Ah, Ventura Boulevard with its many facelifts over the years. Back in the day, the number of places to visit in Studio City was paltry. Compared to the many stores that are plentiful today, Studio City was pretty barren. So, let’s take a walk down Ventura Boulevard and see what was there when I was growing up.
Let’s start with Thrifty Drug Store, on the southwest corner of Ventura and Laurel Canyon boulevards, where we’d be-bop by feeding the table jukebox just a few coins.
I remember having French fries, milkshakes and real Coca Cola, while we’d swivel back and forth in our chairs, high on salt, caffeine and sugar. The Beatles, Everly Brothers and Elvis wafted through the airwaves as we chowed down with our Camp Fire pals.
Thrifty's also sported a loyal worker in their ice-cream department named Lemon. Lemon was a charcoal-skinned straw of a man who was so old that he looked like he was born at Thrifty’s. Cordial and attentive, he’d scoop our favorite flavor into one of those sugar cones, and we’d be off to another adventure.
Of course, there was down the street, with its huge bovine murals gracing the walls. Holstein, Guernsey Maid and Jersey Maid cows loomed above you from their sepia pastures as you watched your server cram the cone with flavor. If you were lucky, you redeemed your birthday postcard for a free ice cream cone.
Down the street was the infamous Queen Mary, a drag-show venue that introduced me to my first real experience with alternative lifestyles. Transvestites, transsexuals and all types of persuasions frequented this wonderful place.
I was amazed that so many men could pose in prettier fashions than most of my female friends. I’m sorry that it’s no longer in operation. I wonder what happened. Too much estrogen?
Heading west, I remember the Pump Room, a place our family couldn’t afford, with its neon sign winking in the twilight. I’m sure I must have eaten there upon occasion, but it was a pricey place, dimly lit, catering to the well-heeled. The dark-paneled walls held many secrets for those who freely imbibed in stiff pours, the patrons all smartly stuffed into its red-leather booths.
What’s Studio City without mention of the, with its trout ponds, and celebrity status? Even today, it still holds much of its vintage charm.
My mom frequented the Ventura Club, a hangout for single adults. I know she met some suitors at this dance club, only a few of them lucky enough to make the cut to enjoy my mother's company on a more personal basis.
Casa Escobar was very popular back in the day as well. My Aunt Kaye, who owned the Mexican Flea Market near Vineland and Ventura, was a big fan of this restaurant. I'm sure the chips were good and the margaritas were strong, as my aunt loved her cocktails. Maybe the busboys gave her good service. After all, she liked those Latin types.
Let’s not forget the famous which still stands today. Old-school favorites like chicken pot pie, bear claws and date nut bread were some of the items I favored. I didn’t have much success as a cashier there, due to my short attention span and inability to multi-task, but who cares? It makes for a good story.
So, what places do you remember, and whatever happened to them?