Yes, it’s a short month we are dark next week for Thanksgiving, of course. Anyway, BOB THOM was the Pledge Leader, and he done good and it’s good to see you, BOB Don’t be a stranger, please. LEO TSENG gave a thoughtful Invocation, reminding us of the many, many things for which we should be thankful. LEO noted that he was an American by choice, not by birth, and that makes the freedom we enjoy all the better.
He asked us to pause and think about all our blessings and my only problem with this was that he didn’t give ME enough time! Good job, as usual, LEO. The always-reliable duo of LENNY FRIEDMAN and PP JIM DOWNIE took us through The Battle Hymn of the Republic and it’s true, we do better on the chorus than the beginning, which may indeed be a function of some of those first words slipping away as a few of us get older…
I was privileged to introduce our Visiting Rotarian. He was Patrick Hauser, from the Rotary Club of Lucerne and donning my now-retired travel agent hat, I think a visit to that part of Europe without at least one night in Lucerne shows poor planning.
Our Ambassadorial Scholar was Silas Holland, and he brought along Nestor Rosales, a friend from Guatemala. PP BOB LUSK was with Mathias Bjerstat, a distant relative who comes from Goteberg, Sweden. Mathias is here for several months and is working at the Swedish Consulate. President Elect DON NELSON had a Special Guest, Nick Kahrilas, who belonged to WVRC briefly in the late 90’s. Nick has left the paint business, and now operates in a niche insurance market. CATHY REZOS again introduced Candice, VP of our Rotaract Club. Candice explained that they were about to auction off a special Chess Set it features knights and knaves (or whatever they are called) wearing SC and UCLA Uniforms! Our Speaker, Stan Chambers, was accompanied by his lovely wife, GiGi so we had lots of guests and visitors.
Candice and CATHY next proceeded to auction off the Chess set. Candice came up to the podium, and CATHY roamed the floor they made quite a team. CATHY explained that the proceeds would help to fund the prize for our Music Contest and an immediate bid of $25 was shouted out. This quickly became $50, then $100 so that was the official starting bid. Bids of $125, then $150 were heard. There was a $200 bid and finally, BOB THOM got the Chess Set for $225! He even paid cash, which is impressive, I’d say. Football came into the picture, with Senor RUDY asking PP STEVE SCHERER how the Illini were doing. He also inquired of RICK LIVERMORE about the fortunes of Penn State. This brought forward that inveterate booster of DePauw, our semi-football coach, PP BOB WESSLING. BOB was pleased to report that his Tigers beat their arch rival, Wabash, 14-7 this on NATIONAL TV, and the series now stands at 59-59-11. The week before, the Tigers prevailed 30-3. However, in their march toward the finals, they fell to Trinity of San Antonio (which pleased Senor RUDY, as you can imagine), so had to settle for an 8 and 2 record for the season.
WHAT’S HAPPENING the Annual Christmas Shopping Trip was outlined by MIKE YOUSEM, who has run it for many years. The date is Thursday evening, Dec. 9th, starting at 5:30 p.m. ANN SAMSON has arranged for the children at the Salvation Army Transitional project to be our guests and these kids, unlike some in the past, are really short of any money to buy gifts. They each receive $30, which the Rotarians who accompany them help them budget out. They start with dinner at Islands (which MIKE pays for, by the way), and then bus to Big Lots, where they do their shopping. The bus then returns them to the Salvation Army housing, and each one receives a gift from Rotary at that time. It’s a great program, and only 25 Rotarians and/or spouses, can be accommodated. Sign up with MIKE right away, OK?
All Rotarians and their partners are invited to the Auxiliary’s famous Holiday Party on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 11:30 a.m. at Peggy Bloomfield’s home. Following a catered lunch, a musical program is planned. Please bring contributions to the Money Tree (wherein bills are tucked into the stockings hung on the tree and donated to a favorite Rotary charity) and also please bring the toiletry miniatures gathered from hotel visits through the year and these will be distributed by the Salvation Army. Reservations should be made by sending a check for $20 a person to Margie Downie before Dec. 5th.
CATHY REZOS next explained why our Rotaract guests were not eating on their own, they decided lunch wasn’t something in their (or our) budget, so they come just for the meeting. The cookies are welcome, of course and if you want to buy one of them lunch, please feel free to step up.
LENORE MULRYAN introduced Silas Holland. His Bachelors was from Duke, a joint major in biology and Russian. He then received a Masters in Education at Loyola Marymount, which led to two years teaching in South Central Los Angeles, in a program called Teach For America. He also spent time in the rural areas of Guatemala, in the Ayuda Al Planeta, which means he was helping in some of the most remote parts of that country. In January, he will travel to South Africa, to begin his Ambassadorial Scholarship studies.
Silas began by thanking us for the opportunity to study aboard and by visiting various Rotary Clubs here, he can better thank everyone personally who made his trip possible. He will be studying Public Health at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He came to Los Angeles to be part of Teach For America, which places recent graduates in some of the most underfunded schools in America. He taught sixth graders, and felt it was both rewarding and a tremendous challenge. Many of his students arrived at school hungry, had traveled at some risk through gang areas just to get to school, and these problems inevitably interfered with his ability to teach them.
He began to realize that poor health was a major detriment to their learning, and this led him to apply to Rotary for our study aboard program. With a Masters in Public Health, he will be able to return to LA and apply some of the lessons learned in his new environment. Knowing that he had our Scholarship, he choose to move to Guatemala for a year, in order to have more international experience. While there, he worked for a small non-profit, doing construction, forming kid’s clubs and helping doctors as they visited these areas. For awhile, he was in a rural area an hour and a half bus ride south of Guatemala City, which then took another two hour walk just to get there. They had no water, as an example of one of their major problems. He taught them English, formed more kid’s clubs and began to realize that some of the students he had in LA brought these same kinds of backgrounds to South Central.
He was drawn to Rotary because we take a longer view of helping people in other countries. The experience and understanding of the problems gained by studying aboard can be directly applied to helping young people everywhere. He is looking forward to studying in South Africa, and returning to Los Angeles to put into practice what he will learn as one of our Ambassadorial Scholars. Truly, this is an outstanding young man and we should all take pride in being able to help him toward his goal of teaching more effectively, in what most of us would consider almost impossible surroundings.
PP RALPH WOODWORTH introduced our Speaker, Stan Chambers. His career with KTLA began in 1947, almost by accident. He estimates there were maybe 300 to 500 TV sets in ALL of Los Angeles. So he really was in on the very beginning of TV broadcasting in our town. He has been with the same station for 54 years obviously, a record, and particularly impressive when you consider how other TV personalities move so often. He has reported more than 20,000 stories, and since 1949 has covered the Rose Parade almost every year.
Stan began by complimenting us on the many good works of Rotary. He told about going to what he thought was a campaign meeting. He was a bit early, and he kept waiting around for the candidate to show up. He was a bit surprised that everyone was so friendly, but he finally asked, where was the candidate? “Oh, that meeting is down the hall this is an AA meeting”. Another early assignment was to pick up the helicopter at Santa Monica and cover the big fire in Malibu. He rushed over, found a copter, jumped in and told the pilot to head for the fire. As they got closer, Stan told him to go in low, with the sun behind them, and then head back to the airport. When they landed, the pilot asked him, “Aren’t you my new flight instructor?”
There was life before TV, but it began with newspapers, and radio. Economics showed that houses cost $l0,000, with $100 down, and a new car was $1,700. He enrolled at USC, which had the only radio station on campus in the entire U.S. They hired him for $l.50 per hour, and he did everything there were no helpers. The Cathy Fiscus story in 1949 was what put TV up front, and when it was announced that she had died, the grief was palpable. Their coverage was continuous for 27 hours. A couple of years later, they were covering a naval maneuver aboard a carrier, and came up with the idea of using a 300 foot cable (since they still had to be connected to the studio) but only flying at 200 feet. One of the memorable events was when Dick Lane was doing his usual pounding on the fender of a car he was selling, and the fender fell off. Ah, the joys of live TV!
When the U.S. installed a powerful TV Transmitter that covered most of Europe, it was seen even by those behind the Iron Curtain and that began the slow withering away of the isolation of the people in Eastern Europe. The Solidarity Union in Poland was the first direct challenge to the Soviet Union, and when there wasn’t much response from the authorities, other areas began to test the limits of how far they could go. When they showed East German ‘tourists’ crossing into Austria, the idea took hold right away. Much of this erosion wasn’t planned it just happened. Stan thinks that Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall really changed the world.
Q&A DON NELSON, What about car chases. Well, they fascinate because no one knows what is going to happen. And, if all the other stations are showing them, you have to join in or lose your audience. They really do only show a fraction of what occurs.
BRIAN BUMPAS, Is there a media bias. Most teachers are liberals, and most of the media people are young, so it does exist. But editors work very hard to make the coverage fair. ED GAULD, What about the Cathy Fiscus tragedy. On the east coast, the news paper headlines read, simply, “DEAD”. There was no transcontinental cable, and thus our coverage here was not available elsewhere. This really was the breakthrough that demonstrated the need for coast to coast connection. BOB THOM noted that he was working downtown during the first big fire, and it was even scarier due to the TV coverage. Stan Chambers, thanks for sharing your many wonderful experiences during your long TV career.