Woodland Hills, 1949, courtesy the CSUN Oviatt Library digital collection.
Steve Shuken, the founder of Vista Ford on Ventura near Canoga, has died. In his obit, it says that he opened the place in 1974. I was raised in the West San Fernando Valley, and it must have been funny to open a place in that spot back then.
It was pretty damned nice, but fairly rural. I was still a squirt in 1974, and we'd hop on the traffic-free 101 for a few stops to the Canoga exit to get to Topanga Plaza. At the bottom of the exit there were horses in a very large pasture (now the Warner Center apts that were just converted to condos with some more fabulous sounding name). Kaiser Permanente's rather large campus off DeSoto was a corn field. Pierce College had more acres of unencumbered farm land.
Topanga Plaza, now in the process of becoming a behemoth Westfield Shopping City was a big deal -- an enclosed, air conditioned mall that featured (to us kids) a "fountain" that dripped beads of oil down large strings suspended from the ceiling. It was surrounded by a circular rainbow tiled floor (!) and my sister and I pondered it a lot as kids after a trip to The Jolly Roger, where it was dark, foreboding and at one time they even had a magician who my sister called "The Man Magic" after the Heart song (She was 3 at the time).
As you can see, 25 years or so before Steve moved in with his Fords, it was pretty much farmland. Our house in the Van Nuys went up that year. Thirty-two years later and it's a suburban metropolis by comparison. I'm not entirely against progress, but a little nostalgic about the open space. Let's hope that they keep Pierce from becoming some horrible development. Meanwhile, Burt Boeckman might be rubbing his hands together over at Galpin Ford. We bought a car there, and the employees were swell, but I hope Vista stays open because Mr. Shuken ran his service dept. a bit better. Bye Mr. Shuken, we're glad you came to the party.