Letter to the Editor: Let's get more variety in our restaurants

Dear Editor:

As I drove by the Downey Landing and saw the closed Elephant Bar Restaurant one sunny afternoon, I thought to myself, "Oh, I can't wait to see what restaurant will open there" and "hope it's not another Mexican restaurant." Well turns out it is. ("El Pescador Coming to Downey," 1/25/18)

I have nothing against El Pescador, Mexican food, and especially a family-run business. It's just I was really hoping for something different like TGI Fridays, Wood Ranch or Outback. Come on Downey, we need more of a variety of restaurants for our community! 

There are enough Mexican restaurants in Downey, almost on every corner from Lakewood and Gallatin to Old River School Road, down Paramount and through Firestone. Not to mention the one still under construction right in the heart of Downey. 

What happened to comfort food, steak and potatoes? A menu with variety for everyone? I mean how much chips and salsa can we have (just kidding, I can eat those all day), but you see what I mean. The Downey Promenade offers a good variety of business and is still growing as does Stonewood Mall.

I wish nothing but good luck to El Pescador at the Downey Landing but in the future please, Downey, let in some new businesses with variety to our beautiful, growing city.

Nora Rodriguez-Ortiz

In Paramount, middle school students can get head start on medical curriculum

PARAMOUNT – Alondra Middle School’s medical detectives will now be able to work with Paramount High School’s medical pathway students to explore human physiology, check vital signs and practice CPR on training dummies thanks to a plan aimed at creating a smooth transition between the two programs.

A Paramount High School student teaches an Alondra Middle School student how to do chest compressions to a CPR training dummy during a visit to the Paramount High campus on Jan. 10. The event created a bridge between Alondra’s medical detectives program and Paramount medical pathway program.

A Paramount High School student teaches an Alondra Middle School student how to do chest compressions to a CPR training dummy during a visit to the Paramount High campus on Jan. 10. The event created a bridge between Alondra’s medical detectives program and Paramount medical pathway program.

Class leaders connected Alondra’s Project Lead The Way (PTLW) program to Paramount High’s PLTW program to improve participation in college and career pathway programs, and to give middle schoolers insight into high school life.

“This transition will give our students progressive exposure into the pathways available to them and what they can continue studying in high school,” sixth-grade Earth science teacher and medical detectives’ instructor Jennifer Halliburton said. “I love PLTW because it provides exposure to students for subjects that they wouldn’t normally get the chance to see at the middle school level.”

Alondra’s PLTW program, started during the 2016-17 school year, is a five-month elective course that offers medical, architecture, app creation and graphic design classes to seventh- and eighth-graders. It connects with Paramount High’s program goals for providing students with academic and technical instruction to prepare them for the job market.

Twenty-three Alondra students made their inaugural visit to Paramount High on Jan. 10, where they were mentored by high schoolers and used the campus’ medical facilities.

Alondra’s program provides students with an introduction to medicine by teaching human anatomy, first aid and various jobs in the medical field. The program’s name comes from an in-class activity where students solve a murder mystery using medical techniques.

Students from Paramount High School’s medical pathway program speak with Alondra Middle School students who visited the campus on Jan. 10. The Alondra students visited as part of the Project Lead The Way program, which offers classes for architecture, app creation, graphic design and medical to seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Students from Paramount High School’s medical pathway program speak with Alondra Middle School students who visited the campus on Jan. 10. The Alondra students visited as part of the Project Lead The Way program, which offers classes for architecture, app creation, graphic design and medical to seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Halliburton said the connection between programs already has helped several students decide to continue their medical interests when they enter Paramount High. She also said the next batch of medical students will visit Paramount High at the end of the school year.

“Our Project Lead The Way programs are shining examples of how our District strives to provide our students with important skills that can be used in college and in their careers,” Superintendent Dr. Ruth Pérez said. “These programs create an important drive in our students because they strengthen their interest in considering a variety of careers until they select one that fits best.”

Royal Rumble Previews and Predictions

The Road to Wrestlemania starts on Sunday. Before we get to the “Showcase of the Immortals,” 58 feet are going to have to get thrown over the top rope and hit the floor. 
Here are some predictions for this Sunday’s Royal Rumble. 

Photos from WWE.com

Photos from WWE.com

The Usos (c) vs Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships

As much as I try and keep my predictions rooted in storyline progression and superstar push, my decision with this particular match is more centered in backstage politics. 

Just a few weeks ago, champion Jey Uso was arrested for driving while intoxicated. If history tells us anything, we should expect a real-life punishment in a storyline scenario. 

Prediction: Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin

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Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Championships

Ok, back to being rooted in storyline. 

Poor Seth Rollins is kind of stuck in limbo at the moment; after a brief (albeit successful) reunion with his Shield brothers, he finds himself ladled with Kurt Angle’s storyline son. 

Jordan is an odd situation; he’s not really a heel, he’s not really a baby face, and he’s not really a “tweener.”  In theory he’s a babyface, since he’s partnered with Seth Rollins, consistently pairing off against heels, and he’s got that obnoxious, spunky “let’s go get them guys” attitude. He also doesn’t really attack the crowd in the way most heels do. 

Yet he’s consistently booed out of the arena; the WWE Universe can’t stand this guy. He’s talented in the ring, sure, but he’s also rather boring and bland. 

Thankfully, WWE has heard the boos and seem to be running with them.

It’s time to progress the story. Have Rollins and Jordon drop the titles at the Rumble, and start working towards a program together to culminate at ‘Mania. 

Prediction: Sheamus and Cesaro

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AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the WWE Championship 

These are my three favorite guys in the company right now, so needless to say I’m salivating for this match. 

This match will likely do more to progress the growing tension between Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon; I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some outside interference from one or both of them. 

I can’t see WWE naming “co-champions” this close to Wrestlemania though, especially because I think the Rumble will be won by a Smackdown superstar (more on that later).

Expect a fun, entertaining match that ends with AJ Styles retaining. 

Prediction: AJ Styles

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Kane vs. Braun Stroman for the Universal Championship

Don’t expect technical wrestling here; this is going to be demolition derby of a match.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen all three superstars lay waste and carnage all over Raw, and now they will finally come head to head with the red brand’s top prize on the line. 

This match should serve two main purposes: make Stroman look like an absolute monster and make Lesnar look unbeatable so that Roman Reigns looks that much more impressive when he beats him and wins the title at ‘Mania (ugh). 

Lesnar goes over, Kane eats the pin.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar

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(The first ever) Women’s Royal Rumble

Let’s get rid of the elephant in the room right off the bat: Yes, I sincerely believe Ronda Rousey will be at the Rumble. I’d even bet money on it. 

I don’t think she’ll be in the Rumble. Here’s why.

If WWE puts Rousey in the Rumble, then she has to win it; not probably will, not should, she HAS to. 

If you put Rousey in the match only to have her just tossed over the top rope and onto the floor, you essentially sabotaged one of your biggest draws for your upcoming Wrestlemania PPV. 

Everyone expects Rousey to be the Lesnar equivalent in the Woman’s division. Yes, Lesnar was eliminated from the Rumble last year, but it took Goldberg to do it and there is no Goldberg equivalent in the women’s division, especially from a story angle. 

Instead, WWE should give the win to the currently undefeated Asuka. 

Put Asuka in early and let her overcome some incredible odds. Then send her off to ‘Mania to take the title off of Alexa Bliss. 

Prediction: Asuka


The Royal Rumble

I was totally confident in this prediction heading into Monday. Then Roman Reigns dropped his intercontinental title on Raw’s 25th Anniversary show. 

The Royal Rumble should serve the purpose of pushing a story forward or getting a star ready to take the next step in their career. 

We all know Roman Reigns is going to go on to beat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title at Wrestlemania, whether we love it or hate it. 

Reign’s doesn’t need the Rumble to get to that match, as history has proved. 

Instead, let’s let someone else shine; maybe someone who has all the main event star quality in the world who may have been saddled with some poor booking. 

Someone like Shinsuke Nakamura. 

In my opinion, Nakamura makes the only logical sense to give the Rumble win to, as he probably needs it the most out of all competitors. 

After a letdown feud with Jinder Mahal for the title and some other relatively meaningless bouts and rivalries, its time for Nakamura to get the chance he deserves. 

And I mean, c’mon; AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania for the WWE Title? 

Book it Vince!

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Our visit to Newcastle and the statue of Martin Luther King Jr.

Carol and Frank Kearns at the recently dedicated statue to Martin Luther King, Jr., December 2017

Carol and Frank Kearns at the recently dedicated statue to Martin Luther King, Jr., December 2017

We went to Newcastle last December on a lark – to see some English soccer games – when fate added a gift.  Our arrival coincided with the culminating events of a year-long celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit to that city 50 years ago.

A magnificent statue of King, commissioned by the Newcastle University, was dedicated on November 13, 2017, the exact anniversary of King’s visit to the school to receive an Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law in 1967.

I heard about this statue only weeks before our December trip while listening to National Public Radio, and the announcement sent me racing to the internet.  What was this renowned civil rights activist doing in Newcastle, England?  And only five months before his assassination?  Newcastle is so far north of London –  it’s almost in Scotland!

A web search gave immediate answers.  In the midst of deepening tensions at home over the direction of the civil rights movement, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the rioting in major urban centers, King had accepted the invitation because he felt the honorary degree promoted awareness of the ongoing struggle against racism in the US and throughout the world.

King’s impromptu speech at the time is now on YouTube.  Although he wasn’t expected to talk, King did so without notes, and it was his last speech outside of the US before his death five months later in 1968.

Despite jet-lag and the overnight train trip from London, King gave an eloquent answer to critics who claim you can’t legislate morality: “It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.  It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can restrain him from lynching me…”

The civil rights movement is a personal memory for many of my generation, and it is impossible to forget images from that era:  the violent Southern response to school integration and voter registration in the early 1960’s, the terrorist bombing of the Birmingham church, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, the Black Power movement, and the summer rioting in major cities in 1967.

While I remember exactly where I was when I heard of Martin Luther King’s death in 1968, I never realized that these events had a world-wide audience as well.  I was awed by the magnitude of Newcastle’s tribute to King, both past and present, and I immediately scheduled time to visit the university before our soccer game.

Newcastle University Campus

Fate smiled again when we arrived at the campus on December 8.  We saw preparations for a graduation that day. In the tradition of women everywhere, the young female graduates did not let the 40-degree daytime temperatures stop them from being fashionably dressed under their graduation robes – high heels, bare legs, knee-length dresses.  I was in long pants, knee-high socks, and boots – and my fingers froze every time I took my gloves off to take pictures.    

Ambassador Andrew Young (l.) shaking hands with sculptor Nigel Boonham at the unveiling of King's statue, November 2017. Professor Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President of the university looks on. Photo from Newcastle University

Ambassador Andrew Young (l.) shaking hands with sculptor Nigel Boonham at the unveiling of King's statue, November 2017. Professor Chris Day, Vice Chancellor and President of the university looks on. Photo from Newcastle University

We found King’s statue in King’s Quad, outside of the Armstrong Building.  The statue is breath-taking in its human appearance and approachability. Working from photos, sculptor Nigel Boonham presented King as he appeared on the day of his award in academic robes.

I like this figure so much better than the mythic 30-ft. monument of him in Washington D.C.  Its location and the size (slightly larger than life-size) invite people to get close and take pictures.
And that is just what was happening. As the graduates guided their families around the campus, many stopped to have their picture taken with this historic figure.  I decided this was no time for me to be shy, so I just stepped up, identified my interest, and started asking questions.

Zoe Marie Dobbs, Masters in Museum Studies, described a feeling of connection across time.  

“I’m feeling quite privileged to be walking across the same stage as Dr. King did when he received his honorary degree,” she told me. “It’s made our graduation today quite special.”

Zoe works in a gallery in Sunderland, not far from where her mother lives, as she prepares herself to become a curator.

I also talked to Alexandra MacGregor, Masters in History, and her proud grandmother. “I have always known about him [King],” Alexandra told me, “and the impact he made on humanity.  It’s an honor to graduate from the same university where he received his honorary degree. He’s someone to emulate.”

When her grandmother mentioned that Alexandra lived in South Korea for three years, Alexandra explained her future goals.  “I would like to work in some capacity that will have a positive impact on North Korean refugees,” she said.

Graduate Alexandra MacGregor getting her picture taken next to King's statue by grandmother and friend. Photo by Carol Kearns

Graduate Alexandra MacGregor getting her picture taken next to King's statue by grandmother and friend. Photo by Carol Kearns

The crowds thinned as students left to gather in their designated lines and families went inside to find a seat for the ceremony.  I was happy to follow and get out of the cold.  The marshals told me I could step inside the hall and take pictures of the empty stage as long as no students were there.

It was definitely humbling to realize that a man who marched in Selma, spent jail-time in the South, and negotiated with US government officials in defense of constitutional rights had also walked into this same building 50 years ago and spoken from that podium.

Discovery of King’s Speech

After lunch we found Professor Ben Houston, who teaches history, upstairs in his office.  He was kind enough to share some of the backstory about the university and the surprising discovery of the “lost” film of King’s speech.

Houston said his students, “are absolutely enraptured by studying the civil rights movement. My classes fill up virtually instantaneously.”  Many of them, he explained, are familiar with the history from their studies in high school.

Houston described the elation felt when Brian Ward, who was a junior lecturer at Newcastle in 1992, discovered the recording of King’s speech.  At the time of King’s visit, school officials said there would be no recording because they did not want King to feel pressured to talk.

Decades later, examination of photos revealed what looked like microphones, and a search uncovered the long-ignored film.

Freedom City 2017

Organizing efforts for this celebration of King’s visit began over a decade ago. A year-long city-wide program of events, Freedom City 2017, began on January 16, 2017. Artists and academics worked together to present art, poetry, theater, film, lectures, and music performances that celebrated King’s message of tackling the global challenges of war, poverty, and racism.

The poetry anthology that arose from this celebration, "The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King," is now available on Amazon. Final events in the city will conclude this month, January 2018. 

Brian Ward’s book, Martin Luther King in Newcastle Upon Tyne, was released in last September. It is an amazing chronicle not only of the inside story of the circumstances of the university invitation and King’s visit, but also the tradition of protest and abolitionism in Newcastle, and the city’s own struggle with race relations as non-whites moved to the UK from various parts of the Commonwealth.

I had no idea that Newcastle was a powerhouse of the industrial revolution (I guess that’s why they talked about “coals to Newcastle”), a ship-building center, and had a rich history as a print center.

Because of technology, Newcastle had a role in the development of the slave trade.  But it also developed a centuries-long tradition of civil rights advocacy and abolitionism, giving shelter to people like Frederick Douglas, a runaway slave.  Residents of the area raised money to buy his freedom.

The City of Newcastle

I have been to Newcastle twice now and I love this beautiful city. I almost want to call it quaint because it is so much smaller than London (it is only one fourth the size of San Diego.)  But that is not really fair. The city sits on the River Tyne, has two universities, large parks, art galleries, great shopping, a music center, a children’s book museum, and of course, the St. James soccer stadium.

Today Newcastle is a cosmopolitan city in a location that would make a great beginning for a tour to Hadrian’s Wall and then up north to Edinburgh and possibly Loch Lomond.  I should put this on my calendar for a future summer.

Alison H Stafford

October 12, 1950 - November 1, 2017

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Alison H. Stafford was born October 12, 1950 to parents Samuel Stafford and Mary Stafford. Her parents the “Staffords” were the original founders/partners of the All American Market, one of first Super Markets after WWII, which later became part of Albertsons. Alison lived in Downey at the same house that her father built all her life.

Alison attended Downey High School and graduated in 1968 she then went on to study and became an Assistant Pharmacist. Alison, as she would say, put her life and career on hold to take care of first her father who died of cancer and then her invalid mother who passed away in late November 2011.

After her mother’s death, Alison volunteered a great deal of her time to various nonprofit organizations in the City of Downey. She became very civilly minded. She helped found the “Downey Bicycle Coalition” and was on the board of the “Friends of the Library” and the “Downey Conservancy and as well as the “Downey Historical Society.” and she helped the “Downey Rose Float Association” but mostly she dedicated countless hours helping out at the “Knights of Columbus” in Downey  where she took charge running the snack bar at Bingo on Tuesday nights. To help the Knights of Columbus,  Alison  put her shopping skills to good use and purchased all food and janitorial supplies at the best price possible.

She used her coupons and considered herself a “Great Shopper”. She got a thrill from getting the best deals and saving the Knights of Columbus money.

Alice had great pride in her support of the Green Movement she reduced, reused, recycled and repurposed with the best of them. She also loved to use public transportation and would use it to go events such as the Long Beach Grand Prix and the Car Shows at the L. A. and O.C. Convention Centers.

Alice suffered from a very rare autoimmune disease “Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)” which claimed her life. She passed away quietly on November 1, 2017 at  Whittier Presbyterian Hospital. She is survived by her significant other Esteban D. Perez,Sr. and  two brothers Richard and Scott Stafford. A memorial service for Alison will be held Saturday January 27th at 1pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Downey, located at 11231 Rives Ave., Downey.

Barney Nipp

October 8, 1930 - January 21, 2018

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Retired Los Angeles Fire Captain and long time resident of Downey California, Barney Nipp, joined his wife Cleta (Peggy) Nipp in heaven in the early morning hours on Sunday, January 21, 2018. Services for Barney will be at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Downey on Friday, January 26th at 10:30 am.

Barney Nipp was born October 8, 1930 in South Dakota to John and Anna (Buckley) Nipp. He moved with his parents to the Struble, Iowa area and helped them farm along with his six siblings, first near Struble then south of Le Mars, Iowa then just outside Merrill, Iowa. Barney graduated from Le Mars Public High School and then went on to the National Guard. He moved to the Los Angeles area where he became a Fire Fighter, serving in the Los Angeles Fire Department from 1958 to 1990. He was Fire Fighter of the Year in 1989. His life’s work is still preserved in the LA Fire Museum where he was a founder. He proudly served there, continuing to participate in pancake breakfasts and ceremonies until his passing.

He is survived by eight of his nine children: Bernice Brunner, Collette Foster, Carol Atria, Sharon Moore, Paula Urbina, Janet Nipp, Marlene Nipp and David Nipp. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his daughter, Vicky Vasquez.

Noel Dale Devereux

October 29, 1926 - January 1, 2018

Noel Devereux Obit.jpg

Noel Devereux was born October 29, 1926 to Louise and James Devereux in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, the youngest of eight children. Noel’s family moved to California when he was a young child and he later attended Freemont High School in Los Angeles. In December 1944, at 18 years old, Noel enlisted in the Army where he served his country as part of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. After his two year enlistment, he returned to the Los Angeles area and entered the Carpenter’s union. Noel had a passion for motorcycles and even placed fifth in the state of California for an English Trials competition. In 1964, Noel married his loving wife Creszentia and they had one son Scott in 1965. Noel worked as general contractor in the city of Downey for approximately 40 years. He was known throughout the city for his honesty, integrity and quality of his work. An avid golfer, Noel could often be found walking the fairways at either Rio Hondo or Los Amigos golf courses. Noel’s family will remember him as Daddy-O, a shy and gentle man, with a dry sense of humor, who loved all animals.

Noel is survived by his wife, Creszentia, a former employee of the Downey Chamber of Commerce, and his son Scott, a Battalion Chief for Downey Fire Department.

A celebration of life will be offered to friends and family at his son and daughter-in-law’s home in Norco Ca, on February 17, 2018. RSVP to Scott 562-754-0275 or Creszentia 562-923-0475.

George Thomas Deere

July 15, 1955 - December 11, 2017

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George Thomas Deere, 62, was born on July 15, 1955 to John and Lorraine Deere in Muskogee, Oklahoma and entered into eternal rest on December 11, 2017 in Downey, California. George lived with his parents and siblings in the town of Eufaula, Oklahoma and later Wewoka, Oklahoma to the age of almost 4.

George was met at Heaven’s gate by his parents, John and Lorraine Deere, Aunt and Uncle, George and Wynema Crowder, Brother, John Deere Jr., Great nephew, Trey Shawn and Great Niece, Madison Rain, who preceded him in death.

He traveled with his mother’s sister, Wynema (Drew) Crowder to Downey, California. George was raised by her and her husband George Crowder as their own.

George attended Spencer V. Williams Elementary, West Junior High, and graduated from Warren High School.

He worked for Downey Unified School District approximately 30 years. He mainly worked at Griffith Middle School. George loved working the sporting events at the school. Seeing the people there and watching the games.

He loved to watch sports and old westerns. George traveled to Stillwater to celebrate his birthdays. There, he would watch OSU and eat at Eskimo Joe’s. He would travel with his older brother, John, to watch a bowl game on many occasions.

George was a cat lover. He loved to spoil his cats as much as the cats spoiled him for attention.
George is survived by his loving family: Sister, Bettie Deere of Garland, Texas, Nephew, Jeremy Williston of Garland, Texas, Niece, Sunny Williston of Garland, Texas, Great nieces, Dana Nicole, Gracie Michelle, Stormy Lorraine and Great Nephew, Bison Owa Chitto.

A message from his sister, Bettie Deere:

“A special thanks to the staff at the United American Indian Involvement, Inc. serving Los Angeles County, his doctors, nurses, and to everyone that made George smile.”

A Memorial Service will be held on January 27, 2018 from 1:00-5:00pm in the Risher Mortuary Chapel, 1316 W. Whittier Bl., Montebello, CA 90640.  Condolences may be sent to the family through our website, www.rishermortuary.com. 562-861-3888.  

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to the United American Indian Involvement, Inc.: http://www.uaii.org/

Judy Ann Luers

December 20, 1942 - January 21, 2018

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“That we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes part of us” – Helen Keller

Born Judy Ann Spears in Fort Smith, AR, she was a graduate of Fort Smith High School class of 1960. Judy was an active member of her community. She was a member of a number of historical societies and supported a variety of community non-profits. Judy worked for 25 years as an Executive Secretary for various government agencies in AR and CA. She loved the outdoors; hiking, fishing and exploring many parts of this beautiful country.

Judy is survived by her husband D. John Luers and their three sons Eric, Jeff and Mark, her brother Richard Spears, and aunts Patricia Becker and Jerrie Martin. Predeceased by her parents Benjamin and Freeda Spears and her son Kirk Luers. Judy passed away peacefully on January 21st, 2018 with her family by her side. A memorial service is being held at Rainbow Chapel, Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, CA on Sat Jan 27th at 3pm. Please donate to Easterseals or SPCLA in lieu of flowers.

Downey gets 'F' grade from American Lung Association

DOWNEY -- The American Lung Association has issued Downey an "F" grade on its efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use. 

Grades were released Wednesday for all California cities and counties.

In its report card, Downey was marked down for failing to enact smoke-free housing and for failing to reduce sales of tobacco products. 

Downey, however, scored points for its restriction of outdoor smoking at public events. 

Overall, California’s grades improved to the best in the nation attributable to strong policies across the state and a new tobacco tax increase approved by voters. 

The new tobacco tax improved California’s grade from an “F” in 2016 to an “A.” 

Grades for all California cities are available here.

Shared Stories: My First Car

Steven Boyd seems to have a natural mechanical aptitude. Even in the era of do-it-yourself car repair, his story still reflects exceptional ability. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Steven Boyd

In 1968 I graduated from High School and still didn’t have my own car. I had been working at a local pizzeria for $1.75 an hour and by late summer had saved a little over $400. Up to that time I had four modes of transportation:

1.)  Walking – this was reserved for shorter distances and used only when the other three were not available.

2.)  Riding my bike – this was my main mode of transportation at the time but had the drawback of not always being available because of technical difficulties.

3.)  Getting rides from friends – this was a great way to get around in style but had the drawback of only being available when friends were available.

4.)  Borrowing my mom’s car – This was a special occasion mode of transportation, reserved only for dates, which were few and far between in those days.

One day, in the fall of that year, I was walking down Valley View Blvd.  I was walking because the bike had a flat, my friends were all preoccupied and my mom had her car at work. As I passed by a local manure business, I noticed a green car with a “for sale” sign on the front window. As I got closer, I could read that they were asking $350 for it. 

When my dad got home that evening he agreed to go and check out the car to verify it was running and worth $350. After seeing and testing the car, he said yes. I paid the $350 cash and drove my very own car home. 

It was a 1963 Mercury Comet two-door. It had an in-line, 6 cylinder and 3-on-the- column. It had drum brakes all around. It had a working AM/FM radio, but the first thing I bought for it was an 8-track tape player. 

It had bench seats and accommodated six easily because it didn’t have seatbelts. This also made it easy for my date to sit anywhere on the front seat she wanted. 

One of the first young ladies I took out on a date in my new car was Maria, a close friend from high school. On our first date, she sat right next to me. The second date she sat in the middle of her portion of the front seat.  On our third date, she hugged the armrest of the passenger door. There was no fourth date.

The previous driver of my Comet was the company’s salesman who just happened to be a chain smoker. Because of the saturation of smoke on the headliner, the threads holding the sections together disintegrated and the headliner above the front seat hung down to just touch my head. 

I tried to clean it. I tried to sew it. I tried to tape it. In the end, I removed the entire headliner and spray painted the exposed metal.  It had a great sound when it rained.

One day, Bonnie and I were coming home on Interstate 10 after a college group retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains. I had a strong headwind to drive into but I wanted to show that my Comet could keep up with the other cars so I kept pushing it. 

Eventually, it blew the head casket, over-heated, and blew up one of the pistons.  A piece of the piston got wedged in the oil pan and froze the engine.  My dad had to come and tow us home. 

I was too innocent to know just what I was getting myself into but I decided to do all the repairs myself. Plus, I couldn’t afford to have someone else do it. It took me a while but I eventually got it back together and it ran. 

I learned a lot about an internal combustion engine by taking it apart and putting it back together. I’ve even done it a couple of times again on other engines. Once, a friend said I could have his car that had a blown engine if I could get it running again. I didn’t have a car at the time and so it worked out great. 

Another time, a mutual friend of Bonnie and mine had a crack in her block and I replaced it. I saved her a couple of thousand dollars and had fun doing it.

In the end, the Comet and I parted ways when I was in boot camp and my parents got tired of it being in their driveway. They sold it to the junkyard for $20 which they applied to my phone bill.

Oh well, it was just a car.

Paging Dr. Frischer: Pet allergies

My wife grew up with her beloved Mittens the cat…and a box of tissues always within reach.

Some 10% of us are allergic to dogs, and cat allergies affect about twice that many. Some of us also react to birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and rodents.


Why do allergies afflict us? Our immune system produces antibodies to fight off harmful germs. An allergen is a normally harmless substance, but for those with allergies, it triggers the immune system to react. This can lead to symptoms like itching or watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, asthma and eczema. Interestingly, allergic reactions can change
over time and even disappear. As we age, some of us leave our hay fever, pet allergies and food allergies behind.

It is actually the proteins found in a dog or cat’s dander (tiny flakes of skin), and not their fur itself, which cause allergic reactions. Dander is also found, in smaller quantities, in an animal’s saliva and urine. Dander can be carried on our clothes, circulate in the air, settle in furniture
and bedding, and stay behind on dust particles. In addition, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens.

What can we do to reduce the symptoms of pet allergies? The best treatment is to avoid contact with cats, dogs, and the spaces they live in. Keep pets out of your home or especially your bedroom, and avoid visiting homes with pets. However, if a pet-free household is not an option:

■ Washing a dog weekly can reduce the dust and dander significantly. Regular human shampoos are not the best choice; a dog’s skin might become dry or irritated, leading to more sloughing of dead skin cells.

■ Keep your home clean. Clean furniture covers, carpets, drapes, and pet bedding often. Keep the pet off of your bed, and consider using air purifiers.

■ Medication for the human can help, including over the counter products like Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec.

No pet is 100% hypoallergenic. All dogs produce dander, including hairless ones, but low shedding dogs tend to release less dander. Some of the better dog breeds for allergy sufferers are poodles and many poodle mixes, Portuguese and Spanish water dogs, terriers, bichon frise, Chinese crested, Irish water spaniel, Maltese, standard schnauzer, Italian greyhound, and havanese.

Some of the better cat breeds for allergy sufferers are Siamese, Balinese, Siberian, Bengal, Burmese, colorpoint and Oriental shorthair, Cornish and Devon rex, Javanese, and sphynx.

Pets can be such a wonderful and healthful part of our lives. When seeking a new member of your family, I encourage you to research allergenic potential along with the animal’s size, personality, and other qualities.