Sept. 2, 1957
Let’s suppose you’re a clever businessman. And let’s suppose your city
has the nation’s busiest intersection: In three days, 205,022 cars pass
through Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. Along with nine
horse-drawn milk wagons.
Horses? You see, it’s 1928, and Charles Wesley Scrivner, who died Sept.
1, 1957, is going to build a drive-in at Wilshire and Western.
Or so it says in Scrivner’s obituary in The Times, which reported that
he opened one of the nation’s first drive-ins in 1928 at Wilshire and
Western, and the Mirror, which declared it to be the first in the
Tracking down the truth is a little more difficult. The Times lists
several early drive-in restaurants (southwest corner of Crenshaw and
Vernon, July 27, 1930; northeast corner of Beverly and Rosemont, Sept.
21, 1930; Coffee Cup Drive-In Cafe, 9180 W. Pico July 26, 1931; Bogen’s
3201 Wilshire at Vermont, 1933).
The Times also wrote about several drive-in markets in the period
(Hollywood and Kingsley, March 4, 1928; Camden and Brighton, June 10,
1928; Sunset near Western, July 1, 1928; 6th Street between Alexandria
and Kenmore, Oct. 21, 1928; Western and Florence, Dec. 16, 1928). But
again, nothing at Wilshire and Western.
What do know is that Scrivner came to Los Angeles in 1912 and was a
salesman for Meek-Barnes Baking Co. In 1921, he helped found 4-S Baking
Co. with Frederick G. Scalzo and two unidentified men who presumably
had an S in their names. The company was sold to Interstate Bakeries
Corp. in 1930.
Scrivner opened the drive-in with Harry Carpenter, who ran a chain of
drive-ins bearing his name. Scrivner was also on the boards of Henry’s
Drive-Ins and Hody’s Restaurants and was a part owner of Thriftimart
Scrivner, 66, was a 32nd-degree Mason and a member of Al Malaikah Shrine Temple.
As for the story of the purported Wilshire/Western Drive-In, presumably
it’s serving burgers and malts in L.A. history heaven. If you have any
more information, let me know.
Bonus fact: Harry Carpenter killed himself with a shotgun blast to the
chest, July 24, 1954, while sitting on the steps to his basement at 625
Cumberland Road, Glendale. He was 67.
Bonus fact: According to the 1928 traffic survey, 1,388 trucks went
through Western on Wilshire in 24 hours, even though trucks were
supposedly banned on Wilshire.
Below, The Times rants about Los Angeles’ traffic problems in 1928. As I keep saying, Los Angeles’ traffic problems go back at least a century and defy simple answers.