Friday, September 14, 2012

Pedro Clippings: The 1930 Grizzly Bear

Pedro Clippings: The 1930 Grizzly Bear

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The following clippings are from the January 1930 issue of the Grizzly Bear, then the house organ of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West (NSGW and NDGW)—a fraternal organization founded by General A. M. Winn on 07/11/1875 with “parlors” (rather than “lodges”) throughout California. Each parlor had both a name and number. The San Pedro parlors were the Sepulveda (named after Ramon D. Sepulveda), NSGW No. 263, and the Rudecinda (named after Rudecinda Florencia Dodson nee Sepulveda, 10/27/1858-09/11/1930), NDGW No. 230.  Both parlors met at the IOOF (International Order of Odd Fellows) Temple located at the corner of 10th and Gaffey (the building still stands sentry kitty-corner to the library parking lot—but the “Civic Center Pharmacy” on the ground floor is long gone). The Sepulveda parlor met every Friday and the Rudecina met on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. Neither San Pedro parlor is currently active, though the Grand Parlor laid the cornerstone of the Municipal Building on 02/22/1928 and dedicated the then “Richard Henry Dana Junior High” on 04/27/1928.

The first clipping includes is a brief article by Stanley A. Wheeler (“Constant Progress: The Story of San Pedro, Wilmington”) with a rhapsodic ode to Point Fermin Palisades by realtor Edward Shanahan—but mostly I enjoy the ads for various local business and the 3-4 digit phone numbers. We still had our local grocers, dairies (“creameries” with locally made ice cream), pharmacies and banks instead of giant national and multinational corporations. The “Oldest and Largest Bank” in town was the Bank of San Pedro (established in 1888) with 2 branches—just 3 blocks from each other.

I can’t help wondering, though, how many of the businesses survived the decade of the Great Depression. I wonder most about Marie’s 40-cent Merchants’ Lunch at 1st and Front Street, the “Home Cooked Food at Popular Prices by Women Cooks” at the Miramar Coffee Shop and Grill, and the “Best Barbeque Sandwiches” at 1903 Wilmington San Pedro Road (now that’s an original name for the road connecting San Pedro and Wilmington). I also find intriguing that we were the largest exporter of oil in the world, yet the Robal Inn Service Station on Harbor Blvd. featured “100% Pure Pennsylvania Oil” (that’s like a gas station in Saudi Arabia advertising 100% Texas oil).

Today there’s not much demand for coal, hay, or same day mattress makeovers, but one thing hasn’t changed in over 80 years—San Pedro was and is a car town.

The second clipping is more somber, with Stanley A. Wheeler’s memorial (“Noble Character Passes On”) to the beloved matriarch of San Pedro, Rudecinda Florencia Sepulveda de Dodson, 10/27/1858 – 09/11/1930. Rudecinda was the sister of Román Dolores Sepúlveda, daughter of José Diego Sepúlveda and María Francisca Elisalde, granddaughter of José Dolores Sepúlveda (grantee of Rancho de los Palos Verdes) and María Ignacia Marcia Ávila, wife of James H. Dodson (Sr.), and the mother of Florence Schoneman nee Dodson, James H. Dodson (Jr.), and Carl D. Dodson. She was well known for her philanthropic works and donations to San Pedro—including the land along the Beacon Street bluff which formed the original Plaza Park (it was reduced to a sliver by the Harbor Blvd. cut and is now undergoing a $5 million makeover) where San Pedro’s dual domes were constructed (the Carnegie Library and the City Hall) and where the promenade had a commanding view of the bustling harbor. Her home, the Dodson House (Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 147) was built by the Sepulveda family as a wedding present, and has been a San Pedro landmark ever since (though now well removed from its original location at 7th and Beacon—even the bluff on which it sat has disappeared). Her partially hidden name graces the densely shaded mausoleum that peacefully greets visitors at the entrance to San Pedro’s 1st cemetery (founded in 1883 and now called the Harbor View Memorial Park).

Wheeler, Stanley A.
1930 “Constant Progress: The Story of San Pedro, Wilmington,” Grizzly Bear, January 1930, pp. 37-39 (Wheeler, 1930a)
1930 “Noble Character Passes On,” Grizzly Bear, October 1930, pp. 08-09 (Wheeler, 1930d)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

San Pedro Stories: The Taking of San Pedro, 1846-1847

San Pedro Stories: The Taking of San Pedro, 1846-1847

The embarcadero at San Pedro seems to have the dubious honor of changing hands more frequently than any other location in California during the Mexican-American War. Overall, the occupation of San Pedro changed 7 times in 6 months without a single casualty (killed or wounded) on either side from unfriendly fire (see Note).

The American flag was first raised at San Pedro by an advance guard under Marine First Lieutenant Jacob Zeilin, who captured the embarcadero for Commodore Stockton on August 6, 1846.

San Pedro then served as the base camp for Stockton’s forces as they prepared for the march on Los Angeles and remained under nominal American control (there appears to have been no garrison at San Pedro after Stockton left the area on September 5, 1846) until it was abandoned by Marine Brevet Captain Archibald Gillespie following his retreat from the Siege of Los Angeles.

Gillespie (with his American volunteers from Sonoma and refugees from Los Angeles) reoccupied San Pedro on October 1, 1846 but left it on October 4, 1846 to take refuge on a merchant ship anchored in the harbor.

San Pedro was then occupied by the Californians until Captain Mervine arrived and landed a combined force of sailors, marines, and volunteers on October 8, 1846.

For 2 days, during Mervine’s failed march to recapture Los Angeles, San Pedro was garrisoned by sailors. After their defeat in the Battle of Dominguez Ranch, Mervine’s forces abandoned San Pedro on October 9, 1846 to take refuge on the USS Savannah anchored in the roadstead.

The Californians then reoccupied San Pedro from October 10, 1846 until Stockton’s return on October 23 or 26, 1846.

Sailors and Marines from the USS Savannah and USS Congress landed and re-raised the American flag at San Pedro on October 24 or 27, 1846. The Americans encamped at San Pedro until October 29, 1846, but then abandoned their base camp and the harbor on October 30, 1846.

The Californians then reoccupied San Pedro until the final fall of Los Angeles and the Capitulation of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847 (though the date American occupation forces actually returned to San Pedro, by land or sea, is not recorded).

During the occupation period San Pedro seems to have been intermittently occupied by sailors or marines from a supply ship in the harbor and soldiers from the Mormon Battalion in Los Angeles.

[Note: The only casualty in all of the takings and retaking of San Pedro was a single cabin boy from the USS Savannah who was killed by the accidental discharge of a pistol (possibly his own) during the landing of October 8, 1846.]

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Panning San Pedro: The USS Iowa

Panning San Pedro: The USS Iowa

San Pedro’s newest icon is “The Big Stick”—an 887-foot battleship, the USS Iowa (BB-61)—now docked at its new home, Berth 87, in the Main Channel off Harbor Blvd. The Iowa, was the lead ship for the last (and best) class of U.S. battleships. The Iowa Class battleships (see HG-IC; NHHC-IC) were the fastest ever built—on 01/01/1968 the USS New Jersey set a world speed record of 35.2 knots (65.2 km/h) (GWR). The Iowa will be a permanent living museum in San Pedro—the original home of the U.S Pacific Battle Fleet. [See the following for information on the past, present and future of the Iowa: HG-BB61; NHHC-BB61; NSO-BB61; USSI; W-USSI; HC-BB61]

The Iowa returned to San Pedro on 06/02/2012 after a 65-year absence. She operated out of in San Pedro Bay from October 1946 to January 1947 during West Coast training exercises and returned on 03/25/1947 for additional training duty (after serving as flagship for the 5th Fleet in Tokyo Bay and before her overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in October 1947).

The Iowa arrived outside the bay on 05/30/2012 and anchored offshore for a bottom scrubbing (to remove potentially invasive species and contaminants) before entering the harbor at Angel’s Gate on 06/02/2012. The Iowa then docked for a week at Berths 51-52 off Miner Street in the outer harbor before the final 3.4 nautical mile journey to Berth 87 on 06/09/2012 (see Los Angeles Times, 06/09/2012;, 06/12/2012; Press-Telegram, 05/30/2012;, 06/09/2012; NBC Southern California, 06/10/2012; Daily News, 06/09/2012; Daily Breeze, 06/02/2012). POLA blocked access to anywhere near the ship while it was in the outer harbor. Miner Street and the Cabrillo Way Marina parking lot were closed. Guards claimed they turned away up to 2,000 visitors an hour on the first morning.

From the public walkways of the marina the ship was just visible peeking through the new palm trees on Miner Street and between the masts of sailboats. The following panoramic images were taken at the Cabrillo Way Marina on the morning the USS Iowa arrived in San Pedro. Click on the images to see larger versions of them (control/right-click to see them in a separate tab).

USS Iowa and SS Lane Victory from Cabrillo Way Marina [Original is from 13 images and measures approximately 6.9 by 69.9 inches]

Warehouse 1, USS Iowa and Cabrillo Way Marina [10 images; 6.7x43.9”]

Warehouse 1 and USS Iowa from Cabrillo Way Marina [6 images; 7.1x28.9”]

The following panoramas were taken from Crescent Street and the walkway just above the new 22nd Street Park on the morning of June 9, 2012 before the Iowa’s final passage down the Main Channel to Berth 87. The Iowa was barely visible on the horizon to the right of Warehouse 1 until I zoomed in on it with a telephoto lens.
22nd Street Park and Outer Harbor from Crescent Street [10 images; 7.3x55”]

22nd Street Park, Cabrillo marinas and Outer Harbor [5 images; 7x23.3”]

Warehouse 1, USS Iowa and marinas from above the 22nd Street Park [4 images; 7.5x23.1”]

Warehouse 1 and USS Iowa from the 22nd Street Park [6 images; 7.2x29.3”]

The USS Iowa from 22nd Street Park [3 images; 7.6x18.9”]

The Iowa was even less visible from Cabrillo Beach where the early morning crowd of weekend windsurfers, stand up paddle surfers, and kayakers [Note: The first kayakers arrived in San Pedro from Russian America about 200 years ago to poach otter skins] were just entering the waters on both sides of the breakwater. The towers of the Iowa appeared landlocked between the SS Lane Victory and Warehouse 1.

The Outer Harbor and inner Cabrillo Beach [16 images; 7.8x88.2”]

SS Lane Victory, USS Iowa, Warehouse 1, dredger and Terminal Island from Cabrillo Beach [15 images; 7.5x104.8”]

SS Lane Victory, USS Iowa and Warehouse 1 from Cabrillo Beach [6 images; 7.6x28.4”]

The Iowa was more visible from the Cabrillo Marina [the former site of lower Fort MacArthur and the Navy landing area when the Pacific Battle Fleet was based in San Pedro] where yachters, sail boaters, and onlookers paused for a Kodak moment or just to gazed at her profile.

USS Iowa from the Cabrillo Marina [7 images; 7.5x36.4”]

Cabrillo Marina, Warehouse 1 and USS Iowa [6 images; 8x26”]

Warehouse 1 and the USS Iowa from the Cabrillo Marina [6 images; 10.3x26.4”]

Warehouse 1, USS Iowa and Watchorn Basin from the Cabrillo Marina [5 images; 7.6x23.4”]

The USS Iowa from the Cabrillo Marina [3 images; 7.2x19.8”]

After the morning’s June Gloom dissipated it became a classically beautiful San Pedro day—perfect for the welcoming parade down the Main Channel. The channel lookout next to Warehouse 1, where generations have watched ships enter and leave the harbor (a new mini pier was recently added as part of the waterfront redevelopment project), was filled hours before the parade but the new walkway and small park at the south end of Ports O’ Call (next to the Jankovich & Sons fuel station) was also a good viewing site. The area used to be filled with tourist shops as part of Whaler’s Wharf (where the New England style buildings were used as a filming location for decades, posing as Maine or Massachusetts for television and the movies).  The Iowa’s arrival was heralded by harbor patrol boats, fireboats spouting their traditional and popular display of water power (San Pedro’s original fanfare fountain was the old Fireboat No. 2 which is still on blocks in the parking lot between the Iowa’s new home and Fire Station 112, awaiting construction of its museum and the new downtown harbor), LA’s official tall ships (the Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson of the LA Maritime Institute), and the P-520—an 85-foot  restored WWII crash rescue boat (see also WB-LB). On both sides of the channel a constant flow of yachts, sailboats, and motorboats (including the harbor and Catalina cruises) watched the parade from the water while adding to the show for the landlocked.

Fireboat No. 2 heralding arrival of the USS Iowa [7 images; 8x29.1”]

P-520, tall ship and USS Iowa in Main Channel [2 images; 7.4x14.7]

Watching the USS Iowa parade down the Main Channel [6 images; 10.1x21.6”]

The USS Iowa from Ports O’ Call’s Whalers Wharf [2 images; 7.6x13.1”]

Final journey of the USS Iowa [5 images; 7.6x22.9]

Tall ship and USS Iowa in the Main Channel [2 images; 7.8x15.4”]

The USS Iowa traversed the length of the Main Channel, slipped under the Vincent Thomas Bridge, rotated in the Turning Basin, and then docked at Berth 87 (once used for giant RORO auto carriers from Japan and more recently as a spare cruise ship dock). From Knoll Hill the antennas and tips of the Iowa’s towers could be seen peaking above the trees and freeway signs as it moved down the channel until emerging and rotating within the gap between the bridge and the stacks of containers at China Shipping.

Port of Los Angeles and USS Iowa from Knoll Hill [11 images; 7x55.9”]

China Shipping, USS Iowa and Vincent Thomas Bridge [11 images; 9.7x38.2”]

The USS Iowa in the Turning Basin as seen from Knoll Hill [7 images; 7.4x38”]

China Shipping, USS Iowa and the Vincent Thomas Bridge [4 images; 7.7x19.1”]

The USS Iowa in the Turning Basin [2 images; 7.5x16.2”]

The following panoramas showing the USS Iowa in her new home at Berth 87 were taken from Harbor Blvd. and the Waterfront Promenade.  The Iowa and Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles (which opened on 06/29/2012) are now the newest additions to Angels Walk LA (the San Pedro walk starts under the shadow of the Vincent Thomas and ends at the Cabrillo Beach fishing pier) and southbound traffic on Harbor Blvd. now drops 10-20 mph as soon as the Iowa comes in view.

Approaching the USS Iowa from Harbor Blvd. [4 images; 6.9x22.1”]

The USS Iowa at Berth 87 from Harbor Blvd. [5 images; 7.1x29.9”]

The USS Iowa and the Ralph J. Scott from 3rd Street and Harbor Blvd.  [15 images; 9.8x50.6”]

The Waterfront Promenade and the USS Iowa [11 images; 7x33.3”]

The USS Iowa from the promenade [6 images; 7.2x28.1”]

Berth 87 and the USS Iowa [2 images; 6.4x13.4”]

San Pedro’s newest icon, the USS Iowa [6 images; 6.9x16.4”]

Additional panoramic images of the USS Iowa from the above San Pedro locations are available in the following photo album on Picasa. The Iowa can also be viewed as part of the harbor “landscape” seen through the Fireboat No. 2 viewing windows at Fire Station 112.