The Star-News


Holy smokes! They make good music

Sat, Oct 29 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

I thought we might mention two ways of "going on the road", both of which are entirely unrelated to the other.

The first of these concerns our local ukulele group, "The Merrie Ukes," and the other involves children of all ages.

One day last week, four members of the "Ukes" packed up their four-stringed instruments and took a jaunt up the coast to the Oasis Club in Corona del Mar in Orange County. I was along for moral support.

Corona del Mar is situated among a group of small communities that meld into one another. Those of us who regularly made the jaunt between here and the Los Angeles area remember this route as the path of magic cities.

This was in the pre-freeway days when the only path north was the old 101. We had to pass through those small towns in the north part of this county, communities such as Del Mar, Carlsbad and Oceanside and then watch as the ones in Orange County appeared in our vision.

This started with San Clemente and then came the magic cities. We had a fascination with such places as Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Huntington Beach and others that were almost as enjoyable to pass through as to visit.

The Oasis Club is housed in the Senior Center, a brand-new building. We had been there before but then the senior center was in an old dilapidated structure. The newly completed building is a large, attractive edifice that, we understand, sees much service.

The Oasis Club is much older, and much larger than our own Merrie Ukes. It is under the direction of a long time musician Tony Cappa and they have many fine musicians in their membership, both men and women. They entertained with a few numbers, fed us some lunch and then it was time for our group to "sing for their supper."

The entertainment by the local group was rather unique. Some time back, one of the members, Hideo Haga, a person of many talents, designed and made what are called cigar box Ukeleles. They are just that, the body, at one time having housed someone's cigars and now being the source of dulcet tones. Haga made four such instruments and they were played by the uke leader, John Porner, Ellie Fulks, Beverly Sanchez and Haga himself. The group's repertoire, though short, included one appropriate melody, "Smoke, smoke, smoke, that cigarette." The rendition was performed with such emotion that I thought everyone was going to cough all the way home.

Those of us on this excursion have to admit that if one is going on the road, this is a good way of doing it. Members of the Oasis Club are due to visit the Merrie Ukes sometime in the future. We would imagine that they will use conventional instruments at that time.

On a rather sad note we must report the passing of Olivia Munoz. Olivia was one of the founding members of the Merrie Ukes, and an accomplished ukulele musician. She died last week, rather unexpectedly. She will be sadly missed by the group.

I have been told that it is my responsibility to remind the reading public that in three short days, next Monday to be exact, the streets and byways of the community will be inundated by the younger set of our citizenry making unabashed demands on their elders. The demands are rather simple. Little voices will be crying out "Trick or Treat," and holding out sacks, of all types, assuming they are going to receive their due. The warning is uncomplicated. Experienced hands aver that a simple, "Tootsie-Roll" or miniature "Milky Way" will sate the appetite of the ghouls and goblins making such demands.

From one who has experienced such interruptions from his easy chair to the front door I might make a further recommendation. As long as you have to dig for one Milky Way you might as well take out another. Nothing like a candy-fix as you watch Monday Night football.


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