And home to my teenage years.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 60's and 70's, there were only a smattering of things you could do on a Friday or Saturday night.
And, yes, cruising down Van Nuys Blvd. was one of them. It's true, no cliche. It was like a rite of passage. We'd start at one end, and work our way down to the other...to an Italian restaurant with the best garlic rolls imaginable. We'd go inside, buy the rolls, and gather in the parking lot.
We were actually pretty good kids...just wanted to eat and flirt. That's it. Innocent really.
But, what if you wanted to see a movie? Back then it was actually referred to as a "first run" movie. A brand new movie.
No such thing in the Valley. If you wanted to see a first-run movie, you had to go into Westwood.
Going from the city to the valley (or vice versa), is referred to as a trip over the hill. No, there's no passport required, no toll booth collecting money, no border patrol. You just get in your car, and make the trip. But the difference between valley folk and city folk continues to be a sort of war of the classes. The city folk maintain a sense of culture and sophistication. While valley folk, remain tasteless, know-nothings.
So, the trip to Westwood was essential, if you wanted to see a brand new movie. I can remember waiting in line for hours to see "The Way We Were"...in the rain, no less, because that's just what you did.
When the Exorcist came out, I had a part time job doing "marketing research". This meant, that at the age of 18...I actually got paid to go into Westwood, interview people coming out of the Exorcist, to garner the opinion of the masses.
Now, that was a tough job! I even recruited a couple of friends to do this with me. So there I was, doing what I would normally do on a Friday or Saturday night, and getting PAID for it. Not a bad gig.
After seeing a first-run movie, the rest of the evening always went the same way...you'd promenade around Westwood, going in and out of shops.
There was Wherehouse Records. There was Stan's Donut shop. And a little swapmeet that was paraded out every Friday and Saturday night. We'd stroll the streets, laughing, eating, but mainly, and most importantly...looking for boys to flirt with.
When we had eaten enough donuts and flirted with enough boys, it was time to make the trip back over the hill.
But when you're in your teens, hunger is the operative word. Donuts was just an appetizer to what would come to be our staple for the late night hours.
DUPAR'S...the evening would end with a trip to the home of the best pancakes, this side of the Mississippi. And coffee...had to have lot's and lot's of coffee.
Dupar's still exists, although not the one that I frequented. That has become a deli. Not the same.
Now, you can see any movie you wish in the valley. In fact, the truth is, you never have to leave the valley. There are plenty of restaurants, and movies, and malls.
I suppose that's good for people dwelling in the valley. Less driving. Less time wasted on the freeway.
I have lived in several cities since those days of growing up in the valley.
But I'm grateful for where and how I grew up...for those drive's over the hill,
and the memories of my youth.
(this post inspired by a seemingly innocent comment on Wanderer's last post...go read it and see if you can discover the inspiring comment)