Taco Bell landmark

Dear Editor:The people of Downey should be proud and honored that we live in a city that has played an important role in so many historic developments in the 20th century. Many, however, may not realize just how much happened right here that has impacted the rest of the world. Most people knew about the North American/Rockwell plant, but now that we have the beautiful Columbia Memorial Space Center and even a street named after one of those Downey space shuttles, more residents and especially the youth who weren't alive during the "space race" can now appreciate what took place in their own backyard and take even greater pride in their city. Thanks to the efforts of many, the oldest original McDonald's still stands, along with the museum where all can remember and/or learn how this worldwide fast food empire began-what it used to be like and that Downey was and is an important part of hamburger history. This past year we witnessed the rebirth of one of Southern California's original carhop drive-ins, Downey's own Broiler. Whether you knew it as Harvey's or Johnie's through the years, now it stands as Bob's Big Boy and it now can be experienced by all -- either reliving the good old days or getting your first taste of life in the 50's/60's. These buildings are concrete pieces of living history paying homage to the people of the past who contributed not only to the success of our city, but shaped our society. These establishments allow the people of today and those in the future the opportunity to understand and participate in the past and to honor those who came before us. With the passing of Taco titan Glen Bell this month, I believe the time has finally come to memorialize the site where this visionary and innovator chose to open the first Taco Bell on March 21, 1962. I'm sure many people in Downey never knew that the first Taco Bell was and is still right here on Firestone Boulevard across from Home Depot. Now known as Seafood & Tacos Raul, the building has never been remodeled, just lost a few of its original parts (the bell, fire pit, statue, and sign) through the years, but it still stands. I don't know who owns the property. I don't know if Taco Bell has ever approached them or the city. I don't know if anyone has ever proposed designating the site as the "home of the first Taco Bell", restoring it, and creating a museum/company store there. I do know that Downey is special and historically and culturally significant in so many ways. I hope that we can do something to immortalize another Downey landmark so that it, too, will be here for all to see, visit, learn, remember, honor and celebrate. - Kathy Perez, Downey

********** Published: January 29, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 41