The Story of Johnnie’s Pastrami

Johnnie’s Pastrami, a well-known eatery in Culver City for more than 60 years - Culver City Historical Society

The Culver City Historical Society invites you to hear the story of Johnnie’s Pastrami on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda Room in the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City.

Do you remember where you were in 1952? The favorite TV program was “The Jackie Gleason Show,” the favorite song was “All of Me” by Johnnie Ray, and on the corner of Washington and Sepulveda there was a not so famous restaurant called Johnnie’s that would later become Johnnie’s Pastrami! Today that restaurant is a Culver City icon. People come from near and far to eat at this establishment.

Who is Johnnie? Did they have a reason to pick this spot? Why are those pickles are so tasty? Do you remember sitting outside with the fire pits eating or playing the juke box from your favorite booth? These questions and more will be answered through a PowerPoint presentation and discussion of this well-known eatery. Door prizes be given and there will be a 50-50 raffle. The public is invited to enjoy this program. Bring a friend and your stories to share with the families of Johnnie’s Pastrami. Free parking is available in the lots surrounding the Veterans Memorial Building and across the street at the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, at 4130 Overland Avenue and in the lot north of this facility.

The Archives and Resource Center will be open for viewing after the program.

Print Friendly

A Great Loss… Our Sol and Martha Sigall

Sol and Martha SigallMartha Sigall passed away in December 2014, preceded by her Sol.

Martha Sigall, an energetic longtime Culver City resident began her career in animation in 1936 as an apprentice painter with Leon Schlesinger Productions, which was located at Warner Bros. on Sunset Boulevard. She took part in the development of characters like Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Tweety. Martha went from “journeyman painter” to “inker,” tracing cartoon characters. From 1943 to the end of WWII, she worked at Graphic Films as a camera assistant on U.S. Navy training films. She met Sol in 1944.

At the end of the war, they married and Martha worked locally at MGM in the Cartoon Unit on Overland Avenue, while Sol attended UCLA on the G.I. Bill. Martha continued inking cartoons like “Tom and Jerry” for Hanna-Barbera. Martha and Sol moved to Culver City in 1949 and Martha took a “hiatus” to raise their babies, then arranged to freelance from home while the boys were young. Bob and Lee attended Culver City Schools.

Living Life inside the Lines: Tales from the Golden Age of AnimationMartha’s lifetime commitment to “the industry” included serving with Sol as docents in their retirement at Warner Bros. Martha received the prestigious “Annie Award” in 2004. She wrote her book, Living Life Inside the Lines: Tales From The Golden Age of Animation, and of course the Sigalls gave freely as Culver City Historical Society members, serving as co-chairs most recently of the Museum/Archives. Martha loved children, so contributing to the Farragut Elementary School Art Program was a joy for her. She and Sol spent days working to identify hundreds of movie photos for the society using production numbers. We know we were very lucky to enjoy Martha and Sol and benefit from their generosity. To remember Sol and Martha, we have the Sigalls’ Comcast interview scheduled to air in the Society Archives on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 1:30 PM.

See some videos of Martha talking about her animation career on our YouTube channel.

Print Friendly

Spring 2015 President’s Message

Dear Members,

Happy Spring! Your Historical Society volunteers have been making great use of the “cold” months. Sharon Shore and Mo de Koff have completed the gargantuan task of digitally cataloguing the collection’s costumes. One of Harry Culver’s grandsons, Chris Wilde, was a guest speaker at our January 18 open Sunday. We had a great crowd, who laughed at Chris’ stories and enjoyed the memorabilia he brought to share.

A few volunteers took up my call for help in the last newsletter issue and have been retyping articles from past newsletters, so that we continue to build our own history on our website. (Thanks to master typists Joan Jakubowski and Adrienne Bernardin! There’s still more to do, so email me if you would like to join the fun from the luxury of your home computer!) By the way, have you checked out the website recently? I think you should! We just completed a thorough section on our marked historic sites (including Google maps, so that you can find them), and moved the online store as part of our site.

I called the first meeting of a Centennial subcommittee to explore the ways we can, as the Historical Society, participate in this once-in-a-lifetime, year-long celebration. Many great ideas were brought up and there’s room for more. If you have any thoughts for events or projects that would be appropriate for us, please email me (

Please note that the Archives will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 5, and will be open again on Sunday, April 19. Chris Wilde’s talk was only the beginning – check out the calendar on the back page for our next open Sunday guest speaker!

Thank you for your support of YOUR Historical Society! As you just read with Martha and Sol Sigall, and for countless others, it makes a difference!

Print Friendly

The Sorrento Market Story and the Story of Albert Vera

Albert Vera, JrAlbert Vera, Jr. will tell the story of his father, Albert Vera, the founder of the Sorrento Market, at the general meeting of the Culver City Historical Society, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City. Albert Vera, an immigrant who came to America to pursue the American Dream created the famous market on Sepulveda Boulevard and the Vera Family holdings. He served time in the military, raised his family in Culver City and eventually became a member of the Culver City Council and Mayor of the city. Albert Jr. will present a power point presentation and discussion of the family’s history with other members of the Vera family. Door prizes will be offered and there will be a drawing for Julie Lugo Cerra’s cookbook Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. The public is invited to enjoy this free program and students are encouraged to attend. Entry is through the Archives and Resource Center in the back parking lot.

Print Friendly

Notes from From your City Historian: Spring 2015

Notes from From your City Historian

by Julie Lugo Cerra

Culver City’s upcoming Centennial (2017) offers a little time to delve back into our city history. We are fortunate to have access to some incredible documents, ads, and family history on Harry H. Culver, our city founder. Culver, who was born in Milford, Nebraska in 1880, took a circuitous route to California in 1910. The Society regularly displays local memorabilia, including a book of Culver’s original ads dating back to 1913 and pages from the 1929 scrapbook of his active travels across the USA as president of the National Real Estate Association. These are amazing glimpses back into time!

Wallace Neff designed home for Harry Culver and family.
Culver’s study of the land pointed to the advantages of this chosen location, destined to become Culver City. He referred to it as “The Home City.” The early “Culverites” had housing choices, with work opportunities –an early Culver “economic development” tool. In the ad pictured, the home was actually a sketch of Culver’s first house for his little family- he and his wife, Lillian, and their daughter, Patricia. The house was originally built on Delmas Terrace, a street in Culver City’s downtown area, named for Delphin Delmas, one of Culver’s business associates.

Culver grandson, John Battle with his wife Tammie and children in front of the Delmas Terrace home that was moved to and remains in Cheviot Hills.A young architect, Wallace Neff, was Culver’s choice to design his Cheviot Hills mansion. Harry Culver had their Delmas Terrace home moved to the new location, to oversee the construction of their new 1928 residence. Neff convinced Culver to build a Spanish style home, which is featured in books on Neff. The young Neff, destined to become a famous architect, went on to design for many familiar names, like Darryl Zanuck, Harpo Marx, King Vidor, Groucho Marx……

Our historical society has amassed a wealth of Culver information from many sources, starting with Pat Culver Battle, the Culvers’ only child, through her two sons, John and Chris and grandson, Robert, who has become the family historian/genealogist. Please stop in to enjoy our remarkable collection.

Print Friendly