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Links to past fading away Richard Pena | Sat, Feb 19 2011 12:00 PM

I had an e-mail the other day from Don Jackson, the leader of our golf group, that was rather sad, albeit understandable.

He was telling the members of the group, the Retired Educators Golf Association, REGA, that the organization was disbanding. Due to the dwindling number of players it was no longer worthwhile to make tee times, write a newsletter and make up a competitive game.

Actually this was no surprise. What used to be a teeming, active group, ready to tee it up each Monday at the Bonita Golf Club, had diminished to, on its most active days, a scant four or five players, and most of those not choosing to continue the round.

As those of us in our declining years would say, it is much easier to not do something than to do it.

They tell us that old habits are hard to break. Hence, I met with Jackson at the golf club last Monday for breakfast to sort of reminisce on the past 31 years of REGA's existence.

It was January 1980. I had retired from the city schools a week earlier and I joined another recently retired school administrator, the late Don Chamberlin, for a round of golf at Pala Mesa, a North County course that we both liked.

We decided to make it on a Monday to sort of poke fun at those colleagues of ours who still had to work. And since we could think of no better way to start the work week than with a round of golf, we opted to continue the practice with a different golf course each Monday.

It is from that innocent beginning that the golf group grew. Within a few months other teachers and principals retired and we had ourselves an organization - loosely knit, it is true -but, nonetheless, a unit that was destined to grow and be around for some time.

In its heyday there were 16 regular members with a covey of others ready to slip in as substitutes or regulars if someone dropped out. From the group we selected a leader, one who scheduled the course and who made up the game. The game, by the way, was different each week, each more diabolical than the last.

Jackson, a 20-year member of the group, remembered and told me that he had been sponsored by Truman Jensen. Jensen had been a teacher and administrator in San Diego but took a job in the Lakeside School District and retired from there.

We recalled how Jensen was often the butt of many jokes. His principal nemesis was Charles Marshall, who at one time was my principal at Lee School.

Jensen was once absent from the group for a couple of months, having taken a cross-country family trip. Marshall schemed with other members to ignore Jensen on his return and greet him as if they had last seen him the day before. Jensen could not understand why no one asked about his trip which had covered 6,000 miles and a majority of the states. On top of that he had an album of photos to show anyone who asked.

It had been the custom for REGA to have a gala once a year. This was generally brunch on a Sunday morning involving wives and other companions.

Jackson is planning on having one last brunch at the Bonita Golf Club, involving as many of the former players and their spouses as are able to attend. This will be sometime in the spring.

Members and guests will then have another opportunity to hear some of those old anecdotes - like the time Benny Grondona forgot to set the brake on the golf cart at a golf hole near the river at Cottonwood and he and his partner Verne Floore watched in horror as the cart majestically mired itself and its contents in the stream. We understood it was six months before Floore spoke to Grondona again.

Or they might listen to a description of what was the golf style of some: Joe Alexander and Al Whipple used to wear rainbow-style slacks that would make the Emerald City look drab.

It is said that all things have a beginning and an end. We know that REGA is seeing its end. But with 31 years of stories and tales you have to believe that it is going out in class.

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