1962 Santa Monica

For about six months, from ~February 1962 to Summer 1962, the Kelly Family lived in Santa Monica, in a rented house at 2335 21st Street. Lisa had just been born in January, and it was mid-way through the academic year, so I finished 1st grade at an elementary school in Santa Monica. Later, over the summer, we moved to a purchased house in Reseda, in the San Fernando Valley.

Here are two pictures of the front of the house, one of the street (with our 1953 Chevy), and one of backyard.

I recall this house as being smallish, just a living room/dining room, kitchen and breakfast area, and two bedrooms, the master at the front, the kids’ at rear. And a bathroom. In particular I remember the kids’ bedroom had built-in bunk-beds, with slide-out drawers beneath the lower bed, the entire assembly painted in white lacquer paint.

However I see today on Zillow.com that the house is 2765 square feet! And worth $2.4 million! I’m certain the house must have been expanded since we lived there — likely even demolished and rebuilt. (Zillow says it was first built 1937, but doesn’t indicate remodelings/expansions.) The current house, from Google street view, has two floors, with tile roofs! Indeed, some 15 or 20 years ago, I drove through the area to see if I would recognize the area, and my impression was that all the houses seemed larger than I’d remembered (usually things in memory seem smaller in person), and the trees along the street were all huge, creating virtually an arbor of trees covering the street…

At the same time, when we lived there the garage at the back had an adjacent one-room apartment, or what today we’d call a mother-in-law’s quarters. In the back yard photo above, the sharp shadow from the right is of the corner of that garage/extra room. (So, that room might have been counted as a third bedroom, at the time.)

I’ve likely already described this somewhere, but my grandmother, Grammie, moved into that apartment during the time we lived there. And I remember on Friday evenings, watching “The Flintstones” with her and ‘camping out’ with her in her room overnight.

The climate in Santa Monica was virtually the opposite of that in the high desert town of Apple Valley. The house in Santa Monica, on 21st Street, was 2.1 miles from the ocean. So, cool and foggy much of the time. I remember that the back yard was infested with snails.

The house was 3.5 miles from my father’s new job in a small office building at Wilshire and Barrington. (This was before the Barrington Plaza towers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrington_Plaza) were completed… though given that according to Wikipedia the towers were finished in 1962, I suspect this next photo was not my father’s. Or were the towers built so quickly, if my father took these photos in February 1962, and they were finished by the end of the year…?

(Aside: these towers, mostly apartment buildings or condos, are featured prominently in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s 1977 novel Lucifer’s Hammer — about (IIRC) an asteroid that hits the pacific and causes a huge tidal wave that washes over Santa Monica and hits the towers.)

The balcony, and a view from the balcony, looking across the street.

Here, from a Google search, is an image of the Barrington Plaza towers next to the building that replaced the office building where my father worked.

The Barrington Plaza towers have been in the news recently, i.e. in the past decade or two, for a couple fires.

Arson Investigator: 'We May Have an Idea' What Caused Barrington Plaza High-Rise Fire | Brentwood, CA Patch

But I’m getting off-topic. When we moved to Santa Monica, Lisa had just been born. Here are mother, baby Lisa, and Susan.


Is this a Santa Monica photo? Perhaps not; Sue looks too young. Then where?

Finally, here are two photos a fire in the hills to the north of my father’s office — I think this was the famous Bel Air Fire, that burned nearly 500 homes in the hills to the north of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, including the homes of many celebrities. (I was aware of this at the time–it formulated my impression about what fires could do.)

But–Wikipedia says, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bel_Air_Fire, this happened in November 1961.

Going through these photos, examining the family timeline, reveals many interesting things. Does this mean — and this is certainly plausible — that my father had moved down to Santa Monica to begin working for John Blesch, in that office building at the corner of Wilshire and Barrington, perhaps several months before the family move to Santa Monica? Perhaps. That might explain the office building photos from before ground had been broken for Barrington Plaza.