About 35 miles north of Los Angeles, in the east end of the San Fernando Valley, lays the little town of Sunland, California. This is where I spent my boyhood.
Every year the local merchants along Foothill Blvd. decorated their shops at Christmas and I particularly remember the animated “Monkey Band” in the Ralph’s window. My family did almost all of their Christmas shopping locally.
My parents, remembering the fabulous lights of downtown Los Angeles in the early 1950’s, wanted us kids to experience the wonderful sight too. And so, one December evening, Dad drove us down to Los Angeles. What a let down it was! There were no glittering lights festooned across Broadway. The beautiful department stores we’d heard so much about had dirty carpeting and half the animated toys in their display window didn’t work.
Out on the street we were accosted by panhandlers. Seedy looking characters milled about and we couldn’t wait to leave. To compensate for our acute disappointment, Dad bought us a box of candy to eat on the way home.
We drove home in silence. Then, we drove through the Shadow Hill to a little rise overlooking our little town. There lay Sunland, nestled between the Verdugo Hills and the San Gabriel mountains; a sparkling slice of small-town America welcoming us. We were home.