Sat, Jan 14 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña
Age, I believe, is the principal factor that curtails many of the activities that we enjoy. With age we see our bodies reach the end of the line in many of those things that were sort of commonplace in earlier times. And we rue that outcome.
In my particular case it is the fact that I can no longer play golf. Of all forms of recreation that I once used to partake, this is the one that is most missed. Oh, I never was a great player. I could never reel off those birdies or eagles like some that I knew. I never even shot a hole-in-one. My late wife, Zula, who played about two or three times a year had one. I came close, but close don’t count. The ball must go into the hole.
I thought of golf the other day when I had a letter from Charley Marshall, a colleague from my teaching days. We were together at Lee School in Paradise Hills back in the ‘60s. We used to, on occasion, take that short ride after school to what was then the course we used to call “Little Bonita.” It was at the site of what is now Plaza Bonita. We, in fact, shed tears when the course gave way to the shopping mall. There was this beautiful expanse of greenery giving way to masses of concrete and steel. In retrospect it turned out satisfactory. Bonita got the Bonita Golf Club and National City got a new venue for tax dollars.
After hearing from Charley and speaking with a few other friends I realized that it wasn’t the game itself that is missed but rather the companionship that it brought about. I have written in this space many times about the group of educators who played golf, the ones called REGA. But long before REGA there were those impromptu games, along with the planned excursions to out of town resorts. All these bring back pleasant thoughts.
Charley gave me an update on one of those golfers, Benny Grandona. Grandona always stirs up vivid recollections of memorable feats. We were playing the west course at Cottonwood one day. Grandona was paired with Vern Floor and was driving the cart. Cottonwood had part of the Sweetwater River running the length of the course, adjacent to many of the fairways. Grandona parked the cart at a hill overlooking the river and the two went to the green to putt out. Grandona, however, apparently forgot to set the brake. The next time they looked, the golf cart, with golf bags and everything else had slid down the hill and was now in about four feet of water. It is said that Floor refused to speak to his playing partner for the rest of the round. He, however, did a lot of glaring.
Floor, as we recall, was a better cook than he was a golfer. He lived in a trailer park in Lakeside. Each year he would rent the park’s recreation room and invite the entire golf group and wives to a ravioli dinner. The raviolis were hand made by Floor himself. We could readily attest to that. I came in early once and saw Floor contemplating this huge mass of dough. Before too long it became those tiny pillows of goodness stuffed with I don’t know what but no one cared.
The late George Forbes was one of the mainstays of that traveling group of golfers. He had a brother who lived in the Los Angeles area who invited the entire group north to play at a new course in Commerce. This was quite a resort with two courses aptly named the Eisenhower and the Zaharias. Since we were partial to lady golfers we played the latter. We started to play but before too long the rains came in the form of monsoons. I had never been so cold and so wet in my life. We asked the pro shop manager for a rain check but all we got was a smile.
My son, David, will be returning for a visit the latter part of the month. He is going to take me to a resort in Palm Springs. I will, of course, only watch the golfers. But if it rains I am going to laugh.
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