My memories of the Ports o’ Call Village in San Pedro, California, go back to the 1970s when some relatives were visiting from England. At that period of time the village was a prime tourist attraction bustling with activity and a fun place to bring visitors.
Over thirty years passed since I had the opportunity to return. I came for a luncheon for my tour leader networking group at Ports o’ Call Restaurant in December of last year. That day the skies opened up and treated us to a veritable monsoon. All I could see from the window was rain beating against the glass. I vowed to return on a better day.
That day was in March, enjoying happy hour on the restaurant’s patio. A fellow tour guide and I had spent the day on a scouting trip through Long Beach and San Pedro as those are the pickup points for the cruise ship passengers we take on our tours. But that will be another blog entry one of these days!
Last Wednesday my mother’s senior living group decided to head to the Ports o’ Call Village for a lunch outing. We have been having some gloomy days lately where we barely see the sun, and this was a rather hazy grey day. But it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the participants.
At the Ports o’ Call Restaurant we were seated at a long table by the window. We watched barges and tugboats pass by on the channel into the port. The Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro is the number one port by container volume and cargo value in the United States. (Long Beach, just over the Vincent Thomas Bridge, is the second busiest port in the United States, and if combined, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles would be the world’s sixth-busiest port.)
I chose the Po’ Boy Catfish Sandwich on a French baguette with mashed potatoes. Oh so sinful, but definitely worth it. The catfish was perfect, moist and juicy on the inside with a light spicy batter. I was proud of myself for putting half the meal in a box to take home. Others chose the fish ‘n chips (like my mother) and various other seafood delights.
I was intrigued by the chandeliers made of seashells. And hanging on the walls are photos of Long Beach and San Pedro from days gone by. My favorite is the aerial shot of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose around the time of its one and only flight in 1947.
After our feast we wandered around the Village. A few souvenir shops were open. A cruise ship was in port, but most passengers sign up for the bus tours of Los Angeles and “Hollywood.” Ports o’ Call is mostly neglected these days. It’s a shame because it used to be, and could be again, a very cute place. But in these times of economic uncertainty it would take a courageous person to invest the millions of dollars necessary to upgrade the area and market it in order to put it back on the map. There is supposed to be a tram that runs from the cruise ships to the village, but in all the time I have been greeting passengers at the ships, I have never seen it run, and it is quite a hike for anyone who doesn’t enjoy walking.
Another lovely outing was over and as we climbed back aboard the bus I was already looking forward to the second half of that catfish!
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)