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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Backyard birthday soiree brings songs, smiles all around

Ted Davis on his 98th birthday
Ted Davis, second from right, celebrates his 98th birthday with a song, Joining him are La Cañada High students Janet Leyva, Maya Morgan and Matthew Baker.
(Courtesy of Judi Healey)

It was a very special day on Aug. 21 for Ted Davis: a celebration of his 98th birthday!

There was a grand afternoon soiree in his honor, held at the La Cañada home of his daughter, Judi Healey. Ted, an incredibly active guy who is one of the best dancers you would ever want to glide across a dance floor with, was all smiles and ready for a good time.

Ted is a regular volunteer at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, where he dispenses good cheer to the patients.

He’s well known in local social circles and a regular visitor at the Kiwanis Club. He’s also an enthusiastic supporter of our La Cañada Flintridge float in the annual Rose Parade.


Healey’s backyard was decorated with old 78 Decca records by big band artists like Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller and sheet music including “Tender is the Night” from an MGM movie “Here Comes the Band.”

Party guest Janice Croft gave Ted a singing birthday teddy bear, and three La Cañada High School Chamber Singers Janet Leyva, Maya Morgan and Matthew Baker serenaded the guests with songs including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Ted himself attempted to get some sing-alongs going with “It’s a Lovely Day Today” and “Show Me the Way to Go Home.”

The poached cold salmon that was served was worthy of a gourmet magazine picture. The prettiest food delight was the gorgeous marzipan princess cake, a Swedish tradition, served with champagne from France.

Joellen and Jim Yundt enjoyed socializing with others in the backyard, especially since Jim was raised in it.


In his welcoming remarks, Ted credited exercise for his long life, so guest Joe Thompson, a former tennis coach at LCHS, nudged Ted about joining him in a game of tennis.

Nancy Leininger expressed the view of many: “You have demonstrated the most sincere interest in all the people you meet. You ask questions and engage in wonderful conversations. You are the anchor we look upon with respect, admiration and love.”

Joyce Ruygrok toasted with these words: “The most important vitamin is Vitamin F. That stands for Friends. Friends give us energy all our lives.”

Ann Neilson gave Ted a beautiful fresh peach because, she said, Ted is a true “peach” of a person.

It was a lovely party for such a special man. Also celebrating with Ted was Judi’s daughter, Kathryn Peoples, and grandson, Bradley.


In years past, when the new school year didn’t start until after Labor Day, this week would have been the last hurrah of summer and last minute getaway adventures. Since our kids have already been in school for a couple of weeks it is a sort of a non-event.

I must say the brush fire last Sunday afternoon that started in Eagle Rock and moved into Glendale near the Glenoaks Elementary School neighborhood was a little frightening. I’m so glad it was contained somewhat quickly because a lot of damage to residential properties could have been done.


The smoke drifted north throughout the evening and into Monday. It was horrible and certainly put a damper on La Cañada’s Music in the Park concert Sunday. It’s not fun to try to breathe smoky air.

While I’m complaining, I’ll throw in a mention of the early tryout for the flu season I have been experiencing for the past couple of weeks. It’s unlike me to ever run a fever, so three straight days of 102-degree fever put me down and out for the count. The only one who was happy was Lola, my sweet dog, who loved staying in bed with me day and night. I must say the smoke-filled air didn’t do my bronchial tubes any good — it just made me cough even harder!

Hopefully I’m on the other side of it now, but when I’m completely well I will get a flu shot because I sure don’t want to get this again.

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