Page 1

Conversations p

o

litics

S

Simon Wiesenthal

p

o

rts

BUT THE THING WILL STILL REMAIN Ted williams & willie mays A Long Hike CURREN

PRICE

A

rts

SUMMER 2011

c a l i f o r n i a


CDF Firefighters: Answering the call more than 300,000 times per year


Conversations p

o

litics

S

p

o

rts

A

SUMMER 2011

c a l i f o r n i a rts

9

WAR STORIES...SORT OF

15

MY DAD & TED (And Willie Mays)

25

BUT THE THING WILL STILL REMAIN

39

A Long Hike in a Historic Place

45

CURREN PRICE

55

THE STARS' last gathering place

61

CREATIVE CAPITOL NETWORK TELEVISION

63

FAST TALK

65

120TH ANNIVERSARY

69

california calendar

WITH LEIGH STEINBERG

OF EARL WARREN'S BIRTH

Š2011 by California Conversations magazine. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. California Conversations is published four times per year. Subscriptions are $15.00 per year. Newsstand $4.00. The opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. All advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters and their contents sent to California Conversations become the sole property of the publisher and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author thereof. California Conversations is not responsible for loss, damage or any other injury to unsolicited originals unless specifically requested to do so by California Conversations in writing. A self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for return must accompany manuscripts, photographs and other materials submitted. To subscribe, check our website at www.californiaconversations.com or call (916) 448-3444. You can also write to us at California Conversations, 1415 L Street, Suite 1100, Sacramento, CA 95814.


4

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

The Nightmare In 1942, the first full year of American involvement in WWII, Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers made a movie, Once Upon a Honeymoon. It included the following dialogue between the British actor and the Missouri born actress:

Cary Grant: There are Nazis in there who decide whether or not they are going to allow people to have children.

Ginger Rogers: You mean it's up to Hitler who can have babies and who can't? Cary Grant: Yes...it used to be the will of G-d. Hitler doesn't like that. Too many people might be born who wouldn't agree with him.

Ginger Rogers: It would make greater sense if his mother had thought of it. The May family is Hitler's nightmare. The Rabbi, his wife, seven children, their spouses, and 22 of their 23 grandchildren are pictured to the right.

Editor Aaron Read Advertising Tom D’Agostino Phone: (916) 448-3444 Email: TomD@aaronread.com

story on Page 25


5

Editorial comments We are back after a bit of a break. The generous response we’ve received for the magazine is part of the reason for returning, but even more is our continued commitment to civil discourse. His name will be synonymous for future generations with seeking tolerance and understanding. However, Simon Wiesenthal will always be known as ‘The Nazi Hunter’, the resilient Jewish inmate of 13 different concentration camps and a complex man who spent all of his life seeking justice, not vengeance. In the telling of this story we were lucky to spend time with the extraordinary Rabbi Meyer May. Curren Price would have done just fine in life without ever asking anyone to vote for him. He was there when the demographics changed, when an almost entirely white California became more diverse. He was also one of those daring young people of a generation ago that strapped on a backpack and went to places no one had gone to when it wasn’t war that inspired travel.

stage. We also take an opportunity to talk with Willie Mays, the greatest all-around baseball player ever. Period. People relax in different ways. We enjoy a long hike with Deanna Douglas on one of the most historic routes in California. It is an amazing journey on the John Muir Trail. The tiny cemetery went unnoticed until Joe DiMaggio buried his second wife, Marilyn Monroe, there. Today, the beautifully kept Westwood Memorial Park is one of the most popular tourist sites in Los Angeles. It is a resting place for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In this issue we listen to the insightful Leigh Steinberg, remember Earl Warren, go to Vietnam with a nurse, hear some favorite anecdotes and, with one of our favorite features, revisit Cathedral Rocks through the brilliant lens of Ralph Heim. We hope you enjoy it. It is good to be back.

Ted Williams was the greatest hitter in baseball history. Period. We see a side of Ted never revealed before, a view of the boy from San Diego who played large on a great

* Cover art of Simon Wiesenthal by Ning Hou, the distinguished and award winning painter from China. www.ninghou.com


R a l p h

H e i m ’ s

California “Cathedral Rocks”

Yosemite’s transition from winter to spring is subtle as evidenced by this photograph of Cathedral Rocks following an early spring storm. ® PHOTOGRAPH BY RALPH HEIM


7

the RIFF Of course, the California Legislature is dysfunctional...thankfully...if you want a diverse society that allows independent thinking then you subscribe to the vigor of different ideas and, on the rare occasion that such a government takes root, it involves as much intransigence as it does concession...we have the longest lasting and the oldest living democracy on the planet and, while it isn’t fragile, it is breakable...and when you think it is designed for a singular view then you have an unlimited number of governments to reference for oppression and failure...it should not be an easy task to write laws or construct a budget that is also a policy document... ultimately, the people are served when voices like conservative republican from Bakersfield, Jean Fuller, a former school superintendent, and democrat Edward Hernandez, a doctor from Los Angeles, lend their insights and their passion to the debate...we took a very informal survey on the next band to break into the big venue...The Airborne Toxic Event is a California group out of Los Feliz and in the five years since they formed they have gone from regional affection to critical respect...two of our critics, first names only in rock concert decorum, Lissy and Jack said find your own way and just listen to them even if you don’t think you have the time... good idea...fifty years ago a tired and broken Papa, an emotionally crippled and physically limited Ernest Hemingway, ended his own life in Ketchum, Idaho... so much was lost when he put the rifle in his mouth at what was for him an

immeasurably old sixty-one...nothing has been written in 85 years that exceeds his first novel, The Sun Also Rises...it was edited by Maxwell Perkins and published by Scribner’s...who also handled F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolf... how about requiring everything worked on by Perkins as a high school reading list and finally accepting that our California school kids have the tools to write well and speak articulately... read the last page of the Great Gatsby out loud and you will get the picture...if you want almost five-hundred pages of compelling storytelling you could do worse than spend money on Tangled Webs by James B. Stewart...the scholarship is nuanced yet it is exceeded by the personal drama of four modern, popular, notorious American figures who were accused of perjuring themselves in an effort to disguise poor behavior...it is good stuff and challenges the notion of loyalty versus truth...an easy side to take unless you have to choose between the friend of Lance Armstrong or the buddy of Barry Bonds...will Tiger come back and compete against a stunning new crop of long-hitting golfers...yup...and we will happily cheer his long saunter up the 18th fairway to a winning putt...the republican presidential candidates are more fun and interesting to watch than some want to admit...Texas Governor Rick Perry’s inevitable entrance will create even more excitement and get folks looking for a Clintonstyle emergence from the field...redistricting in California will cause a long night when elections pit incumbents and even old friends against one another...Rex Frazier, the highly respected President of the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PIFC), and a native of Ohio said it as well as it can be said... “After twenty years I still get a thrill when I’m driving a freeway and I see the names of all the cities and I realize I am living in California...this is such a great place...”


9


10

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

In the Rain and the Mud Shirley Marie Burns was born into a military family, became a nurse and a soldier herself, married an army man, spent most of her life travelling from assignment to assignment until after ten months of asking for the opportunity, personnel sent her in the middle of the 1960s to a distant post in Vietnam. In her own words: My orders got me to San Francisco, and then I had to fly ‘standby’ to Vietnam. My tour was tiring and sad, yet the most rewarding time of my life. I arrived at Tan Son Nhut Airport in Saigon. I was dressed in winter greens and high heeled shoes.

the 25th Infantry Division. It was muddy everywhere and wet. It seemed to just suck you down into it. Our new living quarters, our hooches, had wood sides and a tent top. The guys could not wait to show us our new restroom, our outhouse. They had built them and put pink toilet seats over the holes. They were thrilled and most of us started crying. I was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Working in the rain and mud, it took nearly a month to open for business. Then the business came...and kept on coming. My life was never the same. The next few months were a series of highs and lows.

The nurses were taken to the Post Exchange and told to buy all the feminine things we would need for one year.

The kids...bloody, dirty, hurting, wanting the nurses to hurry so they could get back to their unit, to their buddies.

After lunch at the Officers’ Club we put on helmets and flack jackets and boarded a bus for Cu Chi. We were escorted by several armored vehicles with helicopters overhead.

The MedEvac helicopters were nearby at all times, day and night. We had twelve-hour shifts...when we had shifts at all.

I worked with a group of other nurses at Cu Chi to set up the 12th Evacuation Hospital, a M.A.S.H. unit basically, although that term was not used at the headquarters for

There were trips to the surrounding villages to dispense medicine. When the pills we gave away started showing up with captured Viet Cong, we gave only injectable meds.


11

The mortar attacks were a part of working at Cu Chi.

the new general took over the 25th Division, the guys coming

There was a direct hit on my ward and it killed two GIs

over from base camp with steaks just to say, ‘thank you.’

instantly. That seemed so unfair. Shirley served as the first female commander of the Veterans The highs were less numerous, but the contrast seemed so

of Foreign Wars (VFW) in the State of California. She also

remarkable. R&R in Penang and Tokyo, the mai tai party when

chaired the California VetFund Foundation.

The Hippie Effort By the middle of 1967 the Vietnam War was ramping up and the stories of the bloodiest battles were being shown on American television. The TET Offensive, the cruelest battle of the war, was less than a year away, and Walter Cronkite, the venerable television newscaster, was about to say that our goals in Vietnam were untenable. Ray Snodgrass was a recent high school graduate working the fire season for CAL FIRE when he got the notice to report for his army physical. His mother cried at the prospect of Ray going to war and her tears were not lessened when the doctors told him he was 1A and physically fit to serve in Southeast Asia. A month later Ray was told to be at the induction center for his swearing-in. He got his release from CAL FIRE with the promise that he could work for them again as soon as his time in the service was complete.

On the morning of his arrival at the induction center, Ray was outside in a long line of new enlistees. Before they could all make it into the building there was a ruckus. Several long-haired, colorfully dressed young people began making noise and forcing their way into the induction center ahead of the draftees. It is almost quaint to admit it now, but there really was a time when hippies existed as part of a peace movement that was sweeping the country. There was a skirmish; it almost got violent before the hippies ran down the street screaming that the war needed to end. They had stolen papers from the counter and were waving them in the air. Ray eventually got invited inside. He was told to stand in place while names of the new draftees were called out and they were sent through a second door to be sworn in. There were a half-dozen young men left in the lobby when the soldier in charge asked each of them their name. Ray was one of them.


12

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

“The hippies stole your files,” the soldier told them. “We can’t take you into the army today. You need to come back and have another physical and begin the entire process all over again.”

“I don’t even notice it.”

“How long will something like that take?” Ray asked.

“I wear boots on my job,” Ray answered.

“We’ll call you.”

“Combat boots are for marching,” the doctor snapped.

It was another month. Ray went back to the induction center as he was told, and a new doctor did the physical. This time the doctor noticed that Ray’s small toe on his left foot was bent and crossed over the toe next to it.

Ray was declared ineligible to serve in the military. He was sent home without an option to appeal.

“It will be impossible for you to live an entire year in combat boots,” the doctor opined.

The hippies who had awakened that day with the intent of interrupting the military had managed to change Ray’s life.

“Is your toe always like this?” the doctor asked. “Yes.” “Do you remember when this first happened?” the doctor asked. “Yes, I broke my toe jumping off the back of a pickup truck when I was six years old.” “It is a deformity,” the doctor told him.

All of the draftees who Ray was supposed to join on that first trip to the deployment center were immeasurably altered by going to war. Many of them died. All of them were different because of the experience. Ray went back to work the following week. He would have a remarkable career in the fire service. He would twice be selected Firefighter of the Year, and two decades after his dismissal from the induction center he was elected by his peers to be president of CDF Firefighters.

Two Trips to the Pentagon Years before he decided on a life in public service, Juan

Juan has always held a special interest in South America.

Vargas had a higher calling. The Senator was a Jesuit

Part of his mission was spent in that war-torn continent

seminarian, a young man who actually spent time

bringing a message of service and peace. On his return,

living in a cell vacated years before by another Jesuit

he joined a group of other Jesuits on a trip to the Pentagon

seminarian, Jerry Brown.

to protest American intervention in El Salvador. It did not


13

go well. There was a confrontation as they marched. Juan was arrested. It is a long road to the priesthood. There are many chances to change one’s mind. Juan kept his faith, but eventually left the Jesuits. He went back to school and was accepted to Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he played basketball and became friends with another student named Barack Obama. The story, of course, is that Obama managed to get himself elected President of the United States. A third friend of theirs from Harvard wanted an appointment from Obama. The President offered him

Undersecretary of the Navy. Juan was invited to the Pentagon for the swearing-in ceremony of the Undersecretary. He arrived and amidst heavy security got into line. He noticed a young woman, a second lieutenant, near the front of the line holding up a sign that said “Juan Vargas.” He got out of line and introduced himself to her. She told him to follow her and they bypassed the other soldiers standing guard near the machines where everyone else needed to pass. “Have you ever been to the Pentagon?” the young second lieutenant asked Juan. “I have,” Vargas answered. “I’ve just never been inside.”

Speed and Courage Assemblymember Steve Knight was born at Edwards Air Force Base, a former water stop for the Southern Pacific Railroad, on the borders of Kern and Los Angeles counties. The base itself was named after a test pilot who perished along with five others in a tragic mission that tried unsuccessfully to stretch the limits of aviation technology.

It makes sense that Steve breathed his first breath on a military base. His father, a state assemblymember and senator in his twilight years, was the legendary test pilot Pete Knight. It is impossible to put the challenges Pete Knight faced into perspective. At a time when test pilots were dying at


14

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

a rate of one per week, Pete Knight was in the middle of a brilliant thirty-year Air Force career that would see him test experimental aircrafts that no one had ever flown before. He would also fly in excess of 250 combat missions in Vietnam. No one has ever flown an airplane faster than Pete Knight. Ever. Forty-four years ago Major Knight flew an X 15 A-2 at more than 4,500 miles per hour or just shy of seven times the speed of sound. He took the aircraft 281,000 feet into the air and earned the extraordinary distinction of becoming an astronaut for flying an airplane in space. “My dad rarely talked about his accomplishments,” Steve says. “I remember one time being on a commercial flight with Dad when a passenger started talking about various experimental airplanes. Even I could tell it was all bluster and he had no idea what he was talking about. My dad just sat there expressionless. He refused to straighten him out while I wanted to explain to the guy that he was in the wrong company to be pretending his expertise.” The test pilot fraternity is unique. You can’t sit on a commercial flight and talk your way in. There is no honorary group. It is not possible to imagine the independence and courage it takes to climb alone into the cockpit of an airplane that no one is sure how it will behave, a plane that is designed to go higher and faster and move with greater singularity than any other type before it, and fly at great speeds and altitude to find out if it works.

something to the effect that the greatest men he ever met were those who had the courage to get into a hurtling piece of metal and make it fly according to specifications. The first test pilot to break the sound barrier was lionized in the movie “The Right Stuff.” He was Chuck Yeager. He was a war hero who distinguished himself in Germany and Asia. A man noted by his colleagues for his abilities and his daring. General Yeager spent his long career flying combat missions and, later, test flights. He commanded squadrons and he flew solo, and with both daring and panache he was an ace who was admired greatly by his fellow pilots long before he became famous. The first man to step on the moon flew experimental planes before he bounced on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. A naval aviator and an engineer, Neil Armstrong was known for being self-effacing in spite of his many accomplishments. He was a combat veteran in the Korean conflict and, like Knight and Yeager, he was an old pro from the test pilot Mecca of Edwards Air Force Base. Armstrong would fly thousands of hours in complex aircrafts before he was chosen for his high-profile mission; and like all of his colleagues, find close friends among those who did whatever their country asked of them and did not always survive the task. Steve Knight remembers a time when his dad attended a funeral service for a pilot friend. Steve was invited along. Afterward, Pete Knight invited Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong back to the house. The three great men sat in the kitchen for hours drinking beer and talking about old times. Steve sat in the kitchen with them. “What did you say to them?” we asked Steve.

The astronaut, Gordon Cooper, the final member of the Gemini team and the seventh American to fly solo in space, was asked once who he admired most. He answered

“Nothing, not a word,” the Assemblyman answered. “I just listened and it was one of the best days of my life.”

Pete and Chuck Yeager with friend; Steve knight and dad; Neil armstrong.


15

my dad&ted b

y

j

i

m

cass

i

e

LES CASSIE AND TED WILLIAMS; TED with his arm around les and friends.


16

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

THE DOCUMENTATION IS CLEAR ENOUGH TO PROVE THE GREATNESS OF "TEDDY BALLGAME."

In the early years of the Great Depression, two kids from San Diego, a great guy, my father, Les Cassie, and a future baseball legend and war hero, Ted Williams, developed a close friendship. They grew up during a time when two boys could get up early and find a day-long game at the then University Heights Playground, where foul balls ended up too often in a reservoir; or the Central Playground, a place neighborhood rivalries played out with an intensity that was largely unnoticed by most adults, since their supervision was not needed by boys playing baseball in the 1930s. It was a time and a place that no longer exists. Ted Williams would remember San Diego as ‘the nicest little town in the world.’ The home runs were hit into the yards of bungalows that were razed to make room for the newcomers. The San Diego of their youth was still somewhat rural, less than 200,000 people in a community where more than three million crowd today. The homes on Utah Street were affordable, if a bit run down, for a single mother. The people who bought the house at 4121 Utah Street almost fifty years after Ted’s mom bought it still boast that they also own the kitchen table on which Ted Williams signed his first major league contract. Baseball Baseball mattered to the boys. They played it every day with guys named Roy and Wylie and a big kid named March who was always chosen first. The professional teams they followed were all on the eastern side of the country and could be heard on the radio or read about in the morning and evening newspapers, and all of this was

done in a smaller world and without ever knowing that television, let alone something like cyberspace, would be in anyone’s neighborhood. Clearly, the common bond for these two friends was baseball. For Ted, it was hitting a baseball. Eventually, for my dad, it was teaching kids how to hit a baseball. And for me, it was a wonderful experience to see this long friendship up-close, all wrapped around the quietly optimistic decade of the 1950s. It was a marvelous time, although we didn’t appreciate it at the moment for all of its wonder. This story is about my dad, Leslie Robinson Cassie and his friend, Theodore Samuel Williams. Records indicate that Ted’s given name was Teddy, for the first President Roosevelt, but later changed to Theodore. Ted’s mother, May, was of Mexican descent and seemed to find greater satisfaction working long hours for the Salvation Army than putting in time being a mother. She was once named San Diego’s Woman of the Year. It was complicated. Ted loved her. He said during a visit back to San Diego in 1992 that when he first started playing ball he finally had enough to eat. After that, he fixed up his mom’s house. Ted was really quite proud because he wanted his mother’s house to look good. It wasn’t always easy. Regardless, among the many honors Ted earned, he deserves to be recognized as the greatest Latino baseball player of all-time. Both Les and Ted grew up in the North Park section of San Diego. They played on the same teams throughout their teen years. In September of 1932 they were among the 351


17

Ted was the star on a grand stage.

sophomores that entered through the High Tower of Herbert Hoover High School. Three years later, their yearbook boasted that amidst a battery of floodlights and flowers, 241 graduating seniors, strong, self-reliant men and women, were sent forth to meet the world. Out of the thousands of personal stories that must have existed for those kids, one of the few still surviving is that Ted Williams was so into hitting he actually carried a bat to class. For whatever reason, Ted’s father was not around much. Ted ended up spending a lot of time with my grandparents. My dad was not a fisherman, but Ted and my grandfather spent hours on San Diego’s seaside piers trying to hook the big one. Both Les and Ted were skinny kids for their age. This is in part how Ted later got one of his more famous nicknames, The Splendid Splinter. He was also known as Teddy Ballgame, The Kid, and the Big Thumper.

Photos courtesy of the red sox.


18

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

“Do you know what the most important thing about hitting is? Get a good pitch to hit.” And that’s pretty good advice for a lot of things in life.

Not unlike teenage boys of every age, Ted and Les wanted to get bigger and stronger. A normal summer evening in 1933 was spent with the buddies shooting games of snooker,

graduated early, in December, before the rest of his class, and signed a minor league contract with the independent San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

having a milkshake at the drugstore, and then jumping on the scales. Over the course of that school break neither of them gained a pound. They both played organized baseball. Ted was brilliant, and quickly caught the eye of professional scouts. In 1935, he

The following year, Ted Williams signed with the Boston Red Sox organization and was immediately placed in their farm system. Ted had rarely traveled as far as the neighboring San Diego communities, let alone to the major league facilities in Florida. So, the boy who would become the great Teddy Ballgame and my grandfather, who was a carpenter for the San Diego School District, boarded a bus bound for Sarasota, Florida. During the trip, an already painfully skinny Ted became ill and the two of them were forced to stay a few days in New Orleans until Ted could be nursed back to recovery. That year was the last one where Ted Williams would not be one of the most famous people in America. Ted played well enough for the forgotten Minneapolis Millers in the American Association to be promoted. On April 29, 1939, at the age of 20, Ted Williams played his first game in historic Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Over the next quarter century, Ted Williams would put together 21 Hall of Fame seasons. Those magnificent games were interrupted with four years of serving his country through two wars. He was a genuine All-American. As a boy, Ted told my dad and his friends in school that he wanted people to say he was the greatest hitter of all time. It all came true. Ted compiled a .344 batting average, had 521 home runs with 1,839 runs batted in. Also, while not known for being fast, he remains only one of three players to steal a base in four different decades.

ted's baseball card is a collector's item.

Depression Boys I recall one story told around our house demonstrating how tough things were near the end of the Depression and at the outbreak of World War II. After Ted signed his first big


19

ted and Les loved the stories.

league contract, he bought a car and parked it in front of his parent’s house on Utah Street. Soon thereafter, the car was on jacks with the wheels stolen. His brother, who would lead a troubled life, yet was cared for and supported by Ted through a series of legal problems and health issues, a lifestyle leading to a premature death, had sold them for cash.

category. The stresses of the real world intervened, however, in the form of the Korean War and on his way to re-writing the record books, Ted was recalled as a reservist after playing only six games in 1952. It is incredible to think of what his numbers would have been if Ted had not spent some key years of his career in a uniform other than baseball.

At the same time, his buddy, Les, long and lean and wearing his signature eyeglasses, entered San Diego State College. Baseball still mattered. He played on the baseball team and studied to be a teacher, a baseball coach and a sometimes scout. When the war broke out, his eyesight was so bad he was not accepted into the military. Instead, he took a break from his studies and went to work for the defense contractor that later became General Dynamics and labored as a draftsman building aircraft. Following the war, he joined a long line of soldiers and returned to SDSC.

His war record has been well documented and his “ace status” as a pilot is a testament to his personal courage and his 20/10 eyesight. Williams said being a good pilot demanded athleticism. He taught others how to fly in WWII. He flew combat himself in Korea. Another bigleaguer, Yankee second baseman Jerry Coleman, was a pilot in a different squadron on a mission when Williams was shot down. Obviously, Ted survived. Coleman is the only major league player to face combat in both World War II and Korea. He would have a decent career as a player and spend more than twenty years as the announcer for the San Diego Padres. After flying 38 combat missions, Ted was released from duty and rejoined the Red Sox in mid-season, 1953. At that time, the Splendid Splinter was putting on the weight and muscle of his middle years. He was 34 years old.

Again, eligibility in place, my dad played ball. In the spring of 1945 or 1946, his San Diego State team was playing against UCLA in sparsely populated Westwood. It didn’t matter who won, but UCLA, like all the other schools, had an infielder who was getting started again after returning from the war. My dad pitched most of the game and gave up three hits to that Bruin without one of those balls getting out of the infield. The UCLA player was a multi-sports star by the name of Jack Roosevelt Robinson. Two years later, of course, the great Jackie Robinson would become one of baseball’s immortals and break the color barrier in the big leagues. He would also deservedly reach the hallowed Hall of Fame shrine in Cooperstown. Ted brutalized American League pitching after the war and over the next five years led the league in every hitting

Coach Throughout the late-forties and fifties, Les Cassie was a successful coach at San Diego High School. Over 13 years, he produced tough teams that understood the fundamentals of the game. His coaching career included brief stints at his own Hoover High School and San Diego Junior College. His win-loss record was a staggering 200-28. He mentored gifted players, including Floyd Robinson who would play for the Chicago White Sox and Deron Johnson, who led the National League in runs batted-in (130) in 1965 with the Cincinnati Reds. Paul Runge, a fairly gifted catcher, played in the Houston organization but followed his dad as a major


20

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

In 1957, my parents, my brother Tom, me and another couple, took a trip in a Buick Special. It was part business, but mostly pleasure. We spent three weeks in a car with no air conditioning visiting places like Joplin, MO, Chicago, Binghamton, NY, New York City, and any other place where there was someone in organized ball that my dad had played with or coached. The best stop was Boston. Ted always lived in a hotel. It was there I met Bobbi Jo, his daughter by his first marriage. She was my age, maybe a bit older. I remember we needed to run everywhere to avoid his fans. It was amazing. It was on this trip that I had my first ride in a taxi. Bobbi Jo was fearless and immediately got on the portable radio to talk with the dispatcher, who she seemed to know. She was something.

baseball's greatesT hitter in his twilight.

league umpire. Today, a third generation Runge is calling balls and strikes in the big leagues. I recall coming home from the playground one day to learn that ‘The Thumper’ would be having dinner with us. My mother told me I couldn’t tell anyone Ted was there. If I had, she was concerned, accurately so, that the backyard would be filled with neighborhood kids. I remember the Russians had launched a satellite that day and we all were out there trying to see it. Ted had a rather salty vocabulary. No one used bad words in our house, so for me, it was like listening to the modern-day comics. Ted always got around to talking about his favorite subject, hitting. In fact, the boy who left high school early wrote three books. One was called The Science of Hitting. He had charts and diagrams and it was something he understood viscerally and tried to share with others. I remember him asking me if the pitched ball looked like a “volleyball” coming at me. I said that it looked more like a “golf ball.” The next week I had glasses and have worn them ever since.

Ted loved the outdoors. He was allowed to keep his hunting skills sharp during the season by shooting pigeons that landed on the infield at Fenway. He did agree to do this on game day afternoons when the fans were not around. As gifted a fisherman as a baseball player, he lived in the Florida Keys during the off season. Sometime near the end of his career, a hurricane hit the Keys and many of the items he saved from his playing days were lost. I came home from school one day and there was a large trunk in the garage. It was filled with Ted’s old uniforms, hats, gloves, baseballs, bats and more. He had shipped what remained of his collection to our house. I recall thinking this is just a bunch of old stuff. I was wrong. Just before Ted was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, the trunk was shipped to Cooperstown. Last Ted’s last season was a memorable one. In 1960, at the age of 42, he hit .316 in 113 games. In his final trip to the plate, he hit one out. He touched home, ran in the dugout and went directly to the clubhouse. He later said he wished he had stepped out of the dugout and tipped his hat to the Bosox fans. His relationship with them was an uneasy one, but Tom Yawkey, owner of the team, respected Ted so much that in the latter part of Ted’s career Yawkey sent him a blank check with his contract and allowed Ted to fill in the number. One of my last recollections of my dad with Ted was at a dinner in San Diego that was sponsored by Sears. Ted had signed a deal to put his name on fishing rods, reels, guns, baseball gloves and anything else that would help sell their merchandise. During the meal, the president of Sears asked Ted how he liked their new line of fishing gear. Ted abruptly said something to the effect that he just has his name on it, he doesn’t use it. It deflated the Sears man.


21

From 1969-1971, an aging and increasingly irascible Ted managed the Washington Senators and led them to their only winning season with that name and in that city. I remember visiting with him during a series with the California Angels. He was swarmed when he went through the hotel lobby, but he really didn’t want to stay in his room. We went to the ballpark. It was mid-afternoon and he asked the Angels to put a rocking chair in centerfield prior to the night game. Soon Jim Fregosi, the Angel star at the time, and several of the Angel players were talking about hitting with ‘The Kid.’ That night, the Senators beat California 2-1 in 15 innings. My wife at the time thought it lasted an eternity, and when asked by Ted how she liked the game, told him, “All you guys do is spit and scratch.” Imagine that. My dad and Ted talked over the years on the telephone. They did manage to get together for a mini-reunion at their old playground during a celebration in San Diego where they named a freeway after Ted. In 2000, Les would be inducted into the Coaching Legends at the San Diego Hall of Champions. Ted summed up their friendship. “You know,” he said, “I’ve always thought of Les as my brother.” I was lucky. Les was my dad. Every time I went back to San Diego and someone heard my name they would ask me if Les Cassie was my dad. I’ve said yes a few times in my life. I’ve never said it with more pride than I would say it at those moments. I loved him very much.

in October of that year. They are gone, but my brother and I were left with a locker room full of good memories. And this one is as good as any. On our trip in 1957, after visiting with Ted, we went with him to New York where they were playing the Yanks. My dad was a scout at the time for the Yankees, so Tom and I got to go into their clubhouse and see the likes of Bobby Richardson, Hank Bauer, Mickey Mantle, Moose Skowron, and Yogi Berra. There was also another San Diegan in the clubhouse – Don Larsen; the only man to

The End The end for Ted was unfortunately bizarre. Shortly after his death in 2002, his son, John-Henry, a product of his second marriage, produced a family pact that apparently Ted had signed saying he wanted to be “suspended by cryonics” at a life extension foundation in Scottsdale. Bobbi Jo, still tough like her dad, sued, saying her father wanted to be cremated. That was what Ted told my dad. He even added that he wanted to have his ashes scattered over the Florida Keys to join a favored, previously departed dog, Slugger. The theory was that John-Henry was marketing his dad’s reputation and wanted to sell his DNA as a possible winner. At one point, my dad told John-Henry that “nobody has more of Ted’s DNA than you and it doesn’t help you hit a curve ball.” Ted’s boy would not enjoy the benefits of his marketing skills for long. He died from leukemia a few years after Ted, at the age of 35.

pitch a perfect game in the World Series (1956). What a treat. Our seats that day were directly behind home plate in the first row. One inning, Ted led off and said something to the catcher, Yogi, who turned and gave a quick wave to a woman in a red dress. It was my mother and she nearly fainted. I still picture the setting today: dinner on Austin Drive in San Diego with Ted at the table and Ted says to Tom and me, “Do you know what the most important thing about hitting is? Get a good pitch to hit.” And that’s pretty good advice for a lot of things in life. Postscript: On an early spring evening in 2009, I had the opportunity to meet Don Larsen and his wife in Sacramento. We chatted about mutual acquaintances we shared because of my dad. Larsen had graduated from Pt. Loma High School in 1947. Of course, the story always takes a turn. In 1998, another Pt. Loma High alum, David Wells, pitched

Les My dad passed away in May of 2008. My mother joined him

a perfect game in Yankee Stadium. And who was in the stands? Don Larsen.


22

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

willie mays b y

st e v e

b a k e r

It was Ted Williams who said that professional baseball only held an All-Star game so that the rest of America could see Willie Mays play.


23

California Conversations (CC): Did you ever spend any time with Ted Williams? Willie Mays (WM): Ted was a good friend of mine. We would see each other at baseball events after we retired and he was always very friendly to me. And I guess that was not the case with everyone. CC: Did you talk about hitting? WM: No, I never talked hitting, or even talked about playing baseball, with Ted. I never really do when I’m talking to baseball people. Whatever anybody’s done, I’ve already done it. CC: When did you first realize that you could hit the ball better than anyone else? WM: I was 12. I didn’t play little league ball. I was already playing on a semi-pro team in my hometown near Birmingham, Alabama. I could hit the ball better than guys anywhere around my age, and I was playing with grown men. I was playing on teams with my dad. CC: Your dad had a great nickname? WM: Yes, he was called Cat Mays.

CC: When you were in the Army, were you ever concerned that you would lose a step or that you wouldn’t be able to come back and play baseball? WM: No, I really didn’t think about it. The Army was good for me. I grew up, I got stronger. I played five days for the Army and two for myself in a City League. I didn’t want to go. I made the best of it. I might have had another 60 or 70 homeruns if I hadn’t gone into the service. CC: You would have broken Babe Ruth’s record? WM: Yeah, but still that wasn’t important. It’s just a number to me. My father and I used to talk and we discussed that you have to be in the top five of everything important and if you look at my record you’ll see I’m in the top five of stolen bases, hits, knocked-in runs, home runs, all kinds of stuff. Top five. Think about that. A lot of guys are good hitters or good fielders, they’re good base runners, but they’re not in the top five of many things, maybe just one thing. I played 150 games or more for 18 or 19 years, and that, to me, is a lot of games. I led the league in stolen bases four years in a row and then I quit running. I only stole when I had to.

CC: Was he as good as the Say Hey Kid?

CC: 338 stolen bases?

WM: I don’t know. (Laughs) I don’t judge. I don’t do that. I don’t judge people by what I do. I think the fans have to do that and not me.

WM: I could have stolen 450, probably 500 if I wanted to. Again, those are just numbers. They didn’t tell me they were going to keep records on that kind of stuff.

CC: What was the biggest difference between playing in New York and San Francisco?

CC: Can you teach hitting or do you just have to have that skill?

WM: Nothing. It’s just baseball. You catch the ball, you throw the ball, you hit the ball.

WM: I can tell someone what to do and how to do it. We had a kid, a third baseman, Matt Williams, and Matt couldn’t hit a breaking ball when we first got him. We taught him.

CC: Would the Dodgers and the Giants hang out when you all worked in the same city? WM: No. When the game was over they went their way, I went my way. CC: Did you live in New York City? WM: Yes, I lived on A Street, right by La Guardia Airport and then I lived in New Rochelle on North Street. That was back in 1956-57. Then we moved to California in 1958 and San Francisco has been my home ever since. I like California.

CC: When people talk about the great hitters... WM: Hitting? That is only one aspect of the game. It’s not all about hitting. I’d rather play defense than hit. CC: Was defense more fun? WM: It is the key to playing baseball. If you can play good defense and you can score one run then they got to score two. You see a lot of teams with good offense, but the offense is not enough.


24

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

CC: You won twelve gold gloves. WM: They didn’t start that award until I was in the league for five or six years. I was the captain on the field and I would set our team up depending on where the pitcher was going to pitch. If he throws the ball in the same area and you know the batter, you will have an idea of where he is going to hit it. The great catch most of the time is not having to make a great catch. It is being where you are supposed to be. Like people have computers now, I was computing in my head. I had to know everything about every club, every hitter. CC: Who chooses the captain? WM: On the Giants, the manager did. Alvin Dark did that for me. We played together when he was a shortstop in New York and if the pitcher was throwing a breaking ball, Alvin put his hands behind him to let me know it was coming so I could expect to catch a ball in the gap. He was good. CC: When you are at the plate what does the ball look like when it is coming toward you? WM: I could see the seams on the ball. Maybe that’s why my eyes are bad now because I had to squint to see what was coming all the time. I could see it all. CC: You’ve said the famous Vic Wertz’ over-the-shoulder World Series catch was not your greatest catch. WM: I made a lot of better catches than that, but it was the most publicized one. In 1954, the World Series was done in four games so they had to pick a highlight I guess and they picked that one. CC: What would you have done if you had not been a baseball player?

WM: I don’t think I wanted to do anything else. My dad would never let me go in a coal mine, he never let me work, I never had a job. I actually had a job for 3 hours one day and I quit it because it interfered with my game. CC: What was the job? WM: Washing dishes at a restaurant. It was not a career I wanted. CC: I hear you are a pretty good golfer? WM: That was after baseball. I got down to 4 when I could play every day. CC: Do people still come up to you and say “Bye, Bye Baby?” WM: No (laughs). That was Russ Hodges. He was a great guy and a great announcer. They play ‘Bye Bye Baby’ at the ballpark now. I had two batting coaches, Lon Simmons, the other announcer, and Russ Hodges. They could see me changing my swing and they’d call me and say you changed and I’d go home and look at a film and find out they were telling me the truth. CC: The President pro Tempore of the Senate, Darrell Steinberg and the Speaker of the Assembly, John Perez, wrote a resolution calling you the greatest baseball player of all time and they presented the resolution to you on the floors of both their houses on your 79th birthday. WM: It was a great honor, one of the great honors of my life. I was very proud to be there. (Laughs) And they got the resolution right. CC: Can you help me get tickets to the Giants? WM: (laughs) Call me. I can work something out.


25

But The Thing Will Still Remain b y

T e r e nc e

M c hal e


26

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

THE PICTURE WITH CIFF AND DEBBIE.

The Old Man The picture was taken twenty or so years ago at a fundraiser. My friend, Cliff Berg, and his wife Debbie are in the photo. The third person is an old man. His features are drawn long, and his dark eyes are damp. His complex face is weighted down by experiences that never leave him. He has become a celebrity of sorts for the oddest of reasons. The old man survived the Final Solution, a twentieth century idea of inexplicable evil, a plan created to kill all of the Jews in Europe. The old man lived long enough to cast a bright light on those who participated in the implementation of the Final Solution. His idea wasn’t complicated. He wanted everyone to know that decent people were dragged into a hell where every part of their lives was shattered before six million of them were killed. The old man wanted everyone to understand that their neighbors bought into a society where families could be violently removed from their homes. He wanted everyone to remember that families were stripped of their possessions and sent on trains to terrible places where they were separated by

everyday bureaucrats with the authority over life and death. And he wanted those who were responsible to be held accountable for their crimes. Rabbi Meyer May, an interesting man, explained that this old man would identify officers and guards at the camps who had killed people. The old man would say that it was murder, it wasn’t war. “War is when you are on the beach at Normandy and you’re being shot at and you shoot somebody else, that’s not called murder,” May said. “That’s called war, because that is the nature of war. What we’re talking about here is murder…about people being herded into a ravine and shot. We are talking about guards beating people to death, or hanging them, or forcing them into gas chambers. We cannot accept that there is a scale to murder. There is not something that says genocide and big murder are bad, but little murder is okay.” After the war ended, the old man’s goal of telling the truth should have been an easy task. It wasn’t. No one wanted to disturb a fragile re-piecing together of a new world order. It was easier to say those times, the years of chaos that


27

made up an era of war, the trips on the train while the rest of the world was bleeding, were an anomaly and needed to be forgotten. The early days of what ultimately became the old man’s life’s work were solitary. He strung nickels together to finance chasing down soldiers and employees who handled the logistics of murder being managed on a massive scale. He worked by himself. It would have been much easier to quit and disappear into the quiet comfort of a private life. “You are becoming a lightening rod,” he was warned. He kept moving inexorably forward. He had seen too much to let those who were gone be forgotten. This old man lived a life that was unimaginably different from what his parents could have hoped when he was born early in the last century, in a city that is gone, in a country that no longer exists. Young once, only for a short time, even a bit of a dandy in the way he dressed and slicked back his hair; he wanted to be an architect. He was denied admission to the university of his choice because of his faith. It was not the first limit imposed upon him. He’d been beaten by soldiers when he was a child. There was no recourse. The soldiers had free rein to be as abusive as they wanted to be. It was an entitlement too many found too easy to indulge. The old man and those he loved were forced to wear a distinguishing symbol. The pogroms in memory were still real and new ones were now more inevitable than considered possible. The legal structure promised in Mein Kampf, and left unchallenged until it was too late, subjected him to fearsome abuses.

emanating from Germany. The old man in the picture knew of them. He was the hunted in an age of systemic anti-Semitism. By 1939, in a civilized part of Europe, in a modern world, it became illegal for him to drive a car or own property. It was socially acceptable to do much more than break his windows or destroy his business, or beat him up and make anathema the manner of his worship. The Nazi evil – ugly, perverse in retrospect and monumental in history, a marketing and political movement that swept away common decency – permeated a continent. The brown boots and the strutting, the magnificently staged rallies, the hysteria, the Arian purity espoused by weakling men, an absurdity that is now so easily caricatured, were capped by a nationalized stiffarmed devotion to a demagogue with absolute power. The old man in the picture understood that political extremism sold an imponderable cruelty. Adolf Hitler put the world at war on the premise that a future could be built on a personal violence against Jews. He empowered the sycophantic son of a school principal, a harpsichord player named Himmler, to lead the design of the Final Solution. Adolf Eichmann, a door-to-door salesman with organizational skills and, even by the old man’s estimation, someone who lived the life of a family man, made the trains to hell run on time. The old man would play a role in the capture of Eichmann after the war and would note that this common man’s trial would only have made sense to the prosecutors if he pled guilty to murder six million times.

The old man’s talent survives him in drawings that are archived, and, had the tenor of his life been different, his artistic abilities were what would have made him noticeable. He fell in love and married his high school sweetheart. That is not a distinction that separates him from millions. It was the way he would prove himself resilient that makes a difference. He was old in the picture with Cliff and Debbie. He got old fast and was old for a long time.

The consequences of a Nazi philosophy can be explained a generation later in gut-wrenching newsreels of a devastated Europe and in the longings of a young girl’s diary. The bombed-out buildings provide a ghostly silhouette. The naked bodies piled in a heap challenge our humanity. The disappearance of Anne Frank resonates throughout the years she deserved to live. She would be an eighty-two-year-old grandmother if there’d never been people, everyday people, neighbors, storekeepers, salesmen, classmates, clerics, harpsichord players hoping to be athletes, who believed in Hitler.

In 1938, a popular short plug shown before the American movies warned the world of the continuing horrors

This old man in the picture endured years of captivity. He was brilliant and ambitious and he’d committed no crime.


28

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

THE WIESENTHALS; THE BOY SCOUTS — ONLY SIMON, MIDDLE, WOULD SURVIVE THE WAR.

He was six feet tall, lean, well-built and healthy when the nightmares took over. At the end of the ordeal, and that is all the Allies and the enemies wanted to call the murder of six million people, he weighed only 110 pounds. That is bones. That isn’t being hungry. That is starvation. That is being sent from bunkhouse to bunkhouse where individual Nazis are given the freedom to reduce you until they decide to kill you. He was left in the control of people who worked as plumbers, steelworkers, clerks, and

teachers before the war and would try returning to that normalcy when it ended. At one of these insulated camps, the same people who tormented the prisoners as a matter of course constructed a chapel that was visible on the pathway leading to the gas chambers. What benevolent and merciful god did they kneel to in those years? Was it the same god they worshipped before the war and then found waiting for them after they no longer had badges and whips?

Capturing History They burned the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp down after the war. A young girl who was there, Hanneli Pick-Goslar, a school friend and neighbor of Anne Frank, was able to tell the heartbreaking final chapter of Anne’s life. This extraordinary child, left shivering and alone, about whom John F. Kennedy said, “Of all the multitudes who throughout history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, no voice is more compelling than that of Anne Frank,” died when she was fifteen years old. Rabbi May said that Anne’s diary, which he believed that other than the Bible is the most read book in the world, was called a fraud by detractors who said that Anne Frank never existed. In 1958, Simon Wiesenthal was challenged by a hostile group to find the person who captured Anne. It took five years, but in 1963, Simon made possible the capture of Karl Silberbauer. The former Nazi confirmed the validity of the diary and the story of Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank. We are better and worse for the details.


29

A WAREHOUSE OF DEATH; MAUTHAUSEN.

The old man was sent to a series of concentration camps, thirteen of them, extermination camps, places of slave labor and everyday humiliations. He lived with execution as a constant threat. Among the millions who would die in a celebrated system of slaughter would be 80 family members of the old man and his wife. He endured the endless deadly minutes of the implementation of a Final Solution that took years to ultimately fail. The old man would live long enough to chase those who managed to weave murder into public policy. There is an ancient photo of the old man as a leader of ten other boy scouts. He is the only one who survived the Nazis. The youth before the Nazis took hold of him is completely gone. The young man that once must have charmed and inspired is unrecognizable in an old man who refuses to forget. Where was home he wrote when the war was over? What did the concept mean? What remained of family, friends, a house, relations? None of these existed for him any longer. In the picture with Cliff and Debbie, the old man’s mustache is turning white. His high-domed forehead is a less noticeable feature than the deep folds around his thin hard-set lips. Everyone at the fundraiser with Cliff and Debbie was there to meet the old man. He survived the wholesale killings. He delineated the difference between vengeance and justice and dared to say, against incredible opposition, that there is a consequence when employees or soldiers turn into monsters. Incredibly, after all it meant for him

to be a Jew, a man whose mother died in a gas chamber and whose mother-in-law was shot on a porch in her old age, and the girl he loved was lost for years in the Nazi labyrinth, there was a museum of tolerance being built in his name. Six million Jews died. He knew them. In his lifetime he also made a point of remembering the gypsies and the homosexuals and the disabled and the noisy, although infrequently heard, political opposition who died because they didn’t fit an Aryan ideal. The Final Solution swept others into the net. He understood what all of them endured. He knew. It is impossible to think about what kept him awake when he went to bed at night. The old man awakened on the 5th of May, 1945, in the Mauthausen concentration camp and greeted the tanks that arrived to liberate the prisoners. It is almost ridiculous to call it a camp. There were 85,000 inmates. Two hundred twenty thousand people died in that tortuous hellhole since it was opened to handle the overflow from the first concentration camp, Dachau, seven years earlier. Can anyone say Dachau now without wondering what was the gossip at the neighborhood market? Who is living in the Berg house? What does a person give up inside to know that Dachau is at the corner? On the morning that the Allies arrived the old man was punched by a clerk who thought the consistent brutality would continue. It wouldn’t. By the second morning, the lines of power had shifted. The strutting Nazis were reduced.


30

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

ART CAPTURES THE HORROR.

They were emptied of their starched uniforms. They were void of the power over life and death to which they had grown accustomed. The commandant was already on the run. He would die within days and have his body hung on a fence in an ignominious display. Himmler, the harpsichord player turned Halloween architect, would try cutting a deal and find there were no takers. Suicide was his option. Eichmann was running too. The old man would find him. The old man began a list of the war crimes he had seen the Nazis commit in the camps. He was meticulous. He spent twenty or so days compiling the list in Polish. He was an ill, skinny ghost in a striped uniform summoning testimony from those who lost the grim grasp on the life he still owned. He knew their voice was silenced and he was going to make sure they were heard. The list was done on different pieces of paper for each camp where he lived, and struggled to survive, and the ninety-one Nazis he named became the beginning of his life’s work by letting their crimes be seen in the light. It was important enough of a document that the Allied investigators would save it for evidence. That list still survives today. In the end, the old man would become the Nazi hunter who made justice, not vengeance, his legacy. The old man is wearing a name tag in the picture with Cliff and Debbie. Now, long after the villains of that generation have been mostly filed away in a shameful chapter, his name still matters.

The name is Simon Wiesenthal. Museum The Museum of Tolerance is an ultra-sleek multimedia, hands-on educational arm of the Simon Weisenthal Center on busy Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. Busses pull up with kids who like the idea of a field trip. There is the timeless delight of school children out of the classroom and on a break. They are not unlike lines of other kids who are about to enter an amusement park. Maybe they’ve been told that this Museum is not out to entertain them. It doesn’t matter. Until they get inside there is no way to prepare them for their encounter with an age that preceded them. They are greeted with framed photos of elderly survivors decades removed from captivity. They look like people we’ve always known, our neighbors, our friends, our family, and yet once they were targeted. Underneath their photos are the places they were incarcerated. It is not yet clear that there were almost 1,500 camps, some in Germany, most in occupied countries, some of the names familiar, Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died, Ravensbruk, Konin, Auschwitz where more Jews died than all of Britain lost in the war. In Austria, at the turn of the century, there were more than 240,000 Jews. In 1945, there were less than fifty. There are quotes chosen by the former prisoners of the Nazis; “When I needed to survive, I did.” “Hate is a waste of time.” “Indifference let hatred rule the world, and six million people died.” “My parents never saw their only child grow up.”


31

Rabbi May in israel; Rabbis may and Hier.

A sculpture, Holocausto, by Jose Sacal, is reminiscent of the way Jews were hanged in the camps. In 1979, Wiesenthal used an actual photo of such an image on postcards that he sent to the German Chancellor asking him to extend the statute of limitations on Nazi crimes. The photo was a stark view of the ease with which torture and murder were part of daily life in the camps. The sculpture conveys what one in six million looks like. The museum was designed by storytellers. The implementation is high-tech, modern, and hands-on, keeping your attention as you move past screens that challenge you with the power of images and words, to a millennium machine where the seriousness of the field trip is instantly clear in the questions of morality and conscience that are asked and computed. Each of the visitors to the Museum is given the identification of a person who was arrested by the Nazis. It sets the stage for a journey that becomes more personal as you experience all the attendant horrors associated with genocide. It is haunting. There are the personal items that survived. The relics from sacred places are preserved but no longer protected by those families who found peace and hope in the items. You learn about a community, the dancing, the dreams, the worshipping, and then discover it no longer exists. You learn there are many communities that no longer exist. There is the constant foreboding of being chased by the powerful. You walk through the brick entrance of a concentration camp. It would be trite and unfair to say you get anything close to the same experience of those who were there when

such a walk into madness made up real life. It is, however, a vivid moment and the groups of kids who were celebratory outside are now quiet, involved, clearly trying to make sense out of the hatred. Some kids cling to each other. There are tears and there is a wondering how it happened. Perhaps most powerful is the message that this incredible history would have been impossible if average people did not allow it to happen. Rabbi May explained that Simon believed the world is made up of haters and anti-haters. “My greatest memory of Simon is when he had just come back from speaking to students. He wanted kids to know that they had a stake in the world, and it is up to them to make the right choices. It is up to you. It isn’t up to anyone else. Every person has to walk out of the museum thinking it is up to me.� Meyer May The offices accommodating the work of the Center are across the street in a nondescript building with underground parking. There is the concomitant security that is unfortunately inherent with running a Jewish Center. More than a half-century after the war, the prejudices survive. The young man who checked my rental car asked who I was there to see. I said I had an appointment with Rabbi Meyer May. He was the first of several employees who told me, unsolicited, how the Rabbi was special to them. An older guide at the museum tapped his chest when I


32

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

mentioned the Rabbi and said that Rabbi May was in his heart. A woman mentioned how the Rabbi personally cares about everyone who works at the Center. He is a mensch, she said, sure I would know what that meant and happy to convey some good news. The Rabbi’s office could just as easily belong to a college professor as it could to the CEO of a good-sized company. There are no pictures of the many celebrities he has met over the years, and while there are books, there was nothing pretentious about his collection. I did notice that at the top of a stack on the floor was a private coffee table copy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heroic presentation of his years as governor. The Rabbi is probably in his fifties. He has four lines in his forehead, none of them deep, and he is neither wrinkled nor compromised by middle age. He is nice looking, with hair that is lighter-colored than when he was younger, now gray and balding, and he clearly benefits from his daily walks and clean living. His beard is trimmed, stylish maybe in Rabbinical circles, and also showing the gray. He is friendly, not reserved and not the life of the party, a kindness, immediately good company, a great smile, and a New York accent that has been softened over the years. There is vitality to his movements, intellectual for

sure, but more than that; an energy, an enthusiasm that is evident even when he sits behind the desk. He speaks highly of his more famous colleague, the eminent Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founding dean of the Wiesenthal Center. He gives others credit for the Nazi hunting. Rabbi May is involved in the financing of the center. The Rabbi is officially the Executive Director, a member of a team that has brought more than five million visitors into a museum that seeks to establish a baseline for tolerance through educational outreach, community involvement and social action. Meyer May was there when the Simon Wiesenthal Center began. He was a young man when he met Simon. “I knew him when he was a robust person,” May says. “I would pick Simon up at the airport and drive him wherever he needed to go. In those days we didn’t have cell phones. We weren’t texting. We would often eat together. He liked telling stories and had a great sense of humor, sometimes a profane humor. Simon was interesting and would talk of world events. He would talk about cases that had gone wrong, and cases he was working on. He would talk about Israel. His wife asked him why they didn’t move to Israel, why he kept his office in Vienna, and he said the Nazis were not in Israel.

Rabbi Marvin Hier Newsweek magazine has twice named him the ‘Most Influential Rabbi in America.” It is arguable, however, that Rabbi Marvin Hier is among the most important religious leaders in the world. Rooted in the lessons of the past and committed to remembering those who were lost in the Holocaust, the Rabbi is also very much a person of his time. The Wiesenthal Center was his idea. His goal was to establish a venue where visitors confronted the many forms of hatred and, in the process, he created a human rights agency that reaches out to all people. Simon’s work was obviously an inspiration, and Hier’s team is remarkable, but the importance of creating a Jewish Center to establish a credible social, educational, creative and political base began with Marvin Hier. He meets regularly with world leaders, and his opinion is constantly sought out by the media. The Rabbi is a noted scholar, a brilliant teacher, an elegant speaker and he has been recognized for his efforts with honorary degrees, national tributes and even two Academy Awards for documentary films.


33

The Mare, Hermine Braunsteiner.

“It is often forgotten that until the Wiesenthal Center started in 1977, Simon was working, literally, by himself. People just didn’t want to be involved with this. At one point he tried to raise five hundred dollars and couldn’t do it. People would say, I’ve been through it, and I want to forget it. That’s why survivors never talked about it for a long time, and from 1945 until 1977, 32 years, Simon worked by himself. “Simon was not at peace with God after the war. I asked him why. He said, ‘I’ll tell you why. When I was in the Holocaust there was a man who hid a Siddur, a Jewish prayer book. He had a prayer book with him and everybody who wanted to use it had to give some of their rations to this person. I saw someone trade his Siddur for rations that were so meager and necessary. I was disgusted. I said I’m never going to pray again.’ It was a forcefully told story. However, in telling it, Simon also took pause and willingly acknowledged the people who were willing to give up their rations in order to pray.

Wiesenthal explains that “kobyla” is the Polish word for “mare”. The three women explained that there was a female Nazi guard in their women’s concentration camp, at Majdanek, who was given the nickname “mare” because she was always kicking the women prisoners. She was known for carrying a whip that she used to lash and humiliate the Jews left in her charge. This Kobyla, whose real name was Hermine Braunsteiner, seemed to take particular joy in choosing extra prisoners for the gas chambers. There are stories of her ripping children from their mothers and throwing them up on the back of a wagon. Wiesenthal spoke often of individuals like Hermine Braunsteiner, a person who would otherwise probably never murder anyone, uncovering their latent sadistic inclinations in concentration camps. They were able to fling a child through the air like a sack of potatoes, strike young girls across the eyes with whips, beat those already weakened by starvation, or fire a bullet into a person’s face.

“Simon lived in places where you see all sides of people.” Simon In his own words, in his book, Justice, not Vengeance, Wiesenthal describes the final day of his visit to Israel in January of 1964. He explains that on each trip to Israel he tried to come home with new names of Nazi war criminals that were given to him by Holocaust survivors. On this particular day, three Polish women asked him if he knew what happened to Kobyla.

The Mare Wiesenthal decided to find Braunsteiner. He discovered that her family lived in Vienna. He learned that Braunsteiner came from a strict Catholic family and that as a little girl she always dressed up for Mass. The neighbors explained that the family was not wealthy. Her first job was as a maid. Hermine had gone to work as a prison warden during the war. She accepted higher


34

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

Joseph Lelyveld “Omaha Blues,” is the biography of the son of a Cleveland Rabbi who finds an old trunk in the basement and uses his talents as a writer for the New York Times to invite the reader into his life. In a chapter called ‘Den of Lions’ Lelyveld tells the story of the first person in the United States to be charged with Nazi war crimes, a woman SS guard from Maidanek, a place where as many as 360,000 were killed, yet she managed to stand out as being responsible for unparalleled atrocities. It was Simon Wiesenthal who provided the information that led to Joseph Lelyveld breaking the story.

paying jobs at the camps and was awarded a medal for her efficiency. Immediately after the war, there was a tepid effort to deal with the base inhumanity of particularly

New York In the spring of 1964, there was no such thing as the Holocaust. That name was not yet commonly applied to the openly acceptable Nazi terror against Jews. The Final Solution was considered an anomaly of war. No one was paying attention. The killing of six million ignored the indignities and actual murder of each person in the accumulation of the ghastly number. Even in a country that prosecuted Andersonville, the Confederate prison camp at the conclusion of the Civil War, and hanged the commandant for his crimes against humanity, there was more than reluctance to address Nazi crimes among people living in the United States…there was a refusal. Until Simon Wiesenthal shined his light on Braunsteiner, who was married to an American and living as an American, there had been no prosecution of any Nazi who found refuge in the United States. Of course this sanguine approach to bloody, cold, muddy brutality was not solely an American sin. There was a point when Wiesenthal couldn’t raise five hundred dollars to search for the Auschwitz doctor who wallowed in depravity, the quintessential Nazi, Mengele, whose last name is such an abomination for his experiments on the most vulnerable, that merely saying it conjures something nightmarish in the way humans can behave.

notorious Nazis. The Mare would spend three years in prison. It was a sentence that she was able to hide from an American serviceman named Ryan. She married him and moved to the United States. “During the nineteen years since the war ended there had not been a single Nazi war crimes trial in the USA, and no one had been extradited to another country for such crimes,” Wiesenthal wrote. He thought this legal case looked favorable because if Braunsteiner did not mention her previous conviction to immigration, then there was a legitimate reason to revoke her U.S. citizenship. He hoped a trial would be imminent. Wiesenthal contacted the Vienna correspondent of the New

The assignment to find the brutal Mare, Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan, was given to a rookie reporter at the New York Times by the name of Joseph Lelyveld. Lelyveld wrote about Wiesenthal and the Mare in a book he called a memory loop, Omaha Blues, in 2005. Forty-six years after he went looking for Braunsteiner, we spoke to Lelyveld, who is now retired after a distinguished career with the New York Times. “I was a very green reporter,” said Lelyveld. “I was preoccupied in how you do such a thing like finding Hermine Ryan and get her story. I thought it would be immensely difficult, so I wasn’t really worried about her. I was just worried about the reportorial part of tracking her down.

York Times with information that Hermine Braunsteiner might be living under the name Hermine Ryan in New York City.

“It was easy, and if I had been more experienced I would have understood that it was easy to begin with. Being an


35

Simon Wiesenthal’s greatest fear was that ‘the monotony of horror’ would become too much for people to take in, and possibly even emotionally digest.

Austrian, she would stand out in the predominantly Irish community in New York. Unless she had hidden out, people would have been aware of her existence.

don’t believe it was any personal achievement on my part. It just fell to me as an ordinary matter of a newspaper assignment. It wasn’t a great feat of reporting for me to have found her. It’s nothing I feel proud about. It’s just one

“I can still imagine what she looked like and what she sounded like. But a clear memory…this is the funny thing about memories; I had a pretty clear memory of the whole conversation and her appearance. Then not that long ago when I went back to my original article, some of what was in my memory was not supported by the article. Especially my memory that when she answered the door, she said, ‘You’ve come.’ “As inexperienced as I was, I can’t believe that if she had actually said that I wouldn’t have used it in my article. Then in my article she was described as wearing shorts and a matching top and holding a paintbrush. I remember the shorts but I didn’t remember that there was a matching top and in my memory it was a feather duster she was holding.

of those amazing things that can happen to a journalist in the course of a day. “I do know that I wrote in my own book and in my own memory of the occasion something to the effect that even by the standards of extreme cruelty in those days, Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan went beyond it in her ferocity. According to some of the materials I found during my later research, and I’ve never looked at the transcripts of her trial, that does seem to be the case. She seems to have done some monstrous things, which raises an interesting moral question about whether there is any redemption for a person who does monstrous things. “My father was a rabbi, and I don’t have any easy answer

“There was nothing frightening about her. If you had passed her on the street you wouldn’t have seen anything frightening in her. That, I guess, is the whole horror of the Holocaust; perfectly ordinary people turning into psychopathic killers.

for that kind of question. I do believe it was good that she was extradited from the United States and convicted in a German court and that she served time in Germany. Of course, there is no justice in these matters. There can never be any justice. I know their efforts continue to find the last 85-year-old killer and to reclaim some piece of

“I know nothing about her origins. She was very young when it happened. She wasn’t so old when I met her. To me, the war seemed a long time ago at that point but it was less than 20 years before. I imagine she was in her early 40s when I encountered her.

property for families that were almost wiped out by the Nazis. It’s so hard to disapprove of those things, but they seem so paltry in comparison to the wicked deeds that were done, that they are just footnotes. “There is no such thing as restitution in regards to the

“The assignment came to us from Vienna, and the story of Hermine Ryan had been passed on to us through the word that Simon Wiesenthal had knowledge of her whereabouts. It was an extraordinary experience, but I

Holocaust. There is just a playing out of the story, and one day very soon there will be no further playing out of the story because there will be nobody left alive who was directly involved.


36

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

“But the thing will still remain.” The Thing Still Remains It would take nine years to extradite Braunsteiner. During her trial, which she shared with fifteen other Nazis, one of the longest trials in history, witnesses would tell of the vicious beatings and how the woman who tried hiding as a housewife in America, kicked inmates to death with her steel-toed boots. She would be found guilty of murdering and collaborating in the murders of more than 1,000 people, including 102 children. The testimony in a sterile courtroom of her throwing children by their hair onto trucks was the detail of real moments for the women put in her charge. The stories of her cruelty make you wonder what died inside the Nazis that allowed them to make such behavior a matter of course. Braunsteiner would be sentenced to prison on June 30, 1981, four decades after her crimes were committed. She would receive the mercy she denied others when she was released for health reasons fifteen years later. She died a free woman at the age of 79. Simon Wiesenthal’s greatest fear was that ‘the monotony of horror’ would become too much for people to take in, and possibly even emotionally digest. Simon wrote, “Sometimes I am seized by the fear that teachers and children in history lessons will be saying in the 20th Century Hitler tried to set up a great empire in Europe. Contemporary witnesses maintained that he had attempted to exterminate the Jews of Europe. There is talk of the poisoning of Jews in specially established camps. It seems excesses were in fact committed, though those accounts are probably greatly exaggerated. “We are under an obligation,” he continued, “to make young people realize how unique, how unbelievable, how exceptional the period of the Holocaust was. By this very attempt, we make it difficult for them to accept our accounts as the truth and as facts. The incomprehensible remains incomprehensible.” There is no way for reasonable people to understand an ideal that would legalize and promote the imprisonment and murder of millions of people. How do we make sense of the individual actions that ended the life of a beautiful

young girl and countless like her, the unrestricted brutality visited on neighbors, depraved conditions that were part of a master plan, a final solution, a visit by a Nazi officer that was celebrated with the shooting of hundreds of Jews. How do any of those who participated ever find their soul again? The reporter, Joseph Lelyveld, struggled with the idea of redemption. Rabbi May said, “In Judaism we call it repentance. A person can repent. They can repent up until he or she dies. But does Eichmann ever have an opportunity to repent? Does a mass murderer have an opportunity to repent? Does a small murderer have a chance to repent? It is a difficult thing which would require an extraordinary, serious commitment by the person to change their life. But only G-d has the ability to accept the penitence and to know the penitent’s true remorse.” The Rabbi took a call from his daughter-in-law at the conclusion of our meeting. He asked her if his grandson was playing basketball and if he had his guitar. He smiled broadly when his grandson got on the phone. He said to the little boy, “I love you. I love you like Craisins.” In Hitler’s world, and the world of the average men and women who followed him, the Rabbi would be gone. Simon Simon lived a long life. He died at the age of 96 on September 20, 2005, in Vienna. “I don’t think Simon ever became a person who prayed three times a day,” said Rabbi May. “He did not keep Kosher, but he had a connection to Judaism. He was buried in Israel. He wasn’t cremated. He was buried according to Jewish law. So, no hanky-panky. No short cuts. I don’t think he was angry at God by the time he died.” In the picture with my friend Cliff and his wife Debbie the old man who had done so much is wearing a name tag. There is a remarkable museum that bears his name. And those he wanted remembered will never be forgotten.


37

Had the Nazis prevailed, America would be unrecognizable.


live green print green buy local

Buy Local campaigns have sprouted across cities with great results. It boosts local economies by producing local jobs and tax receipts for local governments. Local independent businesses and their employees are more likely to utilize local services, restaurants, dry cleaners, banks, etc. Local businesses donate more money to nonprofits and are more accountable to their local communities. Supporting local business is good for the environment; it cuts down on fuel consumption producing less CO2. We have a fleet of alternative fuel vehicles and have just added two new American-made Chevy Volts with zero emissions to service our local communities.

916.442.8100 • www.commerceprinting.com


39

A Long Hike in a

Historic Place b y

A d r i ana

C al d e r o n

Deanna Douglas and her husband, Steve, plan relaxing vacations differently than most people. They decided to walk the John Muir Trail; a trip that (allowing some diversions) covered approximately 220 miles through the scenic wonderland of Yosemite in ten days. You can do the math. Consider that the pace is three to four miles an hour and it is easier to imagine the challenge than actually endure it.


40

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

Steve’s Top Six Backpacking Purchases: 1 2

MSR Gravity water filter bladder.

Jetboil: This is for boiling water for our freeze dried meals. It worked like a charm – screw on the fuel canister, turn it on, and click the light button. Beautiful piece of equipment.

3 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad: Wow, did this make life nice. It’s basically

an air mattress. We didn’t feel a single rock or pinecone even though we slept on both. Also, it weighed about half a typical sleeping pad and took up much less room.

4 Sleeping bags/tent: Super light-weight and easy to set up. 5 GPS: This just gave me something to mess with and let us know how far we had

gone (or how much farther we needed to go).

6

MP3 player: When it was particularly hard (a long, steep climb), we would listen to books on tape (the Count of Monte Cristo for me).

Deanna and Steve met at the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run. He was running fifty miles and she was doing the 10K, a 6.2 mile run. Deanna finished with her run first and left a note on the windshield of his car asking him to call her and let her know how the run went for him. He still has that note. They ended up with each other and it is an enviable match. You can hear it in their voices that they know how lucky they are to have found one another. He’s an emphatic military guy who once spent seven months in a submarine and when he mentions his wife there is a lightness and humor. She doesn’t last very long in a conversation without finding a reason to laugh. She is serious when she says the best part of being in the wilderness is Steve’s company. 100 Mile Runs They did their first 100 mile run together in Arizona. It took 27 hours. There was no sleep and 96 miles into that Arizona run Deanna said she almost quit. “Steve was like, ‘What? You’re kidding me right’?”


41

Deanna has a laugh that is close to crystal in its clarity. It is completely natural, and when she tells a story it punctuates the image with a sense that she is taking you to that moment. “I just had to sit down. I sat on a rock where you could see in the distance the end of the run. That is not what got me started again. I also saw a snake hole right next to me. That got me off the rock.” Deanna and Steve made a habit of endurance runs. Deanna who started running for fun when she was twentyseven, doesn’t flinch when she talks about events such as the Western States 100 mile event. They have run countless marathons. For added fun, they hiked Point Reyes at 13-15 miles a day, and the Pacific Crest Trail near Donner for a quick 27 mile overnight hike. “I don’t know exactly what draws us to the long runs and physical challenges. It is a good question. I think it’s just to see what we can do and how comfortable or uncomfortable it will be.” Friends told them of the John Muir Trail and the unbelievable beauty. They were shown pictures. It became something they wanted to do, not sure really what to expect because they had

never gone backpacking for more than five days at a time. They’d never done the kind of backpacking where you spend eleven days in the back country. The John Muir Trail John Muir died on Christmas Eve, 1914. It was a monumental life, one of remarkable achievement, including the protection of some of California’s most precious natural resources, the founding of the Sierra Club, numerous books and essays that inspired following generations of environmentalists, and even the despairing loss of Hetch Hetchy to a dam. The John Muir Trail is in the Sierra Nevadas. It runs through three national parks and takes hikers who can withstand the elements through the Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney. Once Deanna and Steve made the decision to hike the John Muir Trail, they got serious about the planning. “The physical training was not a big issue for us,” Deanna said. “However, we started planning the food, mileage per day, anticipating the elevation gains and losses, and the places on the trail where we would rest during the day and sleep at night. I wasn’t fearful physically, I was just concerned about

Water Steve had a 3 liter water bladder and Deanna had a 1.5 liter water bladder. Three liters adds a lot of weight, but it was worth it for Steve and Deanna not to have to refill as often as they might otherwise. They also had a 4 liter gravity filter. This was a smart addition to the packs that they lumbered about during the trip. They saw people fumbling with pumps and using SteriPens, both of which were disasters. Steve and Deanna were able to simply scoop up 4-5 liters of water, hang the bag in a tree, and let it drain about 1.5 liters per minute into the bladders. As far as water sources, they were everywhere. In fact, a funny sideline is that there’s one section of the trail about 7 miles long without water and everyone they met that day told them to “be sure and fill up.” You would have thought they were about to cross the Mojave Desert.


42

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

Deanna & Steve’s

Typical Day in the Backwoods Steve usually got up about 5:00 a.m. to make coffee from Folgers coffee singles. Deanna admits to trying to sneak in as much extra sleep, or avoid the cold air, for as long as possible. They would have breakfast, pack up, and top off their water. Steve explains that this takes longer than it would seem. “We have a tent, two sleeping bags, and miscellaneous other items to pack. You’d think 20 minutes tops…not even close - try an hour to an hour-and-a-half. So, we would start hiking somewhere between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.” They attempted to hike until noon or one o’clock. The key was to find a good place to have lunch. A good place was next to nice stream or lake so they could also refill their water. Meals take a liter or two of water which could leave them completely dry for the afternoon hike. This brings up a critical point. Refilling water takes a good 30 minutes. It is an exercise. They need to take off their pack, pull out the water bladder, get the gravity filter bladder out of the pack, scoop up 3-5 liters of water, and then let it drain into the bladders. Then repack everything. Consequently, they tried to combine getting water with lunch, which by itself takes an hour, and they were able to save 30 minutes. This comes in handy when it’s getting dark and they are trying to log 22 miles for the day. After lunch, they hiked until they either felt like they’d made enough progress or it was dark. They only hiked into the night 3 days. The first time they crossed a mountain pass and headed down into the valley, but there was simply no place to camp. The next time was on Deanna’s birthday. It was stormy and they were looking to reach the bottom of the valley in hopes that the mountains would block the wind. They did. And once toward the end they pushed into the night to limit how far they would have to travel on the last day. During the day, we would stop every hour or two for a “pack break” where we’d sit our packs on a rock or something and stretch for a few minutes.

having the right gear and how it would be out there without much of a shower.” Steve charted their food on an Excel spreadsheet; calories per pound, per day, per person. Ultimately, Deanna’s backpack was 35 pounds starting and Steve’s was 45 pounds. Steve carried the extra gear like the tent and the gravity inline water filter system. They packed for the first six days and shipped the rest of the food to Trail Ranch, which is the halfway point. “We got a 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot, packed it with supplies and mailed it to ourselves at Trail Ranch. We received a return receipt to guarantee its delivery. The folks at Trail Ranch kept it for us until we arrived. We just had to show our ID at the ranch and pick it up.” “The limitation on the food was putting it in a bear-safe canister. You cannot hike through Yosemite without your food in a bear-safe canister. Those are the rules. It is for the bears’ protection and for yours.” “When you’re really hungry and you’re losing a pound a day, it’s pretty good. We will take more trail mix next time, but we mostly had Mountain House dehydrated food and it was pretty good. You can exchange things with stuff other people have left at Trail Ranch. We actually mailed more than we could carry and so things we didn’t care for anymore were left at the Ranch and we took other things that looked more appetizing.” “Steve would get up at 5:00 a.m. and get his coffee and I would get up at 5:30 a.m. It was so cold in the morning. We would have a little breakfast and I


43

There were days on end when the world was all theirs.

would drink some tea and we would pack up and head out between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. We would hike until about 1:00 p.m. We would eat lunch, which would take about 45 minutes to an hour. Some nights we weren’t at a spot where we wanted to camp so we would keep going. Some nights we set up camp at a decent time.” We asked Deanna if there were ever days after lunch that she just didn’t want to get going again. “I never let my mind go there because I knew we had to keep going. We had a timeframe. The only thing about the timeframe is that it is not enough time to truly stop and take in the scenes that you want to. We stayed on the main route instead of detouring. If we did it again we’d take a few more days to enjoy it. The streams are so beautiful and it was fun to sit and relax by the stream, but we didn’t have a whole lot of time for things like that.” On the Trail Deanna and Steve met a few couples doing the same thing they were doing. They were on a different time schedule than the others so they eventually didn’t see them anymore. “There weren’t a lot of people on the

trail. Our busiest night was a place right out of Tuolumne Meadows. There were probably 15 tents or so by the stream. Most other nights we had the camp to ourselves. The Parks system has established spots that are cleared out and smooth and they want you to use those to camp; they don’t want you camping anywhere new. They want to try and preserve the trail as much as possible.” We asked about the amenities along the way.

“There is a high traffic area somewhere about a week into it,” Deanna said. “It is hilarious because a ranger built this makeshift throne on top of a hill. It has a little wood plank and then a toilet and you’re kind of just out in the open. Steve saw the sign that said to use the bathroom up the hill. He went up and then comes back and said it was great. So I go up there and the sun is coming up and I look around and it is out in the open and anybody walking up this trail would see me. I didn’t find it very enchanting myself.”

“The second day ends in Tuolumne and hikers can stop at a store if there is anything they need before beginning the length of the trip. The third day is outside of Mammoth, and they have a nice campground and also a backpacker’s shower. It is a cement hot spring shower that the water just pours out of.” “After day three there was not another shower,” Deanna laughed. “Nope, no more showers. I didn’t really want to use soap or anything because it can be a problem on your skin…with the snakes and everything so I didn’t want soap on me.” There is only one bathroom after that third day.

distance matters when you are walking.


44

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

The Best Part of the Hike Deanna said that the best part of the trip was the companionship. It wasn’t a valentine to her husband, but an immediate answer and an acknowledgement that she and Steve do well being in situations most us of would call extreme.

Menu on the John Muir Trail The initial idea was 4,000 calories per day using virtually all freeze-dried food. In the end, they ate between 2,500 and 3,000 calories a day and were never hungry. Burning 5,0006,000 calories a day and taking in < 3,000 calories, explains why they lost about a pound a day. The menu was better than tolerable.

Breakfast - Breakfast Skillet Wrap - This got old quickly, even as early as Day 2. They left about 5 days’ worth of food at Muir Trail Ranch, because they decided they’d rather go hungry. Breakfast - Granola & Blueberries - This won the blue ribbon. It was their favorite meal. Lunch/Dinner - Beef Stroganoff - It was OK. Lunch/Dinner - Lasagna w/Meat - This tasted good, but also stained everything a weird orange. Steve and Deanna wondered what it was doing to their stomachs. Lunch/Dinner - Chicken & Noodles - This was good enough.

“We’ve done so much stuff together that inevitably when one of us gets tired the other one may have more energy. We feed off each other. We had so much fun and, for as long as it was, I really wasn’t ready for it to end. I wanted to get a shower but it was really a great trip.” The second best part, easily, according to both Deanna and Steve, was the scenery. “It is so stunning, so beautiful,” Deanna explained. “I’ve lived in California all my life and my parents took us camping a lot. But I have to say that it was just the most beautiful scenery ever. Every day was so entertaining because we would be hiking along these segments of the trail saying it can’t possibly get any more beautiful and then you would turn the corner and it was even better.”

Lunch/Dinner - Turkey Tetrazzini - It was good for a while. Lunch/Dinner - Chicken Teriyaki - An unmemorable meal. Lunch/Dinner - Beef Stew - Nothing to remember. Lunch/Dinner - Chili Mac - They know they did, but don’t remember eating this. Lunch/Dinner - Chicken Oriental Rice - They ate it so often that it finally got old. Good at first, but bad 13 meals in a row. Lunch/Dinner - Chicken & Rice - No memory of this meal either. Lunch/Dinner - Mac & Cheese - This was very good. Sometimes it was too watery and that was good, and sometimes it was too thick and that was good. It had the side benefit of being high in calories too.

“We brought a guidebook that we wanted to read, but by the time we set up camp at night and had some dinner we would lay down and I’d say, ‘Hey Steve, check out what’s in the guidebook,’ and he would already be asleep. Then I would try and read it and I’d get through a page and be out cold.” The Next Trip They are going to do the Tahoe Rim Trail. It’s about 180 miles. They’ve agreed to put an 18 mile a day cap on the hiking. It will be a breeze for them.


45

CURREN PRICE

EDI T ED b y A ar o n r e a d & assOc i at e s

You can read the books about California history or you can make it fun and spend some time with Curren Price and listen to stories first-hand. The erudite leader of the California Legislative Black Caucus has advantages. He’s a senator – not a bad way to be introduced and the kind of job that gets most people calling you back. He’s been both a witness and a participant to a generation of change. He is tall, loosely handsome, still curious at sixty, with a smile that is clever and turns teasing and lets you know he realized a long time ago that he is smart enough not to bother proving it. His eyes hold a rich color and don’t have any sign of burnout or cynicism. A lifetime of travel has taught him to be direct.


46

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

curren through the years.

Curren’s disposition in private seems more fitting for a college professor than a politician. He appears younger in person than on television or in newspapers because the white in his beard becomes less noticeable the more animated he becomes. He commands through detail rather than volume, and it is not unusual for him to get caught up in laughter. One of his friends in the Legislature said if the Black Caucus was Motown, Curren would be Marvin Gaye. Curren circles the rim of a glass with his fingers when he drinks. You get the sense he is no stranger to the pleasures of a long night. Curren has an unforced quality that is appreciated in people more often than it is seen, and it is a comfort with himself that allows others to relax in his company. His stories have a freshness. They are told without urgency.

Inglewood 1960s Inglewood’s early history can be traced to the beginning of the 20th century when it became the place where Los Angeles buried their dead and the Klu Klux Klan roamed after sunset with impunity. It grew into a working community catering to the aircraft industry and soldiers returning from World War II. Citation became the first million dollar horse at Inglewood’s Hollywood Park racetrack in 1951. At the time of the 1960 census there were 29 blacks living in Inglewood and none attended the local

schools. It was ultimately made famous by the discarded Fabulous Forum and the fast break Los Angeles Lakers of Kareem and Magic. Inglewood is resilient. Through tough times it remains a vibrant place and was named an AllAmerican City in 2009. I am a product of the 1960s. I was in 8th grade during the Watts riots, and I remember seeing the Jeeps coming down the street. It wasn’t too long afterward that black student unions were being formed in our schools. They became the grassroots precursor to the Black Panther Party. This whole thing with black consciousness, black awareness began filtering at every level. At colleges we had new graduate programs created in Black Studies that fundamentally changed the way curriculum was viewed. It was the beginning of ethnic studies. In the community, you had the Panthers organizing to bring about selfsufficiency and self-reliance. At that time, looking back, we can see that the Panthers were progressive in their promotion of lunch programs, health programs, and transportation programs that reach a totally unserved population. I was influenced by it all. You had to be. Curren entered Inglewood’s Morningside High School in the middle of the 1960s. He was popular, a vice-president and president a couple of years and then student body president of the predominantly Anglo-Caucasian school. It


47

was 1968, a bloody year when the world was watching the explosive ugliness of the Tet Offensive, one of the turning points of the Vietnam War; the country was enduring the killings of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; and Curren’s own city was being changed utterly by the fearmongering associated with block busting and white flight. Realtors would come through our area trying to get people to sell. They were scaring people that property values were going to bottom-out and if you didn’t leave you might get caught up in the rioting we’d seen in Watts. Block busting was telling the neighbors you better run while you can because the blacks are coming. And it worked. The demographic did change dramatically. Over the next ten years my neighborhood went from predominantly white to probably predominantly AfricanAmerican in the ’80s. By the mid-’90s there was another shift and it became predominantly Latino. The world literally began changing colors before our eyes. We were one of the first black families in Inglewood. My dad was a merchant marine, a postal worker who also worked as an insurance agent, a salesman, he ran a small business and he made his mark in real estate. He believed in work. He was tall and charming, and darkcomplected, and he got in trouble with alcohol. He beat it after a difficult struggle and was moved enough by the experience to become a drug and alcohol counselor.

Stokely Carmichael Stokely Carmichael had graduated from Howard University several years before Curren was accepted. However, he was, by 1968, one of the seminal figures of the civil rights movement in the United States. Carmichael began as an organizer for the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and after more than thirty arrests for registering voters in the South, he turned increasingly toward more of a militant view. A powerful speaker and a charismatic personality, he is credited with coining the phrase “Black Power.” He changed his name in the late seventies to Kwame Ture, and spent most of the last thirty years of his life in Africa, dying from cancer in Conakry, Guinea, at the age of 57.

My parents were divorced when my brother and I were rather young, but my dad was always in my life. There was a lot of personality there, and throughout his life he always remained a very positive figure in my life. My mother will soon celebrate her 84th birthday. She retired as an LA County Clerk in the tax assessor’s office more than thirty years ago. She’s been retired almost as long as she worked.


48

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

You know, she was just a working class mom, a single mother, who worked hard, and always had us in activities. She believed it was important to keep me busy and from a very young age I had an after-school job. I was in the church choir. I was in Little League baseball. She was not going to let me run wild.

Black Awareness

on ourselves, you know. I hung out with them. I also hung out with everybody else. So, I didn’t allow myself to feel consigned to a certain area or to a certain fate. My parents emphasized education. It was a foregone conclusion that my brother and I would go to college.

Morningside High School was opened in 1951. Curren is listed as one of the distinguished graduates, and they make mention that before he was elected to the State Assembly and the State Senate, Curren failed in his effort to become the Mayor of Inglewood.

My high school counselor said, “You know, Curren, your grades are just so-so. Maybe you should go to a community college for a couple of years.” I said, “Harvard, Yale…I’m shooting for the stars, right.” (Laughs) I got accepted at San Francisco State and Howard University, a black university in DC.

In my high school environment of fifty black students out of a thousand, we had a little area where all the blacks congregated. Certainly, we may have put some restrictions

My dad, not really embracing this black power, black revolution stuff, said, “You’re not going to Howard. That’s where Stokely Carmichael and the other black radicals go to school.”

Curren with his mother; president barack obama; late senator Edward Kennedy.


49

This is 1968. Stokely got everyone’s attention by being militant before anyone else. Martin Luther King was talking peaceful resistance while Stokely was demanding black separatism and confronting racism with the same force racists perpetuated their hatred. I think now that my dad and people of his generation had not heard the kind of talk from black men that was coming from Stokely. It was not easy for them.

San Francisco State I went to San Francisco State and, of course, I got involved with the student movement on campus. There were demonstrations for one reason or another everyday. It was a very charged environment. Everything was changing so fast in America and the college campus was in the center of it. There were sit-ins against the war and kids were trying to hold the faculty and the administration more accountable on social issues. And, sometimes things turned violent.

S.I. Hayakawa

The President of San Francisco State was S. I. Hayakawa. He was an old guy who was known for being a linguist and an intellectual of some note. Not unlike most of the faculty, his world view was a view of a different time. There was no compromise in his manner and he confronted the students during the riots. He personally pulled the plug on their microphones to silence them. I saw him wearing his trademark tam-o’-shanter and climbing on tables and yelling at folks. It worked for him. He shut down the campus completely in the second semester of my freshman year. (Laughs) I’m at a college where there are no classes. I learned a great deal about California politics by watching Hayakawa. The electorate in our state will consider voting for completely different types of candidates if they believe the person can do the job. Before the rioting, no one would have looked at Hayakawa as a national figure. After he shut down the college, the voters saw him as a person of action and elected him to the U.S. Senate. My dad was concerned that I wasn’t focusing on the education. In his view, I was not in school to demonstrate or change the world. I was there to stick to my books and graduate. There was a bit of a generation gap. And it wasn’t made easier when I had the big natural, sunglasses, the goatee; you know all the accoutrements of revolution and being anti-establishment.

Hayakawa was a Canadian-born scholar who finished his education in the American mid-west and eventually settled in San Francisco. His bookish demeanor was highlighted by large horn-rimmed glasses, meticulous suits and a linguist’s care when speaking in public. His reputation for candor and courage was a deserved one. He brooked very little nonsense from agitated students during his tenure as president of San Francisco State University and became one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite examples of how leaders must act decisively. In a very clever campaign that mocked the playboy lifestyle of his opponent and focused on his own workmanlike approach to government, Hayakawa defeated John Tunney in the 1976 U.S. Senate race. He served one term.

It

was

the

beginning

of

colleges

becoming

more

experimental and less dogmatic. The pressure applied by students resulted in classes that just a few years earlier would have been inconceivable. I eventually got accepted into a program called “The Freshman Program of Integrated Studies.” I was in a group with about 40 other kids and the classes were pass/fail. We were in this kind of cocoon, so when I left at the end


50

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

of that semester, all I had were passes. I had no A, B, C grades and the other colleges were not sure how to handle transferring the units. I also still had to figure out how to finish my freshman year. I ended up going to Dominguez Hills during the day and El Camino at night. I heard Stanford was recruiting, all the usual stuff, looking for minorities, looking for diversity, blah, blah, blah, in 1969. I got in as a sophomore. Of course, I got active again in the Black Student Union and community stuff. I did a home improvement project in East Palo Alto. It was a black enclave we called Nairobi, back in the day. I also learned about a Stanford overseas program. I had not been many places and now I’m hearing about the possibility of getting college credits for studying in Europe. I apply. I get accepted. I go to Italy with the promise that I’m going to learn Italian. I’m almost 21 years old. I spent six months in Italy and travelling through Europe. Then I proposed to the administration that I be given a travel grant to go to Africa and compare the attitudes of African students with African-American students on issues of integration, separation, liberation, all the buzz words at the time. Two days before we were supposed to return to the States the proposal for $7,000 was approved. The overseas programs in the American colleges were popularized by the successes of the Peace Corps. It was an intensely optimistic idea that an exchange system of our best and brightest young people would result in the next generation of world leaders finding common goals. Also, similar to the early years of the Peace Corps, the students were given a great deal of freedom as they charted their course.

Eldridge Cleaver Eldridge Cleaver proved, for more than a decade, to be one of the more riveting figures from the tempestuous 1960s. A collection of essays that he wrote while in prison first got noted in Ramparts Magazine and then were published in a best-selling collection titled ‘Soul on Ice.’ He was, for a short time, the editor of the Black Panther Party newspaper. After a shootout with the Oakland police in 1968 in which teenager Bobby Hutton was killed and two officers injured, Cleaver was forced to flee the United States.

was a lot of interest, a lot of curiosity, you know, a lot of camaraderie. I hitchhiked from the East Coast to the West Coast by myself

I went to a travel agency and they had this map of Africa on the desk. I got a ticket that took me from Rome to Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire, Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, and Cameroon.

with nothing but a backpack and a suitcase. I would go to a university, meet some people on campus, and stay in a dorm for a couple of days. The longest I stayed was about a week when some girls took me in. I felt safe everywhere I went. I travelled freely.

It was a poignant moment when I actually touched down in Africa. I was back home. It was amazing looking around, seeing all the people who looked like me. There

American students at that time had greater access to information. I’d say the learning was just as intense in


51

Africa. The social part was the same. I mean, the kids knew the western songs, the styles, so it’s not really culture shock. They were smoking weed and drinking beer like kids were doing every place else in the world. In Africa at the beginning of the ’70s there were remnants of colonialism. You’d go into shops and you’d see darkskinned Africans doing menial work and the light skinned blacks, Asians or whites in control. It was very evident in housing. The governments were not totally free. The topic of discussion was how things were going to change. They were going to take a page from our black brothers in the United States - black power, you know. I had an opportunity to retrace those steps years later when I went as a businessman for a trading company. I was changed by what I saw and where I went. In law school I majored in international law. There were not many American students before Curren who spent time travelling in Africa. He did not have a lot of reference points. He talks of having an initial vision of Africa as the Wild Kingdom. He did not get out into the bush, however, and the college campuses were in cities not unlike the United States and Europe. Curren took off for Algeria with two other men and a woman. In Algeria, he learned that perhaps the most famous of the American Black Panthers, Eldridge Cleaver, was living there in exile. Algiers is at the very top of Algeria. You knew immediately it was a developing country, dusty roads and lots of people. There is a heavy Islamic influence and French speaking so there was a language barrier and culturally it was quite different. I remember a great combination of faces and colors. At the time we were there the weather was very pleasant. It was easy to get around in the city - hop in a taxi and you get to the place you wanted to be. It was an adventure being in North Africa after travelling in Europe. Eldridge Cleaver was in exile after a shootout between the Black Panthers and the Oakland police. A young Panther was killed and Cleaver was charged with murder. It

certainly wasn’t a secret that he’d been given sanctuary in Algeria. We were able to find out where he was, and we went to the compound filled with that youthful confidence that they would just let us in. You know, we were AfricanAmerican students checking in with Eldridge. The compound was a walled-in space. They probably had guards out front. I don’t remember, and I know we moved around inside and outside without interference. There were several residences on the compound. There was a whole cadre of Cleaver’s associates who were there at that time. Cleaver is largely lost to history now, but at this point he was a major American figure worldwide. He’d written the best seller ‘Soul on Ice’ during his time in prison. It was mandatory reading. He was the face of the new black culture, the Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party, the strong-arm storyteller of the real black experience, and he was the darling of all the revolutionaries. We go to the compound, and it went like we thought it would. We knock on the door, and they let us in, you know, students from the US, black students are here. Oh, come on in, what’s going on, where have you guys been, what’s new, what are you doing? What’s going on at home, what are Americans thinking about black power – and Cleaver himself was accessible. It wasn’t like we had to wait to have an audience with him. Cleaver was about six feet tall and in good shape. We were travelling with a young woman and he liked her very much. He was always dressed very casually. Very sharp. Inquisitive mind. He was calm. He didn’t raise his voice. Very controlled. He engaged us in conversations about separation issues, liberation, Pan-Africanism, and what was happening in the States. We ate together everyday… we were star struck with him asking us what was going on, asking us what our opinions are about the movement, the revolution. I don’t think he was losing touch with America. He probably had a steady flow of folks coming to him. I think he was homesick. He couldn’t go home, and I think he knew that for the revolution he thought possible to take place, it was going to take a great deal more work.


52

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

He never left the compound. (Pause) I have certainly reflected on my time in Algeria and appreciated it even more as I got older. Cleaver encouraged us to stay in school and get our degrees in whatever we were doing. It was very empowering. (Laughs) He turned out to be more conservative at that time, more like my dad giving paternal advice. He went through lots of changes in his later years (patient smile and lifting of his hands). I was very impressionable at the time. He was very…well, he was never a hero, but he was certainly important in my own little world. He got lost himself and when he eventually got back to the United States the issues had passed him by. By the time he died no one even noticed him anymore. I saw Timothy Leary moving in and out of the rooms on the compound. He was in exile from America for drug charges, and he was always smiling. He was an old hippie to me then, although he wasn’t that old now that I’m older myself. I remember him being on cloud 9, literally. Peace, love and soul. Peace, love and soul. There were never any in-depth discussions with him. I’m not sure what the drug laws were in the rest of Algeria, but it was not Islamic on the compound. Leary and Cleaver were in the same place regularly, as I remember. I don’t really recall any interaction. There could have been. The impression I recall was Leary and Cleaver were cordial. I do know the relationship between the two of them did not end well. I don’t remember Leary trying to get us stoned. I’ll say if he did he probably succeeded. It was a remarkable time politically and socially. There were new voices. There were points of view that had been ignored and were now being heard. It was exciting. I do know for me personally the world seemed smaller after travelling. I had a point of reference.

Timothy Leary Timothy Leary could only have come true in the 1960s. The Harvard professor who complained that he was once just a nameless, faceless man in a gray flannel suit, who drove numbly to work and numbly home, would emerge as the most famous proponent of psychedelic drugs and the advocate for society to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” He proved to be an accomplished writer and a masterful, playful muckraker before getting sentenced to a ten-year prison term for possession of a very small amount of marijuana. He escaped prison and left the United States for Africa. He would initially ask for help from Eldridge Cleaver and then claim that Cleaver attempted to hold him prisoner in Algeria.

noisemaker without an audience. After he died, his ashes were shot into space. Black power was a significant influence on everybody who

Cleaver died young, but long after he ceased being an important figure. He never found his way or voice after returning to America and he dabbled in Mormonism, peculiar fashion designs, being Republican and battling addiction. Timothy Leary suffered a similar fate. His moment in the sun was brief and he ended up being a

was growing up during that period. A lot of self-awareness was going on, a lot of self-understanding. It transformed from a situation where blacks were not getting a higher education in real numbers, to a period where anyone could achieve anything they believed in. There were lots of firsts during that period. It was an empowering time,


53

one that gave us a level of self-confidence, understanding, a better appreciation of history and how to make history, and a desire to go forward. A feeling of black pride and black power resulted in us not just being relegated to second-class citizenship, but having a chance to step up to the plate. Blacks of my generation, because of our education, have made achievements far beyond anything our parents or white people of that generation could have imagined. The result of the sixties is a new African-American influence in the mainstream of political thought. The challenges now, however, are terribly different, especially in the inner cities, where the drugs and guns and gangs are a presence. There is a crisis of education and health. Look, there’s no magic wand that was waved during the sixties and a new guarantee that everything was going to be peachy keen now. In fact, some of those situations now are worse. I’d say there’s not been a progress sustained. You know, you don’t have as many black kids, certainly black boys, in college now. We’ve seen a transition where gang activity has wiped out a whole generation. I’m hoping that increasing awareness will make it clear that gangs are not the way to go. Mentoring programs, pipeline programs, educational programs, tutoring programs, are the way to go in 2011. We have important work ahead of us. I don’t want my generation to be the one that had greater opportunities

Curren and his wife, delbra.

than the ones preceding us and, terrible if it happens, the one following us.

Politics Curren’s first run for office was 1993. He was 43. He’d come back home, local boy makes good, Stanford, having lived

I became an effective advocate for small businesses wanting to succeed, and I’m proud that I was an asset to citizen involvement. Now, I’m happy to be in the Legislature at this time in my life, at this time in the life of the state. It’s a critical period to be involved, and I’ve got a voice to lift in the debate.

in DC about ten years with an exciting job working for a communications company that was cutting edge. It was

Curren was elected by his peers to chair the Black Caucus

during the open spy policy for the FCC. Curren’s company

in the California Legislature. He is known for attracting

was sought out to do engineering for companies who

talent and has a highly disciplined and respected personal

ordered large satellites. He got involved with marketing

staff. He was also recently named the chair of the key

and forecasting. He was talking with the NFL because

Business and Professions Committee and takes charge of

they wanted to do national games. He was in Sweden with

their veteran team that is considered one of the best in the

Volvo. He got involved with cellular technology.

Capitol. He is in a position to help shape California.


54

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

I loved my 20 years in the Legislature, but I don’t wish to still be there. A legislator’s job is much harder today than it used to be. Members must wrestle with the effect of recession, prior legislative commitments, costly initiatives and term limits, which means the clock ticks faster for everyone.

Patrick johnston served in the assembly and senate.

I’m not sure I would have been able to run in this age of term limits. We are fortunate to have people who still want to be public servants. It is very difficult to give up a career and imposition your family to run for office when you have no retirement and scaled-back wages and you still need to make the very difficult decisions facing our state. — Bev Hansen

— Patrick Johnston

Bev Hansen and two of her children on the day she was sworn in. Bev served four counties in the California State Assembly.


55

THE STARS'

last gathering place By

R

ach

e

l

P

i

tts

She said she never learned how to be happy. By her own account, Norma lived in fourteen foster homes. She married at sixteen. Only the first of her three husbands was not an American legend in his own right. When she died of an overdose of barbiturates at the age of thirty-six, the responsibility for her funeral service fell to her second husband, the great Joe DiMaggio. Bitter at her treatment by Hollywood, the Yankee Clipper chose to keep the funeral quiet and as private as the notorious occasion would allow. DiMaggio decided against holding the service at one of the cemeteries where moviedomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greats were traditionally buried; where graves were turned into tourist spots for fans from all over the world.


56

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

DiMaggio knew that the last foster

actor who made more than twenty-

Beautifully kept now, it managed

home where Norma lived in the

five films, including the pirate flicks

then a rather rustic look of a small

lifetime preceding her unfathomable

“Long John Silver” and “Blackbeard.”

rural cemetery.

Newton filled his nights. He married

Westwood, which is home to a

four times. He produced several

university,

children. He raised hell on several

relatively

continents and died at the age of fifty

1962. The skyscraping buildings

from complications of an alcoholic

and the busy streets were a decade

lifestyle.

away

recognition as the vulnerable actress and sex siren, Marilyn Monroe, was the house where she felt the most comfortable. It was the closest place she came to finding a family. Norma

momentarily

felt

loved

a dyed-blonde with a square build and a toughness that overshadowed her efforts to be stylish. Her name was Grace Goddard. She was buried in one of the plots available in the 2.8 acres of Westwood Memorial Park in 1953, at the age of 59, following her death from barbiturate poisoning due to ingestion of Phenobarbital.

sleepy

from

was

itself

community

stealing

the

a in

village

appeal. Marilyn’s placement in the

enough to call the lady who owned the home Mother. The older woman was

UCLA,

He

was

only

in

the

Westwood

Cemetery until one of his sons was old enough to gain control of his ashes and have them spread in England. It was a pattern that was duplicated decades later for another English actor, the once respected and

first section of what would become several vaults changed forever the make-up of the cemetery. Marilyn brought status and an entirely new clientele. Westwood Memorial Park became a favored spot for movie stars to find a last gathering place.

sadly dissolute, Peter Lawford.

Burying the Dead Westwood

The Wyoming Funeral Directors’

Memorial Park was hidden from

Association does a good a job detailing

Wilshire Boulevard. The property is

humans and death. They explain

At the time of Marilyn’s death, the

about halfway between the bungalow

how researchers have discovered

Westwood cemetery had only one real

where

discovered

Neanderthal remains from 60,000

star. He is completely forgotten now

nude in her bedroom, surrounded

years ago that were buried with

but, in the 1960s, audiences would

by the detritus of a medication

animal antlers and flower fragments.

have remembered the work of Robert

addiction and champagne, and the

Even then, and ever since, people

Newton. He was a popular English

studios where she made her films.

of all kinds, from every civilization,

The Cemetery

DiMaggio

liked

Marilyn

that

was


57

have tried to make sense of death by

the street. You have to know where

ambience of beauty and reflection

memorializing those who mattered,

you are going; you have to know it is

would be maintained. They are not

and in some instances, didn't matter

hidden away.

betrayed. We learned the woman was Canadian. She was in sales

to them at all. The first of the graves can be traced There is no way to measure the

to a woman named Alice E. L. Brown.

number of graves in the United

She died in 1906 and was joined by

States. Everybody dies. According

her husband, Albert, 20 years later.

to the Unitarian Universalists, our

How they died is a mystery. Both

country put the dead in graveyards

were old at a time when old age was

or bone yards until the 1830s. A

not common. Close by is Samuel

name change seemed to be in order.

Fulks. He served in the Civil War in

The Unitarians borrowed the Greek

the 35th Wisconsin Infantry.

word “koimerterion” meaning ‘a

there, too, a different industry, yet she had experience with people who need something and are willing to pay a premium.

Marilyn and Friends There isn't a single day that goes by when someone doesn't come looking for Marilyn’s resting spot. Sometimes, often in fact, they arrive

place for sleep’ and made cemeteries

We met a woman who worked at

peaceful places.

unable to speak English, and when

the park. She was coy at first about

they ask unintelligibly for some kind

discussing the cemetery, but did not

of information, it is almost automatic

The Unitarians must like what has

avoid us when we followed her as

that they are pointed in the direction

been done at Westwood Memorial

she nipped old buds off dying flowers

of Marilyn's crypt.

Park.

that had been left behind by visitors. She was in sales. It was easier to

It is hard to imagine a more peaceful

get the impression that she was the

spot in the middle of a modern city.

grounds caretaker by the way she

The noise from the heavy traffic of

tended to different graves.

Wilshire Boulevard is muted by the

There are other interesting women that

visitors

come

to

see.

An

anonymous benefactor paid for the burial of adventurous pinup girl Bettie Page. She made a name for herself in

buildings surrounding the property.

The respect for those who don’t

the space between the end of the war

There is very little pedestrian traffic.

leave the area is absolute. They had

and a last puritanical chasm in our

The people who attend the movies

expectations when they bought a

American outlook toward sex. Her

nearby cannot see the cemetery from

plot at Westwood that a park-like

provocative pictures made her more


58

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

famous than rich. She outlived both

benefit of a sometimes too gracious

The fairytale life of the wholesome

her fame and her fortune and died

legal system and served only six

Texas girl who finds happiness

lonely at the age of 85.

years for manslaughter. Yes, the

in Hollywood did not endure. Her

system said he didn't murder her

life was more complicated. There

because the poor boy expected her

were

to stay with him and he lost control

were disappointments. Her career

when that proved not to be true.

sputtered. Her personal life ended

Bettie’s grave is close to that of the beautiful

and

doomed

Dorothy

Stratten, the Canadian blonde who

great

love

affairs.

There

up like most personal lives. There

was a Playmate of the Year and the great love of movie director Peter

Natalie

Wood

was

perhaps

the

Bogdanovich. She was murdered in

most luminous actress of her time.

a terrible fashion by her estranged

She made the transition from child

husband.

were challenges. She met them and it wasn’t sad or tragic.

much

actress, to teenage talent, to major

She was extraordinary with her

idealized, she was victimized by a man

Hollywood star. Natalie was forty-

candor and courage when cancer

in her life and was dead at twenty.

two when she got on a yacht with

took over her final years. She is

her husband and a co-star from her

buried in a six-person plot that is in

latest movie. There was a night of

a neighborhood of plots that includes

drinking. There was noise. If anyone

several stars. The space next to her

really knows what happened they

is empty. You can purchase it for

have kept it to themselves. Natalie

$600,000 and rest there forever with

got off the boat for some reason. Her

a handful of family members.

Lovely

and

too

Another grave that was filled far too early, and also by someone who was supposed to have been loved by the one who caused her death, was the talented Dominique Dunn. She is under a stone that simply says, “Beloved Daughter and Sister. Loved by All.” None of the details of the night her boyfriend, violent early on in

body was discovered in the water the following morning. Natalie’s funeral was covered in newscasts around the world.

The cemetery is a high-rent district. The only car in the driveway when we arrived was a Rolls Royce that was spotless and belonged to an old

their relationship, a chef at a premier Los Angeles restaurant, choked her

Farrah Fawcett was, for a short

man, if not old money. The first of

to death. There were flowers on her

time, the world’s favorite star. Her

the mausoleums was constructed

grave the day we visited. It is such a

poster with the wide smile and red

for Armand Hammer, a billionaire

loss that she is gone, and the jackass

bathing suit was the first to sell in

industrialist with close ties to Russia.

that killed her was given the best

the millions.

There is one for the Witherbees, an


59

early businessman, not much known

Wilder, and the legendary Daryl F.

headstone that says, “I will not be

about the family. And, if you are so

Zanuck, the man everyone at 20th

right back.”

inclined, there is available space; one

Century Fox called ‘Boss.’

of the two remaining mausoleums that you can put your name on for a price that will be negotiated in the three million dollar range.

Carl Wilson, the sweet voiced middle There are stars every movie lover

brother of the Beach Boys is buried

has cared about for the last half

next to Paul Gleason, the gifted

century. Walter Matthau and Jack

actor who is best remembered as

Lemmon,

the crazed teacher in “The Breakfast

a

wry

one

word

on

his tombstone that he must have

There are writers.

Club.”

laughed about when he decided Truman

Capote,

the

quirky,

diminutive native of Alabama who grew up in poverty and is in a wall not too far from where John Cassavetes,

how his mortal remains would be handled – “in” – . James Coburn's ashes are interred under a bench inscribed with his last name.

the avant garde screenwriter and

Carroll O'Connor, the iconic Archie Bunker, and his boy, Hugh, who broke his old man's heart when he died from the diminution of drugs, are together. In an equally

director is buried next to Eva Gabor.

The comic Rodney Dangerfield is in

Eva was never as famous as her

good company. The underrated actor

sister, Zsa Zsa, and her body is

and beloved middle-America singer,

within calling distance of her “Green

the favored Dean Martin, has a crypt.

Acres” husband, Eddie Albert. Ray

Karl Malden was placed in a quiet

Bradbury's wife is already present.

spot after a very long life; and there

Her husband, the author of such

are the unmarked graves of the great

genius as “Fahrenheit 451” and “I

George C. Scott, an Academy Award

Sing the Body Electric!”, will join

Winner for “Patton” and the powerful

her in time, just as Playboy creator

centerpiece of more than forty films.

While we were there, a white-haired

Hugh Hefner has a crypt reserved

Somewhere, nearby, the singers Roy

gentleman from Mississippi drove

next to Marilyn. Will and Arial

Orbison and Frank Zappa are also

up in a rental car and got out. He

Durant, the prolific historians could,

hidden. Merv Griffin, the television

was a sportswriter. He wanted to

if resurrected in time, talk about

host and investment guru, who left

see where Burt Lancaster was laid

literature with Ernest Lehman, Billy

a note to visitors inscribed on his

to rest. We found it; a modest square

heartbreaking story, the remarkably versatile

actor

Brian

Keith

had

his ashes placed next to his lovely daughter, Daisy. Her death at 28 was also drug-related and his suicide the same year was the sad end to an otherwise very productive life.


60

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

under which the great actor’s ashes

Pleasant actors like Jim Hutton, dead

belongs to the beloved Barney Fife,

were placed.

from cancer two days after his forty-

Emmy Award winning actor Don

fifth birthday and, if remembered,

Knotts.

The sportswriter came to the cemetery as a tourist. He talked about the game at Yankee Stadium when Mickey Mantle’s career was honored. He said the great DiMaggio and Senator Robert Kennedy were both on the field, but they deliberately avoided each

other;

DiMaggio

evidently

forever hating the Kennedys for their treatment of Marilyn.

is usually recalled as the father of Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton. Robert Stack, a movie star once and a television personality for decades, had a long and enjoyable life before he was buried in Westwood. Fannie Brice, the real Funny Girl, was moved there. The spectacular Minnie Riperton has been there since her premature death at 31. Just go

A movie buff can spend the day there remembering the contributions of Cornel Wilde, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte - Barzini from “The Godfather” - and the bearded Sebastian Cabot, an articulate and refined screen presence who actually got started in life as the son of a southern farmer.

to the old records and be amazed by the celestial reach of her high-octave

Georgia Frontiere owned the Los

There are others who made their

voice and the perfect phrasing of her

Angeles Rams. She married many

mark in Hollywood, many of them

greatest hit, ‘Lovin You’. She was dead

times.

evoking certain public memories. Bob

at the beginning of what should have

personality; bright and lively. She

Crane, television’s Colonel Hogan and

been a long career.

was a woman of depth and energy.

Her

smile

was

like

her

She is alone now in a crypt on the

his gorgeous co-star and final wife

back side of the cemetery.

are there. His murder in an Arizona

You can find the grave for Jim Backus,

hotel went unsolved. Mel Tormé, the

Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's

songwriter; G. David Schine who was

Island, the voice of Mr. Magoo before

Even if the cemetery had not become

buried as a producer but had a much

that and, even earlier, a talented

a favorite of the rich and famous,

more interesting brush with fame

supporting actor who played with

it would still be a peaceful place

as a youthful confidante of Senator

grim clarity the father of James Dean

to visit. The names, however, do

Joseph McCarthy.

in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

conjure stories and are part of the collective memory of our country.

There are stars who probably thought

Not too far from the entrance to the

they

cemetery is a very simple grave that

would

never

be

forgotten.

It is a place in time. It is timeless.


61

Creative Capitol Network Television i d e as

b y

m ar k e tplac e c o m m un i cat i o ns

The Real World was first, but Ozzy Osbourne made it crazy by allowing the camera’s unfettered view of an aging heavy metal rock star’s family as they dealt with everyday life from their mansion in Southern California. All right, I guess anyone who watched public television eons ago could argue that the Loud family from Santa Barbara was actually the progenitor of reality television, but there was certainly an extraordinary space of years before the genre began dominating our television sets. You can’t get away from it now, whether they are housewives from urban centers, the Kardashians, bachelors or bachelorettes, unwed teenage mothers or a pack of highly charged young people living in a modern crash pad; we still can't get enough real life.


62

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

California Conversations believes we have the ideas for fascinating television. We are supporting the idea of creating a Capitol Network, hosted by San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Central Valley Senator Tom Berryhill. These two have enough personality on their own to carry a show but their likability and differences in outlook make them a natural for introducing the shows being proposed. Discovery Park This is the story of eight legislators picked to live in a house near Discovery Park in Sacramento. It would not only describe real life under the Capitol, but it would also be enlightening to watch the late night discussions over a bottle of wine between the ultra-conservative Assemblymembers Tim Donnelly and Allen Mansoor as they chat about legalized marijuana and licenses for illegal immigrants with liberal San Francisco Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Los Angeles Assemblyman Gil Cedillo. Away from the discussion of politics, we would also have the side benefit of selling cookbooks of the appetizing meals these gentlemen make while working in the kitchen together. The Deadliest Vote This chronicles the fictional adventures of five moderate Republicans during the most dangerous time of the year: the budget deadline. New blood, old wounds and rivalries emerge. At stake is the willingness to risk their seat in the Legislature for a vote that separates them from their

colleagues. Adding to the conflict will be commentaries by former Senate Pro Tem John Burton, the profane but clever old lion, and Jon Fleishman, the provocative and daring young voice of the Republican Party. Of course, the follow up to this particular show may be The Biggest Loser: This short program will follow the Republicans in the months after they provide the deciding votes. Top Leader This would be a cutthroat exercise as eight to ten senators and assemblymembers try to outwit, outplay, outmaneuver and outlast each other as they compete for the ultimate career-launching prize package, the Speakership of the Assembly and Pro Tem of the Senate. The weekly system of progressive elimination would allow the contestants to vote off the other candidates until the remaining two have their official portraits taken and they are shown to their new offices in the historic side of the Capitol. Of course, Fiona and Tom can also provide the commercial oversight to this endeavor. There is the possibility of new lines of cologne and perfumes, fishing gear and golf clubs. An entire floor of the Capitol can be turned into the “Legislative Makeover Floor,” as legislators and staff have their hair, makeup and wardrobe professionally done; the before-and-after photos would make for an inspiring book all on its own. There can even be a “Before They Were Stars” program that shows pictures of legislators before they got into politics. And for those willing to go the extra limit, we can have “The Real Spouses of Sacramento,” the inside story of what it is like to be married to an elected official. We don’t pretend to have all the answers on this particular project. A talk show hosted at the wooden picnic table by Governor Brown and Anne Gust Brown might even be considered as a possibility to fill the void after Oprah’s departure from network television…“Afternoons with Jerry and Anne.” Who knows?


63

B Y

P A T

MO R A N

Leigh Steinberg altered the landscape of sports as the first super-agent. He has represented over 150 professional athletes, including the number one NFL draft choice, eight times. The movie ‘Jerry Maguire’ was loosely modeled after Steinberg. California Conversations (CC): Was being a sports agent your first career choice? Leigh Steinberg (LS): There really was no big field of sports agents then. Most players represented themselves. They had their parents represent them and there was no guaranteed right of representation, so a team could simply click the phone off. There was a famous story where Vince Lombardi was approached by a player late in his career and the player said he had an agent to negotiate his contract. Lombardi said, “Can you excuse me for a minute,” and went back into his office, came back and said they had nothing to talk about. The player asked why. Lombardi said, “Because I just traded you to Detroit.” I graduated from law school in January of 1974, took the State Bar and, when I found out I passed, I headed for Europe. I got to Egypt. I was in a sailboat and jumped into the Nile. I ended up very sick and in a hospital in London. I lost a ton of weight and I could not take any job offers. I was sick through early 1975. I had been a counselor in an undergrad dorm at Berkeley and they moved the freshmen football team into the dorm. Steve Bartkowski was one of the students. In 1975, he was the first pick in the first round of the NFL draft with the Atlanta Falcons. In March of 1975, he asked me to represent him. I had the first pick in the NFL draft at a time when the World Football League was competing with the NFL. Here was a player at a critical quarterback position, with movie star looks, and we got the largest first contract in National Football League history.


64

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

Berkeley was laid back in those days when it came to sports, so imagine my surprise when we landed in Atlanta the night prior to the signing and there were klieg lights flashing in the sky like a movie premier. A huge crowd was pressed up against a police line. The first thing we heard was, “We interrupt the Johnny Carson Show to bring you a special news bulletin. Steve Bartkowski and his attorney have arrived at the Atlanta airport and we are switching live for an in-depth interview.” I looked at Steve sort of like Dorothy looked at Toto when they arrived in Munchkin Land and I said, “I guess we’re not in Berkeley anymore.” CC: Star power. LS: I saw the tremendous idol worship and veneration for athletes in communities across the country. That’s when the realization came that athletes could make an enormous difference in triggering imitated behavior and being role models if they would retrace their roots to the high school, collegiate and professional community. I could utilize the representation of athletes to make a significant difference in the world. CC: Is making a difference in the world outside of athletics a serious part of the equation? LS: Sports is an entertainment business. Athletes have an obligation to serve as role models and to understand that their public behavior will be scrutinized and if they are not interested in graciously signing autographs and forwarding themselves within the standards of responsible public behavior, then they can play on the sandlot. Professional sports are not bread and butter on the table. It’s not transportation. It’s a discretionary, entertainment expenditure. If you force feed fans with an unremitting diet of negative headlines, it pushes them away. I’ve been successful if I’ve been able to stimulate the best values and career arc that fulfills the best hopes and dreams of an athlete. It is not just economics.

CC: The issue of steroids in sports? LS: I think the American public loves the fall of the high and mighty, but they also have a great capacity for forgiveness. Mark McGwire is, essentially, a sympathetic figure. He’s always been considered a nice guy. He does many acts of kindness off the field. So when an athlete is in crisis and they are willing to come out and state the correct standard of public behavior, then to apologize to his family, relevant constituencies, to the teammates, to the organization, to the fans who admired them and then, if relevant, to affirm that they have taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence, the response is positive. There was one comment McGwire made that was not helpful, which was a statement that the supplement or steroid didn’t enhance his playing ability. The key is to fess up to one’s guilt. If you do that, having taken the steps I just indicated, it’s then possible for the athlete to move on. CC: The response from an embattled athlete needs to be fast? LS: Yes. One issue is to not let any time pass. Another issue is to not equivocate. They need to own the behavior and apologize. There is a very powerful celebrity-making machine in this country that focuses on people and their behavior. It’s made up of talk shows, TMZ-type investigative shows, the Internet, blogs, People and US magazines, the National Enquirer. The problem from the standpoint of a celebrity, if a story gets caught up in that machine, is that the average person will see and/or hear that story 20 times a day, over and over again.


65

120

th

Anniversary of Earl Warrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Birth

America was the Promised Land and California the place of golden opportunity, which certainly proved to be true for the son of two immigrants, a Norwegian father and a Swedish mother, when Earl Warren was born 120 years ago on March 19, 1891. While it probably isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fair to say that no one gave him anything, it is certainly accurate that he wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t given much. Earl Warren was a self-made man who worked on the railroad as a boy in Bakersfield, hot Bakersfield, hot, isolated Bakersfield, at the end of the 19th century. It was evidently a good place to build character and learn the value of hard work, because Earl Warren grew up to be one of the most significant Californians in our history. He went to Bakersfield High School before it was even known as Bakersfield High School. He did well and was smart enough to put himself through what was then a still relatively young University of California, Berkeley. He also graduated from their law school, Boalt Hall, in 1914 and was already a young lawyer when he enlisted in the United States Army during World War I.

After the war, Warren was appointed district attorney of Alameda County, a position he managed to win in re-election three times. He soon developed a reputation for going after corruption at all levels, in politics and in business; and in those years developed a reputation as a hard-nosed conservative. In 1938, Earl Warren was elected attorney general of California. His popularity was such that he won the primary not only of his party, but also the competing parties and was elected without any credible opposition. It was during this period that the dark shadow was cast over his reputation. He was responsible for enforcing the order promulgated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and implemented by Milton Eisenhower, brother of future president and war hero, Dwight Eisenhower, for the interment of the Japanese-Americans, American citizens, at inland camps in California. In 1942, Republican Earl Warren was elected Governor of California. In his re-election in 1946, he duplicated his feat as Attorney General and won the nomination


66

C A L I F O R N I A C O N V E R S AT I O N S | S U M M E R 2 0 1 1

attack. President Eisenhower, who was impressed with Earl Warren’s Republican credentials and national reputation, appointed Warren Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Eisenhower would later regret his decision. Although he never doubted Earl Warren’s integrity, he was chagrined by the increasingly liberal views that Warren would take. “It was the damn biggest mistake I ever made,” Eisenhower said. Historians have noted that the Warren Court reflected Earl Warren so completely that he is considered the most influential jurist of the 20th century.

on the Democratic, Republican and Progressive tickets and, in 1950, he became the only person, until the recent election of Jerry Brown, to be elected Governor of California three times. In 1948, Earl Warren was a Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican national team with New York’s Thomas E. Dewey. In what many historians believe to be the most shocking upset in Presidential politics, Harry Truman emerged from a vigorous campaign more popular than he started and defeated Dewey. In 1953, the Chief Justice of the United States, the mostly forgotten Fred Vinson, died suddenly of a heart

It was the Warren Court that ended segregation of public schools in Brown v. Board of Education; allowed one man, one vote in Baker v. Carr; allowed due process in Gideon v. Wainwright, and changed the lives of every person arrested with his decision that they must be told that they have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, in the Miranda v. Arizona case. Sadly, Earl Warren is also remembered as the only person the President of the United States believed had the gravitas to lead the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Earl Warren died on July 9, 1974. This California boy who changed the world is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


69

calendar

A 100 year California 1911

Republican Hiram Johnson is governor. In response to the power of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the initiative process is put in place to compete with the Legislature as a way to set policy. Hard not to think that the Reformers would wonder if what we are reaping resembles the policy that was sewn.

1927

The 22-year-old son of a cigar store owner works for his dad and graduates from night school at the San Francisco College of Law. The following year, he passes the State Bar and runs unsuccessfully as a Republican for the State Assembly. He doesn’t win. He becomes a Democrat, a successful one, a two-term Attorney General of California and a two-term Governor. He transformed our universities and modernized our infrastructure. Pat Brown is one of the giants.

1939

The only recognized tropical cyclone to ever touch California shores rips through Long Beach with winds of more than 75 miles per hour. It came with little warning. A disputed number of deaths ensued as bureaucrats argued how many died from the cyclone and how many perished from the flooding that followed.

1940

Charlie O’Reilly is born in Chicago where his irreverence, incredible appeal, gracious wickedness, genius as a trial lawyer and loyalty as a friend will be remembered 70 years later at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church that welcomed him back as their wayward wunderkind. It was in California that Charlie twice won the Consumer Attorney’s Association Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. He lived hard and faded at the end, his death going unfairly unrecognized, but in his time, at his best, there was no one like him. His buddy, Mike Noland said simply, “Charlie O’Reilly was the greatest trial attorney who ever lived.”

1950

Julia Morgan, the favorite architect of William Randolph Hearst made a difference from the days when she was denied entrance to schools because she was a woman. She was the architect of hundreds of buildings, but in a year when parks are being closed, it is worth noting Julia Morgan that her jewel, Hearst Castle, is the most successful attraction in the entire 270 state parks system.

1955

Los Angeles born sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, moves beyond the classic sculpturing refined while studying in the shadows of da Vinci and Michelangelo masterpieces to design the sets and costumes for the devastating production of King Lear with Sir John Gielgud. Noguchi’s work gains popularity around the world and manages to go beyond political controversy to landscaping and furniture design.

1962

A driven young man is the advance guy on the afternoon that former Vice President and future President, Richard Nixon, gives his terribly self-conscious speech about the press not having him to kick around anymore. It is Pete Wilson. Mr. Wilson eventually becomes governor himself and no one who ever serves in that position will have a more loyal staff. It becomes a badge of honor and a reason for regular reunions to have worked for Pete Wilson.

1970

On a budget of almost one hundred dollars, Carol Wior buys three secondhand sewing machines and opens a clothing business in her parent’s Arcadia, California garage. It is her swimming suit designs, slim suits engineered with hidden wire, that make her successful enough to Carol Wior be featured by the Smithsonian Institute as a ‘Mother of Invention.’ Her company is still California proud and providing jobs from their Bell Garden location.

1979

‘Players’ premiers, a tennis movie that starred Dean Martin’s son, but the real life legend in the film did not have to pretend he could coach the actors. He was Pancho Gonzales, a fierce competitor who was banned as a boy from major tournaments for his unwillingness to attend school, and, as a young man, won the U.S. Open and became one of California’s finest players.

2007

California bookstores are pleasantly overwhelmed with the release of the final book in the Harry Potter series. One estimate is that immediately after the midnight sales began, the J.K. Rowling novel was being sold at a pace of one every three seconds.

2011

Tani Cantil-Sakauye is appointed the Chief Justice of California. It is an excellent choice. She is brilliant, capable and...well, enough said.


Executive Order. 1117 11th St 路 Sacramento (916) 447-8900 chopssacramento.com


SACRAMENTO

SAN FRANCISCO

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is the leading advocacy group for the automobile industry on a wide range of policy issues. To find out how the auto industry is driving innovation by making automobiles cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient than ever before visit

AutoInnovation.com

LOS ANGELES

Visit us online at www.autoalliance.org

1415 L Street, Suite 1190 Sacramento, CA 95814 Tel: (916) 447-7315 Fax: (916) 447-7349


Tomorrow begins

today. We’re defined by what we pass on to the next generation. That’s why ConocoPhillips is working with Rebuilding Together to help homes and communities across our country become energy efficient. In the process, we’re teaching our children about the importance of giving back and making better use of energy supplies. So we can pass on what matters . . . to the ones who matter most.

www.conocophillips.com

© ConocoPhillips Company. 2008. All rights reserved.

®

California Conversations - Summer 2011  

In this issue: His name will be synonymous for future generations with seeking tolerance and understanding. However, Simon Wiesenthal will...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you