From it’s inception, I had always had it in my head that I would end my SPBXB trek on the fishing pier at Cabrillo Beach. I have no idea why, it’s not even a street. The heart wants what it wants so I planned for a weenie roast at the beach and enticed all my readers to join me by posting this invitation on the blog. I used all the new photoshop skills I learned while on the job for SPBXB and edited this still from Forrest Gump. Despite the graphic, people showed up. We had a great spot right at the mouth of the pier side. Once we had a big enough group we made the final walk out to the pier together.
It was a real honor to get the personal tour from such a such a great man. I could’ve taken a picture of him with every prop and plaque in the place if he had the time. He was a really good sport about all the pictures.
This is what the new building looks like, from the parking lot. Upstairs is where the research library is located. The library is named for Virginia Reid Moore, in honor of her very generous donation.
John assures me that all are welcome to use the library.
I don’t know how much research I would get done with a giant window like this to gaze out of.
I had never seen the new wing of the aquarium before today. The bottom floor of the new building is split between the hatchery/kitchen (the neon green stuff in the tubes is food)…
…and a place for the younger kids where they can interact with the exhibits and touch them with their own hands.
The kid’s part is the most fun. First of all, there is a water tunnel full of fish that you can climb into so that you are completely surrounded in a bubble of fish (my camera refused to take a good picture of it). There is also a giant bird sticking his beak into a mudflat tunnel that you can walk through.
The tunnel is made up of a silicone type plastic that feels so strange to the touch. When you walk through you get a inside view of the type of life that lives in a mudflat. Here is a picture of John inside of the tunnel.
I met John Olguin in the courtyard of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium once he was finished for the day. I asked him to start at the beginning of the museum and here, under the hammerhead shark, he dropped some knowledge on me.
He told me about inheriting a card table and a collection of shells from Venice and how it grew to mayonnaise jars full of sea creatures and eventually the building that we all know and love. How he took enough classes to earn multiple degrees for no credit, just so he could tell the kids about the stuff he had on display. He told me the story about getting the museum built and how he went through a few architects until he finally settled on Frank Gehry. Mr. Gehry was the first one to get the kind of open feel that John had in mind. The museum was one of the first buildings to be designed in Gehry’s deconstructivist style. He went on to design famous world class buildings like the Guggenheim in Spain and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
So I’m standing there, enthralled in this amazing story when it finally dawns on me that I had a video camera in my back pack and this would have been a perfect thing to record. UGH. It was an amazing story. When it was done he took me on a tour of the museum/aquarium. I reminded him that I spent a couple of summers in the docent program. There were a couple of changes, but I probably could’ve winged a tour if I tried really hard. We only had an hour for everything so we continued on to the brand new parts I had never seen.
I promised you all some brand new stuff and here it is. I never told you all about the day I got a personal tour of the Cabrillo Marine Museum from Mr. San Pedro himself. I remember talking with him briefly at the opening of the 22nd St Park about my project and asked him if he would be a guest walker. He told me he would love to, gave me his card and told me to give him a call when I was near White Point. Awesome!
A few months passed and I realized I had no idea where White Point school was. By the time I figured it out, I was a couple of days away from walking the area and had misplaced his card. I think he had given me the card on three different occasions in the span of the last two years so its amazing that I misplaced them ALL. It wasn’t hard to find someone who had his number so I left a message. I walked his neighborhood thinking I would see his and Muriel’s famous outdoor bed, as if it was on a patio in the front yard or something. I didn’t, but I did guess that the peacock crossing signs were his.
A couple of weeks later, I think I was about a week’s worth of walks away from finishing it all, my sister asks me to do the crop walk with her. I posted about it on SPBXB that it was kind of ‘been there, done that’ for me, but I did it anyway. As luck would have it, John Olguin stopped briefly when we were walking down 19th to see if we were ok. I commented to my sister about needing to talk to him about our walk. When we got down to the Methodist church across from Leland School he was sitting there at the table next to the orange wedges. Hallelujah! He greeted everyone as they got refreshments and I took my chance to ask him about maybe walking the beach with me, since I passed his neighborhood. We made plans to meet a couple days later. It was just one of many stories of things coming together at the end of SPBXB.
People always want to know what my favorite neighborhoods were to walk. That’s a question as loaded as a wife asking her husband if her butt looks big in those jeans…except the wife is as big as San Pedro. I’m so not gonna go there. I will, however, share some of my favorite aspects of my time on the streets.
San Pedro is a great old town and it has a very long memory. One of the most exciting things for me, was to find things I liked to call ‘fossils’. I was a huge dinosaur nut as a kid and I always kind of looked at fossils as a wink from the past to the future (yes, wink). It made my day when I walked 9th Street and found these two.
This first fossil I found at the back of what was recently known as the Copper Room. It’s a small neon sign from the long-time San Pedro restaurant Olsen’s. I don’t know the status of the building but I hope whatever comes of it, that the sign can be preserved somehow.
This second fossil can be found a couple blocks west of the Olsens sign, behind Coover’s Pharmacy. A couple of people told me about the market that used to be next to Coovers and I found this sign to back their stories up. One of the things I want to cover on BEYOND THE BLOCK is the history of San Pedro’s markets, big and small.