Thrifty No More

Impractical, gorgeous, Jet Age modern Van Nuys Savings and Loan, more recently operating as La Tapultecha mercado, has finally met the wrecking ball.   In the 1960s it paid 4% interest on savings accounts.   Trying finding that today. Banks offer 1%, maybe, less monthly fees.

Usury was illegal then. Usury, meaning 18% loans. Anything beyond that was in the hands of the mafia. Now credit cards frequently charge 30%. Payday loans can run to 400%.  They offer them up the block at PL$, 24 hours a day, from behind bulletproof glass.

It was a different world, reflected in the architecture.

To understand just how shocking the idea of 18% interest was not so long ago, here’s a clip from the original Fun With Dick and Jane, set in the San Fernando Valley of the late 70s. The protagonist couple, middle-class and overextended, visit a clip joint looking to borrow their way out of trouble. The scene is an earth-toned bridge between the aspirational world of mid-century thrift, with passbooks, and the quantitatively eased may a billion debtors bloom electronic currency casino we enjoy today.

Guess who’s living inside the old safe?  You can’t blame them. The door was open, and it’s quiet inside.

3 thoughts on “Thrifty No More”

  1. What’s to be built in it’s place? Semi permanent homeless housing or market rate condos? Middle class need not apply.

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