Orange County remembers 9/11

Orange County Fire Chief
(Orange County Fire Chief Keith Richter)
It would have been pretty easy to miss that Friday was Sept. 11th. Every year the reverence of that terrible day eight years ago seems to fade, just a bit. Not in our hearts, I believe people still care about those who lost their lives that day, I just think it’s easy to let the day slip by without taking time to reflect on it.
This was the first year Larry and I attended the 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at Irvine Valley College. Larry, who is a former Green Beret, was asked to lead the pledge before the speakers: OC Police Chief Dave Maggard, OC Fire Chief Keith Richter and OC Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens. It was a beautiful ceremony that ended with God Bless America, a song that honestly never meant that much to me before Sept. 11th, but now brings me to tears. I hope to make it a tradition for us to attend every year.
Orange County blogger Laura Bloom has a powerful way to pay respect to those who perished that day. She participates in 2,996 project,  and remembers Giann F. Gamboa, a 26 year-old manager at Top of The World Cafe, by writing about him every year on her blog, “If Not Now When?”.
Please head over there and read his incredible story along with tributes to him from the people who knew and loved him.  His actions on that day exemplify courage.  He was a true hero.
I joined 2,996 Project for next year. If you’re a blogger you can join too by clicking here and leaving a comment to be assigned a victim.  They have over 1,700 who need a blog to support them.
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This song will always remind me of 9/11 and the sad and
scary days following it.

 

“I know it aches. How your heart it breaks. And you can only take so much.
Walk on. Walk on. Stay safe tonight.”



I ♥ HB

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There is no season that makes me reminisce the way summer does–not winter with its Christmas or spring with its…well, nothing really . Maybe because I grew up in Huntington Beach, summer always brings back memories of being a kid.  Back then, Huntington Beach was still a small beach town and just a suburb of Los Angeles.  My house was surrounded by strawberry fields, a ditch, and a drive in movie.
My friends and I would–as predicted in our yearbook inscriptions–spend the whole summer at the beach. One of our moms would drop us off in the morning with $5 for strips from Jack’s and an Orange Crush and wouldn’t pick us up until late in the afternoon when we were shivering, exhausted our feet still covered with sand–but utterly happy.
I don’t live in HB anymore, but I find myself there all the time.  I take my kids to the beach there.  I go to Surf City Nights.  I walk through downtown and point out to my husband the places where the landmarks of my childhood used to stand. “This is where The Golden Bear used to be,” pointing to the big pink and teal condo complex, and “This used to be Safari Sam’s,” as we walk by the Surf Museum.  “Remember when Duke’s used to be Maxwell’s?” I ask my mom over dinner. I can still see them standing there even though they are long gone.
I love HB.  It will always be “home” to me no matter where I live.
I told you summer makes me reminisce.  Here are some other things I’ve done this week:
My photo for Orange County Daily Photo is from the Huntington Beach Pier. I suspect it might be only a picture an OC native would appreciate.
I posted on my blog at The Orange County Register this story about my first job in at KFC in Huntington Beach.  (Which included ‘the biscuit story.’)
I got it bad.
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Photo above by me



What was your first job? Mine was working at KFC

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Picture lifted from this person's Flickr page.My first job, at fifteen, was working at 

Kentucky Fried Chicken in Huntington Beach. Not very glamorous, but at fifteen, you took what you could get. All of my friends worked there, which was really the only criteria for a first job–well, that and your parents willingness to drive you there. The uniforms were dark brown with orange and beige stripes…very Urban Outfitters. 

The man who owned it was a veteran named Bill who sported a neat flattop, high and tight. From what I can remember, he drove an old, very old, burgundy Cadillac and looked a little like W.C Fields in polyester pants and a bolotie. I can just see him now, all in brown, hunched over a large white plastic container, elbow-deep in macaroni salad, mixing it with his ginormous hands.

Bill had a little dog named "Mimi" bequeathed to him by his late wife if my memory serves me. He always said when "that dog" died, he was going to sell KFC and travel the world. He acted like Mimi was a pest to him, but he hand-made a seat in his Caddie just for her and took her everywhere with him. You know the type of man, right? All rough and grumpy but, deep inside sensitive and thoughtful. 

I loved to make the famous KFC Biscuits. Every time I worked, at the beginning of my shift, I would mix the ingredients in a giant industrial mixer, roll out all of the dough, and cut hundreds of little round circles. Then I would place them all, an inch apart, on baking sheets the size of an unfolded newspapers. They were then ready to be thrown into the massive ovens and baked until yummy golden brown. 

One night, after about an hour of preparing that night's batch of biscuits, I looked down to find the band-aid I had on one of my fingers was missing. Bill always had us wear gloves, but for some reason that night I didn't. I remember looking out over the sea of uncooked biscuits contemplating what I should do. Should I trash them all and start again? Oh, Bill would be upset with me. Should I just cook them and hope for the best, betting the one containing the lost bandage would be a straggler, thrown out at the end of the night. 

At fifteen, I decided to put them all in the oven and never breathed a word to anyone. I had a horrible fear of disappointing any adult and the thought of Bill, hands on hips, shaking his head in disappointment with me was unbearable. He was such a kind, but firm man–I would have died of shame. I thought I would take my chances. 

I never had a customer complain, but I studied every person I rung up that night, wondering if they were the type who ate their biscuit. I played the horrific scene in my head over and over again, "Mommy, what's this?" or worse, "cough, cough…..What the…Oh, my God!" 

I went back to visit KFC when I was going to college and Bill was still there. Mimi had died years before, but he stayed on. He was very uncomfortable with my happiness to see him again. He asked if I still "liked to take pictures" (see?…so thoughtful he remembered I liked photography) and gave me a free pint of cole slaw when I left.
I still think about him and wonder if he ever got to travel the world. 

Bill was probably the best first boss you could ask for. I wish I had a picutre of him to show you. Isn't it sad I have millions of pictures of people from High School that now I can't even remember their names. But I didn't take one of Bill, someone I will never forget.

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Do kids still get jobs at 15 years-old anymore? All of my friends and I went out and got our worker's permits the day we turned fifteen, is that still the case? Do you want your kids to work while in high school? I do.

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