Talk to any Southern California denizen about where they grew up and, very often, local signage and landmarks come into the discussion, as points of reference. We're an on-the-road culture, after all, so placing someone's childhood neighborhood by Henry's Tacos or Circus Liquor or Casa Vega is something we naturally do.
Good eye, there, if you noticed how we grouped that trio: We did, in fact, just mention three San Fernando Valley businesses. The Valley is laden with landmarky goodness, and Valley Boy Tommy Gelinas loves it all. So much so that he's overseen Valley Relics, the go-to site for Valley history, photos, and recollections, for several years.
But more than just running a terrific online resource, he's been out there fighting the proverbial good fight. Remember when Henry's Tacos faced closure earlier this year? Mr. Gelinas saved the famous sign.
Now that sign, and other you-thought-it-was-long-gone stuff, is on display at the San Fernando Valley Relics Museum, which is set to debut in Chatsworth on Saturday, Oct. 12. Food trucks, a car show, a ribbon cutting, and a whole wave of vintage Valley love'll be part of the free opening celebration.
And, in case you're wondering, Mr. Gelinas knows his regional stuff: He's Burbank-raised, through and through, and he owns North Hollywood's Print Lab.
When not at work, he's made it his happy aim to save the area's cast-aside treasures and roadside wonders. It is, in fact, "his mission to collect and preserve not only relics and artifacts, but the memories of the valley that are too easily lost and forgotten to the test of time."
Let us also pause to note that he keeps an eye on the other side of the hill, too; Mr. Gelinas was instrumental in the saving of the Tiffany Theatre sign in West Hollywood in August.
The Valley Relics Museum will keep regular Saturday hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Will it become a favorite stop-by for longtime residents of Van Nuys and Toluca Lake and Studio City and Reseda? All people who want to chat about their childhoods and what they remember and the places they loved? There is a good chance, seeing as how Mr. Gelinas has a fervent fan base for his site.
And, after all, the best reliquaries are not just about the stuff, of course, but the people inspired and changed by the stuff.