On the Town: Event has all the decorum of Christmas

Arts and CultureChristmasDiego Gutierrez

It was Christmas in August at Glendale’s Assistance League chapter house. On Friday (Aug. 3) the crowds were lined up many minutes before the 10 a.m. opening for the “Christmas and Much More” sale of holiday-themed ornaments, books, cards, jewelry, fabric, crafts, formal wear and furs. Assistance League volunteer Mary Margaret Smith manned the entrance as a genial greeter, but she was willing to lay down the law if more than 20 customers stormed the gates at the same time.

Those planning well in advance, and watching their pennies at the same time, wanted to be the first to grab that perfect wreath or Christmas tree ornament. And grab they did. Assistance League volunteers had to be on their toes to make sure decorum ruled. Rita Burns was in charge of the holding area of booty while customers continued to shop. Burns was afraid the bounty on hold wasn’t safe from busy fingers wanting more.

Christmas sale Chairman Sylvia Kowal had supervised her team of 10 volunteers for close to 60 hours while they sorted and priced more than 1,000 items collected since the beginning of the year. Then they transformed the chapter house into a winter playground for holiday shoppers. Recent Glendale resident Cecelia Walker snatched up some bargain gift-wrapping paper.

If Christmas wasn’t your thing, more goodies could be found in the league’s Thrift Alley next door. League volunteer Margaret Hammond modeled a satin wedding gown with hand beading that was on sale for $50. It was priced to move. Hammond recalled her own wedding dress she wore 64 years ago in Canada. “You had to be covered all the way down,” Hammond said. “We were encouraged to marry early and increase the population.”

By the 3 p.m. closing of the Christmas sale, hundreds of customers walked out with their hearts’ desires after paying for their merchandise through league volunteer Ann Chadney behind the cash register. Some die-hards were planning to return for the next day’s continuation of the sale.

League President Alma Tycer said sale proceeds will support the league’s philanthropic programs.

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On Saturday (Aug. 4) the Glendale Centre Theatre had the usual buses parked in front, disgorging dozens of passengers in the mood for the theater’s latest offering “On Golden Pond.” Known for its lighted-hearted musicals, the theater’s presentation of the drama is a rare but welcome offering.

A small theater party of drama-lovers with subscriptions to the season sat themselves in their favorite seats. These BFFs who attended the beginning of the run of each play were Glendale residents Jane McVay and Cheryl Hanna. Also part of the party were Burbank residents Nancy Lark, Patty Weckbaugh and McVay’s mother Lillian Giese.

The drama stars pros Andrew Prine and Salome Jens. The play takes place in 1978 Maine and deals with a family that’s coming apart but is reunited by a perceptive grandson.

“On Golden Pond” runs through Aug. 11.

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August marks National Children’s Vision Month. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development is the sponsoring organization. No one represents the aim of the organization more than Burbank optometrist and community volunteer Dr. Lori Nishida. For almost two decades Nishida has been helping children’s vision through physical therapy for the eyes. The therapy is made up of various exercises that help both eyes work together, resulting in more efficient learning in school.

Burbank resident Diego Gutierrez, 16, has been coming to Nishida once a week for a year. His mother, Olga Gutierrez, faithfully accompanies him. In spite of his autism, Diego is becoming adept at exercises to correct his wandering eye. On Thursday (Aug. 2), he practiced his favorite exercise — reading letters to the beat of a metronome. That allows Diego to simultaneously process vision and hearing tasks.

Mom Olga sees much improvement in her son. Before therapy Diego would complain about doing his school homework. Mom spent many hours helping him. After vision therapy, Diego’s reading has improved and he is able to complete homework without complaint. According to Mom, Diego’s self-esteem has improved, as well.

Nishida often donates her services through local service organizations such as the Burbank Lions Clubs.

RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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