Why did I love raising daughters in Laguna Beach?
Very simply, for everything that Laguna had to offer a single mother with two growing girls. Coming from a small coastal town in Oregon, especially during World War II, cultural events did not make it to our town. The only plays I saw were those put on by our high school.
Laguna provided a feast of opportunities for art, music and live theatre. The Laguna Beach Playhouse offered outstanding productions. Although prominent actors and actress often appeared there, I always enjoyed the performances given by the local thespians. The acting was crisp, energetic and thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended.
I attended the fundraiser for the hospital, held at Irvine Bowl. Hugh O'Brian was the master of ceremonies, and some of the performers were Buddy Ebsen and Peggy Lee. Buddy entertained with songs and dance, and the beautiful Peggy Lee sang quite a number of the songs she had made famous.
The most outstanding performance in dance was given by Edward Villela. He was a friend of Lila Zali, who trained the Laguna Beach Ballet school. Mr. Villela's permance was absolutely the greatest. He was in the prime of his dance career at that time, and every step, leap and turn that he made was breathtaking ... a night to remember.
My daughters were thrilled when I purchased tickets to the Righteous Brothers concert, and they had the pleasure of hearing them in person. I also enjoyed it very much.
Both of my girls were in the Pageant of the Masters, and I don't think there was anyone more proud of them than their grandfather, who informed everyone around him that they were his grandchildren. My parents very seldom missed a year of seeing the Pageant.
Due to this exposure to the arts, both of my daughters performed in various shows. The oldest daughter played in the band at Laguna Beach High, and also in the orcheastra at Saddleback College. Elmer Bernstein, composer and conducter (no relation to Leonard, but very well-known), conducted the orchestra at the College for an evening performance. What a thrill to play his music and to have him be a guest conductor.
My younger daughter was on the stage crew for the Irvine Bowl and ran the lights beside Carl Calloway. She had the opportunity of meeting various famous performers and watching them in rehearsals and the final show.
The arts and music are so important in our schools and in our towns. They help shape the minds of our young people. I have a tendency to react when schools threaten to cut out these our of their programs.
Their participation in the arts and music gave them a sense of well being, discipline and great pleasure.
Laguna offered so much for people of all ages. The school system had a wonderful variety of subjects. Having the opportunity to have choices in early education was a great start, and I will always be grateful for all that Laguna Beach had to offer.