Friday, May 14, 2010

Gone, but not forgotten, sort of 2

A couple of years ago, I wrote about several places in Torrance that are 'ex-parrots'. Places like the Shamrock roller rink, the Parasol Restaurant, JK Gill and a host of other has-beens.

That story got the most comments of any other I've written, so to honor that, I've decided to expand the geographical area which to wax nostalgic about.

Spot Market. When you were asian or otherwise and living in Gardena, this was the go-to market. The only other place with a decent selection of authentic asian groceries was the ORIGINAL Ranch Market in Downtown Chinatown on Hill Street...Anyhoo, there was a book/magazine area where my brother and I would pour and paw over the comic books, but an old chinese man would chase us off after we stayed too long and didn't buy anything. There was also a little restaurant in the back, but it always looked a little creepy to me. (A little unrelated trivia, I was married in the catholic church a few blocks away from the Hill Street Ranch Market at St. Peter's Italian Catholic Church. Originally, Chinatown was Little Italy.)

El Rancho Market on Western Ave and 182nd Street. This was a really small market, and the place we'd walk to buy candy and comic books.

Eagle Restaurant. This was an old skool cantonese style chinese restaurant - I think it was on Western Ave in Gardena, but I was pretty little at the time - I could be wrong about the locale. It was the kind of place that sold chop suey and egg fu yung. We ate there on Sundays in the 1960s before there was a Tin Sing's (in Gardena on Redondo Beach Blvd, now defunct.)

Thunderburger's. This was an incredible burger joint on Redondo Beach Blvd. and Normandie in Gardena. It had the most amazing stupendous teriyaki avocado burgers (Rascal's in Torrance makes an excellent version of this messy but marvelous burger.) The place had an amazing neon sign, and it was featured in a couple of movies. Next door was Missile Bowl, and Rocket Cleaners (the former is an ex-parrot, the latter is still there.)

The Jockey Club. This was a nightclub on the Redondo Beach pier that everyone who was asian and from Gardena used to hang out. That is, when they weren't hanging out at Gung Hay's, on Crenshaw and 148th.

Jack and Jill's Shoe Store. This small store was located across from the Sav-On Drug Store on Western Ave. in Gardena (remember the jingle? Sav-On Drug Stores, Sav-On Drug Stores....boom boom...SAV-ON!) My mom bought all our Buster Brown shoes there when we were small - later, when we were older and more sophisticated, we bought our shoes at Thom McAn's or Kinney. This was a time when actual shoe salesman dressed in a coat and tie would bring you a selection of shoes and assist you with fittings.

Fox Theater: not more than a few steps from the afore mentioned Sav On Drug store was this tiny theater where I was forever scarred after watching The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, starring Ray Milland. "If thine eyes offend thee, pluck them out!!!"

Nahas Department Store. I worked at the one in Gardena in the credit department, and on the sales floor. There was one in Palos Verdes and one in Santa Barbara. My sister and I shopped for fabric there - you could buy fabric for less than $1 a yard. I also remember the manager of the shoe department was a rather obese gentleman who had false teeth that would come loose. Not to be confused with the Gardena Department Store which is STILL doing business on Gardena Blvd., and the best place to buy all your Girl and Boy Scout supplies.

Ascot Raceway: Where the 405 and the 110 freeways COLLIDE!!!! On Vermont Ave., just south of 182nd Street. My friend Nancy and I would hang out there on Saturday nights as teenagers - it was as tacky and trashy as you would expect, but it kept a lot of young adults from racing illegally on the streets. You could hear the buzzing of the engines from my home, especially in the evenings, and they also put on a pretty good fireworks show.

The Big Slide. This is not the actually name, but it's what I called it. Located off Normandie Ave., right off the 405 freeway, it was quite the novelty to sit on a gunny sack and race down this enormous stand-alone slide.

Eldon's. Not as large and swanky as Mattel, but its proximity to my dad's employer, NCR made it special. A real toy factory next door to his office. Need I say more? Well, other than I got The Dating Game Board Game from there. Ah, the sixties, when toy factories could still be found right down the street.

The Raintree: This was a funny little local bar in Torrance at the corner of Torrance Blvd. and Anza that had a live DJ and dancing - I met my hub nut there. Yes, girls, you can meet a nice guy at a bar.


Anonymous said...

So glad to have found you again! Love the you remember Certabond on Van Ness Ave that is now Marshall Music or speaking of bars, Latitude 20 on PCH? I'm still bummed that Tin Sing is gone, however, you can get their food at Fu Shing on Western & 182nd Street (that's where the chef works now).....pressed almond duck, pork egg rolls & pan fried noodle chow mein, oh my!

Anonymous said...

Certabond!!!! I remember that place! On Van Ness, a little south of the Mobile oil refinery. I can remember going in past an area with telephone switchboard operators. That was in the '60's. Just down the street was a steel mill (U.S. Steel, I think.) Across town were Licorice Pizza and the Wherehouse (both near Sepulveda and Hawthorne), where I spend many an hour looking at records. Across the street was the Treasury.

Anonymous said...

Wow, really. The chef for ting sing went to Fu Shing? Is it just as good? I will have to check it out. I love that the old bldg is an insurance place now, but the big ting sing sign still remains :)! How about the Gung Hay Restaurant on crenshaw, where can I found that chef or a similair place. No restaurant will ever compare. For every family celebration, we would go to Gung Hay. Best Chinse food EVER!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I used to go to the rain tree before disco took over. I actually won a wet boxer contest there in about 1978.
I also grew up skating at the shamrock. Used to be on speed club there. Skated every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For about 6 years.
Great memories.

Unknown said...

Calling the Raintree " A funny little local bar" is way off base. I took over The Raintree in 1979 and it became one of the great rock and show clubs in southern CA. It was packed almost every night from 1970 to 1974. Great entertainment included Nooney Rickett and the Noon Express, Stark Naked and the Car Thieves, The Burgandy Express and many more.
When I took over I remodeled the club with a round plexiglass dance floor with red lights underneath and a 20 foot wide bandstand with drapes that opened for the groups.
We broke our bar and door record on a Monday night when we had the Miss Tits America contests. We also had some of the greatest dance contests in SoCal.
The Raintree was far more than a funny little local bar.

Anonymous said...

I use to work at the Raintree from 72-78 was a bouncer and bartender there. Good times there with live music. That's when Johnny Bogus owned the bar.

Anonymous said...

I use to work at the Raintree from 73-78 as a bouncer and bartender there. Good times when they had live music. Hated the disco but when I worked there Johnny Bogus was the owner.

Phipps Canpisio said...

Wondering when you worked at Nahas, I used to work for that elderly gentleman in the shoe department in the mid '70s. I never understood how that place stayed open as long as it did, I don't think there was more than a dozen customers in the place at any time.