Friday, January 26, 2018

Venice Oil Fields

I'm reading a book right now by Ray Bradbury. It's not one of his science fiction novels, but rather a mystery novel in the vein of Raymond Chandler. The book was written in 1985, but takes place in 1949, Venice, California, called "Death is A Lonely Business."  I love reading books about my town in an era before I was born. I do remember Venice Beach in the late 50's and 1960s as rather run-down. Lots of musicians and artists lived in the area because it was inexpensive. Naturally, the run-down, bohemian atmosphere led to more restaurants opening and higher real estate prices. The pensioners and poor folks who used to live in Venice would not recognize it today. 
Bradbury does an excellent job of describing Venice and it's various citizens. He describes the rolling fog a lot, the old Venice Pier and the oil wells. The oil wells are mentioned so often, that I looked online for some photos of those oil wells in Venice. I found a couple by photographer, Herman J. Schultheis, taken in 1937. Below are photos of views down a Ballona Creek channel with oil wells lining the banks of the Venice Oil Field, located south of Venice, in what is now Marina del Rey!
Venice Oil Field. Photo b Herman J. Schultheis, 1937. LAPL Collection
1937. Herman J. Schultheis
Of course I remember oil wells further east, between La Cienega and La Brea, south of Ballona Creek, north of Stocker Street; many of them are still there; but I do not remember the Venice Oil Fields. I am amazed that the County of Los Angeles dredged out a pleasure craft marina from this oily muck! 
Click on image to enlarge. The former Venice Oil Fields is now Marina del Rey, one of the largest pleasure craft marinas in the country.

I definitely recommend "Death is a Lonely Business." Bradbury may not have been the BEST mystery writer, but his descriptions of our Los Angeles, from the beach to downtown during this era, are worth your time.

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At 3:51 PM PST, Blogger Art in LA said...

I met Mr. Bradbury at a book show many years ago. He's a fellow Los Angeles High School alum (many years earlier than me though) ... super nice guy. I didn't know he wrote mysteries. I always think SciFi/Fantasy first! Thanks for the tip ... I'll have to get a copy now. I like reading fiction set in L.A. too.

At 3:56 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Art in LA. I was surprised to find out that Ray Bradbury wrote a mystery too. Enjoy the book! Thanks for the comment.


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