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Francisco Real inside La Grand Central Market, circa 1927. This photo was donated to the San Pedro Built database by Francisco’s granddaughter, Melanie Real, at a photo scanning event in 2019. Photos like this one are important because there were no publicly held images of this business before now. (photo: San Pedro Heritage Museum)

2019 was an amazing debut for the San Pedro Heritage Museum. The community has been overwhelmingly supportive of us and our mission to share and preserve San Pedro history and culture. We’ve partnered with local business leaders and fellow community organizations to make sure our history has a voice in the future of San Pedro. I am honored by the partnerships we have created in our first year, and I look forward to years of collaboration in the future.

We launched some great and ambitious projects this year, like San Pedro Built and Bukowski in Bronze. San Pedro Built is such an important effort to crowdsource the developmental history of San Pedro. The pictures that we’ve collected, so far, provide invaluable insight into residential and commercial buildings around town. We will be ramping up our scanning and outreach efforts around this project in 2020. If you have any photos of San Pedro residential or commercial buildings, please consider lending them to the database for preservation.

If you don’t know who Charles Bukowski is by now, it will be our goal to make him a household name in San Pedro by his centennial celebration in August 2020. Launching Bukowski in Bronze, a campaign to honor world-renowned poet and author, Charles Bukowski, with a statue in one year would have been an ambitious project for even the most seasoned organization, let alone a brand new one. It was a fit of inspiration, and the time was ripe to be bold. We will be celebrating Bukowski all year with a series of events that we will start announcing next month. Charles Bukowski has a global fan base, people who love the work he wrote here, at home, in San Pedro. That needs to be celebrated, and we intend to party all year long.

We had some great beginnings in 2019, and there is so much more to look forward to in 2020, especially the groundbreaking for the San Pedro Public Market. As stewards of San Pedro history, we look forward to working with the developers to document the progress of the project and stand ready to supply any historical input needed to make it a great fit for the community. We’re anxious for the next chapter in waterfront history to get under way so we can all get back to making magical memories on the main channel.

Speaking of memories, I have mentioned the importance of collecting oral histories, and we will be making that a priority in coming months because I learned a very hard and painful lesson. Some of you may remember a story I wrote a couple of years ago about searching for an artist who signed his drawings with the name, “Yancy.” It took years of asking to figure out that Yancy was actually Pete Bentovoja. I even stalked him while having his daily coffee at San Pedro Café. I was glad to have met Mr. Bentovoja, but I never got around to interviewing him. When I tried to reach out to set up an interview a couple of months ago, I learned that he had passed away on his 92nd birthday in July. We can’t put off collecting oral histories because we’re losing great ones every day. We will be recruiting volunteers to help launch the program; keep an eye out for future announcements.

Our first year proved that the San Pedro Heritage Museum is needed and welcomed. San Pedrans are hungry for their history, and we’ve got so much to serve up. But none of this could happen without the help and support of a very important group of people. I would like to thank our tenacious Bukowski in Bronze committee for their hard work: Liz Schindler-Johnson, Sharyl Holtzman, Linda Grimes, Christian Lozada, Lorena Parker, Lee Williams, Monica Simpson, and Branimir Kvartuc. Thanks are also due to Linda Bukowski and Eugene and Anne Daub for their visions on the Bukowski statue; Findings Art Center, Sirens Java and Tea, Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro BID, and Sacred Grounds for hosting our events and fundraisers; and Kelly McLeod-Hernandez and Amanda Silva for their unwavering support and making everything better. 

Finally, my sincerest gratitude goes to my dedicated board: Vice President Joshua Stecker, Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Sullivan, Annette Ciketic, Paul Di Carlo, Alan Johnson, and former board member Ednita Kelly. There would be no museum without you all. You all are such giants in this community, and standing on your shoulders gives me the courage to live my dream. Here’s to all the good things our second year has to offer. spt

If you would like more info on any of the projects mentioned above or would like to get involved, please email angela@sanpedroheritage.org or visit sanpedroheritage.org.

Angela Romero

Angela Romero is the founder of the San Pedro Heritage Museum. She can be reached at angela@sanpedroheritage.org.