Of the various sense memories I can readily recall from my tot years there’s a couple prominent ones, both from establishments on Beverly Boulevard within a couple blocks of each other. One is the steamy smell of corn tortillas that wafts when you lift the top plate off them at El Coyote where I was ogling the puffy-dressed waitresses’ ambundant displays of decolletage and throwing back maraschino-cherry laden Roy Rogerses before I could walk. The other is the sight of the tires that spin endlessly around beneath the Town Tire Co. sign at Beverly at Gardner across from Pan Pacific Park.
From the moment I first saw it (probably in my mom’s old Corvair coming back from El Coyote) I was mesmerized by the wobbling tire that would never lie down and be it day or night I would always look to it whenever we’d chance to pass it by. In fact, I’m pretty sure the end of my childhood can be pegged to the moment I looked for it and suddenly quit seeing its visual trick anymore. Somehow it went from something magical whose effect was similar to what happens in the last moments of a coin spinning on a tabletop, to just two tires attached to each other at an angle being rotated by an unseen motor. And that’s how it’s stayed ever since — or at least it did until July 29 when Town Tire closed after 43 years and the power that supplied the spin to the display was shut off for good.
Having only recently learned of the neighborhood landmark’s closure and because I’m the sentimental sort, I showed up there this past weekend hoping for posterity’s sake to grab some video of the tires rotating, but I was way too late for that. Instead all I got was this picture (at right; click to slightly biggify) of the tires motionless for the first time in my life and I wasn’t too surprised to find myself a bit melanncholy. Sure, I know that one thing you can always count on in L.A. is its changing cityscape… but still, it’s tough not to count on some stuff and expect it’ll always be there, and I couldn’t help but be a little surprised and saddened when it suddenly isn’t anymore.
Goodbye, Town Tire.