Community Voices
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Port of Los Angeles (photo: John Mattera Photography)

As 2021 came to a close, my wife and I found ourselves right in the middle of two of the biggest issues confronting the nation, she as an educator and I as a dockworker.

Her work as a teacher with L.A. Unified is impacted daily by vaccine/mask mandates instituted to combat COVID-19 and its variants. My job with the ILWU at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach involves the loading and unloading of containers, which remains at the crux of the supply chain crisis that has inflated prices across the board.

I have two granddaughters in L.A. Unified, and I want them to continue getting an in-person education, which I deem significant, but I also want to keep my wife healthy; Zoom school was great for teachers, but not so much for students. So I’m forced to sit on the fence with this one.

I’d also like to get my new speed convection oven delivered. I ordered it from Pacific Sales in July, and the latest word is I’ll get it sometime in April. I’m not sure what’s holding it up (I hope it wasn’t on one of those looted trains in Downtown L.A.). I only know it has nothing to do with the people I work with; longshore workers want the goods they’ve paid for as much as the next guy, and barring COVID concerns, are putting in all the hours they can.

Back in 2020, I wrote about Terpsihori: A Greek Woman, an American Immigrant, Michael George Markulis’s tribute to his parents and their journey from Crete to San Pedro. He has followed that up with Autobiography of Michael George Markulis: A Professional Police Officer, Educator, Family Man (available at, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble). Markulis, in a book amply illustrated with photographs, tells the story about his growing up in San Pedro, the second of five brothers, all of whom were inducted into the San Pedro High Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. A graduate of Harbor College and Cal State Long Beach, he retired in 1992 after a 37-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department. He was chief of detectives at Harbor Division in the late ‘80s, and when he retired as a lieutenant, he was chief of South Bureau Homicide. He also taught police science at Harbor and East L.A. College for 30 years.

A cancer survivor, he was feted by his children, Elaine and Mark, on his 90th birthday last October in a bash attended by nearly 200 family and friends. That included Army buddies from the Korean War, former students, and a bevy of current and retired police officers. Everyone received a signed copy of his book.

Markulis was married to his childhood sweetheart, Alicia Sanchez, for 55 years before she died in 2009. So it was that, in typical San Pedro fashion, Markulis the Greek was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” in Spanish.

I sounded the alarm years ago when the first Ponte Vista development was proposed that it would have a devastating impact on Western Avenue traffic.

Even as the numbers were scaled back over the years, I knew it would not turn out well, but I had no idea Ponte Vista would affect residents of Eastview even before it was completed. I understand putting traffic lights in first, but why have they been made operational with only a handful of homes up and occupied? 

I’m thinking, in particular, of the light at Greengate, the entrance to Ponte Vista opposite Avenida Aprenda. The road is not being used, but the light has been up and functioning for months, with cars exiting Rolling Hills Riviera waiting… and waiting… for a green light. It’s almost like traffic planners are purposely trying to frustrate drivers with a long red light when there is virtually no cross traffic.

Can someone please give long-suffering commuters a yellow blinking light like the one at the entrance to Costco on Lomita Boulevard in Torrance or the ones used everywhere in state-of-the-art cities like Henderson, Nevada?

Two historic venues in Point Fermin have been in the news lately.  

Thanks to John Bagakis, owner of Big Nick’s Pizza on north Gaffey, the future of The Corner Store appears secure. Longtime owner Peggy Thompson-Lindquist has retired and sold the popular hangout, which has been serving locals at 37th and Barbara Street for nearly 75 years, to Bagakis.

The fate of Walker’s Café remains up in the air, and it may take official designation as a historic landmark to save it. 

The Walker’s Café building on Paseo Del Mar opposite Point Fermin Park has been in use for more than a century, although its fame as an eatery only began when Ray Walker and his wife, Bessie Mae, took it over in 1946.

Before the Walkers, the site was a tavern, and before that, a grocery. That grocery can be seen in a 1916 photograph that ran in the News-Pilot during the San Pedro centennial in 1988. The subject of the photo is L and L Transit, with owner Felicien Landier and a lineup of five jitneys and drivers, then known as chauffeurs. Jitneys were precursors to buses; Landier later formed the San Pedro Motor Bus Co., a group of mostly Italian immigrants that included my grandfather Ettore Marconi and his brother Simone, who, although I can’t be certain, are probably in that 106-year-old photo.

San Pedro has lost enough of its history. Go to Emma Rault’s Save Walker’s Café site ( and sign the petition. Nearly 2,300 already have done so. spt

photo of san pedro today author Steve Marconi

Steve Marconi

San Pedro native Steve Marconi began writing about his hometown after graduating from high school in 1969. After a career as a sportswriter, he was a copy editor and columnist for the News-Pilot and Daily Breeze for 20 years before joining the L.A. Times. He has been writing monthly for San Pedro magazines since 2005, and in 2018 became a registered longshoreman. Marconi can be reached at