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Studio City Then and Now-Favorite Hangouts in the SF Valley

We had a blast at Thrifty's, Farrell's and the Kirkwood Bowling Alley.

Long before the days of Twitter, Facebook and iPhones, we had time, real time. Back then, our days weren’t cluttered with gadgets. Time was an entitity unto itself.

What did we do? We hung out. We cruised the boulevards.  We socialized, with actual conversations. Where did we go?  Here are a few places you may remember.

Laurel Plaza/Valley Plaza

I remember ice skating here in the '60s.   I wasn’t very good at it, with my ankles always knocking into one another, and repeated skids on the ice, but we had great times hanging out here, playing crack the whip and other skating games. Kinney Shoes was nearby, where my mom purchased all our family shoes.

Van Nuys Drive-In

Who didn't go to the drive-in as a teen-ager? Sometimes we'd double date and pretend to watch the movie with our large bags of popcorn, hot dogs, and those robotic speakers attached to our windows. But, we were really there to "socialize", much to the chagrin of our parents.

Kirkwood Bowling Alley

Not only did we bowl, but we played pool, and indulged in a number of pinball games. Sometimes we'd try our luck without wearing those clunky shoes, and we'd slip and slide all over the varnished alley. Management wasn't really happy about that.

Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor

I seem to remember one on the west end of the SF Valley near Topanga Canyon. We’d often celebrate birthdays there, order these huge chocolate sundaes and stuff ourselves into sugar high. This was usually followed by a food fight. Nothing like whipped cream on the ceiling or a french fry up your nose.

Thrifty’s

Who remembers the hamburgers, fries and thick malts at Thrifty's on Ventura and Laurel Canyon?  Put a nickel in the jukebox and play the Beatles, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Drifters, Coasters or Little Richard and gossip about your teachers at Walter Reed and why Clearasil never seemed to work for you.

Slot Car Racing

I remember doing this somewhere along Ventura Blvd. but I don’t recall the name of the place.  We’d slip that little clip into the slot, and race our cars around the track, until one of them spun out of control and crashed into the wall. I’m sure this activity was a precursor to speeding along Van Nuys Blvd. before we had a driver's license.

Kit Kraft

This was a great place for those artsy types, including my twin sister Teresa who was a frequent visitor to this place.  I think the aquamarine signage still exists. There, we bought our love beads so we could make our hippie necklaces. I'm sure we also purchased that cheap plastic "leather" so we could make lanyards to wear around our necks. Wasn't tie-dye stuff also available at Kit Kraft? I can't remember, probably because we were smoking too many herbs during that time period.

North Hollywood High School Football Games

Although our Huskies had their challenges, it was always fun to attend the football games. Most of my artistic pals found football to be a bore. As for me? I wanted to be the quarterback.

Where did you hang out, and what do you remember? Check out these photos and see if any of them ring a bell!

teresa mcgrath October 25, 2012 at 09:03 PM
wow, what fine memories richard, andy, and mort....mort, thank-goodness you put your passion into saving some of the buildings...happy to read you saved/re-built the bowling alley, and wrote those conditions into the contract ....what vision...
James West October 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Great job Mort. It is too bad that so many monied folks just want to tear down & stick in a mini mall, condo or office bldg or bank.....now whatever happened to The Jailhouse?
teresa mcgrath October 25, 2012 at 09:36 PM
peter, we lived in the gully, or ravine, as some called it...all of us 6 kids lived on pacoima ct just south of ventura blvd, and north of laurel ln...it was a dead end street, so we'd trek thru the neighbor's yards and play down there for hours, building forts, treehouses, and hike...yes, the gully would rise to a river, not a stream, as was accustomed......yes, peter, before carpenter ave elementary filled in the gully on the south side, we'd hike to the large sewer pipe too that lead to the wash/l.a. river....we couldn't go in very far, the sewer odors were overwhelming, but our siblings who were older, did with flashlights...after carpenter expanded, we'd explore the newer pipe too...the gully also provided play with our first skateboards down the dirt hill just south of carpenter...people strung cables or ropes, and we'd swing over the gully...it was lush behind the log cabins ...loved those log cabins, and was saddened when they tore them down with tiny naylors...
Michael McCue October 25, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I worked at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor in high school (another location entirely) and remember how much fun it was. I have always been angry that the entire Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor chain was "vulture-capitalized" and destroyed by Romney's Bain Capital...(yes...THAT Romney...) just in case anyone wanted to know where Farrell's went and why you don't see them anywhere...anymore. Thanks, Mitt!
teresa mcgrath October 25, 2012 at 09:59 PM
good piece of info michael...sad
ROBERT LERMAN October 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Dear Mr. Allen, Thank you and your friend's, for having the foresight & vision to save these 5 acres! I am from back east and really appreciate nostalgia, I curently bowl at Pinz bowl, which use to be Sport's center bowl & before that of course Kirkwood. It is so easy to tear down buildings and destroy great places, again thank you for your hard work and caring for the neighborhood! I have been bowling there for 22 years and stil enjoy seeing my good friend's there! I also enjoy Carneys! Robert Lerman
Robert Lerman October 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Dear Mr. Allen, Thank you and your friend's, for having the foresight & vision to save these 5 acres! I am from back east and really appreciate nostalgia, I curently bowl at Pinz bowl, which use to be Sport's center bowl & before that of course Kirkwood. It is so easy to tear down buildings and destroy great places, again thank you for your hard work and caring for the neighborhood! I have been bowling there for 22 years and stil enjoy seeing my good friend's there! I also enjoy Carneys! Robert Lerman
David Pearlberg October 26, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Mary... The Farrell's you are thinking of was on Canoga Ave., between Ventura Blvd. and the 101. Does anyone remember Joe Kirkwood's Ditty-Bump Miniature Golf Course where Staples is now? And there was a Giant Slide right next to Kirkwood Bowl for maybe a year or two, probably in the late 60's.
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Wow, amazing story Mort...
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM
I think that's the slot car place I remember Peter. I've eaten at Art's several times, but I think it was built after I went off to college.
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
We hung out in the "gully" as we called it all the time with some of our neighborhood pals. We'd venture into it, but I don't recall if we ever made it all the way through. It was pretty scary, but so exciting.
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM
The gully was adjacent to the Vitarelli home. We were friends with Dennis, but he had two older brothers, and a sister. A treehouse loomed over the ravine. We loved growing up and it truly was our own version of "Stand By Me."
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Oh, that's interesting. Didn't know that!
Mary McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Oh, it brings back very vague memories...hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Peter Kimmel October 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Art's has been in this, its original location (albeit narrower), since 1957. It had a major remodel in the late 1980s I think it was.
Peter Kimmel October 27, 2012 at 01:13 AM
YES! The GULLY! I could not remember that word. Thanks. Those ancient and tiny one room log cabins were painted forest green, if I am not mistaken. They had kind of a mysterious feel about them, like right out of a Raymond Chandler novel. I often wondered who might have lived in them. I always thought that, when they were built, when Studio City was unincorporated part of the Lankershim Ranch, they were like a roadside motel or part of some homey resort (think 'The Big Sleep', 'Chinatown', or 'The Postman Always Rings Twice').
jerry schermerhorn October 28, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Does anyone recall thetoy train store or stop-n-shop market? My grandfather was the butcher at stop and shop. I think thy were on ventura place.
Stacy October 28, 2012 at 03:03 AM
I loved shopping @ Stop 'n Shop. They were on Ventura Place where Big 5 is now. Jerry, was your grandfather Max?? Not sure I recall his name correctly, but I do recall him giving me & my sisters See's lollipops whenever we came in!! Such great memories reading all if this! I spent a lot of tIme hanging out @ the photo booth @ Thrifty's & sneaking around the Gully before school. :~)
Mary McGrath October 28, 2012 at 04:23 AM
There was also Bond's Market. i think it was on Ventura Blvd. My mom used to shop there all the time...Anyone else remember it?
jerry schermerhorn October 28, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Stacy... My grandpa was Ray, he was a large balding happy go lucky guy. Lots of movie stars shopped there...papa (grandpa) was always bringing us kids home autographed pictures of people like the whole McHales Navy cast, cowboy stars and more. Such a great safe and simple time back then.
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Looks like "ddddd" has been hacked...
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Betsy Cutter November 21, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Art's deli was thriving while we were in grade school. I used to pass it on my way to the "theatah" to watch the matinee on Saturday. Best pickled eggs I ever ate. And the pastrami - oh, my! delish! We used to go slot car racing, too - fun stuff. And the funny skiing Santa in Sy Devore's window at Christmas - Buddy Brown Toys on Ventura - Stevie G's pizza hole in the wall with the best slice in the Valley.
teresa mcgrath November 21, 2012 at 09:47 PM
stop and shop was down the street from the hobby shop on ventura place...bonds was near baskin robbins....art's deli was splendid
Betsy Cutter November 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM
We shopped at Bond's all the time. Great little grocery store. It was on Ventura Blvd near Specht's Lighting store. Our house backed on to the connecting alley behind Spechts, so it was easy for us to pop through and be seen on the boulevard!
Betsy Cutter November 21, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Baskin-Robbins: does anyone remember "olallaberry" ice cream? My mom always ordered it.
Betsy Cutter November 21, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Oh, I just remembered - on the same side of the street as Sav-On (after they tore down Scoop's - boo! hiss!) was Coast Hardware, Bank of America and Kentucky Fried chicken. I remember Moskva Cliff also! and Sportsman's Lodge.
teresa mcgrath November 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
the cliff, yes, kirkwoods bowling....baskin competed with thrifties and savon...coast was a good place
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