The Old Neighborhood

I don't think I'd live anywhere else

By Tess Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: June 13, 2003

The Old Neighborhood

I grew up in El Sereno, and nearly 46 years later, I still don't live that far away from my parents' home. Buying the house with my dad's VA loan, we moved in two months after I was born. I walked to grade school for years, and caught the local bus, even to college for awhile. Mom still lives there alone since Dad passed nearly two years ago, and I know that partially has kept me local. My sister went the way of most hippies and moved north to Humboldt over 30 years ago.

I've worked downtown for a major part of my life, and have seen the downtown streets change so vividly, from Charlie Manson's girls crying for him on Broadway at the old justice building, Hare Krishnas dancing between black teenagers with curlers on their heads, the deterioration of old theatres and renovation of the same ones, it's been quite a trip. Whether it was memories of going to Grand Central market with my grandmother as a girl, or seeing Pershing Square lit up for Christmas and the big department stores with incredible storefront windows, all these bits are precious to me.

For many years my parents would speak of "The Old Neighborhood" and it wasn't until years later that I understood their great affection for La Loma. It was where their families lived, and they met. They were vecinos that fell in love and moved from that cradle to El Sereno. I wondered what it was like to have "outdoor plumbing" and downtown with all its promise, less than three miles away. Promises for other people, who didn't have to worry about losing their homes, dreams and memories. But through it all, I believe there is a sacredness where love begins.

My cousin Ruben says that third base at Dodger Stadium was where our grandmother Lazara's original house was located (my paternal grandmother). And while crowds have roared and cheered the boys in blue, I always imagined the smells, the sounds and nature weaving throughout space, hushing the crowds with their beauty. I don't think I'd live anywhere else.

About Tess Hernandez:
Tess Hernandez is a writer who occasionally comes out of her shell and produces pieces when the moment arises. She's been published in OYE, Boca, Latin Heat and originally in the El Sereno Star news when she was 8 years old. tuh@earthlink.net

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