THE WEEK BEFORE OUR 75th – March 18th at WVRC


GREGG ELLIOTT led the Pledge, followed by PP JIM DOWNIE and LENNY FRIEDMAN with the Song – When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.  This duo was greeted with applause, and LENNY noted that he qualified as the leader since he was our “Little Jewish Leprechaun”.  ART HENRY gave the Invocation.  He began by asking God to help us to honor the commitments we have made – what we say and what we promise is important. We want to be people who can be counted upon, who do the things we say we will do, whose lives are built upon trust, among ourselves and with God.  ART, I’ve said this before, but you pros make it sound like you’ve done this before – Thanks.


STEW GILMAN could locate no Visiting Rotarians, but we did have visitors.  SUSAN ALLEN brought along Yoshiko Umezawa.  BRIAN BUMPAS had two guests – his son, Brian, and Duke Russell, Founder of the Annual Abe Lincoln Remembrance in Los Angeles. Pres. PETER then nicely thanked Abraham, the Hotel Manager who is in charge of our weekly luncheons, for his consistently fine cooperation and help. 


PP RON LYSTER rose to list his 75th Committee, led by PP’s DAVE WHITEHEAD, RALPH WOODWORTH, and STEVE DAY, plus ELLIOTT TURNER, Marian Tseng and the Auxiliary. Eleven Host/Hostess dinners are planned, by SALLY BRANT, the BRADFORDS, COLLINS, DAYS, DOWNIES, GAULTS, McQUAYS, MULRYANS, HOMER NEWMANS, LEO  TSENGS, and the WANGLINS. Many, many more are helping to put this together, and it promises to be a great celebration.  Remember, Black Tie is OK for Saturday night!


This led to a ‘promotion’ for Sweatshirts.  One costs $40.00, if ordered before next Thursday, or you can get one free, after that, by paying a fine of $50.00!  I have a good supply of large, extra large and extra extra large, in both maroon and blue.  Please call me at 277-3910, or, and I’ll enter your order (in the nick of time, if ten bucks is worth saving).  And I’m still recommending that you order a size larger than you ordinarily would, since they will shrink after washing.  Nuff said – MAKE THAT CALL!


A notable event occurred on March 5th – Luke Robert Forsman arrived, thus making JUDY and BOB WESSLING Grandparents!  BOB, who probably didn’t need the microphone, used it anyway to give us the details – the little guy came along three weeks early (thus enabling the WESSLINGS to attend the 75th, after all) and weighed 5 lbs 14 oz.  He has since gained a pound, and Mother Jennifer, Baby Luke and Father Arnie are all doing well. Application has already been made, needless to say, for the Class of 2022 at good ole DePauw.  And while it wasn’t directly stated, it’s probably true that contributions to his tuition (expected by then to be about 75 grand a year) will be gratefully accepted.  Seriously, this is the first new male in the family, and they couldn’t be more pleased, and proud.  And I can’t resist recalling that you can almost see them grow at that age – what a thrill! Congratulations to all.


PDG ANDY ANDERSON came forward with a brief report on PP HOWARD SISKEL.  As you know, he had a stroke on March 5th, was taken to UCLA, and probably had another stroke two days later.  He appeared to be improving, but that didn’t hold.  I saw Eloise after our meeting today, and she and Lisa were going to look at a couple of rest homes, where he may be transferred soon.  PP RALPH WOODWORTH was there (in room 557) while they were out scouting.  There has been a delay in inserting a tube into his stomach, but the prognosis isn’t good.  Do get over to see him if you can – and hold the family in your prayers.


Incoming President RUDY ALVAREZ had been shepherding the preparation of our Awards Book, which details the Club achievements for this Rotary year.  After leaning on all the Service Chairs to get their reports to him by the deadline, he arrived at Pres. PETER’S house last Friday – and discovered he hadn’t written his own report!  He got it done by midnight, and with lots of effort over the weekend, it was delivered on time to the District Office this past Monday.  The following members submitted their reports – PP STEVE DAY, Foundation, Vice President DON NELSON, Club Management, MIKE GINTZ, Youth, SEAN McMILLAN, International, and RALPH SMITH, Community.  The whole report is posted on WWW.WVRC.NET.


DON NELSON next came forward with a somewhat sneaky request.  He asked a whole bunch of members to stand as he called their names – and as the list continued, everyone began to wonder what they had done to rate this recognition.  When DON was finished, he then announced that everyone whose name he had called had NOT YET bought a sweatshirt!  My fourth paragraph above outlines how those of you who were so ‘honored’ can yet escape – it comes down to forty bucks now or fifty buck later.  You choose, OK?


Yes, there is life after our 75th, and a couple of dates are worth noting.

April lst (yes, this is NOT an April Fools joke) WVRC will be dark. No Meeting.

And way ahead, we will have a joint meeting with the Santa Monica Club on FRIDAY, May 21st – thus we will be dark the day before, May 20th.


We had a presentation to make to Meals on Wheels of West Los Angeles, and I had asked Cita Cohen, Co-Director, and Carol Holle, Coordinator of Volunteers, to join us for lunch. I asked them to come forward to receive our annual support check – this being a cover, we hoped, so that Carol would not suspect that we had an additional award in mind for her.  Carol was instrumental in forming the WLA Chapter of Meals on Wheels, 28 years ago, has helped to hire the Co-Directors, and continues today as the Coordinator of Volunteers.  This means she comes in one day a week, and fills the gaps that occur when someone cannot deliver on their scheduled day.  It is my understanding that when she asks if you can deliver on, say, Tuesday, and you cannot, she immediately comes back with, How about Thursday?  Whatever she’s been saying all these years, it works!  We have chosen Carol as our Community Volunteer for the Year for 2003, and presented her with an appropriate plaque.  She also became a Paul Harris Fellow, and was presented with the medallion and Certificate of Membership of that honorary organization. Not only was she very deserving of this honor – but we DID surprise her.


BRIAN BUMPAS introduced our Speaker, Stephanie Edwards.  He confided that Pres. PETER had suggested that he not take too long – which got a laugh – and Brian then noted that he had met Stephanie just a year ago when she was one of the speakers at the Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration at the WLA Veterans Cemetery last year.  She and her husband, Murray, have belonged to the Hollywood Presbyterian Church since 1975, and she spoke to WVRC a few months ago in behalf of Southern California Presbyterian Homes. 


Stephanie is no longer directly connected to the Presbyterian Homes, since they have eliminated their outreach program, in a cost-cutting move.  As she said, it was a loving separation, and she wishes them well.  She was speaking in behalf of Duke Russell’s Annual Abe Lincoln Remembrance in Los Angeles, which he has been sponsoring for the last twelve years. Stephanie noted that she now lives in Woodland Hills – alas, on the WRONG SIDE of Ventura Blvd, and just a couple of blocks from the public high school that just won the State title for literacy achievement.  She observed what the kids were wearing, and was not pleased.  These are intelligent kids, from good families, but peer pressure controls how they present themselves – and she doesn’t like what she is seeing.


She was invited to speak to a group of students at the University of California at Irvine.  This group, formed at the urging of the Chancellor, meets weekly and TELLS the speaker what their subject is to be.  She spoke on Lincoln – and found that not every one of the forty or so students knew much about him at all.  One student replied, “President, right?”  Several had never heard of John Wilkes Booth, and Dr. Mudd was unknown to almost all of them.  She finds that today’s students seem to concentrate on recent history, period.


Here is a man who taught himself to read, had less than a year of formal schooling, but devoured books whenever he could find them.  With this kind of background, he produced some of the most profound thoughts in American history - his Gettysburg Address remains as an example of clarity and brevity that is unmatched.


One of the problems with education today is that students do not get most of their information (learning?) from books – there are too many other sources, and what the Lincoln Remembrance is promoting is his life story.  Here is a self-taught man who rose to the most important office in the country, and every student here should know about his background, his struggles, and his triumphs.  The Abe Lincoln Remembrance in Los Angeles is seeking our support – would we consider being a sponsor of next year’s celebration – and of perhaps leading the movement toward a re-emphasis on his values, which are so important today.


Q&A – DAN PRICE told the story of Georgie Jessel taking Lena Horne to the 21 Club in New York.  The Maitre’d asked if they had a reservation – and Jessel replied, Yes, Abe Lincoln made it.  They were seated.  RUDY ALVAREZ corrected Stephanie’s story about Socrates by pointing out that he took the hemlock voluntarily, to prove his point.


PP MIKE NEWMAN felt that kids today know a whole lot about current history, and asked her how she would teach history.  She replied that her ideas were not well received – and that was why she was here today!  ELLIOTT TURNER pointed out that the History Channel has done some great work, and Stephanie agreed – but pointed out that this kind of factual presentation would not be shown on the networks, because it isn’t ‘cool’.


PDG BILL GOODWYN spoke of his father, who was born in 1894 and died at 92.  He knew Mary Serratt, at whose home Booth was found. His Dad knew Mary’s daughter, who felt, rightly, that there was no reason for her Mother to have been hanged along with Booth.


PP STEVE DAY – had a very distant relative who was the first doctor to treat Lincoln when he was shot.


WOW – this is wide-ranging stuff.  Thanks, Stephanie – and, speaking editorially, I think Rotary should get behind a new emphasis on Abraham Lincoln.


                                                                                                YOE. Ernie Wolfe