By James Estrada, Michelle Alas, and Shelsea Suazo
Maloney Meat Company is a well-known butcher shop and an iconic factor of the city of South Gate. We all know the company and can probably recall memories of going there with family members before a weekend barbeque to purchase fresh meat.
More specifically, South Gate High School students associate Maloney Meat Company to our very own Maloney Field, where our prideful athletic teams practice throughout the week. Many may not know that the field is actually in honor of the family-owned company, created by John Maloney. In the early ’90s, John was seen cleaning around South Gate High School’s front steps, which he frequently donated to. He took pride in the city and wanted to contribute to the school and the students’ education. In fact, John Maloney was the very one who planted the beautiful rows of roses along the front of the school and assured that his very own employees watered the flowers each morning.
In 1994, South Gate High School honored the legendary man by naming one of our fields, “Maloney Field.” Alongside his wife, he was photographed before the sign officially went up. Painted with red and white letters, the sign represented the beautiful relationship between South Gate High School and Maloney’s family. Twenty-five years later, rain and wind have not been kind to the beloved sign, causing an excess amount of water damage. Our school administration decided something had to be done to preserve this precious, historical landmark.
School officials selected the perfect person for the task: South Gate High School’s very own Woodshop teacher, Fernando Abarca. Mr. Abarca has taught the Woodshop class at South Gate for over 15 years and maintained the integrity of shop classes that have died off with passing years. Credentialed in wood-making and construction, Abarca was the best person to take on this project. He understood Maloney Meat Company’s importance, and the butcher shop hit close to home for him. Growing up in Huntington Park, he remembers making weekly trips there with his parents on their grocery runs.
At the beginning of this 2019-2020 school year, he took the initiative on the project and presented it to his 6th-period class, Advanced Wood Making. The class immediately began preparing with the materials needed and the measures taken.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Joshua Chester Schwab, Lesly Kimberly Valdez, Jade Rico, Xitlali Monica Vazquez, Albert Ramirez-Alcantar, Liliana Pasillas, Guillermo Ramirez, Johnny Cabrera, Michael Xavier Luna, Jose Ricardo Lias, Angelica Dalila Vargas.
Abarca had already planned out the entire process of refurbishing the sign. His vision for the renewed sign is “nothing too drastic, [he] still wants it to look like the original sign.” After having taken down the sign, students cut out each letter and sanded them down. With supervision, they salvaged any remaining material that could be useful and discarded the remaining parts with termites. Abarca intends to use Marine Plywood for the rest of the sign, an advanced material that is sustainable against the harshest weather conditions. He predicts it would need to be coated every three years with a special solvent to keep the sign intact with this material. Hoping to be done by May 2020, he expects this sign to last at least another 30 years.
“It’s all about the students,” Abarca says. He recognizes that the students photographed above are contributing to South Gate’s history. They are taking part in a significant school project that they can hopefully come back and visit in the future. Therefore, he hopes the sign will be done before the senior students graduate in June 2020.
COVID-19 put a halt on Abarca’s plan of refurbishing the Maloney Field sign. Luckily for us, Mr. Abarca still intends on completing this project. He says, “I am very meticulous when it comes to school history, so making this project a priority is of the utmost importance to me.”
Despite the obstacle quarantine poses, Abarca still prioritizes our school’s history, displaying that he is in fact the perfect person for this task because he understands the importance of the bond between Maloney Meat Company and South Gate High School.
Unfortunately, Abarcas’s sixth-period students were unable to complete the renewal of the Maloney Field sign before their graduation. However, we still greatly appreciate the student’s effort. Abarca plans to work on it solo for the time being, but as students begin to return to school, he will include the Advanced Woodshopping students in the project. It still continues to be “all about the students.” Now, a new group of students will get the chance to contribute to South Gate High School’s history.
Abarca is still currently awaiting funds to purchase the materials necessary for completing this project. He promises to take pictures as he works on it for documentation.
Let’s hope that the future classes of South Gate High School value and cherish our historical landmark and the effort of the countless people who participate in this project.