We lived at 6655 Melba Ave, Canoga Park, CA from September 1957 to October 1974. I left home to go in the Navy in June 1969, then moved back home in 1974 just as my parents made the move to Grover Beach.
For those who lived nearby, you may remember Melba as a short, quiet little side street between Welby Way and Haynes on the north and south, Berquist and Bobbyboyar on the east and west. Our little housing tract was located just west of where Fallbrook Square would be built in the early 60’s. But from 1957 to 1960 or so, Melba was the last street in our tract until more houses were built starting with Berquist, Brennan, Callicott, and Lederer to the west. By the early 1960’s, there were many more houses. The big shopping center on Platt was built…and it continued for many years that way.
I went to Welby Way Elementary in the 6th grade. Before that, elementary schools included Enadia Way and Hamlin as they kept moving us around until Welby Way was built. Junior high for me was Hale, newly constructed around 1961.
In our neighborhood, I know that Gail Paolucci lived on Bobbyboyar. Jim Hess a little farther east, maybe on Dannyboyar or Sedan. A well known actor at the time, Claude Aikens lived in our neighborhood early on, on the corner of Welby Way and Royer, right near the edge of what was to become Fallbrook Square. There may have been other celebrities, none come to mind right now.
Of course it was a great time for me, I was truly a “kid”. Among others things, we Melba Kids played baseball on the street with a wooden bat and a rubber ball. I played with Chris and Art down the street. We’d take turns smacking that blue rubber ball halfway down the street where the others waited to catch it, jumping out of the way of cars when they intruded upon our asphalt “ball field”. Steve Hanna (S’68) and his sister Paulette (S’67) lived two doors down. A girl named Stephanie Sanserino lived a few houses away, but I think her family moved long before high school. Bonnie Weiser’s house was at the end of Melba on Welby Way. I remember hanging out with Glen Egelko at his house on Woodlake. Dennis Dyjor, Patty Robinson, and Freddie Cavin all lived across the street from us, Mike Dudgeon next door.
On the other side of Vanowen, Gary Groch, my best friend in the 6th grade lived on Schoolcraft, right on the edge of the “wash” where we would play “army” with Mont Teague who lived right down the street from Gary. Mont’s brother Bruce was one of several students (W’67) who didn’t come back from Vietnam and is listed on the memorial in the quad area.
Living not in the same neighborhood but someone who became my best friend in 1966 (and still is to this day) was Robert Kauffman. His house was at the corner of Shoup and Friar, just off Victory Boulevard. Funny, for the first few years we lived there, Victory Boulevard actually ended at Shoup where there was nothing but fields for what seemed like the longest time.
Sure, we had our bicycles and we went on riding adventures out of the neighborhood from time to time (some parent-approved, some not). But for the most part at that age, we played near own houses and had friends near our houses. It was all we needed. Fourth of July parties, summer pool parties, Halloween trick or treating, Christmas caroling – we did all of that right there on Melba Ave and the streets surrounding it. I loved our neighborhood, it was a great place in which to be raised back in the 50’s and 60’s.
Now, back to the street sign. I think I was about 15 years old. One day I noticed the Melba Ave street sign (on the corner with Haynes) was hanging halfway off the post. It looked as though someone had tried to removed it, then got scared or caught and left it there. Mind you, I was always a good kid – always! I never got into trouble, or at least I was good at avoiding it. I managed to twist it the rest of the way off and I was gone. I don’t recall any reaction one way or the other from my parents, perhaps I was mildly punished or grounded, I don’t remember. But here is that street sign today, still in my backyard. After many years in storage when I was in the service, I’ve hauled it around with me since. It has resided in various garages, backyards, and patios since 1965. Those things are made to withstand the elements, so it has held up nicely over the years. I really should extract it from the bushes, clean it up a bit, and do what I’ve been meaning to do for many years – hang it in my office as sort of shrine to my childhood on Melba…6655 Melba Ave, Canoga Park, CA. A artifact, a relic from my past when everything was certainly simpler, less cumbersome and complicated.
Geeze, I hope there is a statute of limitations on juvenile vandalism!