A Trip Back Through Time
Valley Relics Museum – Van Nuys
The Valley Relics Museum has long been on our radar to visit, and luckily our procrastination (I’m a pro when it comes to that) turned out to our advantage because this unusual museum recently relocated to a space more than twice the size of the original. If you’re into nostalgia or especially neon, you’ve got to check this place out.
The museum is the brainchild of Tommy Gelinas, who opened its Chatsworth location in 2013. However, with 15,000+ relics, he needed a bigger place, so late in 2018, the Valley Relics Museum moved to two hangars at the Van Nuys Airport. Gelinas is now able to display 45% of the collection, which rotates through periodically.
Gelinas grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and in a 2013 Los Angeles Magazine article stated, “I want to preserve what’s left. It’s the missing pieces of the puzzle of who we are and where we come from.”
Tracy never tires from proving that she married an old man, so she had me pose in front of the museum sign. She promised she would not donate me to the institution (at least this one).
Before walking inside, I got the finger.
I could tell I’d like this place immediately after entering because in the gift shop was a leg lamp similar to the one from Christmas Story. I also own a leg lamp, which is why I often feel “Fra-gee-lay.”
Sometimes being a relic pays since I got two bucks off the $10 entrance fee for being an old geezer. Take that millennials!
Upon walking inside the first of the two hangars, a hodgepodge of neon signs welcomes the visitors along with several display cases full of memorabilia and other assorted relics that are set up in no particular order.
This car made my memories race back in time.
In this first room, there’s a good amount of movie and television paraphernalia. A display with mementos of actor Jack Oakie, who was once nominated for an Academy Award, is located near the entrance. My dad had one of those carrying cases, although his usually had bourbon.
I’ve been dreaming about this bottle for weeks …
… while this movie poster reminds me of a movie that was always shown on Halloween when I was a kid.
Westerns seemed to be a favorite theme, and we were all wished Happy Trails. In a Blazing Saddles flashback, I was also reminded that we’d “do it for Randolph Scott.”
It seemed all these cowboys liked to sing.
Stuntmen get their due here.
If you have cowboys, you have to have Indians … well not really. Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera Oscar de Corti, and although he played Native Americans in film (he even claimed he was Native American), Cody was actually of Sicilian parentage. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye (photo on the right from the internet)
The Porter Ranch Horses “flanked the opening of the original Porter Ranch.” I wanted to climb on but decided not to stirrup any trouble.
I heard Tracy say, “Tom, come and see this Nudie.” Well, I’ve never turned down that request, but upon arriving there was just a car … but not just any car. Nudie Cohn was the creator of some of the most innovative show business outfits. His clients included Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers, Glen Campbell, John Wayne, John Lennon and Cher (to name more than a few). He also collected automobiles that became known as “Nudiemobiles.” Valley Relics Museum has one of the 18 he once owned.
As you can see, the car had some rather unusual accouterments. This is one car where you could literally ride shotgun.
You could see Nudie was a man of high caliber. I’m surprised he didn’t outfit Trigger.
His cars were equipped with longhorns affixed to its bumper, so you might not want to lay on the horn (photo from CNN).
Displays are random. This one highlighted Southern California amusement parks past and present. I was sad they didn’t have anything from my old favorite, Pacific Ocean Park (Photo on the right from the internet.)
Stepping into another room, a group of car enthusiasts was having a presentation, but that didn’t stop us from taking a few photos. There was neon, neon, and more neon.
“Fill er up?”
Our investment club used to meet at Chez Nous. We did about as well as they seemed to have done. Yep, that’s a chipmunk in the lower right.
As a matter of fact Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were all there to greet us. Fortunately, they didn’t sing.
Oh, how I miss OSH. Come to think of it, I miss Van de Kamp’s Bakery, too. I used to love their cookies as a kid. This place brings back many memories.
I couldn’t imagine why I was getting thirsty.
Everybody loves a clown, so why can’t you?
Whenever I see an old deli sign, I always get a rye smile.
We wandered seeing a mishmash of stuff.
I don’t smoke, but I liked the collection of old ashtrays and matchboxes.
Interestingly, in the 1960s Ben Franks (upper left sign on the wall) was the hip spot on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood where you could hang out and see the likes of Frank Zappa, the Doors or the Rolling Stones after one of their shows at Whisky-A-GoGo. Coincidentally, it’s “Googie-style” architectural building now houses a Mel’s Drive-in.
You could be a pinball wizard on one of these vintage machines. Hey, isn’t that Elvira?
As you can see in the photo on the right, bicycles are a prevalent theme here, with lots of old BMX bikes scattered here and there.
Every time I turned around, another piece of my childhood could be seen.
Hopefully the next time I stop by (and I will), the Valley Relics Museum will be unveiling some more of its thousands of pieces of memorabilia. They also sponsor tours and events that sound rather interesting.
It’s a museum that displays everything from Bob Hope to Bob’s Big Boy. I might even have some items I will donate to the museum (no, not me).
It was finally time to see which relic Tracy would take home. After a moment of indecision, she took the guy on the right.
Valley Relics Museum
7900 Balboa Blvd. – C3 & C4 entrance on Stagg Street
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Hours: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday – Saturday (Sunday until 3 p.m.)
Parking: Lot or Street (free)