Tel: (818) 347-9665 PST

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Museum's newest exhibit a big hit - The Hollywood Shorties

Museum members, invited guests and VIP's all gathered at The Museum last night for the official reception of Small Lens Big Lives...The Hollywood Shorties exhibit.

Attendees enjoyed meeting several original Hollywood Shorties, actors and stuntmen that offered up some stories about their careers.

A video loop shows many of the charitable events that were played on the basketball court and baseball diamond.

There was an unveiling of a bust created by artist and sculptor, one-time valley resident, Howard Lazar. Howard provided an overview on the making of the bust, the challenges and enjoyment in creating this nice piece of artwork that he donated to The Museum.

Special guests included Howard Lazar, Ryan Steven Green, filmmaker and creator of the documentary The Hollywood Shorties, Braden Barty, son of Billy Barty (and his family) and Mark Povinelli, President of the Little People of America.

Attendees also enjoyed walking through The Museum along with plenty of food to enjoy.

A great time was had by all!

Much thanks to all board members and especially Jackie Langa that worked tirelessly on the creation of this exhibit and Ryan Steven Green who has provided the artifacts on loan to The Museum for this exhibit.

Michel Stevens

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ABC7 News - In the Neighborhood: Dave Kunz offers tour of hometown Northridge

Thanks to Dave Kunz of ABC7 news for his segment on his hometown of Northridge. 

Since I too grew up in Northridge and we are the same age, we had to cross paths at Nobel Junior High, on the field at Northridge Little League, sitting in a booth eating pizza at Shakey's after a Granada football game shopping at Dale's market and maybe engulfing a Trough at the Farrell's on Reseda Blvd.

We appreciated his enthusiasm for his childhood memories in Northridge and he really enjoyed touring The Museum.

Here are excerpts from the video copy - Enjoy!

The massive earthquake of 1994 put Northridge on the worldwide map.

But long before that, Northridge was the center of my world. Happy times, growing up in a very different time.

"You'd leave in the morning, and be gone all day. You might hear your parents ringing a cow bell or something and realize it's time to go home for dinner. Today we won't let kids out of our sight," said Michel Stevens, the president of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, who grew up in Northridge.

This community in the far northern reaches of the city of Los Angeles is a fitting place for The Museum of the San Fernando Valley. The museum's various rooms hold lots of artifacts that chronicle a simpler era in the San Fernando Valley, and in Northridge.

Which was an ideal place for my parents to raise two boys, with good schools, like Darby Avenue Elementary. Darby is still a good school today, winning numerous awards and being named a California Distinguished School.

After Darby, I attended Nobel Middle School, Granada Hills High School, Pierce College, and Cal State Northridge. You could say I loved being in the San Fernando Valley!

And since I got around Northridge on two wheels in my early days, I decided to do a tour via pedal power! My old Schwinn Varsity is long gone, but riding any kind of bicycle around your old neighborhood is a great way to revisit memories of childhood.

Not far from our house on Reseda Boulevard was the intersection of Devonshire and Reseda, a sort of "center of my universe," starting with a growing kid's favorites for food. The McDonald's restaurant of my childhood was torn down a few years ago, replaced with a modern rendition in the same spot.

But right next door, Shakey's Pizza still looks exactly the same.

Well, on the outside anyway. The Shakey's interior has changed a bit with remodels over the years. But this is essentially the place where generations of Northridge families ate pizza, celebrated the weekend, and listened to the player piano. The piano is still there, plinking out favorite tunes to the delight of children who love watching the keys move up and down by themselves.

"A majority of our customers tell us they came here as a kid. And they now bring their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren here," said Kasim Idrees, whose family operates the Shakey's, after taking over for the long-time operator who ran it for over 50 years.

"While a lot of things have changed, Shakey's stays the same," added Idrees.

Continuing my bicycle tour down memory lane, I made a familiar stop at the showroom of Baher Chevrolet on Devonshire to peek inside at the new models. Actually, it used to be Baher Chevrolet, but now it's Rydell Chevrolet in the exact same location. Any chance I got, I'd stop by there to daydream. And if I was lucky, I'd score some brochures for new Corvettes and Camaros, and then hop back on my bike to go home and plan for the day I'd have my own car.

But I knew I could forget about a new Corvette as a teenager. I had to set my sights a bit lower.

And If I wanted to buy any kind of car, I'd need to earn some money. Dale's Supermarket was right across the street, and it was there that I landed my first real job bagging groceries.

The building that was Dale's store #31 is still there, but it's now Smart and Final Extra. In between, it was a Lucky Market, then Albertson's. The store is still a hallmark of my old neighborhood, and still a great place for a first job.

Just ask Sanestina Hunter, a recent CSUN graduate who works at Smart and Final. She and I chatted quite a bit about working in retail as a young person, and agree that doing so adds great life skills.

"You want to build customer service experience. These are life skills, which you can take with you, and they can teach you a lot," she said.

Other staples of the intersection of Devonshire and Reseda were Bob's Big Boy (turned into a Carrow's years ago; now that's gone too, replaced by a Chick Fil-A), The Fox Northridge Theatre, the Peppertree Three Theatre, Northridge Little League, and the huge ice cream parlor called Farrell's

For playtime, kids like me learned that hot Valley summers meant trying to find a cool spot, so Northridge Park often came to the rescue. It always had lots of shade, and a huge pool, which was upgraded in 2008 to become the Northridge Aquatic Center.

For those triple-digit Northridge summer days, it's still a solution to cooling off. "Nothing like getting into a nice cool pool when it's 110-plus outside," said Dwayne Finley, the director of Northridge Recreation Center.

Northridge: it was a great place to grow up.

And it still is a great place, all these years later.

Michel Stevens

Monday, July 16, 2018

Celebrating 90 Years of Flight at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) (1928–2018)

Kudos is in store for Van Nuys Airport (VNY) that will be commemorating its 90th anniversary this year.

VNY and LAWA will also being paying tribute to aviation pioneers and visionaries who first introduced the San Fernando Valley to the freedom of flight.

 VNY was dedicated on December 18, 1928, marking the 25th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight. From that day forward, VNY attracted legendary pilots such as Amelia Earhart.

She lived and worked in the valley from 1928 until her disappearance in the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

Over the years, the valley and airport had a steady stream of aerospace leaders, business entrepreneurs and some Hollywood filmmakers to propel its innovation.

VNY is identified as Los Angeles’ business airport and has been one of the world’s busiest general airports for decades. A vital economic engine, it contributes approximately $2 billion to the Southern California economy and supports over 10,000 jobs annually.

For more information on Van Nuys Airport, please click HERE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

New Museum Exhibit: Small Lens on Big Lives...and the Hollywood Shorties.

The Museum SFV is pleased to announce a new exhibit called Small Lens on Big Lives...and the Hollywood Shorties.

In the late 1930’s, an international casting call brought talented dwarves from around the world to Los Angeles to make “The Wizard of Oz” and a lot of them stayed.  Often in Burbank, groups of little people would socialize at the original Bob’s Big Boy and hold events in the surrounding areas and parks.

This exhibit, inspired by Ryan Steven Green, who created a documentary called “The Hollywood Shorties,” explores through photos, artifacts and film clips the joy, excitement, poignancy and societal contributions of the players of the first professional sports team ever created entirely of little people. 

Billy Barty (vaudeville entertainer, film actor, LPA activist) and Jerry Maren (the “Lollipop Kid” The Wizard of Oz”) formed The Hollywood Shorties baseball team in 1949, just after WWII.

The Hollywood Shorties was originally a team of actors and stuntman ranging from 3’5’’ and 4’9” who played charitable baseball games against celebrities and faculties of high schools primarily across the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. In the 1970’s The Shorties introduced basketball to their fans and found themselves in great demand by NBA teams, often playing mini-games for the NBA game crowds at half-time.  

The exhibit opens on June 28th and there will be a VIP reception on Saturday, July 21st from 5:00 - 8:00 pm. Some members of the Hollywood Shorties and executives of the Little People of America are expected to attend. RSVP on EventBrite or by contacting Jackie Langa at The Museum at 818-347-9665 or

The Museum is located at 18860 Nordhoff St., Ste. 204, Northridge, CA 91324. For more information, please visit

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Pacific Electric Railway and the Red Car; nice article on history of valley transportation

Pacific Electric Railway and the Red Car - what a history. What memories for all that rode these cars to and from Los Angeles and through parts of the valley.

Please read this terrific article by Olga Grigoryants of the Los Angeles Daily News (LINK HERE).

A few factoids about the Pacific Electric:

1911 - Pacific Electric Railway Company begins service to the Valley

The car line was approximately 19-miles operating from Los Angeles along Chandler Boulevard, curling north up Van Nuys Blvd. to Sherman Way. The line later ran to the areas known today as Reseda and Canoga Park.

1913 - more than 368,000 passengers boarded the line.

1926 - passengers totaled one million.

Late 1940s - after WWII, the Pacific Electric popularity began to decline.

1963 -the last Red Car line was taken down.