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Six Questions for a San Marino Local: Author Elizabeth Pomeroy

Local San Marino Centennial book author and English professor takes on the San Marino Six.

There’s no one better to discuss San Marino’s colorful history with than author Elizabeth Pomeroy. An English teacher at Pasadena City College and former columnist for the Pasadena Star-News, Pomeroy is currently in the midst of writing the Official .

The book, which will be available for sale in 2012, commemorates the city’s rich 100-year history (San Marino turns 100 in 2013). Previously home to orange groves, vineyards and railroads, and well-manicured landscape.

Pomeroy, who graduated from  in 1956, dived into microfilm copies of the San Marino Tribune and interviewed a number of residents in her research. Every conversation led to a new fascinating discovery about the city she grew up in.

Pomeroy found herself particularly interested in how the city’s natural resources led to its growth.

“I was very interested that the foundation for the prosperity of San Marino was in the landscape and the land,” said Pomeroy. “There were swamps, springs and water everywhere. . The soil and the climate attracted people to San Marino as opposed to other neighboring cities where the land is more flat.” 

While the city’s plentiful terrain led to an agriculture business, San Marino was also a busy railroad corridor. Henry Huntington and the Pacific Electric Railway used San Marino’s main thoroughfare Huntington Drive to drive freight trains carrying horses to the Santa Anita Race Track and rocks to the Los Angeles Harbor. The railroads were removed from the city by the early 1950s.

In order to understand present-day San Marino, Pomeroy researched the city’s population and change in demographics. The Pasadena resident learned that Chinese families first moved to San Marino in the 1970s, which caused tension in the predominately Caucasian community.

“We need to know that history in order to appreciate the San Marino of today,” said Pomeroy. “Chinese families are such an important part of the city. We know from the  that San Marino is a slight majority Asian community. Part of what I’m writing is how that happened and what it was like.”

In the 1970s, San Marino became the success story for many Chinese business owners in the San Gabriel Valley.

“It became the dream of many Asian families to come to San Marino and that continued throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s,” Pomeroy said.

On the morning of Saturday, October 1, San Marino residents can bring old photographs and memorabilia to to be featured in the centennial book.

“The idea of this is for the community to search around their files, cupboards and attics and bring photographs and memorabilia from the early days,” said Pomereoy. “We’d love to have the participation of the community because this book is for everyone.”

For further information, residents are encouraged to call the  at (626) 304-9375.

What do you like most about San Marino?

My favorite thing about San Marino is studying the history of the city and seeing the way the city is becoming more aware of its historic places and to appreciate that history. There is a lot of interest in preserving the  and finding a good use for it today. Another historic treasure is the . It is not frozen in time – it has become an art center. My favorite thing about San Marino is the way the city is waking up to its history and making good use of the historic places that are here.

What is your favorite restaurant in San Marino?

. I have sat there talking about history and brainstorming about this book.

What is your favorite place in San Marino to take a stroll or go for a run?

Lacy Park. I love Lacy Park because it was planted with so many amazing trees and a lot of them have their names on them. It’s a great place to learn about trees while you’re walking.

What is a little known fact about you?

I play the harpsichord.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mint chocolate chip.

What is your fondest memory of San Marino?

Going to San Marino High School with my friends that I still see at reunions. A lot of my friends have stayed in the area. I have fond memories of the high school. I loved studying there and I loved the teachers. My friends and I still get together and talk about the teachers.  

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