December 8, 2016
Volume 47, Issue 18
Christmas cocktails | Birdwell shorts | Family games | Beach Gift Guide
December 8, 2016
Volume 47, Issue 18
ON THE COVER
Robert Woodie selfie in the
High Sierras, next to a tribute
to his father.
CUT * COLOR * STYLE
18 Searching for Pops by Robert Woodie
Sons and their friends look for their outdoorsman dad who went missing
in the Sierra Nevada High Country.
32 A game family by Richard Foss
Two generations of the Keifer family collaborate on timeless board games.
40 Holiday cocktails by Richard Foss
Rock N’ Fish bartender Leo Villalobos, Zane’s Elisa Koss and Kathy Doel
and Hey 19’s owner Demi Stevens share their secrets for warming up a
44 Protecting a legacy by Eddie Solt
Manhattan Beach buyers of the legendary Birdwell boardshorts promise
to honor the company’s motto -- “Quality is our gimmick.”
New Smiles Dentistry
Stephen P. Tassone, DDS
48 Beach Volleyball honors by Randy Angel
Olympian Dain Blanton and Coach “Feather” are among the beach
volleyball 2016 Hall of Fame inductees.
50 Flag of defiance by Ryan McDonald
A son finds a home for his father’s provocative World War II momento, a
Nazi flag signed by the soldiers who capture it.
Northwest Corner of
Crenshaw Blvd. & Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance
~ For Information, Call 310.534.0411
A LA CAZE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY PROJECT
12 MB Small Business Saturday
PUBLISHER Kevin Cody, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Richard Budman, EDITORS Mark McDermott, Randy Angel, David Mendez,
and Ryan McDonald, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Bondo Wyszpolski, DINING EDITOR Richard Foss, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS
Ray Vidal and Brad Jacobson, CALENDAR Judy Rae, DISPLAY SALES Adrienne Slaughter, Tamar Gillotti, Amy Berg, and Shelley
Crawford, CLASSIFIEDS Teri Marin, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA Hermosawave.net, GRAPHIC DESIGNER Tim Teebken, DESIGN
CONSULTANT Bob Staake, BobStaake.com, FRONT DESK Judy Rae
EASY READER (ISSN 0194-6412) is published weekly by EASY READER, 2200 Pacific Cst. Hwy., #101, P.O. Box 427, Hermosa
Beach, CA 90254-0427. Yearly domestic mail subscription $50.00; foreign, $75.00 payable in advance. POSTMASTER: Send
address changes to EASY READER, P.O. Box 427, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. The entire contents of the EASY READER newspaper
is Copyright 2016 by EASY READER, Inc. www.easyreadernews.com. The Easy Reader/Redondo Beach Hometown News
is a legally adjudicated newspaper and the official newspaper for the city of Hermosa Beach. Easy Reader / Redondo Beach
Hometown News is also distributed to homes and on newsstands in Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Torrance, and Palos Verdes.
16 Beach Thanksgiving dinners
30 Hermosa Woman’s pancake breakfast
36 Beach Gift Guide
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6 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
S O U T H B AY
Until they sell out
Fresh holiday trees
The Hermosa Beach Kiwanis Club
mans the lot at the corner of Pier and
Pacific Coast Hwy., Premium trees,
garlands, wreaths and mistletoe. Benefits
the many local charities the club
sponsors. Monday through Friday, 10
a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekends 9 a.m. to 9
p.m. but only until they sell out.
Through December 15
Santa tours through Manhattan
Beach, stopping on each block for photos
and to listen to children’s wishes.
Mondays through Fridays. Santa will
visit a different neighborhood each
evening, beginning at 4:45 p.m. Visits
with Santa are free, thanks to support
from Manhattan Kiwanis, Kinecta Federal,
the Manhattan Beach Police Department
and Volunteer Police
Auxiliary. To see Santa’s route, visit
Or follow Santa in real time by visiting
Redondo Beach police and fire will
escort Santa through Redondo Beach
each weekday evening, through Monday
December 16, stopping on each
block to listen to children’s holiday
For Santa’s route and date information
see below, or visit Redondo.org.
Through December 24
Santa’s Surf Hut,
Santa listens to children’s wishes
and poses for family photos at Santa’s
Surf Hut, inside the center, from 11
a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
(break times 1 to 2 and 5 to 6
p.m.) and on Sundays from 11a.m. to
6 p.m (break times 2 to 3 p.m.). Storytime
with Santa is Saturday, December
3 from 9 to 10 a.m. Santa Pet Night is
Thursday, December 6 from 3 to 8
p.m. The Hanukkah Festival is
Wednesday, December 28 from 4 to 6
Santa at Del Amo
Santa will listen to children’s wishes
and pose for family photos through December
24. Mondays through Fridays
10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to
8 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hawthorne Boulevard at Del Amo Avenue.
Santa at SB Galleria
Santa listens to children’s wishes
and poses for family photos through
December 24. 1815 Hawthorne Blvd,
Redondo Beach. Free. For more information
call (310) 371-7546 or visit
Through January 8
LA Kings Holiday Ice Rink
The LA Kings Holiday Ice Rink in
King Harbor will be open from 5 to
10:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays
and from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays
and Sundays through December 18.
Beginning December 19 and continuing
through January 8 the hours will be
Monday through Sunday 4 p.m. to
10:30 p.m. For more information visit
Thursday, December 8
Bring the family for an evening of
holiday festivities, including balloon
art, face painting, popcorn, cotton
candy, live music and raffle prizes.
Santa will be flying in from the North
Pole and landing at the “Miracle on
34th Street” to visit with kids from 6 -
8 p.m. Businesses will remain open
late along Highland Avenue between
32nd Street and 42nd Street. For more
information visit citymb.info.
The Hermosa Beach Historical Society
Happy Hour presents Skateboarding
Hall of Famer Cindy Whitehead.
The Hermosa Beach native conquered
the male-dominated profession of pro
vert skateboarding in the ‘70s, and
quickly became one of the top ranked
professional female vert skateboarders
in the U.S. Free for HBHS Members,
non-members $10. RSVP to hermosabeachmuseumRSVP@gmail.com,
or leave a message at: (310) 318-9421.
More details at hermosabeachhistoricalsociety.org.
Choirs of angels
The St. Lawrence Martyrs Choir is
joined by the Holy Trinity Choir in performing
“Before the Marvel of this
Night.” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at St
Lawrence, 1909 Prospect Ave., Redondo
Beach and at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10
at Holy Trinity, 1292 W. Santa Cruz St.,
San Pedro. $10, $5 for children 13 and
under. For more information contact
Awards for the most unusual, most traditional, funniest, best dressed and
crowd favorite will be presented at Hermosa Beach’s Annual Sand Snowman
contest on Saturday, December 10, north of the pier. Registration is at
8:45 a.m.and judging at 11:15 a.m. For more information visit (310) 318-
Saturday, December 10
Sand Snowman contest
Awards for the most unusual, most
traditional, best dressed, funniest and
crowd favorite. Registration at 8:45.
Judging at 11:15. North side of the Hermosa
Beach pier. For more information
visit (310) 318-0280.
Redondo Pier Santa visit
and holiday concert
Visit with Santa on the Redondo Pier
while enjoying the annual Holiday Concert.
2 to 4 p.m., presented by the Redondo
Pier Association. Bring an
unwrapped present for the toy drive to
win prizes. Free holiday parking at the
pier. For more info visit
RedondoPier.com. For more information
King Harbor Boat and
King Harbor Yacht Club hosts its annual
Holiday Parade, with over 30 boats
and nearly 100 outrigger canoes, kayaks
and stand-up paddleboards. This year’s
theme is “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Paddlers begin at 4:30, followed by
boats at 5:30 p.m. Parade may be
viewed from free bleachers at King
Harbor Marina/Moonstone Park (first
come/first served), the Sportfishing
Pier, Portofino Hotel and Lobby and
surrounding seawalls and the Seaside
Lagoon seawall. For more information
December 10, 11
Celebrate the holidays! Alpine Village’s
Christmas Faire is an indoor-outdoor
market with festive events for the
whole family with a distinct German
feel. Enjoy housemade Gluhwein at the
Restaurant, hard-to-find European
treats and gift items. Entry to Faire is
free and includes live music, faux nowfall
and meet the snow queens. Santa
photos, face painting and train ride
(Sunday only), $2 each. 4-8 p.m. 833 W
Torrance Blvd. Torrance. 310-327-4384.
Sunday, December 11
Manhattan Beach Holiday
The Travel Channel called this the
best holiday fireworks show in the nation.
The fireworks begin at 7 p.m., rain
or shine, at the Manhattan Beach pier.
Festivities begin at 4 p.m. with the
opening of the the Skechers Snow Park
and music by the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders
“Dixieland Christmas,” followed
by Mira Costa Jazz Ensemble and
Joe’s Band’s popular holiday sing-along.
For more information visit MB-
Los Cancioneros Master
Traditional holiday songs, including
sing-alongs, and Kevin Memley’s new
“Gloria” and “Magnificat,” with piano,
brass and percussion. $25. For tickets
call (310) 779-3072 or (310) 781-7171.
Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center
Dr., Torrance. For more information
call LC MasterChorale.com
“A Big Band Christmas,” featuring the
14-piece, Gene Krupa Tribute Orchestra
performs such classics as “Have Yourself
a Merry Little Christmas,” “Sleigh
Ride,” and “Let it Snow.” 2 to 4 p.m.
Norris Theatre, 27570 Norris Center
Drive, Rolling Hills Estates. For ticket
information call (310) 544-0403 or visit
Calendar cont. on page 42
8 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
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100-130 International Boardwalk Redondo Beach (310) 374-2382 www.qualityseafood.net
10 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN BEACH
Showcases small businesses
mall Business Saturday in Downtown Manhattan
Beach over Thanksgiving weekend was intended to
showcase to residents the holiday shopping opportunities
offered by local retailers. It also presented an opportunity
to impress on council members the importance
of protecting those retailers from economic forces beyond
their control. Small Business Saturday was particularly
significant to Old Venice owner Julie Hantzarides, who
opened the restaurant with her husband Jimmy in 1984.
Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the 2006 fire that
destroyed Old Venice and neighboring businesses on the
1000 block of Manhattan Avenue. In 2008, while work
to rebuild the restaurant was underway Jimmy died in a
bike accident. Despite the tragedy, Julie reopened the
restaurant the following year, “exactly as Jimmy planned
it,” Julie told the council members during Saturday’s tour.
1. Downtown Business
Association executive director
Manhattan Economic Vitality
Sywak, Look Optometry’s
Lester Silverman, Sunlife
Organics Andy Sywak,
and council members
Mark Burton and Wayne
2. LuLu Novelle’s Mirian
Kawagoe and Sally
Poppe with councilmembers
and Wayne Powell.
3. Gum Tree’s Lori Ford
startles council members
Wayne Powell and
Mark Burton with photos
of the lines of kids waiting
to see Santa at her
Hermosa Beach store.
4. Spyder Surf’s Ashley
Sitzman and Charlie Mc-
5. Paix Schreiner, 3,
with grandparents Chuck
and Ro and Bo Bridges
6. Barney Saltzberg, author
of “Would you
rather be a princess or a
dragon” with Pages
Bookstore’s Margo Ferris
and Patty Gibson.
7. Signs of the holidays
at Tabula Rasa.
8. Tabula Rasa owner
Maureen McBride and
manager Emily O’Brien
with Economic Vitality
Sywak and councilman
9. Newly opened York
Town manager Julie
Amos with Marc
Gravetz, the store’s first
10. Old Venice’s owner
Julie Hantzarides with
11. Andrew Sywak expresses
approval of Anchor
12. Birdwell Britches
manager Bree Valbuena.
13. Nikau Kai owner
Jason Shanks and
manager Rob Dubois.
3 4 5
12 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 13
MAMA LIZ’S, NIKIE TEDESCO’S
free Thanksgiving dinners
ver 40 cooked turkeys and even more pies were delivered
to the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis and Rotary
halls Thanksgiving morning. The donated fixings
was just enough to serve the more than 400 guests who attended
the 34th Annual Mama Liz Thanksgiving Dinner.
This year’s dinner was dedicated to Ted Nguyen, who
volunteered in the kitchen for many years, until his passing
An even greater number of people enjoyed a free Thanksgiving
Dinner at the Hermosa Beach pier. That dinner was
founded 47 years ago by Nikie Tedesco, who turns 91 in
December. The dinner is now run by Dan Hubbard and
Breakwater Foursquare Church in Redondo Beach.
Since Mama Liz’s passing, Cheer for Children’s Donna
Dawick has organized the volunteers and rounded up
cooked turkeys from her fellow Berkshire Hathaway Realtors.
Sandpipers donates the pies. Ocean Diner’s Rick Hankus
donates his one day off a year to run the kitchen. Real
Estate West Realtor Jonathan Coleman, of the band Abracadabra,
organizes the local musicians who perform
throughout the day. Dennis “Balloonman” Forel entertains
the kids and Sandy and Michael Maydor decorate the Kiwanis
Hall with brightly colored, helium balloons. Manhattan
Bread and Bagel donates rolls and bagels. Hermosa
Kiwanis make their hall available for the diners and the
neighboring Hermosa Rotary Club donates its kitchen for
PHOTOS BY KEVIN CODY
1. Longtime Mama Liz Thanksgiving Dinner volunteer
Paul Shortridge and dinner director Donna Dawick.
1. The carving crew Doug Nielsen, Mark Hamilton
and Jess Aispuro.
3. Donna Dawick welcomes volunteers.
4. Musicians Bob White and Joe Cipolla with his wife,
5. Local musicians performed throughout the day.
6. Over 400 dinners were served at the Kiwanis Hall.
7. Jessica and Jenny Pusateri.
8. Stan Dubyn and Rick Hankus.
9. Tom and Henry Bakaly.
10. Brian, Mary, Margaret and Sydney West.
11. Gavin Bauman, Hermosa Beach Pack 860.
12. Nikie Tedesco, 91, founded the Hermosa Pier
Thanksgiving dinner 47 years ago.
13. Dan Hubbard and the Breakwater Foursquare
Church in Redondo Beach assist Nikie in serving
Thanksgiving dinner at the Hermosa Pier.
16 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
Rescue searchers at Thunderbolt Pass. Barrett Lakes to the left, Dusy Basin to the right.
Bob Woodie went missing in the Sierra Nevada high country in October.
by Robert Woodie
When Manhattan Beach resident Bob Woodie did not return from a hiking
and fishing trip October 16, 2016, the National Park Service launched a massive
search and rescue operation. Bob’s two sons, Robert and Tim, were among the
initial responders who participated in the search. The weather was perfect for
six days as 120 rescue searchers, 5 helicopters, and 6 scent-dog teams combed
the Eastern Sierra backcountry. By the end of the day Sunday, October 23, the
search was suspended due to bad weather. No evidence of Bob was found. Here,
Bob’s oldest son gives his account of those six days.
Day 1: Monday night/Tuesday
Istarted calling my 74-year young father “Pops” about 15 years ago because
it fit the athletic father of three and grandfather of five. He is a
kind man, a great dad, an engaged grandfather, a doting husband and a
lover of the High Sierra backcountry. He loved taking his family on backpacking
trips, but if no one was able to go with him he wouldn’t hesitate to
go alone as he did last week.
Pops was supposed to have made contact late Sunday night after three
full days in the wilderness near Bishop, California. His wife Joanne expected
him in the wee hours of the night, knowing he would fish that Sunday
morning then make the eight hour hike out, arriving at the trailhead
well after dark. However, my brother Tim and I are under the impression
he isn’t coming out until Monday so I am not too alarmed by his absence
at noon today, Monday. When I glance at the map of Pops’ Spot GPS beacon
from Saturday night, Big Pine Campground looks like the closest road to
his camp at Barrett Lakes. We call the ranger but they report his car is not
to be found. I am growing concerned when Tim calls and reports that the
Bishop Ranger Station further north recorded that Pops paid for a backcountry
permit leaving the South Lake trailhead early Friday and returning
This news floors me because I realize we just checked the wrong trailhead
for his car. I immediately call Joanne’s contact at the Bishop Sheriff Search
and Rescue department and request they check the South Lake trailhead
for his car. It’s now late Monday afternoon and if his car is there it means
he is still in the backcountry and in trouble. That would make him more
than 24 hours late regardless of any miscommunication within the family.
It is early evening now and the Sheriff’s Department promises to do so.
Their resources are tight and it’s not until 10 p.m. Monday we get the sobering
news that his car is still parked at the trailhead.
Pops is still in the backcountry and is clearly in distress.
My brothers and I grew up backpacking with my Pops, starting at age 10.
We would often be out for more than a week, hiking all day sometimes but
always fishing at least an hour a day. As a kid I remember that hiking with
a 30-pound pack was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. Often, at
the end of a trip, I vowed to never go on another. But strangely, the supreme
effort, the stark landscapes, and the time spent with family would germinate
within us and come the following summer my brothers and I would
be excited about the next trip.
I let the Sheriff’s Department liaison know that Pops is missing and that
I’ll be heading up there shortly and arrive first thing in the morning. My
brother and I will have about an hour preparation and about two hours
sleep each before making separate six hour drives to Bishop, he from Orange
County and me from Los Angeles. We arrive by 8:30 a.m. and meet
with the folks of the Inyo County Sheriffs’ Search And Rescue (SAR) division.
It is a small but impressive outfit and Investigator Derr has been very
responsive throughout the afternoon of the previous day until our arrival.
He tells us that we cannot be a formal part of the effort but that there is
nothing they can do to prevent us from going up and searching as well. He
does let us borrow SAR radios that will enable us to stay in contact with
the searchers that will begin to descend upon Pops’ possible backcountry
routes over the next few days. We pour over the topographical map and
quickly determine that after crossing Bishop Pass there are only two likely
routes Pops may have taken. Knowing Pops’ backcountry habits the best, I
debate with the team over his most likely route but it’s a difficult call. Both
routes will likely need to be checked thoroughly.
A three-person volunteer team arrives decked out in bright orange jackets
and is ready to go up with us. The search and rescue arm of the Sheriff’s
office is nice enough to buy us sandwiches that we’ll take up with us. However,
we will later rue the plastic packaging as bulky and difficult to carry
18 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
His sons, who’d grown up backpacking with their father, once again followed him into the mountains.
around for the three nights out we have prepared for.
We arrive at the parking lot around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning and our
hearts sink to see Pops’ car still parked there. The seriousness of the situation
sinks in further. Tim finds dad’s keys in his usual hiding place, the recess
of the back bumper, and we rummage through his car. We find items
that are consistent with his plan to sleep at the trailhead Thursday night,
then hike into the backcountry before dawn Friday morning. Fortunately,
I brought my foul-weather bag of clothing and let Tim borrow some long
underwear, gloves, socks, and a watch. The trips Tim and I grew up making
in the backcountry were always during the height of summer. It’s now late
October and it is clear Tim’s gear hasn’t kept up with the demands of
“shoulder” season camping at high elevations.
There are certain factors that minimize your chances of being found if
you run into trouble in the backcountry. My dad picked a route that travels
at a very high elevation, over 10,000 feet. At this elevation temperatures
are more extreme and the brain, starved for oxygen, doesn’t function as
well. In addition, it’s mid-October and, while a great time for fishing, this
puts Pops in a shoulder season when temperatures and weather can be summer-like
one day and winter-like the next. And perhaps the most difficult
element for the upcoming search is that Pops’ route takes him about 6 miles
from the nearest trail. For a search and rescue effort, this will effectively
create a needle-in-a-haystack challenge. And Pops compounded all these
factors by going alone. If he has injured himself there is no one on the spot
to help or to get help.
Tim and I start up the trail and immediately begin to feel the high elevation.
South Lake is well above 10,000 feet and both of us have just come
from sea level eight hours ago and are working on just two hours of sleep.
We both obsess about hydration but the 6 miles from the trailhead up to
Bishop Pass is some of the most difficult hiking I’ve done. I stay in good
shape but this change in elevation negates it. With heads pounding, what
should be an easy hike becomes three hours of misery.
About an hour before reaching Bishop Pass, Tim spots a tent exactly like
Pops’ about 50 yards off the trail. We notice the bear canister set well away
from the tent just the way Pops would have done. We both rush off the trail.
This set up with his tent in plain view right off trail so close to the trailhead
doesn’t make sense but we’re sure we are about to find Pops. Looking inside
the tent, the first thing I see is a blue backpack the same color as dad’s and
my heart jumps. However, on closer inspection, I realize the pack is much
too fancy to be Pops’. There are also flip-flops in the tent and a bottle of
whiskey that Pops would never be drinking whether in the backcountry or
My Pops led a simple life and growing up neither he nor my mom drank
or smoked. In the ‘70s this was very unusual and I remember returning
from friends’ houses and feeling lucky that I could breathe smoke-free air
at home. In fact, I have never heard my father use profanity or drink more
than a glass of wine. Pops and I ruminate often about how his greatest vice
is sweets, one I have inherited from him and we indulge together often.
At the pass we meet the three SAR volunteers who set out just ahead of
us from the trailhead. They haven’t found any clues or information of any
use. Our conversation is a short one but one still full of hope. It’s still less
than 48 hours since Pops has gone missing. The weather up here is beautiful
and the sun is shining but now at an elevation of 11,900, we’re all dressed
in insulating clothing.
We find a campsite about a mile down the trail into Dusy Basin. Tim and
I are both exhausted with headaches that haven’t abated so the opportunity
to make camp before dark is a welcome one. Our first night we eat a freezedried
dinner and bed down so exhausted we are certain sleep will be easy.
Day 2: Wednesday
The night’s rest for Tim and I was a fitful one. Despite the exhaustion
from the lack of sleep Monday night and the torturous 7-mile hike, the pressure
change on our bodies from ascending so fast makes deep sleep impossible.
On top of this, the temperature during the night is bitter cold. I
brought my sleeping bag rated for 25 degrees and I still need to wear every
piece of clothing I brought to stay warm. Tim and I try not to focus on what
Pops cont. on page 20
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 19
Pops hiking the Grand Canyon, April 2015.
Pops cont. from page 19
Pops might be going through if he’s
in a situation of bearing that kind
of cold without proper shelter and
insulation. In his later years, Pops
has a history of forgetting key
items like sleeping pads and long
underwear. I pray this is not one of
We heard from the volunteer
team yesterday that a helicopter on
the west side of Knapsack Pass
spotted tracks, a route Pops might
have taken. Tim and I decide we
will spend the day hiking to the
pass and back, and on the way also
check footprints reported near a
lake not far from us.
It’s good to be in the backcountry
with my brother again. In the
last ten years the demands of work
and parenting have made backpacking
opportunities fewer and
farther between. Like Pops, if Tim
is in pain he won’t show it much
on the trail. He also has a pace that
syncs nicely with mine. As I think
back on those trips together growing
up, I am somewhat surprised
to remember that we used to hike
off-trail as much as on. We were always
searching for lakes that
promised great fishing and theoretically
the harder it is to get to the
lake, the bigger and more plentiful
the fish are.
In the past decade I have done
most of the trip planning for the
backpacking trips Pops and I have
taken, and that hiking has been al-
most exclusively on trail. As I hike
with Tim today, I will remember
the satisfaction of being able to see
a point in the distance and create
my own “trail” towards it by scanning
the easiest route immediately
in front of me. This necessitates
constantly lifting your head to
check your progress. The going is
much slower than being on a trail.
However, a benefit of always lifting
your head is that you are constantly
reminded how beautiful
your surroundings are. On trail, it
is easy to be focused on the trail
and making good time and not
bother to look up and appreciate
the reason you are there.
The going is hard work but surprisingly
takes us less time than
one would guess when first looking
up at the pass. About 40 minutes
from Knapsack, Tim and I
need to store our hiking poles in
our packs because the going is so
difficult. There are many times we
have to use both hands to hoist
ourselves up or down and poles
just get in the way. I doubt that dad
would come this way with a full
pack because it would be too bothersome
to have to stop, take off
your 35-pound pack, store your
poles, and then climb on in such a
At the pass, we are able to make
radio contact with a team who was
dropped by helicopter earlier that
morning in the opposing basin
near the GPS coordinates of Pops’
campsite on Barrett Lakes. They
20 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
inform us that none of Pops’ gear is
to be found at his campsite. This is
important and comforting information.
My biggest fear up to this
point has been that he might’ve
fallen while fishing. If so, Pops
would have been separated from
his gear and it would be very unlikely
he could survive one night in
these freezing temperatures. My
own readings combined with what
I hear from searchers suggest temperatures
at night are reaching 15
We can now safely assume that
Pops was done fishing, had packed
up his camp, and was on his way
back to his car when he disappeared.
It will mean that the search
can focus on the most likely route
back to the South Lake trailhead. As
the search drags on it will also bring
comfort to know that Pops had been
able to catch his share of big fish
and drink in his fill of this grand
landscape before disappearing.
Pops is an interesting study of obsession
in the backcountry when it
comes to fishing. He takes pride in
waking before dawn so he can
make his coffee and be fishing by
first light. Instead of relaxing or
even napping in camp after a hard
hike he will choose to fish and he
will often fish until dark. Interestingly,
our fish counts always seem
to be about the same despite all the
extra time he puts in. But for him
it’s never about the numbers; he
draws spirituality from the endeavor.
Tim and I make it back to camp
that night utterly exhausted. The
combination of two nights of poor
sleep, the elevation, the cold, and
another day of fruitless searching
has left us both with little energy.
Tim goes off with the radio and
when he comes back he tells me he
has had a good cry. I have purposely
not allowed myself to focus
on my swelling emotions while
there is still a chance we can find
Pops alive. I am determined to save
all my energy for the physical challenges
Just after dinner, two searchers
walk up to our camp. There are
now three separate two-person
search teams in the Dusy Basin
where we are camped and we talk
for a while. This is our first face-toface
encounter with employed (vs.
volunteer) searchers and we chat
about Pops and make sure that we
thank them for their help.
Day 3: Thursday
We wake up from a real sleep at
last and it feels like we may finally
have worked through the altitude
sickness. But it’s still bitter cold.
Tim and I decide to make our way
back to Bishop Pass so we can set
up a base camp and search the alternate
route Pops might have taken
via Thunderbolt Pass. After the previous
day’s trek to Knapsack Pass
where we had to do a lot of boulder
hugging, I’m positive now Pops
would not have taken that route if
he could help it. This is his fourth
year in a row hiking into Barrett
Lakes and by now he would have
figured out the fastest, easiest, and
prettiest route. On our way, we
check in with the local searchers on
our radios and learn that coincidently
a helicopter is on its way to
Bishop Pass and they want to take
us down to Bishop. We ask why
and they say they need our help in
identifying more of Pops’ clothing
and backcountry habits. It sounds
plausible but I’m a little bit suspicious.
Perhaps they want us out of
the way of the professional
searchers even though they’ve told
us we are within our rights to be up
The helicopter lands and I grill
the pilot but she convinces me that
Pops cont. on page 22
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Pops cont. from page 21
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they truly do need more information
on what Pops might be wearing.
They also need access to his
car for scent articles so they can
deploy dog teams shortly. We are
given suits to wear and high-tech
helmets so we can communicate
during the ride. Our backpacks are
put in a cage attached to the outside
of the helicopter and we begin
what is only the second helicopter
ride of my life.
The pilot is a very nice woman
whose friendly voice I recognize
from the radio over the last couple
days. The ride from Bishop Pass
back into the town of Bishop via
helicopter takes no more than 10
minutes but it’s one of prettiest experiences
of my life. We fly down
the South Lake Valley and a dozen
lakes you can’t see from the trail
parade by in rapid succession. I
think of how Pops would love to be
in the seat between Tim and I sharing
this experience. He has spent
so much time exploring this valley
and the backcountry it accesses
that he would be fascinated by the
view of it from the air.
We finally angle out of South
Lake Valley by hugging a rocky
ridgeline and 30 seconds later the
grand landscape of the Owens
River Valley comes into view. Sitting
right in the middle is a little
postage stamp of development that
rapidly grows bigger and turns into
the town of Bishop, California.
We land and are met by Jessica,
a nice representative from Sequoia
National Park who is coordinating
the search efforts with the Inyo
County side. She seems very relaxed
and suggests we have a bite
to eat at the airport restaurant because
it’ll take a little while before
they can arrange a conference call
with the search leaders of the Park
Service. We are ordering some food
when our buddies Steve and
Danny show up. They are Tim’s
and my lifelong friends and they
grew up knowing our Pops well.
After hearing the news they took
the initiative to make the drive up
and help search for Pops. They
were getting their backcountry permits
when they met Jessica, who
invited them to join us.
We are drinking sodas, chatting
with them, and waiting for food
when I am overwhelmed by the
absurdity of relaxing and enjoying
a hot lunch while Pops could still
be alive. I make it known to Jessica
and we leave an order of Pad Thai
22 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
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at the restaurant while we hurry
over to the search and rescue office
where it takes the longest fifteen
minutes of my life to organize the
For 30 minutes they ask us questions
about Pops’ attire and his
habits in the backcountry. Everything
from what his camping gear
looks like to questions about
whether he would be climbing
peaks for the fun of it. In the middle
of a conversation I get the powersthat-be
on the other end of the line
to promise that at the end of the call
they will helicopter me and one
other person back to Bishop Pass.
They promise, but I will regret trusting
their word and not getting
names to hold accountable.
We decide that Tim will stay behind
and help with the search from
the ground and that our buddy
Danny will go up the mountain with
me to continue the search in the
high country. We are tending to miscellaneous
preparations when Jessica
informs me that her bosses
decided not to helicopter us back up
to the pass. She will be happy to escort
us back to the trailhead where
we’re welcome to hike back up. I’m
not in a mindset to argue which I
will regret later when I can’t sleep.
Jessica, Tim, Dan, Steve and I head
up in two different cars to the trailhead
for a second time at South
Lake. The entire drive up Jessica
tries to talk me out of hiking back
The drive from Bishop up to the
South Lake campground takes about
20 minutes and has a magical quality
to it. I remember making this
drive many times as a kid. Typically
after breakfast in Bishop, we would
pile back into the car for the quick
trip that set the stage for the hard
hiking and otherworldly experience
that is the Eastern Sierra high country.
The drive gains elevation almost
the entire way. You are whisked
from the wide expanses of the
Owens River Valley into the
foothills and finally to the base of
the tallest mountain range in the
continental United States. This time
of the year, aspens along the South
Lake River are vibrant yellow. A
quaint camp, a small grocery store,
and a small fishing outfitter are the
only developments to be found
here. The road terminates at South
Lake, actually a reservoir, and one
of the largest in the Sierras. Here
you are already above 10,000 feet
and the trees are stunted, a sign that
you are close to the timber line.
There are quick preparations, and
Dan and I are back on the same trail
that I was on two days prior heading
to the 11,900-foot Bishop Pass. From
the get-go it’s apparent that Dan is
more affected by the elevation than
Tim and I were. What took us three
hours will take well over four hours
this time. The last half of the journey
we will do in the dark with
headlamps thanks to the broken
promise of the search and rescue
leaders. We lost two people searching
for a half day each because of
the escapade. But the information
we passed on will help add more
searchers on the mountain and better
concentrate them along Pops’
The final mile of the trail is entirely
switchbacks in the snow.
Danny’s head is splitting because of
the elevation. And though I’ve convinced
myself I have beaten altitude
sickness, the quick trip down the
mountain in the helicopter and now
back up seems to have resurrected
my suffering. Dan is also exhausted
and wants to stop with each turn of
each switchback. It is only with empathy
and encouragement that I
convince him the best course of action
is reaching the pass where we
can get water and a level campsite.
He soldiers on and we make the
pass at about 8:45 p.m. It is very
cold as we are hiking well after sundown
now making even the simplest
of efforts more difficult. We
make camp at a small lake on the
other side of the pass near the spot
the helicopter picked up Tim and I
just ten hours ago. Dan immediately
wants to go to sleep once we get the
tent pitched, but I convince him to
stay up, eat a hot salty meal, and hydrate.
These efforts should make for
a warmer and more comfortable
Day 4: Friday
The night’s sleep rivals the first
night with Tim for sleeplessness.
Despite all our efforts, we are restless
the whole night. At around 10
p.m. Dan complains of a migraine
and takes his pill. Hours later, he
gets up to relieve himself and starts
shouting. After I call to him and he
doesn’t answer, I get out and ask
him what’s wrong. He says there’s
someone standing over near the
shadows against the rock. I shine
my headlamp in that direction but
there is no one there. He is clearly
Pops cont. on page 24
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Pops cont. from page 23
still wrestling with the altitude and
I convince him it is best we return
to the tent before getting too chilled.
Despite feeling horrible in the
morning, I resolve that today I will
make the trek between Bishop Pass
and Thunderbolt Pass, which I feel
is the more likely route Pops would
have taken to Barrett Lakes. Much
to my surprise Danny rebounds
from the night’s lack of sleep and
resolves to come with me, proving
to be a worthy companion for the
It’s slow and difficult going.
There is no trail here and we are
forced to find our own way across
rock falls for what turns out to be
two miles but looks more like
twelve. The slope is extreme and
any misstep could mean a long and
perilous tumble. We split up to
cover more ground but ultimately
we both take fairly high traverse
lines tucked under massive peaks.
We don’t see any searchers on the
way but when we arrive at Thunderbolt
Pass we meet five different
teams. All but two have come up
from Barrett Lakes where they
were dropped off by helicopters.
My previous day’s phone conversation
in Bishop seems to have doubled
the search efforts with more
focus now on the Barrett Lakes
basin, properly known as Palisade
Basin. There’s no new news. This
area has likely never seen so many
people at once.
Pops by his own admission is a
shy person but one who overcame
that shyness out of the necessities
of his work. As a butcher, he was
happy to work at his craft back in
the refrigerated confines of the supermarket’s
meat department (he
worked at Food Giant, which eventually
would become Albertson’s,
first at the Sepulveda store near Marine
and later at locations throughout
the Beach Cities). However, his
work ethic quickly won him promotions
and in these roles he
needed to be more engaging with
customers. I remember showing up
at the meat department and ringing
the bell, then enjoying watching the
smile come over his face as he
walked up and recognized me. In
high school his influence landed me
a job as a box boy, and I would
sneak up and surprise him as he
chatted with customers while stocking
the meat cases. By this time you
wouldn’t know he was shy at heart.
His customers loved him and he
ended up marrying one. However,
one of the great appeals of the backcountry
for Pops remained its solitude.
Perhaps this appealed to the
shyness still in him. Whatever the
reason, solitude recharged him.
Dan and I have a relaxed lunch at
the pass under cobalt-blue skies and
make the acquaintance of search
teams from different organizations.
The effort has enlisted the help of
several agencies now from Inyo
Kern County, where Pops entered
the backcountry, to Sequoia National
Park, where Pops went missing,
to neighboring Yosemite
National Park as well as other agencies
further south. The next two
days will see the effort reach its
peak with over 120 searchers in the
field and five helicopters trying to
find evidence of Pops before a
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After enjoying lunch with the
teams at the pass, Danny and I have
a nice hike back under perfect
skies. As we approach our camp the
reality hits me hard that Pops’ loss
is now permanent. Upon reflection,
I tell Danny that I just realized that
if Pops had a mean bone in his body
I never saw it in 53 years as his son.
Danny stops, turns, and gives me a
hug and I have my first real cry of
the whole trip. It will be the first of
many to come but having a friend
share my pain at 12,000 feet makes
me feel like a lucky man.
As we approach base camp I let
Danny know I have decided to
break camp tomorrow. I will make
the trek to my Pops’ campsite at
Barrett Lakes where I will camp exactly
one week after he did. Given
his struggles with the altitude, I suggest
that Danny consider heading
back out tonight. He says he doesn’t
want to bear the responsibility of
leaving me alone, but I convince
him that I need some time these
next two days to memorialize my
father. I will be safe since I will be
in radio contact with the army of
search teams that surround us now.
After more resistance Danny relents
and I help him pack up his
gear. I hike with him back to the
trail to ensure he finds it and is well
under way before heading back.
He’ll have an hour of daylight to get
through the trickiest part of the trail
and then an hour in the dark. But
with his powerful headlamp and
the well-established trail he won’t
have any problem. He will enjoy a
warm bed and a hot meal tonight
and be able to get back to his girlfriend
and baby by Saturday night.
When I arrive back at my camp
another round of sobbing hits me.
For the first time on this trip I am
alone. I need this time for reflection
and my backed-up grief finds easy
expression. I use some of my
phone’s battery to listen to “Humble
and Kind” by Tim McGraw. The
song has been stuck in my head
since Pops went missing. It brings
comfort as I reflect on how lucky I
am that the most humble and kind
person I know is my father.
I had the good fortune to go into
real estate sales 13 years ago right
at the same time my Pops “retired”
from meat cutting and started his
own handyman business. From the
beginning just about all my clients
used Pops. Being able to recommend
my own father to clients
turned out to be the best marketing
I could do. People only rarely need
an agent but they always need a
handyman. Clients constantly tell
me what a nice man Bob is and that
he does great work and doesn’t
charge enough. Pops often tells me
that the best part of his work is
being able to visit with nice people
on a daily basis. His customers give
him free access to their cabins in
Mammoth, sports tickets they can’t
use, you name it. Pops loves his
clients and they love him back.
Day 5: Saturday
Mercifully I am able to sleep 12
hours in the night. Unlike the previous
morning, this morning I don’t
Pops cont. on page 26
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Search and rescue helicopter clears Thunderbolt Pass, Friday October 21, 2016.
Pops cont. from page 24
need to use a rock to break through
the ice on the lake to fill my canteen.
There is a little ribbon of
water that was stubborn enough
not to freeze last night and while I
am thankful it makes getting water
a little less fun.
The accumulated physical conditioning
these last four days coupled
with the therapy of spending time
with my brother and a good buddy
has given me the strength I will
need for today. Indeed, these next
two days I will feel light, agile, and
as capable in the backcountry as I
ever have. I dedicate this time to remembering
Pops and gaining a firsthand
appreciation of why he chose
to come back to his camp four years
in a row.
At 11,900 feet in late October the
mornings in the Sierras are bitter
cold until the sun hits. I will start
hiking well before this, and even
with good gloves the effort of packing
up my camp numbs my hands
to the bone.
The previous day’s traverse with
Danny helps me pick the most direct
route between Bishop Pass and
Thunderbolt Pass. It’s more difficult
today because I’m wearing a 35-
pound pack versus an 8-pound daypack
but my rejuvenated body responds
and the traverse goes well. I
register now that there are three recent
rock falls within the half-mile
approach to the west side of Thunderbolt
Pass. Most of the stones are
loose underfoot and there are small
stones and sand-like debris, likely
the by-product of large boulders
crashing into each other.
I arrive at the pass again but this
time don’t linger. I started much
earlier today and for this reason I
haven’t seen any searchers yet. One
of the teams yesterday pointed out
that the easiest route between the
pass I am now on and Barrett Lakes
is out of the way. After surveying it
a second time, I decide that Pops
wouldn’t bother. I pick the most direct
route and am pleased to discover
it’s relatively easy going with
my full pack and hiking poles and I
make quick time. I recall that Jessica
from the Sequoia team had
mentioned she had been along this
route and that the going was relatively
relaxed. For some reason it’s
comforting to know this piece of information
is consistent with my
The Barrett Lakes sit in the Palisade
Basin and with each step I am
26 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
in awe of this place’s splendor. I
have backpacked so many times in
the Eastern Sierras I now realize
that I have come to take its beauty
for granted. In recent years, I have
dragged Pops to Yosemite, Glacier,
the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone.
But in that time I never made
it with Pops to Barrett Lakes. I see
now that his regular spot has a
beauty to rival its big-name competition.
With each step I regret never
sharing this area and its fishing
As I come up to the first and
largest lake, I can feel Pops’ presence.
I can also sense his excitement
as he approached his
destination after such a long and
difficult hike. It brings me back to
our trips as kids when we would
hike off-trail in search of fish. Approaching
he would have been
giddy at the prospect of six beautiful
lakes full of large trout set
amongst a panorama of 14,000 foot
peaks, an impossibly-blue sky, and
clouds straight from an artist’s
My Pops didn’t keep the fish he
caught to eat. We used to eat them
when we were younger on our trips
but in the last 15 to 20 years fishing
for Pops was more about the excitement
and reset that came with time
spent in the backcountry. I get to
the edge of the first lake and out of
habit look down for fish. In my
mind, I am suddenly standing in
this fishing spot, Pops is about 50
yards away, and both of us are casting
our bobber and fly. I know now
those days will only be a memory
and I am racked by a round of grief.
When it passes I take the time to
visibly drink in this spot on the
lake. There are granite shelves that
cascade down the basin and set the
blue lakes in a gray and tan frame,
which are then accented by dark
peaks. Add wispy clouds against the
deep-blue sky and this place looks
like it could have been created on a
computer for the next action and
adventure blockbuster. Overlay outstanding
trout fishing and I am surprised
Pops came here only once a
As I reach the second lake, I encounter
at least five different search
teams who are fanned out over the
area. The amount of manpower the
park service is now putting into this
search is immense. One can fully
appreciate the logistics of marshaling
large-scale resources on very
short notice. However, as much as
I appreciate it, it strikes me as a
shame that massive resources can
only be commanded when the cumulative
chance of survival is the
least. There have now been five
nights with temperatures near 15
degrees that Pops would have had
to survive for these searchers to
have a chance of finding him alive.
I run across the first scent-dog
search team. While encouraging to
see the four-legged helper and her
handler cover ground quickly, they
are quickly lost from view in the
vast landscape and I am unable to
introduce myself. I do run into a
group of eight searchers together
and take their picture. I thank each
and every one individually. I tell
them a little bit about Pops and how
he loved this area.
My objective for that night is to
reach Pops’ last known campsite
and I find it at about 3 p.m. It is located
on an amazing granite
“bench,” flat as a board, jutting out
and circled on three sides by a ribbon-like
Barrett Lake that is the
prettiest one I’ve seen. The water
on the west side is a vivid green and
reflects the snowfall and majestic
Knapsack Pass in the background.
I set my pack down, look around
for a while and envision Pops here.
Just one week ago he camped here
and that he could feel so near and
yet be so far away fills me with sadness.
My objective now is to honor
my father and a plan has hatched in
my mind. I’m going to build a simple
yet sturdy rock memorial away
from the campsites but easily seen
from them. The ledge that Pops
camped on could house up to a
dozen tents at one time but given
the difficulty in reaching the lake I
doubt more than one group ever
camps here at a time.
I also want to take a picture of
myself with a sign that says “Pops.”
After much trial and error I discover
that packing snow into the
shapes of letters is much easier and
more legible than using rocks. I take
a few pictures with my phone in
self-timer mode while it is precariously
wedged onto a nearby boulder.
I have a ton of people to reach
out to when I get home and I’ve already
worked out during my hike
what I want this picture to look like.
I will post it on Facebook before I
can reach people personally with
I take a good hour finding the perfect
spot for the memorial stones
and hoist a series of 40-pound
stones onto a little rock shelf overlooking
the camping area. After
considerable wrestling, I am able to
erect a small stone structure with a
Pops cont. on page 28
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Pops cont. from page 27
long triangular stone as a cap. I’m
happy with the work up close but
will not be satisfied until I see the
result from many vantage points
below. With my proclivity towards
perfectionism I will certainly have
many adjustments to make. However,
my first evaluation from afar
suggests that the stone memorial is
just right on the first try. And surprisingly
I am pleased with the result
from each of three vantages I
I have also decided during that
day’s hike that for at least the next
two years I will journey back here
during the summer to honor Pops’
life. If people or the elements have
disturbed the stone memorial my
companions and I will make needed
It is difficult to explain the power
of this simple man I call Pops. I
never heard him say a mean thing
about anybody or anything. The
closest he ever came to criticizing
someone was to marvel at how people
didn’t want to learn how to fix
things around the house. He was the
type of man that would immediately
help you with what you were
doing without being asked. I had
him help me with several home fixup
projects over the years and we
made a good team. I am slow to
start because I am constantly thinking
through the order in which a
project should proceed. Pops, on the
other hand, likes to jump right in
and often seems to be half done before
I lift a tool. His proclivity to
waste no time and mine to think
through potential roadblocks made
for many successful undertakings.
The weather at the middle Barrett
Lake is a bit warmer than my last
camp. I climbed to near 13,000 feet
to go over the pass and then
dropped back down to 11,150 feet.
Tonight will be another restful one.
However, after starting off warmer
the night quickly chills down to the
same 15 degrees of the previous
nights. I quickly put back on clothes
I shed inside my sleeping bag just an
Day 6: Sunday
This morning I start by taking a
couple more photos with Pops’
snow sign that I need to refresh
with new snow. As I take my last
shot my phone’s battery that I have
been nursing for the last five days finally
dies. There are new clouds in
the sky that suggest coming weather
unlike any I have seen this whole
trip. The promise of foul weather arriving
today will hold true.
I find a nice scramble path back
to Thunderbolt Pass and make it
there in about an hour and a half.
As I stand on the pass for the third
time, two different waves of sobbing
over take me as I look back down on
Pops’ beloved spot for the last time.
It’s so windy now that I don’t
bother wiping my eyes and simply
wait for the wind to dry them before
continuing on. However, I start up
too soon and immediately slip. Startled,
I quickly refocus because now
I have the most difficult part of the
hike in front of me.
I take the highest traverse line yet
between Thunderbolt Pass and
Bishop Pass. Now my fourth trek
between the two passes, I am completely
certain this is the route Pops
took. It’s not an easy scramble but
doable with hiking poles and one
doesn’t lose elevation just to gain it
back again. There are sweeping
views with every step and Pops always
loved vistas. However, as I encounter
the rock fall areas, this path
suddenly feels very ominous. Right
below massive peaks, a hiker would
have little time to react to rockslides.
I stumble a couple times on
the loose stones and think of how
easy it would be to fall here or be instantly
crushed by an avalanche of
boulders calved from these overhanging
There are at least 12 rescue
searchers within earshot as I work
my way between the two passes.
When I reach the end of the traverse,
I encounter a search team
leader who asks me to stick around
for a second. He wants to check in
with headquarters to see if they
need to speak to me. He makes contact
but they do not. They have no
leads or clues. This will be the final
punctuation mark on six days of
fruitless searching just an hour before
the search is officially called off
due to bad weather.
I have paid close attention to the
wisdom of my father during my life.
One of his most recent refrains was
that there was nothing that the ingenuity
of mankind couldn’t solve. He
repeated this during our last few
trips together and I had a tough time
arguing with him. When I was an
adolescent I remember being worried
about something as we played
a game of horse on our driveway
basketball court. He told me that the
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Group of rescue searchers, lower Barrett Lake, Saturday October 22, 2016.
only thing you should worry about is doing your best. When you know
you have done your best the rest is out of your control and silly to worry
about. That advice has stuck with me for 40 years now.
I make my way down the trail from Bishop Pass and I might as well be
flying. With the storm about to start my work here is done and it’s time to
get home to the comfort of my family. I have more purpose than I’ve had
in several days and decide to just wave to a group of searchers who call
out my name as I race past. They are waiting to be picked up by the first
Chinook helicopter of the day, which has been enlisted to shuttle searchers
en masse out of the backcountry ahead of the weather. I get 50 yards down
the trail before remembering my promise and take 10 minutes out of my
hike to backtrack and personally thank each of the eight waiting searchers.
One is at least as old as Pops. This is another wonderful group of kindred
spirits Pops would have loved.
I make it back to the trailhead to find two posters announcing the missing
hiker Robert “Bob” Woodie. It started snowing an hour ago and visibility
at South Lake has diminished to half of what is was when I set out with
Danny four days ago. It’s time for me to build a second stone memorial
here off the parking lot where Pops last parked. The wrestling match with
40-pound stones in the weather doesn’t go well and the memorial doesn’t
have any of the magic of the one up at the Lakes. But it may bring some
comfort for others struggling with the loss of this wonderful man. It is alternating
snow and rain now and I am alone in the parking lot before finally
leaving Pops for the six-hour drive home. I have a lot of phone calls
to make. However, I will keep my phone off for the first hour. I will dedicate
this time to remembering as many details as I can about Pops. I will
also reflect on how lucky I was to have shared this beautiful drive with
him so many times.
A memorial for Bob Woodie will be held January 14 at 2 p.m. at the Kiwanis
Center, 2515 Valley Dr., Hermosa Beach. In lieu of flowers, the family asks wellwishers
to consider a contribution made out to the Bob Woodie Memorial Endowment
for Inspiring Connections Outdoors and mailed to the Sierra Club
Foundation at 2101 Webster Street, Suite 1250 Oakland, Ca., 94612 or to PO
Box 696 Hermosa Beach Ca. 90254. Each year, this endowment will help fund
the Sierra Club’s efforts to connect children with the wilderness, a passion of
Bob’s throughout his life. For more information please visit
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 29
WOMAN’S CLUB OF HERMOSA BEACH
Serves up 25 years of pancakes
he Woman’s Club of Hermosa Beach celebrated its 25th anniversary
Pancake Breakfast on October 9. Civic leaders flipped pancakes,
grilled sausages and scrambled eggs while the Redondo
Union High Key Club served breakfast and helped children decorate
pumpkins. Assemblyman David Hadley made a presentation to the club
in honor of its 25 years of service to local charities.
PHOTOS BY ADRIENNE SLAUGHTER
1. RUHS Key Club members Ileen Rashidfarokhi
and Cindy Meyer.
2. Hermosa Beach City Councilmember
Carolyn Petty, Mayor Hany Fangary and
HBWC member Vicki Garcia.
3. Rick Koenig, Jackie and Mike Flaherty
and Lisa and John Shea.
4. Volunteers Pete Tucker, Catherine and
Randy Landis, Andrea Conrad and Janice
5. Assemblyman David Hadley with a
presentation for President Liane Wallace and
Parliamentarian Jackie Flaherty.
6. Front desk volunteers Merna Marshall,
Bunny Kirsch and Margie Depuis.
7. Melissa, Grayson and Janet Murillo, Liz
Ramirez and Liane Wallace.
8. Hermosa City Councilmember Stacey Armato,
JR Reviczky, Carol and Key Lawson,
Marilyn Shaw and Betty Easley.
9. Todd Thompson with daughter Poppy.
10. Kitchen helpers John Thomas, Penny
Friedrich and Neil Bosmajian.
11. Kristin Thomas, Robin Caceres, Julie
Oakes and RUHS student Gordon Lobins.
30 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 31
Jim, Lucy and Kathleen Keifer. Photo by Richard Foss
“Moms want games that are played by families and have a lot of eye contact. They want people sitting around the table…”
-- Game designer Kathleen Keifer
A FAMILY OF
by Richard Foss
32 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
In what appears to be a familiar
holiday tradition, a Manhattan
Beach family of three sits
around a board game in their comfortable
apartment, decorated with
paintings of California landscapes.
In this particular case, however,
quite a bit more is going on. Jim and
Kathleen Keifer and their daughter
Lucy designed the game they are
playing, including the artwork. As
they play, they explain what makes
some games enjoyable again and
again and others something that
comes out of the closet once.
“Monopoly is your classic board
game, but it’s not a great game,”
says Jim, who designed games for
Milton Bradley and Mattel before
going independent. “It takes a long
time and the player interaction is
minimal. There are far better games
than Monopoly for a family, but
people are born knowing how to
play it. You just know how to do it.”
“You’re a bad parent unless at
some time you get your kid a set of
Monopoly, even if nobody ever
plays it,” Lucy observes. “What is
most interesting is that nobody ever
reads the directions, so that there
are lots of house rules. The Free
Parking rule, the idea that you can
buy or trade properties with other
players – those aren’t in the official
Though the Keifers don’t express
much fondness for Monopoly, they
admit it has penetrated into our culture.
“If you say “Go to jail and do
not collect $200,” everybody knows
what you mean.”
A different game helped Jim meet
his wife Kathleen at the University
The Keifers’ “Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty’s Web” cover art was designed
by daughter Emily Keifer.
of Notre Dame, where she was
studying fine art and he was studying
industrial design. Both were big
tennis fans, they played a match on
their first date. After spending time
designing shopping carts and popcorn
poppers, Jim scored a summer
internship with Mattel designing
toys based on “He-Man, Master of
the Universe.” As he explains it, his
personal passions colored his suggestions.
“I came to just about every
weekly meeting with ideas for
games. They told me, Mattel
doesn’t make games, sorry. I left
there to work for Milton Bradley, a
game manufacturer. When I returned
to Mattel it was to head their
new game design department.”
Jim had a string of hits, developing
popular games like Uno, Rotten
Apples, Bananagrams, Thunder
Road and all the Harry Potter
While he rose through the ranks
at Milton Bradley and Mattel, Kathleen
created art for advertising
agencies and then for the toy industry.
After a few years in the Midwest,
and by now with three
daughters, they moved first to Malibu
and then to Manhattan Beach.
Here Kathleen developed her distinctive
style of California landscapes.
Their defining element is
her fascination with the color and
character of light.
“I like painting real places, in a
real moment in time. Sometimes I
say, here’s a lifeguard tower, and
here it is at a different times of day.
I often go to look at something in
morning light, in afternoon light,
let’s see what happens when there’s
a marine layer… There is something
mysterious and beautiful about the
Family Games cont. on page 34
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December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 33
Family Games cont. from page 33
light when we have Santa Anas. It’s
very hard to capture the quality of
that light with a camera. It’s something
I experience in person and try
to capture. I believe that there aren’t
any ordinary moments. Bringing attention
to a real moment in time is
what I want to do in my art.
“A lot of my art is serendipitous.
One time I walked past the alley by
Fonz’s and the light was perfect –
two chefs were having cigarettes in
the alley. Everything was backlit in
the golden hour, telephone wires in
the background. You normally
wouldn’t paint an alley, but it was
Kathleen’s contribution to the
family game design business isn’t
what you might expect from her
paintings. Rather than suggest subtle
details that might enhance the
look, she is often in at the start.
“I participate in the game invention
process as a high concept person,
because what the
manufacturers want is a game with
an interesting package. Recently we
were tossing around ideas and I
said, goldfish bowl. They said, okay,
probably pre-school if we do that,
but we need a great name. I said
“fish and chips,” and they immediately
started designing the game.
The pieces are contained in a goldfish
bowl and moms like that.”
“Hundreds of millions of dollars
are spent on games, largely spent by
moms. Moms want games that are
played by families and have a lot of
eye contact. They want people sitting
around the table looking at each
That qualifies as one of those
things you hear and immediately
know is true. The best games engage
the intellect and creativity of
the players and give them the opportunity
to interact on a basis that may
be competitive, but not cutthroat.
That description would be perfect
for a game invented by Lucy, a Mira
Costa alumnus, who combined her
lifelong interest in games with a passion
for literature. Lucy has been
published in the “Baker Street Journal,”
an academic publication for
fans of Sherlock Holmes and has
also created “Sherlock Holmes and
Moriarty’s Web”, a game named
after the great detective’s nemesis.
Lucy says it bypasses the problems
with all the previous games based
on The Canon.
“The problem with the existing
Holmes games is that you can really
only play them once. It’s all about
playing through a story, so it’s a deductive
logic puzzle and once you
have learned the strategy to solve it,
it’s not fun any more. That’s a lot of
people’s association with Holmes,
and it’s kind of cold. But that’s not
my impression at all. It’s Victorian.
Look at how weird and funny these
stories area. We’ve got all these
crazy Americans with gold mines
conning Englishmen, you have Inspector
Lestrade showing up because
someone is destroying busts
of Napoleon. Things happen for
weird reasons, and there are all
these strange connections.”
So how do you make a game
about a detective that doesn’t involve
solving just one crime? And
while you’re at it, how about having
it not be so competitive that players
finish it not liking each other?
“The game is for three to six players.
Every person plays one of the
characters from Sherlock Holmes,
and you have powers based on that
character’s personality. You don’t
have to know all of them – all you
really need to know is that Sherlock
Holmes was a detective in Victorian
England, Moriarty was organized
crime before that was a thing, and
that is it. It’s played on a regular
table using tiles. Moriarty is in the
middle, the unsolved crimes in London
are on the outside, and you
have to build a case, and it ends up
looking like a web. Your job is to
connect Moriarty to the crimes, and
Moriarty, who you are playing
against, is messing up your case. He
is stealing evidence and kidnapping
witnesses, so you keep having to rearrange
The intricate art on the tiles is as
stylish and professional as anything
put out by major companies. The
cover art by Lucy’s sister Emily
shows the great detective with his
trademark deerstalker and pipe.
(You might have guessed that her
two sisters both studied art. Claire,
the youngest sister, is responsible
for social media and marketing.)
Moriarty’s Web has been tested at
The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach
and at gaming conventions. A Kickstarter
campaign raised over
$25,000 to produce the game.
Lucy’s optimism is based on the
long view of the Holmes phenomenon.
“We may not win over diehard
Sherlock Holmes purists. It has
Sweeney Todd and Jack The Ripper
jokes and it’s not meant to be pure.
But we hope to win gamers over to
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34 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
eading the books and learning
about the original work. Sherlock
Holmes is one of the very few franchises
that has been popular for a
long period of time and been interpreted
in so many different media.
There was a Sherlock Holmes
movie back in the silent era – it
was lost for ages, but some buddies
of mine were able to reconstruct
one scene from bits and pieces.
There have been plays, radio dramas,
TV, and now games. Each
generation has its own take on
Sherlock Holmes. There have been
Japanese and Chinese Sherlock
Holmeses and even a Soviet-era
Russian Sherlock Holmes TV
show. It’s really hard to get a hold
of, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic. The
only character since Holmes to
capture the imagination that way is
Lucy is currently involved in
manufacturing and licensing the
game. She laughed when asked
what her next project may be. She
has an outline for “an awesome
fantasy novel,” and other projects
beckon. Given her houseful, she’ll
have no shortage of inspiration.
nor of collaborative help any time
she asks for it. B
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 35
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36 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
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December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 37
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38 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
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December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 39
Zane’s Kathy Doel with Elisa and Kathy’s Vanilla Cider. Photo by Brad Jacobson
Drinks that go well with mistletoe
If you mention the flavors of Christmas, the images that
come to mind depend on one’s cultural heritage. Italians
might think of roasted eel and the other components of the
Feast of Seven Fishes, Croatians and Hungarians of poppy seed
cake, Mexicans of freshly fried anise-scented doughnuts called
buñuelos. There are traditional drinks of Christmas around the
world too: Germans enjoy Glühwein, hot red wine with lemon
and spices; Argentines a mix of sparkling wine, pineapple juice,
and lemon that is famous for exacting revenge the next day.
American Christmas cocktails are often based on eggnog, a
Colonial American mix of cream, eggs, and rum or whiskey, or
the citrusy, heavily alcoholic punches that were the centerpiece
at Charles Dickens’s table. Hot spiced wine (or more rarely, ale)
also occasionally makes an appearance. All of those drinks are
very good when well-made, but most people enjoy them mainly
for their antique novelty. They’re out of tune with modern ideas
about flavor and are often overly sweet.
Fortunately modern mixologists have ideas about how to reflect
the traditions of the season, and the experts at three local
restaurants were willing to share not only their recipes, but the
inspiration behind them.
Holiday Drinks cont. on page 43
New England cider goes Caribbean
Kathy Doel, who was voted Best Bartender by our readers this year, collaborated
with Zane’s co-owner Elisa Koss to create Zane’s Vanilla Cider. The two
of them invented several drinks that will be served this season, but Koss says
that she decided to share this one because it is closest to her heart.
“I picked this one out of all the ones we created because for me the holiday brings
to mind flavors of warm apple cider, of vanilla, of baking,” Koss said. “It tastes like
a soulful, drinkable dessert, and when you top it with the nutmeg and cinnamon
stick, it’s delicious.”
Koss cautioned that you must be exact about the most important element of the
“You need to use unfiltered apple cider, because it really changes the consistency
of the drink. It gives it a more earthy taste, instead of the crispness of apple juice.”
Elisa and Kathy’s Vanilla Cider
1 oz Vanilla vodka
1 oz Captain Morgan spiced rum
1/2 oz Triple sec
2 oz Unfiltered apple cider
by Richard Foss
Shake and strain into a martini
glass. Garnish with a cinnamon
stick and a dash of nutmeg.
40 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
Rock’n Fish bartender Leo Villalobos and his new holiday creation, Noggin On Heaven’s Door. Photo by Brad Jacobson
Leo Villalobos, who has been bartending at Rock’n
Fish for three years, is always experimenting with
flavors and combinations.
“Sometimes I’m on my way to work and I’ll stop at the
market to see what fresh fruits came in, what’s different
and new. I bring in whatever I find and play around with
it for a few days.”
Villalobos wasn’t trying to make a Christmas drink
when he invented “Noggin On Heaven’s Door.” One day
early this spring he was experimenting with falernum, a
fruity Caribbean syrup with subtle flavors of almond, ginger,
and cloves. This is often used in tropical drinks, but
Villalobos wanted to see what other effects he could get
“I didn’t have a specific goal, but I was thinking about
the clove flavor that is in falernum,” he said. “I knew as
soon as I tasted it with cinnamon and nutmeg that it was
a holiday drink rather than a spring or summer drink.”
The drink he named “Noggin On Heaven’s Door” gets
the essence of a good eggnog without any milk or cream
and is much lighter and more complex. The fruity flavors
in the falernum are important — you can find it at any
good liquor store.
Leo’s Noggin On Heaven’s Door
Dry shake 1 egg white vigorously then add:
1 1/2 oz Makers Mark bourbon
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1/2 oz Simple syrup
1/2 oz Lime
7 dashes Cinnamon powder
Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice, then strain into a bucket glass over large ice cube.
Finish with 3 dashes nutmeg, garnish with cinnamon stick.
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 41
The 24th Annual Beach Cities Toy Drive holds its wrapping party on Saturday,
December 17 at the Manhattan Beach Joslyn Center, 1601 North Valley
Drive. For more information call Sam Edgerton at (310) 937-2066 or
Richard Montgomery at (310) 780-3577.
Calendar cont. from page 8
Wednesday, December 14
Santa tours Hermosa
Hermosa police and fire escort Santa
through Hermosa Beach, east of Pacific
Coast Highway. Santa and his public
safety elves start at 6 p.m. at Sixth and
Hollowell Streets, and work their way
north to Golden Avenue.
Saturday, December 17
Toy wrapping party
The 24th Annual Beach Cities Toy
Drive holds its wrapping party at the
Manhattan Beach Joslyn Center, 1601
North Valley Drive, from 11 a.m. ‘til
the gifts are all wrapped. Toys may be
dropped off at the Hermosa Beach and
Manhattan Beach fire stations and
Bank of America, 1419 Highland Avenue.
For more information call Sam
Edgerton at (310) 937-2066 or Richard
Montgomery at (310) 780-3577.
Frosty the Snowman, and Olaf (yes,
a real snowmen, not a sandman) plus
sledding, arts and crafts on the Beach
at the Dockweiler Youth Center. 12505
Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey. For more
information call (310) 726-4128.
Holiday book sale
The Hermosa Beach Friends of the
library brings out its collection of gift
books, including dictionaries, large format
art and photography books, travel
guides, cookbooks, gardening guides,
do-it-yourself manuals 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
1309 Bard Street, Hermosa Beach.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday
Journey of Faith Church brings its
popular “A Christmas Journey” miracle
musical back to the Redondo Beach
Performing Arts Center. Tickets available
at the door one hour before show
time. Saturday & Sunday: 4 and 7 p.m.;
Monday 7 p.m. 1935 Manhattan Beach
Blvd., Redondo Beach. For more information,
Sunday, December 18
Hanukkah at The Point
Congregation Tikvat Jacob Beth
Torah hosts a Hanukkah celebration at
The Point in El Segundo from 3 to 4
p.m. with activities for the whole family.
Rosecrans and Sepulveda boulevards,
Chanukah in Hermosa
Chanukah Celebration at Hermosa
Beach Pier. Music, entertainment for
the whole family, and giant menorah
lighting. Begins at 3 p.m. Event information
can be found online at:
www.jccmb.com, (310)214.4999 or
Thursday, December 22
Celebrate the beginning of winter
break by watching “How the Grinch
Stole Christmas” and a visit from
Santa. 6 p.m. Tickets $2, $5. Hermosa
Community Center, 710 Pier Ave. hermosabch.org
for tickets and more info.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday
December 22, 23, 24
“The Nutcracker” in
The Los Angeles Ballet presents
“The Nutcracker” at the Redondo
Beach Performing Art Center. 7:30
p.m. Thursday and Friday. 11 a.m. and
3 p.m. Saturday. 1935 Manhattan
Beach Blvd. For more information visit
LosAngelesBallet.org or call (310) 998-
Saturday, December 31
New Year’s Eve at the
Lou Giovannetti and his Big Band
perform from 8 p.m. ‘til midnight at
the foot of the Hermosa Beach Pier.
Beach Ball drops for East Coasters at 9
p.m. and for Californians at midnight.
42 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
Demi’s “On Blitzen”
2 cups Orange wheels, halved
3 Vanilla beans split and scraped
4-5 Cinnamon sticks
1/2 c Agave nectar
1 1/2 liters Bourbon
125 ml Citronge (orange liqueur)
Place ingredients in order above in large container,
stir to mix, and refrigerate for 2 days. To
serve, shake 3.5 ounces of mixture in a shaker
with ice, then strain into a cinnamon and sugar
rimmed martini glass. Garnish with an orange
wheel from mixture. Sit on Santa's lap and enjoy.
Hey 19 owner Demi Stevens, a mixologist in her own right, turned a German cookie into a holiday
drink, called “On Blitzen.” Photo by Brad Jacobson
Cookie in a Glass
Demi Stevens recreated a specific seasonal
flavor from her childhood for the
drink that is being served at her restaurant
“I lived in Germany as a kid, and at every
Christmas we had Pfeffernusse, those orangeflavored
Christmas cookies with powdered
sugar on them. There’s some orange rind in
them, the tart orange rather than the super
sweet one,” Stevens said. “I like those cookies,
and I have my mother’s handwritten recipe for
them at home. It might even be my grandmother’s
recipe, but it’s in my mother’s handwriting.
When I think of Christmas, that’s the
flavor that comes to mind. I created this recipe
for a group because I figure you’ll have a lot of
people at the house.”
“You can serve this as a cocktail as it is, or add
orange juice and make it a nice punch. It will
keep for two months in the fridge, but you
won’t have it that long. It’s tasty and you’ll run
Stevens cautioned that when making this or
any other citrus punch you should use a nonmetallic
bowl or pitcher. Citronge is an orange
liqueur that is similar to Cointreau but with a
distinctive agave flavor, and is widely available.
Holiday Drinks cont. from page 40
These recipes can all be created by a home bartender,
and are sure to enliven holiday gatherings.
You can practice at home, and then visit any of
these establishments to compare your execution
with that of the people who invented the drinks.
It’s your choice — make them at home if you want
to extend your skills and don’t mind a little
cleanup, or take your favorite designated driver or
hired car to sample the work of the pros. Happy
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 43
BIRDWELL ON HIGHLAND
Birdwell Beach Britches president Geoff Clawson and store manager Bree Valbuena at the Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach store. Photo by Brad Jacobson
New owners promise to protect Birdwell Beach Britches’ half century legacy
by Ed Solt
In 2014, Manhattan Beach residents Geoff
Clawson and Matt Jacobson and Santa Monica
artist and Skateboard Hall of Famer Natas
Kaupas bought Birdwell Beach Britches. Clawson
previously worked in marketing at Instagram and
Facebook. Jacobson previously worked in marketing
at Quiksilver and now is head of marketing
development at Facebook.
Carrie Birdwell Mann began making the twoply
nylon Birdwell boardshorts in her Santa Ana
garage in 1961. Over the ensuing decades, while
more prominent surf apparel companies moved
manufacturing overseas and collapsed under
their own weight, Birdwell stuck to its motto --
“Quality is our Gimmick.” Birdwell kept its manufacturing
in Santa Ana, its finances in order and
its focus on surfer boardshorts
The loose fitting, nylon construction was
durable and dried quickly. Newport lifeguards
were among Birdwell’s first customers.
“Birdie,” the goofy, duck-footed, trunk wearing
surfboard patch sewn on the back of the waistband
became an iconic symbol among core
Birdwell’s new South Bay owners hope to build
44 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
sales, and expand its line while respecting its
“At our factory in Santa Ana, we still have
many of the seamstresses hired in the ‘60s.
Rather than outsourcing, we still cut and sew
every pair of boardshorts by hand,” said Clawson,
Birdwell’s new president.
“Our boardshorts, competition jackets and tote
and gear bags are made out of our the same fastdrying
and durable fabric used to make the iconic
310s since the 1960s,” he said.
“Birdwell was one of the first boardshort makers
to advertise in John Severson’s Surfer Magazine
and used the same mail-order ad for decades.
We are the longest ongoing advertiser in the magazine’s
history,” he said.
Photos of the early Birdwell surfers are framed
on the walls of Birdwell’s Beach Britches first and
only retail location, in Manhattan Beach.
Birdwell opened the store last year, on Highland
Avenue, two blocks up from the beach and
across the street from Uncle Bill’s Pancake
House. Its front door has an unobstructed view
of the surf at 13th Street.
“Surfers come by just to show us their ‘70s
Birdwells. They visit the store right after landing
at LAX. Buying Birdwells is literally the first
thing they want to do upon arriving in LA,” Clawson
“We chose Manhattan Beach not just because
we live and surf here. The store’s location pays
homage to Manhattan Beach’s importance in
Southern California surf history. Dale Velzy
opened the world’s first surf shop up the street
from the Manhattan Beach Pier in 1950.”
The local store has resurrected interest in its
shorts among prominent local watermen and
women, including Tyler Hatzikian of Tyler Surfboards
in El Segundo, Hermosa Beach Surfer
Walk of Fame member Derek Levy, competitive
paddleboarders Jay Russell and Scott Rusher and
a crew of young rippers, including Mira Costa’s
Kyra Williams, winner of the South Bay Scholastic
Surfing Association Allstars Rookie of the Year.
Clawson re-introduced the company’s 1960’s
competition jackets locally, with a one-off green
and gold model for the Mira Costa Surf team.
He’s also expanded the Birdwell line with CPO
(Chief Petty Officer) shirts in wool and cotton,
cotton beach towels, a wool sportsman jacket,
Birdwell cont. on page 46
Tyler Hatzikian puts his Birdwell 311s to
the stress test. Photo by Brent Broza
Tyler Hatzikian in his 1960 El Camino shop truck
and Birdwell navy blue CPO wool shirt.
Photo by Brent Broza (Brozaphoto.com)
Kris Hall in his favorite position, wearing his favorite black Birdwell 310s at the Hermosa pier. Photo by Brent Broza
Birdwell cont. from page 44
and canvas walking shorts with a
nylon reinforced seat.
The new product line continues
the tradition of domestic sourcing
and manufacturing. The wool flannel
is supplied by Black & Sons, a
fourth generation family-owned
business that has operated out of
the same LA Garment District
building for 94 years.
To manufacturer the sportsman
jacket, Clawson said, “We went to
Woolrich Woolen Mills, the oldest
continuously operating vertical
woolen mill in America. It got its
start in 1830, outfitting lumberjacks.”
“We believe that inspiring people
to buy less stuff, by buying better
stuff is a noble pursuit,” Clawson
The Mira Costa High School surf team sports a retro makeover in Birdwell’s ‘60s era competition jackets.
Photo by Brent Broza
46 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • De cember 8, 2016
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December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 47
CBVA hall of famers
CBVA Hall of Fame attendees included (left to right) Tom Chamales, Brent Frohoff, Eric Fonoimoana, Dain Blanton, Patty Dodd, Randy Stoklos, Nancy Cohen
Fredant, Sharkie Zartman, Mike Dodd, Denny Smith, John Featherstone, Tim Hovland, Gene Popko, Mike Cook, Fred Zuelich, Kevin Cleary (kneeling), Jim Menges,
Dennis Hare, George Stepanof, Sinjin Smith and (reclining) Steve Obradovich. Photos by Kevin Cody
Olympians Blanton, Youngs and Coach Feather, Zuelich inducted
by Randy Angel
The passion for beach volleyball filled the
500-seat Hermosa Community Theatre
during the 6th Annual Beach Volleyball
Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Friday, November
“Lake Show” host and former AVP announcer
Chris “Geeter” McGee fired up the crowd and
Master of Ceremonies Jim Arico oversaw the inductions
of Class of 2016 members Dain Blanton,
Elaine Youngs, Fred Zuelich and John
“The inductees and presenters gave speeches
that were poignant, reflective, thankful and
mixed in with some lighthearted humor for
plenty of laughs,” said Kevin Cleary, CBVA Hall
of Fame Committee Member. “The event was a
real team effort and made all the hard work
worth it, but more importantly it was a great
night for beach volleyball.”
Presenters includes Steve Obradovich, Dennis
Hare, Jim Arico, Steve Vernovage, Calvin Gillory, Holly McPeak and Nicole
George Stepanof, who began running beach tournaments in San Diego
in 1949 was presented the Ron von Hagen Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dain Blanton was recognized for his contributions to beach volleyball,
on and off the court. Blanton became the first African-American player to
win a professional beach volleyball tournament when he won the AVP Hermosa
Beach Grand Slam title in 1997 with partner Canyon Ceman. But his
48 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
Coach “Feather” with Calvin Gillory, who played and
coached football for Featherstone at El Camino College.
The two also played beach volleyball together.
greatest accomplishment was winning the gold
medal with partner Eric Fonoimoana at the
2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
In 2004 Blanton earned a spot in the Athens
Olympics becoming the first two-time U.S.
male Beach Volleyball Olympian.
“Being a member of the Hall of Fame is really
a great honor,” Blanton said. “To be recognized
for something that you have committed so
much time and energy towards and something
that you are so passionate about is special. It is
extremely exciting and humbling at the same
Blanton grew up in Laguna Beach and has
resided in Santa Monica since playing for Pepperdine
University from 1990-94.
“Attaining my AAA rating as a 16-year-old
was also a highlight in my career,” Blanton
said. “I learned the game at Main Beach in Laguna
Beach and enjoyed being with my fellow
volleyball players, family and friends at the induction
Elaine Youngs, a four-year starter for UCLA’s indoor team, began her
beach volleyball career in 1997. In 2009, she became the first American
woman to surpass $1 million in career domestic earnings while winning a
domestic title for the 11th consecutive year, eclipsing the previous record
of 10 consecutive titles set by Janice Harrer.
Youngs is one of eight players to win a Manhattan Beach Open title with
three different partners and was a bronze-medalist at the 2004 Athens
Olympics with partner Holly McPeak. Youngs teamed with Nicole Branagh
Dennis Hare (seated) recalls winning the 1974
Indoor World Championship in San Diego with
2016 inductee Fred Zuelich (right). George
Stepanof (left) received the Ron von Hagen Lifetime
to place fifth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Hermosa Beach resident Fred Zuelich grew up
in El Segundo playing basketball, tennis, track,
baseball, surfing and volleyball. He was offered
a junior pro bowlers contract when he was in the
Zuelich won six beach volleyball tournament
titles, including the Manhattan Beach Open in
1973 with Bob Jackson. He also had three thirdplace
finishes at the Manhattan Beach Open and
has won the Manhattan Beach 6-man tournament
“I haven’t really thought much about my volleyball
career for years, but I’m glad to make it
into the Hall of Fame after all these years,”
Zuelich said. “It’s an honor to be included with
so many great players.”
Zuelich played in his first pro tournament in
1970, an event he’ll always cherish.
“I was only a AA player who moved south to
attend college at San Diego State and entered the
San Diego Open,” Zuelich recalled. “In my opinion,
Ron von Hagen was the best volleyball
player of all time, Karch Kiraly was probably a
better athlete, but Von Hagen was the epitome of
volleyball with class, integrity and honesty.
“Because of unforeseen circumstances, both
Sydney 2000 Olympic Gold medalists
Eric Fonoimoana and Dain Blanton.
Von Hagen and myself were without partners.
George Stepanof suggested I talk with Von Hagen
about playing with him. Ron agreed to play with
me but said that if my partner showed up, I
should play with him. That was a display of his
integrity. We finished in third place, earning me
my AAA rating.
“Looking back, I learned more in that tournament
than at any other time in my career. I
learned how the best player thought about the
game, how to focus on siding out. It was an experience
that changed my career.”
Zuelich recalled playing in the San Diego Sports
Arena when 100 tons of sand was hauled in from
a river bed.
Zuelich, who has been a real estate professional
for 36 years and ran a volleyball school for 12
years, wants to be remembered for his contributions
to the game as much as for his playing career.
“I went to Australia in 1979-80 to teach beach
volleyball and help promote physical fitness,”
Zuelich said. “Surfing was the only real sport and
not everyone was interested or had access to surfing.
The feeling that I helped change so many
lives is very rewarding.”
In 1980, Matt Gage joined Zuelich on his trip
CBVA president Chris Brown.
down under and the duo played in Australia’s
first ever pro beach volleyball tournament.
Manhattan Beach native John Featherstone
made his name as one of the top junior college
football coaches in the nation. He was the head
coach at El Camino College for 31 years, but his
love of beach volleyball never wavered. He was
an official on the AVP tour and has run a beach
volleyball camp for 22 years.
Also recognized was legendary team of Mike
Dodd and Tim Hovland, the lone inductees to the
Hall of Fame in 2000. The duo played in 177 domestic
tournaments together, winning 53 titles including
the Manhattan Beach Open five times.
“There were a lot of memorable moments on
and off the court and a few finals always stick
out,” Hovland said. “All five Manhattan Beach
Open wins, the four world championships and,
of course, the comeback at Phoenix when we
were down 6-1 and had to roll off six points in a
row to beat Karch (Kiraly) and Kent (Steffes) 7-6.
That was a very special win.”
Hovland feels trusting Dodd, knowing that the
duo would be in every tournament to win it, and
the practice time spent at Marine Street were the
Tim Hovland and Mike Dodd, who said Hovland
taught him how to fight “on the court.”
keys to the team’s success.
“This sport was a big part of our lives and we
love to see it growing,” Hovland added. “The Hall
of Fame is the cherry on top for all who play this
game at a high level.”
Also honored were the winners of this year’s
CBVA Cal Cup. They included Men’s and
Women’s champions Jorge Martinez and Dalida
Vernier (AAA), Griffin Conway and Jenn Henderson
(AA), Seth Tuton and Morgan Kendrick (A)
and Kristofer Lena and Kaili Kimura (B).
Olympians April Ross and Sean Rosenthal were
on hand to present awards to the CBVA Youth Cal
Capturing boys titles were the teams of Will
Bantle (Pacific Palisades)/Rob Mullahey (Manhattan
Beach) in the 18U division, Jevan Coronado
(West Covina)/Luke Grafton (Hermosa Beach) in
the 16U, Miles Partain (Pacific Palisades)/Luke
Turner (Hermosa Beach) in the 14U and Manhattan
Beach duo of Mick Bakos/Ryan Sprague in the
Girls winning Youth Cal Cup titles were Chanti
Holroyd (Mountain View)/Madilyn Yeomans (San
Diego) in the 18U, Kyla Doig (Redondo
Beach)/Jaden Whitmarsh (Rancho Santa Fe) in the
16U, Makenna Gaeta (Santa Monica)/Kate Reilly
(Manhattan Beach) in the 14U and Kelly Belardi
(Manhattan Beach)/Savannah Standage (Redondo
Beach) in the 12U. B
Volleyball Hall of Famers Steve Obradovich and
December 8, 2016 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 49
by Ryan McDonald
A Nazi flag captured by Myron Halpern and members of the 75th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army, and signed by its soldiers. Photos by Miriam Lomaskin
Inset: Jason Halpern with Teresa Pollin, curator of arts and artifacts at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.
Hermosa Beach’s Jason Halpern honors the memory of his father with a donation to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
There is something about war and embroidery. The Bayeux Tapestry
is a priceless artifact that uses more than 200 feet of cloth to tell the
story of the Norman Conquest of England. The Civil War spurred the
development of the modern sewing machine with the demand for Union
uniforms. And when Myron Halpern returned home from World War II,
with him came a piece of history written in stitches.
Halpern was a member of the 75th Infantry Division of the United States
Army. He was deployed in Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge,
considered the largest and bloodiest battle of the war. And at some point in
the conflagration, he and his unit captured a band of German soldiers, and
with them a Nazi swastika flag that had flown in Germany and Belgium.
Halpern, whose wife’s father had been a tailor to Wall Street bankers, discovered
that one of the captured soldiers was a tailor in civilian life. And
so the unit got the German soldier to sew a “75” into the middle of the flag,
and all the members the unit signed their names. The soldiers had taken a
symbol of hate and evil, and reclaimed it as an emblem of victory.
Today, the flag is in in the collection of the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington D.C. It will eventually come to rest at the
David and Sela Shapell Family Collections and Conservation Center, a stateof-the-art
facility now under construction in Bowie, Maryland. But until
August of this year, it sat, wrapped up in a lens cap, in a Hermosa Beach
Myron’s son Jason Halpern had kept the flag after receiving it from his
father, who died in 1966. The details of exactly how his father came to possess
the flag are sketchy. (“I don’t care what war you are talking about, vets
50 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016
are going to be very, very hesitant as to what they reveal. I never got the
facts as to how that soldier was in fact captured,” Halpern said.) In the 50
years since his father’s death, the younger Halpern estimates he took the
flag out fewer than a dozen times, with half of those instances coming
within the last five years as he attempted to find a home for the heirloom.
Spend a bit of time with Halpern, a Hermosa resident, and his passion
for history becomes clear. He readily reaches for military terms like “ordnance.”
He weaves old War Department regulations into touching family
anecdotes. And like his father, he is Jewish. But he is loathe to lodge his father
or the contribution of the flag in the massive context of the greatest
tragedy of the 20th century. For him, the donation was an effort to preserve
a memory that is no less valuable for being personal and particular.
“The bigger message is obviously going to be there: the knowledge that
World War II was real,” Halpern said. “But all I can do is give you the platitudes
of what the general public might be able to get out of it. This was
first and foremost about honoring my father and his legacy, that his heirs
for generations to come will be able to see this stuff.”
In an attic no more
Surprisingly, there are many people who want to donate Nazi flags to an
institution dedicated to combatting the very thing for which the regime
stood. Teresa Pollin, curator of arts and artifacts at the Holocaust museum,
said that soldiers serving in Europe often took them as symbols of victory,
and that their children or grandchildren will find them, years later, stuffed
in a sock drawer.
Most are not accepted. Part of the
problem, she said, would be in tactfully
displaying a large number of
the hateful symbols. (There is currently
one swastika flag on permanent
exhibition in Washington,
D.C.) But the difficulty is primarily
a matter of limited space. Often
times, she will direct potential
donors elsewhere, such as the National
World War II Museum in
However, when Halpern called,
Pollin sensed that this flag was “different.”
The presence of the signatures
of each of the men, and
Myron Halpern’s Jewish heritage,
indicated a special historical worth.
“Jewish-American soldiers had a
double motivation. It was very important
for them to go and fight,”
Pollin said, noting that Halpern was
unusual in that he was 26 years old
when he went to war. “Myron was
older than other soldiers, and he
Steven Klappholz, western regional
director for the Holocaust
Museum, said that acquiring these
kinds of materials is part of the ongoing
effort to preserve evidence of
the Holocaust, a task which has
taken on growing importance as
more of the people who lived
through the period die. Although
the museum’s traditional focus is
on victims and survivors, part of
what made Halpern’s flag so noteworthy,
he said, was that that shed
light on “the liberators.”
Halpern brought the flag to Washington,
D.C. in August. The museum
put on a small ceremony,
during which Halpern displayed the
flag and other associated relics, including
letters sent between the
front and home. During the ceremony,
Halpern had a moment to
hold up the flag, displaying the side
with the “75” patch and all the signatures
away from him, so that it
could be photographed. And
though the flag had been in his possession
for 50 years, it was his first
opportunity to look at it from the
back, and see it for something other
than the family treasure it had become.
“For the first time, I’m looking at
what we all came to hate — there
are no names on the other side. I’m
looking at the other side of a Nazi
flag: the thing that our guys saw
when they were getting killed,”
Halpen had a relatively short
time with his father. He was born
while Myron, or Moe as everyone
knew him, was away at war, and
did not meet him until he was 16
months old. And his father died
young, at 48, leaving the world
when Halpern was just 21. But it
was enough time for thousands of
tiny gestures and quiet sacrifices, as
when his father refused to work on
Yom Kippur, knowing it would
mean losing a job in a recession.
And it was more than enough time
to become Halpern’s hero. It is
Halpern’s hope that future generations
of his family will be able to
see a physical record of his father’s
life and times, and get a sense of the
man he was.
He got a glimpse of the power of
this memory when his nephew
Mark came to the August ceremony.
Mark, who never met Moe,
was looking at some of the donated
photos, when Halpern turned and
saw a look of joy on his face.
“My father’s grandson, who
never met my father, is now getting
a picture of who his granddad was.
That is the dividend,” Halpern said.
In the future, select relatives of
Halpern may have access to the donated
items, but the facility where
the flag will ultimately be housed
will not be open to the general public,
Klappholz said. Although most
of its contents will be digitized and
available over the Internet, the materials
themselves are fragile, and
will be available primarily to scholars
and educators. Klappholz compared
it to the “rare book room” of
a library, and said such restrictions
are necessary to fulfill the museum’s
“We have to preserve history and
maintain it, so that future generations
will have the ability to see the
primary sources,” he said. “It is the
sacred duty of the museum to ensure
that the memory of the Holocaust
lives on forever.”
It can be difficult to square this
lofty goal with the intimate value
that Halpern attaches to the flag.
But believing that history is controlled
by the curators is just as cynical
as presuming that it is written
by the winners. Though the museum
is tasked with managing the
memory of a continent-wide catastrophe,
preserving the personal
story of each contribution remains
of the highest importance.
“We meet many survivors who do
not even have a grave for their parents
or sibling. They treat the museum
as a cemetery. They know
that we will take care of their most
precious mementos forever,” Pollin
Documents from Myron Halpern’s service, including a V-gram, Honorable
Discharge papers, and a photo of him just before he left for Europe.
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52 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • December 8, 2016