Cambrian: Slice of Life

Brown all over again

As one wag put it, we even recycle our governors in California. It just takes a while. A good chunk of California’s residents weren’t even born the last time Jerry Brown was inaugurated as California’s chief executive in January 1979, more than 30 years ago.

He’ll do it again on Jan. 3, 2011.

Recently, I began to reminisce about where we were and what we were doing the last time around.

Husband Richard and I were newlyweds who had moved to Cambria (where I’d lived for nearly a decade before we met). We planned to care for my mother, raise my two teen sons in a community they’d loved, and launch a business we would own and run for more than a decade.

That shop is now the French Corner Bakery. But in January 1979, we and my acquired big brother Forrest Warren were still in the midst of remodeling what had been the service bay for a gas station (where the tearoom would be) and a bookstore (the kitchen). We were testing new products on friends, enclosing an area where an open grate used to be, bringing in giant baking equipment and learning how to adapt a building in which nothing was built squarely.

Ah, memories.

Recently, I took some illustrious Cambria citizens along with me for that stroll down Memory Lane to learn what they had been doing in January 1979, the last time Jerry Brown was inaugurated as California’s governor:

Mike Thompson, a new director on the Cambria Community Services District board, said he was then deputy director of criminal justice for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who was “midway through his second term as mayor at the time and the campaign wheels were turning for a shot at the governor's race against George Deukmejian in 1982. Plans were also underway for the city’s hosting of the 1984 Summer Olympics, one of the most successful games in recent history.”

His wife, Sally, “had just begun her career working with underprivileged and delinquent youth in the San Fernando ValleyShe subsequently worked for the Grammy Awards, then was appointed CEO of the LA Children’s Museum.

“After that,” he recalled, “we escaped to Cambria and haven’t looked back.”

Dianne Brooke, Cambria’s “Lady Tie Di” and president of the Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees, was “planning a wedding with my boyfriendWe had just bought our house. We got married in September 1979,” but her union with Andy Randazzo wasn’t destined to last. She moved to Cambria “without the man” in 1981, and a colorful chapter in local history had begun.

Nick Franco, superintendent of this county’s State Parks district, was in high school. “I was hired as a park aide in Brown’s last year as governor. I may very well finish my career with him as governor.”

Muril Clift, a CCSD director since March 2008, was sales manager for the West Kern County district of State Farm Insurance. He and wife, Vicki, “had just moved into a 3,700- square-foot, old Spanishstyle 1930s house in the old Stockdale area in Bakersfield. It was the dog on the block in an exclusive, old-guard 87-home gated community. We were a younger couple, probably overreaching our financial and social situations.

“That was my first real construction project,” he said, and full of lessons. “I learned a lot about carpentry, how to stucco, that half of life is having the right tool to do the job, and that to find out about a certain skill, ask the person who’s made a living doing it for a long time.”

Chris Adams, superintendent of Coast Unified School District, was “in the sixth grade in Santa Monica. I was a huge California Angel fanplaying little league, skateboarding a lot.”

Don Melendy, administrator for the Cambria Community Healthcare District, doesn’t remember exactly where he was, but it’s no wonder. Wife “Susie and I got married on Jan. 20, 1979,” he said, so “maybe that is why I don’t recall his inauguration.”

Now, my friend, where were you in January 1979? Tell us, and we might do a follow-up later. In the meantime, we wish Governor-elect Brown good luck and hard work. We’re going to need it.

Happy New Year, everybody!

E-mail Kathe Tanner at ktanner@thetribunenews . com. Read more “Slices” at