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Our Laguna: Hats off to supporters of Laguna Beach Library

The “Ladies Who Lunch and Read” topped off the annual Friends of the Laguna Beach Library fundraiser Tuesday at Sapphire with awards for the prettiest hats worn by supporters.

Kathleen Lechner won first prize. She wore one of her mother’s hats in honor of Mother’s Day.

Second prize went to school member Betsy Jenkins, wearing a side-brimmed blue and green silk “garden party” hat from Duet on Forest Avenue.

Librarian Jenny Gasset was awarded third prize for the floral fascinator she made herself. Fascinators are those confections attached to headbands seen often by viewers of the royal wedding.


“I recommend wearing a hat because if you don’t, they make you the judge,” said hatless Laguna Beach Community Foundation President Darrcy Loveland Bickel.

Friends of the Laguna Beach Library President Martha Lydick received an honorable mention for the navy blue straw hat that had been sitting in her closet unworn for three years since she bought it at Sutton Place.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson was also given a mention for her white straw hat trimmed with full-blown pale lilac roses swathed in chiffon drapery. Studio Arts Gallery owner Rebecca Barber got a nod for her perky topper, as did City Treasurer Laura Parisi for the wide-brimmed grey straw picture hat given to her by her daughter, Alex Navas, who works at Sutton Place in Peppertree Lane.

Past Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. President Pauline Walpin wore a pearl-beaded, white straw hat, shaped like an Egyptian crown, a present from Pearson.


Alice Dawson, widow of former Councilman Howard Dawson, chose a hat made by Michelle Boyd, wife of Councilman Kelly Boyd.

“Michelle didn’t recognize it because I put a flower on it for spring,” Dawson said.

Boyd wasn’t wearing one of her own creations; she bought her doll-sized, gold and bronze, straw fascinator at Duet.

Sandy Ohanesian’s fascinator was a silk flower in shades of beige and brown.

Despite the oohs and aahs over the hats, the real business of the luncheon is to recommend books one has read.

“‘Religious Literacy’ by Stephen Prothero is book about how important it is to understand other religions,” Lechner said.

She also recommended “The Snowball,” a biography of Warren Buffett.

“It’s not the usual thing I read — I am not in the financial world — but it is very well written.”


Jenkins, who just returned from China, said she read two great books on the trip: “The Last Chinese Chef” and “Fallen Leaf, " both recommended by Joe and Jane Hanauer —she owns Laguna Books in the Old Pottery Place, which he redeveloped.

“But my point is, if you are going on a trip, nothing is better than reading about where you are going,” Jenkins said. “It makes the trip more interesting. Go to Jane’s store and she will fix you right up.”

Vicki de Reynal recommended a book about buying a house in Italy, written by actors Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry.

Mary Fitzgerald said many of the women at the luncheon had probably seen “The King’s Speech” and enjoyed it, but the book contains more information about the therapist. It was written by his grandson.

Gasset’s recommendation deserves reading because of the clever title if nothing else.

But “The Three Weissmans of Westport,” by Cathleen Schine is a good “light read,” said Gasset, no literary snob.

“And we have it at the library,” she said.

The afternoon also included opportunity prizes for which Dee Pink sold the tickets.


Donations included a light box from Tiffany’s that illuminates photographs and an ornate umbrella stand, both won by Parisi.

Pink was the winner of two tickets to a Laguna Playhouse production and a gift certificate from Alessa Cucina on Forest Avenue.

Loveland Bickel’s name was drawn out of the hat — so to speak — for the teeth whitening donated by Barbara Hawthorne.

Lydick was holding her breath the entire drawing waiting for the winning ticket to be drawn for the glass conch shell donated by John Barber.

“I got it,” she crowed when Samantha Levinson drew her name.

Former Design Review Board member Ann MacDonald, who also coveted the shell, took Lydick’s picture when she claimed her prize.

“No one can ever say I am a sore loser,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald was among the hatless at the luncheon, but she wasn’t alone. Also bareheaded: Realtor Bobbie Cox and the Friend’s Bookstore uber-volunteer Magda Herlicska, who was checking in the “ladies.”


A Word (or two) of warning

My sister-in-law and I learned first-hand of a new twist on credit card theft last weekend.

We were in Temecula visiting the wineries and Old Town, which is an architecturally controlled commercial area of the town.

About 3:45 a.m. the phone rang in our suite. I answered it, with my eyes barely open.

A man, who identified himself as Charles Knight or Knightly, said he was sorry to disturb me, but my credit card had been rejected.

“And you are calling me in the middle of the night to tell me that?” I demanded.

The man said that it was just a glitch in the system, but it had to be cleared up by 4 a.m. and our room rate would be discounted 25% for the inconvenience. He needed my credit card number.

Well, the credit card we had used was not mine, so I handed the phone to my sister-in-law.

She was asked to give her credit card number over the phone or go down to the front desk.

“It’s the middle of the night; just give him my number,” I mumbled.

Fortunately, Patsy is a lot smarter than I am.

She said she would meet him downstairs, hung up and then called the front desk and asked for Charles.

Of course, the women on duty had never heard of Charles. Duh.

But she had put the call through. It came from outside the hotel and we were not asked for by name, just the hotel room number — which the desk person said she would never, ever do again. Good thinking.

Had Patsy given “Charles” my credit card number or hers, he could probably have done a lot of shopping before we were aware of the theft, certainly not until we checked out and found no reduction in our bill.

The incident was reported to the police, who took an information report only because no crime had been committed, just tried.

The officer said that credit card theft and fraud is common, but he had never heard of this particular modus operandi, which is really a cause for concern in any town that caters to tourists like Laguna.


Red Palm Weevil


CBS news anchor Katie Couric featured a section this week on the deadly red palm weevil, announcing that Laguna was ground zero for the United States.


The weevil was found here in October and none has been discovered since, according to Vic Hillstead, deputy director of Public Works.

Meetings were hosted here in November by the state Department of Agriculture and the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner’s office to alert landscape architects and contractors, arborists, tree trimmers master gardeners and a few property owners of the threat.

The red palm weevil is a deadly threat to landscape palms and the date palm industry worldwide, so property owners and gardening professionals should keep a watch for excessive dead or dying fronds, a wilting crown, chewed fiber or sawdust falling from a tree, oozing brown sap and exit holes.

If suspicious, call the city.

BARBARA DIAMOND can be reached at (949) 302-1469 or