Letters to The Editor
April 4, 2006
This is a song of joy and praise and disappointment about the community you watch.
I’ll try to sing it in under 10,000 words:
First, my creds:
Grew up in H.P., attending Pacific Blvd School and Gage Ave Jr Hi, graduating from HP High in June ’45.
Sister attended Miles Av and grad from the h.s. in maybe ’49.
Lived over time at 6020A Oak St, 6010 Oak, 6205 Miles Ave, and, as a married adult, on Plaska at an address I know longer
remember. (First of four daughters born while I lived there.) The girl I married grew up at 6916 Cedar.
Dad worked at Axelson’s and at Sopp Chevrolet.
Mom kept house, except for a brief period during WWII, when she became a riveter at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach.
Now, the point of this area:
After reading about HP’s hundredth birthday, hauled myself back home from West San Fernando Valley a couple of weeks
ago. First visit to H.P. in decades.
Was in serious, joyous culture shock for most of my three- or four-hour drive-around. The color and excitement and vitality
of the city – especially as manifest on Pacific – were astonishing. Literally astonishing! Talking to myself as I toured the
city, noticing the gone and the new, I kept repeating, omigod omigod omigod omigod.
Only two buildings on Pacific that were landmarks remain undisguised to me: Eastern Columbia, now a store for kids, and
the Warner Theater, which forlornly, but hopefully advertises its availability for lease.
Belgrave Ave in my old neighborhood is now what looks like lunch and lounge space for the high school.
The old homesteads on Oak St. are replaced by townhouses, as are all the old homes on that and adjacent blocks.
Bethlehem Steel on Slauson is replaced by Home Depot, Staples, Bally’s Ultimate Fitness, and – possibly in a humanitarian
gesture to those who over-shop or over-fit – a Quiznos or Subway (forget which).
The high school seems to have grown by twenty or more buildings. (We moved to Oak St. just after the ’34 earthquake,
and the wreckage, rehab, and new grounds and buildings were my playground from 3rd thru 8th grade.)
Miles Ave School has become an entire new nation, possibly requiring a passport, as has Pacific Blvd. School.
On neighborhood streets and Pacific: lots of families, lots of smiles.
The point of all this – points, actually:
First, I really have to share my enthusiasm with somebody who might care – as I assume you might.
If you’d like to talk, I’ll come see you and be enthusiastic. I promise not to bring the Civil Defense helmet issue to me as an
Air Raid Messenger in ’42 and proved to be almost as heavy as my bike. But I could be persuaded to tell about the day in
1942 that the HERE-I-AM-BOMB-ME Alcoa plant in Vernon was replaced by a bucolic agricultural hillside, topped by a
ramshackle shed of no apparent military value and thus not worth bombing.
We could meet at Starbuck’s, where on the Saturday, I fell deeply in love with a pretty, young barrista who said she loved
Huntington Park, has lived there for twenty-four years, and graduated from H.P. High. She was just the right person with
whom to share my story and my enthusiasm.
I’d first thought I could share my enthusiasm with a city official, and found Juan Noguez’ name on the official H.P.
website. Also found, Googling “Huntington Park,” WatchourCity. If your site is accurate – and, with sources such as the
L.A. Times, I have to assume it to be so – it appears that the wonderful city I discovered in my tour has some pretty foul
I decided not to expose my naiveté to Noguez, but to tell you my story instead.
Cordially and respectfully,