“Streets of Yesterday” Inspired by Olvera Street

Christine nervously bit her lip as she waited. She had been sitting patiently outside of Mr. Chandler’s office at the Los Angeles Times for nearly a half hour. The secretary told her he would only be a few moments but her patience was wearing thin, and so was her confidence.

You’ve said the words a million times in your head, she convinced herself. What’s different about saying it out loud to someone? She took a deep breath and held her head high. Those were rehearsals, this is show time.

A tall dapper man that could only be Mr. Chandler sauntered into the waiting area. Christine heard him ask his secretary, sotto voce, who that woman was waiting for him. She whispered back. He made a peculiar face and continued toward his office, toward Christine. She stood.

“Mrs. Sterling.” He greeted her and shook her hand. “So, you’re the woman that has been sending my office letters for weeks.” Christine could not tell if he was irritated… or impressed.

“Yes,” she said and cleared her throat. “I have a matter I’d like to discuss with you. From one history admirer to another.”

“Please, have a seat.” Mr. Chandler ushered her to a leather chair opposite his grand cherry wood desk. The walls of Chandler’s office were covered in framed newspaper stories and were lined with bookshelves.

Christine thought it as good a time as any to begin. “As you know, the Avila Adobe is set to be demolished—”

“The run down old shack in that dirty alleyway?”

She was taken aback, “Yes. I wrote about it in my letters.”

“My secretary reads those letters.”

She was unclear what he meant to imply. “Yes, sir. Anyway, I believe that the surrounding area is one of historic importance and begs to be renovated and restored. With all the cultural significance the Avila home holds, it would be… dishonorable… to tear it down.”

Chandler’s eyes narrowed and he leaned forward in his seat. Christine gulped, “What I mean is…”

“What exactly are you suggesting?” He implored.

This was it. The rehearsals. Leading up to the final act, she thought. “I would like to request your support for converting the site of original settlement into a place of cultural appreciation. Restore the Avila home. Establish vendors selling goods. Make it a plaza. Honor the locals with a place for the original history of this great city. With your backing, this project could become a great economic opportunity. I’m sure many citizens would agree, if you were to bring media coverage to the rundown location. The city would support these efforts, I know they would.”

He stared at her long and hard. Challenged her. “And what purpose would this effort serve?”

“To pay respect to the original Mexican settlers. To highlight their place in history.”

“And what would this plaza be called?”

El Paseo de Los Angeles.”

Christine watched his face as he mulled it over in his head. Should she have been more convincing? Aimed for more sympathy? Should she walk out the door right now?

Suddenly, he spoke. “I like it. Consider your project funded. I know many important businessmen who would agree to fund you. We can run a spread in tomorrow’s paper.”

She couldn’t believe her ears. “Really? Thank you, Mr. Chandler.”

“I know sentiment when I see it. I think this project is beneficial for all. Thank you for your visit, Mrs. Sterling.”

As Christine walked out of the newspaper headquarters, she smiled. Finale. Curtain call.


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