Growing Up To Be Hal Pereira

Growing up with American television, I got to know Hal Pereira. All I knew about him was that he was an Art Director. His name would come up at the end of most black and white shows — especially sitcoms — from the Fifties and Sixties. Seeing his name, in such a prominent place, amidst American names, gave me a sense of pride. Watching those credits roll reminded me that in America, if you had talent and worked hard, even if your name was Gomez or Hernandez or Pereira, you could find a meaninful career.

Hal Pereira reaffirmed my beliefs in the promises of this country. Even if Hal was not a name I recognized, I was sure that we shared a heritage and he became a small symbol, among many I picked up, of what I could achieve.

I just looked up Mr. Pereira’s bio online as I was about to write this post. I found out that he was born in Chicago in 1905 and he died in Los Angeles in 1983. He had an long and fruitful career in the movie and television industry. Hal Pereira was nominate twenty three times for an Oscar for his work in film and won once, in 1958 — three years after I was born — for The Rose Tattoo. When he retired in 1968 from Paramount, after 18 years as head of the studio’s art department, he worked as a design consultant for his brother, architect William L. Pereira.

Inspiration is to be gotten from wherever we can find it. Thank you, Mr. Pereira.

I took my son to the playground last week. He ran and climbed and jumped with twenty or thirty other kids from the neighborhood. African-American kids, Hispanic kids, White kids, Asian kids. As he was making his way from the swings to the slide to the jungle gym back to the swings, it occurred to me that the African-American and Hispanic kids now have a President and — unless hell freezes over — a Supreme Court judge that looks just like them. They’ll have inspiration that my generation never had. I can’t wait to see how far that inspiration will take them.

I have a great deal of hope for the future of those kids. Not only the African-American and the Latino kids, but all the kids that were at the playground that day.