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Guests Discover That ‘Happy Days’ Are Here Again

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“Gone with the Wind” met “Grease” on Saturday night when a “Fabulous Fifties” bash for Drug Abuse Is Life Abuse was staged at the Tara-like manse of John and Donna Crean in Santa Ana Heights.

Drug Abuse Is Life Abuse is a nonprofit organization in Santa Ana that through education and public awareness seeks to eliminate drug abuse.

Gals in poodle skirts mixed with guys in letter sweaters among the stately white columns that dot the Crean digs. Burgers took the place of hush puppies. Chocolate and cherry Cokes were served instead of lemonade and mint juleps.

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Entertainment? Forget “Dixie.” Platters such as the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” and the Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You” were spun. Bill Medley performed live.

Looking like she was fresh out of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause” in jeans and tennies was party guest Sela Ward, the actress who played Harrison Ford’s wife in “The Fugitive.” (If you saw the film, you watched Ward being savagely murdered during the movie’s many flashbacks. You also saw her looking drop-dead gorgeous at a chic cocktail party.)

Sweeping into the Tara-esque foyer, with its grand staircase and bronzes, vases, crystal sconces and paintings, Ward pronounced the Crean mansion “interesting.”

And then she posed for paparazzi with Drug Abuse Is Life Abuse board members Jessica Hulsey--a senior at Cypress High school--and Lisa Marino (Ward’s close friend).

Hulsey was the one who spotted Ward at the party. “I’d love to have my picture taken with her,” she said, wide-eyed. “I saw her in ‘The Fugitive’ and I watch her on television in ‘Sisters.’ She’s terrific.”

And so the two young women stood next to each other, posing and laughing.

Then, led by Marino, Ward disappeared into the crush, never dreaming she’d just stood next to a girl whose life was grist for a film noir .

Hulsey, 17, is the daughter of heroin addicts--a mom, 36, and a dad, 42. She has watched two uncles die as a result of drugs--one from an overdose, another slain in a drug-related incident. Only recently, she saw a family member foam at the mouth after he’d taken drugs with alcohol.

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“Every person I love seems to end up hurting themselves,” said Hulsey, who is president of Students Against Drug Abuse.

She has become afraid to love, she admits. “But I’ve watched the effects drugs have had on my family and I’ve learned. I have never done an illegal drug or a legal drug (alcohol). And I don’t plan to, ever .”

Mike Hayde, who attended the party with his wife, Kelli, founded Drug Abuse Is Life Abuse in 1987 with Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates. “We designed the program as a marketing approach against drugs,” he said. “It took over 20 years to change America’s way of thinking about smoking and our program hopes to accomplish the same thing (about drugs).”

Said Julie Holt, executive director of Drug Abuse Is Life Abuse: “The bad news is that, in the past seven years, more than 1,100 people in Orange County have died as the result of drug use.

“The good news is there has been a 70% reduction in drug-related deaths for high school students,” she said. “We believe that is because they have had an increased awareness and education about the problem.”

Party chairwoman Marilyn MacDougall, gussied up in a poodle skirt, said the battle to educate elementary school children about drug abuse “has been won.”

“The children won’t tolerate parents who drink and drive, who do marijuana, cocaine,” she said. “They don’t want to abuse themselves or society. They are very emphatic about it.”

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Now the focus is on the junior high school student, Holt said. “We’ve concentrated on the elementary school child and the high school student.

“Now we are developing a program aimed at the junior high student because that is when the peer pressure to do drugs begins,” Holt said.

When party guests weren’t “gambling” at casino tables or downing burgers, they were bellying up to a sundae bar, sampling blueberry and apple pie and ogling ‘50s-style automobiles provided by the Orange County Cruisin’ Assn.

But mostly they were checking out each others’ rags. Pat Hoose--wearing a cloud of shell-pink tulle and a wrist corsage--admired Melinda Moiso’s song-leader uniform. How did she get into that tiny thing? “I thought I was thinner now than I was then,” Melinda said. “But I guess (weight) just redistributes itself.”

Clint Hoose--dressed in a white sport coat and a pink carnation--admired Tony Moiso’s letter-smothered sweater. “I played a lot of sports at a small high school,” Moiso explained, humbly.

Ah, those happy days.

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