The Conejo Valley in the 70's & 80's
Sharing Photos And Stories About The Conejo Valley In The Good Old Days

Jun
07

Thank you to everyone who writes to me and/or posts comments.

More posts on the way…

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Jul
12

When I was a kid, I knew we were getting close to home when I could see this tall yellow sign. It stood out, to say the least. The only other thing I remember is adults complaining about it all the time.  But if you were a little kid, like me, sitting in the back seat of a car looking up at the Talley Corporation sign – you loved it. The rockets circling the gentle little planet earth – it was great.

Jun
10

The above is, thus far, the only picture I have been able to find of THE CONEJO TWIN movie theater.  Formerly located in The Janss Mall, right about where TGIFRIDAYs currently stands, The Conejo Twin was where I saw “The Bad News Bears Go To Japan”, “The Buddy Holly Story”, “Jaws” and “King Kong”, and many more.

Also known as “The Conejo Twin”, and, before my time, “The Fox”, this theater used to have lines of people outside the curved, sloped sidewalk waiting to get in. As a teenager, I worked there in 1987/1988. “Overboard” and “Moonstruck” were the films showing at that time.  I remember working on Christmas Eve, 1987. Lone patrons bought tickets from me all evening. It was almost as sad as the day I watched a wrecking ball take down this building in the mid-nineties.

Mar
20

The building is still there on Thousand Oaks Blvd.  But I stopped paying close attention to whatever business it houses a long time ago. When I was a kid, going to Taco Bell felt like a big deal – a real treat.  They used to sell collectible cartoon drinking glasses.

Do you remember? Did anyone else collect them?

You can still “make a run for the border”, but, except for the food, everything about Taco Bell has changed. These poor kids today, at least they have Chuck E. Cheese.

Feb
17

Conejo Bowl. It was located where Borders is today, visible from the 101 freeway in Thousand Oaks. (If anyone wonders why they closed this place, I remember vividly, and no matter what anyone else tells you, it was the new non-smoking ordinance that drove all of its customers away. )

There was a great, greasy, diner just inside the front doors to the right. The walkways leading to the entrance were glittery. As a child, I remember spending hours in the arcade section. Later, as a teenager, we bowled often. It was a great place to hang out.

Mar
02

Burt’s Pharmacy opened in 1975.  Although my family began shopping here in the late 70’s, my first memories of it really begin in the mid-80’s, while I attended Sequoia Intermediate School. Why? Because as anyone who grew up in the Conejo Valley when I did will tell you, Burt’s Pharmacy was the place to go to buy candy.

Burt’s Pharmacy was the epitome of the “mom and pop” store.  Burt himself was always in the apothecary, while his wife, Lee, was in the gift department. And once the store took over the Savings & Loan, which was initially located next door, there were a lot of gifts.

Cosmetics, books, and everything else one could possibly want. But back to the candy. There was an aisle of the stuff that stretched across the store. They had everything, and every kid my age knew it. Before and after school, that’s where we flocked. Marathon bars. Fun-Dips. Jolly Ranchers. Gold Mine bubble gum. Lemonheads. Oh, and everything Hershey’s, Reese’s, Cadbury, and Sather’s ever made.

Note the video drop-box located in front of the store in the first photo. Burt’s also had a video department from about 1985 until around 1996.  And even though we rented movies there, and our moms routinely got distracted by the Precious Moments displays, which were meticulously sprawled out from the entrance of the shop all the way to the video section and the actual pharmacy, we could never, ever, ever leave the store without a big sack of that candy.

Dec
06

The above photo is not from the Straw Hat Pizza that used to be located on Wendy Drive, in Newbury Park, but that’s the same font and logo I remember hanging on the building that hosted “Pizza Night” when I was a kid. And Banyan alumni and I would go all the time (I’m sure other schools went, too – I just always thought of it as a Banyan thing).

They had a big film screen inside.  They would show old movies on a projector. I remember looking up one time and seeing Cyclops on that big screen, and wanting to run out of the building peeing.  I don’t remember any other films they showed.  I think they were all in black and white, though. Maybe Popeye cartoons? Other horror movies? I can’t remember.  Only Cyclops.

To this day, when I smell pizza, in my mind I am taken back to this place. Nothing like a cold pitcher of soda and the smell of pepperoni and your older sister’s cooler-than-you-are friends. The place was always really noisy, too. I mean, it was a party.

Another thing? When you first walked in, there was this strange cove behind the movie screen. It was a hallway or something. And there was this poster that used to be there. And, like Cyclops, it scared the crap out of me. I remember going back there on multiple occasions, like every time there was a “pizza night”, I would challenge myself and go stare at it to see if it still terrified me. And it always did.

Know what it was?

It was THIS picture of Laurel & Hardy.

The guy on the left….still….spooky to me.

I better post this, look away, and move on.

Dec
02

The Roller SKA-Teen Center, which was located on Hampshire Road right across the street from K-Mart in Thousand Oaks, housed some incredible memories. I attended Banyan Elementary School from 1974-1982, and I guess I started going to “Skate Night” in about 1979. I stopped going in about 1982. The songs I remember: “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Freeze Frame”, “Take It On The Run”, “Rapture”, “Keep On Lovin’ You”, and on and on and on. (If they had “skate nights” now, what new music would they play, I wonder?)

I never knew it was called SKA-Teen. I just knew that all my friends would be there. And that I couldn’t skate well. And that I would be sitting on the side when the loud voice on the intercom announced “ALRIGHT, THIS NEXT SONG IS COUPLES ONLY.”

I think they had the hokey poky.  I sat for that, too.

Sometimes, the emcee would declare, “GUYS ONLY.”

I sat for that, too.

Jeez, the more i think about it, the more I wonder if I skated at all.  No…I remember skating. I sucked.

It was fun to sit and watch “GIRLS ONLY!”  They would really vogue it up out there. I guess the whole set of dynamics just gets transferred over time into bars and clubs, once we get older.

Yeah, skate night.

Still, when I hear “Angel Of The Morning”, I can almost smell that place.

Nov
29

It was sad to see this one go. Unlike the Thousand Oaks Drive-In (which was demolished in 1982), the Simi Drive-In was open to the public until well into the 1990’s. I saw films there as a kid, yes. But as a teenager, this Drive-In is a melting pot of memories. Not only did my dad take me to the swap meet on countless Sundays, so I could find heavy metal attire (concert jerseys, gauntlets, etc.) and he could find electronic crap and random items (that would invariably sit in his garage collecting dust), but when I got my driver’s license…oh man. Aside from literally dozens of van-filled trips with my high school buddies, my high school sweetheart and I went every weekend for probably about a year straight.

Even though the year was 1988, the ads were ancient. Here is one they showed so many times, I still have it memorized, and frequently sing it, complete with 70’s-announcer-voice, to the chagrin of anyone near me:

We saw “Big” about a trillion times. And “Die Hard.” And a bunch of others.

The snack bar had not been updated – ever. It ruled.

One time, to save six bucks for admission, I crawled into the trunk of my friend’s Buick Skylark. The guy at the booth asked my buddy to open his trunk. He opened the trunk. The Drive-In attendant saw me lying there in a ball. I waved at him. In response, the guy just calmly said to my friend, “six more dollars”, and slammed the trunk.

Nov
27

The very first shopping center in the Conejo Valley was located on the corner of Moorpark Road and Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. “The Conejo Plaza” was the first of its kind in our area; mini-malls now flood the entire valley.

There, right next to VONS, sat the Melody Theatre. Two screens. One of them had a balcony. Yeah, an actual balcony. I saw so many movies here, it’s not possible to remember them all (see my post about the Oaks Mall’s UA Theater – I was spoiled). The last movie I remember seeing at the Melody Theatre was Top Gun. (I was 15 years old. I saw it with a girl. We sat in the balcony.)

I don’t remember anything about Top Gun.  Actually, seriously, my most potent memories of the Melody Theatre are recollections of my standing in front of the building waiting for my ride home. There were these bricks that were fun to pick at and play with, which made up most of the structure.

I would stand there and stare at these things. Mock-dusting them off until my parent’s Dadsun B210 pulled into the parking lot.