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Market Day: 1955

Market Day: 1955

Back we go to my home town of Larkspur, California for another view of the Rainbow Market, where my father worked for several years in the mid-1950s. The linked photos and their comments give plenty of background, so here I'll just mention a couple childhood memories this one dredges up (I was 9 at the time my brother took this Anscochrome slide). The hulking 1930s black sedan belonged to my mother's friend Mrs. Skala, who a year later bought a 1956 Plymouth from Hil Probert, whose DeSoto-Plymouth dealership was across the street from our house a couple blocks away. My mother was incensed that Probert allegedly talked the 60ish lady into a model with the push-button automatic transmission. "Imagine the poor woman trying to learn how to use something like that at her age. The idea." Well, that's a paraphrase, but I never did hear if Mrs. Skala had any problems. Mr. Gilardi, the butcher who's billed on the market's window, had a portion of one finger missing from some slicing or chopping mishap, so naturally that's what I always stared at while my mother talked pot roast or ground chuck with him. Or maybe that was Charlie Young, the butcher at Fred Schefer's Food Center next door to the right. We switched our trade to the Food Center after my father left the Epidendios' employ. Final period note: on the telephone pole, a poster for the United Crusade, a charity forerunner of the United Way. That and the March of Dimes were annual Larkspur events I recall, although I was probably more interested in fantasizing about the dimes being potential fodder for my coin collection. View full size.

More Pushbuttons

While poking around in a junk yard back in the '60's I came across the remains of a car with the pushbutton transmission partly pulled out of the dash. What looked elegant and simple on the surface was actually a confusing mass of levers, springs and cables. A forerunner of Windows.

My best friend's parents

They had a grey, black, and pinkish 1956 Dodge (I think) with a push button transmission. I thought it was fascinating and just SO cool! Our 1956 Chevy had a boring automatic shift one.

Blue hue

That's a 1939-40 or so Dodge and there were five blues offered. One of them, Shocking Blue (a 60s name for a pre-war hue), is very close to this one.

Typewriter Drive....

My uncle had a Plymouth of about the same vintage, I don't remember the exact year. The push buttons were arranged in a square pattern vs the linear pattern shown in the attached photo.

One day while I was washing it for him I noticed something interesting... The name Plymouth was spelled out on the front edge of the hood with individual letters. Whoever installed the individual letters at the factory must have been slightly dyslexic because it was spelled "Plymouht". I wonder how many of those escaped the quality control department at the factory.

Pushbutton transmission

She had to go from the three-on-the-tree manual to a pushbutton automatic. My Dad had a '64 Dodge 880 with one. Now people who buy a Ram pickup now have to learn how to drive with a transmission that shifts by turning a knob.

Push Button Problem

Mrs. Skala, 60ish, may have had some problems with that newfangled push button shifter. I sure did when I was 16. My after school job was delivering dry cleaning for Mr. Kravitz and I drove his '63 Plymouth with those buttons.

Being a teenager I was, of course, FAST about everything! So fast that every once in awhile I'd hit the wrong button. Sure enough one day I jumped back in the car and hit REVERSE instead of DRIVE and lurched back into some poor schlub's parked Ford; I had to pay for a crunched taillight. The Ford may have had some damage, too, but I didn't hang around long enough to survey it.


It looks like they took the top part of the old "Rainbow Market" sign, and glued the "Liquors" part of the liquor market sign to make one combined sign.

Re: Black and Blue

Just to throw in my two cents worth, note that the California plate (yellow on black in those days) has a distinctly black background, while the trunk lid around it is dark blue in the same light.

Black and Blue

Given the reflection on the window above that 1930's car appears blue, and the shadow of the utility pole is too, and we know shadows are not aqua-blue, I agree that the photographic process is creating a black and blue shift.

[The shadow on the road is the color of the asphalt with x amount of light hitting it. Areas of total shadow (under the car, for example) are black. - Dave]

Pushbutton transmissions

I learned to drive on a 1956 Plymouth with pushbutton transmission, and on my first solo trip, one of the buttons fell in when I went to put it in Drive. I eventually got it out, and hope Mrs. Skala didn't have the same problem.

I also enjoy tterrace's pictures.

Now how about some more of the sister-in-law?

Larkspur Lights

The strings of colored lights were there year-round. They were lit on weekends when dances were held at the Rose Bowl, a large outdoor dance pavilion in a redwood grove two blocks from downtown. Operated to fund the Larkspur Volunteer Fire Department, the dances were the town's main claim to fame, featuring name bands and attracting crowds from all over the San Francisco Bay area. The lights also formed part of the Christmas decorations here along Magnolia Ave., the town's main street. This photo was taken in either spring or early summer.

The blanidfication of the facades dates to a 1959 fire that nearly destroyed the upper floors of the three buildings.


It is always good to see a posting by tterrace!

Chilly Magnolia

Here's a contemporary view of the same stretch of Magnolia Avenue and the former Rainbow Market in Larkspur. Don't let the neon sign fool you; the market left long ago and the interior has been converted to an art gallery.

As a preservationist I'm dismayed by the removal of the original cornices and bay windows visible in the 1950s photo. There were lots of misguided attempts to 'modernize' aging Victorian and Edwardian buildings around that time, and Larkspur obviously wasn't spared.

[Those bland stucco facades date to the unfortunate reconstruction done after a 1959 fire heavily damaged the upper floors of those buildings. -tterrace]


Are those Christmas lights strung on the wire over the street? The woman on the sidewalk doesn't look as if she's dressed for December weather, even in a not-very-cold place like Larkspur.

[The colored lights were lit up in the summer for Larkspur's Rose Bowl dances, which since 1913 had been run annually by the Volunteer Fire Department at an outdoor pavilion in a redwood grove a couple blocks away. Proceeds funded the fire department, which was fully owned and operated by the volunteers until 1956, when they turned it, and the fire house, over to the city. The lights were also lit up when the Christmas street decorations were put up. -tterrace]

Black & Blue

Unless the Anscochrome film changed colors after all these years, that black sedan sure looks blue to me.

[In my memory the car was always black, but it could really have been a very dark blue or else this is some artifact of Anscochrome color rendition or aging. - tterrace]

Tipping the scale

What a great pleasure to have the background information of a photo. Many thanks to tterrace for sharing his memories. I can hear Mrs. Skala saying "Mr. Gilardi, one of those beef tips was rather small last time".

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