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
–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

The “Ramp”

I lived in the Silver Lake area, but my best friend, Linda Hersh,
lived in Echo Park, and I used to visit there all the time. This was
around 1960 – 1966. I remember the “ramp”. It skirted the meat
section. I also remember that they had great chicken. It was a long,
long time ago, but I am sad to hear that the Pioneer Market is coming
to an end.
— Gloria Collie (Saucedo)

Tug of War

Well, the roof leaked every winter–but the saw dust on the floors
helped to absorb it. Standing behind the huge pillars to get to the
cash register was always a challenge.
For a while they were searching all of the handbags. My son once
brought in a gadget from home. The employees had a pulling contest to
get it away from my three-year-old son to see if it was something he
might be stealing ( it was a shoe brush).
The produce was the greatest and I liked their cuts of meat.
–Suzanne Kimbrough

Growing Up with Pioneer

My most favorite memory is how the meat section would get flooded with water after it rained. The meat area used to be in the back or was it considered the side entrance? There would be tons of towels on the floor with many “Beware of water” signs.
I also remember how Millie, one of the original cashiers, would get irate if you read the national Enquirer while standing in line and not pay for it. If you put it back she would charge you for it. Everyone always commented on the beautiful diamond rings she wore. She would say it was her hard work at Pioneer that helped her buy a girl’s best friend.
I used to love the way the alley way used to look during X-mas. It wasn’t an alley. It just took this magical look of Christmas. If you didn’t have enough money to pay for the tree, the tree guy would take what you could pay and say hurry up get your tree and go. You’ll never know how much this meant to me and my family during those times that my family and I where growing up. I was a teenage mom trying to make a living and Pioneer was the place where my money was rubber, it went a long way.
I remember seeing a young Mike Leum being told by Leum Sr. how important it was to make the customer happy no matter what. Now as for those wavy floors, I miss em. In this store you could find matsoball and pictures of Christ and Jewish candles and candles with the Virgen De Guadalupe. I will miss you Pioneer.
You where a part of my growing up and becoming an adult. My son got his first job there at the age of 16. This is where he learned to use a white shirt with a tie. I know for a fact it was the work ethic he learned from his dad and the ability to use it at Pioneer that has made him a success.
—Luiza Mavrapoulos

Echo Park Lake Memories

Echo Park Lake, which has been opened to the public for more than a century, is full of history and memories. Here are a few of those memories shared by neighborhood residents and park visitors.

You may have many memories and general impressions of Echo Park Lake over the years. But we are most interested in specific moments or events (happy or sad) that you experienced first hand. These can be relatively brief; and we certainly are glad to post photos along with your comments.

Please send your Echo Park Lake memories to Your contribution should not exceed 300 words. Small photos in a jpeg format can also be posted. Only one contribution per person will be posted. Please include your full name and time period you are describing with your Echo Park Lake Memory.

Celebrating the Art of Preservation

More than 100 people turned out for our first-ever silent art auction, ART/PRESERVATION/ ECHO PARK on Saturday, August 19. Proceeds from the event will go to supporting our ongoing preservation and historic research efforts. We would like to thank the art buyers; the businesses that donated raffle prizes and other services; and the volunteers who contributed their time and energy. Special thanks to Juan Garcia of Metro Gallery for hosting the event.

Help Your Neighbors Do It Right!

Help us get the word out about the proper way to restore old homes that preserve their historic charm and value by distributing our Do It Right! flyer. The flyer, available in English and Spanish, encourages remodeling and renovations that protect historic features and lets property owners about available resources. You can help by passing out the Do It Right Flyer to neighbors or nearby property owners who might be thinking or are preparing for a remodeling or renovation. Click here to go the Preservation section of Look for and download a copy of the Do It Right Flyer. Thank you!

Building & Demolition Restrictions Move Forward

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission today approved one-year-long restrictions on construction or demolition in the area to the west and north of Echo Park Lake to give the city time to conduct a historic resources survey of the area. The Interim Control Ordinance, which is supported by the EPHS, Echo Park neighborhood council and City Councilman Eric Garcetti, now goes to the full City Council for final approval. Only owners who can prove a “hardship” will be granted building or demolition permits during the period. The completion of a historic resources survey is one of the first steps that could lead to the creation of an Echo Park Lake area historic district.