Reflections from
MIRA COSTA ALUMNI -- Classes of the 60s

Well, we were just 17
You know what I mean
And, the way we lived
Was way beyond and rare

But, I wouldn't be any other
When we stood together there.
Paraphrased from a Beatles song that was popular circa 1964

This summer's 50th anniversary celebration/all-class reunion at Mira Costa touched so many of us alumni.  That event made us realize how important it is to stay connected to those folks that we shared so much with during our high school years.

Some of us embraced and became maybe a little caught up in reunion mania or maybe true to our South Bay roots, we just want to somehow continue the party.  No matter the reason, my great friend and former La Vista cohort Bob Cornner and I sent around an e mail soliciting reflections of the past from our classmates asking just how those past visions have come to pass.  The "call for submissions" read:

    In your best (or worst) stream of consciousness style write a reflection of your
    recollection of your high school dreams.   When you were 17 what did you think
    life would be like at age 30, at 40 and if you could project at 17 to what life would
    be like now in your 50s.  And, how does your 50-something reality match those
    17 year-old dreams?   In other words, tell us what you're up to now via your high
    school fantasies about adulthood.

Our dreams at 17 . . . wasn't all of life a dream at that age?  We were all so young and fresh and na´ve, who knew what course our lives would take. 

But, I offered a prompt through an example:

    For example, at age 17 when I was a senior and news editor for LaVista, I really
    thought I would grow up to be a famous writer living in some exotic place with
    a really hunky husband who would support my literary habits.  OK, so life today
    doesn't exactly match it, but life today ain't so bad . . .

I did wonder through this process if the idea was kind of corny, too folksy, or if some would feel uncomfortable with the subject matter.  Oh well, I'm still feeling excited about all the fun we had and all the energy we all collectively generated on that weekend in July.  The underlying theme was that it would also be fun to continue that energy and to stay connected somehow, so we waited for the responses.

And, we got responses.  Almost a dozen people shared their views of the world at 17 and their lives at 50-something.  Plus we received many, many other messages from folks acknowledging this effort to stay connected.  Now, being electronically challenged as I am, the next issue was to distribute and share these "reflections".

Kevin Cody, publisher of the Easy Reader was generous and gracious enough to pick up where my skills and Bob's time leave off and offered a section of their Web Site for all to view.  So, read on . . . reunion-mania continues with special memories, great stories and renewed friendships.

Marie Case
Class of '65

I haven't missed a reunion, and in fact, I even helped to organize the very first one for our class, a decade after graduation.  I couldn't think of a better way to pay back MCHS and so many people who mean so much to my early life.

There were quite a few of us who grew up at the Beach, and who got shuffled around grade schools until Robinson was opened.  I went to Center as a geeky seventh grader, and then went up to nirvana on Peck Ave.  The reunions through the years have been like a real family reunion.  I vividly remember starting school at Mira Costa as a 5'3''/110 pound freshman . . . there were grown women and giant men going to school on the same campus where I was also enrolled.  Well, not exactly the same campus; I lived in the shadows, on the fringes for a year along with so many of my classmates, while the rest of the grades inhabited the main parts of the campus.  But I thought I had arrived, and it was awesome. 

To think back on the amount of growth in so many ways that occurred over those next 4 years is almost mind-boggling.  Everyone always said those four years would pass quickly, but who would have imagined how fast they flew by.  By the time I was a senior, I, along with almost every other senior in America,thought I had my future pretty much figured out.  I was going to go to college, compete in track, graduate, teach high school and coach football and track, reside in Manhattan Beach, and live happily ever after. 

Well, I went to college, competed in track, got a job at Mira Costa coaching football and track, bought a house in Manhattan Beach, and married a sweet woman named Sally. Wow!  Did I have it made!!!!  But things have changed.   After six years at MCHS, my wife and I decided that we would like to experience a different life style and began to look around.  To make a huge decision small, we picked up and moved to Bend, Oregon in 1977.  What a change!  I'd lived at the beach in Southern California for my entire life and expected to stay there forever.  Now, I had moved to a place where I could see the Mountains covered with snow, swim in lakes that are not salty, fly fish in rivers, and hunt birds with my faithful dog.  I've learned to ignore the 20-degree weather that continues for several days because last week was even colder, but the sky was crystal clear.  I've learned to look for the first snows of winter, go to sleep with the wind blowing through the pines outside our windows, and to anticipate the first growth of spring.  I've learned to laugh as I go out the door to hunt ducks, wrapped in LAYERS of clothing and hip boots, as my wife shakes her head, laughs and asks, "what happened to the beach kid?"  I've learned to coach football and track in the snow, and I've learned that there are alot of neat people that live somewhere other than the beach in Southern California. 

I have never, however, learned how to forget my real roots at Mira Costa.   Our oldest son, Matt, even grew up visiting the beach and believed that his parents ripped him away from his birth right at the place he was born.  "Didn't I look happy there?" he's told us about 1000 times; he was two and a half when we moved.  We told him to grow up, go to school, and go back and we would always be happy to come to visit him there.  Matt now teaches at Mira Costa, coaches football and track, lives in Southern California, and thinks he's in heaven.  Funny how our lives work out. 

Our younger son Jeff is serving in the U.S. Navy and is stationed in San Diego, but unlike his brother, can hardly wait to come back to the high desert in Central Oregon.

So what now???  I look forward to next spring.  I look forward to tomorrow.  I look forward to life.  I look forward to the next Mira Costa gathering and I look forward to seeing my very special friends who have never been unappreciated or forgotten.

Thank you Mira Costa.

Mick Craven
Class of '65

As I look back now at the time when I was 17 or 18, I seriously doubt that I had much vision beyond age 21, maybe 30.  As teenagers, we lived for the moment.  College loomed ahead.  It was an exciting, yet scary time.  Filled with lots of changes. 

I had a lot of fun that first year in college and then reality set in:  like, you actually have to study to get good grades?  Along the way I entered the work force - just for six months, mind you.  Strange, but 34 years later I'm still here at TRW.

I entered Long Beach State as a nursing major and actually got through two semesters of anatomy and physiology, memorized every friggin' bone in the body, helped dissect a cadaver, and then decided I didn't like the sight of blood.  And, still don't!  Then I changed my major to history and labored long (ten long years - hey, it takes a while when you're working full time and taking one to two classes a semester) to get my bachelor's degree and elementary teaching credential.  I never did pursue the teaching career.   By the time I had secured my degree I had ten plus years at the same company, an excellent salary, and a firm foothold in aerospace so I decided to take a different course.

Today I'm a publications manager at TRW where I help write and publish the proposals for contracts to build satellites, telecommunications payloads for satellites, and lots of other interesting things.  It's rewarding, challenging, and very, very interesting.  How did I end up here?  Those typing skills I picked up in one semester of typing at MCHS.  I only took the class because I had to pair it up with one semester of Driver's Ed.  Who knew?

The last 30 years have been good.  I expect the next 30 will be even better and filled with travel and creative pursuits.  And, who knows, perhaps even a new career?

Pam Overton
Class of '65
When I recieved your letter via Bob Cornner I got to thinking about what was on my mind in those high school days.  I wonder how many were like me, completely naive, and with no idea as to what we wanted to do or be.  It wasn't until 1970 that I really took a direction, set a goal and went for it. 
In those days I had no idea as to how to interpret the events that were happening in my everyday life.  Now I can reflect and understand what the different events meant and how I could have learned from them.  I understand which people made a difference in the directions I took.  In hindsight, I do believe that how aware a young person is can be greatly enhanced by their parents.  In my case we never communicated and I was unable to gain the basics that it seemed many of the other students had. 
At the recent all-class reunion I wanted to see specific people to say "thank you" for this and that.  That day brought back many memories, and the last thing that I thought would happen was the tears that filled my eyes when I said hello to Mr. Fisher.  I never saw that coming. 

Ralph Thompson
Class of '63

They were the best of times. You see I am a native, I was born in Manhattan Beach!   All of the days were perfect.  My sister and I walked to Grandview, casually strolled, actually, and were joined by our classmates and neighbors along the way.  We went to the beach every day in the summer, not just to swim, but for all day.  We played volleyball or watched the surfers, and on cool days played chess up near the wall, and picked up soda bottles to redeem for hamburgers if we felt hungry.  No one worried about us.  No one had to, nothing bad ever happened.  It was a good and a simple time.  Once I left something, (a sweater or lunch box) on the bus bench in front of the Liquor store at Marine and Manhattan Ave.  My mother took me back the next day and it was still there, right where I had "forgotten" it.  

We came of age at Mira Costa.  We learned our lessons both in school and at home.  Some social graces were taught at the dinner tables of our friends, and we laughed about the experiences at the weekend reunion.  I remember the names of all of my friends even from Kindergarten.  Their mothers ran off mimeographs with my mother for the PTA meetings.  After school we walked home to my house where my Mom had made cookies for us, or walked to my friends house for cake.  Some days we even did both!

I have no recollection of time pressure.  I only remember laying in the sun making scenes of the passing clouds, sand boarding for hours, at the sand dunes near my house, never dreaming it would one day become a park!  Once, when I was very young, I remember sitting in the front yard, waiting for my sister to come home from school because I was so lonesome without her.  My mother told me that "time goes faster when you get older" and boy was she right.  The only "stress" I can remember was "wondering" if the 5-10 cent store would have enough green and gold tissue paper to make really good pom-pom's for the drill team.

We all did well.  We were expected to, at home and at school.  That wasn't pressure.  There would be plenty of time pressure in the years to come.

At the reunion, I was awe wed by the number of my class graduates doing really good work.  I served in Asia, my friend Eric in Africa.  We didn't rebel; we worked, and worked for the good of everyone.  So many of my friends are in education.  Bob, Judy, Mick, Derrick, Al, and the list is long. Giving back, doing their best, to pass on the heritage of a good and simple time that allowed us to grow up and to grow together.

1965 . . . Our view from the classroom, looking out to our future, shows that our gaze was too short. I was confident that I would remain comfortably middle class and well educated. With an engagement ring, and my (first) husband in basic training, I assumed the norm...children soon, staying at home, perhaps part-time work in a few years, and a 30-year mortgage.

We graduated before the world was changed by technology.  Money would be easy, love would be harder.

I am still very middle class, and well educated, but I never was /am prepared for the unending reinventing myself in careers, and the unending hours of training and continuing education now required in all fields.

In 1965 we had support.  We had the support mainly of our families to live with and provide for us during the college years.  We were not thrown out into the competitive world of adults and careers for a few more years or at least until after college.  We still had time.   We had time to mature, to learn, to live and love and laugh.  We were protected, and it was understood that we were not "finished" yet with our growing up and our learning. 

We were again protected by the hippie/love movement when it was OK to be an artist, musician or live an alternative lifestyle.  We still had time and protection.

I like to think that somewhere in small towns in America, high school students still grow up the way that we did in 1965 at Mira Costa.  But in the big cities, the competitiveness has robbed us of our time to think and be creative, our time with our families, and in general being "time challenged" has been the one thing we could never have prepared for!

Julie Abston
Class of '65

I think as a seventeen-year-old, I looked to the future not so much with dreams as with expectations. It seems that I have always known that dreams were dreams and as much as I love them and will always have them with me, I have never held onto them too tightly.

I expected to marry a kind, patient, supremely intelligent man. I married the most intelligent man I ever dated.  And after being married to me for 31 years and raising two sons, he has learned a lot about kindness and patience. I did not expect to marry someone interested in local politics but I did.
He just left his job as Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce and is doing some consulting.

I expected to have at least two children - bright, artistic, interested in everything.   And, we have two sons.  Justin is 27. He lives in Brooklyn near some of his friends from Sonoma County and works for a performing arts center.  He loves creating techno music and would like nothing better than to get paid to do that. He did get a "Producer" credit on one CD a couple of years ago and a favorable review in "Options" magazine. They said it was good music for "lesbian love-making".  Not many copies were sold.  Our younger son Joel is 22 and is the quintessential "blue collar" guy. He works for a sheet metal company and is happy.

I expected to be a teacher. I've always adored children. When I was 17, my sister was 2.  On days when I was suffering from the slings and arrows of adolescence, she was my best friend.  She still is. She lives with her husband not far away in Petaluma.  She is the English teacher.

When I was 17, wine was something the "Little Old Winemaker" talked about on TV or materialized as the occasional bottle of Leibframilch my Mom brought home (in spite of the fun her family had making fun of the name!).  Sonoma was part of that silly ad about "S'NapaNoma Mendocino".  Whereas, I expected to have a career using terms like "dangling participle" and "gerund," I use terms like "malo-lactic fermentation", "additional hang time" and "on the lees".  I am fortunate enough to work for nice people in an amazingly beautiful setting.  Out of my window here at work, I look up at a vineyard-studded mountain. I walk out the door and into a beautifully landscaped old California style courtyard. --  See the attached photo  --

I welcome all my Mira Costa classmates to visit me here at Landmark Vineyards or call me if they need tourist information for visiting the wine country.

My philosophy is:  sweep the failures under the rug and fill up a glass with Landmark Chardonnay and toast the successes - Salud!

Jeana Brandenburg Beck
Class of '65
My dreams:  I wanted to be a doctor since I was about eight years old. I took every course in high school that I thought would get me there: chemistry, biology, physiology, trig, calculus, etc.  At the end of my Junior year I applied to and was accepted by UCLA - another dream.  At the same time I applied to undergrad, I also sent for bulletins from several medical schools.  I was a very naive girl who thought I could do anything, and I probably could have, if I hadn't been born about 25 years too early.  I remember crying for a long time when I read the medical school bulletins: "230 students will be admitted each year, no more than 10 will be women" or "180 students will be admitted, no more than 5% women will be allowed".

"...Will be allowed  . . . will be allowed!?  So, I would have to be better than every man that applied and forget scholarships.  Later I learned that women were hounded and scorned throughout medical schools. 

That dream was shattered and to top it off, no one seemed to think it was a big deal. "Why do you want a man's job anyway"?   Grrrrr!  One of my sons recently dated a woman who was finishing med school on scholarship and half of her classmates were women.  That pleases me no end.

But another dream of mine did come true.  I have two wonderful, bright, kind, funny, accomplished sons:  Ben and Matt ages 29 and 27.  Ben is a music director and trained opera tenor, (I cry when he sings) and Matt is a health care advisor working out of Washington, DC. (I cried when I heard him make a presentation in his professional capacity at the hospital here in Prescott, Arizona where I now live).  Yes, I'm one of those mothers.

When my husband Sid died in 1998, both sons literally dropped what they were doing and rushed to me, helping their shell-shocked mom through the business of laying a loved one to rest.  And, they continue to be there for me via the phone, visits and love. 

I dreamed of someday having "nice kids".  What I received was beyond my dreams. Actually, when I was 17 and even when I was pregnant, I couldn't imagine the passionate, tom-boy, early women's libber could be a good mom, but I fell I love with the little monkeys the minute they were born.

The truth is I still feel like a 17 year-old inside, wondering if I can keep up the charade of being an adult.

Linda Richardson Wheeler
Class of '65
If you would have told me upon my graduation from MCHS that I would now be
building affordable housing in the far eastern corner of Washington, DC and
pursuing an MA in theology, I would have dismissed you as an imbecile.  When
I graduated from MCHS; my focus was on a career in the Navy.  I had enlisted
on my 17th birthday so that I would have the longest longevity possible.  (More longevity, more pay.)  Indeed, I did get an appointment to the Naval Academy the following year and attended "Canoe U" for a year before flunking out of English Literature.  So much for my military career.

At age thirty I thought I would be married with children, and so I was.  I married my sweetheart, Nancy Handley, and we had three daughters within a year (singleton followed by twins).  I was also finishing an MBA at USC part-time.  When I was in Viet Nam I thought I wanted to go into multi-national business and, after I finished the MBA, I did.  It was a great ride until the part of the electronics production industry I was in collapsed and the dollar had risen so high on foreign exchange markets that
my products were no longer competitive.

Age forty?  Didn't have a clue, but it certainly would never have included a divorce.  Likewise age fifty.  I couldn't think that far ahead at age 17 when I was sitting in Mr. Falcon's Spanish class. 

I never thought that I would have opened my life to the Lord as much as I have.  I never imagined that I would be so purposeful in discerning God's will for me and then doing it.

At seventeen, I thought that life was something you went out and did, sometimes more successfully than others.  What I've learned is that my life is a journey that has traveled in many directions, some happy, some not-so-happy, some educational, some inane; all not to be missed.

Rob Noland
Class of '65

In 1964 I had what one could call a nice life.  A nice life, indeed.  I lived in Rio de Janeiro at Ipanema beach and it was like living in heaven.  My future wasn't really in my thoughts until I decided to take a test for the American Field Service scholarship program.  So I did, and so it happened that not only did I pass, but also within that same year I was to go to Manhattan Beach, California and live with the McCarroll's.  That changed a quiet life, and, I thought at the time, a very predictable one. 

We (152 girls and boys from all over Brazil ) boarded a 707 and flew directly to NYC, where, at AFS's Headquarters notice was given as to whom was going to what city.  The California group was shown to a bus and then off to the coast - the much sought after WEST COAST.  West Virginia, Tenessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally Los Angeles where Mom and Dad McCarroll were at the bus terminal to pick up and meet their new son.

We drove down the San Diego Freeway, the Beach Boys played on the radio and I was tired, very tired, but also excited by the new world I was going to.  As school was only a few days away, we went to Catalina, Palm Springs and the area around the Beach Cities.  So impressed was I with the California way of life that plans were developing in my 17-year-old mind as quickly as I was breathing.  Plans dealing with my future life in this wonderful country, that by the way, was the home of my mother's family. Yes, I have relatives in the big Apple, whom I have seen occasionally during their trips to Brazil.

When school started I really got settled into what I thought would be my life from there on.  People were so nice to me; I was making so many friends every day that I was literally living in a dream.  Writing every other day to my people in Brazil sort of kept me balanced.  And, slowly I realized that I was very lucky to be where I was, learning so much from my new family, my new friends and their families, my new school, (MIRA COSTA) and some of the nicest teachers I have ever had.  But it was not to be forgotten, that even though I was in fact accepted as one of them with so much love and affection, that I was still "Roberto from Brazil" with ties so strong with that reality that I had to be careful with myself.  I could, and did consider myself a Californian, but was after all, Brazilian, and very fond of being one.   Still am!

That settled, my path was laid between my two Alma Maters: one in Brazil and the other in California. 

The school year went by so swiftly I really never noticed it, but those months proved to be the most impressive in my life.  Although I had something like this in mind, I didn't know at that time, that I would go back to Brazil, go to college, get an MBA in administration or economics, and get a job in my family's business which was a sugar cane plantation.  The family business didn't last and I, after going to school, landed a job trading stocks on the Rio Stock Exchange.

Every few years I go back to Manhattan Beach, and my beloved McCarrolls.  I am lucky, indeed, to have been there and accepted as a local.

Roberto Octavio
Class of '65

During my high school days I dreamed that I would continue to play the game I loved forever (baseball) and that I would continue my education and become successful utilizing my skills in mathematics.  I also wanted to have a loving marital relationship very similar to my parents.

Reality  -- initially, my educational goals got sidetracked while I spent four years in the Air Force.  The Air Force was probably the best thing that ever happened to me since I was able to fulfill one of my dreams by playing on the Air Force Baseball team in Europe for three years.  During that time I become a man that truly knew what I wanted to do upon returning to civilian life.  My educational goals were fulfilled:  graduating from Long Beach State and UCLA Executive Management Program. 

I have used my skills in mathematics at Northrop Grumman Corporation in El Segundo for the past 26 years in the Business Management Organization.  I have been married to two wonderful women and have two very beautiful and successful daughters and three stepchildren.  My wife of seven years has fulfilled my other dream of having a loving marital relationship.  I have had a wonderful life since graduating
from Mira Costa and truly believe my dreams as a teenager have come true.

Fred Goodberry
Class of '65.
I was sports editor, co-editor actually, with Jerry Striff, of La Vista circa '63-'64 Loved Mrs. Fordyce, hated Menne.

I majored in journalism that next fall at San Diego State, but changed to poli sci, then English, then lost track of academics in a fog of parties and drink.  Later, in '66, I dropped out and hitched around Europe, lost my student deferment, flunked my physical (god bless football injuries!) and, after a brief stint at Chico State majoring in English and grass smoking, moved my act to Maui.  There, some years later at the age of 24, I'd had it with the endless summer and returned (contiguous) stateside.  I later married, at age 26, and moved to the Sierra foothills to work for the US Forest Service in the Plumas National Forest. 

We had a child in '74, decided to return to the beach, burned out on north San Diego County and in short order, moved to DeEtte Hunter's place in Bishop, California. DeEtte had lost her husband, my dear friend Terry McGillan, in a tragic accident in Mammoth and used the insurance money to buy the McLaren house in Bishop.  For seven mostly-happy years Bishop was home.  I worked a variety of jobs, mostly with kids, until I decided it was time to return to school.  I entered Sonoma State in the fall of '84, earned a credential and an M.A. in psychology, and started teaching in Novato, California, where I am currently in my 14th year.

There's obviously a whole lot between the lines here, but that's a sketch of 54 years on the planet.  Life has definitely taken many unexpected turns, most of them working out for the best, though it didn't seem so at the time.

I'm a grandfather now, recently separated from my wife of 28 years.  I run, pedal, paddle my Kayak on local waterways, enjoy jazz and the great zins to be had around these parts.  I see my lifelong friends Scott Campbell and Brent Fox for annual backpacking in Sierras.  We take mules up now.  Our legs are shot and we have more disposable income these days.  I'm also in touch with DeEtte, Larry Mower and John Wilson, the only true journalist-writer in my circle.  John, as you probably know, founded Easy Reader years ago and won the Edgar (Allen Poe) award for his first novel Simple Justice that was published a few years ago.  His fourth Justice novel came out this summer.

Dick Pearlman
Class of '64



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