Saturday, September 6, 2008

Where Were You In '62? - At Ralphs!

A bit more on Ralphs before a brief pause in the story. This photo is from 1962, and appears once again by courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library. This photo was commissioned by Foster and Kleiser, the famous billboard company, for an unknown promotional purpose. The sign is typical of Ralphs (much more so than the one shown in the last post) in the 1958-62 period.

Note the multi-colored “LIQUORS” sign, standard issue for many L.A. supermarkets (sort of suggests a similar psychological effect to saying “free balloons”, right?), and the sale posters above the awning instead of their usual place of honor on the store windows. I can picture the store’s maintenance man up there changing the posters, cigarette dangling, muttering “Beans down 2 cents a can. Why don’t they make up their @#%& minds?”

That also looks like a pick-up window at the snack bar/café. If anyone remembers this location, please clue us in!

Mike S. was kind enough to identify this store as the Ralphs located on Roscoe Boulevard and Topanga Canyon in Canoga Park (San Fernando Valley). Check out the comments section of this post for his great memories of the area!


  1. “Beans down 2 cents a can. Why don’t they make up their @#%& minds?”

    Hilarious! I bet he was thinking that.

  2. If I'm not mistaken (and I don't think I am), the Ralphs in the picture was located on Roscoe Boulevard and Topanga Canyon in Canoga Park (San Fernando Valley). I remember the Cafe outside the store, and the special signs near the roof. And of course, the trademark Ralphs sign.
    My mother never shopped at Ralphs when we grew up in Canoga Park, her favorite stores were Alpha Beta, Food Giant and (occasionally) Hughes Market. But when I was a teen, I used to ride my Schwinn 5-speed Sting Ray to the Ralphs (which had a Thrifty drug store next to it) and the Zody's discount store across the street. Also in the area was a movie theater we went to often. Going east on Roscoe, just a few blocks away, was Auto Row--where the VW, Ford, Mercury, Dodge and Chrysler-Plymouth dealers were. I loved to go to the lots and check out the latest models. Not far from the car dealers, across the railroad tracks, was the White Front and Big A discount stores.
    They bring back such memories. I went back to Canoga Park several years ago; can't remember if the Ralphs was still there, however.

  3. Gosh sometimes when I see these pictures, I think I was born too late. The 50's and 60's must have some heady times for retail.

    I was born and raised in a small town, so 1970's examples are most engrained in me head.

    1. You missed a greg time and place to grow up. The West San Fernando Valley then was awesome … rubbing elbows with celebrities in the grocery store and not being in awe, orange groves, stores like The Big A, White Front and Zody's

  4. Didi - Any similarity to actual events is purely coincidental! :)

    Mike - Thanks for sharing those great memories and for identifying the store! I'll make a note on the post. The Valley must've been a shopping paradise in its day!

    Ken - Without a doubt they were, although I kind of caught the tail end of that era as well, being born in the early 60's. Into the 70's, there were still many great 50's/60's examples around, of course, most of which would disappear or be heavily altered by 1980. The 70's produced some gems as well, just not as consistently as the earlier era.

  5. I recall the "Big A" discount store... the main entry was under the letter which was taller than the building. it later became the location for a "Home Base" ("Home Club"?) store... of course, the "White Front" store was a busy place and always fun to visit... now a "Costco", the "White Front" supermarket and discount floor was separated by smaller uses such as a cleaners, donut shop, etc. By the way, my dad illustrated ads for both "Big A" and "White Front" before moving on to "Montgomery Ward", "JC Penney" and "Barker Bros." among others in freelance mode. Growing up in nearby Reseda, we had the "Sad Sack" store (before was "Grant's" and later "Sav-On" to "Osco", back to "Sav-On" and presently "CVS"..."Superfair" (which was also "Bonanza", later "Hughes" and now placed by "Ralph's"!