A Bubbling Cauldron
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Welcome to A Bubbling Cauldron, a blog dedicated to the observations and opinions of this writer. Most of the time the subject will be local politics and politicians - those issues and/or people affecting the lives of those of us in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. Occasionally, I might write about something obscure that interests me. Or, I may just launch off into some philosophical rant if the urge moves me. I might even include comments by others from time to time.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Jabber The Hat
On April 13, 2006 the Daily Pilot, our excellent community newspaper, published an article by a resident of Fullerton - 30 miles from Costa Mesa as the crow flies - entitled "Cities must step up to enforce immigration law". The editors permitted the author to use a half page to provide us with his take on the current immigration plan proposed by our Mayor, Allan Mansoor, beginning with a primer on what a good Job Center should be. It's a curious subject, considering our Job Center, thanks to the ruling troika on the City Council, is long gone. His rambling tome ends with the following statement:

"Some may say I am spewing hate, but I will say I am trying the 'truth and tough love' approach first; the 'hate with extreme prejudice' may be needed later, so I'll keep that on the back burner."

In case there is any doubt, the phrase "with extreme prejudice" is a widely acknowledged euphemism for killing someone. Quite honestly, I was surprised the Daily Pilot actually published that portion of his rant.

This is not the first time the writer has attempted to provide us with his alleged wisdom. On March 21, 2006 he was a late speaker during the re-convened Public Comments portion of the Costa Mesa City Council meeting that evening. For those of us watching on television that evening the writer, in full view of the cameras, provided us with an unanticipated visual experience as he leaned forward and rose to approach the podium. If you recall the old Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, "Bad Moon Rising", you get the picture. Images of The Grand Canyon popped into my mind, as did every bad "plumber" caricature I've ever seen.

Following that display, he stood and regaled the council and viewers with much of what he wrote to the Daily Pilot, including his use of the government form I-9 as a visual aid. He waived what he represented to be a copy of the form, which is used by employers to validate a job seeker's legal ability to work in this country, and told the council and those few members of the audience remaining that he had "filled out hundreds of these forms in the last year" as he looked for work. One had the impression that his quest for employment had yet to prove successful, although I might be wrong.

As he stood at the podium looking very much like a reincarnation of Jabba The Hut (perhaps we should refer to him as Jabber The Hat) - baseball cap firmly pulled down over his eyes, shorts at half mast and tee shirt barely sufficient to cover his considerable girth - this fellow made an imposing figure and certainly did command our attention, even though his words did not. Sadly, he's representative of the bizarre mixture of characters that have presented themselves to the council to speak on behalf of the mayor's plan since last December. Ever since our young jailer/mayor was anointed as an Honorary Minuteman by co-founder Jim Gilchrist himself, we've seen a steady parade of characters, not unlike those out of a "Star Wars" bar scene, praising him for his "courage" and "leadership".

I would like to thank Jabber, his Minuteman buddies and all the other outside agitators who have inserted themselves into the discussion of our mayor's plan over the past several months, for continuing to demonstrate that the best, most articulate and most persuasive arguments on both sides of this issue come from those of us who live in Costa Mesa - those with a real vested interest in the outcome of events in our city. I, for one, hope he has success finding employment which coincides with his skills, whatever they might be. But then, I'm an optimist.
11:45 am pdt

Thursday, April 13, 2006

...And This Is What They Handed Me.
I think I'm getting a little better idea of how our mayor, Allan Mansoor, goes about doing his job.

The following quote appeared in an article in the Daily Pilot on Thursday, April 13, 2006.

"Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor may be registered as a Republican, but when it comes to his drink preference, he's a decline-to-state.

He was spotted at state Senate candidate Diane Harkey's election night shindig with a glass in hand, but when asked what he was drinking, he was coy.

'I just asked for something, and this is what they handed me,' Mansoor said."

It sounds like he's talking about his immigration screening plan, doesn't it? I mean, it's unlikely that our young jailer/mayor conjured up this plan all by himself. It's more probable that some of his handlers dropped it in his lap and told him to run with it.

I sure hope he's more careful with other decisions in his life. One can only shudder at the potential results at EHarmony.com, for example.

Come to think of it, I guess that statement is a kind of catch-all excuse for messing up - the perfect mea culpa. One more time, "I just asked for something, and this is what they handed me."

I can hardly wait until November...
10:22 am pdt

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Byron's Back & A Trip Down Memory Lane
Before we get to the subject du jour, let me alert you to the fact that my muse and writer par excellence, Byron de Arakal, has awakened from his hibernation and has jumped back into the saddle at his blog, Itchingpost.com. He's tightened his focus to things closer to home here in the land of Newport-Mesa, honed the edge of his spear and is back at it - with a vengeance. I invite you to visit his blog - the link for which is on my "Useful Links" page - early and often.

Thanks to Byron for providing a link to this blog for his readers willing to take a giant step back in literary evolution. He's also provided a link to another local blog, the CM Press - authored by a resident who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - for readers interested in taking the risk of being splattered by the mud slung around on that one.

***

Recently a neighbor presented me with a gift - a passport down Memory Lane, as it were. She's planning to do some renovations in her home and her contractor discovered, hidden inside a brick room divider, some pages from the November 1, 1956 Los Angeles Examiner. This treasure included the sports section, plus several pages of classified advertisements. The newspapers held no value for her, but when she showed them to me my eyes lit up and I began to wax nostalgic, so she gave them to me.

It's hard to find the words to describe the wave of nostalgia that swept over me as I read the names of sports writers Mel Durslag, Bob Hunter, Morton Moss and Bob Oates. Those were the men who helped shape my interest in sports back when I was a whippersnapper. These pages were published when I was a sophomore in high school and the memories are golden.

As I scanned these yellowed sports pages I found that the Los Angeles Angels (the real Los Angeles Angels, of the Pacific Coast League) were being run by a guy named Clarence (Pants) Rowland - what a great nickname! - and managed by Gene Handley. The Rams, featuring Harlan Hill and Elroy (Crazylegs) Hirsch, were to play the Chicago Bears with league leading passer Ed Brown and runner Rick Casares. The Rams were in the midst of a quarterback controversy - aren't they always? - with Billy Wade, Norm Van Brocklin and Rudy Bukich sharing the duties. Coach Sid Gillman was under fire for that arrangement. Some things just never change!

Another article spoke of a tune-up track meet for the United States track and field team that was headed for the Melbourne Olympics in November. Names of athletes scheduled to participate rang some bells for me. Pole vaulter Bob Gutowski, shot-putter Parry O'Brien, hurdler Lee Calhoun and high jumper Charlie Dumas all were mentioned in the article. I grew up watching those men compete.

A small article noted that Ed Price, the football coach at the University of Texas resigned as of the end of 1956. Price apparently had one year left on his contract which paid him the whopping sum of $12,500 per year.

I even found a game summary for my high school basketball team! They were crushed by Reseda High School, as that school won its very first basketball game.

Even more fun was reading the ads in the sports section. I found advertisements for Crown Russe Vodka (only $3.66 for 4/5 quart), Four Roses bourbon and Lejon Extra-dry Vermouth. Those days are long gone!

I also saw an ad for Coberly Mercury-Continental-Lincoln-English Ford, which offered a new, 1957 English-built Ford (which promised "over 30 miles per gallon in traffic") for $1295 full price. Tired of paying a couple hundred dollars for a tire? Back on November 1, 1956 Shull & Phillips on Olympic Blvd. would provide you with a retread for only $8.95, exchange.

My favorite advertisement on the sports page, though, was a large ad on page two, near the top of the page, for an outfit called "Executives Unlimited Schools for Men". Beneath a photograph of suave actor Adolphe Menjou, the ad promised "Every man can increase his business & social position through training at EXECUTIVES UNLIMITED. Let professional business men help you reach your goal." It goes on to offer training in the areas of Personal Public Relations, Business & Social Comportment, Executive Guidance, Voice Dynamics, Physical Fitness and Wardrobing. It closed by offering "Budget Terms and Evening or Sat. Classes". Ah, how times have changed.

This packet of memories also included the comic pages. There, snuggled around the Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not feature - which tells of such wonders as an oak tree which grew through a steel rim in South Kingston, Rhode Island and that every horse owned by notorious English miser Daniel Dancer was shod only on it's two front legs - were some very familiar comic strips. Blondie was there, looking as sexy then as she does now. I also found The Lone Ranger, Buz Sawyer, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Beetle Bailey, Steve Canyon, Bringing Up Father, Hi and Lois and Mandrake the Magician.

On to the classified ads, where I found that you could purchase a new 3 bedroom home in Puente for $7895, full price. You could occupy that little beauty for only $129, including closing costs, and pay $59.95 per month. Or, if you wanted to step up a little, you could have a 3 bedroom, 1 3/4 bath house "ideal for small family" in Brentwood/Bel Air for only $22,500.

If renting was your game, you could get a room with private bath, parking, TV, meals and maid service for $18.50 per week.

I kept on flipping pages past the section marked Automobiles - New, where Bacon Ford in Hermosa Beach promised that they were "trading like crazy" and guaranteed "to beat any legitimate deal by many $$$$$", on to the Automobiles - Used section to see what bargains were available to me back then. I found a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible for $1999, no money down. I found a 1955 Ford Victoria , complete with Fordomatic, Radio and Heater for only $1899. Digging deeper for bargains, I found an ad for a place called Burton Sales, Inc., where I could buy a 1948 Oldsmobile convertible for $99 or a 1947 Cadillac sedan for $299. I even found an ad for a 1951 Chevrolet 4-door sedan - just like my very first car - for $395.

As I scanned the pages I saw many familiar brands - Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Buick, Cadillac, Pontiac, Lincoln and Mercury. I also saw names of brands long departed - DeSoto, Packard, Nash, Plymouth, Rambler, Studebaker, Willys and Oldsmobile. What I didn't find was even more interesting. There was no reference to Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Acura, Lexus, Hyundai and Kia, although there were a few Mercedes, Triumph, Volkswagen and Rover automobiles listed under "Imported Cars". Heck, back then you could even buy a Simca or a Sunbeam Talbot.

I then flipped over to Section 3, page 9 - the first page of what might be called the Help Wanted advertising. As a recruiter of sorts all my working life, I was curious about how things have changed in half century. I found the answer to that question as my eyes stopped at section 61, SITUATION WANTED, FEMALE. The first ad in that section reads as follows: COLORED girls. Call Ladies Employment Aid Agency. 3226 S. Central ave. AD-29505, AD-13244". In that same vein, another ad read: "MIDDLE aged colored woman to care for 2 sm. children. Live in or not". Another, for an agency, solicited candidates for aids, maids and cooks and made a point of saying, "Plenty time off. No cash required. Colored only."

I continued on to Section 69, HELP WANTED, FEMALE, where opportunities were available for Beauty Operators, Car Hops, Clerk Typists, File Clerks and a "Forelady-Asst", where "experience on ladies knit underwear" was required. I spent some time thinking about that one.

A local savings and loan association offered an opportunity for a "Young Woman" with fire insurance experience. There were lots of opportunities for ladies as receptionists, secretaries, typists and waitresses. My personal favorite in this section was a little ad paid for by a doctor that read as follows: "WOMEN - girls (5). Must speak good English & Spanish. No experience necessary to give colonics. I teach you. $1 per hr. to start. Rapid advancement". Sounds like a great career opportunity to me! Another less-specific ad offered the following opportunities: WOMEN. want to make good money in dignified & pleasant way? Full or pt. time." I've thought about that one, too.

I saw several ads for "GROCERY CHECKERS at $86 - $125 per week".

Beaudry Bros. Candy Co. was looking for experienced "CHOCOLATE DIPPERS".

I found several ads for "GIRLS", the definition of which varied from "18-25", "18-24" or, from a more enlightened employer, "18-57".

An ad for an employment agency called out for FACTORY GIRLS, to perform jobs like Electronic Inspectors and Egg Candelers for wages beginning at $1.60 per hour.

Another ad ran the following:
"FACTORY help, male......$1.90 per hour.
FACTORY help, female....$1.55 per hour."

I then moved on to Section 79, HELP WANTED, MALE. In that section I found advertisements for all manner of workers in the then-growing aircraft industry, plus ads for Auto Salesmen, Credit Man, Bus Boy, Designers, Electricians, Engineers for the aerospace industry, IBM tab machine operators, Inspectors, Machinists and Salesmen of all types. One little ad caught my eye. It read as follows: "KITCHEN MAN. white, under 60, ROOM, BOARD AND SALARY."

I found an ad for a "BUSHELMAN" at a clothier in downtown Los Angeles. After spending a few minutes digging through several dictionaries I found the definition in an old one. A "bushelman" works repairing garments - who would have guessed?

As you can probably tell, I'm having a great old time perusing these old pages, plucking gems from the tattered and yellowed pages. These ads and stories represent a much simpler time - a time when political correctness was an alien concept. It was a time when we worried more about the education our children were receiving than bruising their fragile egos. Those were the days when a high school graduating class had one valedictorian, not forty, as was the case at a local school recently. Those were the days of Costa Mesa's infancy, when small homes on big lots provided room for kids to play and enjoy the ocean breezes that waft across our coastal table land.

It was a time when technology didn't isolate us from those around us, when kids chattered among themselves instead of seeking refuge in their Ipods, Gameboys and the like. They were the days of pickup football, baseball and basketball games during which kids honed their skills instead of wasting hours of glorious sunshine hunkered down in front of a 60 inch plasma display, playing video games that splatter opponents all over the screen in life-like animation.

Back in 1956 one could not even contemplate the experience of a lunch partner interrupting your conversation to take a half dozen cell calls, and to make another half dozen of his own. Technology is turning us into a productive, yet boorish, society where instant personal gratification has become an art form.

So, I'll clutch these old, yellowed pages close and continue to glean some fond memories from them. I'll enjoy those memories while I can and share them as I feel moved. I'm grateful to my neighbor for providing the catalyst for my trip to the past.



10:40 am pdt

2006.10.29 | 2006.10.22 | 2006.10.15 | 2006.10.08 | 2006.10.01 | 2006.09.24 | 2006.09.17 | 2006.09.10 | 2006.09.03 | 2006.08.27 | 2006.08.20 | 2006.08.13 | 2006.08.06 | 2006.07.30 | 2006.07.23 | 2006.07.16 | 2006.07.09 | 2006.07.02 | 2006.06.25 | 2006.06.18 | 2006.06.11 | 2006.06.04 | 2006.05.28 | 2006.05.21 | 2006.05.14 | 2006.05.07 | 2006.04.30 | 2006.04.23 | 2006.04.16 | 2006.04.09 | 2006.04.02 | 2006.03.26 | 2006.03.19 | 2006.03.12 | 2006.03.05 | 2006.02.26 | 2006.02.19 | 2006.02.12 | 2006.02.05 | 2006.01.29 | 2006.01.22 | 2006.01.15 | 2006.01.08 | 2006.01.01 | 2005.12.25 | 2005.12.18 | 2005.12.11 | 2005.12.04 | 2005.11.27 | 2005.11.20 | 2005.11.13 | 2005.11.06 | 2005.10.30 | 2005.10.23 | 2005.10.16 | 2005.10.09 | 2005.10.02 | 2005.09.25 | 2005.09.18 | 2005.09.11 | 2005.09.04 | 2005.08.28 | 2005.08.21 | 2005.08.14 | 2005.08.07 | 2005.07.31 | 2005.07.24 | 2005.07.17 | 2005.07.01
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Copyright, 2006 - Geoff West