Bear Lake, quiet and far from the madding crowds, is where we live most weekends.
We seek out its profound quiet to relax,
rejuvenate and recover from the rigors of LA living.
night was the exception.
On the eve of our 29th wedding anniversary, music from the 1960s
shattered the tranquillity of the mountains and we rocked the
night away in the middle of a pine forest under a canopy of stars.
Association -- that talented rock group with those blissful
multi-part harmonies that toppled the Beatles
off the charts in the 1960s -- were here to perform at the biggest
summer event up at the lake, the annual Big
Bear Discovery Center Gala.
A few weekends ago, our
Big Bear Lake neighbor Pat reminded us to hurry up and get our
tickets as it was expected to sell out. (It did) Pat's
singing of a few bars of the heart-melting song, "Cherish," was enough to trigger a
cascade of nostalgic memories. Before you could say 'Never My
Love,' we decided to join Pat and her husband Bernie
and our neighbors down the
road, Beth and Reg, for an evening with The Association.
for The Vocal Group Hall of Fame & Museum site with an audio
clip of the sweet harmonies of "Cherish." This
will load in a new window. If you are not DSL-connected, it may take a while to load in. Hang in. In the
meantime, reacquaint yourself with its lyrics:
is the word that I use to describe / All the feeling that I have
hiding here for you inside / You don't know how many times I've
wished that I had told you / You don't know how many times I've
wished that I could hold you / You don't know how many times
that I've wished I could mold you / into someone who could
cherish me as much as I cherish you..."
handful of keiki o ka `âina (meaning 'children of the
land' or less poetically, those born in Hawai`i) can lay claim to
albums that have sold multi-millions. Bette Midler and Yvonne
Elliman (Jesus Christ Superstar) come to mind. Include Larry
Ramos on that short list. He is from the island of
Kaua`i, then lived on O`ahu until age 12, moved to the mainland, and
became one of the original members of The
Association, a group that has sold 30 million records and
earned six gold albums and one platinum.
of the new millenium, three of the 100 most played tunes of all
time on the radio are The Association's "Never My
Love" (#2) with 8 million+; "Cherish" (#22)
with 3 million+; and "Windy" (#61) with 4
for The Association's site with "Never My Love" sung
in Hawaiian -- YES!
Another clip from Never
My Love ~ 'A'ole La E Ku'ulei from Larry's solo CD can be
while still "down the hill" in Suburbia and listening to
the Aloha Joe Internet Radio Show as we do most Saturday mornings,
I did a Google search to catch up on Larry's life since we last
saw him when he performed at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu back in the
landed on a Honolulu
article about Larry. He married an Idaho girl 39 years ago, and the
rolling prairie of
Idaho has been home for Larry and his family. Next to
Las Vegas, I think you couldn't pick a place more different than his
homeland. In that archived newspaper interview, Larry mentioned how he missed Hawai`i every single
day. Having just returned from Maui earlier in the week, I
could feel my heartstrings being tugged.
there a way that we could bring a little bit of Hawai`i to Larry?
there were enough blossoms on our little plumeria tree to make a
lei. You thought so and promptly proceeded to pick the flowers off
the tree. Flowers bagged and lei needle packed, we took off to the
hour before it was time to head to the gala, I plopped down on the living room floor
to string the fragrant blossoms into a lei. You helped me by
selecting the choicest blossoms. It turned out to be a lei of
fond remembrances, a
As each blossom was
added, precious memories were revived, relived and enlivened.
remembered my high school friend, Gayle, who went through a
painful time in 1966. Her parents were divorcing, and the
love ballad "Cherish" about unrequited love held
personal significance for her. Too bad all the times she
played it didn't count toward the record for most radio play.
"Cherish" would have easily secured the #1 spot for all
time. Gayle invented the concept of
remembered the song "Windy" that lifted spirits with its
peeking out from under the stairway / Calling a name that's
lighter than air / Who's bending down to give me a rainbow /
Everyone know's it's Windy / Who's tripping down the streets of
the city / Smiling at everybody she sees / Who's reaching out to
capture a moment / Everyone knows it's Windy / And Windy has
stormy eyes / That flash at the sound of lies / And Windy has
wings to fly / Above the clouds..."
remembered "Never My Love" and the bittersweet poignancy
of young love, passion's urgencies and an innocence that did not
know that "forever" had an end.
ask me if there'll come a time / When I grow tired of you /
Never my love / Never my love / You wonder if this heart of mine
/ Will lose its desire for you / Never my love / Never my love /
What makes you think love will end / When you know my whole life
depends on you / You say you fear I'll change my mind / I won't
require you / Never my love / Never my love / How can you think
love will end / When I've asked you to spend your whole life
with me / Never my love / Never my love..."
then there was the uptempo classic "Along Comes Mary," "Everything That Touches
You," and your favorite, "Time for Livin'." Funny, how
songs and scents allow for effortless time travel, for in those
moments, we was there in Hawai`i reliving those beautiful,
carefree days of our youth.
lush tropical fragrance of the plumeria mingled with the
refreshing, vanilla-tinged pine scents, fueling our anticipation. Larry would
experiencing a most familiar and nostalgic Hawaiian scent in
a place he'd least expect to do so -- an alpine forest in Southern
with water and cushioned in plastic wrap, the lei was carefully tucked,
out of sight, into my bag.
we got to the Discovery Center, it was apparent that this was
going to be a very fun evening. People were into the spirit.
decor was vintage 1960s.
and peace signs.
fringe and embroidered jeans.
"These boots were
made for walking..."
staked out a 60's-themed, gaily decorated table, then browsed the rows
and rows of
impressive silent auction items, all donated by the kind and
generous folks of the area to raise funds for the center.
is nonprofit and dependent on
donations, grants and fundraising. The community support
for this center is
overwhelming. The list of individuals, volunteers,
donors and sponsors was awesome and this was the largest
gala ever. The thousands of hours of dedicated hard
work by gala committee members and volunteers were evident
everywhere. It was exquisitely well-organized!
purpose of the center is noble: to connect people
and the forest. I'm looking forward to
retirement and becoming a volunteer "to help preserve
our precious forest for generations to come."
Now this is
a fascinating factette:
Discovery Center has more visitors per year than
Yellowstone and Yosemite combined!
How sweetly these "oh-so-in-love" bears gaze into each
me of us.
money were no object, I would have bought every raffle ticket and this pair of lovey bears
by Tom Biethan would have surely
come home with us to commemorate our 29th wedding anniversary:
foodie, I was busy admiring the beautifully
presented hors d'oeuvres, stuffing my face, sipping the
complimentary wines, and snapping pictures of stuffed olive puffs,
marinated mushrooms, smoked
salmon and cream cheese canapés, Swedish meatballs, stuffed celery
sticks, grilled sausages, bruschetta topped with caramelized onions
and more, generously provided by the members of A
Big Bear Bed & Breakfast Experience.
know how to make `ono pûpû (delicious
you were 'talking story' (chatting it up) with a
Hawai`i-looking fellow. We "brownies" from Hawai`i
have this built-in radar for each other.
Ramos, Garlena and Linsey Leilani
out he was Del Ramos, Larry's younger brother with his
lovely wife Garlena and their adorable daughter, Linsey,
who shares my Hawaiian name, Leilani. Del is a sweetheart with a
warm personality; we learned that he too is now a member of the
band, singing baritone and bass and playing bass.
in California, Del is closer to Hawai`i than Larry. Del married a
They live not far from us down the hill, and
Del's and Larry's sister once lived in our city. We talked about
the Hawaiian restaurants in our area. If there's one common love
people share and love critiquing, it is island food. Nothing
invited us to join them in a luxurious fifth-wheel trailer.
There, we spent time with Del and his family, his brother Larry and
fellow band member Bob Werner, rhythm guitarist and vocalist. Russ Giguere,
the other original member of the band, stopped by.
were a congenial bunch of guys, and I
did not detect even the teensiest bit of ennui. There was
none of that
"been there, done that" insouciance.
the last time we saw Larry and Russ in concert at
Honolulu's Pagoda Hotel, known for its spectacular koi
ponds. Larry shared a poignant story of that time.
He saw a
woman along in years, leaning against the railing and enjoying the colorful
koi. Engaging her in
conversation, he learned that she was Dorothy Lamour,
the sarong-draped actress of our parents' generation. In the sunset of her life, she had come to see and listen to The Association.
Giguere & Bob Werner
the movies with Rita Moreno,
an erstwhile Big Bear Lake
a life Larry Ramos has crammed into his 60
talent is encoded in the family genes; their mother sang and
their father was a `ukulele player. Like
'Ohta-San' Ohta, Larry's show business career began when
he was a wee one.
age 5 in 1947, he accompanied his sister's singing of the song
"Jealousy" with his `ukulele and sang
harmony. They won the KGMB Amateur Hour radio show
competition. His burgeoning talent was a shock to his father
who had taught him the basics.
did his little boy learn to play those licks or sing those
Larry explains it, "I have an ear for
age 7, he was in the 1950 movie
"Pagan Love Song" with
Williams and Rita Moreno (this was her first movie
year, after Larry won top honors at a statewide `ukulele
contest, Arthur Godfrey
whisked the young lad off to New York to
appear on his national TV and radio shows. Other Godfrey
discoveries include Pat Boone, Steve Lawrence, Roy Clark and
Patsy Cline. (Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley
flunked his auditions)
then won the role of the oldest son in the Broadway play, "The King and I" with
1962-1966, he was with The New Christy Minstrels, who were regulars on the "The Andy Williams
Helene, and twin
girls, Tracy and Stacy, were added to his life's mix...
Then he became one of
the original members of The
Association in 1967... In the 1970s, with Russ, he
bought the rights to the group's name. He continues to tour
Larry playing his
`ukulele on the set of the movie, Pagan Love Song
reminisced about the bon dances in Koloa. Remember how we
overnighted in the canefield after going to one on our
honeymoon, 29 years ago?
has the rhythm of the taiko drum and the moves in his
Tun, tun, tun
ta tun tun.
reminisced about our 'hanabata' (childhood) days growing up
in innocent, unspoiled Hawai`i and found ourselves lapsing into
pidgin English, our first language.
a bonding thing, identifying us as Hawai`i-born and -raised
and bringing us back to our roots. Derived from the
original language of the island, Hawaiian,
pidgin's intonation and sentence structure are unique,
to acquire and impossible to fake. And so we revive it with
one another -- even if our kids may think speaking it makes
us sound like a bunch of ignorant Hawaiian hayseeds!
worry, keeds. `A`ole pilikia.
Leeving all dese years
we can talk regulah English wen we laik.
We only talk 'da kine' wen us locals
oh eef we laik embahrass da h*** outta you ... nah,
caught up with family. His mom is now 83 and thank goodness, recovering
successfully from hip surgery. These days, Larry makes it a priority to get home
more often to be with them. His folks have returned to live in Kapa`a,
Kaua`i after years of California living. Time waits for no man...
excused himself momentarily, returning with a binder of his favorite photographs.
He flipped through the pages with us, sharing bits and pieces of
his life. It serves as his lei hali`a.
Larry with his car
one of his early toy boats
Say Toy Boat -- Fast
-- Three Times In A Row
As Larry shared his passions -- cars,
designing cars, and toy boats -- with us, his eyes lit up
He talked about his place in Idaho with its
serpentine road that wends its way to his house -- a car driver's
dream with tight turns. He glowed, exuding an endearing boyishness
that was a delight to witness.
He gazed fondly at the black
Corvette of his early
Association days ... his modified Volkswagen car designs... his van...
spoke nostalgically about the `57 Thunderbird that he bought for
his father. In Hawai`i, most residents park their cars in
open carports; Larry's father built an enclosed garage --
special -- to protect his T-bird from
Kaua`i's salt spray.
His father is now
88 and no longer drives, but that
T-Bird remains his pride and joy. It is his heart's
Knowing that our friends must have
wondering if we had been sucked into a black hole, we excused
ourselves. But before we took our leave, I remembered to reach into my bag
and pull out the lei, still fresh and chilled.
Larry's eyes brightened, registering
surprise, as I presented it to him, Hawaiian style. Knowing
the fragility of the blooms as only a local would, he gently held it up to his nose and
the fragrance that we grew up with in Hawai`i. I would like
to think for those moments his spirit made a quick trip home, just
long enough to be infused with Aloha.
We returned to our
table just in time for a delicious dinner. We apologized
profusely to our friends for being waylaid in a very unexpected --
but very nice -- way. They understood. These are our
host of the California Gold TV show
we stood in the buffet line, another highlight of the
evening appeared right before our very eyes.
It was the guest
of honor: Huell
Howser! We are big Huell fans. We've watched him
enough times that we can even affect his drawl. And
we're from Hawai`i!
Thanks to Huell,
his informative California travelogues and
off-the-beaten-track adventures, we've discovered the best
treasures of our adopted state, including the fascinating
Integratron in Landers, not far from Big Bear, that I wrote
And because of
Huell's visit to Sylvia Wood's Harp Center, I've been known
to pluck a few strings on a harp. Promise me that you will
teach me to play "Kawaipunahele" on
it. How about "Cherish"?
Huell produced an hour-long program on Big Bear for his California Gold series;
unfortunately we were on Maui when it was broadcasted. Let's
be sure to order a copy of it. If it's by Huell, it is
Brawny yet with
a sweet charm and gentleness, he is a most
attractive man on TV, and even more so in real life, especially
in an Aloha shirt.
Best of all,
he's a hugger of the first order.
|The clouds above
intermittently dropped huge raindrops -- including a few
that plopped right into our wine glasses.
The folks took it all in
stride. Some were downright creative in fashioning
rain covers. Thank goodness, these were just passing sprinkles; in Hawai`i, we consider them blessings.
I personally hope
that it was an omen of more rains to come. Our trees need a
long tall drink.
Pray for rain.
The fine folks at Stillwell's
Restaurant and the Northwoods
Resort and Conference Center were in charge of
dinner. There was no shortage of food. They would have piled
it higher if I let them. And the best part of it was the
friendliness of the serving crew. Everyone was up and
enjoying themselves. A class operation. And, yes, the food was simply
delicious! What diet?
Nothing like a warm smile.
Our compliments to the
|The live auction
at sunset was lively, spirited and lots of fun. We
experienced the thrill of raising our auction paddles a few times, thanks to Pat's business
acumen and quick calculations. All totaled, the live
action alone netted a whopping $39,000 for the
center. Thank you to all the donors of the auction
We were awed and touched by the generosity of the donors
and the bidders.
Larson and Larry Marino did a fantastic job as gala
KRLA 870AM (LA) & KRLH 590AM (SB):- 6-9 am,
Aka: Co-deputy Mayors of Fawnskin and Grand Marshalls of
the Doo Dah Parade, 2003
"Intriguing, smart, thoughtful, hilariously
creative and entertaining..." Were they all that?
Yes, they were ALL THAT and more.
Again, if money were no object, this
Hamari wood sculpture would have made its way home with me, teddy bear
lover that I am. I've enjoyed this particular creation that
welcomed folks into the model home at Hamari Log
Homes. This is the only one that Roy ever produced
that was finished with color.
And now Roy is
retiring from the carving business. Darn!
It went off the block for $4100 and
no doubt will bring years of sweet dreams to its new owner. Just
at the those red pajamas and precious bunny rabbit
I'll be content to admire
this picture of it. Roy's bears have the sweetest
expressions on their faces, and these are no exceptions. I'm
grateful that this picture of the bears will be here for us to
remember and enjoy.
I have no complaints. I have you and our dogs,
and you three are
the best live "teddy bears" ever. You are
priceless. And money is no object.
The most touching was
the bidding for this sweet labrador retriever-Springer spaniel
This darling, sweet dispositioned pooch
was the one you saw over at the VCA Animal Hospital & Pet
Store the other day when you went to pick up dog food for our
He was donated by Drs. Hovick and
Sevedge and they are providing one year of free medical care,
including neutering, shots, fecal exam and de-worming, if necessary
and any other medical treatment during the year.
His value including the vet services
was listed at $750. If he's anything like our kolohe
(naughty) two, especially our all-guts-no-brains,
this deal is a steal!
Again, if money were no object, I
would have brought this one home, too!
Up on the
SOLD to the
(He went for over $750!)
|And then The
"Re-Discovering the 60s" began in earnest.
There was Larry Ramos
(tenor, lead guitar) with our
fresh plumeria lei, front and
center with Russ Giguere (baritone, percussion), the
original members. There were Jordan Cole (tenor-bass,
keyboards), Bruce Pictor (baritone, drums), Del
Ramos (baritone, bass and plays bass), Bob
Werner (baritone, rhythm and lead guitar) and (?),
guitarist from Orange County.
Their sound was as fresh as ever; their precision harmonies, tight
and smooth. They wove a lei hali`a of songs around
each member of the audience.
As we danced with
abandon under the stars to the beat of those oh, so familiar
tunes, we were taken
back to our teen years. Our memories of
that time were refreshed, and we revisited our homeland. For us,
our experience of The Association, their songs and the happiness and
joy that they conveyed happened in Hawai`i.
All around me were faces
aglow. We were not alone in taking our sentimental
journeys. As hearts, minds and spirits sped back to the 1960s,
people were criss-crossing all across the map, recalling
another time, another place.
Big Bear Lake, CA
possible, I make it a point to get up front and close. It's all in
business with its fame-seekers, power brokers, and its constant
scrambling for the top can be a rough and tumble business, capable
of dehumanizing and making people less than their full glory.
all seen burnt out musicians who mechanically go through the motions
of yet another gig. My heart aches for them. They're the ones with the glazed eyes that
no longer reach out to touch their audience. Disconnected and
having lost their way, they also lose sight of their audience.
there was those with eyes that keep reaching out, continually making
contact with souls: Israel Kamakawiwo`ole, John Denver, Keali`i
Reichel, The Mâkaha Sons, The Brothers Cazimero, Kenny Rankin, and
The Association's Larry and Del Ramos, Russ Giguere, Bob Werner,
Bruce Pictor, and Jordan Cole. Wanting to please their audience, even
after years of entertaining, they reach deep within and keep coming
up with the best of themselves.
They sing from the heart -- or as we
say in Hawai`i, from the na`au -- the gut.
still marveling at what I saw. Even
after 55 years in show business, Larry's eyes still light up,
looking not at an abstract sea of people but at the faces of the
people themselves. Grangeville,
Idaho, his wife and family must be taking good care of Larry,
nurturing his spirit. For that I am
grateful, as Larry is open, friendly, and retains his Aloha.
Life on the road can wreak havoc on any relationship. Yet, 33
years later, they are together. And look what I just found on
the `Net: they're the parents of a Xolo
named Olive Oyl.
dedicated a love song to his wife of 33 years. A touching
remembrance. A sweet gesture. Though distance may separate them, I hope
is feeling the full force of his love.
Association's music is still full of heart. THEY DELIVER! Each
member serves a wonderful purpose of refreshing memories of a bygone
time and of getting people back in touch with their glory days,
their wonder years. A life review with music.
create nostalgia of the best kind, the kind that allows the glory
and wonder of those years to spill over into present time. They are
joy creators who allow us to reclaim Windy's buoyant optimism that
was once ours:
trippin' down the streets of the city, smilin' at everybody she
Who's reachin' out to capture a moment, everyone knows it's
Thank you for
your anniversary card to your sweet Leilani. I love
I got my bears after all!
29 Years and
Mahalo for the best years of my life.
This evening is
one I want to always remember.
It was the perfect anniversary evening with you.
We ate. We laughed. We danced. We
We remembered how
blessed we are, loving one another as we do.
This is my 'card'
back to you. May this account keep our beautiful memories
of this night -- with all of its details, thoughts, and
perceptions intact -- as fresh as the plumeria blossom you
picked for me to wear in my hair...
ke Aloha pau`ole,
only gift is a portion of thyself."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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