Until 7 years ago, Maurice Marsac never thought much about croquet. He was more into tennis, skin diving, swimming and sailing.
But today, at age 70, Marsac has been named the professional of the two new regulation croquet courts at Park Newport Apartments in Newport Beach. He carries a Class A ranking as a croquet player.
But it may be that the younger tenants of the luxury apartment complex will be the ones most likely to seek his advice on how to play the game.
“Croquet is growing very, very fast in Southern California,” said Marsac, who worked most of his life as a character actor. Before retiring, he was a regular as the French teacher in the “Our Miss Brooks” TV show.
“Certainly, yes, people in (Southern California) are always looking for something new to do,” he said. “The game is much more popular in Northern California.”
Marsac said he is “not that great a player, but I have a lot of experience and have taken a number of courses.”
Marsac may be understating his ability: He will play in a dozen tournaments this year, many of them for big purses.
“There are some tournaments that have good backers who provide purses as high as $25,000,” he said, one of the reasons that croquet is starting to attract younger players who find it takes just a year to become a competitive player.
“People starting out can really have a nice game after 10 to 12 sessions, and after 1 year a normal player can have a decent tournament,” he said, adding that croquet “can be played equally as well by both men and women.”
In addition, he said croquet players have a lifetime sport: “Croquet can be played to a very old age, even though you do cover a lot of ground playing in tournaments.”
In an average tournament, players may have to walk 5 miles to finish a competition that can encompass five games, he said.
“That keeps me in as good a shape as can be expected for a man of my age,” he said.
Marsac, who lives in the San Fernando Valley and is a member of the Beverly Hills Croquet Club, noted that golfers and tennis players make good croquet players because of their ability to judge distances and angles.
“That’s another reason we are seeing more young players,” he said.
Because the role of resident pro is not a full-time activity, “I’m able to do many things, because I work very little these days,” he said. “I’m able to enjoy my retirement,” which includes trips in the next months to Bermuda, Arizona and Paris, where he was born.
“I may even get in a tournament of two during those little trips,” he said.
It took Westminster’s Mike Turner 6 weeks to prepare a menu for 20 demanding guests, and that was after he spent 6,000 hours of on-the-job training and 3 years of classes at Orange Coast College.
Now he has completed the college’s cook apprenticeship program. The final touch was the meal he prepared for those 20 discriminating diners, according to Robin Hood OCC’s culinary arts instructor and head chef.
“Mike did a superlative job,” said Hood, who was one of three professional chefs to critique the meal.
This was the menu:
Artichoke with caviar mayonnaise and yellow pepper puree; potato soup with spaghetti squash; minestrone and oak-leaf salad with chervil vinaigrette; poached salmon with chive butter sauce, served with corn custard, plus tomatoes and fennel root, and hazelnut torts with creme anglaise.
Artist Alida Van Gores of Laguna Beach teaches free senior-citizen art classes paid for by the Sawdust Festival in the American Legion building.
She said half of her students have never had an art lesson, so she said she specializes in “terrified beginners.”
Acknowledgments--The Hornet, Fullerton College’s student newspaper, was named a medalist in Columbia University’s national newspaper competition.
Journalism instructor and Hornet adviser Julie Davey said the newspaper has also been nominated for the prestigious Crown Award, given to just 5% of the 2,545 newspapers that enter the competition.
Winners will be announced March 14-18 in New York City.