time.
When I was reading this book I thought, "This is accurate - but really mean-spirited." And some of it is just plain wrong. I have seen men with what Fussell calls "prole gaps" in their suits, that is, an occasional gap between the neck and the back of the collared part of the suit. But these were certainly not proles - these were, in fact, some of the brightest men I know, some of whom making over $200K a year. So much for the "prole gap." - Wes
Hi Wes, What you are clutching in the pic is an enormous inch by 10 or so striped candy cane stick still in the package. They gave them out to all the kids, plus you also got a wrapped mystery gift. My dad made us smash it with a hammer so we could make it last by eating small pieces. When I saw the pic it hurtled me back to memory lane, for I went there with my father every year way back when….thanks for the memory jolt!
Long time, no speak. I feel like I know you after eavesdropping on your life via Avocado Memories for the past 8 years or so.
I find myself checking in on your website when I’m just surfing for things that interest me. Lately I have been working on my old 1968 Schwinn Stingray I’ve had since I got it new when I was in grade school. It made me think of stories to tell my daughter, which led me to your site and pic of your "flamboyant lime” super deluxe. The one I have was a sky blue standard model. I say “was” because my dad and I painted it with Schwinn Banana Yellow paint a few years after I got it. Now I am finally working on getting it back to the original color.
Anyway, I hope you’re well and maybe considering publishing the whole story sometime soon. I’d buy a copy!
Take care and have a great Summer even if you don’t still have that Sting-Ray to ride. ; )
Hello, Wes Clark.
So I put my birthday into the search engines and they kept pointing me to your website because apparently as I was making my entrance into the world at 11:25 a.m. on the East Coast, you were enthusiastically posing for your own Holiday photo on the very same Christmas morning of 1959 at age three out on the West Coast.
Secondly, my travel plans changed recently and I began cruising the worldwide web instead of the real live Interstate AND missing out on the other kajillion things I had planned and all this because my foot missed the top step of my porch...and besides...what I really needed was a new knee and not a patched up shoulder, dagnabbit.
BUT on the plus side I am now free to unapologetically surf the web for hours upon hours which , to be honest, wasn't turning out to be all that much fun until I found your site.
The other blogs were much like the magazines you find in the grocery aisle..food, fashion,and gossip...."Ehhhhhhhh"...a little disappointing for someone who never watches television, cannot currently cook with one arm, and couldn't give a mouse's butt about fashion tips.
BUT...!... then I discovered the Wes Clark treasury of bios, music, and memories galore!
Thanks for that and I'm reminded that I will probably heal much faster listening to Nat King Cole vs Lady Gaga (to each his own). Hmmm..doesn't Barnes and Nobel have a website? Surfing can be good! OBOY!
BTW, you're missing a recipe section on your site. It should definitely include a jello dish and how to cut up a coconut cake to make it look like an Easter Bunny.
Merci Beaucoup again for the entertainment. LOVE your site. When's the book coming out?
Seriously, when is the book coming out because one can now self-publish on Amazon instead of waiting to be printed so there is absolutely no excuse for not having the book for me to order. Some of us still buy books. If there is a book and you are a semi-famous author I apologize in advance...
the Christmas Baby
No need to apologize! Not only am I not a semi-famous author, I'm not even a semi-semi-famous author. In other words, I respond to e-mails.
I think the book might be a retirement pursuit - thanks for asking. My wife just did one via amazon.com, self-published. It's a lot of work, especially with all the graphics I'm planning. But thanks for the encouragement! - Wes
Hello! I have really enjoyed your website! I was born in Oregon in 1976 but am the daughter of native So. Californians. They had similar tales from growing up. It is so fun to read about your childhood. I have been going through treatment for breast cancer and your stories helped me get through it all! The story about "hotsy" alley had me laughing so hard! So I just wanted to say thank you! Hope you are well!
My wife Cari once had breast cancer, too. It's not a good club to be in, is it? Anyway - I'm glad you enjoyed the site!
I think I came across your site in 2000 or so, and I've always enjoyed it. I don't look in much, but usually something prompts me about once a year to see if your site is still active, and I'm always happy to see it alive and well.
I grew up in Northridge in the 80's, so not quite your cohort but I think I got a good dose of the leftover shag carpet and tiki gods, growing up where I did.
I am glad it still has the same format I came across while bored at work over a decade ago. It is almost meta, with Avocado Memories evoking an older version of the web in my mind. Avocado Memories stirred a bunch of nostalgia up for me at the time, remembering my aunt Donna's house, full of carpets and macrame, and Avon.
I hope you retain the same format in the years to come.
Thank you for all the interesting stories! It's kind of weird to tell someone I've been reading about their family for over a decade off-and-on, but that's the internet for you. You're putting it out there and it planted a seed in my brain. The internet is a strange place. I may or may not have sent you a message before. I don't remember it, if I did.
Wow, you made that site for your kids and I bet they are all grown up now. They should turn it into an alternate reality game, a'la The Institution. It's the perfect format.
Avocado Memories Fan
Thanks for the kind words! I have toyed with the idea of putting AM into a more up to date web format, but, frankly, what I really want to do with it is to turn it into a book. And now, in the era of self-publishing, I can. Maybe when I retire...
Over the the past couple of years, while researching defunct San Fernando Valley and L.A. landmarks, I've stumbled on Burbankia and Burbankers Remember which have provided me with a wealth of great info and photos. I guess I dug a little deeper this time because I just spent the past couple of hours on the Avocado Memories site, which led to Brigham's Blog as well.
Good Lord, man! Where do you find the time?
Needless to say (or not), I just had to shoot you a message as I have been thoroughly entertained by your posts, and quite mesmerized by the similar touchstones in our respective lives-- from the Batman costume and ephemera right on up through the virtually identical audio gear. Your reflective commentary could very well have served as the narrative for countless additional episodes of The Wonder Years.. You missed your calling. But I'm delighted that the blogosphere has provided you with an outlet and access, no doubt, to an extended, appreciative audience.
Although my childood was spent in the outskirts of Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore, the suburban milieu of the '60s was clearly pretty much identical nationwide. But your tales of Burbank hold particular resonance. As a teenager mesmerized by the California mythos, I moved out there on my own at the age of 18, ultimately landing in a duplex (with a basement!) on Angeleno, just a block up from Glenoaks. Right up from the Pup 'N' Taco, which was a frequent Saturday lunch indulgence.
As I had my own apartment, I don't know why I periodically availed myself of the parking lots of the Starlight Bowl or the Mormon church for romantic assignations (maybe they seemed less calculated that way), but I can't help but wonder if you and your buddy Mike might have been a couple of the interlopers who seemed to enjoy interrupting my al fresco dates.
Nostalgist that I am, I mourn the absence of every familiar site that has vanished from the landscape out there. Even something banal as Zody's, where I'd buy cut-out LPs, two-for-a-dollar. I actually have one of those Michel's Records bags with the musical notes that appeared in a photo on the Burbankia site. I miss the Grist Mill on Olive-- the incredible breakfasts and the waitress who was actress Joan Blondell's stand-in during the 1950s. I fear what will happen to the NBC Studios. The destruction of their original broadcast facility at Sunset & Vine continues to confound me. And we've lived long enough to see the Golden Mall closed to traffic and re-opened again.
Oh, and in case no one told you the bad news, the Royal Hawaiian in Laguna closed about two years ago. I hadn't been there myself in 10 or 12 years, and it sounds like much of its ambient charm had been lost for a while.
As your sites and others such as Vintage Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley Relics have carved out excellent niches of your own, I'm thinking of launching one based on the ashtrays of defunct and/or legendary L.A. restaurants and nightspots (I have a few hundred of these) and allow followers to post memories and photos of the joints in response. If and when I get around to this, rest assured you will be linked.
I assume you and your family are still in the Springfield, VA area. Well, if this winter wasn't enough to send us packing for old environs, I don't know what would.
Thanks for all the work and good fellowship in your posts, Wes, I will continue to enjoy them.
"Where do I find the time?" Hahahaha... I get that a lot. I guess I'm a prolific and efficient writer. Whether or not I'm a good one remains to be seen.
I was very sorry to see that the Royal Hawaiian closed its doors. My Dad used to know Francis, the original owner, and so Laguna Beach and the Royal Hawaiian was the destination for many a dinner during my childhood. (I think the first time I recall going there was in 1965; I brought a stack of comic books to read in the car on the way down.) They had great ribs. I peeked in there after they remodeled the place and felt sick at heart - it was awful. I last dined there 7/21/2004; we were in California for my 30th high school reunion. After that they remodeled the tiki decor out of the place and sucked its soul away.
Thanks for the e-mail... yes, this was a miserable winter. And yes, good old Burbank did seem attractive as I was shoveling snow, I admit...
Well, I am not sure if I love you or hate you! Avocado Memories brought back so many vivid memories, some of which I had forgotten until reading your site, and I could not help but be struck by our similarities having both grown up in Southern California in the 70s.
I say I am not sure whether to love you or hate you because I love the fact that your great writing style and your photographs transported me back to a time that I still relish to this day, and that still brings a warmth and comfort to me. I jokingly infer that I might hate you because although I have not read every single entry on your site - yet, that is - I have spent the last 5 hours this Sunday, January 26, 2014 reading much of it. So, I guess you could say, I love you for bring back and triggering those memories and I hate you for making me spend hours and hours reading your site. Of course, I really don't hate you at all and I wouldn't have it any other way. What you have captured has really touched me.
I said earlier I could not help but be struck by our similarities. While many would concur that most families in early 70s might have lived a similar lifestyle, I immediately identified with you, your Mom and your Dad. We appear to have come from similar economic backgrounds. Our parents both bought into what they perceived to be the "Southern California Lifestyle," including the necessary and eventually obtainable blue-collar luxuries like a pool. You did have one up on us, though, since you had a trash compactor and I always pined for one. I thought it was the height of a fancy kitchen.
I hope this part doesn't bore you, but I just was struck by the parallel in our upbringing with certain things and wanted to share them with you. For instance:
You were in Burbank and we were in Riverside. Similar bedroom communities that finally took off after certain industries came to town. Lockheed for you and Rohr Aircraft for us, along with other businesses, of course.
Exotica. Martin Denny and Ray Conniff. I miss my Dad so much and reading your website made me miss him all that much more. Like your Dad, a ham in front of the camera. Great fun to be around. Beer. But the one thing I will always identify my Dad with is Martin Denny, Ray Conniff and Frank Sinatra. Doing the same thing as your Dad and this is the God's honest truth... Laying on his float in our little round Doughboy, listening to Denny, Conniff and some Sinatra while working on his tan in the California sun. Your Dad was from the East. So was mine, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We listened to music in our backyard too from a "hidden speaker," that my Dad tucked under the eave of the house. He fully embraced the perceived California lifestyle as best he could.
I remember frequently being in trouble when I was a bit younger, say around 6 or 7 years old, and having learned to thread my Dad's "exotic Japanese" Sony reel-to-reel tape player he had bought in Korea (while in the Armed Forces) that was connected to a Fisher vacuum tube-powered receiver. Both of these were "built in" to our luan covered shelving unit that my Dad attempted to shellac. Needless to say, the finish was rippled and filled with bubbles due to his impatience (I assume) but it gave the unit charm in retrospect. My Dad, unlike me, had little mechanical aptitude.
Anyway, I would lie back in the vinyl chocolate-colored beanbag chair we bought from Montgomery Wards, while sliding my toes through the gold-colored wall-to-wall deep-pile shag carpeting in our den that had metallised wallpaper of tigers and lions. Very 1970s. And it was here that my own ear was tuned for the sounds of exotica. Naturally, I would fall asleep listening to it, while being transported to Far Away Places with the Strange Sounding Names, and my Dad would come in later come into the room and appear to be upset that his take-up reel was spinning about with the end of the tape flapping, but I secretly think he relished the fact that I was in his groovy room listening to "his" music. I must admit that to this day, while my playback devices have changed to a Mac or iPod, a Bose system or my Truck, Martin Denny, Ray Conniff and the like still make up the majority of my playlist. And, I fondly miss the glow of those beckoning vacuum tubes and the tactile feel of the tape versus todays impersonal digital systems. I digress.
I was pleasantly surprised to see too that your Dad was into all things Tiki and Hawaii. Mine too. One could never have enough Tikis, palm thatch, bamboo, exotic prints, the occasional exotic plant found at the nursery and the like. I am jealous of your Hawaiian diving platform! I looks like it was a lot of fun. My Dad felt it important that we had a couple of glass buoys hanging from the patio with the rope-style fish netting. I think it was an attempt to copy the decor found in the typical Polynesian-themed restaurant or bar. In fact, my parents had their wedding reception at the Lea Lea Room at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California. The Lea Lea Room was a "South Seas Island Paradise." I've included an old black and white for you. (In the photograph, note the glass buoys with the netting. I guess those images were burned into his brain at his wedding reception.)
I also noticed a striking similarity in the cars our families owned. We too had the same El Dorado with the 500 cubic inch engine. I really loved riding in it. Ours was black with black leather and thick pile black carpeting. An abundance of fake wood trim. I always marveled too that Cadillac took the time back them to adorn the two radio dials with metal "curley-cues" that just added an extra touch of my youthfully perceived elegance. After all, no other car's radio dials were so adorned plus there was a little circle of fake wood in the center! Tres Chic! Though it was the most gutless 500 cubic inch engine I've ever known, it was still a dream to float down the roadway like you were on a ship. As a kid, I was fascinated with the hood ornament and looked at it incessantly. I am not sure why. Maybe it was that reinforcement that you were in a Cadillac, not that the emblem was lacking anywhere inside.
Here is what is really odd... Prior to that, we owned the same LTD! My parents loved that LTD (green with green interior and to this day, I still remember the starburst motif on the seat belt buckle button in silver) but like your Dad with his Porsche, mine had felt that they had finally "made it" and sprung for the Cadillac. And Wes, I almost pissed myself with laughter, when I read your line about your parents, "...changing the oil every now and then." That was my Dad to a "T." Car maintenance was a evil and he would do it when necessary. He would never follow the manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule.
In fact, he burned up the engine in one of our cars when the oil light came on and he said, "Well, I am only about a half-mile from the house." Ironically enough, he was near our own Home Savings Bank. While not as large a building as yours, it was equally impressive and seemed like the only bank in town until Security Pacific opened their fancy, modern digs.
Needless to say, the engine seized and my Mom used her normal colorful language to tell him off. After all, buying a new engine interfered with buying tacky, cheap furniture for the house. (However, having said that and looking back, that tacky furniture made me feel so secure and safe.) Oh, and the piece de resistance... Standard Brands and Earl Sheib! Your Dad and mine must have been separated at birth! Aside from their similarities thus far, they both shared an affinity for Standard Brands cheap paint and luan. I am dead serious. I could not believe it when I read about your Dad and Standard Brands and the trips you would take with him. My Dad did was equally cheap with paint until, like yours, my Mom finally took over the paint projects in the house one day. My Dad was also a luan king and found so many obscure uses beyond the shelving unit in the den.
However, I laughed my ass off when I read about your Dad and Earl Sheib. "I'll paint any car, any color, for only...." My Dad did the same thing. He was drawn to a bargain even if he probably knew he was being taken. He just couldn't resist. My Mom was mortified that he had taken one of our cars that was white at the time and had Earl Sheib paint it this awful blue, sparkly metallic job. Of course, buying the cheapest paint job possible in the Southern California sun and heat, it quickly faded and began peeling, looking all that much worse.
I really enjoyed reading your website and having you trigger memories I had forgotten about. Because of that, I really do need to call my Mom (who still lives in our house in California) and ask her to send me a box at a time of my Dad's Bell & Howell Slide-Cubes so I can go back through those old photographs. I had forgotten all about Ports O'Call until you mentioned it. He was a voracious photographer. I am now which is something I share in common with him. A love of taking pictures. I only wish, like you, I had done more of it in my youth.
Again, Wes, you have done an outstanding job. You made my day so happy! As I look out my own den window now, at my front yard, I can see my staircase that leads from the driveway to the front door covered in snow. Loads of it. The cars are covered. I now live in Pittsburgh, PA, my Dad's hometown. Reading your website has warmed me up and reinvigorated me. Thanks for a great trip down memory lane. Your site really is great!
(E-mail responded to privately.)