A Story of Growing up in the 1930's and 1940's in Southwest Los Angeles

Marjorie Fletcher    Last Update: November 2011


Marjorie and Robert Fletcher,  1947 Senior Prom

The Fletcher Family 1956

More Photos at the bottom of this page


     I was born in the old Angeles (Queen of Angels) Hospital in downtown Los Angeles and baptized on Palm Sunday, March 17, 1940 at the Florence Avenue United Presbyterian Church by Pastor Hugh W. Hodgens. This church was on Normandy Avenue, just south of Florence Avenue. I attended Raymond Avenue Grammar School, Horace Mann Jr. High and George Washington High School, all being in southwest Los Angeles and graduating from high school in February of 1947. At that time there were bean fields surrounding the school. In 1948, and after World War II, they began to build tract houses and all the outlying areas were soon filled with new homes. My parents and I lived in Long Beach during the 1933 earthquake which was at 5:55 PM, March 10, 1933. I remember it well as my father was reading the funny papers to me when the quake began to roll. We lived upstairs in an apartment house and my father carried me down the swaying stairs as the earthquake shook. After he got me outside, he returned to the upstairs apartment to help my mother and my grandmother out of the building. There was much destruction and our family drove around the area in the next few weeks to observe the damage. I remember, while living in that apartment, we had a large balcony off the upstairs bedroom. On warm summer nights, we would sleep out on the balcony with mosquito netting covering us. My parents and I lived in Sierra Madre during my kindergarten year and my father worked at the Wisteria Bakery, locally owned by Mr. Stanley Decker. My father would take me to his work at the bakery and Mr. Decker would fix me a box of "goodies" such as éclairs, cookies and etc. During the 1930's my father and mother moved around often as jobs were hard to find. During my grammar school years, I remember going to the movies every Saturday afternoon at the Dixie Theater on Normandy Avenue and watching Flash Gordon and western serials. My friends and I would try to be the first ones in line at the box office and we would sit in the very first row of the theater in the middle seats! It cost only ten cents for a ticket to watch the movie. There was Miller's grocery store on 67th Street and Normandy Avenue, across form the Dixie theater. This is where my mother did a lot of her grocery shopping, no super markets then. You didn't need to take any money with you as everyone had a running account with the grocer and you paid your bill each month. They would even deliver the groceries to your door if you asked them. While on a shopping trip for my mother at this grocery store, Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the news came over the radio that the United States had been attacked and bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Islands. This surprise attack by the Japanese was the beginning of World War II. When in the fourth grade and at Raymond Avenue grammar school, we all went to school in tents that were set up on the playground. The tents had wooden sides that went up about three feet on all sides and had canvas window shades that could be rolled up on warm days or rolled down on cold days. When it rained very hard the ceiling on the tents would drip. There were space heaters inside to keep the tents warm. The old school was damaged so badly from the 1933 earthquake that it had to be completely rebuilt. By the second half of the fourth grade the new school was finished and we all moved into the new building. My 4th grade teacher was Miss Moreland and I remember that she was very strict, throwing books when she would get mad! While in the fifth grade and attending Raymond Avenue School, there was a special field trip to downtown Los Angeles to visit the "new" Union Pacific Train Station. (about 1938/1939). Our class also made a visit to Olivera Street and had a Mexican lunch and a shopping tour. During my junior high and high school years, my friends and I would go to the roller skating rink that was called "Skateland" on Vernon and Vermont Avenues in Los Angeles. It had a beautiful hardwood floor and they would play live organ music to skate by. I remember going to Harvard Playground and taking dancing lessons and dancing to the music of Glenn Miller. We lived on West 71st Street between Vermont and Budlong. During the summer months we would go to the swimming pool at Harvard Playground almost every day. It cost only five cents for admission into the pool and you could swim all day. During my high school years (1945-1947) my friends and I would take the "red car" (Pacific and Electric) down Santa Monica Blvd to the beaches at Santa Monica and Ocean Park. My father would occasionally take us swimming in the salt-water pool on the beach at Redondo. My mother and I would go to downtown Los Angeles to shop in the large department stores such as Bullock's, The May Company, Robinson's and The Broadway. There were no shopping malls at this time, only the large department stores that were in downtown Los Angeles. During the Christmas season, everyone would go there to see the Christmas displays in the large windows of the department stores. They usually had moving elves, Santa Clauses, trains and etc., a whole village in a single window. It was fun for my mother and I to go to Clifton's Cafeteria on 6th Street between South Broadway and South Olive for lunch, it was a special place with a neat lemonade fountain. Sometimes we would have lunch at J. J. Newberry's or Woolworth's five and dime stores and eat at the lunch counter. During the 1930's there was a gambling ship, the "S. S. Rex", that was anchored out beyond the three mile zone off the coast of California near Los Angeles. That was a favorite place to go for my grandparents. My parents would occasionally go out there with them on weekends by taking the water taxi. Another favorite was a trip to Catalina Island on the steamship, "S S. Catalina" or "S. S. Avalon". This is where by mother and father spent their first wedding anniversary in 1927. The island was only about twenty-seven miles from San Pedro Harbor where you would board the ship. It was a nice day's trip, returning in the early evening. When I was a child of ten or twelve, my parents would take me to the Long Beach Pike where there was a roller coaster and other favorite rides. When we arrived at Long Beach and got out of our car, we would smell the wonderful ocean breezes and the salt air. During the late 1930's and the early 1940's I was a member of the Girl Scouts of America and have many happy memories of going to summer camp in Big Santa Anita Canyon, just outside of Los Angeles. One occasion that I remember well was at Christmas time. Our Girl Scout Troop went to Exposition Park where the Coliseum is and there were many large fir trees that were all decorated with Christmas lights. Our troop sang Christmas Carols for the passers by. During my high school years I worked at S. H. Kress Co., five and dime stores during my summer vacations from school. During my Christmas vacations from school, which were about two weeks long, I worked as a sales girl at Bullock's and in the gift wrapping at Robinson's Department store in downtown Los Angeles. S. H. Kress was located on the corner of Vermont Avenue and  Slauson, across from Sears Roebuck and Company. One of our favorite places to go was the Morningside Malt Shop in Morningside Park near Inglewood. They had the most wonderful hamburgers and the thickest malts. Another favorite place was the drugstore on the corner of Van Ness and Florence Avenue in Southwest Los Angeles. We would sometimes stop and get a cherry coke or a banana split after school. There was a restaurant next to Sears that was called "Charlie's Red Hots", a favorite place too as they had foot long chili dogs. On the corner of Normandy and Florence Avenues there was a hot dog stand. It was called "Art's Hot Dogs" and his chili dogs were known far and wide to be the best in all of southwest Los Angeles (early 1940's). We would go to the Academy and 5th Avenue theaters in Inglewood quite often for "previews" of new motion pictures and the stars that were in the movies that were being previewed would usually attend the showing. During World War II there were many "blackouts" in Los Angeles.  One time it was said that there were enemy planes overhead and air raid sirens were going off and searchlights were in the sky and everyone was frightened but nothing came of it.  Everyone was glad when the war was over and all the service men returned home again. There was lots of rationing during the war years, can goods, meat, sugar, gasoline and etc. Each month a family would be allotted a certain number of ration stamps according to the size of their family. My grandmother would give me her shoe stamps as she didn't wear out many shoes but I was in school and my shoes would wear out much faster. We all have many happy memories of growing up in Los Angeles, California during the 1930's and the 1940's. It was a great place!

     My husband was in the Navy during World War II and served 3 years and 9 months of duty in the South Pacific on LST 242. When he was discharged, he went to work for a milk company in Los Angeles as a driver salesman (milkman). He attended Horace Mann Jr. High School and numerous grammar schools in the area. He remembers the fun of playing as a youth at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. His mother had rented a bungalow on Santa Barbara Avenue near the park and he and his brother spent many happy hours there. His earlier youth was spent in West Virginia with a short stay in Long Island, New York, coming to California about 1934/1935 with his brother and his mother. He graduated from George Washington High School in June 1943 and went directly into the Navy as our country was in World War II.

    After our marriage, we would take many camping trips to Blue Jay campground at Crestline, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino mountains. One special time comes to mind when we had our 1931 Model "A" Ford coupe with a rumble seat. We did not have very much money to buy camping equipment so a friend who's family had a cabin at Lake Arrowhead told us that we could use the cabin for a couple of days. The cabin was very rustic and did not have any indoor plumbing. We put a full size mattress in the rumble seat (the seat had been removed as the car was 15 years old by this time) and we drove up to Lake Arrowhead, which was about 75 miles from where we lived. We didn't have much power in our Model A to climb mountains but passed other cars along the road that had to stop because their radiator was boiling over (the days before antifreeze). We survived the trip and had a wonderful time. My husband used to pick me up after school sometimes. One time he had just painted the steering wheel on our Model A and he had a hard time driving and steering it, as the paint was still wet! We painted that car several times with a can of four-hour enamel and a paint brush. It started out green when we bought it and then it was blue and then tan. What foolish things we young people do! There are many happy memories of our first year of marriage and many things to laugh and talk about as the years go by. We celebrated our 63rd wedding anniversary in February 2009. We bought our first home on the GI Bill in 1947. This house was a twenty year old, two bedroom Spanish stucco located on 6th Avenue near Florence and Crenshaw Blvd in Southwest Los Angeles. We lived there for about two years before selling, later moving to South Gate then Lynwood, California. In the early 1960's  we moved to the Northwest which changed our life quite a bit. We bought  a house near the McKenzie River on 3 1/2 acres of land about 10 miles from town. The children would ride the school bus about ten miles each way to attend their school. During the summer the children and myself would work in the bean fields picking Blue Lake beans for the cannery and using the extra money to buy new school cloths for the children. Some of our neighbors picked strawberries. We tried it but it was back-breaking work, bending over all day! After living in the old house for nine years, we decided to build a new house on the back of our property, doing all the work ourselves except for the plumbing and electricity. It was quite an experience and we finished it and was able to move in, in five months.

    After our children were grown, I became an oil painting and drawing instructor, having classes in various places around town and I also had a studio in our home where I held painting classes. When we retired in 1987, we sold our home of thirty years and became full-time RV'ers. We finally settled down in 2003, sold our RV and moved into a senior apartment complex.


Marjorie Fletcher Copyright 2009






Robert E. Fletcher Nov 11, 2011

Robert & Marjorie Fletcher

Robert & Marjorie Fletcher Nov 11, 2011

The Morningside Malt Shop, Inglewood, California ca. 1945


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