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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

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IT WAS A TIME OF TANS, BLONDS AND HOT PANTS, WHEN THE ENDLESS SUMMER WAS JUST A SHORT WALK DOWN A HOT SIDEWALK
Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.


Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

Doing Nothing: The Importance of Free Time for Kids

Originally published in Children magazine.

What I Like Doing Best is Nothing! 

"What I like doing best," said Christopher Robin, "is doing nothing"
"How do you do nothing?" asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do Christopher Robin?' and you say "Oh nothing' and then you go and do it"
"Oh, I see," said Pooh.
"This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing now."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh again.
"It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.
So that's what doing nothing is.
Even back in 1928, when this Pooh story was written, the notion of letting children do nothing didn't last. When Christopher Robin prepares to go off to school he tells Pooh, "I'm not going to do nothing anymore." Po…

A SUMMER PLACE

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Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum: Where a kid can meet Shakespeare under the trees 
"Registration for drama camp?" a young guy asks with a smile.
I nod.
"Over the bridge to the main stage."
Over the bridge is a handwritten sign taped to an old post. Camp Registration is scrawled
quite imperfectly with a felt tip marker. An arrow leads past another old bridge to a clearing, sur-rounded by trees and slightly dilapidated railings. Wrought iron, wooden and cement benches are placed about; dusty walkways promise to lead one and all astray.
"This place is totally cool" Russell says, a trace of awe in his voice.

The gardens are a bit overrun. A flagstone is missing here and there; the lawn chairs are
mismatched, a rustic sign leads to Will's Shakespeare Garden where a bust, not of Shakespeare but of Will Geer, sits beyond the neglected arbor. I smile and tell my ten year old son I'm glad he likes it.  I don't tell him I think the place has magic - he w…