Record Store Boogie Pt. 2

Posted: January 26, 2011 in records

Speaking of hit and run record dealers.  Mini-Max in Seal Beach was probably related to Bob’s Discount and Larry’s Patio Records, which operated at various hit and run locations for about two decades.  Allegedly, they’d open up as Music Minus, or some such, then do business, while forgetting things like rent, until they were evicted, then open up some place else.  Loved finding their newest locations.  Last seen on Tenth St. near Redondo.

The Record Collector was owned by Bob Setlik and jazz collector Jeff Barr.  They kept it going until someone broke in and stole their rarest LPs.  Don’t recall a thing about Spinning Works except they had a card.  Zed was world famous, first specialized in progressive rock (Gentle Giant, etc.); incubated punk and lasted in three locations, most recently on Lakewood near the Traffic Circle.

Both Mundae near the Pier and Revolver on Seventh St. rocked.   Speaking of rock titles, Beggar’s Banquet in O.C. was famous for handling Springsteen bootlegs.  The story alleges they were sued by The Boss, who agreed not to collect if they’d cease and desist.  They agreed.  Smart move.

Flip Side was opened by high school or college kids who visited my collection and bought some LPs until they saw a price sticker on a rare LP and were upset I’d increased the price.  Like there’s a little known LP price control law, I imagine.

Lamar’s Records was begun by dyed-in-the-blues fan Gilbert Duarte who was part of the Moon & Mars duet when in junior high in Compton.  He specialized in hard to get blues LPs and the newly invented blues CDs in the 1980s.  Just across Atlantic Avenue was Bobby Dalton’s eclectic record and curio shop called the Velvet Underground, which created an early rare record zone.  It was in business for a few decades.

Dalton gave pieces of his business to managers like Chuck Davis, who had put Wenzel’s into the rare record auction business and when Chuck left, to a larger than life guy named Junior.  Neither stayed around to cash in their part ownership.  For awhile Dalton presented live music from an in-store stage and I recall the district’s councilman Jerry Schulz made up part of one audience.  Lamar moved on to Wardlow Rd. where he  hung in for at least a decade, having blues collectors bring in rare records for after-hours 45 and 78 rpm recording spinning parties.

These are just the tip of the iceberg when vinyl in all speeds and forms were marketed in our town.  There was Licorice Pizza on Seventh near CSULB which kiddie record collector Glen Banks managed and where I found a bulletin board advert for some rare 45 sold to me by an old Hawthorne lowrider named Jerry Silvester (I still have the sticker on a Red Robin label 45) out of Seal Beach.  Pizza also had Fifth St. location downtown with plush couches and orange crate record shelves near the Rivoli Theater.

There was also American Music which expanded to Viking Way in time for me to get a rare promo of the Ruben & the Jets LP in about 1970.

Wallich’s closed up shop in the late 70s or early 80s and that was just the start.  Luckily, we still have Fingerprints, we still have Bagatelle and we still have Dizzy on Vinyl on Seventh Street and a few more I’m not revealing.  Let‘s treasure these brave retailers of new and second hand vinyl, while we still can.

For more on record shops in the area, check out Record Collector News, found on-line, at Bagatelles or at the Orange County Record Show in Stanton, while they last.


Record Store Boogie Pt. 1

Posted: January 25, 2011 in records

I’ve been shopping at local record stores since the mid 1950s.  When I was at Jefferson Jr. High and Wilson High School, no one in my family dared supply me with a motor vehicle, a smart move considering my accident record when I began driving.

In 1958, I had to take a city bus as I almost died from a very bad smog-related asthma attack when I was returning from a daylong visit to San Diego in 1957.  A few years later, I returned to visit that border town to check out Arcade Records, where unsold records went to die.  Had I bought their quarter-per-record titles then, I’d own some extremely rare and valuable records, but I bought only the ones I knew.


After my hospitalization in Harbor City, I took a weekly bus downtown to get allergy shots at the Kaiser clinic on Ocean Blvd.  The bus stop was at the Bernaderet Record Store on First St. next to an alley east of Pine Ave.  Every week, I’d go in and pick up the KFWB Top 40 Survey for the week.  One time the lady at the counter mentioned, “I never see you buy anything,” so I went through her .39 cent browser bin and bought something.  She never complained again.


I still have all those surveys.


The main shops in Long Beach were Morey’s and Humphrey’s on Pine Avenue in the 50s.  Morey’s had a bin of new 45s with a locked stick through them to prevent shrinkage.  It worked, but was a less-than-friendly sales device.


But the main players for rock and roll fans were two shops just north of Long Beach:  Wallich’s Music City in Lakewood, which opened in 1957 and Wenzel’s Music Town in Downey, which opened in late 1958.  Wallich’s, which had an extreme shrinkage problem as they’d let teens audition 45s and LPs in listening booths (stick the 45s in your clothing and briskly walk out) was frequented by cruisers as Hody’s Drive-In was just across Lakewood Blvd.


I loved both stores.  I got to know Wenzel’s quite well in the 1970s as I gave them the idea to sell collectable records, which kept the store afloat into 2001 when they posted the sign, “Wenzel‘s has left the building.”  Wenzel’s was where great surf instrumentals like “Pipeline” by the Chantays and “Boss” by the Rumblers were recorded and released on their Downey label.  At one time, Barry White was a Wenzel’s talent scout.


Over the years, record shops have come and gone.  Tape and Record Room, which was subject to a raid a few years ago was begun by Ray Goucher, whose idea was to rent records.  Jeremiah McCain on the Shore als rented rock LPs in the 1970s, but Goucher’s idea was to rent 45s.  He took on a young partner and sales guy, Mark Stuckey, who still sells records on the Orange County Record Show.  At some point, new owners took over.


Of all these stores, only Bagatelle is definitely known to survive.  It’s now on Atlantic just south of Third Street and is jam-packed with vinyl.   One of the Bagatelle cards was from when owner Steve Mintz and his mother opened up on Fourth Street after arriving from Sacramento – that address is on the card.  For a while, Wil-Mar on Atlantic, a few doors from Bagatelle sold sound tracks, but despite two editions of their card, folded for lack of business.



Hit and Run Record Dealers

Posted: January 24, 2011 in records

By special request, here’s the first of a two part article on an abridged history of Long Beach record shops.

My insane buying of 45 rpm records began in about 1960 and continues unabated to this day.  Every fourth Sunday, I drop significant dough at the Orange County Record Show in Buena Park and hang out with some of the strangest guys you’ll likely ever meet – and when I say guys, I mean males; it’s the rare woman who collects vinyl at this level.

An early recipient of my college day funds (at a quarter a pop) was a Long Beach cop named W.W. Braden, who dealt out of print 45s to local teenagers out of his kitchen on 28th St. near Clark Ave.  Bill found out about Braden and told me, so every Saturday morning, Bill and I and a few other teens would arrive at his house and plow through boxes of 45s he’d sell for a quarter apiece.  I got some great records this way.

Bill loved country music, so he kept these for himself.  Many were the times I’d be visiting junk shops on Anaheim St. and environs and spot Braden’s black and white cop car near the back door, where, as Bill and I liked to joke, he’d be giving the clerks at song and dance about donating these records to “crippled orphan” homes in the area and he’d be walking out in full uniform, boxes on records tucked under each arm.

A retired Long Beach cop whom I met much later on well remembered Braden, whom they gave the nickname “the sheriff,” because he reminded them of how law was enforced before modern policing methods – and when I say modern, I mean 1960s modern.

Braden was last seen tending to a 45s shop at Stearns and Lakewood Blvd, after having divorced his wife and moving on.  I hear he died, but my collecting bug was just getting started.

His was not the only “hit and run” record shop in Long Beach. Larry was an older guy (about my age now) who’d occupy a store front, calling it Larry’s Patio Records or some such in the small set of businesses on Seventh and Redondo a few doors down from where the late lamented Bistro did business.

By reputation, he’d pay rent for the first month or two, then continue selling records for the few later months it took to evict him.  He hired Bob, who carried on the tradition into the 1980s, opening shops he’d call Music Minus, dealing out old vinyl.  I recall one at Tenth and Redondo.

These loosey/goosey record dealers weren’t the first, by any means.  Long Beach has always had record shops:  VIP, Zed’s in the 70s and beyond and the legendary Moreys, Humphreys and others in the 1950s.

In the 1950s through the ‘70s, there was a variety of shops that sold 45s, Wallich’s Music City in Lakewood and Wenzel’s Music Town in Downey became two of the favorites.  This was the time of the four and eight-track tape, so Wenzel’s would record your old 45s onto this new technology.  Employees at Wallich’s, across the street from Lakewood Center at Candewood called them “bootleggers.”

Wallich’s had listening booths where customers could audition records and thieves could squirrel these same records in their shirts or other hiding places.  Wallich’s put out weekly Top 50 lists of best sellers.  Later I came across a stash of these from 1959 through about 1967 – some weeks were missing – but it was fairly complete and I’m using the info in a book I’m writing about the rock and roll / r&b side of pretty much a complete history of all 45s recorded by L.A. area acts.  Right now, I’m working on the late 50s.  It’s slow work, but fun work.

original Park Estates site for Long Beach State College

Located at 5381 Anaheim Road in Park Estates, the Los Angeles-Orange County State College opened in 1949. That’s when the competition began for a permanent new college.  In the running as the site for the new state college were the cities of Long Beach and Fullerton.

Plans were unveiled for the state college which civic officials are seeking to have located here. The T-shaped site comprises 330 acres abutting the Navy Hospital on the north and west; Seventh St. on the south and Anaheim Rd. to the north

Parking for 650 cars is provided alongside each row of buildings.

There was to be an auditorium, a fine arts section, an area designated for future expansion, an administration building, at the end of the parkway is the library, a science section, a cafeteria,  a gymnasium, and an animal husbandry building.

Dormitories would be located along Anaheim St. The recreation area will include more than 200 acres and can be used for future building.

It all happened, except for the animal husbandry part.


Unlike the NuPike and Pierpoint Landing, the ill-fated Ghost Town neighborhood was totally lost to the harbor area history of Long Beach directly west of the Jungle over the mouth of the L.A. River.   If this area had a more attractive name, as with the Jungle, it’s been lost to historians.

The area was dotted with beach cabins and nearby luxury cottages for the resort bather crowd frequenting the oceanfront.  When the area was active, there was a cleaners with the sign, “suits pressed while you wait,” the Old Curiosity Shop, a blacksmith and a drugstore at 1241 W. Ocean Blvd.

Street names mirrored those of Belmont Shore:  Ontario and Riverside from like-named Inland Empire towns and Santa Cruz from the central coast; it was roughly bordered by extensions of Broadway, Third St, Seaside and Ocean Blvd. where the 710 Freeway currently breaks off to the north.

It was for this contemplated freeway interchange and because of “subsidence” fears that demolition of Ghost Town, which began in 1952 turned serious in April 1956 when bids were put out to destroy the rest.

Main routes in this area south of the channels and north of the piers were Water and Pico, reflecting both history and harbor and oil development.  More than a thousand people lived or worked for a good 30 years, which meant little because of its key location.

It all gave way to a $10,000,000 Ocean Blvd. Bridge, however land costs were a mere $6,694,000, including legal expenses, appraisers’ fees and other costs.  People and families that lived here went elsewhere.

By Stephen C. Propes

Changes to the area of the Jungle proposed in 1958 

These days, the NuPike gets all the historical action, but right next door was a possibly even more exciting neighborhood – the Jungle –  that was apparently at its dangerous peak in the 1940s through the 1970s.

Ever since the days of Navy ships docking in Long Beach, making this a classic Navy town, there have been concerns about the safety of certain areas frequented by sailors.

In 1938, a stretch of the 200 block of W. Ocean at “the old Davies cafeteria” or the Kent building at 215 E. First where sailors would rent cots on a second floor complex of rooms, were thought to be firetraps – probably because it was true.

Then there was the Jungle.  With names like Venetian Pl., Neptune Pl., Mermaid Pl. Bonnie Brae Pl., Surfline Pl. and Seaside Blvd. as well as extensions of Daisy and Golden, it sounded like an idyllic vacation on the Riviera, but it was anything but.  It was basically a warren of apartment buildings that dated back to the old days of Long Beach, when out of town visitors would use them as summer apartments.

Later, sailors and those who serviced sailors used them for – well, often not such nice things.  When the Navy left in the 1970s, biker gangs took over.  It was all-purpose.

Here are a few police reports from 1958, the year the city began seriously considering replacing the Jungle with a parking lot.  For reasons otherwise unknown, out of a half dozen place names, Neptune and Mermaid seemed to attract the most action.

Jan. 25

The victim, a transient, said he was struck from behind at he foot of a stairway between Seaside Blvd. and Ocean Blvd.  When he regained consciousness, he was in a shack at the rear of 611 E. Seaside Blvd.

Feb. 13

Barbara Anne Lynn, I5 of 541 W. Seaside Blvd. violated terms of. three-year probation

Mar. 5

John Lemke Van Haren, 38, of 46 Mermaid PL, today was accused of breaking the amr of his 6-year-old stepson.

Mar. 8

Barbara M. Watd, 48 Neptune .PI. was attacked.

Apr. 15

Navy man Joseph A. Aubert, 34, of the USS Helena complained a man and a girl he met in a bar beat and robbed him of cash and traveler’s checks after luring him to an apartment at 48 Neptune Pl.

May 11

At Tops Neptune Lounge, 631 W. Seaside Blvd., a thief who apparently used a duplicate key took two money bags containing $472 from the safe.

July 12

Policemen arrested two sailors, one in civilian clothes, at Seaside B1vd. and Magnolia Ave.

Aug 20

Booked at city jail for intoxication, disorderly conduct and assault were Howard Chappell, 18 and Lynn F. De Vilbiss, 19, both of the USS Hamul. Two girls, Patricia Ann Faulconer, 16, of 35 Mermaid Pl, and Carolyn Sue Anderson, 17, of 25. Neptune PI., told officers the sailors and two others climbed into their car when it stopped at Daisy Ave. and Santa Cruz St.

Aug. 24

Henry Roberts, 14, of 417 E. Seaside Blvd., Apt. 312, told officers he was robbed by three older boys while in the 300 block of West Pike.

Dec. 25

At American Ave. and Seaside Bd., a victim told police he told a young gunman “Go to hell”, and clinched the deal, when threatened added, “Go ahead and shoot.”

Maybe not an ideal place to hang out, but if you were looking for excitement or a victim (or to get victimized), well then…

We all know that streets or neighborhoods don’t cause crime, but as with today’s practice of demolishing offending motels and such, the Jungle had to go.  Thus the end of Mermaid, Neptune and Venetian, though a cleaned-up (we hope) Seaside persists, but not the Seaside Hospital where many of the victims and offenders were taken.

There was also talk of a Shoreline Drive to replace the congested Ocean Blvd.

In 1902, Pacific Electric completed its $1,000,000 Red Line from L. A. The first trolley tourists arrived on July 3.  In 1930, steam railroad passenger train service ended when Union Pacific tracks wore removed from Alamitos Ave. and Ocean Blvd. However, Pacific Electric trolley-ed on for three additional decades.