The 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots has brought out a flurry of reminiscences of those scary days, so I thought I would add mine to the pot.
On the day when the police accused of beating black motorist Rodney King were acquitted, I was in Rowland Heights with my colleague from the Los Angeles Times food section, Minnie Bernardino. We were researching Chinese restaurants and groceries and gathering recipes that were to be tested and published in the food section.
Even now, when I hear of the Taiwanese dish Three-Cup Chicken, I think of that day.
Returning In the early evening, we drove past crowds near City Hall and the police department. We had been concentrating on our work, hadn't heard the news and wondered what was going on.
When we reached our office it was dark outside. I went to the company garage to get my car, but the gate had been lowered and secured, and I couldn't get in. I had to go back into the office and call for help. Meanwhile, Minnie had seen a car burning on Broadway.
Someone finally let me into the garage, and as I drove away, I heard gunshots.
Early the next morning, I went to the dentist in Beverly Hills, unaware of how bad the violence was. The dentist advised me to call my office.
A clueless person there (I was pretty clueless too) said I had to come in, and so I drove through a disorderly mess of traffic and looters on 3rd Street, only to be told to go home as soon as I arrived at The Times.
I drove west on 6th Street and saw looters rushing into a shop at the corner of 6th and Rampart to grab audio equipment and small appliances.
A computer shop on a corner just west of where I live was ransacked. Looters were roaming my neighborhood, and a car with four of them turned into my driveway. I thought that was the end, but they backed out and turned around.
The sky was black from the fires. I brought in animal carriers in case houses were torched and I had to flee with my pets.
Memories fade, and the destruction has been repaired--the computer business near me vanished years ago. But when I drive east on 3rd Street through Koreatown, I often think of the young man who was shot to death that night as he tried to protect his pizza shop. Then I remember the dark skies and the fear.