The P.E. Camp

The first line of my father’s 2010 obituary reads, “Fred Heredia was born at the Pacific Electric Railway camp for track laborers in downtown Culver City in1938.”When I wrote that line, I assumed everyone in Culver City knew about the “PE Camp,” which was housing provided by the Pacific Electric to Mexican and Mexican American employees and their families. I have since learned that the wooden, barrack-like buildings of the camp were essentially “invisible” to the residents of Culver City at the time and that the stories of the “traqueros” (track laborers) who lived in the PE Camp with their families are on the verge of being forgotten.

Four generations of my family, including my great-grandparents, grandparents, father, aunts, uncle, and a first cousin, lived in the PE Camp over a30-year period from at least 1920 through1950. My father didn’t talk much about the camp, but he loved talking about Culver City. He told me about selling newspapers to “studio people” at the age of six in front of the Backstage on Culver Boulevard, and of my Uncle Ruben playing with Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer in La Ballona Creek.

What my father didn’t tell me was how it felt living in poverty right around the corner from the glitz and glamour of the movie studios. He didn’t tell me about the dirt floors or outdoor communal restrooms and showers in the camp, or that his family didn’t have a Christmas tree or presents until they were given plastic stockings with fruit by the Culver City Fire Department.

Despite the hardships, my father loved Culver City until the day he died. He would be astounded to learn that anyone was interested in the PE Camp and would be especially grateful to the Culver City Historical Society for helping to preserve the history of the traquero families and their contributions to the growth of Culver City.

Editor’s Note: Please visit the Society’s YouTube channel to watch our interview with Amanda and her aunt Rosie Soto.

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Fall 2021 Message

Hello Members, Friends, and Neighbors,

Hard to believe that it is Fall 2021. I am not sure about you, but this year flew by! Even though we have not been open to the public, we have been very busy inside the Historical Society. I want to thank Clare Denk to aiding us in presenting our first program to the public. It was a wonderful collaboration of shared Culver Theatre history by Eric Sims, Associate General Manager, Center Theatre Group and our Interim Programs Vice-President Clare Denk. But the great surprise was that Mark Morris our Media Archivist, got it up on our YouTube channel in less than 48 hours for everyone to view! Great job, everyone.

Our volunteers have been working hard putting the final touches inside the museum, with a fresh coat of paint, new exhibits, new store items, and a fresh look on the outside too.

We have missed you all so very much and know that there is nothing like being in person, so we have decided to take a stab at doing just that. September 19, 2021 marks our 104th year as an incorporated city, and we at the Culver City Historical Society agreed, what better way to launch our reopening. Please keep an eye on our website for updates, as well continue our practice of the City of Culver City and the Veteran’s Memorial Building protocols for safe public events. 

I want to take a moment to thank all of you for your continued support to the Culver City Historical Society. With your contributions our museum committee has made great strides this past eight months, make sure the collection is being preserved properly and entered in our data base. This is very tedious and time-consuming work. Thank you to our museum committee and our most recent volunteers Jack Bommarito, Kathleen McCann, and Abigail Cregor for their dedication to this collection. It truly takes a village!

Hope

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October 20 General Meeting and Program

Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys presented by Marc Wanamaker
Rotunda Room, Veterans Memorial Building, 7PM

1929 promotion of Paramount’s sound films. World’s first fleet of Sound Trains. (Marc Wanamaker)

Have you started traveling again? Hop on board and travel, Hollywood-style, with film historian and author Marc Wanamaker as he shares stories from his and the late Josef Lesser’s new book Hollywood’s Trains & Trolleys. Learn about how the development of the transportation system in Southern California intertwined with the motion picture industry, starting over 100 years ago. Special focus will be given to the Culver City area.

Marc is always entertaining and a great storyteller. This program will not disappoint! There will be a book signing after the presentation. The book would make a great holiday gift for train and Hollywood enthusiasts alike.

Following COVID guidelines, masks are required inside Veterans Memorial Building.

Pre-registration is required via Eventbrite. The public is invited to this free program.

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UPDATE! The ARC is Reopening! Sunday, Sept. 19, 1-3pm

After 18 months, the Culver City Historical Society’s Archives and Resource Center will reopen to the public, resuming our bi-monthly Sunday afternoons starting Sunday, September 19 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Come see how we’ve spruced up the place! September 20 is the anniversary of Culver City’s incorporation, so we couldn’t think of a better weekend to celebrate history with our neighbors and friends!

Masks are required inside. The entrance to the ARC is from the back parking lot at Veterans Memorial Building.

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Still Closed :(

As a (great!) tenant of the Veterans Memorial Building, we continue to adhere to their guidelines, so the Culver City Historical Society Archives and Resource Center remains closed.

We have been (safely) working hard inside the ARC during the pandemic, refreshing our exhibition space. We canNOT wait to welcome you back on our Sundays as soon as we are permitted! Please continue to check back for updates.

Pardon our dust!

In the meantime, our online shop is always open. Content on our YouTube channel has grown, if you’re like us and history video rabbit holes happen. Driving or peddling around Culver City, reading our marked sites, is always a good time! #HistoryIsFun

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