Galco’s to Hold Benefit for Friends of the SW Museum

Exotic and popular sodas, music and more at tasting event to be held on Sunday.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

During the 1970s, John Nese received a pair of tickets to an exhibit featuring an Egyptian pharaoh. He still remembers how excited he felt when he lifted his young daughter onto his shoulders so she could see the King Tut artifacts over the crowds that day.

Today, Europeans and people from the Middle and Far East are just as interested in Native Americans and early Californians as he was in the Egyptian pharaoh, Nese told EGP during a recent interview. “Because it’s foreign” to them, he said.

As a board member for the Highland Park Heritage Trust — the first group to join the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition — Nese is a long time supporter of preserving historic homes and buildings. His own shop, Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, has roots dating back to 1897 in downtown Los Angeles.

It’s a passion that fits right in with his efforts to keep the Southwest Museum open in Mt. Washington, not far from his location on York Boulevard in Highland Park.

John Nese, EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo


This coming Sunday he will turn over his store — renowned for its extensive line of soda and candy offerings, many unique, others well know but hard to find — for a one-of-a-kind soda tasting and mixology event to raise money for the campaign to reopen the Southwest Museum.

“We’ve been involved, this whole community has been involved with what’s happening to the Southwest Museum from the very beginning,” he told EGP. He recalls how the community welcomed the Autry and Southwest Museum Merger in 2003 as a way to keep the museum open, only to later feel they had been deceived.

 “They said they had a $10 million endowment and the merger looked really solid. It turned out they only had a $1.5 endowment,” he said, explaining why he no longer trusts the Autry to live up to the terms of the agreement.

 “In two years the Autry gains total control of the collection,” he said, his usually cheery manner turning stern.

“People in Europe are wild about the Southwest” and the collection could be  “a tremendous income generator” for the Autry if sold off, he said.

“They did not put up one penny for that collection; they did not put up one penny for the restoration or preservation — that was all done with tax dollars, from the people of the State of California,” and the Southwest Museum’s $5.5 million endowment acquired during the merger, he said.

Read this story IN SPANISH:  Tienda Especializada en ‘Bebidas Difíciles de Encontrar’ Se Ofrece para Ayudar a los Amigos del Museo SW

Last month, the city council instructed city staff to put together a working group to develop long-range plans for the Autry’s Griffith Park site and the Southwest Museum/Casa De Adobe sites in Mt. Washington. The group is expected to review the Autry’s lease agreement, the merger agreement, and identify funding sources for the renovation and operation of the Southwest Museum.

The working group has not yet been formed and Friends Coalition Co-chair Nicole Possert says she doesn’t anticipate it will come before the Parks, Health and Aging Committee or full city council before August.

In the meantime, the coalition plans to keep raising money to pay for their outreach, and a lawsuit if it comes to that.

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop. EGP Photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo


All proceeds from Galco’s first Soda Tasting event on July 24 will go to the coalition. Possert says Nese exemplifies the business community in Highland Park, which “is concerned about the Southwest Museum in terms of how it relates to the overall well-being of the community.”

Nese and Possert had been discussing the fundraiser for some time, and summer seemed like the right time since, as Nese says, “summer and soda pop go together.”

People frequently travel long distances to purchase Galco’s hard-to-find beverages, and Nese thinks they would flock to the Southwest Museum if it were open.

Nese has supported the organization financially, participated in petitions, anything the Friends have asked, he has done, Possert said. Sunday’s Soda Tasting at Galco’s is one more way he is helping out.

Summer Soda Tasting: A Benefit for Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition

The July 24 event (5 to 8pm) will feature “poptails” mixed by Charles Phoenix, live music, an auction and numerous soda samples, including:

-Hank’s (flavors such as: root beer and black cherry)

-Fentimans (flavors such as: rose lemonade, cola, orange)

-Bundaberge (flavors such as: ginger, peachee, blood red orange, root beer, guava, pink grape fruit)

-Waialua (pineapple, Kona Red, lilikoi/passion fruit, mangos)

-Plus some surprises.

Galco’s is located at 5702 York Boulevard (York & Avenue 57), Los Angeles, CA 90042.  For more information call (323) 255-7115.

Admission is $12 in advance, and $15 at the door. Tickets sold in advance are available at the store, they are sold online at

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July 21, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


2 Responses to “Galco’s to Hold Benefit for Friends of the SW Museum”

  1. Grace on July 22nd, 2011 10:51 am

    At the time of the merger of the Autry and Southwest Museums, Jackie Autry herself signed paperwork representing that the Autry had a $100 million endowment (not $10 million as erroneously reported in the article). The LA Times fawned all over Autry and declared that the Southwest Museum would be safe in the hands of the Autry.

    The Autry for the last 6 years has tried to move the Southwest Museum exhibition halls into its own building so that it could renege on its merger promise to raise the funds to restore the Southwest’s building and continue museum operations there.

    This is all about Jackie Autry’s ego wanting her name on the Southwest’s collection. Where is the Attorney General? Where is the Editorial Board of the LA Times? Where is the LA Conservancy? If you have seen the film “Art of the Steal”, what is happening to the Southwest looks like what is happening to the theft of the Barnes Collection.

  2. Marino Pascal on July 22nd, 2011 7:04 pm

    I’ve watched “The Art of Steal”. It’s the story of some uppity neighbors who wanted the prestige of having a Museum next door but none of the hassle of thousands of school children and buses and visitors and tourists in the neighborhood. They wanted a Museum “by appointment”.

    So the Museum got relocated from the suburbs to downtown and it’s accessible to a lot more people now.

    And the collection just like Southwest’s is world heritage. It originated far away from the original collector’s place of exhibition. As an artist I find it insulting that the collector becomes more important than the art itself.

    This is not the first or last collection that outgrows its original building and audience and needs to be relocated elsewhere. The collection is safe. The building is safe. Lets do something new and creative with it. That’s what Lummis did.

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