My name is Tony Flores Saenz.
How long have you been working here?
I've been working here for forty years. I started here in seventy-two. My dad started working here in nineteen sixty. So technically I've been hanging around this barbershop for fifty years. I also manage the apartments behind the shop and across the street, the liquor store, and five units next to the liquor store.
What kind of changes have you seen?
I've seen most of the changes that have happened in the past fifty years. Well this [neighborhood] has gotten more diverse for one. A lot more businesses have opened up, newer businesses, restaurants. So it's more of a neighborhood like it used to be when I first started working here. For awhile businesses started to move out. But probably the last past five years we've seen the biggest change. And mostly just diverse, a lot of young people moving in. The older people are retiring, moving away or passing on. So uh it's been good.
Are these positive changes?
Yeah, it's definitely been an improvement. Uh it's brought in a lot more businesses to the area. Of course the prices of homes have skyrocketed, which is good for people that have equity in their homes. In general, the place is a lot cleaner, there's a lot of committees that have started to beautify Atwater.
Positive community involvement?
I think anything to involve the community is positive. Especially the river you know, for a long time that was just used by the homeless. The taggers would go over there and tag. It was a dumping ground. Now they got the bike path that goes all the way--I don't know how far it goes. But they use that a lot. A lot of people just like to take a walk, they use it for that. It looks more like a river, not just a big old concrete.
Did your friends move away?
Oh no, I still have quite a few friends that that have stayed in the area. They love the place. I was raised in Pasadena, but I started working here when I was twenty. So most of my friends are here. The friends that I had in Pasadena, they're childhood friends, I rarely see them. I've been I've been a best man at a wedding, I've been a godfather, yeah this is this is practically where I live. Just go home to sleep. (laugh)
The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:
Northeast Los Angeles