In 1966, being a teenager in Encino had a lot of perks. There were amazing television shows to watch like Batman, The Monkees, Star Trek and The Green Hornet. If you liked rock, 93 KHJ "Boss Radio" was playing the Beatles' "Paperback Writer," the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City," the Troggs' "Wild Thing" and the Monkees' debut single, "Last Train to Clarksville," tunes that dominated the airwaves that year.
For girls, there was also TV's Gidget, starring Sally Field, who had recently graduated from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys (class of '64).
In 1966, I was a 6-year-old boy attending l in Mrs. Cushman's first-grade class. I vividly recall Eileen Soffer, who was in my carpool, toting her "Campus Queen" lunch box, which sported a picture of a Barbie-and-Ken-style prom king and queen.
Also emblematic of mid-'60s teen culture were films such as Bye Bye Birdie, starring a saucy Ann-Margret, and Lord Love a Duck, a very hip and cynical black comedy. There were scenes in Duck in which microphones and lighting were visible in the shots, apparently to accentuate adult "incompetence" and the chaotic feeling of the time.
Although it was a time of incredible social upheaval, in the San Fernando Valley things remained relatively calm, until a Woodstock-type concert took place ("Newport '69") at Devonshire Downs with Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Encino featured rock bands of a gentler sound, like the Turtles ("Happy Together"; "She'd Rather Be With Me") and the Beau Brummels (originally from San Francisco, their big hit was "Laugh Laugh"), who would perform for dances at the Encino Community Center, along with local bands.
Hundreds of teens would gather at the Community Center for these events. Encino resident Rhonda Rees recalled attending them.
"I used to go to dances at the Encino Community Center all the time. I felt like I was 17 when I was 13," Rees said. "It was all so innocent back then. We would go across the street to Baskin-Robbins after the dances for ice cream. I never saw so many kids in a Baskin-Robbins before."
Near Gelson's in Encino were two stores for young girls seeking the Gidget look or even something more collegiate. One was called Stardusters, and I recall its sweeping sign letters with the stars brushed across them. The other store, Gibson Girl, had a preppy image and catered to the coed look for Birmingham High School and Pierce College.
Guys wore Hush Puppies and ski sweaters in the winter and surfer "jams" and pocket polo or Hang Ten T-shirts during the summer. The in store for dudes back then was Encino Varsity Shoppe near Encino Park.
The quaint neighborhood of Encino had a lot of fun things to do, like shopping for novelty gifts at Party Girl, buying records at the Beat and chowing down on some incredible subs at the Sandwich Factory.
One of my favorite memories from 1966 was the introduction of Razzles candy, which became gum after a few dedicated chews. I used to buy Razzles from Encino's own Don the ice cream man, who for over 30 years was a fixture in the neighborhood.
Many summers I would read my Archie comic books and wait for my own teenage dream to begin, which it finally did in 1973. But that's another story...