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Arrival Story: Noelle Reyes & Danell Hughes

KCET Departures asks, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?"

Today, we hear from Highland Park boutique co-owner and Full Dollar project participant, Noelle Reyes:

"My story is comprised of my cousin and myself. We are related on one side of our family - we have the same grandmother.

"We always tell people that we are L.A. girls. We grew up on these streets, all around, all-inclusive. Because every place is so connected - from Downtown to Lincoln Heights to Eagle Rock to Highland Park to Alhambra to El Sereno to City Terrace.

"My cousin, Danell Hughes, and I have explored every area of the city, we're familiar with everything. I think that's one of the reasons we're bonded so tight.

"We have four sets of grandparents between the two of us that opened the store [Mi Vida, located on York Blvd part of the Departures Full Dollar collaboration]. Our parents and their parents lived here in Los Angeles - that's how far back our family goes.

"Everybody came here for different reasons. My grandpa grew up in L.A. and my grandmother and her family were orange pickers in Orange County.

"Until the day he died, my grandpa would never drive the freeway to get to Orange County, he would take the street. Probably back when he was driving there to see my grandmother, there was no freeway.

"The other side of my family has been here since probably the early 1900s. I can't recall a specific reason why they moved here, but I've always known that this was the place where people were coming that far back.

"They moved here from El Paso, Texas and moved to Chavez Ravine, which as you know, was Dodger Stadium before it was Dodger Stadium.

"They were forced out of that area so they came down and they relocated to the Eagle Rock / Highland Park area, near Occidental College. When my grandparents were married, they moved to Lincoln Heights.

"My grandparents were always big supporters of the community. They owned a meat market in Cypress Park for a couple of years. The idea of them having a business was to really support the community and help people in need - a lot of people would come to them that didn't have money or needed something and they would try to help them.

"They lived in Lincoln Heights for a long time, and probably right before I was born, that's when my grandparents moved to Highland Park. Now pretty much all of my family, all my aunts, live in Highland Park. My Grandma lives in a really big old Victorian home on Avenue 56. It's the only house to have a redwood tree in front if it - it's really awesome.

"My cousin - half of her family originally moved from Canada. Her family has lived in Alhambra for a really long time too, more than 80 years. Her grandmother can remember when there were just dirt roads, and nothing else, around where they lived.

"I don't know why they came all the way from Canada, but I do know that when they got here, her grandparents were part of the work force that helped build up the city and make it grow and expand.

"Her father was a carpenter. He did a lot of building - homes were not built like they are today - they still make them by hand, but it was a different process back then.

"Her grandmother worked at a printing press. Jobs like that don't exist anymore. Nobody sits there and prints and binds the books. All that kind of stuff is done by machine.

"It's kind of crazy. When you talk to her, you see how the world has transitioned in the past fifty or sixty years."

-- Noelle Reyes
(as told to Jeremy Rosenberg)

Photo: Via Departures

Photo: Noelle Reyes (on the left) and Danell Hughes. Photo courtesy Noelle Reyes

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