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On a Day for Remembering, Some Recollections from Downtown

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007, at 09:44PM
Sally Pasillas Ed Fuentes

At 6th and Spring on an early Friday afternoon, Sally Pasillas was with her daughter talking about her late husband, Jamie. Sally had just returned from a personal, private Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) ceremony. Earlier that morning she laid a mixed bouquet of daffodils and lilies at a new memorial for Jamie, located at the MTA Transit Plaza.

The memorial was dedicated the day before Father's Day in June, 2007, and in part reads; "In memory of Jamie Pasillas who worked honorably and left, in legacy, a loving family an enduring contribution to the transit system of Los Angeles." Jamie died February 15, 1997, from a construction accident in the tunnels of the subway.

The humble legacy of this family's contribution to the growth of Los Angeles goes back several generations; as a grandfather, uncle, brother, and Sally's father also worked Downtown, mainly in construction. Her brother, Eulalio, poured the concrete foundation for the Greyhound Bus Station at 6th and Los Angeles. And now daughter Jackie has opened Salon on6, located on 6th St just east of Spring.

Jamie Memorial Sally herself once worked Downtown, at Dean Witter & Company when it was still on Spring just around the corner from where her daughter's shop is now. "This was back when it was still 'Wall Street of the West'," Sally said, "I was the one who typed out the big checks and bonds. Sometimes up to 13 million dollars," She adds, "When banks left, skid row began moving in from the other side of Los Angeles Street."

That's how she remembers this part of Downtown, so when daughter Jackie said she was opening a salon right here, she supported the choice of business location with a motherly "as long as you lock the door, even in the daytime."

Still, there are many good Downtown memories for Sally. She remembers the "P" line where you could get to the beach from First and Broadway "with one bus transfer." Then there was the time she was in a Broadway theater watching a first run of 1955's "The Tall Men" when a small earthquake struck; her father didn't want to leave, having waited too long for the film to be translated into Spanish. She recalls how the windows of department stores were filled with animated decorations at Christmas.

And she goes on with a matter-of-fact recollection of seeing The Beatles at Dodger Stadium where, as she said, "We could barely hear the music, we were screaming so loud." And then there's the other Chavez Ravine memory of grown men screaming inside Dodger Stadium right after Sandy Koufax pitched a no-hitter.

"Then there was a place on Broadway with the best fried chicken --the place with a rooster on the roof." I tell her that the commercial statue is now known as "Chicken Boy" and just was returned to a roof in Echo Park. She paused––as if she searching for the image in her mind––and replied with a smile, "I remember it was a rooster." Of course, she's right.

On a day where memory is celebrated in the Mexican tradition honoring loved ones who passed away, and the fear of the unknown is mocked, Sally Pasillas starts to leave the shop to take a look at a new Main Street.

But not before gently reminding her daughter to make sure the door is locked.

Once a Downtowner. Always a mom.


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