Heading into work one recent afternoon, I was stopped at the lights at Elm Street and Route 18, waiting to make a right turn.
That wait was a little longer than usual because someone had pushed the pedestrian button. As it happened, there were three people making their way across the width of the highway.
Since I was a captive audience, I watched them and their progression. The trio, a woman and two men, were casually dressed and two of them had backpacks. As they made it to the corner of Elm and 18, they stopped.
What they did next I wasn’t expecting.
One of the men pulled out a camera as his two companions struck a pose in front of a sign — the one that says “New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park.” The one I pass by five days a week but have barely noticed.
It suddenly dawned on me. They were tourists, checking out the sights, visiting New Bedford maybe for the first time — and they wanted to capture the moment.
It’s the kind of thing Hank and I did countless times back in the day when we did a lot of traveling. Usually, he’d be clicking away because, he’d laughingly remind me, he was the trained professional with three decades as an S-T photographer under his belt.
It didn’t matter that I was a reluctant subject. I hate to have my picture taken … probably because I take such terrible pictures (just ask Hank).
But at least we have a bunch of awful photos of me in interesting places.
Anyway, getting back to The Tourists, for a long time, I don’t remember seeing that many around New Bedford. But, in recent years, thanks to the national park, the growth of the arts community, BCC and UMass Dartmouth and the hard work of a whole lot of community and business people (many of them 20- and 30-somethings), New Bedford has a whole new feel. And a whole lot more people coming to visit.
Once a ghost town after 5 p.m., downtown is now bustling long after dark.
And it’s not the only draw. There’s rich culture in the North and South ends and a gem of a working waterfront. At The S-T, we can look out our windows and see the busy harbor with all manner of vessels, fishing and otherwise.
Just how special that is became clear when a group of 40 people from all over the country arrived Thursday for a waterfront tour offered by the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center.
Suffice to say they were hugely impressed by what so many of us have come to take for granted. Yep, I definitely count myself among the latter.
That’s why I’m thinking maybe it’s time for Hank and me to add to our collection of awful photos of me in interesting places.
Except for this one, we won’t have to travel far at all.