Letters from the Editor: Memories forever in newsprint

I never met Marcia Forsberg, who wrote features for this newspaper in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now it looks like I never will.

Her husband of 39 years, Richard Forsberg, was charged this week with killing her in their Rancho Santa Margarita home and hiding her remains in Ventura County. Marcia Forsberg's body has not been recovered.

She was — or if still alive, is — 61.

Now the only way to get to know Forsberg is through her writing. After rummaging through the Daily Pilot and Los Angeles Times' archives, I could find only three of her old columns, though she wrote many more pieces for us. But even from this small sample, I feel like I got a sense of her colorful writing style and the enthusiasm she brought to the trade.

Her columns, Orange County on View, are something of a time capsule, particularly for those of us who remember the popular culture of the 1970s and 1980s.

On June 22, 1982, Forsberg wrote about a Monte Carlo night in South Laguna with a "Love Boat" theme.

"Unpack that steamer trunk and slip into your cruise clothes, then climb up the gangplank to the parking structure at South Coast Medical Center …." she wrote. "… You won't need a travel agent to book your passage for this summer cruise."

Forsberg promised that "Lady Luck will smile throughout the evening…"

In another item in the same column, she wrote, "Life preservers, sails, flags and colors will provide a seagoing backdrop for Friday night's 23rd Annual Commodores' Ball."

The chamber-affiliated group remains a staple of Newport society. That same column also covered an event at the Balboa Bay Club.

It seemed as if life revolved around the waterfront. Nautical themes abounded.

Not much has changed.

My favorite item in that column was on the golden anniversary of a Leisure World couple — nobody famous — just a retired librarian and a retired insurance actuary marking a half-century of matrimony. These were regular folks, sharing space with the local glitterati.

In another 1982 column, she wrote about a fundraiser for South Coast Repertory. The auction offered stuff that anyone around here would have wanted: a baseball signed by Reggie Jackson, a jersey donned by Magic Johnson and a tie sported by Johnny Carson.

And, not to be outdone by "The Love Boat," event, this auction offered a lucky winner a day on the set of "The Dukes of Hazzard."

"Fantasy Island" didn't make it into any of the columns I read, but another prize is one you probably wouldn't see offered too often in many of today's O.C. charity auctions: A "private tour of the Playboy Mansion."

It was, as the say, a different era.

But there is evidence that many traditions endured.

In another piece, Forsberg wrote, "Dads and debutantes — the two seem to go together."

These columns offered a good mix of items. There was a lot of copy, a lot of storytelling, done in relatively small spaces.

Each item is separated by a star. Perfect for scrapbooking.

In newspapers, we sometimes call this approach a "three-dot column," to signify the ellipses or asterisks that separate short column items.

Readers just consider them readable.

And Forsberg certainly was.

JOHN CANALIS is the editor for the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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