David Mendez

Digital memory ‘time capsule’ to mark Redondo’s 125th birthday

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by David Mendez

When John La Rock, Redondo Beach’s Community Services Director, visited his future home for the first time, he couldn’t help but be struck by the city’s Performing Arts Center.

“I was coming up Aviation Boulevard in a taxi, and [coming up] that crest of Aviation…and I found the facility to be breathtaking,” La Rock recalled. “In my [experience] a lot of theaters are tucked away, occluded from view unless they’re in a big city…but what it said to me is that the city is proud of this. It warmed my heart, and made me want to be here.”

La Rock’s recollections of his first time in Redondo Beach are only a part of what he hopes will be part of the Redondo Memory project, which is planned to be on display at next week’s celebration of the City of Redondo Beach’s 125th Birthday.

The Redondo Memories project was born from the concept of creating a time capsule — something that the City had never done.

“But that morphed for inclusivity’s sake; a time capsule is limiting,” La Rock said.

The Memories project, however, is an all-inclusive archive of memories that La Rock hopes will be an opportunity for anyone to share their time in Redondo Beach.

“Stories, anecdotes, photograph scans, letters…anything that can be digitized now” is a potential target for inclusion, La Rock said.

The project already has long-forgotten pieces of everyday life in Redondo Beach from decades past, including dog licenses once issued by the City and receipts from stores that closed more than 70 years ago.

The Memories project is the latest in attempts to digitize and store artifacts of Redondo’s past.

Within the last year, the Redondo Beach Historical Society digitized the Redondo Reflex, a weekly which ceased publication in 1970, and Redondo Beach Compass, which ran from 1890 to 1893.

“It’s not complete, but complete enough to roll out on the City’s website,” said Library Director Susan Anderson.

To La Rock, anything can be a Redondo Memory, whether it’s a story of growing up in the City to a brief recollection from an international tourist. “I’m hoping that, by the time we get to 150, we’ll have a thick volume of memories,” La Rock said.

Redondo Beach’s 125th Birthday Celebration begins at the Ruby’s Diner parking lot, 245 N. Harbor Drive, at 10 a.m. on April 29, with a classic car show. The party will then move to Heritage Court at Dominguez Park, 302 Flagler Lane, at 2 p.m. The Historical Museum and Morrell House will be open to visitors, while vintage photographs, artifacts and exhibits will be on display alongside the Memories project. 

To contribute to the Redondo Memories project, email redondobeach125@gmail.com.

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