She’s Getting Her Share of Education

Compiled by Karen Laviola

“Grandmothers don’t go to USC. Football players go to USC,” kids tell Dee Walrath’s grandchildren. But the 60-year-old grandmother is not only a USC honor student majoring in English, she has received a scholarship to study at Kent University in Canterbury, England, during her senior year.

“I always wanted to go to school, always envied people with an education,” said the mother of four. “All that knowledge floating around. I wanted to get some of it. I feel like I’ll never rest until I walk down that aisle in my cap and gown.

“My kids tell their children, ‘If your grandmother can do it, you can do it,’ ” Walrath said. “Being black and poor is no excuse--I’ve been black and poor all my life. It shows what hard work will do.”

On a scholarship at USC, Walrath supports herself as an office assistant in the student center in a work-study financial assistance program and lives in a student-housing bachelor apartment. Her tuition to study abroad will be paid but, concerned about expenses like air fare and room and board, she is selling her furniture, television set, everything she can.


“This is the poorest I’ve ever been, but it’s worth it. I feel proud of myself. Sometimes it gets frustrating--it takes me so long to study. Sometimes I ask myself why am I doing this--I don’t have parents pushing me. But the minute I step on this campus, I feel great. It feels so good competing with these young kids and getting A’s.”

Walrath and 25 other students will leave the end of September and return next June. She has heard some of the students may drop out because of fear of terrorism, but that will not stop the grandmother of four and great-grandmother of a 2-year-old girl.

“No way is Kadafi going to stop me. No one will stop me,” Walrath said. Closed for . . .

It appeared to be one of those overnight demolitions. One day, a pumping, bustling, functioning service station on Coldwater Canyon in North Hollywood; next morning, nothing but a bulldozed patch of flat, barren dirt, showing not one sliver of what had been.


But a sign had sprung up: “We Are Closed During Remodeling.”

Wanted: Man With Hart

Wanted: A look-alike to stone-faced, Western silent-film star William S. Hart. A $100 reward and a ride on the Hart Park float in the City of Newhall’s 4th of July annual parade is being offered to the man who most resembles the legendary Old West movie hero.

Final judging will be held when the Friends of Hart Park and Museum round up supporters for Hart Ranch at a wine-and-cheese membership reception at the park on Sunday, June 22 at 2 p.m. The 265-acre park in Newhall includes a 22-room mansion filled with Western and Indian art and sculpture, featuring paintings by William Russell and Frederic Remington. It looks “like the man just stepped out for a few days,” with Hart’s clothes still hanging in the closet, according to James Yaple, president of Friends of Hart Park.


Farm animals graze in the farmyard, while folks can graze at the picnic grounds. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday until 5 p.m. Entrance is free and volunteers give guided tours every half hour. Cost to join Friends of Hart Park is $10 each or $25 for families. Additional support is also available. Two buildings of the museum are closed for renovation and occasionally the mansion may be closed for repairs, so call (805) 259-7261 or 259-0855 before making the trip.

Those who think they look enough like Hart to capture the reward may enter the contest by sending a photo, name, address and telephone number to Friends of Hart Park, P.O. Box 418, Newhall, CA. 91322 before June 18.

Visions of Venice

Eighty-one years ago a man named Abbot Kinney bought some swampland near the ocean, envisioning a cultural center to match the grand canal city of Venice, Italy. His dream of a renaissance city of arts and culture led to his creation of Venice of America. The third annual Venice Summer Festival will honor his vision this weekend with a 10-block event featuring a show that would impress P. T. Barnum, according to Michael Alongi, executive director of the chamber of commerce.


Body builders from Gold’s Gym will model for an athletic-wear fashion show, as well as act as security guards during the festival which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Other live entertainment ranging from country-western music and jazz to mimes and puppet shows will perform on three open stages. In addition to the regular shops, boutiques and restaurants along the streets, 120 arts and crafts booths, 11 booths sponsored by nonprofit organizations and 10 international food booths will ply their wares.

The festival runs along West Washington Boulevard from Venice Boulevard to Brooks Avenue.

Preserving Our Roots

It’s Greek to Dr. Theodore F. Brunner, UC Irvine professor of classics, who is director of Thesaurus Linguae Graecae--a project to collect and protect in a computer data bank every text ever written in ancient Greek from Homer in the 8th Century BC to the 6th Century AD.


Started in 1972, the scholastic search has garnered 62 million words by 3,000 Greek authors and has cost more than $5 million in private and government grants, including grants from Greece and Spain. The Friends of TLG--a group of business people, many of Greek heritage--is raising an additional $250,000 to enter 4 million remaining words and to begin verification to complete the project.

Brunner calls the collection an effort to “preserve the roots of Western man,” saying Western civilization owes its origins to ancient Greece, with everything from democracy, medicine and language to the theater and architecture having evolved there. “Everything we are, we are because of those people in the Mediterranean region 2,000 years ago,” he said.

The data bank, which charges minimal fees to encourage use, has had more than 1,000 individuals or organizations from around the world use its resources so far, according to Stephen Christensen, UCI development director for special projects.