Thursday, October 20, 2011

Memories from Miss Port of Long Beach

Debra Haines during her time as Miss Port of Long Beach.

For a good chunk of the Port's history, from the mid-'50s through the late 1980s, a young woman was chosen to be Miss Port of Long Beach for a year.

Not simply a beauty contest title, Miss Port of Long Beach would be called upon to represent the port at functions throughout the harbor and the wider community.

Our records and photographs of Miss Port of Long Beach are unfortunately a bit scanty. Among the names and photographs we do have are Diane Olson, who was Miss Port when the current administration building was dedicated in 1959; 1975 titleholder Theresa Marino, who was recently interviewed for our documentary "Faces of the Port" and who just retired from the Long Beach Health Department, Mary Ann McHenry, who was Miss Port in 1955 (and who may have been the first), and a few others.

So we were especially glad to hear from Debbie Haines Seccombe, who now lives in Washington state but who, as Debra Haines, was Miss Port of Long Beach from 1976 to 1978. She sent us some photos, clippings and reminiscences to share:

"I had the honor and privilege to serve as Miss Port of Long Beach from 1976 through 1978. I can remember attending many functions along side the then Mayor Tom Clark, including the arrival of the Tall Ships sponsored by Cutty Sark celebrating our country's bicentennial. (Ironically, the one thing I can remember the most is the Tall Ships event because it was where I first tasted scotch!)

With Mr. and Mrs. Lorne Greene.
"I also have a photo with actor Lorne Greene and his wife at a dinner onboard the Queen Mary and attended several functions inside the Spruce Goose hangar. My most memorable experience, however, was flying in a helicopter over the Port of Long Beach. That was a very fun time!

"Because they liked me, I was asked to serve as Miss POLB for two years instead of the traditional one. The basis for my selection was strictly an interview. I often attended events with Miss POLA and Miss International Business.

"My roots were in the port since my dad was a chief in the merchant marines during WWII and took me to Pierpoint Landing and the shipyard to see his 'big boats' as a little girl … the seals at PPL were well worth the trip.

"Although I was raised in Long Beach and attended school there K-12, I moved from there after I left for college and never returned but for a couple of Wilson High School reunions and to visit with my parents.

"My oldest son is also connected to the industry indirectly. He graduated from the USNA in Annapolis, MD and is currently serving as a Naval aviator in the squadron assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (very well-known due to recent events)."

Thanks for sharing your memories Debbie! We'd love to hear some more stories from or about Miss Port of Long Beach -- you can reach us using our Share Your Memories form.

You can see more photos here.

The Bicentennial Tall Ships