My most recent post discussed door-to-door solicitors and such . My sister sent me an e-mail asking if I remembered the knife-sharpener man who used to come around ( No , I don’t .) and the Helms Bakery truck that came around and parked on Seabec Circle . Seabec Circle should have its own post , but I’ll leave that for another time .
Well , on second thought , I’ll mention here about Seabec Circle only Julia Fay , who was an old lady who lived there when I was a small kid . Seabec Circle was a cul-de-sac near our house and Julia Fay lived in the first house built there . The back of her property dropped steeply down into what was , when I was a kid , a wild canyon ( Now it’s a four-lane road. ) and the property overlooked the ocean , I think . It wasn’t far from a view anyway . I guess that I was never in that back yard .
Word was that Julia Fay had been a silent -screen actress , and the local story was that she had been a mistress of Cecil b. DeMille and that he had built her the house there on the bluffs in the 1920s. What we kids knew of Julia Fay was that she gave out lots of candy on Halloween . We wouldn’t see her much if at all the rest of the year . She lived with another old woman , as I remember , who we were told was her sister . Maybe she was her sister , but knowing how those Hollywood folk were , maybe she wasn’t . Doesn’t matter . Irrelevant to my Helms Bakery post anyhow .
A man named Paul Helms moved his family from New York and started his bakery in Culver City in 1931 . He never sold his bakery products in stores . Distinctive Helms Bakery trucks went all over the Los Angeles area selling their goods . The trucks had whistles to announce themselves .
We kids bought donuts from the guy in the Helms Bakery truck . As I remember it , jelly donuts were 15 cents . Regular donuts were cheaper , maybe 5 cents ? We could scrounge up the cash by finding soda bottles and taking them over to the Mayfair Market for a refund . It was a penny economy . Mayfair had a candy counter where we would take the bottles . They had candy there for a penny ( Pixie Sticks —- a straw filled with colored sugar .) , some for five cents , and candies on up to the more expensive stuff . It all depended on how many bottles a kid could collect to turn in at the counter for hard cash what choice s/he could make (to help the dentist) .
We also got an allowance , of course , every week , for certain chores around the house . Mine was 25 cents . 25 cents would buy a jelly donut and a couple of candy bars , or maybe two regular donuts and an Abba Zabba , or a Three Musketeers bar ( My favorite !)
I remember dreaming of buying a jelly donut when the Helms truck came around in the afternoon , but usually only being able to afford a cake donut . A friend’s mother bought bread from the Helm’s man , but I’m pretty sure that my mother never did . She bought Wonder Bread , which I’m sure was much cheaper , at the supermarket .
I used to think that the rising price of gasoline put the Helm’s Bakery out of business because their trucks had to travel long distances every day . It closed up shop in 1969 . I’ve read since that what put them out of business was the rise of supermarkets , with more choices and lower prices .
There was a chance to buy a Helm’s Bakery truck when the operation closed down . It would be a cool thing to own one of those trucks , but who knows about the maintenance . I think that most of them had Studebaker engines . I wonder what happened to all of those trucks . I know that one is on display at the old bakery complex in Culver City . There are now shops and restaurants and a small Helm’s Bakery museum there .
Helms sponsored the Olympics when it came to Los Angeles in 1932 . Their trucks displayed the Olympic logo . When the Olympics comes around again to L.A. won’t be no Helms Bakery .