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With the USO Behind Them, Mission Viejo Couple Look to Nashville

Lora and Frankie Lee have just returned from entertaining U.S. troops overseas with country music, a little rock ‘n’ roll and some comedy. Next, they want to get into some real action--like in Nashville.

“One of these days we’re going to make it,” he said. “Nashville is waiting for us.”

The years spent on Department of Defense-sponsored USO tours gave the Mission Viejo couple a chance to develop their act, which includes singing, comedy, love songs, a bunch of costume changes and a lot of patriotic songs.

“The tours were the absolute ultimate,” said Frankie, 39, who has entertained troops for 12 years and was nicknamed “Father Patriotism.”

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“Our guys and girls overseas needed what we had, especially the patriotic stuff. They would stand up and cheer and literally be crying.”

Frankie said Lora, who has been touring for five years, was a big hit overseas: “She hugged hundreds of servicemen and was always the center of attention.”

The Lees said the show they did overseas doesn’t get the same reaction on bases in the United States.

“The show is heavily patriotic, which the overseas people loved. But the people here wanted something different, something they knew, something to keep their minds off their problems,” the couple said.

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But their USO tours are coming to a close. Lee said he and his 28-year-old wife of five years want to cut some records and make a name for themselves in other places besides the Persian Gulf, Okinawa, the Philippines, Korea and Alaska.

“Now it’s our time, and we’re going to become more popular in the United States than we were overseas,” Frankie said.

Their shot at the big time will begin in Bakersfield.

“That’s the hot spot now for country music,” he said. “And we’re going to make it together. Lora has a wonderful singing voice, and we sing some darn good duets, including love songs.”

Most of the songs will be country music they have written. “It’s going to be original stuff,” he said.

The Lees operate a carpet and upholstery-cleaning business in Long Beach to keep them in groceries while they wait for their big break.

American bomber pilot Theodore Stablein was shot down over France during World War II. After parachuting, he got tangled in a tree. A Frenchman cut him down and hid the injured pilot until French Resistance fighters could protect him.

Stablein, now 67 and living in Albuquerque, visited France 10 years ago and went to the little town to find the Frenchman.

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He couldn’t find an interpreter and left without finding the man who saved his life.

“If it wasn’t for that little man, I wouldn’t be here and neither would my father,” said Huntington Beach resident Marsha Stablein, 30, the former pilot’s daughter and a secretary at McDonnell Douglas.

So last month she visited the town, and with the help of an interpreter found Jeorges Geoffrey, 66, the man who saved her father.

“It was a very emotional meeting for both of us,” she said. “He was deeply affected with my visit and showed me the manifold cover he saved from my father’s plane.” Now, she said, the family is trying to gather some money to bring the Frenchman and the American together again.

Do you have ancestors who fought in the Civil War, but you didn’t learn much about that conflict during your school days? Want to learn more about what they were fighting about and the hardships of war at that time?

Two Confederate soldiers and a Yankee, part of a large group that wears authentic uniforms and re-creates actual Civil War scenes at Ft. Tejon near Gorman, spend their free time talking about the Civil War.

They will wear their uniforms, answer questions and bring reference books that may be helpful to the audience in researching ancestors who fought in the war, according to Nora Jones of the sponsoring Friends of the Orange Library.

The meeting will be Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orange Main Library. Admission is free.

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When she was 65, Nell Hamilton, mother of three, grandmother of

six and great-grand- mother of four, felt it was time for a new career. She took a job as a registration clerk in the Orange Coast College admissions office in Costa Mesa.

In her earlier days, Hamilton worked as a hair dresser, a clerk in an accounting office and a cook in a hospital.

Well, Hamilton is 80 now, and she warns: “I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I’m having too much fun.”

Working 99 days a year, she’s on duty during registration time during periods before fall, spring and summer classes, working the 3 to 8 p.m. swing shift.

And as a lesson to young whippersnappers, the Orange resident has never missed a day on the job at the college due to illness.


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