Southern California Originals

Today’s lunchtime news chum post (well, I really wrote it while my wife was handing out Halloween candy) all has to do with some things that are uniquely Los Angeles, or if not LA in particular, then uniquely Southern California…

  • You’re Killing Me, Larry! We’ve all heard the ads: “We’ll beat anyone’s price or your mattress is freeeeeeee!”. Ever wonder about the man behind the ads, or the company itself? The Jewish Journal has a very nice piece on Larry Miller and the Sit and Sleep Empire. For example, did you know that  his 28 stores in Southern California sell more mattresses per store than any other retailer in the country? That he is a large donor to and honoree of Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), a nondenominational nonprofit that helps people find new careers and employment, and the Scott Newman Foundation, whose focus is drug education. That Sit ’n Sleep has also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to provide families with new beds. Reading the article gave me a very different insight on the man.
  • Original on the Beach. The VC Star has a profile and an update on another Southern California original: Gidget, who in real-life is Kathy Zuckerman. Zuckerman was recently in Ojai to promote a new film on her life. Having grown up by the beach, I’m well aware of the surf culture. I also enjoyed watching both the new and the rebooted Gidget TV series, so this article was a kick to read.
  • Dangling by a String. The LA Times has an article on our next Southern California original: Bob Baker and his marionettes. Bob is still out there, at 88, doing shows for children and trying to keep his puppet theatre — a staple of Los Angeles for 53 years — afloat.
  • There’s Just One Little Problem… Our last Southern California original isn’t a who, but a what–the Alexandria Annex. In the early 1900s, there was a very luxurious hotel downtown called the Alexandria. So luxurious, in fact, that the owner of the lot next door built an annex to it. As it connected to the Alexandria, he didn’t bother to build stairwells or an elevator. One problem. In the late 1930s, the owner of the Alexandria got in a fight with the owner of the Annex, and bricked up the hallways. Since then, the only accessible portion has been the ground floor. The Annex’s new owner now wants to install an elevator, access the rooms that haven’t been accessible since the 1930s, and turn it into a luxury apartment.



3 Replies to “Southern California Originals”

  1. Something specific to LA, but not exactly unique…
    The Pacific Electric Red Cars.
    What IDIOTS we were to kill it off. While like any true Angelino, I was a freeway addict – but what a great system we traded for them.

    1. The problem wasn’t getting rid of the cars — the problems were getting rid of the right of way and letting it go back to highway usage. By the time the system was killed, PE and LARy were dealing with cars that had not undergone maintenance in years (going back to the 1920s), and track that really needed upgrading… but the PUC prevented them from raising fares to pay for the upgrade. The highways were new, with infrastracture paid for by the public, and PE and LARy could run busses whereever they wanted and add or drop service at will. It’s not a surprised that they moved to busses. However, the decision to give up the right of way for lines is something that has haunted us for year.

      P.S.: You are aware that the Red Cars and Yellow Cars still run out at Orange Empire Rwy Musuem. Next time you’re out here, let me know and I’ll take a vacation day and we’ll go out there. We’ve been members for years.

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