History


 
VAN NUYS HIGH SCHOOL

 
The history of Van Nuys High School is a long and storied one. From Redford to Abdul, Waterfield to Drysdale, and includes Marilyn and Natalie. Eventually we will add our own bit of history here. There are some famous and not so famous amongst us. For now we would encourage you to travel to our linking web sites for more details on the known and rumored past.

We were one of the last traditional classes to attend high school in the 60's. We still had rules for dress and grooming, knew the school alma mater, wore school colors, and took school spirit to heart. We were very fortunate, we went to the best school in the Valley and perhaps in the city.

Marilyn Monroe

We were proud of going to a school with a great tradition, for creating well rounded individuals. We were some of the best greasers, surfers, scholars, jocks and the coolest nerds. We had highly creative theater arts actors, singers and artists. Super auto shop dudes and future scientist and businesmen were all created here. We enjoyed the various school clubs from academic to collecting stamps, and from service to socializing.

We had the best orange juice and rolls and some of the most inspiring teachers available. Many of us went on to h igher education and have done quite well. But our social skills are perhaps what we can be most thankful for as Van Nuys High emphasized student interaction and was a relaxed, friendly environment to learn and make friends.

The VNHS web site below is an excelent web page for the current and historical perspective of our school.

Our high school was established in 1914 and a few years we can all attend the 100th Anniversay!

Here is a little update from Wikipedia :

History

Van Nuys High School opened in 1915, 4 years after the town was started. For years, the only high schools in the Valley were Van Nuys, Owensmouth (now Canoga Park), San Fernando, and North Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Unified School District ordered Van Nuys High School to convert to year-round scheduling in 2001 due to reasons such as overcrowding. Even though it relieved the overcrowding of Van Nuys High School, the Magnet Programs separated tracks, along with the residential students. The Performing Arts Magnet and the Medical Magnet were only available on the A-Track Schedule, while the Math and Science Magnet was only available on the C-Track Schedule. B-Trackers could not take the same classes as C-Trackers, while C-Trackers could only take certain A-Track classes. Teachers that had both A-Track and C-Track students were frustrated because the curriculum had to be synchronized with both tracks.

Van Nuys High School returned to the Traditional School Calendar in 2005. The switch was caused by a decline in the school population and by a new district policy to eliminate year-round schools whenever possible.

The opening of Panorama High School in October 2006, relieved overcrowding at Van Nuys High School.

Van Nuys High School has the highest AP passing rate in LAUSD for two consecutive years.

A PROUD HISTORY:

Students of Van Nuys High School have every reason to feel a sense of pride.

Certainly, over the years, our school has produced a wide array of alumni, of which some have gone on to become rich and famous. But others, while not perhaps considered so rich or famous, still feel a sense of pride, just from having attended a school with a tradition for placing well rounded individuals into society. But what many forget is the fact that our school played a significant role in the overall development of an area of the country that was in major transition, and in doing so, ended up producing a lengthy and storied history of it's own.

When Van Nuys High School originally opened in 1914, it was one of only three high schools in the San Fernando Valley that served what, at the time, was essentially a rural community. By the start of the 20th century, the Valley had been a scantly populated area with fewer than 3,000 people on a plain of more than 200 square miles. Obviously, that would soon change.

The 1920s and 1930s witnessed some rather significant changes to the terrain, to include, the opening of two of today's major airports, Burbank and Van Nuys. During World War II, the population swelled to 176,000 . And after the end of the War, the Valley had become the nation's fastest growing region. By 1950, the population had literally doubled and then doubled again by 1960. Along the way, a new American lifestyle was taking hold, and in the process, the San Fernando Valley ended up representing the nation's leading symbol of suburbia.

So, within that context, when students of Van Nuys High School seem to possess a sense of pride in where they went to school, there is good reason.


 
VAN NUYS HIGH LINKS WHAT'S THERE
Van Nuys High School's own web site. What the school is doing now as a Magnet School!
VNHS Alumni Association The Message Board for All Van Nuys Alumni.
Stars.com A web site on which school the celebrities went to, especially VNHS!
MarilynMonroe and L.A. Times MM Story on VNHS Famous Actress who attended VNHS.
Jane Russel Jane Russell was a famous actress, and was married to Bob Waterfield.
Bob Waterfield Bob Waterfield, L.A. Rams NFL Hall of Fame football player.
Rob Scribner Rob Scribner, L.A. Rams QB and VNHS '68 football player.
Golden Age.com A web site on VNHS actor: Tommy Bond, "Butch" the bad guy in "our Gang" movie series.
Paula Abdul 1980 Grad, Laker Girl, Grammies and American Idol.
True Grit! Kim Darby the VNHS actress.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in "3rd Rock from the Sun" and movies like "500 Days of Summer".
How Van Nuys the city got created. The Daily News talks about the early history of Van Nuys.
Robert Reford Story The Daily News aka The Green Sheet does Reford story.
History of the Valley Valley story nicely done!
America's Suburb An excellent book and website on the History of the Valley
David Skorton S'67 Grad, Secretary of The Smithsonian Institution, past President of Cornell University and University of Iowa.
Alice Waters 1962 Grad, she is the owner of Chez Panisse, a Berkeley, California restaurant famous for its organic, locally-grown ingredients and for pioneering California cuisine.
Steve Kanaly 1964 Grad, starred in TV Hit Dallas and several movies like The Wind and the Lion.
Vince VanPatten 1975 Grad, TV and movie actor and voice performer. Worked as a professional tennis player in the 1980s.
Erika Elenika   1986 Grad, American Playboy Playmate and actress best known for her role in Baywatch

Vinton Cerf, Father of the Internet VNHS Grad '61, help create the Internet!!
Ed Begley Jr. S'67 Grad who starred in St. Elsewhere who cares about our Environment!
Stacey Keach S'59 Grad and Class President, who has acted in more than 100 movies.
Don Drysdale S'54 Grad who was a Hall of Famer for the Dodgers!
Tony Dow 1963 Grad who was a TV star.
Julie Brown Mid 70's Grad who acted in several films and TV roles.
Norm Miller 1963 Grad who played 10 years for the Houston Astros!
VNHS Class of 1970 See the class of 1970 web site.
VNHS Class of 1959 See the class of 1959 web site.
Burbank-Toluca Lake Bob's Restored to Original Resturant
1960's Flashback News 1966 News and Culture!
NASA IMAGES The San Fernado Valley...cool.
David Klein Creator of Jelly Belly Gourmet Jelly Beans
Bruce Kovner S'62 S.B. President, who is a MultiBillionaire and head of one of the largest hedge funds in the world.
Scott Mason Radio DJ and engineer KROQ and CBS.
Bill Paparian W'67 Grad Mayor of Pasadena
Jon Postel 61 Grad, was one of "the Giants of the Internet"

Need we say more. Bob's was Van Nuys Blvd. And Van Nuys Blvd. was our street.
Click here to Cruise the Boulevard ! !

Fun Article...

L.A. THEN AND NOW

When Bob's Was the Big Hangout

By Cecilia Rasmussen Times Staff Writer

November 2, 2003

A fast-food cultural icon that was born as a lark and became an empire was created by the guy voted in high school "Least Likely to Succeed." But succeed he did. Nearly seven decades ago, a few years before the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, opened their hamburger joint in San Bernardino, Bob Wian created American culture on a bun when he introduced the fast-food phenomenon with the "double-deck" cheeseburger and added already popular drive-in carhop service to deliver it.

From his flagship restaurant in Glendale in 1936, the "double-deck" hamburger dubbed the Bob's Big Boy became an instant success.

Within two decades, Wian expanded his business into a chain across the nation. Each outpost included a larger-than-life statue of a chubby mascot wearing red and white overalls and holding his burger high like an edible beacon. Bob's was more than a mere restaurant. In the age of rock 'n' roll and hotrods, it was a teenage play land, the hottest place to be after a high school football game.

It was a date-night and cruiser destination, a place to flirt, where boys eyeballed one another's engines, got into fistfights over girls and arranged drag races. Teenagers gorged on French fries dipped in blue cheese dressing and "suicide Cokes" splashed with cherry, vanilla, lemon and chocolate flavorings. Inside, teens table-hopped among their friends, flipping coins into mini-jukeboxes that blared hit songs.

The chain's popularity as a family spot to eat began to grow when Wian cast his chubby Big Boy character in a comic book handed out to children at the tables, another industry first.

A native Philadelphian, Wian moved to Glendale in 1928, at age 14, with his parents and two younger sisters. His father, Robert, imported hand-carved wooden furniture and built a three-story Mediterranean-style house in the hills on Royal Boulevard, a home recently designated a Glendale historical landmark.

But when his father lost all his money in the 1929 stock market crash, the younger Wian went to work as a short-order cook to help family finances. He graduated from Glendale High in 1932 and married his high school sweetheart, Frances Abbott. They moved into a small apartment above the old Bard Theater.

In 1936, he sold his 3-year-old DeSoto Roadster convertible for $350, using the money to open a tin-roofed, 10-stool hamburger joint on Colorado Boulevard in Glendale, between a nursery and a liquor store.

The following year, a small group of musicians with Chuck Foster's Big Band patronized the place and kiddingly asked Wian to dream up "something different for a change."

"Why not?" Wian mused. He carved a sesame-seed bun into three horizontal slices, placed two hamburger patties between them, and finished off the concoction with lettuce, cheese and his special pickle relish.

"Wow!" they chorused. "This is it!"

And so it was.

In 1938, Wian changed the name from Bob's Pantry to Bob's Big Boy and converted the stand into a drive-in restaurant, offering a double-deck hamburger, French fries and shakes "so thick you can eat them with a spoon," all for 60 cents.

Wian said the double-decker really began as a joke.

"The whole idea just took off," Wian said in a 1989 interview. "And in those days people were skeptical of hamburger meat, so we ground it ourselves in front of the customers."

Even more famous than the double-deck burger, however, was the plump Big Boy image used as a trademark to welcome diners. Wian modeled it after a 6-year-old he knew named Richard.

According to company legend, the boy cleaned counters in exchange for Wian's double-decker burgers. Richard spent hours on a stool at the counter, eating his way through several burgers. Sometimes his mother or his brother, Glenn, had to drag him home.

One day, Ben Washam, a regular customer and a Looney Tunes animator, sketched the little boy on a napkin.

Over the years the Big Boy character evolved. The first rendering, the one on the napkin, showed him barefoot, holding a hamburger with a bite out of it, his cheeks full of food. Most of the fiberglass statues still around today show him with his thumbs tucked into the suspenders that hold up his red-and-white overalls.

Word of the unusually built burger and its pudgy mascot spread quickly and inspired numerous nationwide imitators, none of which lasted very long. Big Boy begat Chubby Boy, Hi-Boy, Bun Boy, Beefy Boy, Country Boy, Brawny Boy, Fat Boy, Husky Boy, Yumi Boy, Lucky Boy, Super Boy and hundreds of other variations.

By 1940, after a good-looking young carhop made the cover of Life magazine, the work was seen as a glamour job. Wian was inundated with applicants. Westways magazine described carhops as "belles of the boulevards."

Within about a decade, Wian was elected to the Glendale City Council. A month later, in October 1948, he was sworn in as the youngest mayor, at age 34. He quit the following year for more time "to take an occasional fishing trip," he said.

The Wians eventually divorced. In the 1970s, their only child, Robert Paul, died of brain cancer.

In 1957, Wian married June Baehler, a widow with two children, Chapman and Barbara. The couple adopted two more children, Casey and Julie.

Wian was regarded as a giant in the restaurant industry. As a student at Glendale High, "he was the class cut-up, really and truly, but always very industrious," said his sister, Dotty Weis, who was his executive secretary for many years.

"He was a gem; everyone loved him," she said. "His motto was always 'Keep 'em laughing.' "

In the 1950s, Wian's restaurants grew in popularity and were franchised throughout Southern California. Some became so busy that Wian had to hire security guards to handle the traffic: Cars would line up for blocks to get into the parking lots.

Soon, Bob's Big Boy became a battleground, a place where police and other merchants warred with teenage cruisers.

But Wian praised his young customers in a speech at a restaurant convention at the Biltmore Hotel in 1955. "In many cases, today's teenagers are better behaved than some adults. We probably serve 10,000 teenagers every weekend and I can say we rarely have incidents," he said. "Teenagers are more tolerant, more appreciative of little things done for them. I can contradict a lot of scuttlebutt about juvenile delinquency."

Despite his faith in the younger generation, the Big Boy statues became targets of fraternity and teenage pranks. They were stolen almost as fast as they were erected, leaving police radios to crackle with reports that an abducted statue wearing a black pompadour and checkered overalls had been seen joy-riding on Colorado Boulevard in the back of a cherry-red roadster.

Another time, teachers and students at a Southern California high school arrived one morning to find lunch tables stacked to form a pyramid, crowned by the familiar plastic lad from the local Bob's Big Boy.

Franchise owners began filling the statue with sand and anchoring it to its base to make future thefts more difficult.

After opening 22 Big Boy restaurants and franchising hundreds of others across the country, Wian sold the business to Marriott in 1967 for $7 million. Big Boy's presence began to fade as Marriott and later other owners converted many of the Bob's restaurants into more modern eateries.

The original Glendale Bob's and corporate headquarters eventually were razed for the Glendale Galleria. The mini-museum that was near the restaurant's front counter Bob's first spatula, menu and other memorabilia now belong to Wian's son Casey Wian, a CNN reporter.

In 1968, three decades after the birth of the double-deck Big Boy, McDonald's began to market the Big Mac. By then, Wian's fame and fortune were secure. He had blazed a trail in employee relations too, becoming among the first restaurant owners to give employees profit-sharing and health insurance.

In the 1970s, Wian moved his family to an 800-acre ranch in Valyermo, near Palmdale. A decade later, he moved to Newport Beach, where he died in 1992, at age 77.

That same year, Bob's Big Boy on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, the third Bob's built and the oldest still in existence, was declared a California State Point of Historical Interest. It is considered an excellent transitional example of the 1940s Moderne architectural style, leaning toward the 1950s "coffee shop modern" that is endemic in Los Angeles. It still offers carhop service on Saturdays and Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m.


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