by Jennifer Tipton
Donald Gay Wright born November 11, 1913 in South Sutton New Hampshire resides at Cypress Place Senior Living in Ventura. I first met Don at Cypress when I did a wellness clinic there and he and many of his neighbors would line up to get their blood pressure checked. Don was 102 at that time and always looked so put together with his hair neatly combed and sporting a rather dashing bolo tie.
Catching up with the now 104 years young gentleman was quite a delight! When I asked for this interview, Don told me, “oh I like to talk!”.
Don grew up in a family of show business, “my folks did vaudeville; my mother sang and played the piano, there were marionettes, dogs, doves and Punch & Judy”. He still has one of the ventriloquist puppets named “Billy” that he promised his father he’d care for sitting in the corner of his apartment and wearing one of his father’s hats from show biz days.
Don’s middle name “Gay” is a family name. “John Gay came to America by ship in 1630”, he told me. The Gay brothers had a factory that made Melton fabric, the heavy wool fabric that was used for United States Army uniforms.
Don himself was a Captain in the U.S. Army. “I was in the army for 25 years and was a high school dropout throughout my army career”, he laughs. “I’ve worked all kinds of jobs – Forestry Department, Highway Department and once for the County with zoning reinforcement, I knew a lot of judges”. He said he liked his position with military government the best and the most exciting thing he’s done was to help set up the government in (South) Korea. “I’d love to straighten out North Korea”, he added.
I asked him what activities he enjoys, and he said, “I’m a camera bug, I have about twenty cameras; in the older days we developed our own film and it was a big thing when it wasn’t black and white anymore!”. Lately he’s become quite the artist, Don’s apartment is filled with his work including a Mona Lisa sketch that won him a ribbon.
And the age-old question (pardon the pun) – “To what do you attribute to your longevity?” (I didn’t tell him I’d read in a previous interview he gave all the credit to shredded wheat) … and he responded, “shredded wheat!”. I did tell him that I read he performed a drum solo at his 104th birthday party and Don said, “I’ve been playing the drums for ninety years! I played with the Big Bands”.
With the next issue of the Breeze coming out on Valentine’s Day … I asked, “are there any secret crushes we should know about?”
And Don replied, “a while ago, a lady named Cookie came to my door and said, “what happened to our relationship?”, I was 103 and didn’t think I had any relationship! But we really did fall in love; she was a great lady. I couldn’t imagine that at 103 I’d have a girlfriend!”. Don said, “I asked the Lord for a friend, and then Cookie showed up, and then He took her away, and He hasn’t sent a replacement yet!”
Donald G. Wright has 4 children, 10 grandchildren, 20 plus great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren.
Don sums it up, “I enjoy the time I have on earth!”
Person to (Little) Person
by Jennifer Tipton
I asked 6 of our younger Venturans ages 6-9, “What do you like about Valentine’s Day? (and are there any secret crushes we should know about?)
“I really do like to play with my toys and make Valentines, well I really actually buy the Valentines at the store”.
Any secret crushes? “Well … I like Joanna”. (Mom adds “that changes every week”)
“I’m 9 ½, but you can consider me 9, I guess. I like to pass out treats like stickers and gummies to my class”.
No secret crushes. Any special Valentine? “My dog Rocky, he’s a black lab, no boyfriends yet”.
(Mom said she can’t have one until she graduates college and hopes she’ll stick to the contract.)
“I like sharing Valentines with candy in them cause I’m pretty sure it’s about sharing and caring.”
Any secret crushes? “No…not really.”
Any special Valentines? “My parents.” (You gotta love this kid!)
age 6 ½
“Well, I especially love getting secret admirers! I don’t have any yet … but I wish I had one.”
Any secret crushes? “Are you asking for the truth? Cause then I have to whisper, cause no one wants to hear the truth.”
And she did. (Bianca – your secret is safe with me.)
“I like getting the cards and sometimes they have candy in them, especially the ones with chocolate, those are my favorite!”
No secret crushes. Any special Valentine? “My cat Rascal is my favorite Valentine, I love her!”
“I make cards for my friends and family with paper, tape and staples. I made one today for my brother. Sometimes I put candy in them like … chocolate chips.”
No secret crushes but Issac tells me his special Valentine is a boy in his class, “my friend Ira, but he already knows”.
• The Botanical Gardens Welcome Center is now being built (see article in this issue). The fire caused much damage to the Gardens, but it is very encouraging to see work progressing and green stuff starting to grow.
• At the recent fund raising concert at Plaza Park, two of the most uplifting and encouraging speeches were given by our own Police Chief Ken Corney and Fire Chief David Endaya. They gave special thanks and tribute to all of those that were involved in the fires – those that lost their homes, the first responders, behind the scenes fire and police staff, and all Ventura city employees that made wonderful contributions. It is a testament to all of them that there was not one death in Ventura because of the fires. Proud of Venturan’s for taking the fire seriously and evacuating even if not mandatory.
After so many folks died in Montecito who didn’t leave when just ‘suggested”, all future evacuations might be mandatory.
After experiencing the Thomas Fire fundraiser in Plaza Park, it makes me sad to think how great it would have been to have had similar concerts above city hall that were planned.
• In Mexico, about one journalist or photographer is killed each month because of their coverage of the drug lords and gangs. This makes it the country only second to war torn Syria for such deaths
• California added 859 new laws that will take effect this year. A slight decrease from 2016. That means that in 10 years there are almost 10,000 new laws. Scary ain’t it? These are a few of my favorites:
- You can’t smoke marijuana in any way while driving or riding in a car on California roadways. So remember, not even if you are a passenger.
- Schools in low income communities must provide tampons and other sanitary products to students in grades 6 through 12. Who determines what constitutes a low-income community?
- School buses must have a child safety alert system that requires a driver to make sure no kids are left on the bus. Couldn’t they just yell, “Are there any kids left on the bus?” Though, perhaps if the kids have earphones on they won’t hear it.
- Californians who are transgender, intersex or don’t identify as male or female can choose a gender neutral option on their birth certificates. How would they know this upon just being born?
- No more jaywalking tickets can be issued for stepping into a crosswalk after the flashing signal begins as long as you can still cross safely before time runs out. Who decides if it is safe, the pedestrian or the police officer who writes the ticket? I’m all for eliminating these signals all together as you might know.
- All landlords in the state must provide information about bedbugs to apartment renters. What about cockroaches and fleas?
- Using a ball hook to handle or control elephants will be against the law in California. Reminds me of the old joke about the guy standing at Main and Ventura Ave. blowing a horn. When a friend asks what that was, he said, “This keeps elephants away.” The friend responded, “There are no elephants here.” So he responded, “See, it works.”
- Vegetarian Augustynolophus Morrissi is now the official state dinosaur. I have requested that the Ventura Breeze be named the official state newspaper and that the grunion be the official state fish.
• To thunderous Republican applause in his First State of the Union address, President Trump announced that Guantanamo would remain open. It has been more than 10 years since a “prisoner” was sent there and operating the facility costs nearly $11 million annually per detainee. Surely we can find a place to house them that costs less than $11 million per detainee.
• Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has purchased the Los Angeles Times and two other papers for $500 million. I offered him the Ventura Breeze for only $2 million but he wasn’t interested. So, the offer stands if any of our readers are interested in purchasing the Ventura Breeze. A 10% discount is offered to Venturan’s.
• I’m glad to learn that the Ventura Unified School District along with the teacher and support staff unions have finalized their agreement for a pay increase.
The agreement includes a 2% pay increase for 2017-18 effective at an employee’s mid-year point and a onetime $400 bonus paid to each employee who has worked at least 50% of the 2016-17 work year. Also like the fact that part-time employees will also get a prorated one-time bonus in the agreement.
Not all union members were in agreement. Of those voting, 69% were in favor of accepting the agreement.
• Removing sand, rocks and even shells from the beach is illegal. It is considered “tampering with geological features.” Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Better think twice the next time that you take a bucket of sand for your cat box. You and the cat might go to jail.
• Ventura’s own clothing giant Patagonia and other retailers are involved in a legal and political battle over President Donald Trump’s plan to shrink two sprawling Utah national monuments.
Patagonia filed a lawsuit after Trump announced that Bears Ears National Monument would shrink by 85%. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with a rock climbing advocacy group and other organizations, is among a group of litigation over the president’s move to reduce the size of the monument and also cut in half the land protected in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
On Thursday, March 15, the Grand Jury will host an open house for prospective jurors and
interested members of the Ventura County community. Please join the current Grand Jury along with public officials from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Grand Jury Chambers at 646 County Square Drive, Ventura.
An all-volunteer group, the Grand Jury investigates selected complaints that have been initiated by the public. After investigating these complaints, the Grand Jury issues written
reports which include facts, conclusions, and recommendations.
All eligible residents of the Ventura County community are encouraged to apply.
Applications are available online at the Grand Jury website www.ventura.org/grand-jury, or
by calling 477-1600. Applications will be accepted until April 15, 2018.
Californians in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties who were affected by the December wildfires and recent mudslides and flooding, may be referred to the SBA after applying for disaster assistance with FEMA. If you are contacted and asked to submit an application for a low-interest SBA disaster loan, don’t hesitate to apply.
Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 from SBA to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury.
You don’t have to accept the loan, if you qualify. If you don’t qualify, you may also be referred back to FEMA for other grants, which covers items like disaster-related car repairs, clothing, essential household items and other expenses. Applicants can’t be considered for these grants unless the SBA loan application is completed and returned.
In planning your recovery, give yourself the widest possible set of options. Submitting the application makes it possible for you to be considered for additional grants, and if you qualify for a loan you will have that resource available if you choose to use it.
Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. They may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339.
For more information on California recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4353, Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion9 and WildfireRecovery.org.
Learn what you can do to break the chain of human trafficking at a special movie screening and question-and-answer session with the maker of “Break the Chain,” winner of the best documentary feature at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival.
The movie, “Break the Chain,” will be shown Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 East Main St., Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the film starts at 6:30 p.m. The event is free.
Organizers say that Ventura County has a role in the global human trafficking issue. Young people forced into the human trafficking system are often housed in local hotels, away from the glare of Los Angeles.
Following the film there will be a panel discussion including:
- Laura E. Swanson, producer and co-director of the film;
- April de Pretis of the Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking;
- Michael Munn, Ventura County district attorney’s office investigator;
- Christian Perez of Interface Child and Family Services;
- Junemarie Justus, founder of The Acorn Project, and
- Cheryl Heitmann, Ventura City Council member.
The talented ECTV crew from El Camino High School recently interviewed City Fire Chief David Endaya , City Police Chief Ken Corney and Councilmember Erik Nasarenko in the CAPS Media Studio. The production was profiled in an extensive weekend feature article in the VC Star. The interviews are part of ECTV’s ongoing series of programs on the Thomas Fire. Throughout the year the students will explore a wide range of stories featuring people impacted by the fire.
The recognition for the ECTV students continue with the crew’s unprecedented five nominations as finalists for the Alliance for Community Media WAVE Awards (Western Alliance Video Excellence). Categories include Community Issues, Informational Culture, Informational Lifestyle, Informational Talk Show and Educational Access. The ECTV nominations are part of an impressive twelve nominations for the entire CAPS Media producers. The ECTV and CAPS Media producers are in competition with video producers from across the western United States.
CAPS Media is collaborating with the Ventura City Fire and Police, Ventura County Fire and Sheriff, the Museum of Ventura County, other community agencies on the Thomas Fire Stories Project. The project will feature personal stories of individuals and families whose lives were dramatically changed the night of December 4th and include extraordinary accounts of heroism, sacrifice, tragedy and healing.
CAPS Media is recording interviews with members of the public, fire fighters, first responders, officials and others who want to share their story. Everyone in the community impacted by the fire is invited to contribute to the archive of our common experience. Radio and television interviews will be conducted in Santa Paula, Ventura’s Westside, Northside and Ojai. Each interview is expected to last 15-20 minutes and will be conducted by CAPS Media producers. Selected stories will air on CAPS Television and Radio KPPQ 104.1 FM, and stream on capsmedia.org. Visit capsmedia.org to find a convenient day and time to record your story and add it to the museum’s historic archive.
CAPS Media has set up an easy process for the public to share stories, photos and video for the historic project. Go to the CAPS Media website homepage (capsmedia.org), on the Thomas Fires Stories image click on the Read More arrow in the lower right corner. The page presents more details on the project and step-by-step instructions on how to contribute photos, video and other media. If you have a story to tell or a tribute or thank you to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the CAPS Media Center at 658.0500.
CAPS Media’s mission is to create an engaged and informed community through participation in electronic media. Join our community of enthusiastic engaged member/producers. To find out more come to orientation on the first Thursday of every month and learn how to become a member of CAPS. Member classes include HD videography/camera class held on the 2nd Thursday, Final Cut postproduction editing class on the 3rd Thursday, and CAPS Radio (KPPQ, FM 104.1) two-part classes on the 4th week. In every training session Member/Producers receive hands-on instruction in videography, video editing, radio production and more. All classes begin at 6pm at the CAPS Media Center, 65 Day Road. Once trained, member/producers may check out CAPS Media’s video cameras, tripods, audio gear and other production equipment to record their story and then book postproduction editing suites to craft the story they want to tell. Go to capsmedia.org for information or call 658-0500.
Diagnosing and treating back pain, along with the causes, will be the focus of a free seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 21, “Ouch! My Aching Back.” Community Memorial Health System is hosting the seminar as part of its 2018 Speaker Series.
The guest speaker will be Dr. Antulio Aroche, an orthopedic spinal surgeon. Dr. Aroche will discuss what causes back pain and how joint and bone problems have become a leading cause of disability that affects how people walk, run, lift, bend and play. He will review ways to diagnose back pain as well as treatment and rehabilitation options for patients.
Dr. Aroche is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery. He was dual fellowship trained in orthopedic and neurosurgical spinal surgery at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. Dr. Aroche completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He is a member of the North American Spine Society, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and several honor societies. Dr. Aroche is an active staff member at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and Ojai Valley Community Hospital.
The Feb. 21 seminar will begin at 6 p.m. in the eighth-floor Nichols Auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St. Registration is free but reservations are required. For reservations, visit www.cmhshealth.org/rsvp or call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006.
by Rosie Ornelas
On Saturday, January 27th, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was the guest of honor at the Ventura County Women’s Political Council Annual Meeting and Breakfast at Ventura’s Pierpont Inn. Speaking to a sold-out crowd of elected officials, judges, lawyers, students, and members of the organization, the Chief Justice described her journey as the daughter of immigrants, raised by a single mother. She entertained the guests with her witty, charismatic style, relaying lessons she learned as a waitress and a blackjack dealer, jobs she held during college and law school.
Answering questions from the President of the Ventura County Women’s Political Council, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, Cantil-Sakauye explained why she decided to write a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions objecting to his policy allowing immigration enforcement to take place in courtrooms.
Chief Justice also explained why she decided to commission a task force to study the bail setting process in our judicial system, a process which she believes is based on economic status rather than the risk to the community. She has become a leading national advocate on reforming our bail system.
She is the 28th chief justice of the State of California. She is the first Asian-Filipina American and only the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice. In her capacity of Chief Justice, Cantil-Sakauye chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
“It was inspiring to have the Chief Justice of California come before our group” said Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, VCWPC President. “Being only the second woman appointed to her position, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye is a prime example of what women can accomplish through tenacity and determination.”
Among those who attended the event, top elected officials included Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Assemblymember Monique Limón, Presiding Judge Patricia Murphy, Judge Fred Bysshe and many other local elected officials from throughout the county.
The Ventura County Women’s Political Council is a multi-partisan organization whose objective is to achieve equality for all women. It is the only organization in Ventura County dedicated to educating, training, and supporting women to run for office so that candidates can bring women’s perspectives to every issue, foremost including reproductive health as well as social, educational, environmental and economic justice.