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My first encounter with San Pedro, California was in 1933 in Newark, New Jersey at a Saturday matinee showing of the movie "Sailor's Luck" featuring James Dunn as a U.S. Navy sailor and the lovely Sally Eilers as his girlfriend. They meet, they fall in love, and, of course, they fall out. They are finally reunited at a marathon dance in a scene (raucously applauded by our matinee audience) featuring U.S. Navy sailors beating up lots of bad guys. The movie may have been filmed on a sound stage but it was supposed to be San Pedro and it looked like adventure.

Some ten years later (January 1944), with my ship tied up at an oiling dock near notoriously wild Beacon Street, I WAS a U.S. Navy sailor and I was "on liberty" in San Pedro. We had spent the previous weeks in the Santa Barbara Channel conducting landing exercises with Marines from Camp Pendleton. If memory serves, this was my last night ashore before we began forming up in convoy headed for Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

While operating along the coast between Santa Barbara and San Diego, I was reading Richard Henry Dana's account of his youthful voyage through these waters a hundred years earlier. He had me looking for, almost hoping for a "south-easter."

"[The channel] is so large and so much exposed to the …winds that the whole swell of the Pacific Ocean rolls in here before a south-easter. This wind is the bane of the coast of California. Between the months of November and April you are never safe from it."
My south-easter never came. (1)

I found San Pedro unexpectedly placid. I looked for Sally Eilers but didn't find her.

When in 1971, newspaper accounts began to feature San Pedro's redevelopment project, concentrated then on the demolition of the heart of old Beacon Street, I felt a need to take my camera and record the street's last sad days. I was late on the scene but these photos resulted from two Saturday strolls around Beacon Street in December 1971.

(1) "Two Years Before the Mast" by Richard Henry Dana (pg 56)