Crawford’s Market opened in 1937 in El Monte at Five Points on the corner of Valley and Garvey. They called it “The Biggest Little Country Store!” Everyone in the San Gabriel valley came to Crawford’s for their fresh produce, dairy and meat. The store was owned by Leemoria Barbara and Wayland Howard Crawford. The Crawford’s started out in Los Angeles with a store and a vegetable stand in the City of Bell. The couple found out soon that the inland valley was better suited for a big market so they opened a chain of stores from Alhambra, Montebello, El Monte and Rosemead. The El Monte Store had a Van de Kamp’s bakery with the women wearing those weird hats.
The stores would have a snack bar, a barber shop, jewelry store, shoe repair and even an ice cream stand under one roof. The stores would hold events such as pancake breakfasst, Easter Bonnet parades, Halloween Costume contests with prizes going to the best costume. Crawford’s also was deeply into returning to the community and especially to the Police departments by raising money for fallen policemen. When the local circus would come to town they were usually held at Crawford’s. At Christmas time they would hire a Santa Claus who would arrive by helicopter!
Most El Monte residents have fond memories of shopping at Crawford’s and events that happened here. Unfortunately all things do come to end and so in 1992 Crawford’s became landlords rather than owners.
Enjoy! Gary Cliser
I've been "cruising" on and off for a few years wondering if anyone would post anything about the Biggest Country Store at Five Points. It was a delight to find your site posting the Life Magazine pictures.
I grew-up on Mountain View Road a couple of blocks up from Crawford's. My dad installed the sound system for Ray Crawford. We were there for the big "Watermelon Feeds", the "Big Cheese Wheels" and the great "Wednesday Night Drawings". I even have a picture of the helicopter that brought Santa Claus one year (early 1960's).
What's great is I have some dear, older friends who worked there in the 1940's and early 1950's. They can sure tell stories about all the wonderful events that bought the community together at Crawford's: there really is a rich history.
Here is a picture of my parents Bernard and Dorothy Cliser and me - taken in 1958 at Crawford's in a photo booth very much like the one on the left.
I checked your link and what you've posted is great!
Oh by the way, my dad's name is "Ernst" (no second e): he could be a little imposing as he had a heavy German accent... he designed and installed the sound system when Crawford's was rebuilt across the street. He'd also set-up for weekly Wednesday night drawings outside in the parking lot facing Mountain View. Pending how much you bought, you would receive drawing tickets; you'd tear it in half on your way out and drop one side of the ticket in a big drum and keep the other and hope your number was called. You had to be present to win.
The Santa Claus landing was around 1957-58. (Helicopters didn't come into commercial use till the mid 1950's.) Wish I could tell what movie was playing at the Tumbleweed, then we could nail down the year by googling the movie...
I have to chid you: you left out one very important department: the toy department! I think that is where my first Barbie Doll came from in the early 1960's. Crawford's really were ahead of their time by being a true "department" store: everything you could need. But even more, they cared about the community.
And of course the Red Goose Shoe Store to the left of the Valley side entrance. When I was about 6 years old, mom took me and my older sister to buy new Easter Sunday shoes for church. The manager would hide a plastic golden egg in a children's shoe box and if the shoes you bought had the egg, you'd win a stuffed animal. I won a big rabbit once! (It's tattered and old, but it's in a box in the attic.)
These pictures are from Crawford's 20th Anniversary. That's my dad in the white shirt; he was helping-out. A few years ago I shared these pictures with a classmate's elderly parents; her mom gasped and laughed; she recognized herself! She was in the picture holding her daughter, my friend Stella Costanza; she was standing right behind my dad. What a small world: but to discover that now!
I'll get the newsletter to you this weekend.
Peggy (Perry) Davis (Class of 1948) -
I worked at Crawfords Market from 1960 to 1963 as a department store checker and some times checked on the grocery side......Jim Varney was my boss at that
time.....do any of you remember the giant cheese they had every year.....over a thousand lbs.....they had it sitting in the main isle of the store and would cut you
as much cheese as you wanted from the giant block.....Crawford's was open til midnight and I worked that shift because it made .10 cents more an hour.....at that timeI was making $2.75 an hour.....great money in those day's!!
Rory Varela (Class of 1974) - Was such a treat going to Crawfords even in the 50's and early 60's. I remember getting a golden egg from the goose at the shoe store.
The Tumbleweed Theatre was designed by architect S. Charles Lee for a client with limited capital who needed the theater for film-buying purposes. This particular client said he would accept anything, even a barn, as long as it had a projection booth.
So, Lee designed the exterior of the building to resemble a barn surrounded by a farmyard. Above the marquee stood a wooden tower topped by a windmill. The auditorium had an open-beamed ceiling with wagon-wheel light fixtures and murals of mules and cactus. The creative design was simple and inexpensive, yet captured the mood of the theater's isolated location.
The Tumbleweed opened in 1939 and was demolished sometime before 1970.