Memories of a Lost Boulevard, Whittier Blvd on Film

Many of us like to reminisce about the time when Whittier Boulevard was “Thee Boulevard”. Those of us who grew up near it will have a story or two to tell about this iconic
Eastside street, especially the stretch between Eastern and Atlantic Avenues. Those four lanes have seen alot of action, drama, laughter, tears, heroism and ‘scandalo. Luckily “La Whittier” has been captured on film a few times and we can catch a brief visual of what it was all about. On the opening titles to the 1974 NBC TV show “Chico and the Man” we glimpse a lowrider wedding procession (paper flowers and all) heading east on Whittier. The camera sits across from JonSons Market and pans west to east as we see the Lerner Shop on Fetterly Ave (Where my ma bought her chonis and stuff) and the F.W. Woolworth’s store. The last angle shows the facade to Thrifty’s on Fraser Ave. Perhaps most of you can name some of the Eastside locations shown. As for the show itself, I think the theme song is a bit corny. We used to watch it because it was supposed to depict us, but one thing the “Man” didn’t seem to understand at the time was that we Chicanos knew Freddie Prinze was Puerto Rican and because we brown people aren’t interchangeable, we sometimes didn’t relate to his character. Here’s the lyrics to the theme song sung by Jose Feliciano:

Chico, don’t be discouraged,
The Man he ain’t so hard to understand.
Chico, if you try now,
I know that you can lend a helping hand.

Because there’s good in everyone
And a new day has begun
You can see the morning sun if you try.

And I know, things will be better
Oh yes they will for Chico and the Man
Yes they will for Chico and the Man.

I’ve included some still frames that show the boulevard in the early 70’s.

And if that ain’t enough “Boulevard” fix for you locos,…Let’s not forget this little celluloid gem from 1979,……

This entry was posted in East Los, Eastside, eastside sound, history, Identity, Media, Pendejadas, Photos, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697

4 thoughts on “Memories of a Lost Boulevard, Whittier Blvd on Film

  1. It is sad that Whittier Blvd. is not what it used to be, but there is some good news! Starting in June the County of L.A. will start a StreetScape project that will beautify Whittier from Atlantic down to Eastern, they will add new benches, large planters, new antique looking light posts, two clocks like the ones you see at Grand Central Station in NY, and they’re going to paint the East Los Angeles sign. I’m a local resident and I’m sooo happy that this is happening, it’s time we bring Whittier Blvd back to life, the project should be completed by the end of the year.

  2. Whittier blvd was the spot, my gradma always told me story’s of this street. Another great post !!

  3. Beautification project should be awesome. And, it would be a lot more awesome if they used local residents for the labor and paid them a living wage.

  4. AD-This has always been one of my favorite subjects,what I call the “classic boulevard”, which existed up until 1979, depending on what original buildings were still there. The scenes from “Chico and the Man”, and from “Boulevard Nights” are truly from the classic era, I’ve never seen any other showings on the silver screen, but still hope they exist somewhere, archival photographs from the Chicano Moratorium in 1970 also show some classic shots as well. While working at the Pasta House in 1980, I was working with the managers, twin sister’s Lee & Jo, (Italians!) who were from the early days when there was burlesque at the Pasta House (1940’s), told me that in the 40’s and 50’s they would stroll the boulevard even at midnight to go bowling, and probably get a bite to eat, far different from what happens there nowadays. Also I’ve heard about the man from Lorena St who would walk Whittier Blvd pushing his peanut roaster, and stopping at all the bars on Whittier Blvd to sell his hot peanuts!! Still looking forward to your possibly upcoming post “What’s Left”. It’s really gonna be sad when the pinche 24 hr. CVS eyesore is built instead of rebuiding the Golden Gate, or building a Chicano Museum on that site, that will really kill it!!

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