People of Northeast Los Angeles: John Acquist

My name is John Acquist. This is Lincoln Heights on Avenue 20, right across from the five freeway. My family bought the house in 1942, and my mother and I moved in there in the summer of 1946.

The freeway coming through Lincoln Heights made a big difference. It brought more traffic, as you can hear right now behind me. This was built back in the mid 60s, 1965. We are not too far from the original freeway which goes to Pasadena. They have renamed it back to the original name Arroyo Seco.

It was quieter. A lot of residents were on Broadway and they had a little store in the front for dry cleaning smaller items. There are a few homes left on North Broadway, mostly it's all commercial. Commercial property is more valuable. You still see a few good old homes toward the school.

It was an Italian neighborhood. Lot of guys in high school in the late 40s were Italian, naturally, maybe 40 years later, their parents all passed away and the families sold the homes. Now they're probably sorry they did because they could live in LA instead of Palmdale. Living in town, you don't have to spend so many hours away from your family. One to two hours each trip? You add that up, and you're losing time from your family.

It would drive me crazy. This is a nice part of town if you're in the construction trade or something where you have to leave home. It was pretty easy to get every direction because I'm right on the edge of northeast LA. You're not locked in like west LA where it's difficult to get in and out.

I hated to work in west LA, or around UCLA. It takes over an hour, hour and a half, to get there and back. We live in LA and we lose three hours a day just traveling to work.

The Latinos are coming in. Back in 46, you were 99% correct if you said, "Oh, you're Mexican." You can't do that now. You could be South America, Central America. So you just have to change your speech because you don't want to insult somebody from Peru.

I'm half Mexican. I'm Swiss Italian, also. I follow the blonde, blue eyes, curly hair, and it all left. None of it is still here. So that's a big change with me.

I went to high school here and that's where I met my bride. She sat right behind me in home room. I was lucky to have her marry me. I was 20 and she was 19. In fact, tomorrow we're celebrating our 64th anniversary.

If it's changed here, it's been so gradual that we really don't notice it. We haven't had any problems here. It's a busy street to live on. Especially with porch like mine, you can't hide. Next door is a half a porch, and that much easier to rob it because you only see one way to protect yourself. All these people up this way are owners. We're an owner, the next one and the next one, probably the next four properties are all owned.

The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:

About People of
Northeast Los Angeles
These are stories from the everyday people that make-up Northeast Los Angeles, particularly the neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, and Elysian Valley. See some of our featured portraits below, explore by neighborhood, or see all the stories.





About the Author

For the past twenty years, Chilean born Ricardo Palavecino has been developing his skills as a cinematographer working on documentaries, feature films, television shows, and commercials.
RSS icon

LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment