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warren99

Lifer
Aug 16, 2010
2,072
24,669
California
I correspond occasionally with Richard Carleton Hacker, and this is what he was kind enough to share today concerning Gus':

"Gus’s started out as Boyd’s Pipe Shop in 1927, back when Ventura Blvd. was still largely a dirt road and horses vied with automobiles. In addition to pipes and cigars, Boyd raised and sold chickens and candy and a few other sundry unrelated items.

"Boyd sold the shop to Gus Pfender in 1937, who renamed it Gus’. Note the unusual apostrophe placement.

"Sometime before 1975 Pfender sold the pipe shop to an Englishman named Norman Fudge. Fudge wisely kept the Gus’ name - otherwise folks might have mistaken it for a candy store!

"I first began going to Gus' in the late 70’s and remember seeing the original gas stove in the back room and the brass cash register that was sill in use. I also remember seeing the occasional chicken feather poking out from the floorboards, and Norm telling me how they got there. Although he had a reputation for being cantankerous, I got along with Norm, especially when he learned I wrote about pipes and had a collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia (which may have appealed to his British heritage).

"I met Jimmy and Paula Hurwitz when they came to the store and Jimmy was deciding on whether or not to buy it, as Norm was getting on in years and frankly, was tired of dealing with the public.

"Jimmy asked my opinion and I thought it was a good deal, especially since store ownership included the property on what now was now a main San Fernando Valley thoroughfare.

"Jimmy bought the store in 1985 and I continued to be a regular customer and even put the photo I took of the store in at least one of my books.

"I lived in the same area, as did a number of pipe smoking movie celebrities. with whom I became friends. William Conrad gave me one of his beloved Charatans (which I still have) and David Rose, the musician and I shared both pipe and train hobbies.

"An interesting side-note: David had an unusual triangular pipe rack he had purchased in London. I tried to buy it but he wouldn't sell. When he died in 1990 Jimmy bought it and resold it to me - at I’m sure more than David would have wanted for it. It still have it.

"To his credit, Jimmy kept the old stove in the back room, remodeled the store to include a walk-in cigar humidor, and still occasionally cranked up the old brass cash register, although a newer electronic gadget saw much more use.

"Gus’ was the quintessential neighborhood pipe shop and might have still been there today if Jimmy hadn’t run afoul of some sort of California law and subsequently was imprisoned for a short while and, of course, lost the store.

"When he got out of stir he tried selling pipes out of the back of the corner liquor store, but of course, it wasn’t the same. That venture only lasted a short while and he sold socks at Nordstrom’s but eventually died of cancer some time back.

"Gus' was next door to the Mistral’s restaurant and sat vacant for many years (it was always sad to walk by its shuttered facade) until Mistral’s purchase it, used it for the occasional private party, and now plans to open it as an extension of the main restaurant. But those plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.

"And now you know 'the rest of the story.'"

Thank-you, Mr. Hacker!
A great post. Thanks for sharing it. I moved to the San Fernando Valley with my parents in the late 1960’s. I’m pretty sure Gus still worked at the Sherman Oaks store when I started going there in the early ‘70’s while I was in college. Unless I‘m mistaken, he was a heavy-set, elderly gentleman sporting a beard who always seemed to have a big bent pipe hanging from his mouth. There were three Gus’ locations back then, all on Ventura Blvd., and a lot of other pipe shops in the Valley, although none was quite like Gus’. Sadly, they too are gone now.
 

Pipes505

Lurker
Jul 14, 2023
30
70
New Mexico
I correspond occasionally with Richard Carleton Hacker, and this is what he was kind enough to share today concerning Gus':

"Gus’s started out as Boyd’s Pipe Shop in 1927, back when Ventura Blvd. was still largely a dirt road and horses vied with automobiles. In addition to pipes and cigars, Boyd raised and sold chickens and candy and a few other sundry unrelated items.

"Boyd sold the shop to Gus Pfender in 1937, who renamed it Gus’. Note the unusual apostrophe placement.

"Sometime before 1975 Pfender sold the pipe shop to an Englishman named Norman Fudge. Fudge wisely kept the Gus’ name - otherwise folks might have mistaken it for a candy store!

"I first began going to Gus' in the late 70’s and remember seeing the original gas stove in the back room and the brass cash register that was sill in use. I also remember seeing the occasional chicken feather poking out from the floorboards, and Norm telling me how they got there. Although he had a reputation for being cantankerous, I got along with Norm, especially when he learned I wrote about pipes and had a collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia (which may have appealed to his British heritage).

"I met Jimmy and Paula Hurwitz when they came to the store and Jimmy was deciding on whether or not to buy it, as Norm was getting on in years and frankly, was tired of dealing with the public.

"Jimmy asked my opinion and I thought it was a good deal, especially since store ownership included the property on what now was now a main San Fernando Valley thoroughfare.

"Jimmy bought the store in 1985 and I continued to be a regular customer and even put the photo I took of the store in at least one of my books.

"I lived in the same area, as did a number of pipe smoking movie celebrities. with whom I became friends. William Conrad gave me one of his beloved Charatans (which I still have) and David Rose, the musician and I shared both pipe and train hobbies.

"An interesting side-note: David had an unusual triangular pipe rack he had purchased in London. I tried to buy it but he wouldn't sell. When he died in 1990 Jimmy bought it and resold it to me - at I’m sure more than David would have wanted for it. It still have it.

"To his credit, Jimmy kept the old stove in the back room, remodeled the store to include a walk-in cigar humidor, and still occasionally cranked up the old brass cash register, although a newer electronic gadget saw much more use.

"Gus’ was the quintessential neighborhood pipe shop and might have still been there today if Jimmy hadn’t run afoul of some sort of California law and subsequently was imprisoned for a short while and, of course, lost the store.

"When he got out of stir he tried selling pipes out of the back of the corner liquor store, but of course, it wasn’t the same. That venture only lasted a short while and he sold socks at Nordstrom’s but eventually died of cancer some time back.

"Gus' was next door to the Mistral’s restaurant and sat vacant for many years (it was always sad to walk by its shuttered facade) until Mistral’s purchase it, used it for the occasional private party, and now plans to open it as an extension of the main restaurant. But those plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.

"And now you know 'the rest of the story.'"

Thank-you, Mr. Hacker!
Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this. I remember Jimmy well.
 

PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,543
27,767
Hawaii
Wow this is crazy, Sherman Oaks in the early 80s is where I first picked up the pipe.

I had to google, but it appears that Ralphs is still there to this day, I believe at like the 14000 block area of Ventura Blvd.

Just a block or two down from Ralphs was a tobacco shop, this was my first start.

I did like to cruise around, and I certainly drove to Encino occasionally, but I don’t recall seeing Gus’, darn, I must of drove by it many times, never noticing it. :(
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
41,210
60,475
That's quite a saga of a pipe shop. Most places never get turned over even once. Once the original pipe shop proprietor leaves or retires, the place goes empty or up for rental and ends up a real estate office or something.

The Park Ridge Pipe Shop just outside Chicago had about 25 glory years as a pipe shop with a resident carver, and a community center for counter culture youth, but once it was gone, it was just rental office space, nothing of the least interest.
 
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Servant King

Lifer
Nov 27, 2020
4,285
23,634
39
Frazier Park, CA
www.thechembow.com
As someone who grew up a very short distance from this spot, I'm most appreciative of this thread! Of course this was all mostly well before my time, but it brings up the latent feelings of nostalgia nonetheless. Much obliged!

@PipeIT The Ralphs had a makeover a few years back, but it's still there, NE corner of Ventura and Hazeltine. Barone's moved to Woodman & Oxnard about 20 years ago, but they're still around. Virtually everything else is different now, sadly. Still as hot as satan's asscrack though, that's one thing that hasn't changed there. :ROFLMAO:

@huntertrw Thanks for the link! Very cool stuff.
 
Last edited:
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warren99

Lifer
Aug 16, 2010
2,072
24,669
California
Wow this is crazy, Sherman Oaks in the early 80s is where I first picked up the pipe.

I had to google, but it appears that Ralphs is still there to this day, I believe at like the 14000 block area of Ventura Blvd.

Just a block or two down from Ralphs was a tobacco shop, this was my first start.

I did like to cruise around, and I certainly drove to Encino occasionally, but I don’t recall seeing Gus’, darn, I must of drove by it many times, never noticing it. :(
There is still a Ralph’s at Ventura and Coldwater Canyon, about a half-mile east of Gus’ former Sherman Oaks location. That’s probably the one you’re thinking of. The 14000 store is at Ventura and Hazeltine, about a mile to the west of Gus’. Gus’ Encino store was razed before the Encino Town Center was built in the mid-70’s.
 
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PipeIT

Lifer
Nov 14, 2020
4,543
27,767
Hawaii
Yes Hazeltine is the Ralph’s, I must not of been into smoking when I cruised Gus’ way, since it’s as you mentioned close by.

I can’t believe I missed out, oh well the tobacco shop a few blocks east of Ralph’s where I first started out was a nice little shop.
 
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mingc

Lifer
Jun 20, 2019
4,035
11,305
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
I correspond occasionally with Richard Carleton Hacker, and this is what he was kind enough to share today concerning Gus':

"Gus’s started out as Boyd’s Pipe Shop in 1927, back when Ventura Blvd. was still largely a dirt road and horses vied with automobiles. In addition to pipes and cigars, Boyd raised and sold chickens and candy and a few other sundry unrelated items.

"Boyd sold the shop to Gus Pfender in 1937, who renamed it Gus’. Note the unusual apostrophe placement.

"Sometime before 1975 Pfender sold the pipe shop to an Englishman named Norman Fudge. Fudge wisely kept the Gus’ name - otherwise folks might have mistaken it for a candy store!

"I first began going to Gus' in the late 70’s and remember seeing the original gas stove in the back room and the brass cash register that was sill in use. I also remember seeing the occasional chicken feather poking out from the floorboards, and Norm telling me how they got there. Although he had a reputation for being cantankerous, I got along with Norm, especially when he learned I wrote about pipes and had a collection of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia (which may have appealed to his British heritage).

"I met Jimmy and Paula Hurwitz when they came to the store and Jimmy was deciding on whether or not to buy it, as Norm was getting on in years and frankly, was tired of dealing with the public.

"Jimmy asked my opinion and I thought it was a good deal, especially since store ownership included the property on what now was now a main San Fernando Valley thoroughfare.

"Jimmy bought the store in 1985 and I continued to be a regular customer and even put the photo I took of the store in at least one of my books.

"I lived in the same area, as did a number of pipe smoking movie celebrities. with whom I became friends. William Conrad gave me one of his beloved Charatans (which I still have) and David Rose, the musician and I shared both pipe and train hobbies.

"An interesting side-note: David had an unusual triangular pipe rack he had purchased in London. I tried to buy it but he wouldn't sell. When he died in 1990 Jimmy bought it and resold it to me - at I’m sure more than David would have wanted for it. It still have it.

"To his credit, Jimmy kept the old stove in the back room, remodeled the store to include a walk-in cigar humidor, and still occasionally cranked up the old brass cash register, although a newer electronic gadget saw much more use.

"Gus’ was the quintessential neighborhood pipe shop and might have still been there today if Jimmy hadn’t run afoul of some sort of California law and subsequently was imprisoned for a short while and, of course, lost the store.

"When he got out of stir he tried selling pipes out of the back of the corner liquor store, but of course, it wasn’t the same. That venture only lasted a short while and he sold socks at Nordstrom’s but eventually died of cancer some time back.

"Gus' was next door to the Mistral’s restaurant and sat vacant for many years (it was always sad to walk by its shuttered facade) until Mistral’s purchase it, used it for the occasional private party, and now plans to open it as an extension of the main restaurant. But those plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.

"And now you know 'the rest of the story.'"

Thank-you, Mr. Hacker!
Very interesting indeed. Thanks to Richard for taking the time to write it and to you for sharing. Chickens and tobacco are quite the combination.
 

Servant King

Lifer
Nov 27, 2020
4,285
23,634
39
Frazier Park, CA
www.thechembow.com
There is still a Ralph’s at Ventura and Coldwater Canyon, about a half-mile east of Gus’ former Sherman Oaks location. That’s probably the one you’re thinking of.
Formerly Hughes market, if my memory serves me right. Directly across the street from the Sportsman's Lodge, where my 'rents got married in the summer of '76.

Where's the Valley trivia section of this forum anyway? :ROFLMAO:
 

warren99

Lifer
Aug 16, 2010
2,072
24,669
California
Formerly Hughes market, if my memory serves me right. Directly across the street from the Sportsman's Lodge, where my 'rents got married in the summer of '76.

Where's the Valley trivia section of this forum anyway? :ROFLMAO:
Now that you mention it, it was a Hughes at one time. Most of the other Hughes’ became Gelson’s. The Lodge is still there but it was closed for a while for renovation. I had my 20-year high school reunion there.
 

anotherbob

Lifer
Mar 30, 2019
15,955
29,902
45
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
My bet is people didn't actually read the entire thread.

"Boyd sold the shop to Gus Pfender in 1937, who renamed it Gus’. Note the unusual apostrophe placement."
well they might not have but at least they know to say it's a fact not a bet. ;) Good point though. But what fun is it to read a full long thread when you can spin a wild tale instead?
 
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