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Verdugo Views:

Downtown big in 1950s, '60s

May 07, 2010|By Katherine Yamada

Nostalgic memories of Brand Boulevard as the area’s shopping destination still linger. For Pete Cortez, who came to Glendale in 1965, Brand Boulevard was a busy thoroughfare with lots of places to shop and eat.

As a student at Continental Beauty Academy on Central Avenue, Cortez frequently walked over to Brand. One of his favorite destinations was Rexall’s at Brand and Broadway.

“I often went there for breakfast,” he said. “There was a counter with bar stools, and I would order ham and eggs. It was a very popular place for businessmen. They would buy a News-Press from the guy who ran the newsstand on the corner, then go inside for breakfast or lunch.”


A drug store was the occupant of the ground floor of the Rudy Building for most of its history, according to George Ellison, library assistant of the Special Collections Room at the Glendale Central Library.

“Although many locals referred to the drug store as Rexall’s, it was never actually named that. Store names over the years were Nesom’s, Munson’s, Spohr and Owl. Crown Books was the last occupant and the building was torn down in 1984.”

Cortez went to the academy with several others who still work in Glendale.

“Arnol Simpkins and Frank Ramos were both students there,” he said. “They were a little ahead of me.”

Cortez now works at Shampoo Conspiracy, owned by Ramos.

Alanna Criswell Lee, a manicurist at Shampoo Conspiracy, said she had a girl friend whose father was a pharmacist at Rexall’s.

“It had a long counter on the left as you walked in, filled with a lot of items,” she said.

Another person who remembers Brand as a shopping mecca is Debbi Sebastian, who grew up in the Eagle Rock/Glendale area.

“I was born in 1960,” she said. “We technically lived in the Glassell Park section of Eagle Rock. Anyway, Glendale was obviously a big part of our lives because that’s where you went to go shopping, or go into ‘town’ as my grandmother liked to call it! My mother and I got on the bus to come to town; most women didn’t drive in those days. My grandpa might come pick us up at Sears.”

Sebastian said her parents are deceased, and she has no siblings.

“I get really nostalgic thinking about all the stores we used to shop at on Brand,” she said. “We also used to drive up and down Brand during the holidays when the lights were strung across the street.”

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