The current San Pedro Bay Historical Society exhibition at the Muller House on San Pedro weddings got me digging deep into my own family archives and in the process, uncovered a little-known piece of local history.
I’ve been going through a lot of papers and photographs since my mother died last March, but I realized one thing I hadn’t found was a picture of my paternal grandparents’ wedding. I found the marriage certificate for Ettore Marconi and Annie Lazzaro, from March 6, 1923, stating they were married at St. Peter’s. But where was St. Peter’s Catholic Church in 1923?
Today’s St. Peter’s is on O’Farrell Street, but that church was Holy Trinity beginning in 1924 (see below), before that parish moved up to where it is now on Santa Cruz.
It took quite a lot of hunting before the good folks at the historical society found a history of Holy Trinity explaining that the church was initially named St. Peter’s but was renamed to avoid confusion with St. Peter’s Episcopal.
One mystery solved, but I still thought there had to be a wedding picture somewhere. Then I had a “duh” moment: My grandparents divorced when my dad was still in elementary school. It wasn’t likely that my grandmother, who remarried, would have kept any old wedding photos around.
I do have one of those classic black-and-white wedding photos of my parents, Eddie Marconi and Rosemary Inskeep, taken June 17, 1950, at the same church where his parents had wed, only now known as Holy Trinity. (It was June, so Mary Star was booked solid.) Dad is wearing the traditional white tux and Mom is in a wedding dress she sewed herself. The wedding party, the men also in white tuxes and the women in white, is made up mostly of second-generation Italian-Americans (cue The Godfather theme).
The wedding picture of me and Deborah O’Connor is typical 1970s. It’s April 13, 1974, but outside of some long hair, it isn’t too crazy: the guys are still in white tuxes (no pastel for me, thank you), with the in vogue ruffled shirts and cummerbunds. Deb is striking in a satin white gown, but her girls are all in flowered dresses with straw hats and flowers baskets. The backdrop for the wedding party picture at The Neighborhood Church (we had no home church at the time) is a sweeping view of the entire South Bay.
Finally, there’s the picture of my son, Matthew, and his bride, Elizabeth Sanchez, at the altar of Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro on April 5, 2007.
In retrospect, what’s interesting about all these weddings is that my family experience is not unique: I suspect there are multitudes of San Pedrans who have wedding photos taken here over four and even five generations. How many homes contain one of those early 20th century photos of two young immigrants (never smiling) starting their lives together in a picturesque seaside town with nothing but the promise of a brighter future ahead of them? Deep roots are part of the San Pedro mystique.
I have two granddaughters, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to a fifth generation of Marconis getting married here. No pressure – they’re both students at Dodson Middle School (where I graduated in 1966) – but this is a town steeped in family traditions. It’s the glue that keeps us together.
KEEPING IT CLEAN
Back in May, it was discovered that the small bronze plaque next to the main post office, placed there decades ago to honor San Pedro’s WWI dead, had been defaced.
It was the subject of much discussion on the “San Pedro Born and Raised” Facebook page, with plenty of well-placed outrage over the vandalism. But even while the postings accumulated, two San Pedrans decided to do more than just curse the darkness. George Matthews and Bob Milling grabbed solvents, brushes and rags and, before the day was over, had posted video on the thread of them cleaning the memorial. And lighting this candle wasn’t an easy job.
Doing the dirty work is standard for the all-volunteer San Pedro CPR (Caring Proactive Residents) Cleanup Crew, of which Matthews and Milling are members. Steve Kleinjan’s Clean San Pedro has received appropriate recognition for its work, and, Lord knows, San Pedro could use all the cleanup help it can get. For a town disparagingly called “the ghetto by the sea,” it’s hard to imagine what it would look like without San Pedro CPR’s regular sweeps of our streets, beaches and lots, combined with Clean San Pedro’s major undertakings.
Kudos to Matthews and Milling for quick thinking and even quicker action. San Pedro is a better place with people like them.
CALLING ALL CLASSICS
It’s official now. San Pedro High’s W`69 class (my class) will be having its 50th reunion from 6 p.m. to midnight Sept. 21 at the Dalmatian-American Club.
We were a small class, so a good turnout is crucial for this event to be a success. The reunion committee needs to get the invitations out soon, which means class members need to respond right away.
To get on the mailing list, contact Priscilla DeSalvo Robinson via text at (562) 400-9650, Messenger on Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Carmela Lauro at (310) 365-0335; or Mateo Toribio at email@example.com.
The committee also needs contact info you may have on class members who have not heard about the reunion, or, sadly, to update the list of deceased classmates. Priscilla had already listed 18 dead classmates, and I added two more. Twenty lost from a class of fewer than 200 is reason enough to get together one last time because, as a friend always says, we may never pass this way again. spt