Port Ludlow potlucks and luncheons tradition

Jane Stebbins
Special to The Leader
Posted 12/11/19

Eve McDougall knows Port Ludlow residents have a sense of community that’s as strong as the village is old.

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Port Ludlow potlucks and luncheons tradition

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Eve McDougall knows Port Ludlow residents have a sense of community that’s as strong as the village is old.

When Marian Peterson and Gloria Eckman moved to Port Ludlow — dubbed ‘A Village in the Woods by the Bay’ — in the 1960s, the new retirement and resort community was home to only 300 people, few of whom knew each other.

The two decided to hold monthly luncheons so the ladies could meet one another, McDougall said.

“We brought our own brown bag lunches and the beach club provided the coffee,” said McDougall, who with her husband built the first of their three homes there in 1975. “We played bridge afterward. Everybody got together and had cocktails and dinner; everyone got to know one another. There were wonderful people in the old days; it was wonderful.”

On occasion, they would get a speaker; McDougall recalls the time she arranged for an attorney from Seattle to discuss legal matters. The get-togethers were often chronicled in the Port Ludlow Log, a newsletter published by the maintenance commission that folded in the 1990s.

The paper might not have lasted, but almost five decades later, the group is still going strong — as is the North Bay Potluck group that started shortly thereafter and included men in the growing community.

“The community was very small — I don’t think South Bay area was even built,” said Fran Bodman, who has coordinated the monthly potlucks for more than six of the 13 years she’s lived in the neighborhood. “It was a way to meet neighbors, enjoy food, and the tradition has stuck through the years.”

The ladies still meet for their luncheons, alternating venues between the North Bay Beach Club and South Beach Bay Club in the village.

“I liked the fact that everyone was happy to meet one another,” McDougall said. “They were from all parts of the country. They just enjoyed being together. There aren’t too many left. There’s just a handful of the old-timers.”

Scores of residents will participate in the North Bay Potluck later this month, bringing side dishes to complement the Hawaiian-themed meal. Many will likely wear Hawaiian shirts, aromatic leis and other attire to the soiree.

“Everyone seems to have a good time,” Bodman said. “More and more people just want to chat with neighbors and get to know them. That’s where we met a lot of people we still know. Everyone was really friendly, and made us feel very welcome.”

The potlucks are open to Ludlow Maintenance Commission members, who number about 1,500, and their guests. They’re held once a month from September to May, only taking a break for the December holiday festivities.

Other themes throughout the years have included Western, bingo night, a picnic in summer, trivia night, a Halloween costume contest, a March St. Patrick’s Day meal, a November cocktail party and a January chili-cookoff and bingo event.

One resident spends the summer writing a play and presents a half-hour skit at the February gathering, drawing about 100 residents.

“I like to meet people,” Bodman said. “And people always make their best dishes, so the food is always interesting.”

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