Originally Published 10/03/2010
In less than a month the “I Grew Up in Alhambra” Facebook group attracted more than 1,000 members. It now has more than 2,400. For months members have been sharing memories such as eating a ham sandwich at Grant’s Department Store or selling underwear at Lieberg’s on Main Street, and visiting favorite spots such as Club 88, Sara’s burritos, and El Rey Theater. Most of these places are long gone. And many of the members of the group also moved away from Alhambra long ago. “Wish I could live there still. ♥,” wrote one. “THIS ALL TRIPS ME OUT. Been in the NW so long it sounds so strange to hear those names,” wrote another. Youth Feed writer Stephanie Lee (Alhambra High ‘10) caught up with group creator Philip Pisano (Alhambra High ‘70), and asked about why the concept has been such a success and how growing up in Alhambra has changed.
What made you decide to start the group?
Two of my friends from growing up in Alhambra, Charlie Rizzo and Mark Jebbia, passed away. We’d always tried to stay in contact after high school, but we just lost touch. So I started the group on February 15 for people who are from Alhambra, but may no longer live there, to reconnect. A few of the people I know from growing up in Alhambra remained there, but for the most part they moved away. My closest friends from Alhambra have moved to Orange County, which is where I live now. That small group stayed in touch. But others have spread all across the United States.
Did you expect the group to take off the way it did?
I was very surprised. It was all done by the word of mouth. Since then, not only has the Alhambra site taken off, but many other cities have adopted ones:
What type of information are users in Alhambra sharing?
Mostly memories. There are posts about Little League games at Granada Park, or going to Midwick Tract—people are also posting about restaurants they liked and cruising down Valley Boulevard. A lot of people are reconnecting whether they played baseball together, football together. They’re making plans to get together.
I grew up in Alhambra and go to Alhambra High, but don’t recognize a lot of the places that people were saying they remembered. Do you feel Alhambra has changed a lot since you grew up here?
Many of the restaurants and the things that you’re seeing on the website are no longer there. Everyone had his favorite place to go. But there are very few that are still there — Pepe’s restaurant and a few others. The Hat is one of them. That’s one of the one’s that everyone still talks about. Also Jay-Dee’s, that’s a bar. That’s been there for 60 years.
Do you ever come back to visit Alhambra?
Every time I go to Los Angeles. Very rarely do I not drive through the area and not visit the Granada Park area.
What else would you like to see happen with the group?
A lot of the users went to Alhambra High School and for most it’s such a long time between when they get an opportunity to see each other. So with the group they can share events between reunions. The idea is everyone will know what’s going on. And there’s already a lot of exchanging of photos between members – but not with the entire group. People are e-mailing pictures of their kids, grandchildren, or pets. On the group page, we’ll have a place for people to upload photos and share with everyone.
The original interview was conducted in March, 2010. Since then, Philip Pisano said the group has grown, as have the activities: " We recently had a 40th year reunion for the AHS graduating class of 1970. We have been able to locate many of our friends through our site, but there are so many more that we have not been able to locate. We recently added a discussion topic called the Midwick Tract Log IN. We are trying to locate people that grew up in the Midwick Tract."
Interview was condensed and edited.