He remembers Ritchie

Mike writes:

Kevin,I just wanted to say thanks for providing me the opportunity to relive some of my younger days and cherished times of my life. I was born and raised in Southern California in the San Fernando Valley. In grade school I attended Chase Street Elementary school while living in Panorama city. I then went to Junior High School at Robert Fulton Jr. High in Van Nuys. My folks then moved to Pacoima and I transferred to Pacoima Junior High. This is where some of the articles of yours crossed paths with my younger days. I can still remember Ritchie Valens coming out in the cafeteria area and playing his guitar and singing. I can also remember going to his home in Pacoima and listening to them play in the garage. I graduated from Pacoima and went on to San Fernando High. I can still very much remember the day of the plane crash when Ritchie was killed. The news went through our high school like a tornado. It was devastating. It was almost as if we had lost a living relative.

Like you mentioned in one of your articles, living in the San Fernando Valley it was not uncommon to know or associate with movie stars, recording artists, and various celebrities. In Robert Fulton Junior High I can remember going to Dennis Devine’s home. His father was the then famous Andy Devine. At the time we thought nothing of it. Dennis was just an ordinary guy and his father was always nice to us and seemed to very hones and sincere.I also remember playing football against Rick Nelson and I can remember meeting the famous Mousekeeter Annette Funicello. While living in Pacoima we lived next door to Clint Walker and his wife. My brother and I thought that was really something.

After going into High School I had attended many events and had the opportunity to meet several people who later went onto becoming band members or singers. I knew some of the members of the Del Vikings who recorded Come Go With Me. I kind of hung out with some to the people who later formed a group called the Innocents and went on to record several records. I can remember going to Zuma Beach and listening to the Beachboys before they became famous and we just loved hearing their music.

When I mention my days of growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I often hear people say they are jealous and wished that they could have grown up there.

Mike asked if there’s anywhere he can buy a picture of a Bob’s Big Boy drive-in. I’d start with Stan Cline’s art of old L.A. drive-ins.