When the temperature finally dips below 70 and I am forced to wear close-toed shoes, I know that holiday movie season is just around the corner. My absolute favorite Christmas movie is Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. Early on in the movie, Tootie, the youngest Smith, played by Margaret O’Brien, has a line that pretty much sums up my exact feelings about San Pedro, “Wasn’t I lucky to be born in my favorite city?” She had also just finished correcting the iceman’s pronunciation of St. Louis, sound familiar?
The parallels don’t end there. Although our beloved San Pedro was just an infant city of 15 at the time the movie takes place, the small town old-fashioned hominess of St. Louis in 1903 completely translates to life in San Pedro. So how did some of us get so lucky to be born in our favorite city? Opportunity.
In 1903, construction of the federal breakwater was in full swing and people were being drawn to the brand new port in droves due to all the readily available work. The timber that built the southland came from our lumberyards. Soon came the fishing industry with seiners and canneries, shipbuilding, oceaneering and longshoring. This town was built on the backs of those who came here looking for the opportunity of a better life, the type of people who see the path to prosperity through a hard day’s work. They did it for us and we keep it going for them.
Every San Pedran, whether born here or transplanted, has a moment that sold them on San Pedro. Think about it. You may have come here for a job, or the surf, or an affordable home, or even because you grew up here, but you stayed for the community. You stay because you want to raise your kids in a place where they can be kids. You stay because someone took a chance on you and you want to be here to give someone else a chance. You stay because you can’t imagine yourself living anywhere else.
Yes, there are days when San Pedro makes you want to pack up and leave, but then something happens, a beautiful sunset or random act of kindness, and you just can’t stay mad. And sure, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities lately, but San Pedrans know that the best way through hard times is together. And if you ever do leave, you’ll be welcomed back like family. That is the biggest parallel of all, Meet Me in St. Louis is a movie about a family and San Pedro is a giant family.
Hard work, fairness, helping hands, caring hearts and having fun together are all the themes that weave through Meet Me in St. Louis. They are also the family values that make San Pedro work. This is why we never lost our identity to L.A. This is why every marketing firm, committee and startup has failed to capture the true essence of San Pedro.
San Pedro is not Busy Bee or Sorrento’s pizza, no matter how delicious. San Pedro is not an awesome picture of the bridge. San Pedro is not a meme or a Facebook group. San Pedro is its people. San Pedro is a family. spt