Burbank native Tommy Gelinas' personal collection of San Fernando Valley memorabilia and ephemera includes 10,000 photos and negatives, 5,000 vintage postcards, 100 reels of Super 8 home movies, restaurant menus, a 1950s telephone booth from The Smokehouse and a handwritten letter by Isaac Newton Van Nuys from the 1860s. Plus a lot more. "I'm born and raised here; this is my history," he tells the Daily News' Bob Strauss.
Gelinas reckons he's spent $300,000 acquiring what he calls his treasure trove, and wouldn't dream of selling a single item. He hasn't had the collection - which includes antique furniture, bottles, even bicycles and toy wagons - appraised.
"The appraisal is what's in my heart," he said. "The appraisal is what I believe in."
Gelinas' exuberant devotion to his mission/hobby has inspired a number of people to donate stuff to the collection, among them real estate developer Bob Symonds and Jamie Nudie, the granddaughter of Nudie Cohn, the master of flashy cowboy tailoring who used to operate out of a sprawling store on Lankershim Boulevard.
"Tommy's accumulated a lot of nice stuff," said Nudie, who has already donated belt buckles given to her granddad by John Wayne, Clark Gable and Roy Rogers, and has 20 rhinestone suits and a steer-horned Nudiemobile ready to lend to a permanent Valley Relics display. "I love the whole idea of what he's doing, trying to preserve history in our Valley that we all grew up in."
Related: Ken Levine, the TV comedy writer (MASH, Cheers, Frasier, the Simpsons) and former Dodgers broadcaster, has put up on Kindle his book about growing up at the Woodland Hills end of the Valley in the 1960s. He calls The Me Generation... By Me (Growing Up in the '60s "a humorous and loving look back at Bob's, the Topanga Plaza, Taft High, and life in Woodland Hills."
Daily News photo of Gelinas by Hans Gutknecht