3030 Grape Street, Golden Hill
The miniature mechanical pony, space ship, and Model-T sitting at the entrance of Gala Foods are the ephemera of a distant childhood. Gala Food's kiddie ride vendor, Greg Vandergrift, who recently took over the business his father bought in 1953, hypothesizes that many of his kiddie rides, built in the 1950s and '60s, "were designed by some guy formerly working in the aeronautical industry." It was not uncommon for early manufacturers to use aircraft parts and complicated mechanics. One of the most popular kiddie rides built in the '50s by Bally, the famous game-machine company, was the rocking "Old Champion Pony." These ponies originally had leather saddles and simulated a galloping motion with motors at the front and back end of the pony set at different speeds. Vandergrift includes "old champs" among his repertoire of kiddie rides, put in rotation at Gala Foods, but the street models no longer have fancy saddles and motors. If you must have your own beautiful pony, he can hook you up with a restored vintage kiddie ride. Contact his Bellflower office, 562-925-5419.