Burlingame Avenue

Ellen Hunter2002-11-10 13:58:50
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I grew up in Millbrae but Burlingame Avenue is where you wanted to be(at least on the Peninsula) In the 70’s, there was no comparison to small town shopping other than Univ. ave. in Palo Alto. Still holds true today. Despite the loss of many local shop owners, we’ve managed to keep many small with a mix of the big retail, which keeps Burlingame ave. interesting.
Stephen

2002-11-10 17:53:12
Burlingame Ave

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When we first moved here in 1981 there was a hardware store, three book shops, and a department store (Levy Brothers) on the Avenue.
Fiona

2002-11-14 20:54:49
Burlingame Ave

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Someone told me there used to be a putting green that was where Malouf’s is now. Does anyone know if this is true?
Grey Whipple

2002-11-15 12:03:42
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My family moved to Burlingame in 1945. I remember the magnificent Fox Theater with its art-deco design, a full balcony, and Saturday morning matinees for 50 cents admission. I also remember Wirick’s Smoke Shop on the corner across from the train station. It featured about a five seat soda fountain where you could buy a green river soda. I remember Ricci’s Sporting Good Store where everything was out of my price range. I remember two barber shops, across the street from each other. One charged two-bits more and didn’t cater to kids. The other had the world’s largest collection of comic books for those waiting for a cut that cost a dollar.
Barbara Butler

2004-07-01 11:12:27
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My parents moved to Burlingame from San Mateo just before I was born in 1955. I live in Marin now, but when I come to visit my father, who still lives in our ranch house on Forest View, I find a reason to visit “the Ave.” It always manages to work a spell on me, giving me snapshots of schooldays, bringing my mother back to life, and reviving my sensate memory of what it was like to grow up in this charming town. A whiff of Copenhagen’s bakery and suddenly it is the late 50’s or early 60’s and my mom is buying me a sugar cookie at what was then Frances’s. I learned later that a woman who always waited on us there who was named Frances didn’t own the bakery, but put her son through Stanford by working there. She lived in an apartment over the meat market on Broadway. Miller Drug was on the corner where a luggage store is now and our neighbor, Emily Richards, who worked there for years, picked out stuffed animals from a top shelf in the back room and brought them to me at Christmas. Basso Camera was across the street in about the place Bombay is now and Mr. Basso used to lean on the parking meter out front when there was a lull in customers and smile at everyone driving by. Once in awhile, as I drive by now, I think of him standing there, leaning and smiling, dressed in white shirtsleeves, a black tie and grey suit pants. Down the street from Basso’s in the last block by California Drive was a bike store that’s still a bike store today. In 1961, Dad bought me a pink and white Schwinn. When I’m feeling especially nostalgic, I walk I into that shop and breathe in the Christmas-morning smell of new rubber. Back to the bakery side of the street now in about the same era, I remember a children’s shoe store named Smith and Heller that sold the Buster Brown brand and those white oxford saddle shoes we girls all wore in grade school. The fun part of Smith and Heller, besides getting new shoes, was a little toy pony ride it had in the back of the store. Does anyone else remember that? Little horses and perhaps animals of other sorts went round and round on a metal track. Sometimes when I stop by Pottery Barn, which I believe covers the spot, I wonder if somewhere in the ground below the new building that metal track still survives. Woolworth’s, of course, was in this block as well as a men’s’ clothing store that I remember was named Simpson’s but my father says was Forsyth and Simpson’s. The Simpson family lived in a majestic brown-shingled house on the corner of Willow and Newhall in my neighborhood and I went to school with Roger. One Halloween night he and his brothers made a fire pit in their front yard, complete with skulls glowing in the embers (or perhaps I just imagined the skulls). I still think of that store and that pit when, these days, I’m searching for a shirt at the Gap or J. Crew. Burlingame Hardware, up the block towards Primrose, supplied us with many kitchen necessities that still rumble about in my father’s kitchen drawers. I remember liking their display cases outside. At some point in time, Charles Stationers came in on the corner. The sidewalk alongside Charles on Primrose had sparkles in it, which always caught my young eye, and it still sparkles today. Also on the Ave. nearby — I think it was adjacent to Charles — Mickey McCloskey’s grandparents ran a tiny sliver of a flower shop. Directly across the street, wonderful old Levy Bros. sold department store basics. When it went out – it must have been in the late 70’s or early 80’s — my mom held back tears and noted that people now had to go all the way to Hillsdale Mall just to buy underwear. Levy’s had a ladies room upstairs that was painted an astonishingly bright shade of yellow. We knew we could always stop there when we were downtown and find it clean and welcoming. I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror there when I was of high school age, futzing with my hair. Down the street, I remember a produce market that also had a meat counter. They displayed fruit on stands out on the sidewalk, in particular, beautiful peaches in emerald green paper cartons. Wooden fruit crates piled up precariously in the back doorway that led to the parking lot and I remember their outside sign had a large round, red logo. In later years, I also remember a high quality grocery store nearby named Jergensen’s (spelling?) that eventually became Bon Appetite. Mom and I shopped there almost every day and the owners called everyone by name. Next door, or very nearby, Burlingame Stationers sold red and white crepe paper for high school football games. Next door to them, or very nearby, Burlingame Drug dispensed prescriptions, cosmetic bags, bubble bath and sound medical advice to our family for over three decades. Larry Plagman owned the store for most of those years, the kind of friendly and knowledgeable druggist often featured in classic movies. I believe his sons took over for a time after he retired. Burlingame Drug displayed two oversized apothecary jars atop the prescription shelf counter, one filled with clear red liquid and the other with clear green. It also had a beautiful brown-tiled floor with blue and yellow diamond-shaped tiles inlaid into the pattern. Just this year, the drug store finally went out and a baby-clothing store went in. Did anyone save one of those jars or a piece of that pretty floor? In the first block of the Ave., nearer to El Camino, Montgomery Ward occupied the two-story brick building where Abercrombie is today. Known as “Monkey Ward” to anyone under the age of ten, it sold bikes, sporting equipment and appliances, among other things, and also had that wonderful new-rubber smell. The Juvenaire children’s clothing store, right nearby, outfitted me throughout my grade school years at McKinley. When it came time to buy new clothes for the new school year, Mom took my hand and we always went there. On one of these occasions the owner looked down at me and told me I was a lucky girl. She was correct. I don’t remember when Monkey Ward and The Juvenaire disappeared, but Robert Gates, an elegant clothing store for adults, arrived in that lovely brick-faced building where Malouf’s is now, and remained for many years. Gates wrapped gifts at Christmastime in stunning red shiny paper with gold ribbons. Their women’s department toward the back of the store encircled a garden-style cement fountain and the men’s department in the front decorated its shelves with wooden ducks. The smoke shop on the corner of Burlingame Ave. and Primrose still smells like cigars and newspaper print, just like it did when my friends and I used to fill small paper bags with candy before Saturday matinees at the Fox Theater across the street. The theater management reprimanded Sally Nicholas and me once for being too noisy, but I must have been fairly attentive because I remember Lawrence of Arabia, Haley Mills movies, and Boy and the Laughing Dog in vintage detail. To the left of the theater, See’s Candies occupied the spot that must today be Baskin-Robbins. Once in awhile, Dad would buy me a pink coconut bon-bon in a paper wrapper. Nearby, probably where the beauty supply store is now, little Burlingame Books was as good as book stores get. The woman who owned the store knew books so well Dad talks about her to this day. What I remember most about Burlingame Books is that it had a flight of creaky wooden stairs that led to a children’s department upstairs. When I come upon my copies of Black Beauty and Alice in Wonderland, I remember the way the light fell in that loft where I so often I sat and read. My favorite place on Burlingame Avenue, through the years as well as today, is Towles. Although it’s a little seafood restaurant now instead of a soda fountain/coffee shop, I’m grateful the original building with its original design is still there. The day before it closed as a coffee shop a few years ago, I poked my head inside the wood-and-screen front door and imprinted the atmosphere into my memory. Towles smelled like coffee and sounded like the clatter of plates. It doesn’t take much, even today, to think I see Mo
m and me sitting in one of the wooden booths by the window that looks out to Primrose, circa the 1970’s, enjoying tuna-stuffed tomato salads, stifling giggles over something and planning our next errand to Pecks around the corner or lovely Rorke’s over on Park. It was our favorite lunch place on the Ave. during my school years and beyond, and the last place on the Ave. we dined in together before she passed away last August. If anyone knows more specifically where some of these stores were located or when they came and went, I’d be interested to learn it. If the historical society has any memorabilia, I’d love to see it. Thanks to everyone who is still around who owned shops or worked on this street. And thanks Burlingame, sweet dear town, for being the kind of place that will live forever in my mind.
Barbara

2004-07-02 10:36:58
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Barbara, thanks so very much for the most beautiful tribute to Burlingame Ave from one of us lucky enough to look back at a most perfect shopping area.

You hit on just about all my memories especially the one about the lady who worked in Frances’ Bakery (now the Cope). I can see her face so clearly. Hope all her dreams came true. Your reference to Forsythe and Simpson’s Mens Wear. Your Dad was right. I went to grade school at McKinley and Burlingame with the son John!

I love your reference to Towles being a nice mother-daughter lunch counter. So many wonderful memories including Rorkes where all of us listed our dish patterns etc. in preparation for our weddings.

I could go on and on thanking you for a wonderful essay that brings it all back. I now live in southern California so reading this memory was a complete joy.

Barbara
Sherry Bradley

2004-12-14 00:33:12
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Dish patterns at Rorkes must have been the chosen place to register for showers and weddings. Rorkes had an every day pattern that was especially branded with the Rorkes name. It was an art deco pattern produced in Ohio in the 1920’s-30’s, called Leigh Ware “Green Wheat”. This pattern is so elegant enough to be in the Smithsonian.
Sean West

2005-01-30 13:27:18
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I never knew the Green Wheat pattern was so loved. Unfortunate that it was only produced for a few years. I have a batch of it in storage and in a few days it will go on an auction so someone else can have it to love.
Fiona Hamilton

2005-01-30 16:22:56
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The Burlingame Historical Society has recently become the proud owner of a Rorke’s beige oval platter with an orange flower on it. We are always very grateful to residents and ex-residents who donate such exciting examples of Burlingame businesses from the past.
Sherry Bradley

2005-01-30 16:47:09
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Rorke’s may have also dealt a Leigh Potters pattern called “Mayfair”. This will be a lovely addition to your collection. Is it marked “Made for Rorke’s?”
Fiona Hamilton

2005-01-30 17:26:05
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Yes – it has a sticker on the back which says “Made for Rorke’s Burlingame” and the platter is 16″ x 11″ in size.
Sherry Bradley

2005-01-30 19:02:59
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If I ever come across any dishes with that mark, I will be happy to make a donation to the Burlingame Historical Society.
David Stanson

2005-02-02 09:12:03
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Do you know when & where you will be putting your Leigh Ware “Green Wheat” up for auction? Thanks. Dave
SEH

2005-03-14 19:54:03
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I remember going to a soda fountain that was in a dime store (in the middle of Burlingame Ave)when they had a “hit the balloon with a dart” contest. You would pay whatever the amount was in the balloon for a wonderful banana split! My boyfriend and I would go in there…he would always get a balloon with a FREE banana split and I always got the one that cost fifty cents!! Go figure!! He married me anyway and we were married for 39 years!! Anyone else throw those darts??
BOB LINGASS

2005-03-14 20:24:41
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SEH SEH ; good for you ..one queston who had the fifty cents. Keep on throwing the darts.

55 years isan’t that far along.

Bob & Jean Lingass
SEH

2005-03-15 10:44:37
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Bob and Jean, He had to pay….I wasn’t a Cheap Date!!!!! :)
Andy Miller

2006-11-30 14:14:55
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Hi, I may totally be in the wrong place but I am writing on behalf of my mother Margaret Miller (nee Samson) who is tracing her family history.
She is trying to trace a Mrs Robert Lingass (nee Mabel Samson)- last known address 1115 Bayswater Avenue, Birlingame.
I wonder if anyone can shed any light on this. Many thanks in advance.
robert lingass

2006-12-02 21:14:25
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I am the son of mabel Lingaas , I am 73 years old. I have a sister Louise Wade I well tell her to post her E mail address. hope to hear more , from Andy Miller ROBERT LINGAAS.
L. Wade

2006-12-02 21:46:55
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I am the daughter of Mabel Lingaas – please e-mail me by clicking this link.
Jo Alexander

2006-12-12 22:34:26
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I grew up in Burlingame living in the Burlingame Village. My dad owned a small liquor store on Howard Ave. that was in a converted old house until his death in 1962. He was the original owner of the Bit of England on Burlingame Ave. and sold it in the late 40’s, then opened his store. We spent many evenings walking on Burlingame Ave. looking in store windows and admiring what we saw.
Norm Ray

2007-06-16 22:54:35
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It was 1971-1972 that “The Avenue” got a “face lift”. Well, the street itself and the sidewalk. I was in the labor union at the time and Turner Plumbing needed a ditch digger. Turner Plumbing was located on California Drive just north of Broadway. I want to say Turner-Turner Plumbing because two brothers ran it. Anyway, my job was to shovel out the dirt in the trenches which are now the cobblestone walkways at the intersections. I remember being in the trench and “a cop walking the beat” asked me if I had dug up anything. I had’nt. It was very cool to me to be working on Burlingame Ave. The street that I had spent so much time on. I can still recall conversations and things we were doing at specific points along the Avenue. Everytime I hear “For what it’s worth” by Buffalo Springfield I see myself and friends standing almost at the corner of California Drive in front of what was then the Bombay Bicycle Riding Club which is now a restaurant, originally the Bank of Burlingame.
Madelle Vines

2008-11-03 23:53:35
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My Mother, Father, Brother and I moved from Portland, Oregon to Burlingame in 1931. My Dad opened a little coffee shop at 1296 Burlingame Ave, next door to Forsythe and Simpson. It was called the Downyflake Coffee Shop and had a machine inside the front window which could make the best doughnuts in the world! I was six years old and started to McKinley School in first grade. That coffee shop became a full restaurant after a few years and both my parents worked very hard there. I remember they served a complete dinner:

Soup, Salad, Entree (Meat, potato, vegetable), Dessert, Choice of Coffee, tea or milk all for 65 cents!

The Downyflake was in business until about 1943, when the shipyards became the local job of choice and my folks’ beautifully expanded enterprise was no longer able to acquire employees. The store was closed and we moved to The City in 1943.

My memories of Burlingame are flooding back and I will probably be adding posts!
Bob Blincoe

2010-04-04 13:52:42
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My 4th grade teacher at Lincoln, Mrs. Hobart, worked at Burlingame Drug. When I saw her in there I could not get it in my head that a teacher had a life outside the classroom.
NancyBaldwinKnudsen

2010-06-15 16:05:03
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I was at BHS from 1944/48 and we hung out at Blodgets after school (which later became Towles). There was also a fountain in the drug store (maybe Bennett’s I’m not sure) where we hung out during lunch. Of course there weren’t enough stools to seat all of us so we had to stand. It was located kitty-corner from Blodgets and had the best carmel frosted cake-yummy. Anyone remember Putnam’s little grocery store?

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