The Valley Relics Museum just received an amazingly generous donation from Mr. Nathan Adlen, owner of Aadlen Bros. Auto Wrecking / U-Pick Parts in Sun Valley near the I-5. This enormous "junk yard," which opened in 1962 and has been the filming location of many movies and music videos, will soon be permanently closing its doors. If you've ever spent time searching for a part among the wrecked cars and salvaged movie props, you may have seen these pieces. But for many more of us, they seemed to be lost to history.
Up first is an early 1930s Helms Bakery twin-coach! Helms opened in 1931 and delivered fresh baked goods to customers' homes until 1969. Their motto was "Daily at your Door." Helms Bakery was based in Culver City, but the memories of their two-tone delivery coaches live on in the minds of people all over the San Fernando Valley (along with memories of their bread, donuts, and candy)! This coach will join a 1960s-era Helms truck in the Valley Relics collection.
Next is an amazing mid-century car that has been modified to look like a shoe! The exact history of this "Old Shoe" car is unknown at this time, but it probably spent most of its time advertising a Valley shoe store, such as Mother Goose Shoes or Tom McCann's. We can't wait to do more research into where it came from!
Finally, Mr. Adlen has given Valley Relics this incredible arched structure that once stood above the car wash and Tiny Naylor's coffee shop on Laurel Canyon at Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. It may look like a trio of gigantic boomerangs, but the sculpture actually has a noble architectural history! It was designed by the LA firm of Armet and Davis, who were pioneers of the "Coffee Shop Modern" style of architecture, also known as "Googie." Googie-style buildings attracted customers in the 1950s and '60s with dramatic, futuristic-looking details that today look funky and cool.
The Laurel Canyon car wash's arches were built in the early 1960s, and may have been inspired by the "boomerangs" that adorn the Cathedral of Brasilia, designed by Futurist architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1958. They rose 86 feet from ground level through the roof of the car wash and were originally painted white. They can be seen at top right in the postcard at the top of this post. In 1989, a group of Studio City locals attempted to get the coffee shop, car wash, and gas station on that corner preserved as cultural landmarks; but the Los Angeles Cultural Commission rejected their proposal and the structures were soon demolished. The arches found a sort of afterlife at Aadlen Bros., and will now be preserved for future generations
The Helms twin-coach and the Old Shoe car will be restored and put on display at the Valley Relics Museum. Because of their massive size, the Googie arches cannot currently be displayed, but maybe someday! Thank you Mr. Adlen!
--Alison Turtledove, Valley Relics archivist