Gone From My Sight

My mother passed away more than two years at the age of 81. It was a challenging time for our family. She had in-home hospice in the house that she had lived for 50 years and where my father still lives. Between my work and children, I would make the hour drive to visit my parents often, to be with my mom and to be supportive to my father.

A visiting hospice nurse left a pamphlet at my parent’s house and I found a poem on one of the pages along with signs that the time was getting close. The poem, entitled “Gone From My Sight,” is about a ship that sails out of sight, that is not gone but at another port. I read that poem many times and felt the words were exactly what I needed at that moment.

After my mom passed, I left the cemetery and went straight to Joshua Tree with my family to spend time away from the schedules of work and life to pause for a few days. When we got back, life was waiting and thoughts of my mom’s passing went from heavy emotion to passing thoughts like clouds going by in the sky.

We took our time going through her belongings and a few months ago, my dad had me look at her purses when I was visiting. We had very different tastes and my brother had no use for her clothing, so most of her belongings were donated. When we were going through her purses we found one hidden in the back of her closet. I had never seen it before and my father did not remember it either. It was not her style at all. It was a tan, leather purse that looked like it had Aztec designs, possibly from Mexico. It was very unusual looking and I decided to keep it. Since it had begun to dry rot I took it to Tucker’s Express Shoe Repair. On the way to the repair shop, I used the purse as I ran errands and was surprised by the compliments I received about it.

When I came back to Tucker’s a week later after dropping it off, he said several people had seen the purse hanging in his shop and wanted to buy it. I took my purse home and put it at the bottom of my closet. It needed polishing but I did not have time. After a few months of traveling with my family and everything else that keeps me so busy I noticed the purse in my closet. No wonder my mom kept that purse in her closet for 50 years, life really does get away from us at times. While my mom is out of my sight, she is not out of my mind or heart. The purse was a gift at just the right time, from my mom in her own special way.

“Gone From My Sight” by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.


125 Things To Do In San Pedro

1. Attend the Whale Fiesta
2. See a show at the Warner Grand Theatre
3. Go to First Thursday
4. Take a hike at White Point Nature Preserve
5. Enter a sand castle building contest
6. Have a coffee at Sacred Grounds
7. Go on a grunion run
8. Buy groceries at A-1 Market
9. Take a walk along Paseo Del Mar
10. Ride the Red Car
11. Visit the Cabrillo Marine Museum
12. Eat a kabob from Nazelie’s Lebanese Cafe
13. Watch the annual Fourth of July fireworks show
14. Catch a wave at Cabrillo Beach
15. Eat fish & chips at The Whale & Ale
16. Go whale watching
17. Eat a lobster at the Lobster Festival
18. Shop at Ticktocker Thrift Store
19. Eat calamari at J. Trani’s Ristorante
20. Take a walk around Cabrillo Marina
21. Go bird watching at the Salt Marsh
22. Eat a sandwich from Busy Bee Market
23. Watch the sunset over the ocean
24. Explore the tide pools
25. Check out the mural at Peck Park Pool
26. Eat a yogurt from Granny’s Yogurt
27. Take a Harbor Cruise
28. Visit the Muller House Museum
29. Attend Old Fort MacArthur Days
30. Ride on a block of ice down a hill at Averill Park
31. Donate canned food to Harbor Interfaith Family Shelter
32. Play tennis at Daniels Field
33. Ride the Ferris wheel at the Mary Star Fiesta
34. Go to the Taste In San Pedro
35. Listen to the seals bark
36. Take a dip in the ocean at the annual Polar Bear swim
37. Buy a gift at the Global Gift UNICEF Store at Crafted
38. Ride in a dragon boat
39. Volunteer to walk a dog at the Harbor Animal Shelter
40. Go camping with a group at the Cabrillo Beach Youth Waterfront Sports Center
41. Watch the ducks at Averill Park
42. Swing at Friendship Park
43. Participate in the The Holiday Spirit of San Pedro Parade
44. Help out at Turkey Alley
45. Enjoy the Fanfare Fountain
46. Watch the annual boat parade
47. Buy an old fashioned soda at The Corner Store
48. Check out the Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse
49. Visit the Deane Dana Friendship Park Nature Center
50. Eat a fish lunch at the Dalmatian-American Club
51. Listen to scary stories at Angel’s Gate Cultural Center
52. Swim to the buoy
53. Be woken by the sound of a foghorn
54. Attend Sea Scare
55. Look at the murals in the Beacon St. post office
56. Take a tour of the Point Fermin Lighthouse
57. Play ball at Bogdanovich Park
58. Have dinner and watch a dancer at Babouch Moroccan Restaurant
59. Roast marshmallows at Cabrillo Beach
60. Visit the Sportswalk to the Waterfront
61. Watch the moon reflect on the ocean
62. Eat a shrimp tray on the patio at the San Pedro Fish Market
63. Get tracked by Mojo
64. Visit the L.A. Maritime Museum
65. Attend a neighborhood council meeting
66. Stay the night at the hostel
67. Go to the downtown Farmer’s Market
68. Eat Chinese Chicken Salad at Sandwich Saloon
69. Watch ships coming and going into the port
70. Play checkers at the Cruise Ship Promenade
71. Eat an early morning breakfast at Pacific Diner
72. Fly a kite at the Korean Bell
73. Tour the SS Lane Victory
74. Fish off the pier
75. Visit the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial
76. Buy a pastry from Joseph’s Bakery
77. Enjoy the view from Lookout Point Park
78. Walk out to the small island at low tide at Royal Palms
79. Play bocce ball at 22nd Street Park
80. Order a custom omelette at the Omelette & Waffle Shop
81. Visit the Marine Mammal Care Center
82. Play horseshoes at Peck Park
83. Enjoy the lights on the Vincent Thomas Bridge
84. Eat pasta at Raffaello Ristorante
85. Ride a bike around Point Fermin Park
86. Visit the San Pedro Science Center
87. Have a picnic overlooking the ocean
88. Buy a late night taco at Maria’s
89. Watch trains at Hi-Railers and Belmont Shore Model Railroad Clubs
90. Eat a pizza at Sorrento’s
91. Attend Navy Week
92. Take a photo of Sunken City
93. See a show by Shakespeare by the Sea
94. Check out the Ship In A Bottle at the marina
95. Eat an ice cream at Ports O’ Call Village
96. Go on a walking Townee Tour of San Pedro
97. Eat a vegetarian torta at Jolly Burrito
98. Stroll around Fishermen’s Wharf
99. Visit Crafted
100. Tour the USS Iowa
101. Take a dog to the dog park
102. Walk through the underground bunker at Fort MacArthur Museum
103. Eat at the snack shack at Eastview and watch a game
104. Go to a play at Little Fish Theater
105. Watch a free outdoor movie at Bogdonavich Park
106. Try a fresh juice at Pronto’s
107. Go to Captain Kirk’s and rent a paddleboard
108. See a concert at the Grand Annex
109. Eat a Divine Burger at Utro’s Café.
110. Ride the trolley
111, Attend the L.A. Harbor International Film Festival
112. Participate in the Conquer the Bridge Run
113. Visit the Living Museum Art Center at Harbor View House
114. Eat carnitas from Guanajuato Meat Market
115. Donate gently used baby clothes to Cradle Closet at the YWCA
116. Eat a strudel at Mishi’s Strudel Bakery
117. Attend a Music by the Sea concert
118. Stroll along Whalers Walk
119. Enter a boat in the paper yacht races
120. Attend the White Point Home Tour
121. Eat a cannoli from Amalfitano Bakery
122. Tour the Marine Exchange
123. Volunteer at the International Bird Rescue
124. Buy a gift at the Assistance League Post Office
125. Eat hot wings at 710 Grille

Sewer Talk

Owning a 97-year-old home has forced me to face things that would normally not be on my radar. Most recently, this includes the sewer, in particular the line that runs from the middle of the street to our home, known as the private lateral. To my surprise, I discovered that the maintenance and repair of the private lateral is the responsibility of the property owner. My eyes filled with dollar signs when I learned this tidbit of information since our sewer line needed to be repaired and this was not covered by any insurance policy. Most people, like me, do not think about their sewers until there is a problem.

Apparently, many moons ago, a genius in the city decided to plant a tree almost directly over the sewer line on the parkway, otherwise known as the public right of way. Not only would the city not cut or trim this overgrown tree whose roots had gotten into the sewer line, but also they would not pay any part of the expense to have the street dug up to fix it.

I needed more information, so I went to the Department of Public Works where they provided me with a Wye Map, which shows sewer connections and modifications and is available at no cost at the San Pedro office. It is a good idea to look at a Wye Map before buying a property, but this did not happen in our case since I never heard of a Wye Map prior to our sewer problem.

The engineer at Public Works examined the Wye Map and informed me that the neighbor’s sewer line was attached to our line making the problem even more complicated since the lines connected in our front yard. We weighed our options and decided the best solution would be to start all over and get a whole new sewer line away from the neighbor’s line and the tree. We would bypass the old line and our new sewer line would be a good distance away from the city tree. The neighbor would be still connected to the old line and we would not have to deal with “sharing” our line any longer. It would cost more money, but in the long run it’s better for us since sharing lines between properties is now considered illegal.

For six long days, we watched as the street and sidewalk were jack hammered, trenches were dug and traffic was diverted. Pipes were laid, sprinklers were moved, and an inspector visited a few times. It was a lot of work and the streets were full of trucks and other machinery needed to finish the job. We were happy with the work of the bonded contractor we chose from a list provided by the city.

Through our sewer journey, I learned about the importance of having a clean out, which is a capped pipe that provides access to a sewer line. Without one it is much more challenging to run a camera or a sewer drain snake through the pipe. Clean outs located outside can also serve as a release allowing water to leak outside instead of flooding the inside of the house when the main line is backed up. Also, having a backflow put on the line can prevent sewage from coming into the home in the event of a backup. Running a camera through the sewer line is another great thing to do before buying a property as well, which we never thought of before this happened.

With our sewer issues now behind us, no pun intended, I feel so relieved. Owning an old home, repairs are expected. I just did not realize I would be paying to have half the street dug up as well. spt

Jennifer Marquez can be reached at jennifertmarquez@yahoo.com.

Stop Using Schools As Polling Places

For years, schools have been used as Election Day polling places. It makes sense, especially in rural areas with few buildings. Schools are funded by taxpayers making it understandable why they are used by the community to vote. But as years have gone by and our schools have changed, now locked and fenced, I find it odd that with so many other options for polling places that we continue to use schools.

To drop my children off at school in the morning, I must walk through a gate, go up a flight of stairs, sign-in and get a badge, drop off my children, then go back up the stairs to sign out and drop off my badge. Then I have to walk two blocks to my car. This is why the parent run valet service in front of our school is so popular; parents find it easier to avoid parking, signing in and everything else it takes to get on campus, which is what I would expect as a parent, a safe campus for my children.

On the last Election Day, the elementary school my children attend was used as a polling place. Strangers were on our campus without badges and did not have to sign-in. Usually you have to get buzzed in at the gate, but on this day the school was forced to keep the gate open all day. On the same day there was a shooting involving a poll worker at a LAUSD school in Watts.

The primary purpose of schools is education and student safety. I wish we lived in a time where we did not need fences around our schools, but we do not. I know if somebody wants to get into a school, they will find a way. But with that said, do we need to compromise the safety of our children when there are other polling place options available?

School staffs are lean and having a polling place on campus takes staff time. I think it is empowering for the children to see the voting process first hand, but that is not enough reason to continue this practice.

As somebody who votes at every election, the last place I would want to vote is at a school. Many schools have no parking lots and street parking is very challenging, especially at drop-off and pick-up times. When I go to vote, I want it to be an easy experience and not have to walk for blocks to vote or wade through crowds of people.

Schools are asked on an individual basis whether they want to be used for a polling place. I think it is time the district adopts a policy in regards to this outdated experience. If we are going to bring hundreds of people onto school campuses then we must not continue to compromise safety standards that are currently in place. All voters must go to the office and sign-in and then sign out after they have voted. Additional polling workers will have to assist with this as school staff is stretched too thin as it is. Everybody must also bring a form of identification and extra security should be provided. Another option is to use the Election Day as a professional development day so children are not present.

If after all that, the community still wants to use schools as polling places, then the person, county or district who authorizes this event will take full responsibility if any safety issues arise.

Lastly, voters who have to vote at schools should be given an apology for being subjected to school traffic, which is always a nightmare especially around schools in San Pedro and currently is an issue within itself that needs addressing. spt

Raising The Bar

I enjoy living in San Pedro near the ocean; however, there is room for improvement in this town. Ideas for an even better San Pedro usually come to me after I have visited a hip city that seems to have it together. Since our family has put our roots here, I advocate for changes that are important to me.

Most people have their own vision of what they would like to see happen in San Pedro and variety is one of the reasons I like this town. I think most of us want to live in a clean and safe city. Having pot holes fixed, trees trimmed and getting the police to respond to calls in a timely manner are basic responsibilities of the city that we have paid for through taxes.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been improvements in San Pedro, but it needs to continue. I have lowered the bar on my expectations of San Pedro unknowingly over the years and I know I am not alone. I have had the attitude that I will take whatever I can get in regards to improvements. While we are part of Los Angeles, other areas in the city do not all share these low expectations. In these areas, you will not find a sidewalk raised up three feet by a city tree like we have on 14th Street. With the economy, expectations are even lower and the reason for lack of progress always seems to be money.

Take for example tree trimming. I have heard for years that trees are not being trimmed because of lack of money. After every storm or a big wind, palm fawns make a huge mess that city workers clean up. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just trim the palm trees? I know I have a greater chance of seeing Big Foot than a tree being trimmed by the city, but since they planted all these trees they need to take care of them. If you go to other areas of Los Angeles and other towns, trees are being trimmed. The overgrown city tree in front of my house is a realization of my lowered expectations.

My vision of San Pedro includes wanting to rent competitively priced stand-up paddleboards on the water for my family. Currently, I drive to Seal Beach to rent boards for me and my kids, the shop is located right on the water so it is user friendly. I have rented a board in San Pedro but had to have it delivered to the beach because the shop is not allowed to rent at Cabrillo Beach and my son was not allowed to ride on it per the shop. Other beach and port cities have water rental recreation but in San Pedro it is lacking and not convenient, even though we are a beach town.

Safety is also a concern and I would like to see more of a focus by the LAPD on drug enforcement. While I know crime and drugs are in every town, we have more than our fair share here. Drug enforcement does not seem like a priority in San Pedro until somebody has a gun and the helicopters are flying around again. Maybe LAPD can be more responsive to the residents in San Pedro and the many concerns they have in their neighborhoods. I would like to know what vision LAPD has, if any, for San Pedro.

I can go on about my vision for this great town, like adding sidewalk cafes, having reasonably priced theater for children and creating a Mexican Cultural Center. What is your vision of San Pedro? If you do not share your ideas, then they are just thoughts that nobody will hear. Share your vision with your Councilman; tell him that you are raising the bar.

To reach Councilman Joe Buscaino, visit www.la15th.com or call (310) 732-4515. spt

Point Fermin Elementary Celebrates 100 Years

Point Femin Marine Science Magnet Elementary School, the smallest public elementary school in San Pedro, recently celebrated its 100th birthday. With just over 300 students, this small school has been providing education to generations of families in the community. Many of the current students have parents and grandparents who attended the school.

“It is great to see my daughter Trinity having the same wonderful experiences that I treasured when I was there,” says Rosa Juarez, a Point Fermin Elementary Alumni and current volunteer at the school.

The marine science studies focus is a natural fit for the school, with the ocean and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium located within walking distance. A partnership between the school and the aquarium gives the students the opportunity to learn hands-on in the aquarium lab, at the tide pools and on the beach. Students walk from the school to the ocean and aquarium as a classroom on a regular basis. Keeping with the marine science focus, the fourth grade students spend an afternoon sailing on a tall ship and the fifth grade students participate in an overnight education experience on Catalina Island.

The school garden is a labor of love for teachers, students and parents. Students plant tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots and other vegetables and cultivate them for eating. The garden is a resource for nutritional education and an area for classes to read together under the shade of a large tree. Students sell seeds as a school fundraiser and use the funds raised for equipment for the garden.

Architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Burns designed the Spanish colonial-styled administrative building at the school. Hunt and Burns also designed the Automobile Club of Southern California on Figueroa Street at Adams Boulevard, the Ebell Club and Theater on Wilshire Boulevard and the Southwest Museum in Highland Park.

This close-knit school is serious about studying, which is evident by its increasing test scores. On any given day, you will find parent volunteers assisting with art activities, helping in the classroom, working in the garden and raising funds for all the extra educational experiences offered by the school. Thanks to grants, the students have been able to attend field trips at the Aquarium of the Pacific, California Science Center and the Cerritos Theater for the Performing Arts. Students have also benefited from programs such as the Columbia Writing Program and Accelerated Reader. The Natural History Museum, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, and Story Pirates (an interactive writing program) have been visitors to the Point Fermin campus bringing their interactive programs directly to the students.

“It is a momentous occasion as we celebrate 100 years of excellence in education at our school. I have always referred to Pt. Fermin as ‘the little lighthouse on the hill.’ We have stood as a shining light of hope, resource, and academic distinction that has endured for 100 years. Yes, we have a very proud history, but we also have a bright and promising future,” says Bonnie Taft, principal of Point Fermin Elementary.

“I know that as we begin the next hundred years, we will continue to be a brilliant beacon of light. A beaming light that brightly shines in our community, and offers continued merit, significance, and worth, in educating our wonderful students to be outstanding citizens of the 21st century. Students that not only excel in education, but students who will become our future leaders, innovators, and champions of the best in the human spirit that will touch every corner of the world,” concludes Taft. spt

For more information about Point Fermin Elementary, visit www.pointfermin-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.

Nightmare Parking at Field of Dreams

As much as I love to watch my children play soccer, every year I secretly wish they would decide to play flag football instead, in a field where I can park close by and watch games under a shade tree. For years, I have endured the nightmare parking situation at the Field of Dreams so my children can play soccer in San Pedro. But getting to the treeless field is like a trek to the outback and it leaves me feeling like a pack mule carrying chairs, coolers, and umbrellas a mile to practices and games.

There are 1,400 youth registered to play AYSO soccer at the field just below the flaming refinery flare and across from the butane tanks, which is another story altogether. The field has 150 parking spaces and on game days the lot is open to only coaches and referees. All of Westmont Drive and part of Gaffey Street is used as employee parking for the warehouses above the fields, leaving very little parking options for soccer families. It would probably be easier if I could figure out how to parachute in with my children and chairs.

Street parking on Westmont is a popular parking ticket trap with confusing signs whose arrows point across the street and at hills instead of the street. It is anybody’s best guess where it is legal to park. Knowing this, I have been extremely cautious where I park but still end up with a parking ticket while parked against a curb not painted red. The parking enforcement vultures are there every week, preying on hard working families who honestly are confused by the inconsistent red curbs and confusing signs. Wouldn’t it be better to have the city directing the thousands of people at the field instead of taking advantage of them? I fought my ticket and won but still the curb is not painted red.

To make matters worse, Recreation and Parks, who maintains the field owned by the Bureau of Sanitation, fails to keep the pedestrian gate open, which creates a dangerous situation for the families walking in. There is a narrow opening in the lot with no curb or sidewalk forcing families to walk inches away from moving vehicles. With only one way into the narrow lot, it is like entering the Bermuda Triangle at peak practice times, cars go in and do not come out. Some vehicles are too large to turn around so they have to back all the way out after dropping off their children. There is no loading area on the street making drop offs very challenging, especially with big rig trucks speeding down the hill.

My children have had such great experiences playing soccer but this parking fiasco needs to change. Collaborating with other parks and schools would be a good start. My son’s team once tried to hold a practice at Peck Park but we were asked to leave the empty park by two park employees. Possible solutions could be to have some games at other local parks or have a shuttle service (red trolley) and create an exit at the back of the field’s parking lot. The field is at full capacity with children playing soccer in every possible area so cutting into the field to add more parking would only create new problems.

The youth and families of San Pedro deserve a better situation. With Councilman Buscaino’s office actively looking for solutions, I feel like maybe after all these years we finally may see a positive change (no pressure Joe). For starters, they can take the overgrown city tree in front of my house that will not be trimmed for another 50 years by the city and move it to the Field of Dreams for much needed shade.

Anyone else with similar adventures at the Field of Dreams can contact Councilman Buscaino’s office with feasible solutions at (310) 732-4515. spt

Jennifer Marquez writes about low-cost and free events in her blog www.grassrootsmama.com. She can be reached at jennifertmarquez@yahoo.com.