Mike Gertner opened. Roger Summers thanked God for our gathering and our military and first responders. He prayed for absent members and asked God to bless those who need our prayers. Joe Brown led the pledge.
Mike announced the birthday boys and girl, Dr. Bob Wood, Gary Reiter, and Fran Murphy. Richard Swinney publicized a golf classic on May 16th at Santa Ana Golf Course benefiting the Military Veterans Assistance Foundation. George Lesley advised the rate in April at Morongo rose to $189 and we might want to postpone until May when it returns to $129.
Richard summarized the recent Board meeting. A Lido Theater representative will speak to the club about the status of the theater’s construction. Lynn Hackman with One Foundation and Community Outreach Director for Epoch Times applied to be a member via the website. Prospective members need sponsors, so a few members will meet her to decide if someone will sponsor her.
The Board approved Cynthia Strasmann’s $744 purchase for ACE plaques and $2,700 for Buddy Benches. The Board is considering Downey Family Support Center’s grant application, and approved $5,000 for the Priority Center and $9,000 for the Exchange Family Center. Dr. Bob reported 25 flags have been sold. Last month’s expenditures included $375 for the website’s “buy now” button, $7,650 for flags, $80 for video services, $1,000 each for Youth of Year and ACE, $231 for Kindle Fires for awards, and $200 for our small flags for GIVE A KID A FLAG TO WAVE.
Mike invited Gail Demmer to share her story. Gail began by expressing gratitude for the kind words shared with her about her husband Dick Gemmer.
Gail was born in San Pedro. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, San Pedro become overrun with sailors as the country prepared for war. Her father sent Gail and her pregnant mother to live with his parents in Wessington, South Dakota, population 177. Wessington consisted of railroad tracks, two grain elevators, and her grandfather’s bank.
Gail has fond memories of her childhood. Amazingly, her father wasn’t drafted and joined her family in South Dakota and become a cattle rancher. They were safe ther and they had plenty of eggs, beef, and bacon. Gail’s grandma groomed her well, focusing on her manners, posture, and religion.
Gail studied two years at the University of Colorado known as “The Country Club of the West.” Robert Redford attended at the same time and worked at a famous watering hole. Redford was eventually kicked out of the University for drunkenness. Similarly, when he saw Gail’s disappointing grades, Dad brought her home to figure out her priorities.
By then, Gail’s family had moved to Rapid City. “No one goes to Rapid City, they drive through it.” To its west are mining towns, its north, the Oglala Indian Reservation, its south, buffalo herds, and its east, Ellsworth Air Force Base. The base housed hundreds of eligible pilots who sustained the area’s economic vitality and Gail’s social life. Sadly, Rapid City residents were filled with prejudice. Catholics despised the Protestants and cowboys the miners, and everyone was prejudiced against the Indians and the military.
Gail was excited to secure a sales position at a pricey dress shop, but quickly realized the other saleswomen owned the clientele. Initially, Gail never heard her name when the owner announced the Saleswoman of Month. Then one day four women walked in who no one claimed as clients. They were shopping for lingerie for themselves and others and price wasn’t an issue! Gail also sold them scarves and cashmere sweaters. Gail excitedly stood by as the boss’ wife saw the sales receipt in the cash register. Gail was confused by the snarky look on her face, until the wife remarked the clients were prostitutes. Nonetheless, Gail continued to wait on them and earned Saleswoman of the Month several times. Despite the competition and age difference (most were in their forties), Gail bonded with the other saleswomen. She convinced them to “lighten up,” at least a bit, and learned from their advice “to grow up.”
It wasn’t all work for Gail in South Dakota. She enjoyed dancing the twostep with the cowboys at the town’s nightclub. She also liked dating pilots, although they seemed to bond more with her family than her.
Ultimately, Gail was determined to complete her college degree. Her cousin in Newport Beach invited her to move in, and the cousin’s husband, Cap Blackburn, secured her a job at Disneyland. Gail began as assistant to the Head Janitor and worked in a tiny office. Several USC graduates who supervised Disney’s various “lands” (e.g., Adventureland, Tomorrowland, etc.) sat outside her office. It wasn’t long until one asked her “What’s a girl like you doing counting toilette paper when you should be in college?” He hired her as Alice in Wonderland for the midnight shift staffed with college students. Gail also enrolled at Long Beach State, studying in the day and working at night.
Gail was one of five Alices who ran a ride and were supervised by a Marine named Al. Al was demanding and barked his orders but ran a perfect rotating system of Alices. Alice one unloaded passengers, Alice two and three loaded new ones, Alice four operated the equipment, and Alice five took her break.
One night when Gail was Alice five, a boy saw her enjoying a cigarette as she sat on a bench. He yelled to his father in shock to see Alice smoking. Gail returned from break to find Fantasyland’s supervisor poised to fire her. Amazingly, Al came to her rescue. He ordered her home and to have “her pretty ass on the line tomorrow.” Al might have been a tyrant, but, a true Marine, had Gail’s back.
Gail completed her degree and taught thirty years in public schools, twenty four in Newport Mesa. A year after graduating, she met Dick, a military pilot who sold adhesives for Minnesota, Mining, and Manufacturing (3M). One night he suggested smoking wasn’t a good idea in a 3M car. Gail kicked the habit and married him. Six years later they adopted a boy, Richard; in another three years a girl, Berkely Gayle. Gail was happily married to her prince 51 years and has three granddaughters.
Gail picked the raffle winners. Mitch Mitchell and Leo Fracolosy each won $21 and Roger won an Exchange Club golf shirt.
Apr 28 - Grace Leung, NB City Manager
May 5 - Scott Swift, Teen Health
May 12 - Youth of the Year
May 19 - Accepting the Challenge of Excellence
May 26 - Business Meeting
This week we will be at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. Lunch will be served at 12:20 pm. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting. Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wed 2 PM if you are planning on attending.