The Big City

In the 60s and 70s, we typically shopped in Montrose and La Crescenta. Once in a while, however, we’d make a trip downtown to the big city – Glendale. Heading south towards downtown, we’d pass landmarks like the “Keyhole” swimming pool, Pikes Verdugo Oaks and the International House of Pancakes.

Near the IHOP was a supermarket with a very distinctive sign. Do you remember Thriftimart? Do you remember the red, 40-foot-tall “T” that stood atop the store as the company’s logo? In 1984, Thriftimart merged its remaining stores into Smart & Final. The Glendale location is now a Vons supermarket.

Across the street was one of two great toy stores in Glendale. Do you remember Pfeiffer’s Toys? Pfeiffer’s was a long, warehouse of a store with two tiers of shelves crammed with toys. The building today now houses the Verdugo Hills Urgent Care center. A few blocks south, at the corner of California and Geneva, was another large toy store. Do you remember Litchfield’s Toys? Owned and operated by the local Litchfield family, the store closed years ago and the building is now home to GlenPro Beauty Center.

The Glendale Fashion Center was home to the one department store that wasn’t located in Glendale’s main shopping district. Do you remember J.W. Robinson’s? The Fashion Square also held numerous smaller shops and Churchill’s restaurant. Robinson’s eventually moved to the Glendale Galleria and the Fashion Square began a slow decline, playing host to various establishments including two nightclubs. Do you remember Happy Daze or In Cahoots?

Another regular stop in Glendale was Sears at Central and California. While Sears still looks the same on the outside, the inside has changed. Besides the toy department, Sears’ basement used to include something else kids went crazy for. Do you remember the candy counter? Sears had an old-fashioned candy counter where they sold candy, popcorn and warm nuts by the pound. The furniture department was also fun. Do you remember playing “house” in the little “rooms” of furniture? In those days, if you were hungry, you didn’t have to leave the store. Do you remember the little coffee shop inside Sears?

Another coffee shop was located on the first floor of the Glendale Federal Savings building on Brand. Do you remember Du-par’s? Known for their breakfasts and fresh fruit pies, Du-par’s has been around for over 70 years. While Du-par’s and Glendale Federal are gone, the building still stands as a prime example of mid-century modern architecture. Do you remember when Glendale Federal Savings was the tallest building in Glendale?

For an ice-cream soda, malt, or hot fudge sundae, there was the soda fountain at the “dime store.” Do you remember the S.H. Kress 5-10-25 Cent Store? Kress was known for their “affordable, durable and cheerful domestic merchandise,” as well as their soda fountain.

After a day of shopping, it was time to head home to the relative quiet of Montecito Park. Do you remember when downtown Glendale, with its wide boulevards and “skyscraper,” seemed a lifetime away from the Crescenta Valley?

4 Responses to "The Big City"

  1. D Bryant   April 4, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I also remember this places mentioned. i had a preference for Pfeiffer’s since my mom was one of the ladies that worked there. They had a great model train selection. Robinson’s was a great place to shop but its parking lot was great on Sunday mornings because it was empty and we had a blast riding our bikes all through it. All that was after the 134 forced several good businesses to close or move and make way for the new freeway, which was also a great place for riding bikes or mini bikes. And who can forget spending ten or fifteen cents to get into the Keyhole and put your stuff in those wire baskets while you swam. thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. James D.   October 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks for the article and the posts; this is literally the only reference I can find that proves that Litchfield’s Toys in Glendale ever existed! We lived in Eagle Rock when I was a kid, but would usually shop in Glendale or Pasadena. My Dad would take me there for Hot Wheels and model kits back in the 60’s and early 70’s; to this day I still recall that store fondly in my memory…..I’ve even had dreams where I was a kid again and shopping there…..recalling simpler times I guess. In my mind, there were several things about Litchfield’s that set it apart from the other toy stores in the pre Toys-R-Us era; they had automatic entry doors, a second floor, crazy-cold A/C, and even a pleasant aroma of toys made in that era (the plastics I guess.) When i would go there I thought I was visiting the virtual ‘Mecca’ of Hot Wheels and toys! I have to at least partly blame Litchfield’s Toys for my lifetime addiction to Hot Wheels; as a 53 year old collector of vintage Redlines (Hot Wheels)…..If I could recoup half the money that I’ve spent on toy cars over the last 25 years, I’ll bet I could probably buy the corner of California and Geneva cash, LOL!!! Thanks again for the memories…

  3. David B   February 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Wow! Great article. I remember all those places. I didn’t think ANYONE would remember Pfeiffer’s Toys. Litchfields and the Toy House were my brother, mine and our pals’ big hang-outs since that was the “Hot Wheels” era. I remember Gerry’s “Orange O” (formerly Orange Julius) next to Thriftimart. My folks dropped a ton of money at Thriftimart over those years. Anybody remember Lum’s Restaurantah7d on Brand?

  4. John H.   December 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Great Article. I grew up in Glendale. I remember everything you mentioned. There is a photo of a Thriftimart on the Internet that looks very much like the big Thriftimart in Glendale (as I remember it). If you Google “The Metro and the Mart, SoCal, 1962” you should be able to find the photo. I remember that the west side of the big Thriftimart and the parking lot in Glendale were very similar to the store and parking lot that are pictured in the photo. Do you think the store in the photo is the big Thriftimart in Glendale? Thanks again for a very interesting article.

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