Weeds poke through the cracked asphalt at the former Patterson Elementary School in Redondo Beach and a chain link fence marks its imminent demise.
In a few months, a wrecking crew will arrive at the 3-acre site, which educated grade schoolers in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and begin the transformation of the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Knob Hill Avenue into an adult senior living center.
On a recent Saturday morning, however, the asphalt playground showed signs of life as more than 40 people gathered for a reunion. They raised a toast to the school, shared memories and took a final look at the place they remembered fondly.
For Carl Dreizler, who organized the reunion by connecting with classmates on Facebook, it was a wonderful turnout he didn’t expect.
“I just didn’t want it to be torn down without us having a chance to say goodbye,” he said.
When it was offered by the school district, which will retain ownership of the site while leasing it to Fountain Square Development, that former classmates could tour one of the classrooms, Dreizler chose the one he was in when he learned President John F. Kennedy was killed.
“The teacher came in crying and I’d never seen a teacher cry before,” Dreizler said. “That was probably the most memorable day of my childhood.”
When you ask most people what they remembered most about growing up here, they often say the Foster Freeze and the beach, typically in that order.
Veon Fry Filak, who attended South Elementary School—as it was first known—from 1946 to 1953, said she remembered the opening day at the Foster…
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