JUNE 17th – and ONE TO GO at WVRC!

Yes, we are winding down – but there’s still plenty going on. SANDY SANDERSON led us in the Pledge. At this point, Pres. PETER confessed that his ‘script’ was still sitting on his desk at the office – and without these guidelines, he did remember that he asked new member SOL DRESNER to give the Invocation (ahead of the Song!); SOL provided a meaningful message, beginning, “Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with another occasion for Fellowship and Camaraderie today - most especially, bless those who help our less fortunate brothers and sisters”. Well done, SOL. Since we were already seated, that’s from where we sang. The song was “I Been Working on the Railroad” with PP JIM DOWNIE on his keyboard and LENNIE FRIEDMAN directing traffic – and everyone enjoyed it.

While STEW GILMAN couldn’t find any Visiting Rotarians, we did have several spouses with us. They included Shirley MORE, Janice DEA, Pat ANDERSON, and Mary Francis COX. LILLIAN KLIEWER brought her daughter, Christie, and TERRY M. WHITE introduced his friend, Pat Sands. Rico Moe is a friend of Madame Wu. SLOSS VIAU introduced Jan Cipolla, who publishes our Windmill – and has done so for the last twenty five years! I had two young men from the UCLA Naval ROTC – Capt. Matt Parker, a Marine flyer, and Midshipman Eric Hinojos. Capt. Parker expressed the thanks of the unit for our continuing support – it goes back to 1947 – and noted that he was particularly pleased that Midshipman Hinojos was interested in Aviation, since Parker is a pilot himself. We presented Mr. Hinojos with a World Clock, suitably engraved, and he also expressed his thanks for being chosen. Next week, we will be presenting awards to both the Army and Air Force, by the way.

Madame SYLVIA WU was introduced as our newest member – and she then gave her Craft Talk. She thanked the MORE’S for their help, and noted that HENRY TSENG was her Sponsor. MADAME WU outlined her entry into the U.S. – sailing out of the Orient on the last ship to leave before WWII began, and arriving in Los Angeles as a refugee. She and several other young ladies were taken under the wing of a Priest, Marian Montana, who introduced them to Mary Pickford – a real thrill for them, of course.

MADAME WU then told the story of how she started her restaurant. She had three thousand dollars, but wasn’t sure that was enough – so her husband, King Wu, found a partner who also would put up $3000. The problem was the Sylvia didn’t want a partner, and eventually she convinced him to work for her, instead of being an investor. This was a matter of also convincing King Wu that she shouldn’t have a partner, and Sylvia prevailed on a family friend, who told King that having a partner was “Stupid”.

So with the help of the Bank of America, she opened her restaurant in 1969. It was popular, and began to have the reputation of being full most of the time. They were having a party, and one of her clients brought Cary Grant along. Knowing that he was coming, Sylvia invited Jimmie Doolittle’s wife, and seated her next to Cary Grant. This more or less began the procession of celebrities who often came to the restaurant. Mrs. Doolittle asked Sylvia if she wanted good Chinese food, or a Cocktail – and Sylvia was introduced to the idea that she needed a bar. They took over the store next door, decorated it nicely, and it was a big hit. Her first restaurant, by the way, is where Dragos is located, on Wilshire. She was paying three hundred dollars a month in rent – now they are paying eight thousand a month!

Sylvia found her space was too small, and began to look at taking over Romanoff’s. When it closed, her BofA advisor said it would cost over a million dollars to remodel it.

She returned to her restaurant, and a patron in the bar asked why she was looking so sad.

She told him about Romanoff’s, and he got up from the bar, and took her to the lot on 23rd Street and Wilshire. She made an offer – not lowering the price but with three conditions - $50K down, 6% interest, and a ten year note. When this was accepted the next day, she was in business!

Her contractor for the remolding was Mr. Warmsley, who was also a City Councilman in Santa Monica. She told him her budget was $50K, but not to tell her husband, or the BofA. They shook hands, and he drove up to the mountains for the weekend. On the way back, he was killed in an accident! On the advice of her lawyer, she called Mrs. Warmsley, who said they would abide by everything the two of them had agreed to.

Three years later, the property was paid for.

Sylvia also noted that she was a Mother, with two sons, a Grandmother, and a wife, and she wanted us to know that she wasn’t really a businesswoman, but a housewife, most of the time. Sylvia, thank you for introducing yourself to us. As a souvenir of her talk, a commerative book was auctioned off, and the winner was CHRIS BRADFORD.

Pres PETER had some notes on his script, which I think bear repeating. He wanted us to honor four long-time members, all of whom joined Rotary in the month of June. PP DAVE WHITEHEAD joined 27 years ago, DONN CONNER came aboard 28 years ago, and GENE PRINDLE joined 34 years ago. And the Champ of them all, who joined on June 18th, 1954, is PP JIM DOWNIE – that makes an even FIFTY YEARS! Our congratulations to each of you. We were reminded that those who ordered the group photo last week had copies waiting for them after the meeting today, and I had a signup list of another 14 members, who will soon have their copy. These pictures are FREE, since we have a surplus in the budget – that DON NELSON is a real magician! Finally, please observe the five new baby swans now sporting about in the pond, OK?

Pres. PETER introduced our Speaker, Yasuhisa Toyota, who is a senior executive with Nagata Acoustics. He graduated from the Kyushu Institute of Design which he choose because its comprehensive Acoustic Design Department includes not only training in acoustical engineering but also requires completion of courses in audiology, musicology and musical performance.

Mr. Toyota began his career with Nagata by collaborating with Dr. Minoru Nagata, the company’s founder, who is now retired. They have a staff of just fifteen, plus three in the U.S., and have been responsible for a number of major acoustical space designs for orchestral, chamber music and other non-amplified musical venues. In total, they have designed over three hundred auditoriums and thirty classical concert halls.

Mr. Toyota began by noting that the first thing designed is the inside space, with outside features after that. He reminded us that the Disney Concert Hall is covered with stainless steel, while Gehry’s other signature hall is in Bilbao, and it has a titanium sheath. The first pictures shown were of the organ inside Disney. It will be completed this September, and has six thousand pipes. The builder is a local man, Manual Rozos, and the organ is currently referred to as French Fries!

He then showed a series of Opera Houses, beginning with Vienna, built in 1870. It is in the Shoebox style, so called because it is rectangular, with high ceilings. Next we saw the Boston Symphony, built in 1900, and then the Amsterdam Symphony, which was constructed in 1890. Jumping ahead to 1960, the Berlin Symphony was the first non-shoebox design, without narrow side walls, and with the audience surrounding the stage.

The first signature venue for Nagata Acoustics was Suntory Hall, which opened in 1986. Mr. Toyota felt this had a major impact on the planning for the Disney Hall. The next year, Lillian Disney made her initial gift of fifty million dollars toward the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the general feeling was they didn’t want a shoebox hall. Design started in 1989, but was stopped for four years due to funding difficulties. It was restarted in 1998, and the Hall opened in October of 2003.

One of the major features of this new Vineyard Style is a series of small walls around various areas, which allows for optimum acoustic performance. Looking at the shoebox style, it is limited to an audience of fifteen hundred or less, while vineyard venues can accomodate larger audiences. The capacity of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is 2265.

Mr. Toyota, thank you for an excellent presentation. As a personal note, I recently toured Disney, and they provide an excellent audio tape for a self-guided tour. It is very worthwhile.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe