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Old Westdale

Freda Isaksen

I have lived in my present home in Westdale since 1948, we purchased it before it was built. At that time when we told our friends that we had bought a house west of Sepulveda Boulevard they laughed at us. “You are moving out to the country,” they said. Horticulture enthusiasts were familiar with the area because Paul Howard’s Flowerland on National and Barrington was known as a showplace, otherwise the surrounding area had been used mostly for commercial vegetable farming, so to the average Angeleno the district was not residential.

After the end of World War II there was a tremendous need for housing for returning veterans who landed in California from the Pacific War Zone and fell in love with the paradise that was Los Angeles, in those days. Westdale Village was far from the center of town, but the homes that Trousedale was building seemed very superior to others that were being built during the post-war years. The problem for most of us was how to meet the monthly payment of $85 including taxes. It meant a lot of sacrifices for young families making a new start after the war. The down payment was $2,500 which was a small fortune and in many cases severance pay from the armed forces. The purchase price of our house was $14,500.

There were no telephone lines in the area. One had to use the pay phone installed on the corner, in my case for as long as one year. The closest food market was in Westwood and of course there were no other stores, banks or conveniences of any kind. Milk was delivered daily by dairy farms and the Helm’s Bakery truck with bakery goods drove along every street. Most housewives were home so they could take advantage of this convenience. Thriftimart was the first grocery store on the present location of Whole Foods, later on Ralph’s opened at National and Sepulveda.

One bungalow for the school-age children was installed on the site of the existing Mar Vista School. It contained one classroom for grades one through six for many weeks until the families moving into the district became numerous enough for more bungalows and teachers to be added.

The children could play ball and bicycle safely in the streets and they loved to go into the surrounding vegetable fields and ask for fresh produce which they would proudly take home with the earth attached. It was many years before the park was developed.

The streets were mostly short blocks at that time. Even today I become confused as many streets are not continuous, which is part of the charm and safety of the neighborhood. National Boulevard was not a main thoroughfare and the four corners at Barrington were developed and known as the Williamsburg Corners with a patriotic theme.

The houses were not equipped with dishwashers or garbage disposals, even a washing machine was a luxury. Who could afford such luxuries then? Why did we need a two-car garage when one Chevrolet cost a hard-earned $1,500 that was difficult to come by?

The years have proven that our original investment was a wise one as we have watched the neighborhood around us grow and improve and become more beautiful over the past fifty years. But we look back with nostalgia to the safe countrylike streets and the much more simple way of living.


Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at math.wayne.edu.

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