Revisiting Treasures from the San Fernando Valley at Valley Relics Museum

Imagine loving an area so much you accidentally create a museum. That’s exactly what Tommy Gelinas did with his love of the San Fernando Valley. Gelinas owned a screen printing studio and began filling it with bits and pieces from the Valley, such as neon signs, menus, figures, and so much more. Eventually his collection grew into a legitimate museum, Valley Relics Museum. Back in 2017 Patrick and I visited this now absolute must-see of the greater LA area. The following year Valley Relics announced they would be moving to a larger space, and hosted a fundraiser to help with the cost of the move, a fundraiser we attended because it was located at the former Palomino Club, an old honky tonk that was one of Gram Parsons’ haunts. They reopened in October of 2019 in an old hanger, however, we failed to revisit before the pandemic hit, but now that we are vaccinated I made it a priority to visit! The new space is much larger and a great improvement. There is much more room for both visitors and displays to breathe, plus there is a free play arcade and full gift shop!

While I love me some vintage neon (and as you can see there is a lot of it), my favorite items that reside at Valley Relics are the ones from Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor and the Palomino Club. There were also artifacts from Old Trapper’s Lodge, a bizarre old west themed motel with wild west statues. Originally located in Sun Valley, the statues were moved to Pierce College in Woodland Hills. You can see more from our visit there a few years back here.

Overall view of one of the rooms at Valley Relics, including cars, and a variety of neon signs.

One of the rooms of Valley Relics, filled with all sorts of odds and ends, two larger than life statues of cowboys on horses, neon sign reading "Johnny Rocket's" another reading "Phil's Diner" framed clothing, various metal signs.

Myself, wearing a cream cowboy hat, yellow shirt with a large white Cadillac and script reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor" standing in front of a sign reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor Inc."

Hand painted sign reading "The Palomino" yellow letters over red.

The Nudie and Palomino exhibit. Featuring signs from the Pal, Nudie's as well as framed pieces of ephemera and clothing.

Myself, wearing a cream cowboy hat, yellow shirt with a large white Cadillac and script reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor" and jean shorts with white stars, standing in front of blue neon reading "DeSoto Pharmacy" hangs near the ceiling. Large red neon spelling "BOWL" and the neon sign for the Palomino.

A framed western wear shirt, featuring a yellow yoke and light brown body. Embroidered on the yoke is a cowboy by a fence. In the upper left is a small piece of paper that reads "From the Country Star Restaurant, Universal City Walk, Universal City, CA."

A large neon sign that reads "Don's" in a script. A neon chef pops up from the middle of the letter D.

Myself by an Elvira pinball machine. A back lit plastic sign reading "ARCADE" in large blue letters above.

The plastic Jack in the Box head that sits atop the menu.

A massive sign reads "BOWL" in red neon.

Old signs of a wild west star shooting guns, and a glamorous saloon girl.

Close-up of a revolver mounted to the fender of a car, the blue neon of "Mel's" is in the background.

The leather back from James Arness' chair from the set of Gunsmoke. His name is painted in an old west style font.

Rear ends of cars jut out from the left side of the frame. Blue neon reading "DeSoto Pharmacy" hangs near the ceiling. Large red neon spelling "BOWL" and the neon sign for the Palomino.

A car trailer shaped like a covered wagon. Green script reads "Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Museum Victorville, California."

A lovely light brown western wear set of shirt and skirt. The shirt features two white stars near the shoulders and the skirt features white fringe, the set belonged to Dale Evans.

Myself by an Elvira pinball machine. A back lit plastic sign reading "ARCADE" in large blue letters above.

A wall unit containing nine television sets, four of which feature Jack Webb's face from Dragnet.

Neon sign reads "Merle West Rug Cleaners"

Myself, wearing a cream cowboy hat, yellow shirt with a large white Cadillac and script reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor" and jean shorts with white stars, standing in front of a row of cars. Various neon signs hang on the walls.

White neon that reads "You Never Go Out of Style"

Back lit plastic menu for Jack in the Box.

Two signs hang on a wall. One is on an old, broken piece of wood and reads "Buffalo Flat Whites caught spearing buffalo will be jailed! Injuns only!" The other is yellow and features an image of a tiger. In red letters it reads "Old Trapper's Lodge Apt's Rooms Houses Sun Valley, Calif."

A variety of lit signs hang on a wall, reading "Ben Frank's" in red neon script, simple red neon letters reading "Mexican Food," blue neon letters reading "Valley," massive white bulb letters reading "Tiffany," back lit plastic sign for Pioneer Chicken, which is a chef sitting on a covered wagon. Red neon letters spell out "Mustang" with a red neon horse below. A paint can sign reads "Banner Paints"

Neon for a Jewish deli.

A red Chevy Camaro sits under a blue neon sign reading "Mel's drive in" with smaller red neon "Breakfast Lunch Dinner Late Night"

BMX style bikes hang from the ceiling. A variety of signs hang on the wall, one reads "Bel-Air Camera" another reads "Tacos" and another reads "Magic"

Myself, wearing a cream cowboy hat, yellow shirt with a large white Cadillac and script reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor" standing in front of a large sign for Pioneer Chicken, which features a chef sitting on a covered wagon.

A variety of signs hang on a wall, including a backlit plastic A & W sign, a painted sign reading "Palomino" a red neon sign reading "Liquor" a back lit plastic sign reading "Family Fun Arcade" and a neon sign reading "Bob's Big Boy"

A large black sign reading "BOWL" in white neon.

Myself, wearing a cream cowboy hat, yellow shirt with a large white Cadillac and script reading "Nudie's Rodeo Tailor" and jean shorts with white stars, standing in front of a variety of lit signs.

Gaze upon icons of the valley at Valley Relics at 7900 Balboa Blvd. C3 & C4, (but enter on Stagg St.) in Van Nuys. Please visit their website for further details on hours.

And if you’re in the LA area and can’t get enough neon, then I recommend also visiting the Museum of Neon Art in nearby Glendale. Take a peek at what it has to offer here.

Outfit
Hat: Joyride, Orange, California
Mask: Made by me
Undermask: RZ
Tee: Nudie’s Rodeo Tailor
Shorts & Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Belt: Belonged to my grandfather

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