A little more than 100 years ago women were told that higher education
was unhealthy for them. A group of healthy women with college degrees
scoffed at the notion and in 1881 founded the American Assn. of
University Women. Their mission was educational equity for women and
girls, and that hasn’t changed in 119 years.
Thurston Middle School students Julianne Reed and Casey Serra are the
most recent beneficiaries of the mission. They will attend the Tech Trek
Science Camp for Girls this summer, their participation will be funded by
the association’s Laguna Beach Foundation.
Janette Mestre introduced the girls to the association members and
guests who attended the 15th annual Literary Luncheon Saturday at the
Surf & Sand.
“Tech Trek was started five years ago to foster junior high school
girls’ interest in science and technology,” Janette said. “The first camp
was held at Stanford University and we sent one girl. The camps are now
held at various universities and we have sent two girls to each one.”
The luncheons are held to showcase women authors and to raise funds
for the foundation.
“We have more people here than ever before: 160,” said foundation
co-President Carol Reynolds.
Five women writers were featured Saturday: Chamaine Craig, Connie
Merritt, Gina Nahai, Adrienne Sharp and May Wale Brown.
May was a resident of Treasure Island until it closed. Her book, “Cat
Chats,” is a collection of the columns she wrote for a local newspaper.
It is her second book.
Her first book was a personal memoir of her years as a script
supervisor and continuity coordinator for movies and television. She
worked on every script for the long-running “Bonanza.”
May’s introduction to cats came in Hollywood. She was reading a script
when a paw suddenly appeared on the page -- a big paw, with claws,
attached to a big body. With “really bad halitosis.” Fortunately, a
trainer was standing by. May was happy to escape with her life.
May’s next experience with a feline was the gift of a small “bit of
fluff,” given to her to ease the recuperation of a broken leg.
“My husband said, if that’s a cat, I will put it in the lobster trap.
I hate cats,” she said. “The kitten promptly landed on his shoe and went
to sleep, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
The book contains 70 illustrations by Fred Holland, husband of
association branch member Gretchen Holland. The last illustration is a
Grants and fellowships to UC Irvine’s master’s in fine arts writing
program enabled Chamaine to research and write her critically-acclaimed
first book, “The Good Men.” It is about the Albigensian Heresy in
medieval France and had a six-week run on the Los Angeles Time bestseller
Gina was born of Jewish parents in Iran. She was raised in Switzerland
and Los Angeles. Her first book, “Cry of the Peacock,” was based on her
family’s history in Iran.
Her second book, “Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith,” was the story of
Iranians in America after the Islamic Revolution. It was a national
Her most recent novel is “Sunday’s Silence.” It deals with the power
of faith told through the story of a cross-cultural love between a Jewish
girl and an Appalachian snake handler.
“White Swan, Black Swan: Stories” explores the world of ballet from
the viewpoint of a former dance student. Adrienne began to study ballet
at age six. It dominated her life for the next 12 years. She had the
right body, the determination, the stamina and the willingness to starve
herself for her art -- students were weighed every Monday.
Connie came to Laguna Beach as a bride and a nurse. Her husband, a
firefighter, was killed in an automobile accident when she was 26.
“My father had died when I was 11 and I mushed those two deaths
together and began to believe that men leave,” she said.
“Men leave. So I dated to excess -- every womanizer, every workaholic,
every dysfunctional man from Long Beach to San Diego.”
She finally realized she was setting up herself for disillusion.
Her books on love and work include “Finding Love (Again!),” and “The
Taming Guidebook Series.” She is a contributor to “Chocolate for a
Woman’s Soul” and “God’s Vitamin C for the Spirit of Women.”
Signed copies of the authors’ books were sold at the luncheon.
Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the American Assn. of
University Women’s nonprofit Educational Foundation, which provides
fellowships and grants for women and publishes important research
promoting educational equity.
The Luncheon Committee included members Jean Brotherton, Louise
Fleenor, Karen Dennis, Beverly McComb, Madeleine Peterson, Joan Collins
and Katie Haven, who was in charge of the silent auction. Diane Logan
created the floral centerpieces and the bouquets presented to the
Among the local businesses that donated to the auction were Canyon
Lodge, American Grill, Hotel Laguna, Inn at Laguna, Laguna Playhouse,
Latitude 33, Len’s Wine Cite and Splashes Restaurant.
Luncheon guests included Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who has announced
her candidacy for a second term; Johanna Felder, longtime supporter of
the Laguna Art Museum; jeweler Patti Jo Kiraly, daughter of Carol
Reynolds and wife of author/playwright Sherwood Kiraly; Kimberly Salter,
president of the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club; Nancy Farrand, a board
member of the Community Service Program Youth Shelter in Laguna Beach;
Joanne Culverhouse, principal of El Morro Elementary School and Pat
Jamieson and Peggie Thomas, who administer the association volunteers in
the school’s tutoring program.
Also present were Lee Winocur Field, president of the Community Clinic
Board of Directors; Libby Coleman and Carol Hanke, museum docents; Anne
Berry, association branch president-elect; Carol Redford, former El Morro
bilingual aide; Dee Perry, an El Morro teacher; Diane Reed and Mark
Serra, parents of the 2002 Tech Trek girls; as well as Hani Feller,
Eleanor Finney, Barbara Garrett, Charlotte Masarik and Laura Tarbox
* Our Laguna is a regular feature of the Coastline. Contributions are
welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652,
hand-deliver to 384 Forest Ave., Suite 22; call 494-4321 or fax 494-8979.