By the time the new megarich NFL stadium and Hollywood Park development are completed, the old landscape of Inglewood at Century and Prairie will be a distant memory.
Thank goodness we have Daniel Boone Wise, Jr., Inglewood’s unofficial historian and distant relative to pioneer Daniel Boone, to remind us of how it used to be. Picture this: His father was a real cowboy from Oklahoma who rode into Santa Monica on his way to San Diego in an old Model T Ford. When the engine blew up, he had to get a job at Kelley’s Tire Shop and eventually settled in Santa Monica.
After 6 months, he decided to start his own tire company. He headed east on a mule and strapped his suitcase to a donkey. The mule broke down in Inglewood, and again, that is where the senior Mr. Wise eventually settled.
“Cars break down, so my father figured a mule wouldn’t,” Dan Wise, Jr. said. “But that mule just laid there for three days” at what is now Manchester and Market Street. His dad opened Wise Tires on La Brea just south of Manchester, where the Inglewood bus depot now sits.
The days are long gone when mules and donkeys roam along Market Street, but there are plenty of cars that occasionally need tires and brakes. Wise who began retreading tires at age 14 has, except for brief stints at outside jobs, been in the tire business all his life. Wise Tires and Brakes is the oldest family-owned business in Inglewood.
“I worked at different places, but my father would offer me a nickel more an hour if I came back. The minimum wage then was about 70 cents an hour, so I always came back,” Wise said.
Officially in business since 1923 and at its current location since 1941, Wise has seen Inglewood transform from a sleepy horse town, to the sprawling gateway to LAX. It went from being home to the Forum (where the L.A. Lakers and Kings once played) in the 60s, to losing the teams to L.A.s Staple Center in the 90s, and now being selected as the new home of the NFL Rams.
He recalled the anticipation of the Lakers’ arrival:
“It was marvelous and everyone was excited to come and spend money in Inglewood. When the Lakers left and Dr. (Jerry) Buss went over to Staples, they were very missed. Bringing it to now, I give our mayor (James Butts) a lot of credit. Maybe someone could have done it also, but he stayed on top of it and knew what to say and made the owner of the Rams excited about coming into Inglewood. Mr. (Stan) Kroenke wants to be part of the success of the City of Inglewood,” Wise said.
To mark the new era in the “City of Champions,” Wise put up a sign that reads, “Inglewood, the new home of the L.A. Rams.”
“I was hoping more people will put up signs like this around their businesses to show Mr. Kroenke they appreciate him when he comes,” he said. Appreciation is major for Wise. He is grateful for the third and fourth generation customers who have patronized his business over the years—some who have never gone to an NFL game in their own back yard. Thanks to the leaders and partners in Inglewood, they will now.
For all your tire and brake needs, visit Wise Tires at 943 S. La Brea Avenue or call (310) 904-6163.