Visit to the Ft. MacArthur Museum Print

My cousin Joe Swanson makes blank ammunition.  And he's very, very good at it.  So good, in fact, that his blank ammunition is highly sought after by the movie industry because it's just about the only stuff that doesn't jam the guns they use.


Joe and I shared wonderful times together while growing up, he in Santee, me in Palos Verdes.  Totally different childhoods, and totally different people, kept together by the bond of family--being good cousins.  On the occasions when I visited him, we spent hours out in his playhouse, which was a simple dirt-floored affair, with our toy guns shooting indians and whoever else was on the attack.

Over the years, Joe amassed a bunch of really cool weapons and has rented them to studios on many occasions.  If you saw "Dick Tracy" with Warren Beatty, you saw Joe's machine guns and heard his ammunition.  If you saw "Saving Private Ryan" you heard Joe's ammunition--over 400,000 rounds.

Anyway, Jennifer and Duane live just a block away from the Ft. MacArthur Museum, which is really Battery Osgood and Battery Farley.  Every February, they re-enact a defense spectacular that recreates what was thought to be a Japanese attack on the coast at San Pedro.  They bring out the original searchlights, fire off flares, and fire blank rounds from the 50-cal machine guns that were fired that night.  And yes, Joe makes the blank ammo.

So Jennifer was talking to the museum director Steve Nelson one day (she takes Christopher & Brooklyn over there frequently when she walks Gabby) and got to talking about Joe, and she worked out a tour of the facility when Joe and his wife Marion visited before leaving on a cruise.  It was great fun going through the place and I can hardly wait to go back.  And, it was good photographic territory, too, which you can see here if you wish. I highly recommend the place as a place to visit when you're in San Pedro--it's right next to the Korean Bell.