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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Larkspur, California 1955

Larkspur, California 1955

Larkspur, California, the small town I grew up in, about 15 miles north of San Francisco. Here in 1955 the population was around 3500. Within its three-block downtown there were: two grocery stores, both with full service butchers (here the Rainbow Market, or "Ernie's," and next door The Food Center, or "Fred's"); a drug store, where I also bought my comics and had my film developed; a hardware store with everything from bins of nails to small appliances; a variety store, where I bought my Matchbox cars; a dry goods store; two barber shops; a movie theater; my doctor and dentist; a TV repair shop; a soda fountain; a caterer; a florist (on the left in the photo), as well as the gas station, garage, post office, bank, fire house and city hall, the latter with the library. Oh yeah, and three bars. I never went to those, but you could often find me at the library investigating dinosaurs or old coins or freeways or whatever else I happened to be obsessed with at the moment, all with the indulgence and encouragement of Miz Wilson, the long-time librarian. 35mm Ansco Color slide by my brother.
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I too grew up in Larkspur

My Grandmother worked for Ernie Epindiendo for 25 years or so. I lived around the corner on Ward St, as did my grandparents. My grandfather was a Marin Co. Sherrif in th 50's and 60's. Little league at(going by memory) Joe Wagner field. My dad went to LCM in late forties. I remember many of the 4th of July Parades. Went to Redwood High. Used to buy my mom's cigarettes with a note and would hand it to Fred Schefer's wife Edna, and later airplane glue for my model car's.(Had to show Fred the model before he'd sell it to you though, due to kids using it as a inhalent) Lived behind the Lark theater in 1960 to 1961 on Post st. My mom worked at the Lark at that time. Loved seeing the posts and the pictures... thanks!!!!!

The way of living we we're dreamin' about.

I do speak for my now-deceased parents. 1955 was a great time of hopes (and I do myself confirm, cause on French TV we have a lot of "remember the good ol'time of the Marshall Plan" style programs, and my parents were avid of everything the US of A had to offer, even if they were a bit leftwing and look to socialism). Hehehe, nevertheless, their love for your way of living never left them until the end. Now, I'm a great "proudly made in America" addict. I had 2 Buicks, and collect everything related to the all-American ads and memorabilia + views of the 60s buildings. As you can see, the influence of your country never stops, héhéhéh!

Three Bars

The third bar I recall as a youth in Larkspur was the Rose Bowl Chateau. It was directly across the street from the Peso. There was always a bit of a rivalry between the two. I remember a fireworks war between them one New Year.

Other memories of downtown include Fred's Market, Lark Theater, Archer Chevron, and for a while there was a slot car track in one of the shops on the east side of Magnolia.

Life in Larkspur as a kid was freedom without worry. As long as I was home by the time the fire whistle blew at 5, all was good. We had to stay out of trouble because just about everyone knew everyone, so we couldn't get away with anything anyway.

Ah, the good ol' days!

Home Sweet Home

There was no better place to grow up than Larkspur.

Larkspur Ernie's

Yes, Ernie was Ernie Epindendio. I met up with his son (and fellow Redwood High classmate) at last year's Larkspur 100th birthday party. Also, word has subsequently come that the fire I mention in my post below happened on September 6, 1959.

Rainbow Market

You call the Rainbow Market, "Ernie's." Do you know Ernie's last name?

The Rainbow Market Now

A fire around 1960 damaged the second floors of two of these buildings, and the repairs left them in state you see here. Oh, and even though they kept the vintage neon sign, the market itself is now an art gallery.

Yeah...three bars! ??

I live in a small town in ill. pop. about 2100, we ALSO have three bars. weird.

No higher compliment.

Lucky Miz Wilson, to be remembered so fondly!

It is my hope--my sincerest hope--that someday my former students use words like "indulgent" and "encouraging" if they ever describe me to others!

Third Bar

Larkspur's third bar at this time was the Rose Bowl Chateau, named in reference to the town's outdoor dance pavilion, the Rose Bowl, located a couple blocks up the side street from it. The dances, featuring name bands and drawing large crowds from all over the Bay Area every Saturday night in the 30s - 50s, were the sole means of support for the town's privately-operated volunteer fire department. The building Rose Bowl Chateau was in now houses a fancy restaurant.


Pictures like these make me think of the little town my dad grew up in. And summers spent up there, trips downtown to the Red Owl with my cousin. You know, back when kids could spend all day roaming the town without worrying about a thing. At that point (in the early to mid 80's) the store was on its last legs. It's gone now, of course.

My aunt would send us with a note, the shopkeeper would send us home with her cigarettes. (Aunt told us that her own mom would send her down with a note, and the shopkeeper would send her home with some mysterious "products" wrapped in brown kraft paper.)

I'd give anything to step back into that store now. It had the most wonderful smell -- a whiff of which I catch now and then today. Always sends me right back.
Once again, thank you for sharing your pictures.


I grew up in Larkspur too!

I grew up in Larkspur too! These photos are really amazing and such a treat to see. I remember the Silver Peso (still there) and the Blue Rock (now a fancy French place) but I can't think of the third bar. What was it?

Three Bars

Three bars must be a nationwide small-town thing. I live in a small (pop. 2,000) town in Michigan, and we still have three bars, as does the next town down the road.

Three bars?

Kids today probably think you're referring to cell signal strength. Those of us old enough to recognize that shiny thing on the roof as a TV antenna probably know better. Any chance of seeing the truck larger?

[Click on "original" under the caption. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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