Reindeers, Carnation soda shop and other Miracle Mile memories

| October 3, 2013 | 1 Comment
MAY COMPANY, with its perfume bottle facade, opened in Miracle Mile in 1939. The department store was the shopping destination for gym clothes to televisions.

MAY COMPANY, with its perfume bottle facade, opened in Miracle Mile in 1939. The department store was the shopping destination for gym clothes to televisions.

Toby Horn, who grew up in the Miracle Mile, shared her early recollections.

Carnation had the best chocolate chip ice cream in the whole world. Tiny flecks of chocolate that melted into the vanilla ice cream. The soda shop was the stopover on the way home from school, too. And if the moon was in its right phase, we might even get to stop for ice cream after an evening scout troop meeting. I had my first hot fudge sundae there.

Gas stations were on all four corners at Highland and Wilshire. The captive Christmas reindeer enclosed in a glass cage atop the Fritz Burns Company at the corner of Highland. We were told that they had been brought in from Mr. Burns’s ranch.

S&H Kress five and dime is now a post office. Where else could you get Tangee lipstick that was one color in the tube, and changed eerily to another after you applied it? The drugstore on the southeast corner of La Brea and Wilshire was replaced with the now demolished and lamented Columbia Savings and Loan.

ORIGINALLY a camera store, the Miracle Mile location has morphed into several different restaurants through the years.

ORIGINALLY a camera store, the Miracle Mile location has morphed into several different restaurants through the years.

Another Prudential building on Wilshire had the most fantastical sculpture and fountain in the front. The stationery store near the camera shop is now declared as a historic monument.

Men’s stores included Silverwoods, Brown’s, Desmonds, Harris and Frank and Phelps Turkel, which became Phelps Wilger. These stores were the source of gainful vacation employment for so many neighborhood kids.

C’mon now, who in their right mind really calls it LACMA West?  It’s really the May Company! Raise your hand if you got your gym clothes there. And remember the candy department where you could buy 25 cents worth of warm red pistachios that would stain your fingers until the next day and tipped off your mother how you spent your allowance.

The parking lot sales in the May Company parking lot is now the site of Chris Burden’s street light installation and the BCAM. My first transistor radio came from the television department there.

Those divine dresses at Lanz never fit, but how I pined for them. Remember their flannel nightgowns?

The Ralphs grocery store at Wilshire and Hauser was originally designed by the renowned architectural firm of Morgan Walls and Clements. Had the Los Angeles Conservancy been in existence then, the building might have been treasured and not torn down.

And the little treasure tucked into the corner next to Ralphs? Our very own See’s Candy where you could always find a place to park in front. Was it really $1.30 a pound? Always reasonable enough to buy a box for mom on her birthday or Mother’s Day.

Brown’s Bakery, Flying Saucer Restaurant and Du-par’s where I wanted to be a waitress and wear impossibly starched uniforms and elaborately folded handkerchiefs as a corsage. Those waitresses were such pros, and they didn’t even insist upon telling us their names. At Van de Kamp’s bakery and coffee shop, a regular burger was 50 cents; the special with French fries was a few cents more.

Buster Brown Shoes where children could stand on the platform in the middle of the store and have their feet unnecessarily irradiated to see if their bones were growing correctly.

If your feet survived the X-ray, you could walk across the street to the tar pits and go into the little building with the viewing platform to look at a mass of bones embedded in tar.  The observation pit survives today amidst huge boulders, stands of palm trees and amphitheaters. To enter there, brings back the smell of childhood excursions and slow summer days. And the bones haven’t aged a bit, though I have.

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  1. Murphy. Michael says:

    “The captive Christmas reindeer enclosed in a glass cage atop the Fritz Burns Company at the corner of Highland. We were told that they had been brought in from Mr. Burns’s ranch.”

    I have been looking for pics of the FBC reindeer for days on end… I remember seeing them as a wee lad. Any idea how to find the pics !?

    Amen.

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