When people think of Los Angeles in the nineteen-thirties they think of Hollywood and the movies – and of the films of 1939, "the greatest year in film history" – Gone with the Wind, and the Wizard of Oz and the rest. Of course those two films were not made in Hollywood. They were made down in Culver City – close enough.
But talk to the old-timers, those who lived their daily lives here in the thirties. It's not the movies. Everyone remembers Helms Bakery in Culver City – that operated from 1931 to 1969. Their baked goods were never sold in stores. The Helms motto was "Daily at Your Door" and every weekday morning, from both the Culver City bakery and a second one in Montebello, fleets of Helms panel trucks would fan out and sell their wares all over the Los Angeles basin. The trucks had assigned neighborhoods, with the driver pulling (twice) on a large handle to sound the whistle. You'd come out and wave the truck down – and the wooden drawers in the back of the truck were stocked with fresh donuts, cookies and pastries. The center section was for loaves of freshly-baked bread, still warm from the oven. And some remember the field trips from their days in elementary school – the class got the tour of the bakery and you got a tiny loaf of bread and miniature paper "Bakery Coach."
Helms Bakery was named the "official baker" of the 1932 Summer Olympics here – the founder, Paul Helms, won contract to supply bread for the 1932 games in Los Angeles. The Helms coaches then sported the Olympic symbol, and it also appeared on the Helms logo on the bread wrappers. But then supermarkets came along, and freeways. It all ended. The business model no longer worked.
A clever marketing campaign netted Helms a contract to furnish "the first bread on the moon" – for the Apollo 11 space mission. But the Helms Company ceased operations in 1969. Now the old Culver City bakery is a retail/arts center, with a pretty good jazz club. And part of the real Los Angeles is long gone.