Saturday, December 09, 2000

Our 2000 Christmas Letter

                                                  December 12, 2000

We labored long and hard (and fruitlessly) in California for the Republican cause (I am the 5th District, Mendocino County Republican Party representative), and Alice and I are finally pleased and happy with the outcome, but we know we have many friends and relatives who aren’t.

As usual, 2000 was a traveling year as well as a political one.  Alice and I began the year on the road visiting family and friends in Southern California and Nevada, and then sightseeing in Arizona and the Southern California desert area.  We both visited the Grand Canyon for the first time as adults, and revisited parts of Route 66 we had traveled in the 60’s while going from one military assignment to the next.  We also hiked and biked over desert trails and visited a variety of places such as London Bridge, Hoover Dam, the Andy Devine museum, Indian cliff dwellings, the Early Man dig, and a whole lot more.

Then we returned to Gualala, to get to know this wonderful place that so many tourists brave Highway 1 to visit.  While I dabbled in real estate at Banana Belt Properties in Anchor Bay, Alice carefully made sure that I showed her every potentially desirable parcel in the area. Alice also continues to marvel at how well her business, Vulcan, Incorporated, is performing and expanding.

Alice has been active in Soroptimists, and I am a Lion.  We also are active in the Garcia Grange in Manchester, where I was one of the youngest members in the late 1950’s and find that over forty years later I am still one of the youngest members.  We both enjoy seeing my old friends and neighbors, and also appreciate our new neighbors who are all interesting and wonderful people.

My personal highlight of the year was working on the Reunion Committee of the Point Arena High School Class of 1960 and helping with a celebration in August of our 40thReunion.  Of the 28 graduates, five passed away, 18 were located and contacted, and 12 made it to the Reunion.  The Reunion dinner in Gualala, and brunch the next day at our house, was pure pleasure for Alice and me.  We plan to have the next Class of 1960 reunion in August 2004, the Friday evening before the next multiyear class reunion.

Not to be outdone, in November Alice’s school, Reseda High in the San Fernando Valley, had its 40th too, and after the reunion dinner/dance in Van Nuys, 84 of us cruised the Mediterranean and vacationed in Spain and Greece for over two weeks.  We began in Barcelona, and then toured Pisa, Etruscan ruins, and Pompeii in Italy, followed by Crete, Santorini, and Rhodes, then our favorite, Ephesus, Turkey, and finished with several days in Athens.  The weather was great, and nothing was crowded.  We felt like we had the Mediterranean to ourselves.

The newest addition to the family, Wade Kelly Combs, was born July 3.  Wade and his parents, Scott and Tracy, visited us a week ago and we were pleased and surprised to see how big and strong he was at five months. He got up on his hands and knees, and then crawled backwards.  We were able to visit all eight grandchildren this year, although it has been almost a year since we saw Melicia and Leaha in Las Vegas.  The other grandchildren, Savannah and Kevin Mone, and Travis, Michael, and Ashley Combs-Beard, live in the Bay Area and we can visit them on a regular basis.
Alice also has three “adopted grandchildren,” two Mexican-American sisters, ages 6 and 8, and a 10-year old boy, and she tutors each of them in reading for an average of six hours apiece each week.  A year ago she joined a volunteer tutoring program, and tutored the 8-year old girl and the 10-year old boy twice each week.  Alice soon determined that more tutoring was needed and developed an intensive program on her own for each child that included training in phonetics, a lot of reading, and fun activities like cooking, nature and beach walks, hot tubbing, swimming, and bike riding.  Alice broke down in tears when the boy demonstrated a dramatic increase in reading ability; he now has a strong appetite to read the “Harry Potter” books Alice introduced him to.  She added the six-year old sister since she could tell by her beautiful sad brown eyes she yearned to be tutored also.  Alice knows that she has already had a big impact on the future success of each of her “grandchildren,” and continues her tutoring program for them year round.

On this happy and hopeful note, Alice and I close this letter and hope that each and all of you have the most happy and joyous holidays and send our best wishes for the new millennium.