Chapter 8
Life in Carlsbad and then Oceanside
When the Select Committee on Anatomical Gifts was approved my Chief of Staff remembered Kathleen Norris and checked her out. Jack reported she was still job shopping and had accepted the position of Liaison for the Select Committee on Anatomical Gifts. She moved to Sacramento with her children, Sarah and Rusty.
When I declined to run in the new district and left the Senate Jack Germain moved to the Department of Health and Welfare as the Public Information Officer and took Kathleen with him as his assistant. Later, when he left to become a lobbyist Kathleen moved up to his position as PIO. We had started dating.
Two years later we married. Bill had sold a Dial One master franchise to Japan and he and Sally were going to visit the owners, both for business and pleasure. I called Marsh Fisher, the cofounder of Century 21 who had built a home on Oahu, and asked if he wanted to host a wedding. He said he did, so on the way to Japan we stopped at his home on the beach across the bay from Diamond Head. We were married with Diamond Head in the background and Marsh, his girl friend, Bill and Sally, the Minister, the caterer and the musicians in attendance.
From there we continued our trip to Japan where we had several wonderfully escorted, sightseeing trips and extraordinary cuisine. In addition we played golf with our hosts at their private club and enjoyed a community hot pool bath afterwards.
When Kathleen left her position at Health and Welfare we purchased a home in Carlsbad to be close to her four children. Two were married and her abusive ex-husband continually tried to undermine her relationship with Sarah and Rusty. I admired the calm way she always responded by leaving the children out of it and never reciprocating to his questionable claims and statements that he made to them as well as her.
Using the knowledge acquired as the PIO of Health and Welfare she offered her legal services to licensed care facilities charged with serious violations. In addition, she volunteered as a children's" advocate in troubled, court involved divorces. Some cases were heart breaking when a judge failed to put the children’s needs first. That is where she would step in and represent the children’s best interest.
However, our marriage slowly dissolved. Neither of us were looking for or seeing anyone else and we got along okay but whatever had brought us together wasn’t strong enough. We agreed to a divorce and Kathleen handled all of the legal details.
I moved to Oceanside while she remained in Carlsbad where she eventually remarried. We still communicate by e-mail infrequently about all of our children.
I was looking for something challenging to do when a Century 21 franchise salesman told me that Fullerton Mortgage and Escrow Company in Oceanside was looking for a person to start up a Century 21 real estate franchise for them. I cut a short term agreement with the owners, John and Eric Hartman, and after it was up and running I remained eight years as an Associate Broker. I admired their business ethics and later sponsored John in the Oceanside Rotary.
I also joined the Chamber of Commerce when I joined Century 21 Mission Realty. The Chamber was recovering from near bankruptcy in the early 90s recession and I was invited to serve on the Board and start up a "Government Affairs Committee." Scott Ashton, a young man just hired by the Chamber, and I called all the businesses in town and soon had over 20 members. The committee is still strong and studies issues and makes recommendations to the Chamber Board of Directors to act upon. I chaired it tor 6 years until I was elected President.
Serendipity! A Chamber staff member talked me into attending the Chamber 4th of July Dance saying I could sit at her table. A lady by the name of Anne Portante was also at the table who had also been talked into coming. I danced with her a couple of times and two weeks later invited her to lunch.
Anne was unmarried and the Administrative Assistant to Colleen O’Harra, an attorney and City Council member as well as her close, personal friend. She had spent most of her life in Oceanside, active in several charitable groups having served or, still serving on their boards. Everyone knew Anne. Between Anne, the Chamber and Rotary I was soon entrenched both socially and community wise.
Two years later we were married in Steve and Janet Lacy’s gazebo in their beautiful yard. Colleen O’Harra obtained a County authorization to perform our marriage and Richard Shelley, my friend from our Jaycee days, was my best man. Of course Anne’s family was there and Marsh Fisher, my step daughter Keri and my former assistant, Carol Roberts, whose first job was working for me when I opened the Century 21 Regional office so many years before.
But after 9 years the thought of working out of my home became irresistible so I recreated Sparow Realty and worked out of our home. Unexpectedly I acquired an unusual sales lady, Laura Bassett, the daughter of Colleen who had married us. She quickly equaled any of my past, top sales agents, meeting the measure of integrity as well as productivity while requiring the least training and supervision. In addition she home schooled her five children with the help of her home based, business-man husband.
I had encouraged her to get her brokers license and when I retired 2007 she and her husband, Taylor, started their own home based real estate company. I refer any leads and they have done well in a declining real estate market.
I had joined Rotary in the mid 70s in Long Beach but in the Senate it was impossible to attend weekly as required. I join the Oceanside Rotary and I have thoroughly enjoy our members, meetings and activities. We have more than 32,000 clubs worldwide and over 1.2 million members, a great, organization that accomplishes so much. It was in the papers this morning that Bill Gates had just donated 350 million in support of our nine year fight against polio.
Rotary brings together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Our best-known motto is "Service above Self" and our Four Way Test of the things we think, say or do: Is it the truth; Is it Fair to all concerned; Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships; and, Will it be Beneficial to all concerned? It sits on a shelf above my desk.
I discovered recently that Century 21 regional owner, Bud Cashen, was a Rotarian funding and working with a Rotary team that constructed schools and health clinics in third world countries.
Anne continues to be just as active and her main charity activity for some time has been creating an e-mail list of theatre lovers, selecting worthy plays and shows, contracting for discount groups, notifying her e-mail contingency and selling the seats at a markup but still less than full price. As I write she has three plays going, two of them months away. She averages approximately $8,000 a year for Civitan, Soroptimists and the Moonlight Angeles, a theatre support group. She doesn’t even take a freebee for herself.
Over the years she has been president of all of them. Needless to say she spends a lot of time at her computer and on the phone. I need to add that she joined another Rotary Club, we have four in Oceanside and Camp Pendleton, and is now their President. She attends Jazzercise and takes her great grand children to school when her work schedule permits. I am very proud of her.
I loved Long Beach but it has been replaced in my heart by Oceanside. When I came here the City motto was, “Tan your hide in Oceanside”. In my opinion they made a mistake in changing it. To prove my point, you won’t find anyone who knows our current motto whatever it is.
It is the third largest city in San Diego County with a population of approximately 175,000. We have the largest and the most beautiful of all the California Missions that is still in full use. Huge Camp Pendleton lies directly on our north for 16 miles.
Now add, the longest pier on the west coast at 1972 feet with a Ruby’s Restaurant at the end where we take our guests. Sometimes porpoises can be seen swimming with the surf boarders. A beautiful yacht harbor with sightseeing boats and deep sea fishing, miles of sandy beach where Michael surfs when he visits from Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition we have a small airport that the City has decided to bring up to date due to the efforts of those of us who love and support flying. And, for the arts we have a notable art museum and two theaters the City purchased that are used for plays, shows and other events. To all that, add small town flavor, and you have Oceanside.
With the opening of Camp Pendleton in 1942 Oceanside had quickly become a military town with an abundance of barber shops, tattoo parlors, beer hall, bars, massage parlors, military supplies and dry cleaning stores that dominated the business district. In addition, the rail road paralleling Coast Hwy three blocks away had a switching yard and there was a small oil refinery. All together not very pretty.
In spite of the beach, tourists were not attracted because there were no fine hotels, restaurants or shopping but there were a lot of seedy motels catering to prostitutes. However, by the time I arrived in 1993 it had grown considerably and was shaking off the honky-tonk image and attracting tourists. Now we have our first four star hotel with another to be constructed soon.
We take great pride in our Military and the Chamber formed a Military Affairs Committee with noncoms and officers from Camp Pendleton and started hosting a quarterly breakfast honoring the outstanding enlisted personnel from each military unit. Our largest project has been an annual Military Recognition Day when we host hundreds of the Armed Services and their families on the Strand at the Pier. It includes hotdogs, etc and entertainment for all including the smaller children.
A big affair was a ticker tape parade for the first Marines returning from Iraq. The commanding general was so impressed with our zeal he furnished their band, tanks and other equipment including a fly over. Every commanding general of the base in the past few years has said they have never been stationed at a base where they had so much support from the civilians. The Chamber led the way. And our four Rotary Clubs in the area, including one on the Base, have many retired Marines and other service retirees and veterans. Each Veterans Day my Rotary reads the names and service of our deceased veteran members to the back ground of Taps. Oceanside is very proud of our Military and we express it.
There are also many fine golf courses in the city and close by. Most notable of course is Torrey Pines which I’ve enjoyed several times. Joining the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach hooked me on golf followed by a membership in Rancho Marietta, just outside of Sacramento that had two excellent 18 hole courses.
In spite of the fact that I started too late with too little talent I loved the game and had the opportunity to play all of the courses on the Monterey Peninsula including Cypress and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The most memorable, in addition to Cypress, was staying at the Lodge several times and playing Pebble Beach. Others were the Royal Montréal in Canada, the oldest course on the American continent and, as a guest of my Jaycee friend, Ira Kay from San Pedro, a very old English club located in New Territory, Hong Kong.
Many mornings, before going to the Senate, I would play a nine hole course across the river in Yolo County just outside of the Capitol. The mornings were beautiful and by being first off I could be in the Capitol in time for the sessions or committee meetings.
The Assistance League had a big fund raiser ever year and the news paper publisher Dan Ridder, on the left in the photo, would offer a game with Bob Hope at Hope’s course in Palm Desert. I won the bid when I was living in Sacramento and working on Dial One.
One of my franchisees owned a plane and for the opportunity to meet Hope we flew down for the match. Needless to say it was a great honor to spend some time with the man who did so much to support our troops through WWII, Korea and Viet Nam and at every other opportunity. At the turn he told the story of playing with Chi Chi Rivera. Chi Chi hit a slice that looked like it might be out of bounds. Hope was walking down the center of the fairway and Chi Chi was off to the right walking the out of bounds stakes. Hope called over and asked if the ball was in bounds. Chi Chi called back and said, “Not yet.” (You may have to be a golfer to understand it.)

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© 2011 Oliver W. Speraw