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Odds & Ends Around the Valley

Horsing Around

Thirty-year-old Dawn Carter of Woodland Hills leads two lives.

During the week, the slender, quiet-spoken woman holds down a routine job in the Rockwell International photo department. On weekends, she tries to hold back her horse, Donner, from stealing the show at weddings.

Carter, dressed in top hat and tails, and Donner, hitched to a beautifully crafted replica of an 1800s carriage, are hired for $475 a day most summer weekends to drive a bride and her father to the wedding ceremony at open-air sites around the San Fernando Valley.

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“Sometimes the bride’s parents hire us, and sometimes the bridegroom does, but usually it’s the bride who falls in love with the idea and pays the fee,” Carter said.

Although the ride is usually short--from the parking lot to the wedding site--Carter says brides think it’s a romantic touch that the guests also like.

“It’s really fun at the Calabasas Inn because everyone is turned around looking for the bride to come down the same path the bridesmaids came down, and we come driving in from another area,” she said.

“Once the guests see the horse and carriage and realize the bride is in it, they start clapping and cheering; some even jump up and down.”

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At one wedding, the bride had the horn blowers, who usually play the trumpet announcement that precedes the wedding march, play the prelude to the fifth race at Hialeah instead. “People just went crazy,” Carter said.

“The brides all seem to fall in love with Donner and want to spend time with him,” Carter said. “Some bring carrots to feed him. One bride let him eat her wedding bouquet. Another insisted we bring Donner around to the reception area, where she gave him a drink of champagne. Sometimes he’s so covered with lipstick he looks like we dyed his face pink.” She says he’s a spoiled baby.

During the week, Donner hangs around Carter’s Woodland Hills ranch, eating and running. The ranch is about a five-minute drive from El Camino High School, from which Carter graduated in 1978.

“He knows when he’s going to a wedding because I groom him and get his gear together. He starts acting like a movie star about to go into his big scene,” Carter said, laughing. “Weddings are his life.”

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Staying Together

When widow Irene Gorsey, who will be 90 on Nov. 1, and widower Sam Gorsey, who will be 94 on Nov. 7, married on Aug. 20, 1934, they had only known each other for five weeks. But they thought that there was a good chance things would work out.

“He had a good job as a CPA, and his friends talked well about him,” Irene Gorsey said. “My friends said it would be a good match.”

Fifty-six years and one daughter later, she is willing to say it was, “but there were times when it wasn’t easy,” says the anniversary celebrant, who came to California with her husband because their daughter lives here.

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“He could be very temperamental and I had to make allowances,” said Gorsey, who lives with her husband at the Wedgewood Retirement Home in Tarzana. “But I wasn’t one of those women who talked about getting a divorce when things were tough. I got married forever, no matter what.”

In return, she said, she was treated like a queen. “He was a wonderful provider. We had a big home in Boston, another lovely place in Florida and we traveled all over the world. He gave me everything I wanted.”

Still, she said, she can understand people who do divorce. “If you just can’t make things work out and you’ve really tried, you have to give up and get together with someone else,” she said.

When asked the secret of a long marriage, Gorsey said there should be give-and-take, mutual interests and similar backgrounds. But in the end, “you just do it. That’s all there is.”

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Eating Deli

Dr. Harry Drasin, in a letter to the editor in Traveler magazine, says the best pastrami in Los Angeles is not on Fairfax Avenue, nor some fancy Beverly Hills deli, but in the San Fernando Valley.

Drasin of Camarillo, in response to a Traveler article comparing New York and L. A. delis, cites Art’s and Jerry’s, within half a mile of one another in Studio City, as two of the Southland’s top pastrami palaces.

Art Ginsburg, who has owned Art’s for 33 years--since he was 22, said there is no dearth of good pastrami anywhere in Los Angeles. “A lot of it has to do with what a person wants in a deli, how comfortable the deli is to the customer and the presentation of the food,” he said.

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But there’s another reason he thinks that a lot of people visit his deli: the huge blow-up pictures of juicy pastrami, beef and corned beef sandwiches that have been hanging on the walls for three generations--pictures he jokingly referred to as “Jewish pornography.”

Rolex Anxiety

Marilyn Huffman, manager of Merksamer Jewelers in Topanga Plaza, said the recent rash of Rolex robberies has frightened some customers.

“People are definitely getting paranoid,” she said. “It’s become a big deal.”

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Huffman said her company, which has 15 stores in the Los Angeles area, normally sells hundreds of Rolex watches every year, ranging in price from about $1,000 to more than $100,000, depending on what the watch is made of and if it has diamonds.

She says sales figures may be off slightly this year since muggers have targeted Rolex wearers. One Los Angeles man was killed when he refused to hand over his watch.

“No one should be walking around with an uninsured Rolex,” Huffman said. “So if a robber points a weapon at you and says, ‘Hand it over,’ hand it over. You’ll just get another watch.”

Overheard

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“The best thing about divorce is the extra closet space."--One woman to another in the Warner Center Club locker room


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