JUST AS I finished snapping the photo, a man standing at the threshold of his home just across the street began talking.
He spoke as if we had already been in conversation. In other words his statement sounded like a mid-sentence recitation ” . . . from China, from Mexico, from Europe. They come looking. Black people too.”
Such a quiet street, Pepper Street, a cul-de-sac that’s a hodgepodge of structures, some single-family residences still standing alongside multifamily-dwelings. I had come knowing that Jackie Robinson’s house no longer stood but I wanted to find the plaque — I had walked by it the first time. It’s set in the sidewalk — flush– like a headstone.
Looking down, I wondered why it took me so long to come here to size up what was left. As Sunday Drives go, this was a blink.
Pasadena has named parks and baseball fields, post offices after Robinson. (I just dropped off a package to a friend there last week in fact.) Just across from Pasadena City Hall there is striking piece of public art by Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter and John Outterbridge of Robinson and his brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson. (see below).
But I have to say there was something even more humbling about that simple plaque on a sort of afterthought of a street. I paused to talk a little more to the gentleman who had come out of his house so early on a Sunday morning to share what he has seen over the years. New structures, new people, even since he’d been there, long long after the Robinsons had left the scene.
The only constant were the people who come, and continue to. They pause and just stand before that easy-to-miss plaque in silence. Paying respects.
“Not any man could have done with he did.”