Dr. Don Morris, A Central Coast Living Treasure

Where does Dr. Don M. Morris get his zest? It might be his passionate interest in people and his quest to stay healthy and make things happen.

At 85 years young he recently won three gold medals at the California State Senior Games Championships held in Pasadena, CA. Competing in his age group (85-89), the Shell Beach resident, made 23 of 25 basketball free throws, including 11 of 18 from the three point line. He also won the hot-shot shooting contest. He’s won over 100 medals in the past 33 years competing in track and field and basketball Senior Olympic competitions in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Oregon.

Tolosa Don Morris Senior Olympian & More

In 2009 when honored as the Mt. San Antonio College Alumnus of the Year, the 1950 graduate was said to have “…excelled academically and athletically.” He placed second in the nation in the 400m hurdles in the National AAU Junior Track & Field Championships and third in the 120-yard high hurdles and 220-yard low hurdles at the National Community College Championships. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo noticed and offered Morris an athletic scholarship where he ultimately earned induction into Cal Poly’s Hall of Fame.

Sports is simply part of Morris’ DNA. As his Elks Club coffee buddies debated who was the greatest Central Coast athlete, Morris decided to ask what the general population thought. He’s gathered 108 nominations. “Many of the men and women athletes have gone on to compete professionally in sports,” said Morris. For example San Luis Obispo High School’s Chuck Estrada signed with the Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in 1956, pitched from 1960-67 playing for the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Club and New York Mets then retired as a pitching coach for the majors.

Morris admits he struggles with ranking the athletes and encourages continued debate, but discovered the value of his quest has been to document the athletes’ history and their connection to the Central Coast. Nominations should be sent to dmmorris@calpoly.edu. Many sports are represented including San Luis Obispo High School’s football player, Ed Brown and golfer, Loren Roberts; Mission Prep’s runner Jordan Hasay; Santa Maria High basketball player Steve Patterson; and Righetti High baseball player Robin Ventura.

Education was Dr. Morris’ career choice. He earned a master’s degree in education at Cal Poly and an education doctorate at UCLA. He was a teacher and principal in San Luis Obispo and Simi Valley, a founding administrator for Moorpark College, and professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. He retired from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as Dean of Extended Education and Professor in the College of Education.

However, retirement simply meant transferring his energy to community organizations – and sports. As program director for the San Luis Obispo Monday Rotary Club and the founder of the Retired Active Men’s (RAMS) Coffee Cabinet, he realized it wasn’t always easy to fill his eleven year tenure of weekly programs with credible speakers. About ten years ago Morris started a web-list of free speakers available on sundry topics. Morris reported, “My website has 250 speakers with programs that are used by over 82 local organizations.” The list is available at http://www.slofreespeakers.com. He added the website has had over 6,000 hits and potential speakers are invited to send in their topical resumes.

Morris believes his most important achievements, however, are related to family and service to his country. “My greatest legacy would have to be being married to Jean, a wonderful San Luis Obispo women, for over 63 years and our having three bright and happy children that are now going through life as productive adults.” They treasure their seven grandchildren.

Morris volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Cal Poly in 1952. He became a naval aviator piloting both carrier-based aircraft and airships. “One of my proudest moments would have to be overcoming my fear and making my landings on the Navy Carrier USS Monterey back in 1953.” He served active duty and Navy reserves for 42 years and by his 1990 retirement he’d been promoted to the rank of Commander USN.

Is it possible the 85-year old is ready to rest on his laurels having achieved numerous accolades, including honored as the 2009 Distinguished Alumni of the Community College League of California? With his never give in or give up philosophy for living, Morris said, “In the next couple of months Jean and I are scheduled to go to the Nevada State Senior Olympic Championships and hopefully we can to to the World Senior Olympics up in Utah.”

We probably don’t need to wish him luck, but we can congratulate him – and Jean — for lives lived well.

Hershel Parker: World Authority on Herman Melville Chose Morro Bay for his Retirement Home

Retired Morro Bay librarian Jude Sanner Long recalls numerous visits by the world’s authority on Herman Melville. “Hershel (Parker) was a giant in our Morro Bay Library; tall and looking scholarly in a comfortable way. I always knew when he was in the building and I appreciated his quiet friendliness and humor though I felt his intellect deserved a more extensive book collection than we offered.”
Born November 26, 1935 in Comanche, OK, the literary giant chose to spend his retirement days in Morro Bay, but like many who are inspired by the quiet lifestyle of the Central Coast, Parker is transitioning to his next career as he finishes his final publication on Melville. In 1997 Parker was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1 1819-1851. In 2016 “Volume III” is scheduled for publication.
Parker retired as the H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus from the University of Delaware. He co-edited the Norton Critical Edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick,(1967 and 2001), was the general editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville, and his first two-volumes of Melville’s biography were published by Johns Hopkins University Press (1996, 2002). His personal bibliography is massive. He also taught at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California.
However, he now lights up telling stories about his current project, Ornery People: Who Were the Depression Okies? Parker said, “Mother was so poor. We moved constantly. I thought I had no family history, but I’ve found relatives dating back to the American Revolution.” He talks about his great-great-great grandfather being “…connected to one of most horrendous events in the war (Pyles Massacre, 1781) and his “…people involved in the Battle at Kings Mountain.” In 1780 the North Carolina battle was a decisive victory for the Patriots over the Loyalists.
Researching his family history has led to his becoming a regular contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution (www.allthingsliberty.com). His October, 2014 article “Fanning Outfoxes Marion” was printed in the journal’s annual anthology (JAR Books, May 2015) where he was credited unearthing “…an important tool for researchers, who are able to pinpoint a specific person, event or location without having to review thousands of applications…namely hundreds of Revolutionary War pension applications…”
Parker is amazed by today’s access to traditional methods of literary research. “What 25 years has done to help (one) research,” he said. “I used to have to beg someone to research something for me when I couldn’t travel to get to it myself.” His 35 years of Melville research, including 90,000 online pages and files and shelves of stored materials will be donated to Lamar University in Beaumont, TX.

Meade Canine Rescue: Tales of Tails

Charlotte Meade is not an Old Mother Hubbard. She’s far from elderly, a spunky bulldog when confronted with irresponsible pet owners and her cupboards would never be without healthy canine cuisine. Her volunteers at Meade Canine Rescue Foundation say she’s the Pied Piper of her 62-dog senior homestead. No doubt, she’s the Alpha dog on the ranch, but she’s “no dog” when it comes to looks, knowledge and determination. Admirers probably liken her to St. Mother Theresa. In fact, Pope Francis, take note! Meade is working miracles in California for senior dogs that become homeless for a variety of reasons.

 

“Dogs that have no other option but death are provided food, shelter, veterinary care, exercise, and love,” states Meade’s website http://www.meadecaninerescue.org, a senior dog rescue nonprofit based in Connecticut and California created by Charlotte Meade. Funds for medical costs and supplies are the most needed while Meade and volunteers provide a loving and safe environment for abandoned senior dogs to live out their final years.

Tolosa Charlotte Meade & 19th Beagle

Her dependents’ stories could break your heart. “Terry is 16 and senile,” said Meade. “His parent was on Hospice. We have a surrender fee to care for him and then bury him with her.” Kit, an emaciated and furless German Shepherd was to be put down for depression. At Meade’s Kit is running and social. QuieQuie, a loving and beautiful blue-eyed Dachshund-mix was said to be aggressive. Gummi Bear was misdiagnosed with cancer, yet perky three years later. Oliver’s long hair was so matted and infested he couldn’t scratch at the fleas that were eating his skin. A man encouraged 19 feral Beagles. When he died his son allowed Meade to place most of them. A few are still humanizing at the shelter.

 

The Humane Society states, “About 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs…are put down in U.S. shelters each year…Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation…” Meade works with local shelters likes Woods Humane Society. Cal Poly’s spay/neuter program, and most reputable national adoption services, but hopes to create an affordable and convenient spay/neuter clinic.

Meade spent most of her life living in interesting places like Paris, New York, Washington, DC and London. Due to allergies, she didn’t discover her passion for dogs until she was 40. “I adopted an amazing one-eyed Beagle from a (New) Jersey pound. I’d give him stuffed toys. He’d always chew off one eye and then play with it for years.”

It was a move to Waterbury, Connecticut that determined her mission in life. “I went to the pound near Memorial Day and found four dogs I was interested in adopting, but the next day they were put down because they didn’t want to clean their pins after the holiday. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I became an advocate and started the nonprofit. Free and easy access to spay/neutering made the difference in Connecticut.”

 

Three years ago Meade left her thriving Connecticut program to be managed by three foster volunteers. With family in California where the need for her advocacy is paramount, she found a 12-acre ranch in Creston. She built a home for herself adapting it to share with her senior wards in varying stages of need.

 

Saturday, June 27 from 4-7 p.m. the nonprofit will present a second annual benefit for Meade Canine Rescue at Four Lanterns Winery on Hwy. 46 West. Guests may walk their own dog or a Meade senior rescue dog through the vineyard during “Yappy Hour in the Vines.” There will be wine tasting, live music, and a silent auction with celebrity guests: actor David Alpay, author Teresa Rhyne, and movie equestrian, Donna Cheek. The advance donation cost is $40. Call (805) 239-4004 or email 4dots@att.net for tickets or information.

Editors Notes: A great success, but they can always use your support and volunteerism.

Elaine Giannini and John Gajdos of Morro Bay have become regular volunteers at the shelter on Webster Road. Besides making blankets for the dogs, Meade credits Giannini for securing a major kibble donation from Farm Supply Company of San Luis Obispo. Giannini said, “While I was volunteering one day Charlotte received a phone call from an owner saying she had rescued her dog 12 years ago and just didn’t want her any more.  Imagine!  Meade has blind, crippled, toothless dogs, who, if not adoptable, can spend their last years knowing they were loved.”

 

Mark Twain said, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

 

Morro Bay Rock, Rescue Submarines & Skateboards

Author Comment: Pre-4th of July my By the Bay column in the San Luis Obispo Tribune previewed two exciting magnets for tourists in Morro Bay. The community has so much history dating back to the military creating the bay to train troops for ground storming in Europe, use of Morro Rock to create myriad public works projects on the Pacific coast and in the Orient, the rescue after the sinking of the Montebello, the development of skateboarding, and on and on. Skateboarder Jack Smith established the Skateboard Museum recently enlarged to expand the exhibit and accommodate a growing number of visitors. And for 32 years Larry Newland and friends have been working on the Central Coast Maritime Museum and it seems to have developed some interest from Morro Bay City Manager, David Buckingham. A city with a history should have places and storyteller to tell others about the history….and a place to keep the artifacts that are closeted for lack of a place to showcase a community history. I hope to write more about both of these projects, but for now 4th of July 2015 was a banner holiday for both the Skateboard Museum and the Central Coast Maritime Museum.

And there is just something about the tug and pull of Morro Bay…could it be a Central Coast healing vortex? I think so.

CCMMA Rescue Sub & Larry NewlandLarry Newland previews the Rescue Submarine before visitors climb inside…by way of the underbelly hatch…currently in the parking lot on Front Street, Morro Bay CA waiting for its permanent home.

By the Bay: June 22 column in the SLO Tribune (www.sanluisobispo.com) CCMMA

Second only to Morro Rock, the DSRV-2 Avalon rescue submarine parked on Morro Bay’s Front Street is probably the most photographed visitor attraction in Morro Bay. Only two were built and only the Avalon is available for public viewing. The submarine is on long-term loan from the Navy due to help from Congresswoman Lois Capps and former Mayor Bill Yates. It is one of many maritime crafts to be displayed at the future home of the Central Coast Marine Museum (CCMMA).

“Tour the Avalon before watching the movie Hunter Killer. The DSRV is integral to the story,” said CCMMA’s board president Larry Newland. He spent an afternoon with set director James Spencer and special effects coordinator Peter Chesney. They are building a sound studio interior mock-up of the Avalon for a major Hollywood movie scheduled for release in 2016. Based on the novel Firing Point written by Don Keith and George Wallace, the movie is about an untested American submarine commander sent to rescue a crew off a Russian submarine under the polar ice in the Barents Sea.

A $5 donation will purchase a tour on July 4-5 from 10-3 p.m. of the inside the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle launched in 1971 after the loss of 129 men in the USS Thresher disaster. Intended to rescue submerged, disabled submarines, it was decommissioned in 2000 without a mission. It is 50-feet long, 8-feet in diameter, weighs 37-tons and can dive to 5,000-feet carrying 24 passengers plus the crew.

During the holiday weekend CCMMA volunteers will also be available to show a revised plan of the future maritime museum and talk about the tugboat, Alma. It was donated in 1995 by the Kelsey family, owners of Sylvester’s Tug Service. Typical of tugs working harbors along the west coast in the early 1900s, it was drafted to patrol the Central Coast waterways during World War II anticipating possible attacks by Japanese submarines. The Alma was anchored off Cayucos on December 23, 1941, when it heard explosions. The Union Oil tanker Montebello had been hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk off the coast of Cambria. The Alma rescued 22 survivors.

Newland said talks with Morro Bay’s city manager, David Buckingham, have generated plans to jumpstart the permanent home for CCMMA’s fleet by early October. After completing preliminary site improvements to the designated 2-acres adjacent to where the fleet is currently parked, CCMMA can move the water crafts to pads for interpreted viewing.

“We’ve had dedicated volunteers and donations promised. With a permanent home we’ll be taken seriously,” said Newland. “With funding we’ll build our first building in 2016– a garage sized space for information displays and merchandizing.”

By the Bay: Column in San Luis Obispo Tribune June 29

Tribune MB Skateboard Museum pix

Have you ever broken a world record? Since 2010 Morro Bay’s July 4th festivities have included a skateboard competition produced by Jack Smith, one of the 1970s “downhill daredevils” featured in the documentary The Signal Hill Speed Run.

“Having been involved in long distance racing, the organizers of Morro Bay 4th approached me to create a new event on the Embarcadero,” said Smith, who owns and operates the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. “It is a race for a few and a ride for most.”

Participating racers have included top amateurs like Bakersfield’s Daniel Engel, Nick Dicus of Los Osos, and Smith’s son Dylan Smith of Morro Bay. However, most of the 50-plus skateboarders ride along – and every so often they’ll earn bragging rights for being there, like when the loop mile world record was broken in 2013 by Engel in 3:32 seconds.

With the Morro Creek Bike and Pedestrian Bridge officially opening at noon on July 4th, Smith has reconfigured the Morro Bay Mile Skateboard Race route so skateboarders will beat out the parade bicyclists to become the first official event over the bridge. Skateboarders will register at Morro Bay High School’s back entrance at 9 a.m. Racing will start at 10 a.m. and hug the beach and bay until flying up and over the bridge to finish at the Front Street parking lot, the temporary display site of the Central Coast Maritime Museum’s historical rescue submarine.

“Racers won’t have to slow up to make a U-turn as in the looped race on the Harbor Walk,” said Smith. He reminds participants helmets are required, all ages welcome, it’s a free event and cash and product prizes will be awarded after the race.

Smith said skateboard races are held all over the country. They range from one mile to Georgia’s 3-day 188 mile race or San Diego’s Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon, a 26.2 mile longboard race that Smith has participated in.

“Every Saturday at 6:30 p.m. there are 3 to 12 of us that meet at Cloisters Park for a 6-mile loop just for fun and the exercise,” said Smith. “Anyone’s welcome to join us for 3 or 6 miles.”

The Morro Bay Skateboard Museum opened in 2012 with 700 square feet of display space. Still at 601 Embarcadero, it moved in April 2014 to the premier Marina Square space on the corner with triple the room for historical displays and retail product sales.

Smith said, “Trip Advisor says we’re the fourth top pick for things to do in Morro Bay. There are 300 skateboards on display, including the world’s second biggest. It has become a unique – and fun — photo opportunity for locals and visitors.”

ChablisMorroBayView

Morro Bay’s Embarcadero: a bay-side view.

Morro Bay Library: A Total Make-Over

Have you ever gone back to a former home that has been remodeled only to ask, “What were they thinking?”

That didn’t happen when Jude Sanner Long, who spent 24 years as branch manager of the Morro Bay Public Library, was asked to by Robert “Red” Davis, president of the Morro Bay Friends of the Library, to be Mistress of Ceremonies at the library’s grand reopening March 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. (See event details at www.mbfol.org or ask current branch manager Jackie Kinsey, 772-6394.)

“Oh my goodness! It is brilliant,” said Long, in describing the remodel.

Although she was actively involved in the more than $500,000 fund development campaign, she avoided participating in remodeling plans. “The look will totally surprise the community. The old-fashioned institution is transformed to flow with maximum use of space and good lighting,” she said.

Long joined the Morro Bay Public Library in 1975. She became branch manager in 1985. “The library was on Morro Bay Boulevard across from what is Sunshine Market today,” she said.

The building was once a pool hall, she noted. Checking out books was done by signature. Patrons thumbed through large card catalogues to find available titles, and “if books ordered came within a month patrons were happy,” she added.

The most popular books were westerns, romances and anything about World War II, Long recalled. “I remember a bride and groom came into the library in their wedding clothes looking for an appropriate reception toast. We were the place to find all information before the Internet. How to get a divorce and baby names were in high demand. People would call from bars trying to settle bets.”

Long believes libraries are the only place children and adults are treated as equals. Children have their own library cards, books, programs and section. “I know the library was the first place I was allowed to walk to by myself,” she said.

Long’s career ushered in the computer age with computerized catalogues in 1985. Patrons could check out their own books starting in 2005. Today patrons can check out movies, do Internet research, seek employment, check personal email — even borrow online books.

“People expect faster service and more access today,” said Long, who retired in 2009. She thinks the library is actually the largest recycling center. Books on the shelf stay there as the market demands. “Staff is constantly recycling what to buy, keep, shelve or pull off to make more room.”

According to Long, the library exists because of a longstanding public partnership between the county and city, augmented by significant support from library patrons and an active Friends group.

 

In retirement, she keeps busy as a board member for the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries and Morro Bay Rotary.

SLO County Womenade Worthy Crisis Intervention

A volunteer at the Food Bank had bone-on-bone pain in her knee. Medi-Cal pre-approved all procedures except the MRI required before surgery, a cost of $300 she didn’t have. Morro Bay’s Bonnie Allen requested help from San Luis Obispo County Womenade. The available funds were considered essential and immediately provided. Allen reports that not only was her surgery successful, but it jump-started her life in a new job and renewed lifestyle.

Mom leaving hospital with twins when prepared for single birth and needs crib, car seat, high chair, diapers – all the extras for the extra child. Womenade supporters who watch for Facebook pleas come to the rescue.

Family has exhausted all help-nets to come up with funds to pay rent when other major crisis impacts their on-the-edge budget. Womenade fills the gap with $300, a one-time offering to get them over to the next month for better priority planning.

Local founder, Sandy Richardson, explained to members of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church Women’s Guild that when she retired from teaching, she read about a unique program and thought it could work in San Luis Obispo. She invited seven friends to a potluck. They each donated the $35 they would have spent going out to dinner to create the first cash installment to help others. In 2009 it became a 501c3 nonprofit and continues to depend on quarterly potlucks to maintain cash resources. Appeals and updates are sent out through Facebook. From cribs to partial rent payments, this non-membership network has provided over $340,000 since 2003 to help people in crisis throughout the county.

Today San Luis Obispo County Womenade, www.slowomenade.com, provides time, items, or one-time cash donations up to $300. Referrals come from schools, medical professionals, county health departments, and organizations such as Family Care Network, Women’s Shelter, CAPSLO, and Prado Day Center. Richardson stated every dollar or items funded are reported on their website. Once a need is posted on their Facebook site, the goal is to verify the need and honor it anonymously and immediately.

Los Osan Carol Devore is the area leader and hostess of the north coast’s quarterly potlucks, planned for February 17 at her home. Richardson directed interested supporters to check their social media page. “We announce schedules and location details on Facebook. Our south-county and Trilogy potlucks are February 18. Everyone is welcome and donations vary more and less from the original $35 investments.”

Besides quarterly potlucks, serving dinners in Nipomo, and a backpack stuffing project at Laguna School, individuals and businesses create their own projects to support Womenade. One such ongoing project has been Pirate’s Closet at Morro Bay High School, which provides appropriate clothing and cash for students’ emergency needs. Devore credited Andrea Wasko and Meagan Gilbert of Los Osos for collecting donations regularly for the high school project. And for two years Beverly Ford Durrer and her husband, Lenny Blue, co-owners of Grandma’s Yogurt and Waffle Shop on Morro Bay Blvd., have promoted their shop as a drop-off site to collect clothes and money three consecutive Saturdays in December. In 2014 two carloads and two truckloads of clothes plus cash were donated. Inspired by its success and student needs, Durrer will continue to act as a collection site year round.

With no dues to pay, no meetings to attend Womenade offers busy people the chance to help others with equipment they may be donating elsewhere or funds they would rather spread to those who can’t find help any where else. http://www.slowomenade.com  for further information.

Invest Wisdom & Sweat Equity in Your Community in 2015

After Don Maruska founded three Silicon Valley companies, including the one that became E*Trade, he founded a new career based on the tenets of his first book, How Great Decisions Get Made. His biggest challenge yet might be his current assignment in Morro Bay, his own backyard. He’s been hired to help community stakeholders “develop potential initiatives” to enhance Morro Bay’s economy. A LEAP (Local Economy Action Plan) workshop is scheduled Wed. Jan. 21 from 6-8:30 p.m. inviting “merchants, businesses, tourism and community members” to participate.

A previous meeting suggested several creative ideas from a diverse group. Initiatives developed are posted at www.morrobay.ca.us/LEAP. More action items are solicited. However, not all representative stakeholders showed up and some showed up merely to observe. Maybe the stakeholders were busy, unaware, or need a personal invitation, but as Maruska encouraged from the get-go, “Offer your comments and share how you’d like to help.”

Maruka’s task is to guide. Without a broad representation of stakeholders committing to create and adopt initiatives they will become passionate about, the initiatives will fade. And a city council and staff cannot be held wholly responsible for creating a robust economy without community members willing to support initiatives developed by broad-based community stakeholders.

As John F. Kennedy reminded us, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” By the Bay invited ideas for today’s column accompanied by a resolve to support in 2015. There was an exceptional response and more resolutions are welcome. As space allows in my Monday column next week, I’ll add in more great ideas and post them here as well.

Note to Snowbirds who live here part time or regular…and even irregular visitors…you too know what you think would make Morro Bay a better experience to live in or visit, so your ideas are just as valuable. Add them to the comments. I will get them to Mr. Maruska.

See some of the commitments below:

Mayor Jamie Irons: I will continue to lead the community in open and respectful dialogue to update the General Plan and Local Coastal Plan, the blueprints for how our community grows into the future.

Ann Reisner, Morro Bay Beautiful: I would like to see a new, younger group of citizens/volunteers come forward to work and problem solve our issues. (Older citizens) would assist or recommend and new faces will begin leading/doing.

Jack Smith, Morro Bay Skateboard Museum: Bring the 2015 World Slalom Skateboarding Championships back to Morro Bay.

Andrea Lueker, Morro Bay Community Quota Fund: Make progress on shore side services and infrastructure to support the commercial fishing fleet, a MOST important community economic engine.

Dana McClish, Morro Bay Harbor Advisory and Youth Sailing Foundation: Develop a boat haul-out and storage facility and county-wide high school sailing team.

Bonnie Jones, Estero Bay Alliance for Care: Get safe parking and/or housing for those living in cars.

Wayne Benham, 97.3 The Rock: My hope is that the individual and the community both thrive in harmony.

To be continued next Monday….

20th Anniversary: S.W.A.P. Saves Los Osos, CA Elfin Forest

The Sun Bulletin, formerly a publication owned by the SLO Tribune, published this headline on March 2, 1994:  “SAVE THE ELFIN FOREST BY APRIL 1 – NO JOKE.” Members of S.W.A.P. (Small Wilderness Area Preservation) faced losing $1, 350,000 in promised grant funding if they couldn’t raise the balance of $125,000.

Recently at a 20-year celebration gathering, Chairman Ron Rasmussen reported support for the El Moro Elfin Forest is stable and their agreement with SLO County supervisors to maintain the public access area has been renewed. (www.elfin-forest.org) Charter member, Yolanda Waddell, provided a brief history and kudos to those who led the historic community campaign to preserve in perpetuity the parkland adjacent to the Morro Bay Estuary.

Barbara Machado chaired the fund development committee that included Rose Bowker, who was recognized for single-handedly securing a million dollars in grants. “Once grant funding was announced perception of possible success became probable success. Then the community stepped up,” said Elsie Dietz, Events Chairman in 1994. “It was my job to make people aware of the Elfin Forest so they would want to donate. It’s important that all levels from children to adults contributed.”

She explained children donated their allowances. Teachers held classroom penny campaigns. Multi-media support included continuous updates and events’ notices by the Sun Bulletin, Tribune and Bay News. Public events were uniquely designed to create a memorable experience before a donation envelope was passed by S.W.A.P. members. Dietz held a wine tasting party where winemaker Ken Volk sampled his Rain Forest Red, wine labeled specifically to support the effort with a percentage of sales. A Chamber of Commerce mixer included pans of donated fish and side dishes served in baskets hanging from the convoluted limbs of the elfin pigmy oaks.

Former Sun Bulletin columnist and community organizer, Ann Calhoun remarked her favorite event was when 100 attendees hiked the Elfin Forest path to hear a harpsichord in a pigmy oak tree grove. Dietz retold the story. “We used a travoir (a Native American transport device) to carry the harpsichord to Wood-Rat Hall (later renamed Rose’s Grove). I remember someone named Valerie was in full costume – a turquoise gown with a large hooped skirt swinging and bouncing off both sides of the path. There was a mime performing on a Persian rug and not a sound except the music. It was a magical moment.”

Waddell noted it was also the 20th anniversary for the El Forest mural created and painted by Barbara Rosenthal on Los Osos Rexall’s outside wall. “The hardest part,” said Rosenthal,” was finding all the donors who made it happen.” The committee’s goal was to remember everyone who gave a dollar or a major gift to preserve the Elfin Forest.

Walk the Elfin Forest and enjoy the pathway to the Estuary and bay overlook, the unique vegetation, and the memories of times past.

33rd Annual Morro Bay Harbor Festival – October 4-5, 2013

The 33rd Morro Bay Harbor Festival will mark several momentous occurrences. “My birthday is October 5th,” said Don Doubledee, the organization’s director and retired architect. “I invite my friends, my community, the world to come celebrate my 65th Saturday and Sunday.”

An avid music collector and regular singer on Otter Rock’s karaoke nights, Doubledee selected the Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Nelson to play Sunday at 2pm on the Dan Reddell Stage. “They’ll tour nationwide with Van Halen after the festival.”

Music permeates the weekend festival. Saturday’s featured group is a Beatles’ tribute band recognizing their 50th anniversary year appropriately selected by Doubledee to celebrate Morro Bay’s 50th year of incorporation. Pre-sale adult tickets are discounted until October 1 at $10 a day and then $12 at the gate. (www.mbhf.com)

Doubledee took the reins last year, but has celebrated birthdays working the festival since childhood. “My mother (Vivian Doubledee) was the first Chamber of Commerce director and a member of Quota Club. I’ve been a volunteer since the first one.” Doubledee explained they used to make tickets, posters and banners instead of printing them. He worked Quota’s booth with his mom and eventually sold beer or tickets as Rotarian.”

When Galen Ricard was director, Mark Allen taught Doubledee to plot and develop the site set-up. It became his volunteer job for years. “You’d think I’d know better, but last year I tried some things that didn’t work. It felt too crowded. I’ve gone back to the historic lay-out. The wine and beer pavilion will be completely open-sided.”

A major change is eliminating the food court. Doubledee said. “Restaurants within the site will be open and have barbecues outside their restaurants and Morro Bay’s commercial fishermen will still barbecue albacore kabobs. Giovanni’s will bring lots of oysters to their annual Oyster Contest.”

A family-oriented event Doubledee said they’ve enhanced the Kids Cove with a petting zoo, the Cumberland Alpacas, and magic acts. The train is back to move people from one end of the festival site to the other.

Tolosa Press/Bay News editor, Neil Farrell started the Hawaiian Shirt Contest. This year he’ll announce the festival will honor Bill Yates,” said Doubledee. The former mayor who passed away this year always wore a Hawaiian shirt.

The board of directors is led by John Solu and Jonni Biaggini. Steve Mathieu doubles as secretary and longtime site coordinator and Kristen Ray is Treasurer. “We couldn’t do this without the volunteer groups,” said Doubledee. “They run operations during the festival. The profits are divided among the groups that work. The Harbor Festival is approaching $525,000 that it has donated back to participating nonprofit groups over the past 30-plus years.”