Did you ever forget just how you drove home? I mean, your brain is so much on automatic at the end of a trying day, your subconscious just picks out the landmarks and before you know it, you are in your driveway.
Landmarks are important. They tell you where you are and how far along you are on a journey. They call up pleasant memories and sometimes bittersweet ones. If you live in an area for years – as I have – you can find a recollection on almost every corner.
Landmarks on a grander scale are in the news today because the Los Angeles Times recently carried an article about what may be the next great national thing to look at. San Pedro (locals always pronounce it PEE-Dro, rather than Pay-Dro) is under going a big renaissance as the Port of Los Angeles. Trendy developments are all on the drawing boards, including chic shopping areas, housing and modern dining.
But the thing that caught my eye – and which may catch a great many eyes – is the plan to erect a huge lighthouse just as tall as the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor.
As cruise ships and oil tankers approach the shore, they’ll see at a great distance this rotating lamp notifying the people on the ships that their long journey will be over shortly. It will be visible all along the coast of Los Angeles and Orange Counties and will give the region a landmark to compete with the Space Needle in Seattle and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Now, Orange County has its own, smaller scale landmarks. Anaheim has the Disneyland Matterhorn and the Big A at Angel Stadium. There’s that old-school water tower in Santa Ana off the freeway, and the mission in San Juan Capistrano.
But none of those would have quite the same visual impact as what’s planned down in SP.
A generation or so ago, a similar idea was floated locally. Garden Grove City Councilman Mark Leyes, as he made his political switch from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican, suggested that the Statue of Liberty on the other side of the continent be bookended by a “Statue of Responsibility” here. The idea never got past the dreaming stage, but it caught my imagination. What would such a structure look like? Maybe an old school Catholic nun with a ruler reminding us of our obligations?
So what’s your favorite landmark and how are they associated with your fondest memories? It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. Maybe you like the clock tower at the Village Green Park in Garden Grove, or the Huntington Beach Pier? Perhaps it’s the funky international crush in Westminster’s Little Saigon area. You might even want to put in a good word for the Stanton Central Park, representing as it does the final triumph of a community to have its proper recreational center.
Or maybe it’s not anything more remarkable than the place where you met the love of your life, or the setting for your most remarkable achievement or most profound insight or inspiration.
Send your faves and why they mean a lot to you to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More on this as Retorts returns in two weeks.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts column is posted on alternate Wednesdays.