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Vintage Palisades Village Displayed in Colorful Calendar

Two Pali High graduates published the 2013 calendar, "A Town Called Pacific Palisades," depicting old community landmarks through text and acrylic paintings. It's being sold online.

From famed architect S. Charles Lee's Bay Theater to the rooftop parking at Safeway on Swarthmore Avenue and from the bent wire chairs and marble-topped tables at Wil Wright's ice cream shop to the grumpy owner at Playcraft Toys on Swarthmore, Palisades Village was quite a different place a few decades ago.

Collecting the community's lost history, two Pali natives, a writer and an illustrator, teamed up to create a special 2013 calendar highlighting the magnificant landmarks of the village in the mid-20th century.

Palisades Charter High School Class of 1980 graduates Lisa Kurtz Sutton and David Doherty say you can purchase "A Town Called Pacific Palisades" here online through their publisher, Cafe Press.

"It’s vintage Los Angeles," Sutton said in a recent interview with Patch. "Anyone who grew up on the Westside knew it was just the greatest place in the world to grow up. It was like Mayberry, just west of Hollywood."

What's remarkable is that Sutton, now a Culver City resident, and Doherty, now of Palm Springs, haven't seen each other since they graduated Pali High. They put the calendar together all via email.

"We had been corresponding a few years," Sutton said, noting she attended Marquez Elementary School while Doherty went to Corpus Christi School. "We found each other online, and started emailing back and forth. We love the town."

The two began reminiscing and swapping photos, and then got hooked on the Facebook page, "Pacific Palisades - Remember When."

"I got obsessed with researching photos, and started talking on there," she added. "We’d send each other photos."

Doherty, a painter and artist, and Sutton, a writer and researcher, put their talents together for the calendar idea.

Doing everything she could to find pictures, Sutton scoured her own photos and ones on the Internet, accessed old Palisades photos through her work on A&E and searched in the massive archives at the Santa Monica Library.

Doherty delivered the 12 original acrylic drawings rather quickly, Sutton noted.

With places like The Hot Dog Show or Richfield gas station as subject matter using oversized graphic eagles and hot dogs with canine heads, halos and harps, Doherty said the sense of design mixed with whimsy kept him entertained.

"In the process of working on them, I was surprised to realize that mid-century Pacific Palisades had quite a sense of unique humor about it that I never noticed before," he said in an email message. "Prior to this, I wouldn't have thought that the outside of a supermarket like Safeway or Mayfair could be very compelling to work on, but through Lisa's collaboration, these paintings have proven to be about the insides and the outsides of the buildings."

Doherty said moments and details, like the giant glass urns of candy inside Wil Wright's with its wire back chairs and the stuffed giraffe at Playcraft toys, are the elements that bring the locations to life from the old photographs to his paintings.

"Recalling the warmth of the color of the Bay Theater at dusk when the owners had just turned on the bright orange-red neon are as important as getting the architecture correct," he said.

Sutton called the Bay Theater the most impressive building in Pacific Palisades, and it is on the calendar's cover.

"It was a huge landmark and it was used for premieres," she said. "We grew up in the era. It was still a single theater. Parents would leave us there on the weekends and we'd see matinees. As teens, everyone hung out there."

The Bay Theater closed in 1978 and became Norris Hardware, the oldest business today in the village.

Sutton noted she loved going to The Hot Dog Show, which was located across the street from the Bay Theater. She also used to work at the Hacienda Galvan at 15225 La Cruz.

"I ate there all the time," she said. "It was my first job."

Sutton and Doherty said most of the profit goes to Cafe Press, while they make a few dollars off each calendar. They both admit the project was done for fun, and they have begun a "second wave" of illustrations depicting Palisades' past to put in the next calendar.

"People can make them to order," Sutton said about Cafe Press, noting you can start your custom calendar on any month so it doesn't become obsolete. The two also suggest the calendar can serve as a great holiday gift.

Michael j. Allport December 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Utterly Fantastic!!!-Misha Allport,Brasil
Elizabeth McNamara December 04, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I am very very excited about this! The Bay Theater! Hacienda Galvan! House of Lee! Wow, this is terrific.
Matthew Sanderson (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 06:50 AM
I'm glad you like, Elizabeth! I needed a good reference so this was exciting to receive. Thanks Lisa and David!
David Doherty December 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Thank you Matt! The article turned out great and the response has been terrific!

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