John Hendry came into The Museum of the San Fernando Valley one day in early June 2019 and said “I know a lot about the Valley.” Jackie, Vice President of The Museum, immediately pounced – “Would you like to write for our blog?”
John Hendry is a Valley history buff, a UCLA graduate, Secretary of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, a docent at the LA Plaza and Olvera Street, AND a city crossing guard. Says John, “Depends on what day it is.”
And so John Hendry’s Museum blog series begins...
Forgotten Ticket to the Suburbs
By John Hendry
If you inherited your parents’ 1947 tract home in Van Nuys – you’re likely to make some extraordinary discoveries; the self-portraits my parents painted of each other – the kind of “art class for newlyweds” popular after World War II - old checks made out to the Adohr milkman, the cloth diaper service, and one I didn’t quite understand.
I also found 6 small 5” x 7” Photostats of my father’s World War II “Honorable Discharge.” Photostats were a trademarked type of photograph copy invented in the early 1900’s. But what were these for? I suddenly realized the reduced Photostats were the forgotten “tickets to the suburbs” – to the San Fernando Valley.
Suburban tracts of homes were for sale all over the Valley. And so every Sunday, the World War II veterans and their wives – maybe tiny tots in tow as well – would go out looking for new homes. Sometimes, as in Panorama City, hundreds of homes were either built, or on line, “Buy it now!” or wait for the next development.
This was one of the uses of the “Honorable Discharge” Photostats. They were the key to “qualifying” for a VA (Veterans’ Administration) home loan. Visit 6 tracts, take 6 Photostat “Honorable Discharge” photos, and apply for all 6 tracts. Who knew which house you might get?– you’d take any.
It really happened just that way. In Panorama City, one sales agent for the Kaiser homes, Herb Lightfoot (who handled real estate in the Valley for years), actually “closed” 64 homes on a Sunday afternoon. A whole block of Valley homes – sold on one Sunday afternoon – on the basis of those little postcards.
A lost story of the Valley and how it grew.