Reunion’s Sights Set on Patton Museum

Compiled by Beverly Beyette.

Reminiscences will be served up with the GI stew Nov. 11 in the Coachella Valley at a 100th birthday celebration for Gen. George S. Patton Jr. The reunion of soldiers who served under him will include a ceremonial ground breaking for the Gen. Patton-Camp Young Memorial Museum.

The event to honor the California native son (Patton was born Nov. 11, 1885, in San Gabriel) will be at Chiriaco Summit, formerly Shavers Summit, on Interstate 10 about 30 miles east of Indio. During World War II the summit was the entrance to Camp Young, the command post for the Desert Training Center established by Patton in 1942 to train troops for the pivotal North African Campaign.

Margit Chiriaco Baldivid, chairwoman of the volunteer Gen. Patton Memorial Committee, the sponsor, considers it a labor of love: “I grew up in the area. I grew up on the stories and the lore. I remember the tanks. I remember when the camp started folding and the Italian POWs came in to help dismantle it. They would be singing these glorious arias . . . “


Beyond that, Baldivid said, “It’s important that this great general be remembered. There are many memorials to him in Europe but very few in America.”

The committee is inviting former soldiers, history buffs and others to “buy a piece of military history” by helping to fund the proposed memorial. Personalized “donor bricks” are being offered at $25; “founder bricks” are $250. Baldivid said, “We’re estimating somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million” will be needed for construction, which could start in two years.

Plans call for a structure of native rock and timber--”rough, tough, embodying the spirit of the general,” Baldivid said--to be built on a 10-acre site donated by Baldivid’s father, Joseph Chiriaco, a desert pioneer who has been proprietor of a roadside store and cafe in the area since 1933. Already, donated memorabilia is coming in--flags, articles of clothing, photographs of Patton.

Meanwhile, the committee anticipates a turnout of as many as 2,500 for the Veteran’s Day reunion, which will include a concert by the El Toro Marine Corps Band, a Hollywood USO show and a lot of “remembering when.” Information: (714) 877-5077.

A Few Nice Words

Edna Lillich Davidson, the grande dame of literary salons in Los Angeles, opened her 31st year of third-Tuesday book luncheons at the Beverly Hilton with the usual menu of guest authors, Davidson reviews and music. But there was an added fillip: A certificate from Mayor Tom Bradley lauding her for “helping make our city a better place in which to live.”

“Perfectly beautiful,” Davidson said later, taking a moment out from planning for her November luncheon, where guest authors will include Ray Bradbury speaking about his new novel, “Death is a Lonely Business.”


Davidson, whose salons are a return to an earlier, more elegant era, was explaining that, the Nov. 19 luncheon being her Thanksgiving program, she had chosen as the theme “The Shining Torch of Liberty . . . Our Thanksgiving.” Davidson will narrate the events of Oct. 28, 1886, the day President Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty with pomp and fireworks.

As her 31st season began, Davidson was especially buoyed by a note that arrived with a series check from a longtime salon-subscriber. The check, the sender explained, was “for the first year of the next 100 years.” Said Davidson, “These women and their husbands light up my life. They are the only family I have.”

Weathering the Storms

Over on Catalina, Terry Beadle, 36, a full-time member of the Avalon Fire Dept., has become a part-time weather forecaster.

Six weeks ago Beadle, who “used to play around with CB until it got so busy you couldn’t hear anything out there,” signed on as a volunteer for the Mariners’ Reporting Program, a data-collecting effort of the National Weather Service and the Sea Grant Program of USC.

Beginning soon, after a short hiatus while the Avalon station was relocated to Beadle’s hillside Avalon apartment, Beadle will begin each day by tuning his bedside VHF marine radio to Channel 16 and, for the next hour, asking boaters with weather information to “meet me on Channel 69.” He will then relay the information by computer to the National Weather Service for inclusion in the morning forecasts. “Our primary purpose is to get pertinent and timely information from boaters between San Pedro and Newport Beach and Catalina so the every-three-hour weather report can be a little more accurate.” In mid-channel, Beadle noted, “It can change very quickly. It may be nice in Newport, but gnarly and nasty out there.”

So far, he acknowledged, the calls to his station have been more a trickle than a deluge, but Beadle said he thinks the service will pick up as it gets a little publicity. “To be honest,” he said, “a lot of people who are calling are right here in the harbor,” within sight of his apartment window, “which doesn’t give me a whole lot of information.” Questions about the service may be directed to the USC Sea Grant Program, University Park, Los Angeles 90089-0341, (213) 743-5907.


Changing of the Guard

Thirty-three years after coming from UCLA’s Institute of Industrial Relations to the staff of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Harvey Schechter, 61, is “disengaging” himself from the league’s regional director’s job to become Western area director, supervising seven league offices in 13 states.

Schechter, who said with a bit of understatement that he “found a home” with league in November 1955, will work out of Los Angeles. His successor as regional director is David A. Lehrer, 37, the league’s Western states’ counsel. Lehrer, a graduate of UCLA Law School and a league staffer for 10 years, officially takes over Jan. 1.

Looking back on 33 years of working to end bigotry and discrimination, Schechter said, “The thing that has been so gratifying for me is that each day I can put my head on the pillow and say that I helped at least one person today.”

During a Yom Kippur service this year at his temple, he asked worshipers to try to put current news events in perspective, to see them “not just in terms of a killing here, a bombing there, an anti-Jewish or anti-black incident but to see how far we’ve come, what Southern California was like in 1952 and what it’s like today.”

Among the league’s victories, he counted a recent court decision refusing the Jonathan Club permission to expand on public land so long as it has a discriminatory admissions policy.

When he started with the league, Schechter said, “We had large numbers of Holocaust survivors just out of the camps who were at the mercy of a harsh world . . . We had discrimination against Jews and other minorities at resorts in Palm Springs and throughout Arizona. When I tell young people that Jews were discriminated against in Palm Springs, they look at me like I came from another planet.”


In 1952, he said, “Employers thought nothing of saying, ‘We don’t hire Jews.’ And it was common practice to sell a house that had a restrictive covenant--when you bought you signed a document agreeing not to sell to Jews, blacks, Orientals, Mexicans. And there was nothing you could do but scream or kick a door. We outlawed all that. Now there’s recourse.”