I grew up on Huston Street in the San Fernando Valley. Our street T’d into West Park Drive and North Hollywood Park-a beautiful expansive wonderland with groves of Eucalyptus trees, baseball backstops, grassy hills to roll down, picnic tables, etc.
At the corner of Houston and West Park Drive was a beautiful Neutra house where our neighbors, Leon and Helen Barsha lived with their two kids, Tony and Susan. Leon was a film cutter. Helen was a great cook and artist. Her salads were memorable. She always sliced red radishes very thinly, into her green salads. To this day, when I slice a red radish for a salad, I have a Helen Barsha moment.
Their son Tony was in film school and was equal parts beatnik and bad boy. Their daughter Susan was my babysitter. She used to drive me to Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake where we’d sit in her 55 Ford, have “car hop” service and drink a cherry orange (not on the menu), and smoke cigarettes. Yes, several of my baby sitters and I smoked together!
When the 170 freeway cut through North Hollywood Park, The Neutra Barsha House was moved. Its permanent location is now in Pacific Palisades.
I have fond memories of this house, which overlooked the park, with its beautiful floor to ceiling windows and clerestory windows in the halls. It was the most unusual home in our neighborhood. It was ultra-modern and minimal. It had many built-ins, including a built in day bed which I think was upholstered in mohair. I remember many sweet times on that day bed with their tabby cat Tippy, who had a gorgeous pinky-coral nose.