Whose streets?


This is one of the last apartment buildings left on the North Broadway commercial corridor. I love the front facade, it reminds me of another time and place.

Like a ghostly movie loop, there is one memory I have of this building that replays itself every time I walk by. “This is our neighborhood, these are our streets!” yells a woman to the LAPD as they attempt to push her off the stairs with threats and batons. It was during the now forgotten 1993 Lincoln Heights Riot.

13 thoughts on “Whose streets?

  1. This Apartment bldg played a part in one of my most indelible childhood memories.
    In the 50’s, right across the street from this Apartment Bldg, was an old wooden bldg that was a poultry business and liquor store owned by the Mandala family, who (maybe still?), owned many, many, houses and properties in Lincoln Hts (and huge tracts of vineyards in San Bernardino).
    After school my young friends and I would often stop to watch the tortilla making conveyor machine at work in the front window of La Morenita Panaderia, or better than that, witness Mr. Mandala slaughtering chickens at the poultry store.
    Mr Mandala didn’t mind us watching him slaughter the chickens and in fact would sometimes ask us to help him grab the live chickens from a cage to hand to him while he cut their necks.
    Mr Mandala was a real pro, and in one swift slice with his razor sharp knife would cut the chickens neck and throw the squawking, flapping, bloody animal into an old 50 gallon metal barrel, where they would flop around in agony until they bled out and became still.

    When Mr Mandala had about half a dozen dead chickens in that barrel he would then pull them out and throw them into another barrel of boiling water for a few minutes to soften up the feathers.
    Then he would pull the wet, dead, chickens out of the boiling water and knock the feathers off them by holding the bird up to a machine he had, that revolved around automatically on a wheel, with rubber paddles, that beat the wet feathers off the chicken in a cloud that flew up in the air.
    Then Mr Mandala would gut the birds with his knife and wrap them up in butcher paper for sale to his customers.

    We kids loved the atmosphere of screeching chickens, the quick slice of the knife, flapping wings, and blood squirting around in the death barrel, the smell of blood and wet feathers in the air, and Mr Mandala laughing at us and making faces while he killed and prepared those birds.
    Mr Mandala was real old school, old country Italian.

    Well one day after school Mr Mandala was butchering up Geese for the St Joseph Day feast’s that the Lincoln Hts. Italians would throw (St Joseph is the patron saint of Italy and their most important Saint), and if you think chickens are a bloody animal when slaughtered then you ought to see Geese butchered.
    Mr. Mandala asked if one of us kids would hold the goose while he cut its head off because the animal was too big to hold and cut like he did with chickens.
    All us kids were freaking out at the thought so Mr Mandala just ordered me too hold the goose down on the butcher table while he grabbed the head, stretched out the neck and cut it’s head off with a hatchet.
    I grabbed that goose and held on tight while it fought and wiggled around in my grasp. Mr Mandala grabbed it by the head and came down with the hatchet but the goose got away from me just as the blade came down and the cut wasn’t fatal.
    Fucking blood was squirting around like a geyser and that goose flew off the table and out the door across North Broadway.
    Mr Mandala yelled at us to go grab the wounded bird before it got hit by a car, so off we all went, three or four 10 and 11 year olds, and Mr Mandala, chasing that goose across the street.
    The goose flew and ran right up the stairs of this very same Apartment bldg, and with blood shooting out of it’s neck and squawking like a motherfucker, ran right by the couple of hypes that were always hanging around the entrance waiting for their connection, it scared the shit out of them and they were jumping all over the place trying to get out of the way.
    The goose ran and flew right into the open front door and down the hallway with us right behind it on the hunt.
    It finally got trapped at the end of the hallway and we kids grabbed it’s bloody body and carried it back to Mr Mandala for a quick dispatch for the Goose and a lecture on us not being pussy’s and holding on tight.
    Mr Mandala gave us some wet rags and we went back into the Apartment and wiped the blood off the front steps and the walls of the hallway before the Manager found out what happened.

    Birds of Feather and all that.
    Thanks for the post Chimatli!

  2. I dig that old bldg. too!
    Always used to trip out on it while getting tacos at Chapalita next door.

  3. I too like that old building. I love all the old signs on Broadway, like the old “TV” sign next to Torres’ Barber Shop on Thomas St.

    My great grandparents lived in the apartments that used to exist where the Autozone is now. Really old apartments, probably from before the turn of the 20th century. Now they only exist in old photos.

  4. Every time I pass by there’s an old veterano staring out the window, watching the cars and life pass by. I think I’d do the same thing if I lived there.

    That’s a crazy story DQ!

  5. I’ve been away from the computer all day sorry I didn’t get to respond before…

    I love, love, love your story DQ! And that’s saying a lot cause I’m a vegetarian and I feel bad for the little chickens and geese but nonetheless, what an awesome story! I can totally see it played out in my imagination like a scene from a movie. Which brings to me to another point, there are so many (Eastside) stories here in Los Angeles and yet, we see the same old tired cliched narratives again and again when it comes to Los Angeles. Someone should make a film out of the geese story! Also, one thing I’m just beginning to realize is how ethnically diverse and working class our neighborhoods used to be. Who told the immigrant White folks they had to leave? Hahaha! 😉
    Thanks again!

  6. Oh by the way, I always wondered how the Mandala Liquor Store got it’s name. For the longest time, the original 60s signage was up and there was a graphic of multi-colored vases. For some reason, because of the graphic and the name, I assumed the store name was Indian owned.
    Perhaps one day my dream of a Lincoln Heights History Museum will come true…

  7. Thanks Chimatli, and all, for the compliments. Yes we do have some history and stories to tell about the Eastside. Unfortunately other people are the ones who usually get to tell our story’s and they typically consist of gangster and recent immigrant tales, it seems we are just two dimensional people in their eyes.
    Most of our story’s are in the oral tradition and are usually known only to family members, and even then a lot of our story’s never get told due to the shame or false, confused, pride that our old folks feel about themselves. That’s too bad because everyone has a story and no family exists that doesn’t have a few skeletons in the closet. And many times those story’s of survival and grit that our old folks feel are demeaning are in fact the best histories and documentation of how we got where we are today.

    PS The Mandala family were a Lincoln Hts pioneer Italian family that have a lot of history.
    And I can still see Mr Mandala sitting on the coca cola cooler with that inscrutable look (was it a smile?)at the Mandala liquor store.
    The old wooden poultry store looked like a giant barn of some sort, it must have gone back many years.

  8. If someone wanted to build a similar style building on Broadway these days, would they be able to?

    I doubt it.

    First, the parking requirements would force them to chop the building in half, lowering their profit margin. That in turn would mean they’d need to cut back on the construction budget. That would mean wood-frame building and stucco exterior – no beautiful brick work, no thoughtfully designed doorways, no well laid-out flats.

    Since there would be so much parking, and everyone is afraid of pedestrians accessing a building, the whole thing would be oriented towards the alley-way that cars enter from.

    I pass by this building almost every day, and the brown building on the corner of Workman and Broadway, and I think “Why is building a nice human-scale building like this so hard in LA?”

    I think it all starts with parking requirements, but that is just my take on it.

  9. I love that building!

    Our dear Martha Riley and her “North Broadway Revitalization Vision” would turn that building into a commercial structure. That’s her vision.

    I cringed….

  10. Yes! I remember the building that used to be Autozone and then the building next to the post office and our buddies at the tax place that was out front. We always peeked our heads in at that office and yelled hello to them as we chased each other down Broadway. They were great people! Wow, I must’ve been 10 years old then.


  11. Erika,

    Patronizing, aren’t we?

    What, exactly, would turning this apartment building into something “commercial” mean, hm? If someone leased it for office space would the Wolfman and Dracula take up residence too? Spooky thought, I suppose.

  12. I am a decendent of the Mandala family of Lincoln heights, even I am unsure of my connection to the family that ran the store. Anyone know more of these Mandala’s?

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