Share Your Echo Park Memories

We’ve had so many people share their memories of the former Pioneer Market that the Echo Park Historical Society has decided to create similiar "memory books" for other significant elements of Echo Park history. In addition to Pioneer Market, we are now looking for residents to share their memories (as well as photos) of Echo Park Lake.

Please let us know of other topics, institutions or special places in Echo Park that could be the subject of a memory book.  

Market in Turmoil

I lived in Echo Park from 1988 to 1996 & frequently shopped at the Pioneer Market. Great Hispanic food, very friendly people, & much fun during holidays.But my strongest memory is from the 1992 riot following acquittal of the police involved in the Rodney King beating.
I thought for sure Echo Park (& the Pioneer) were too far away from the looting & burning. But the first day of the rioting (4/29/1992), I couldn’t get into the parking lot because the entrances were blocked by grocery carts. And on the next day, National Guard troops stood
guard all around the store. It was truly bizarre to see this friendly neighborhood grocery store that I’d shopped at for years surrounded by obviously armed military officers.
–Dana Graves

The Market is Gone but the Memories Remain

Although I no longer live in Echo Park, it will always hold a special place in my heart as well as Pioneer Market. I remember going there when it was the old store located right on the corner. I still remember my parent’s excitement when the new store opened up and how we went to check it out. I remember walking there to but anything from milk to tortillas to sandwiches from the deli (they were so good).
Pioneer was like a place where you were bound to bump into a classmate, neighbor, friend, or even a teacher. When I moved to West Covina, I’d make it a thing to go back when I was in the neighborhood and take advantage of the specials. I even showed my kids where I
used to live and where we used to shop for groceries. When I heard they would be closing it, it made me very sad, but things go on and the memories will forever remain in our hearts.
–Gabriela Rico-Barreto

After School at Pioneer

I remember going shopping with my grandma, all the time there and going home with a bunch of bag and remember hating that because we lived right on the top of Laveta Terrace. This was 1987-93 I also remember when I would go to school every morning (I went to Logan St. School)
and stopping by to play those video games they had, and stopping by after school and meeting my brother, so we can walk home together. I just recently found out that Pioneer Market had closed I now live in Las Vegas, and it does not compares to that old neighborhood that I
loved so mush for many years.
–Karla C.

Bargain Hunters

I used to go shopping with my father at the market in 1950. I was
9 years old and we would get eggs, milk, and butter. He would complain
about the price of eggs and butter, but he would always buy them. I
remember a colorful neon top on a sign; I remember the store being on
the corner of Echo Park and Sunset Blvd, with the parking lot in the
back.
–Zoe Levy

A Unique, Old Fashion Style

My memories are not that far back because I am only 23 years old.
Anyhow, I still would love to share them. I remember when I was a
little girl my Mom and I would go to Pioneer Market all the time. I
would go with my Mom like in the 80’s and she would never say no to me
when I wanted a coloring book and crayons. They were located right in
the entrance near the liquor store.
Actually I remember getting in line at the liquor store when all
the other registers had long lines, it was way much shorter.
Pioneer Market had a lot of detailed artwork all along above the
walls. There was a cute little house with a cat outside drinking
water out of his bowl on the wall right above the deli section. It
was so cute that I always appreciated it. The market had a unique
little old fashioned style to it. Most markets are very simple and
aren’t as old as Pioneer Market was.
I made sure to take pictures of Pioneer Market before they closed down.–Maria Romo

The “Weenermobile” Arrives

My memory of the Pioneer Market was that my mother used to take me there around 4 a.m. to avoid the crowds. We would go down the isles and shop for canned goods and we were able to take our time. Oddly, I recall the labels on the cans were very beautiful and colorful and
have seen few like them since. Names like “Glorietta”, “Oregon”, “Reese”, “LeSuer”, “Iris” come to mind. I also remember buying “White Rock” soda, which had a little winged lady on a rock looking into a mountain stream. I believe it must have influenced my future vocation,
because today I am a graphic artist and product packaging designer. Around 1963 or so, BIll Stulla of KHJ TV’s “Engineer Bill” show came to the store and I got to meet him again. I was on the show in 1957. The Oscar Meyer Weenermobile came to visit one Saturday as well.
I also clearly remember seeing a small building being built in the parking lot in front of the liquor store around 1964 or so. It was the “Pioneer Chicken Take Out” building. The liquor store was a fun place for a kid, since it had a great magazine rack and I could read
the comics for free. The clerk knew me and it was okay. A great place.
–Chris Anderson, Palm Springs

The Family Business

My memories started with my mother taking my brother and I down to the store every week to shop and go out to lunch with dad.  For over forty years, my mother has gone down to The Pioneer on Fridays to meet my father for lunch.  They would walk across the street to Barragan’s, where a table was waiting for them.  In fact, if for some reason they weren’t able to go, mom would call Irma at the restaurant so they wouldn’t hold the table.
       Working there on week-ends got me spending money, working there full-time since 1984 got me a house.  Pioneer was my home away from home.  Until its closure, my kids would come visit me, and play hid-and-seek in the warehouse.  Our family was the people who worked with us.
     Closing the store will always be one of the most difficult decisions my family will have ever made.  Life will go on, and the memories I take with me are the people who I saw on a daily basis.
    –Mike Leum

Saturday Night Shopping

From 1969 to 1976, I used to go with my grandmother grocery shopping
every Saturday evening. When we were done, we would get a Yellow Cab
that would park on Sunset, but not before getting a box of chicken. My
favorite item in the store was a box of detergent that had a towel
inside.
–Alberto Rivas

Sharing Recipies & Memories

     Circa 1965, I stood in one of the crowded aisles in the old store, baffled by the wide range of canned chiles offered. Just then a shelf stocker came by and asked what I was looking for and I told him I wanted to make chile rellenos but didn’t know which chiles to use. A fellow Hispanic shopper handed me the right can ( Ortega whole) and explained how to make them, step by step. Her recipe h as worked perfectly for almost 40 years.
–Judith Hansen, Kensington Road