Growing Up in the
The article below was recently printed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
I passed it to our class email list. Reading the article brought back a lot of
fond memories of growing up in the
If you would like to share some of your own memories, please email them to me, and I will be happy to add them to this page. Enjoy your trip down memory lane.
Brian Wilson was a senior that year at Hawthorne High School (home of the proud Cougars, whose fight song he cribbed for the middle-eight to his "Be True to Your School"), hanging out on weeknights in the parking lot behind the Fosters Freeze on Hawthorne Boulevard in his two-tone '57 Ford Fairlane 500. On weekends, the guys would pick up a six-pack and head for the double-bills at Studio Drive-In on Slauson.
It was a long way from Hollywood, a town where things were still possible, but it was close enough to Disneyland that the Wilsons' father took his three boys to the recently opened amusement park at least twice a year.
Few traces remain of songwriter
If you're going to go looking for
"His music had an animate
quality," said Parks, the co-writer of
With a decorative spire poking
through the slanted roof, buttressed by Swiss cheese struts, the Wich Stand
Priore knows where to find them.
Author of a book about
"I didn't know Al Jardine
lived in an apartment building," Priore said, pulling up to a Hawthorne
address of matching duplexes built in that unique Southern California '50s mode
of frenzied modernism. Futurism was more than an architecture style in
Dennis Wilson used to go down to
Much has changed since the Beach
Boys lived in
Surfers catch waves alongside the
pier where Dennis Wilson would ride the breakers. Girls in bikinis lie basking
in the sand. People still fish from the pier. Away from the hectic beach scenes
farther north at
Priore points to a social convergence coming together over the Southern California beaches in those few innocent years -- "Gidget," Surfer magazine, Bruce Brown surfing documentary films, the emergence of surf guitar king Dick Dale and the Del-Tones at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Huntington Beach and subsequent surf music instrumental hit singles by South Bay combos such as the Frogmen ("Underwater") and the Belairs ("Mr. Moto"). Into this yawning vortex stepped Brian Wilson, his two younger brothers, their cousin Mike Love and Brian's El Camino classmate Jardine.
Over Labor Day weekend 1961, with the Wilson parents on a Mexican vacation, the group took over the 119th Street house, stocked it with rented equipment and worked up the Brian Wilson composition, "Surfin' " which he cobbled together from information supplied by his younger brother Dennis, the only surfer in the group, and cousin Love, who knew some of the lingo.
The leading Los Angeles Top 40 radio station, KFWB, already broadcasting daily surf reports and quite aware that something was going on with the region's youth out on the beaches, jumped on the record. A minute later, the Beach Boys were signed to Capitol Records -- home to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, with its instant '50s landmark Hollywood headquarters designed to look like a stack of records, a red beacon on top blinking all night long in Morse code H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D, a long way from Hawthorne.
In a matter of months, the Studio Drive-In was showing nothing but insipid beach party films that were little more than cheap movie-length musicals based on imitation Brian Wilson music (he actually did write the songs for one of the Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello clinkers, "Muscle Beach Party"). An entire school of pop music emerged in his wake -- Jan and Dean, Bruce and Terry, Ronny and the Daytonas, the Hondells and others.
"That's part of his olio," said his collaborator Parks, "his real ability to osmote and to become a part of what he observes, to drink what he loves and let it kill him -- the comic and the tragic, the sacred and the profane."
Given his natural talent -- his voice was once famously described in a Beach Boys "joke" album track as "Mickey Mouse with a cold" -- only a family member like Brian Wilson would have ever thought of Love as a candidate for lead vocalist of his rock 'n' roll group. His job at the gas station was probably the last position Love was truly qualified to hold.
The station, which still sits like a fort at the hectic crossroads, has been remodeled, expanded and rebuilt a number of times since he worked there. But Love would probably recognize it in a heartbeat.
E-mail Joel Selvin at email@example.com.
What follows are the emails I received so far from several our classmates in response to the Beach Boys article. If you have some of your own memories you would like to share, please email them to me and I will be glad to add them. Any and all of your reflections and recollections of growing up are more than welcome. If you have any old snap shots, send them along.
Thanks for the article. You might
not know this, but in about 1965 I was the keyboard player in Band Without a
Name. We played for Casey Kasem's teen dances at the
It’s a small world indeed. I worked at the
dances with Casey Kasem. Steve Cirillo also worked there. If I remember right, The Band Without a Name was one of the regular bands and a favorite of the kids. Casey also brought in the Midnighters and The Association a few times. We used to get 1100-1200 kids at those dances. Wasn't one of the songs you guys played Dylan's "She Belongs to Me"? Hawthorne Memorial Center
Rita Roney Mundis
So glad that you saw the article! I take the Chronicle and was so surprised to see our old Foster's Freeze on the front page. Of course I read through the entire article.
This Beach Boy memorabilia brought to mind a party I attended and danced the "Surfer Stomp" all night long. I wore a brand new pair of Holly Bovitz's shoes and wore a hole in the soles!!!! I have no idea how I talked Holly into letting me wear a pair of shoes that she hadn't even worn yet.
Thanks for that blast of
Matter of fact, just yesterday I was watching a PBS program reviewing '50s music which included the now-aged Four Preps singing "26 Miles Across the Sea." That put me in mind of Senior Ditch Day and the steamship to Catalina. I remember especially that awful little combo playing music on the boat (an electric violin?!) because they sang "26 miles" over and over during the trip. (Mercifully, they didn't sing on the way back, when I was feeling green with seasickness.)
All the best,
Sindy Froman (Cindy Hilton)
Yes, the Beach Boys article did
bring back fond memories. I'm so glad you sent it. I remember eating at the
Wich Stand as a kid when we visited our grandparents ~ a nice finish to a good
Better yet, I remember cruisin' the drag between A&W Root Beer and the Wich Stand. The favored drink at the Wich Stand was Cherry Lime Rickey. I was driving the '63 Chevy 409 ~ a real beauty in black with red interior, baby moon hubcaps, chrome valve covers and air cleaner cover, raised front end (with a few spacers between the coils in the springs), and extra washers in the headers so the machine sounded mean even at an idle. It actually was pretty mean ~ I took first place in the Super Stock class at San Fernando Drag Strip. Does the strip still exist? I have the trophy somewhere ~ just couldn't let it go. That's the time in my life when I morphed into an extrovert instead of the painfully shy introvert.
Becoming outgoing helped me dive, literally, into life: some surfing with the Dewey Weber 9'1" surfboard; scuba diving with the last dive at Catalina (incredibly beautiful and exciting to grab the tail of a baby hammerhead); becoming a pilot with some amazingly fun times doing loops and other aerobatics; motorcycle riding in 29 Palms (got my first broken bone, right wrist, jumping a gully but didn't fall off the bike ~ go figure); learning to slide the dunebuggy into square corners; camping all over Baja (what incredible people the locals were); ice skating (second broken bone, left wrist, from doing ~ more like trying to do ~ the squatting duck with my daughter); and skydiving (on a scale of 1-10, it was a 14).
All of this came to an abrupt halt with the brain surgery, but I was so fortunate to have had so many wonderful opportunities. Life is great ~ even with two more broken bones. The third break, right leg, was from sliding down a banister in my early 50s. We had an interesting time at the hospital getting bumped ahead in the Emergency admitting line (about five ahead of me) because my son and I were laughing so hard concocting a story about how I broke the leg that the attendant felt we were disturbing other waiting patients).
The last broken bone, left leg, was from hiking on a little-known Lewis and Clark trail with a group of people from the
The "Worker's Compensation" break has given me the most trouble: three surgeries with a fourth coming up this fall for an artificial ankle. It's best that I slow down since I'll be 60 next year anyway. No more dirt biking, ice skating, banister rides, or hikes on nasty trails just because it's the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark going through
I just can't imagine retiring into a rockin' chair unless it's turbo-charged. Maybe it's time I grow up ~ or maybe not! If there's no "third childhood," then I plan to stay in this one. Not much can keep me from laughing and enjoying life to its fullest.
"Thanks for the Memories" and please thank your sister for sending you the article!
Take care and please keep 'em comin' ~ I love getting the E-mails!
He forgot to mention the A&W
Vicky Sechrist Boydd
Thanks for the walk down memory
lane......It surely made me smile. I remember Dennis Wilson most of all...he
was my boyfriend's good buddy (Mike Gibson). After I got married (not to Mike)
I lived on
I just spent the past weekend in
WOW!!! Reading this brought back many memories…I lived ¼ mile from Fosters but NEVER went in there. I did, however, go into EVERY OTHER burger joint in Hawthorne/Lawndale…
update to the “memory lane” stories. Back then, I owned a 1963
Corvette (split back window) silver body with red interior, which has an all
fiberglass body. I was, and am still, a “gimmick” person. I
remember having a small Sony TV, which fit perfectly on the front speaker
grill. I could extend the one “rabbit ear” antenna, and watch
TV while cruising
Thanks for the email that brought back wonderful memories. I also remember cruising
Anyone remember Pacific Ocean Park(POP) and the Wink Martindale show? I
met many many famous people in our area, Righteous Brothers, Beach Boys, Richie
Valens, Johnny Otis (Willie and the Hand Jive) and many more. A couple of years
after high school I used to shoot pool at the Hermosa Inn with Jewel Akins.
(The Birds and the Bees) Dance on the dance floor at the Tip Top club in
I loved Leuzinger and hated to move to another school for my senior year. I still brag to my closest friends how beautiful Leuzinger’s alma mater was compared to any other high schools. I often wonder if they still sing it.
I think I still remember it:
Between the mountains and the Sea
There stands a school most fair
each room each hall and bench and tree
be speaks the love we bare
To Leuzinger we pledge a new
a faith which cannot fail
May the echoes reach the skies so blue
All Hail all hail all hail
Well, anyways, thanks again for striking up the memories.
Carol Creighton Williams
I just looked at the "South
Bay Memories" section of our website - good job. I had seen the
article on the Beach Boys and thoroughly enjoyed reading the messages from
class members. So I thought I would add a few of my own.
I worked for the City of
Re the Beach Boys - my very small claim to fame was that my Dad's cousin and his family lived next door to the
I didn't do much hanging around the A&W stand growing up - no car. But did know it was there and how popular it was as a hangout. My hubby Bill used to go in there a lot, I think. I used to walk a lot - many Saturdays found me and my sister (and a cousin or two) walking from our home on 132nd & Yukon to "uptown" for shopping - we'd go down as far as 120th St. and then back the other direction and home. Now, I drive! And, now that I'm (we're) 60, it is that much sweeter to remember how it "used to be." And thanks to all who send the email reminders of our pleasant youth.