82.1 F
San Fernando
Friday, Aug 12, 2022
-Advertisement-

Heyday Display

Step into the new Valley Relics Museum and you experience the commercial glory of the San Fernando Valley’s past. The museum’s collection emphasizes signage of yesteryear’s restaurants and gas stations, but also features postcards from the edges of memory, mid-century menus and matchbooks with artwork romanticizing exotic places and concepts and 1970s pinball and arcade games. Located in Lake Balboa at 7900 Balboa Blvd., the venue has one basic goal. “This is about cherishing what we have,” said Tommy Gelinas, the museum’s founder and curator. The organization began online as the Valley Relics Online Museum website before Gelinas opened the nonprofit in 2013 at a 5,000-square-foot space at 21630 Marilla St. in Chatsworth. “It became this thing among the millennials,” Gelinas said. After five years, the old location went dark until Nov. 17, when Gelinas officially re-opened the museum in Lake Balboa in a 10,000-square-foot complex incorporating two airplane hangars adjoined by warehouse cutaways. Gelinas said the museum displays 15,000 Valley-centric items. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and free for children age10 and under. Highlights abound, including a sign purchased from the founder of Granada Hills’ Family Fun Arcade, which entertained kids for 40 years. The owner ended up donating a number of coin-operated games, which visitors can play free of charge. Gelinas’ allegiance to his beloved Valley has been lifelong. The owner of North Hollywood’s Print Lab looks back fondly on his upbringing in Studio City and Porter Ranch. Today, he resides with his family in Sherman Oaks. “I’ve always been fascinated with the history of the Valley since I was a kid,” he said. As a child, he was dumbfounded when he spotted some vintage photos and realized that the San Fernando Valley had history dating back to the Old West. Gelinas misses the camaraderie of his youth in the 1960s and ’70s — backyard barbecues, riding on Schwinn Sting Rays from Northridge Fashion Center to Topanga Plaza, or visiting the Busch Gardens amusement park in Van Nuys. The Valley was once a “mecca of things to do for kids,” Gelinas recalled. His museum is a celebration of Valley subculture — signage from Carney’s Hot Dogs; the Pioneer Take-Out that once occupied De Soto and Roscoe; and the still-extant Bear Pit in Mission Hills, which once had three additional locations. Signs from Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ in Van Nuys and Brent’s deli in Northridge are also represented here. This year, Gelinas rescued a piece of his daughters’ Valley childhood when he salvaged signage from the Van Nuys location of Toys ‘R Us following the chain’s demise in June. Yet Gelinas’ Holy Grail was obtaining the original neon sign from the Palomino Club, which stood at Lankershim and Sherman Way from 1949 to 1997. During those years, Linda Ronstadt, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash and even Elvis Presley sang there. In 1999, he got a call from a person witnessing the owners trashing the sign, which had spent five years behind old crates at a Chatsworth warehouse. “I searched all over for that sign for 10 years,” Gelinas said. “There were rumors it was in Van Nuys, Woodland Hills.”

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-