For my birthday, I asked my dad’s sisters for a “Bernal Tour of Los Angeles” so that we could visit their old neighborhoods where they lived with my grandparents & great-grandparents (and, of course, my dad). Considering how much I run around Los Angeles, I like knowing when I’m crossing the well-worn paths of previous relations. So I try to gather and document what I can from our elders in hopes of sharing with the younger generations. One disclaimer: This is not a complete “Bernal Tour” of Los Angeles. On my dad’s side, both sets of great-grandparents settled in Los Angeles in the 1920s/30s along with their children (14 one side and 8 on another). So while last week’s trip down Bernal memory lane barely scratched the surface of my family’s story in Los Angeles, it was amazing to hear so many stories about my dad, his parents, and his siblings in the 1940s – 1960s.
We visited about four places in South Central and El Sereno and along the way, my aunts pointed to their old elementary schools, corner markets and family churches. Amazingly all the old family homes are still standing (albeit covered in stucco). They giggled as they showed me old bedroom windows where they used to sneak out late at night. Memories spilled into the family histories of various in-laws as some family members married sweethearts across the street.
We have the addresses and some family pix of those old houses … but there’s just a different kind of memory that flows when physically standing in family spaces from the past. For instance, there were a number of porch stories — including my favorite in which my dad (the oldest) used to scare his younger siblings & cousins with stories of La Llorona. ☺️
It was truly a gift to explore Los Angeles through the eyes of my aunts and hear about their young adventures in these Los Angeles neighborhoods.