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Townee Trivia: A Theatre by any other name

It’s time for this month’s Townee Trivia! Townee Trivia is sponsored by Townee Tours (me), San Pedro’s premiere (only) walking tour company and gives you a taste of one of my three tours of the Historic Waterfront District. I shared a trivia nugget from my “Back-Lot San Pedro” tour. I’d like to share another because I had such a fun time at the Beatles show this past Friday. There have been so many amazing performances on stage at the Warner Grand over the years and some of them have been courtesy of Hollywood.

This Youtube clip starts in Spanish, but the performance is all in English. It’s a clip from ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It” starring Angela Basset and Laurence Fishburne. Angela plays the role of Tina Turner, Laurence plays the part of Tina’s husband Ike and the Warner Grand is playing the role of the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem. This wouldn’t be the last time the Warner Grand stood in for a world famous concert hall. Some years later the Warner Grand had a small role as Carnegie Hall in Running With Scissors.



I’m really sad that Sunken City Skates has closed. I was so happy to see the old shoe store space get filled and saw it as a sign that Sunken City had outgrown their old digs on Mesa and graduated to the main drag of 6th. The Sunken City, in my opinion, had reached Stavros and Onion level exposure to solidify it as a representative “Pedro Brand”. I’m really hoping that they figure out a way to retain some bit of the business, even if it’s just an online presence. From one young Pedro-preneur to another, you guys are awesome and I wish you nothing but the best in life.

Item of the Week: Vintage Wood Block Stamp

I almost didn’t want to share this one because I wanted to buy this for myself. You know we’re all suckers for something that says San Pedro, Calif. on it. After some thought I realized that I’m not really able to spend $20 on a little stamp, even if I have a sneaking suspicion that it is connected to the News-Pilot. So here’s the link if you want to bring this relic back home. I’d also like to add that my birthday is coming up on the 16th. Do with all this information what you will.

I noticed that no one’s bought the Starkist movie that I posted about last week. At $17 this is a lot more affordable, and if you buy it, send me an e-mail and let me know!


A family friend was cleaning out her bookshelves and came across some old obsolete school books from the 50’s and 60’s. This special publication from the LA City Schools District was published in 1953. It tells the story of Nick Vodich and his summer with his three uncles on the Marie-Eliza.

The book is full of great illustrations depicting the life and times of commercial fishermen.

Item of the Week: Rare Starkist Footage

Every now and again I get a hankering to test the power of the internet. I sit around thinking of things to search just to see what it’ll throw back at me. Since my life is a little Pedro-centric lately, I find myself searching for San Pedro related items on ebay and wishing I could buy them all and bring them home. Maybe there’s someone out there with a little more buying power that might be interested…hey, that sounds like a great idea for a SPBXB segment! My first item of the week comes from Cathedral City, CA (click the link to go to the listing).

For a mere $1900 you can be the proud owner of a SUPER RARE 16mm reel of This original 16 mm movie produced by The French Sardine Company (Starkist) called “THE FRENCH SARDINE COMPANY PRESENTS – THE STORY OF TUNA’

I would LOVE to see this film. There are so many San Pedro families that had Fathers and Grandfathers who worked for Starkist on tuna clippers, maybe this interests you enough, maybe you just want to buy it and donate it to the Maritime Museum? That’s up to you, I’m just letting you know its out there.

From San Pedro to Stardom

At one point in time San Pedro had 5 theaters showing movies; the Fox-Cabrillo, the Warner Bros San Pedro, the Strand, the Globe and the Barton Hill. Fox and Warner’s were the two powerhouses in town and they fought weekly for each patron’s fare. They would lure customers in with giveaways and ballyhoo. Sometimes they booked on stage talent. I found two separate occasions where the acts, while successful in their own right, went on to be astronomically more successful than they could have ever imagined while they entertained our local townspeople.

Mickey McGuire was a favorite character of the 20’s and 30’s. He started as a comic strip character and eventually got his big break into the movies. A young boy, destined for stardom, played the role of Mickey from 1927 to 1936. His name was Joseph Yule Jr, but you might know him better as Mickey Rooney. While the 70+ shorts he did as Mickey McGuire made him pretty popular with the kids, his musicals as Mickey Rooney would make him world-famous. Mickey made a couple of San Pedro appearances in the early years of the Warner Bros San Pedro.

Pedro Infante was a very talented singer who went on to become one of the icons of the golden era of Mexican cinema. This performance at the Fox-Cabrillo happened in 1943. That same year he would be introduced to the man who would make him Mexico’s brightest star.

Happy Valley

The one thing I always envied about New York were all the cool sounding neighborhood names like Park Slope, Tribeca, Soho, DUMBO…etc. While San Pedro is technically the neighborhood name of our little section of Los Angeles (maybe we should look into switching to a borough system?), you know what I mean,  right? If  Soho means South of Houston in Manhattan, couldn’t we have some cool one’s like WeGaff (west of Gaffey) or NoSum (North of Summerland). While doing SPBXB I learned that we had some historic neighborhoods with some cool names. Mexican Hollywood with the BAB, Vinegar Hill and one of my personal favorites, Happy Valley. Happy Valley makes me think of a giant cartoon sun smiling back at me as it shines from between two lush green hills. That visual couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s an article I found in the LA Times online archives.

What Has Become of Happy Valley