An Ancestral Adventure

Greg Vitalich (left) and his long lost cousin Steve Vitalich stand atop a hillside in Komiza, Croatia on the island of Vis. (photo provided by Greg Vitalich)

As a child, all I knew were the Croatian curse words.

While I possessed a very “San Pedro-like” last name ending in “ich,” the extent of my exposure to Croatian culture was limited to my grandfathers’ cooking during the holidays, those choice curse words, and infrequent visits to San Pedro’s legendary Croatian restaurant Ante’s. My disconnection to my Croatian ancestry led to several awkward, albeit humorous, moments.

Life in San Pedro meant knowing many friends who grew up in households where the primary language was Croatian, Italian, Spanish or even Greek. It was common for friends to frequently visit the Old Country and enjoy staying with relatives. I was always intrigued by how deeply ingrained and important many of my friends’ ancestral heritage and culture were in their modern lives. Perhaps I was a bit envious, but mostly these observations simply drove my curiosity to learn and discover more about my own family history. Little did I know that this curiosity would lead to an amazing journey of discovery, new friendships, a magical adventure abroad, and a definitive silencing of that nagging sense of disconnection.

Sometimes negative events or experiences act as catalysts that inspire us to do something productive and positive. Not long after my 100% Croatian paternal grandfather Andrew and my father Andrew Jr. both passed away just four months apart, I sadly realized what a lost opportunity it was to not seek out more of their memories, stories, and insights about their life experiences and our family history. Although priceless family history had been lost forever, I still wondered if I could still discover and learn. When did my Croatian ancestors make their courageous voyage to America? Who were they? Why did they leave? How was “cousin so and so” and I related? It was time for me to take action and begin exploring my Croatian roots to find these answers.

In 2009, I decided to research my genealogy by signing up with I quickly discovered many interesting facts that answered many of my initial questions. My great grandfather Joseph Vitalich (Vitaljic) had emigrated from Croatia (then part of Austria) in 1903 and settled in Tacoma, Wash. Over the next decade, his siblings followed him to Tacoma. Joseph and his Croatian immigrant wife Lucy moved to San Pedro around 1919, presumably for the opportunity provided by the tremendous growth of the tuna industry in the area. Now I was getting somewhere. Fact after fact poured in as I continued my online research. History was coming alive as I laid my eyes on fascinating documents like census records, World War registration cards, and naturalization applications. I was gaining a wonderful perspective on how my family history mirrored the classic American immigrant story.

In Dec. 2009, I received an email from a guy in Seattle named Steve Vitalich. Steve had decided to reach out to me after viewing my family tree on and determining that we were cousins. Turns out his grandfather Louie was brothers with my great grandfather Joseph. We were indeed second cousins. In an interesting twist, Steve had coincidentally begun researching his family ancestry at about the same time I had. His genealogical curiosity was piqued after receiving several messages of condolences after a person he didn’t know named Vitalich had passed away. Steve had also felt that sense of disconnection with his Croatian roots and had finally decided to sign up with to get some answers.

Steve and I began communicating frequently and filling in each other’s gaps in family research. Then in a scene right out of a Harry Potter movie, Steve discovered an old shoebox in his attic that belonged to his aunt labeled “Vitalich Family Archives.” The box contained several letters from Croatia to relatives in America, the 1940 death certificate of my great great grandfather Andrija who had lived and died in Croatia, and several remarkable black and white photographs of Andrija’s funeral procession and burial in Komiza, Croatia. Thanks to Steve’s meticulous research utilizing rented microfilmed birth, marriage, and death records obtained from his local Mormon Family History Center; we were slowly able to identify Croatian ancestors back to the early 1700s.

Steve and I finally met for the first time when he visited San Pedro in the spring of 2011. I gave Steve the grand tour, taking care to weave in San Pedro’s fishing history with that of our family. We also squeezed in time to visit family burial sites at Green Hills Memorial Park and at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles where many Catholics from San Pedro had been laid to rest in the early part of the 20th century.

The highlight of Steve’s visit was our family feast at Ante’s Restaurant celebrating my brother Mike’s birthday. Steve had never experienced Croatian food before and was in wide-eyed in amazement when he realized the giant painted mural on the restaurant wall was our ancestral home – the tiny island fishing village of Komiza located on the island of Vis. The friendly waitress happened to be from Vis and she enthusiastically shared some wonderful memories about her early years and life on the island. Then the jovial owner, the late Tony Perkov, came by to say hello. Soon I was the one in wide-eyed amazement as Tony began recalling several entertaining stories involving him and my grandfather. Remarkably, Tony even remembered my great grandfather Joseph sitting in his wheelchair mending fishing nets down by the tuna boats circa 1950. This was the first time I could recall hearing any story about Joseph.

In July 2011, I travelled to Seattle to visit Steve. We visited an abandoned building in downtown Seattle where Steve’s grandfather Louie had started a successful bowling alley. We also took an interesting drive to nearby Tacoma where our ancestors had first settled in America. Tacoma is very similar to San Pedro in that it is a port town with a rich history of Croatian immigrant fishermen. Tacoma even has a Slavonian Hall. (How many towns have one of those?) Another interesting highlight was visiting a remarkably well-preserved 120-year-old two-bedroom cottage located in a well-kept historical residential district. My great grandparents and great aunt and uncle had once lived there together circa 1917.

I also met for the first time my other long lost cousin, Steve’s sister Andrea. It wasn’t long before the three of us over a bottle of wine expressed an interest in planning a trip to experience Croatia. Let’s take this family history thing all the way, we proclaimed. The table had been set for the next phase of our genealogical adventure.

The Motherland

In October 2012, the three of us embarked to Croatia. Although our itinerary included fascinating Croatian destinations such as the capital city of Zagreb, the coastal towns of Zadar and Split, the extraordinary natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park (the Yosemite of Croatia), and the amazing walled fortress city of Dubrovnik, our mecca would clearly be Komiza since at least six generations of relatives had called this island village home.

As we stepped off the ferry onto the island of Vis we were overcome with surrealism. How cool was this? After decades of hearing vague family references to Komiza, years of online and field research, meeting long lost cousins Steve and Andrea, and months of planning our travel, we were now walking in the footsteps of our ancestors.

Komiza has a special connection with San Pedro. Thousands of San Pedrans can trace their roots back to this sleepy fishing town of perhaps 700 people. This fact couldn’t have been any clearer than upon arrival at our first destination, the Komiza cemetery. Walking in the shadow of Komiza’s main landmark the St. Nikola church, the names inscribed on the graves were quite familiar: Bjazavic, Bogdanovic, Bozanic, Mardesic, Marinkovic, Stanojevic, Vidovic, Zuanic. Was I reading a San Pedro yearbook or walking around Komiza?

I had this naive expectation that we would find a cool gothic headstone with a large “Vitaljic” inscribed on it, say hello and give our respects at the burial site, and then pose for some memorable photographs. Not to be. We did find some Vitaljic graves but not those of our particular bloodline. We knew it was unlikely to find any current living relatives in Komiza; they had left for America long ago. So we were determined to at least find our deceased Komiza relatives. Wandering the quiet cemetery confused as how to find our relative’s gravesites, I decided to approach the only other person I saw. Hoping the gentleman would understand at least some English, I hesitantly greeted him and explained in slow simple English our dilemma. He responded, “Oh hey, I’m Frank Biazevich. I live in Everett, Wash. but am moving back to Komiza, it’s where I grew up. Vitalich? You from San Pedro?”

What were the odds?

Steve and Andrea trekked 6,000 miles from Seattle to Komiza and the first person they meet lives just 30 miles from them. The four of us enjoyed a friendly chat. Frank gave us his phone number and promised to ask around for any information about our family. He also recommended we travel across the island to Vis Town to visit the Registration Office where the old public records were kept that might help in our ancestral quest.

The next morning, we eagerly walked into the musty Registration Office. We were fortunate that the first person we encountered was a nice lady who spoke decent English and was quite willing to help. After we explained that we were from the U.S. and looking for our Komiza family records she perked up and smiled; rose up out of her squeaky chair and immediately walked over to a large cabinet full of old records. In another Harry Potter movie moment, she pulled out this enormous book that looked hundreds of years old, blew off an inch of dust, and began slowly turning 150-year-old pages of crinkly parchment. Within minutes we were gazing at small handwritten birth, baptismal, marriage and death records of our ancestors. It was an amazing moment. I felt like Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code pouring over century old secret manuscripts. Steve and I enthusiastically posed with the heavy book for a photo and we graciously thanked the office lady for her help. I then asked forgiveness for not asking earlier for her name. “My name is Sanja Fiamengo”, she replied. Of course, it was another familiar San Pedro last name.

Without public records to dig into during the weekend, we immersed ourselves in exploring Komiza and the surrounding parts of the island. Because the island of Vis was off limits during the Cold War due to its strategic military location, Komiza has been fairly untouched by commercialization. Komiza did welcome an increasing number of sun loving tourists in the summer. But the pace of life here was generally super slow-motion, posted store hours were more like vague estimates, the food and wine were excellent, the natural beauty of the place inspiring, soothing, peaceful.

We wanted to avoid the tourist season in order to experience a Komiza more like what our ancestors would have recognized. Mission accomplished. It was usually quiet enough at any point in the day to hear goats and donkeys chatter blocks away from our apartment balcony.

We walked the Riva, the main street along the shoreline where all the fishing boats were moored, and explored all the small narrow side streets and beaches of Komiza many times over to soak it all in. It became a running joke that almost every single person we met had the same reaction; “Vitalich? You from San Pedro?” Then they would suggest we meet a guy in town named Frank who could help us with our research. Yes, the same Frank who was the very first person we had met by chance that first day at the cemetery.

On Monday, we rejoined the quest to find our relatives gravesite. We eventually confirmed my theory; the grave was there but unmarked. A cemetery worker graciously gave us a ride from town to the cemetery and showed us the exact location. A blank headstone was not terribly unusual; people were poor and couldn’t always afford an engraving. It crossed my mind to pay for an inscription right then and there. The guy who drove us to the cemetery happened to also be the one who actually did the inscribing. I decided to hold off on the engraving, as I wanted to be certain that adding an engraving to the headstone wouldn’t unintentionally encroach on any customs or beliefs I wasn’t aware of.

Then & Now photographs of the Komiza cemetary where Greg Vitalich’s great great grandfather Andrija Vitalich was buried.

Our five wonderful days in Komiza felt like a trip back in time. We left Komiza to spend another week along the scenic and spectacular Croatian coast in Split and Dubrovnik. Steve, Andrea and I enjoyed our last night at an outdoor pub in Dubrovnik where after three days of being pub regulars the friendly bartenders had come to memorize each of our drinks of choice. After two weeks immersed in Croatian culture we had become old pros at socializing with the locals, especially servers and bartenders. Steve had studied up on his Croatian in preparation for the trip and was particularly impressive, drawing compliments from many natives during our journey.

Ask, Listen, Learn

We had experienced life in Croatia as best as any novice Croats from America could do. While we certainly learned much about our heritage, we had also grown to know each other better. Steve and I certainly got along great, but Andrea and I hadn’t really known each other at all prior to this trip. Within days we had become best buds hanging out into the wee morning hours at smoky Croatian dive bars blaring Guns N’ Roses to “Gangnam Style.” Casual bonds between distant cousins had evolved into closer relationships.

This adventure was only possible because two people in far away cities were curious enough to begin researching their family history. Genealogy brings history to life. It helps us gain perspective on where we came from and who we are. When we learn about our own family’s past, we make better connections to the broader history taught in school. Our past becomes more relevant to our present.

A final dinner in Dubrovnik with long lost cousins Steve and Andrea (photos provided by Greg Vitalich)

I urge everyone to research their past; even if it only means simply talking to your parents and grandparents about their lives. Do it before it’s too late. Listen to them, ask questions, learn. I certainly have much more to learn about my ancestry and heritage, but that nagging feeling of disconnection has been replaced with a solid sense of accomplishment. I had taken a giant leap towards understanding and experiencing my Croatian ancestry. The memories of this amazing journey and the friendships that grew between cousins who hadn’t even known each other just four years ago will now last a lifetime. spt

2012: A Year in Review (December 2012 Cover Story)

Photo by John Mattera

It was a year of incredible change and transformation for San Pedro.

A year of gains, losses and continued tradition. The waters brought us a new resident, a home for artisans was built, and a new councilman was chosen to lead us. We faced the challenge of the land sliding beneath us, out of control skateboarders, and the constant threat of crime. We saw a lighthouse and a church reborn, milestones surpassed, and parking meters meeting their maker. Even through the good and the bad, when 2013 rolls around, history will look back on 2012 as the year it all started coming together for San Pedro.

The previous year did not end well. We were still reeling from the Paseo del Mar landslide that happened in November 2011. At the time, no one had any answers as to why the land toppled into the sea and we were still getting used to having a neighborhood divided by the ocean cliffs. And then things got worse.

Eva Tice

San Pedrans were stunned and saddened by the killing of Eva Tice, a 60-year-old mentally disabled woman who was stabbed walking home on Pacific Ave. from a Christmas Eve church service. Police would later announce a $50,000 reward for information leading to her killer, who fled the scene and still has yet to be found.

Photo by John Mattera

The good news arrived, when, after months of campaigning and a special run-off election against Assemblyman Warren Furutani, former LAPD Harbor Division Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino was sworn in as councilman of the city’s 15th District on January 31, replacing Janice Hahn, who won a seat on Congress the previous year.

Residents also freaked out for a bit when false rumors of a serial killer in the Harbor Area spread on Facebook. It turned out to be the end result of a game of telephone after a young woman was found slain in Wilmington.

Later in January, talks began about a proposed a skatepark in Peck Park. After months of planning, the project got a monetary boost from the Tony Hawk Foundation in October. Construction bids should go out this month. Supporters hope the project will be completed before overpass construction will temporarily close the existing Channel Street Skatepark later next year.

Speaking of skating, the increasingly familiar sight of packs of un-helmeted skaters “bombing” hills at high speeds in traffic around town became a forefront issue this year when Caleb Daniel Simpson, a 15-year-old from Palmdale, became the second teen to die engaging in the activity in San Pedro. A few months earlier, 14-year-old Michael Borojevich died after he crashed skating near 25th St. and Western Ave. The deaths gained widespread media attention and prompted officials to eventually ban bombing throughout the city in August.

In February, the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities announced its new home at the Warner Grand Theatre. In November, the theatre company announced an indefinite suspension, pulling out of the Warner Grand and leaving existing subscribers in the dark.

Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Club

Students at San Pedro High School and the Boys & Girls Club got a visit from ballerina and alumnus Misty Copeland, a soloist in the American Ballet Theatre. Copeland returned to her hometown in February to share her experiences getting her start at the Boys & Girls Club and rising to the top of the ballet world, where she is ABT’s first African-American female soloist in decades.

After months of restoration work, St. Peter’s Church, San Pedro’s oldest place of worship, reopened its doors on Easter Sunday at its new home at Green Hills Memorial Park. Originally built in 1884, the church was moved to Green Hills in 2011, where it underwent badly needed repairs.

A much-improved Angels Gate Lighthouse was unveiled in April after a six-month restoration project spearheaded by the Cabrillo Beach Boosters, who fixed the lighthouse’s rusting exterior. Steel reinforcements, a new paint job and zinc coating were just some of the repairs made to help protect the lighthouse from erosion for another 25 years. The Boosters also hope to restore the crumbling interior in time for the lighthouse’s centennial next year.

Point Fermin Lighthouse also made headlines this year when in May, the federal government declared it to be surplus property, basically putting it up for grabs for new ownership. A handful of groups and nonprofits have applied, including the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks and the Point Fermin Lighthouse Society. We’re still waiting to see who will be chosen to run one of San Pedro’s iconic landmarks.

Arguably, the biggest story of the year for San Pedro was May’s arrival of the historic battleship USS Iowa in the Port of Los Angeles. Only two years ago, the Port had rejected a proposal to berth the ship as a floating museum and tourist attraction. Robert Kent, who founded the nonprofit that spearheaded the effort, got the community to rally around the project, eventually getting the Port to come around. With funding in place and the Port’s blessing, the Pacific Battleship Center made a bid for the ship, and was later granted it by the Navy. Repairs were made in Northern California before the ship was towed to Los Angeles.

On June 9, the ship made its final journey down the main channel to its permanent berth as thousands of spectators on shore lined Harbor Blvd. The ship hosted a Veteran’s reunion and opened for public tours in July.

On the heels of the Iowa’s arrival, the Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District (commonly known as the PBID) put on a Swingin’ Salute Block Party in downtown San Pedro. Residents decked out in their 1940’s best came out for free swing music and dance lessons under new decorative lights crisscrossing over 6th St. The San Pedro Bay Historical Society also put together a series of historical window exhibits displayed in shops downtown.

Also in June, nonprofit Harbor Interfaith Services opened a new, three-story facility on 9th Street, where it relocated its headquarters and expanded services supporting struggling families.

Seven months after a 600-ft. stretch of Paseo del Mar slid into the ocean after a rainstorm, the City released a geotechnical report assessing the causes of the landslide and future of the site. Both natural and manmade factors like irrigation and wave erosion played a role in the slide, but no further ground movement was detected. The City later secured funds to stabilize and grade the area and install drains. Whether or not the road will be re-routed is to be determined with the input of a new 50-member community advisory committee appointed by Councilman Buscaino.

Photo by John Mattera

Another major story of the year happened in late June, when the first of two WWII-era warehouses near 22nd Street Park re-opened as Crafted, an indoor craft marketplace dreamt up by the same developer as Santa Monica’s successful Bergamot Station. With a 35-year lease, dozens of vendors and far-reaching media coverage, Crafted has already proven to be a one-of-a-kind regional draw. After gripes about its $5 parking fee, Crafted gave away free one-year parking passes to local residents and later offered free parking on Fridays.

After planning this year’s Taste in San Pedro festival for Ports O’ Call Village, the Chamber of Commerce announced its cancellation in July. It would be the first summer without one in more than a decade. The Taste wasn’t the only foodie event cancelled this year. Weeks later, organizers of the Ćevapčići Festival announced its cancellation due to lack of funds. It was especially a bummer since the Balkan sausage fest had some big press lined up. The Port’s annual Lobster Festival went on as usual, drawing thousands of sea foodies to the waterfront.

In early August, an 18-year-old former Mary Star of the Sea High School running back confessed to stealing cash registers from several businesses on Western Ave and Gaffey St. He ran into a slight problem when his dad recognized him on the surveillance video that made the media rounds and convinced his son to turn himself in.

More than 600 parking meters were axed in downtown San Pedro and Wilmington this summer, a move by Councilman Buscaino’s office after a study concluded they did more harm than good. Rates on remaining meters also went down. Business owners had long complained that the overabundance of meters and rate hikes discouraged consumers from shopping downtown. The issue was a talking point in the special election to replace former Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

This year’s Navy Days went much smoother than last, drawing 5,000 people over the course of two days (2011’s event was longer and larger, causing a traffic nightmare and long lines). Tour goers got an inside look at the USS Wayne E. Meyer destroyer and the Coast Guard Cutter George Cobb.

The same weekend, reports came pouring in of a man spotted jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge shortly after 12:30 p.m. on August 19. A few hours later, Port police announced they had recovered the body of Top Gun director Tony Scott, whose car was found on top of the bridge with a note left inside. His suicide drew national media attention. A coroner’s report later confirmed that contrary to reports, he was not battling cancer at the time of his death.

Photo by John Mattera

Thousands of young San Pedrans went back to school weeks earlier than usual this year, part of an early start schedule adopted by the L.A. Unified School District that’ll have them out for summer in early June (they were originally slated to get out by the end of May, but Prop. 30 changed that). This was also the first year for the new John M. and Muriel Olguin Campus of San Pedro High School, an environmentally innovative annex campus built to relieve overcrowding at SPHS. Shortly after school started, there was a bit of a traffic controversy in the surrounding neighborhood.

Also in August, San Pedro native and LAPD Deputy Chief Patrick Gannon announced his retirement after 34 years on the force. A few months later, he took a new job as Chief of Airport Police at LAX.

Seventeen-year-old Monica Bender, a senior at Mary Star of the Sea High School, made headlines when she swam the 20-mile Catalina Channel the last week of August.

After a string of residential burglaries over the summer had residents on edge, eight new police officers were assigned to LAPD Harbor Division to help curb property crime. Police eventually arrested an 18-year-old San Pedro man linked to one of the crime scenes.

Astronaut and first-mom-in-space Anna Fisher returned to her hometown in September for the fundraiser opening of Harbor Day Preschool. She also took time to speak with students at several high schools. In other San Pedro space news, the ashes of Allyson Diana Genest, an avid Star Trek fan from San Pedro who died in 1999, were sent to outer space with Space X’s Dragon launch in May. It was her dying wish.

Who could forget the refinery burn-off freakout on September 15? When a power outage set off a controlled burn-off at the ConocoPhillips Refinery in Wilmington, shooting flames and smoke high into the air, many residents wondered if there was a raging blaze to worry about. Some later filed complaints about pollution emitted during the burn-off.

On a related note, the Rancho LPG facility on North Gaffey Street – those two big gas tanks across from the Home Depot – got in trouble with air quality officials after neighboring residents reported smelling what turned out to be a gas leak in October. The facility has been subject to criticism and protest from neighboring residents for decades. Councilman Buscaino held a hearing addressing their concerns earlier this year.

Also in October, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor and Point Fermin Elementary School celebrated milestone birthdays, turning 75 and 100, respectively.

On Columbus Day, eight new inductees were honored at the annual San Pedro Sportswalk to the Waterfront. Later that the day, hundreds gathered outside the Italian-American Club for the councilman’s first Buscaino Block Party and Spaghetti Dinner.

After the Port put out a call over the summer for commercial developers to fix up Ports O’ Call Village, it announced in October that eight had taken interest. A decision on a developer should arrive early next year.

The San Pedro International Film Festival made its debut in October, screening dozens of films and hosting workshops.

On October 10, San Pedro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Betsy Cheek, announced her resignation after not having her contract renewed by the Chamber Board of Directors. The Chamber will begin the search for a new president/CEO early next year.

Many San Pedrans were bummed when organizers of the Railroad Revival Tour announced its cancellation weeks before it was set to roll through town (2011’s sold-out Mumford and Sons performance drew thousands to the waterfront). Willie Nelson, Band of Horses, Jamey Johnson, and John Reilly and Friends were set to perform at Ports O’ Call Village on October 27. Band of Horses still wanted to play however, putting on a show at the Warner Grand Theatre the same night instead.

Congresswoman Janice Hahn defeated Congresswoman Laura Richardson in early November in the race to represent California’s newly drawn 44th Congressional District.

Yet another version of the proposed housing development for the long-abandoned Navy housing property along Western Ave. surfaced in early November. The new Ponte Vista is more scaled back than previous incarnations and includes additional lanes to address traffic concerns that have shot down the project in the past.

This month, of course, marks two San Pedro holiday traditions, the 32nd Annual Spirit of San Pedro Christmas Parade, and the 50th L.A. Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade.

We know we missed a few items of note from the past year, but we couldn’t fit everything in. Needless to say, it’s been a year of intense change and challenges. Let’s hope 2013 is just as exciting and full of positive, forward thinking progress as we continue to push San Pedro towards a more prosperous future.

They Shall Be Missed

Sadly, we also lost a number of notable San Pedrans this year. Here’s a list of noteworthy deaths:

Steve Saggiani, longshoreman
Rudy Svorinich Sr., community leader and father of former Councilman Rudy Svorinich, Jr.
“Cheerful” Al Kaye, owner, Union War Surplus
Dr. H. Michael Weitzman, optometrist and philanthropist
Tom Phillips, painter of iconic San Pedro scenes and landscapes
Joseph M. Mardesich III, entrepreneur
Stancil Jones, longtime fire captain
Joe Caccavalla, Tri-Art Festival founder
Ray Patricio, community leader and nature preservationist
Dr. Jerry Blaskovich, dermatologist
Tony Perkov, owner, Ante’s Restaurant
Geoff Agisim, sea chantey singer
John Greenwood, school board member, community leader
Cindy Rutherford, owner, Century Motorcycles
(apologies to those we may have omitted by accident)


It’s all coming to an end soon.

I know this particular issue’s shelf life is much longer than the lead up to the presidential election, but it’s tough to shift focus on anything else these days. Especially since I’m writing this column on the eve of the third presidential debate.

I mean, I could write about some of the great fall television shows premiering this month, or some of the amazing films coming out for awards season. (Go see The Master, it’s amazing!) Or maybe I could write about the new street paving on Gaffey St. and Western Ave. and how interesting it was to navigate those streets without any street lines for a few days.

I could also recap the day when the Space Shuttle Endeavour flew right over our homes last month on its final flight. I could easily write about all of that.

Maybe you’d want to read about my thoughts on the Channel Street Skatepark, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary this year. I could write about how inspiring it is to see a project built with the blood, sweat and passion of a group of guys who just wanted a cool place to skateboard – permits and permission be damned – and how that spirit is so symbolic of what San Pedro is all about.

I could also write about the eight developers who have thrown their hats into the ring to (finally) renovate Ports O’ Call. Oh wait, I wrote about that last month. Never mind. (But seriously, eight developers! How cool is that?)

I could write about a number of subjects this month, but I know it would fall on deaf ears and blind eyes because all anyone is talking about at the moment is the presidential election, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So in regards to the election, rather than force an ideology upon you and arrogantly tell you who you should vote for, all I ask of you to do – the smart and savvy readers of this magazine – before you enter the voting booth or fill out the absentee ballot, please do your homework on the candidates and the issues, and vote what you feel is right.

In other words, vote your heart.

Don’t let the partisan television pundits, newspaper editors, celebrities or strangers in the coffee shop sway you one way or the other. Take the time to look up the facts and do your homework. Information has never been easier to access and disseminate. By doing so, you may discover that you have stances on issues you never knew you had because you never took the time to learn about it. Well, now’s the time.

So on Tuesday, November 6, no matter who your choice is for president or what propositions you are in favor of, the most important right you have as a citizen of this great country of ours is to let your voice be heard in the voting booth.

So please, get out and vote. The worst thing you can do is stay home and be silent.

In Memoriam

On a more serious note, I’d like to extend my condolences to the Perkov, Blaskovich, Agisim and Greenwood families. In one week’s time, we lost four beloved San Pedrans – Tony Perkov, owner of Ante’s Restaurant; Dr. Jerry Blaskovich, the beloved dermatologist; sea chantey singer Geoff Agisim; and former LAUSD School Board member and Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council founder, John Greenwood. Each one of them made our community a better place and touched the lives of so many. San Pedro owes all of them a debt of gratitude. They’re all going to be sorely missed.

Lastly, I want to send a special message of thanks to all our San Pedro veterans. It’s because of your hard work and sacrifice in defending our freedom that we are able to have this crazy election circus in the first place. Thank you.


Until next month…

Joshua Stecker
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, San Pedro Today