If you were a kid, growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, chances are you weren’t born here. In the 1950s it was “the great trek west” a lot of families participated in. Weather was great, the city was growing, and houses were cheap if you found a tract home in any one of the hundreds of ‘bedroom communities” springing up around L.A. – the Saturday papers had entire sections devoted to new houses and new communities, all touting No Money Down For G.I’s. – it was what the American dream was all about.
There was the smog and that was bad. You could still burn trash and every house had an incinerator, and on any given evening you could walk around, smelling burning paper – and not know if it was somebody’s garbage or somebody’s house that was on fire. The one constant was the thick blue haze that hung around streetlamps and burned your eyes.
But for many people, that was a small price to pay for this slice of heaven. Life in the East was always the source of complaints, especially around this time of year. It never helped when one of your newly-transplanted friends sent a box of fruit via Mission-Pak and you stared wistfully at the oranges and dates and heard rumors that some people had orange trees in their yards. You had snow – fun at first, but a pain a day or two after.
So if you were one of the newly transplanted or if you went west for war-work, or were stationed in San Diego during the war and decided to stay and “plant roots” when it was over, this was your town.
And to get a flavor of what “your town’ sounded like at the end of 1955, here is a tape someone made, between December 30 and 31, 1955, dial hopping between KHJ and KABC and the country music station KXLA in Pasadena, the station that would later become KRLA and an important slice of life to another generation.
This was Los Angeles – sounds and places that no longer exist for the most part, but sounds and places which were touchstones to life in a new and growing city.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!