UNDER THE GUN - end of August, the 29th

Yes, it does put a bit of pressure on those who complain but seldom act, when their bluff is called and they have to perform, rather than just poke fun.  So it was today, when, following the Pledge by TERRY R. WHITE, the Song was called for.  Now understand, PP JIM DOWNIE is a seasoned veteran in this situation, but YOE had a few butterflies as he had to 'lead' a somewhat unleadable audience in "It's A Grand Old Flag".  JACK HARRIS had fingered me for the slot, but then didn't have the nerve to show up himself to share the blame…Anyway, with PP JIM queuing me, we got through it OK (and contrary opinions will be published next week, OK?)  DICK ROBINSON was our Invocator, and he made a serious suggestion that we all offer a silent prayer for our young men now in the service who will bear the brunt of any fighting that may occur in Iraq.  DICK was introduced as "Mr. B-24", which he piloted during WWII - and I have to get in a plug for a Book On Tape I'm now enjoying.  The title is "Wild Blue", by Stephen Ambrose. It follows the training and battle story of George McGovern, who piloted the B-24 "Dakota Queen" over Europe in 1944 and '45.  Ambrose is of course an excellent historian, and I highly recommend "Wild Blue" - you will have a much better appreciation of what those bomber pilots and their crews went through to help win the War.  If you would like to borrow it, call me right away, before I return it to the Library.

Prexy TED next introduced Assistant Governor John Lane, a past-president of the Santa Monica Club.  John's responsibility is to serve as advisor for several nearby clubs, and he reminded us all that his function is to help WVRC with questions or in any other way we may determine.  John reminded us of the date of the Governor's visit, which will be September 19th, in the evening. He further noted that District Governor Rick Mendoza is emphasizing Membership, plus all of us letting the world know about all the good things that Rotary does.  His final comment was that we at WVRC really have a special venue in which to meet - and YOE heartily seconds that!  Prexy TED presented John with a copy of MYRON TAYLOR'S Four-Way Test, an always-appreciated memento of visiting Westwood.  Appropriately enough, the first guest introduced was Denise MARRONE, wife of Tony (PDG ANDY ANDERSON, please note!).  PDG BILL GOODWYN brought along Special Guest Karen Mason for her second visit.  She specializes in Private Risk Management for Aon Insurance.

Special recognition was due, and shown, to two past-presidents, TOM LENEHEN and JIM DOWNIE, who were seated at the Head Table.  These gentlemen are our Sergeant's at Arms, and they have the often-difficult job of quieting the crowd - so if you must talk during the program, be sure your knuckles are covered - or you'll get rapped!  PP JIM also just celebrated his 52nd Wedding Anniversary - for which he was fined FIVE HUNDRED Dea Dollars.  SLOSS VIAU announced the forthcoming clothing drive for our local Salvation Army shelter - you may recall that we provided 62% of all the clothing collected last year for this facility, so our sights are high.  International President Bhichal Rattakul's slogan is "Sow the Seeds of Love" and this effort certainly fills that bill.  SLOSS will have his 'pickup vehicle' parked curbside for the next two meetings - (we need men's, women's and children's clothes). Bring Your Clothes, please.  

KEN LEVER is taking reservations for the next District Breakfast, which will be on Tuesday the 24th of September - check with KEN, please.  This invitation was so compelling, and so well-received, that only one person in the audience persisted in applauding - I couldn't see who the idiot was, but the deafening silence surrounding him must have told him something…KEN, a bit of advice here - you may have to prepare your material better, next time!  Prexy TED next raffled off two tickets, donated by the same KEN LEVER, for the UCLA - Colorado State FB game, and original bidder ELLIOTT TURNER was overwhelmed by the bid of a hundred big ones from PP TOM LENEHEN.  

A bit of sad news about a former member. PAUL HANNUM.  PAUL was with us during the 50's, 60's and 70's, serving as WVRC President in 1963-64.  He was our first Rotarian of the Year, in 1969-70. Paul was also active at Westwood United Methodist Church, plus serving on the YMCA Board.  He passed away recently at the age of 95, and the family suggests donations to WVRC Foundation, in lieu of flowers. Peggy and BILL BLOOMFIELD have already started this memorial, to one of our long-time members.  Marian and LEO TSENG provided a further donation in memory of PP DAVE MORE, plus honoring BRUCE ROLF and PP DOUG DESCH on their 90th birthdays. And just one announcement - The Family Picnic is coming up - Sunday afternoon, Sept 22nd, at the Siskels - Save the Date!

PP JIM COLLINS resurfaced after his Australia sojourn, and was called upon to report on the Brisbane Carlton Crest Hotel, to be used for the Rotary International Convention in Brisbane next June.  PP JIM checked the lobby, gift shop and bar, and found them to be excellent, plus the hotel is located just three blocks from the Convention Center.  This bit of sleuthing cost JIM a hundred real dollars, and he conveniently forgot to mention that this one hotel might not be enough to house the entire expected Rotary crowd.  PP DOUG DESCH came forward to tell the oldest story he knew  - Why does the traffic light turn red? You would too, if you had to stop and go in the middle of the street.

PP JIM SUMNER said it gave him great pleasure to introduce "two of the greatest new members in the history of Westwood Village Rotary" which apparently is a line made famous during PP JIM'S tenure before he became a PP.  JIM pointed out that both our speakers today had jumped right into WVRC, helping with check-in at the door, attending the Luau at LEO TSENG'S, etc. He further warned PP JIM DOWNIE that one or both of them might soon be pushing him to take over the piano playing, to which JIM responded, "You're Welcome"!  TONY MARRONE was up first.  He pointed out that the Member's Card he picked up entitling him to lunch, was "Pierce Brother's Mortuary" and he hoped that wasn't any special message just for him!  Tony was born in Pueblo, CO, one of ELEVEN children - he was the youngest of the four boys.  His dad came to the US in 1910, and took the train to Pueblo, where he had a job in the mines.  As soon as he could afford the fare, he sent for his wife - she was fourteen when they were married, and they had their first child when she was fifteen.

The whole family of thirteen moved to California in 1933.  Tony graduated from LA High, and was immediately drafted into the Army.  He was selected for training in the handling of Prisoners of War, and his first such job was helping to ship captured members of Rommel's Africa Corps from their arrival in Boston down to Texas. He recalls they were an impressive bunch - but they WERE captives!  After six months, he was transferred to Europe, and was sailing over when the ship's radio announced that we had invaded France.  The War ended, and when he returned to LA, he and a friend opened a restaurant.  This was not successful, but during this time he met his wife-to-be, Denise.  They had a tough start, but according to TONY, she ended up proposing to HIM - and since Denise was present and didn't actively object, some of that must be true!  They have been married for 46 years, and while she was not born into the Church, she is now a better Catholic than he is.  They have four kids, ranging in age from 40 on down.  And in case you are looking for a bright young man who is interested in music, Tony asks that you see him right after the meeting.  Tony's last remarks concerned an original error on his birth certificate, naming him Floyd, which was corrected by a simple line-through!
Finally, he passed on a tip from HENRY TSENG about his longevity - Did he eat fish? NO.  Rice is his secret!

This brought up AL BELLANCA, who opined that TONY was a tough act to follow.  AL was born at what he called an early age in Buffalo, but came to California in 1956.  As a very young boy, AL helped his dad with the apartments they owned - in collecting rents, said he learned to count before he learned to read! Another relative owned a flower store, and Al took a look at their books - found their accountant had stolen about $15K .  This led his dad to ask him to check their books, and he found a manager who was not counting about $10 from every deposit.  All this led Al toward formal accounting, but that had to wait for WWII to end.

AL enlisted in the Navy in 1941, and was commissioned  in 1942. His Navy time was spent in the Splinter Fleet, the wooden ships, that is. He was the commanding officer of a PCS and made full lieutenant when the War ended.  But he found time in 1943 to marry his first wife, Hilda.  Since they are still together after 59 years, she is still his first wife.

Al graduated from the University of Buffalo with a BA, and began his career in accounting after the War. When he admitted that he had spent five years as an IRS agent, there was a noticeable stirring and uneasiness apparent in his audience - probably many of those present had brothers-in-law or friends who were guilty of things that could have been investigated…He worked with several accounting firms, and formed his own company in1961.  During this time he joined the Los Angeles Country Club, and was advised by his sponsor to relate that his family came from Italy, NOT from Sicily, where his grandparents did indeed hail from.  In 1986 he 'retired' and became the financial advisor to a wealthy Pasadena family. It was during this time that he had a minor traffic accident.  To quote him directly, "So I called my attorney, Jim Sumner.  He said, "Stay there and I'll be right over with some witnesses."

In 1971 Al was invested as a Knight of Malta, the oldest Chivalric order, and today he is on the Board of Directors, plus serving as Secretary, of the Knights of Malta Free Clinic. His wife, Hilda likes to paint, plus playing golf, and they have three children.  Peggy is a lawyer, as is son Jim, while Alan lives in Portland and provides financial services. Their seven grandchildren range in age from 20 to 27.  

You two guys tell quite a story - and, as always, Craft Talks are our best programs.

Final word - our Salvation Army clothing drive starts at next meeting, Sept. 5th.  Bring clothes,  children's books, etc. - Don't forget, please.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe