Pow! ValCom Comics No. 1 – The Adventures of a Carmichael Comic Book Collector

Carmichael resident Dr. Chris Gresens has a secret identity.

He didn’t come from another planet with amazing superpowers. He’s not a masked vigilante who protects the innocent, and he wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider.

By day, Gresens is a clinical professor in the Department of Pathology and Level 3 Medicine at UC Davis and senior medical director at BloodSource.

At night, Gresens is an avid comic book collector, with a collection of over 17,000.

Gresens’ love of comics began at age 8 when he picked up his first comic – Action Comics No. 428 with Superman. “It just appealed to me on the newsstand and I haven’t stopped collecting since,” he said. “I still am (a collector) at 47 years old. Old habits die hard.”

Gresens says he loves both the art and storylines of comics, such as the Superman story. “The idea that somebody who can do something extraordinary chooses to for the right reasons to help others – I always like that mythos,” he said.

Since then, Gresens has expanded his reading to a number of other comics, mainly those published by DC Comics. In fact, he purchases the new issue of every DC Comics each month – about 52 issues a month – and takes the time to read them all cover-to-cover.

Gresens said his love of comics is also based on nostalgia. Growing up without discretionary funds for comics, he recalled searching the coin returns in pay phones for an extra 20 cents to purchase a new comic, and recycling aluminum cans he collected to purchase comics or a ticket to Comic-Con.

“$20 went a long way back then – I could buy a stack of comics 15 inches high and get into an adventure,” he says.

Nostalgia is also another reason. Rather than downloading and reading comics electronically, he keeps purchasing printed copies because he enjoys the feel of the comic in his hands.

“Even – and my wife laughs at me – I’ll occasionally smell the print just because it reminds me of when I was a child,” he explains. “There is something to having it in your hands.”

ComicPic1.jpg – (From left) Chris Gresens, and Adventures in Comics and Games staff Anton Dovydaitis and Robbie Ebert. / Photo by Corrie Pelc

(From left) Chris Gresens, and Adventures in Comics and Games staff Anton Dovydaitis and Robbie Ebert. / Photo by Corrie Pelc

Gresens’ store of choice for comic books is Adventures in Comics and Games in Carmichael, owned and run for the past 18 years by Avrom Oliver.

According to Adventures’ staff member Anton Dovydaitis, who is also an avid comic book collector himself, the store carries both new titles and about 20,000 different back issues of comics.

Dovydaitis said comics have been having a bit of a renaissance due to the popularity of TV shows, such as “The Walking Dead,” and various movies based on comic books.

In addition to “The Walking Dead” series, another comic popular right now is “Before Watchmen” with characters and stories from the graphic novel, “Watchmen”. And well-known comics like Superman, Wonder Woman and Justice League are still as popular as ever.

Plus Dovydaitis said artists and writers have more freedom in the stories they tell. “There’s a lot of author-owned titles and a lot of comics where they’ll take an established character and give the writer and artist the freedom to do whatever they want with that character,” he explained.

So why should someone who has never read a comic book before give it a shot?

For starters, Dovydaitis said one of the best things about comics is they create a world you think about and think about what the characters are doing. However, unlike movies where you have to wait a long time for the next part of the story to come out, with comics the next installment of the story come along a lot quicker.

“How long is it going to be until the next ‘Avengers’ film or even the next ‘Hunger Games’ film?” he adds. “But new comics are coming out every month and if you find a story that you like, the next episode will be along next month.”

In essence, Gresens said give it a shot. “Take a look at a comic book store nearby, reserve judgment until you’ve tried reading a story or two, and talk to one of the shopkeepers to find out what is in the comic store that to might like,” he said. “It may or may not be for you, but maybe something that you enjoy. And you may find out there’s a whole lot more going on in the comic book world than you ever realized,” he said.

Editor’s note: Do you or someone you know have an interesting hobby or unusual collection? Email Monica at  editor@valcomnews.com or call 429-9901.

American River Parkway Foundation offers ways to give back

Volunteers from last year's Great American River Clean Up collected trash all along the river. About 1,500 volunteers are expected this year on Saturday, Sept. 15. / Courtesy of the American River Parkway Foundation

Volunteers from last year's Great American River Clean Up collected trash all along the river. About 1,500 volunteers are expected this year on Saturday, Sept. 15. / Courtesy of the American River Parkway Foundation

On Saturday, Sept. 15, about 2,500 volunteers are expected to take part in the American River Parkway Foundation’s annual Great American River Clean Up.
According to Stacy Springer, volunteer manager for the American River Parkway Foundation, which is based in Carmichael, these volunteers will spend three hours that morning cleaning up 20 site locations along the American River of trash and other debris. “And that does not even include the huge kayak and dive teams that go out and address the shoreline and deeper water channels,” she said.
Springer said it’s easy to volunteer for the Great American River Clean Up – volunteers just need to register on the Foundation’s website, www.arpf.org, and then show up on the day of the clean up wearing closed-toe shoes and long pants, plus sunblock and hat if the day is sunny and warm.

Cleaning Up
A site captain, such as Heidi Steger, a Sacramento resident who has been a site captain for the Great American River Clean Up for the past four years, mans each clean up location. Steger oversees the Howe Avenue river access location, which she said covers from Sacramento State upstream to the Watt Avenue location.
On the day of the clean up, Steger is in charge of putting up signs, handing out gloves to those who don’t have their own, distributing trash bags, waters and snacks, and giving some basic safety instructions to about 100 volunteers at her location.
She said there are both paved and unpaved portions of the Parkway, so volunteers can feel comfortable depending on their abilities. “If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t feel bad about walking through high grass or even under trees and through some brambles, that’s fine, but if you’re the kind that wants to stick to the path, that’s fine, too,” she said.
When out on the Parkway, Steger said volunteers are asked to pick up everything from cigarette butts to car tires. “There’s cans, bottles, paper trash, paper bags, plastic containers – it’s a mix,” she said.
There’s an emphasis on picking up cigarette butts at the clean up site location of Michael Rebensdorf, who has been a site captain for almost 10 years. At his site at Sailor Bar – just below Nimbus Dam, across the river from the fish hatchery – Rebensdorf holds a contest for picking up the most cigarette butts. “People walk by the little trash – they want to get the big trash to fill their bag up,” he said.

Having an Impact
Rebensdorf said through his years as a site captain at Sailor Bar, he has seen the amount of trash picked up each year decline significantly. “It’s probably 25 percent now from when I first started,” he said.
He said this is because people are more conscious of not throwing things on the ground and littering. “At Sailor Bar, there’s an entry point for fisherman to the river and I think they’ve become a lot more aware,” he said. “It’s more conscious in people’s minds that if you come out here and throw your things on the ground, you’re not going to be able to come out and fish anymore.”
Steger said the clean up also helps community members get a feel for what the riverbanks are like. “They figure out if you want to be able to enjoy this wonderful gift of the American River, you’ve got to take care of it a little bit, “she said.
And Stringer said volunteers leave with an awareness that everyone is responsible for their backyard regardless of where the trash comes from. “As good citizens and good Samaritans, we want to make sure that if we have to pick up somebody else’s trash because it’s laying there, then that’s what we do – it’s taking on a higher level of responsibility,” she said.

In addition to the Great American River Clean Up, the American River Parkway Foundation has volunteers that help keep the Parkway clean all year long through various programs. One of these programs is the Volunteer Mile Steward program, where individuals and groups adopt a mile of the Parkway and commit to 20 hours of service per quarter to help keep it clean, according to Springer.
“Every mile is a little different – 99 percent of it is trash removal, but we have graffiti removal issues at times,” Springer said. “That’s a very popular program and we have very dedicated volunteers.”
Two of those volunteers are residents Theresa and Steve Graham. About seven years ago they adopted Mile 4, which starts behind the REI in the Arden area and runs down to Cal Expo. Steve said he and Theresa decided to adopt that particular mile because as an avid bicyclist he was using it all the time and realized he should give back.
Steve said he and Theresa go out two hours about twice a month to pick up trash on their mile and report any graffiti or encampments they encounter. “We pick up every little bit because I don’t want an animal stepping in this or eating this, so even if it’s a flip-top from a can it all comes up because we’ve got to keep this clean for the animals as they are there all the time,” he said.
Theresa enjoys their work on the mile as she enjoys being outside and exploring the nature in the area, as well as the flexibility the program offers. “You can do it at what time-frame works for you – you can make it work into your schedule, which really works for us,” she said.
And she also likes the good internal feeling volunteering gives her. “You feel like you’re contributing to the good of the society,” she explained. “I think everybody should do something for the good of their community – it just gives you pride in it.”

For more information on the Great American River clean up or volunteering with the American River Parkway Foundation, visit www.arpf.org.


How Sweet It Is : After 30 years, Leatherby’s continues to dish out more than just ice cream

J.P. Leatherby, Elijah Leatherby, “Good Morning Sacramento” host Mark S. Allen, and Jake Leatherby get down and dirty in an ice cream eating contest during Leatherby's 30th Anniversary celebration in August at the Arden location. Photo courtesy Leatherby's Family Creamery.

In 1992, then Arden resident Kelly Joppa began an experience that would impact the next 20 years of her life by teaching her lessons that she would end up applying to many facets of her life, such as teamwork and generosity.
That experience was working for Leatherby’s Family Creamery in the Arden area.
Joppa recalls pursuing a job at Leatherby’s when in high school, thinking it would be a fun place to work. “I started off scooping ice cream like all of us do – back then it took two to three years to work up to being a waitress,” she says. In total, she worked about nine years at Leatherby’s including two years making ice cream, six to seven years waiting tables, and about a year in management.
Joppa fondly remembers working under her then manager Jennifer Leatherby, who she calls a mentor and friend, and Dave Leatherby, Sr. – known to most as “Daddy Dave” – and his wife, Sally. She talks about watching how generous the owners were in the community through food donations and taking part in fundraisers, and how they would hire people that sometimes other places would not to give them a chance.
“I was (around) 16 years old, seeing that and being impressed by it,” Joppa says. “I knew that not many places out there cared about the community in the way they did – they were just filled with generosity in that way.”
And it was these impressions that kept Joppa there for those nine years despite being wooed by other restaurant owners in the Sacramento area that told her she could make more money working for them. “I thought I love my job, I love the people I work with, I love the people I get to serve – it’s the happiest family-friendly environment,” she says. “The idea of making money wasn’t as attractive as knowing I had a great job with people who just enjoyed being there, and that’s what kept me around for all that time.”

Three happy ice cream makers at Leatherby's Family Creamery in the Arden area. Photo courtesy Leatherby's Family Creamery.

A Little History
That enjoyment of what they do seems to be one of the secrets to the success of Leatherby’s Family Creamery, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
According to Dave Leatherby, Jr. – who currently operates Leatherby’s with his brother, Alan – the idea for Leatherby’s started a little over 30 years ago when he, his father and grandfather decided they wanted to try forming a new business together, and so they began to look at different opportunities. “My Dad, Dave Sr., said I want to do something that is not just a business that makes money, I want it to do something that benefits the community,” Leatherby recalls.
During this time, the trio heard from one of Leatherby’s sisters about an old-fashioned ice cream parlor being run in Oakland that they should look at. “We drove down to Oakland and my father walked in and said, ‘this is it,’” Leatherby says. “He said look at this business that has been here for 70-80 years at the time. He said we can improve on this – keep what’s good and we can do this ourselves, and we did.”
From there, the Leatherby family – which at the time included 10 children – spent a year formatting their concept for the business through visiting ice cream parlors in California and developing and testing recipes, Leatherby says. Then on August 14, 1982, the first Leatherby’s Family Creamery in the Arden area opened for business.
This initial success of the Arden location found the Leatherby family inundated with requests from across the U.S. with people wanting to start their own Leatherby’s location. So Leatherby says the family decided to establish a franchise company, which resulted in the opening of 28 Leatherby’s location in six states. “At that time the family stayed here and ran the ice cream parlors, and my Dad and I started focusing our efforts on franchising,” Leatherby says.
That splitting of the family eventually resulted in the Leatherby’s selling their franchise company and concentrating their efforts closer to home. Today Leatherby’s manages stores in the Arden area, Citrus Heights – which originally started by the Executive Airport on Freeport Boulevard in 1985, and 22 years later moved to its current location – and the newest location in Elk Grove, which just opened in May.

Kelly Joppa's 2-year-old daughter, Leah, at the Leatherby's 30th Birthday party. // Photos by Corrie Pelc

I Scream, You Scream
Now 30 years later, Leatherby’s is still known mainly for its ice cream, served up in enormous sundaes, dripping with decadent toppings, and named after a Leatherby family member.
Leatherby says one of the secrets to their ice cream’s success is its freshness. Each store makes its own ice cream every day, which is frozen quickly in negative 30-degree freezers to ensure a creamy texture. Additionally, Leatherby’s only uses the highest quality ingredients they can find, including cream and milk from Foster Farms Dairy and Ghirardelli chocolate.
Each store also makes the various toppings they use in their sundaes. “We make all our caramel, chocolate, hot fudge – everything is made right here,” Leatherby says. “We have a great bit copper kettle that makes 50 gallons at a time.”
And the company even grows its own nuts. After realizing how much they were spending on purchasing almonds, walnuts and pecans, the family decided to purchase a walnut farm in Sacramento and took classes to learn how to farm. “We belong to a co-op where we turn in the walnuts that we don’t use here and we can exchange them for different kinds of nuts, so everything we use it generated from our farm,” Leatherby says.
Although Leatherby’s is known for some unique flavors, Leatherby says surprisingly their biggest seller is vanilla. At a close second is their toasted almond ice cream, which is used in the company’s number one selling dessert, Alan’s Black & Tan, which Leatherby says includes toasted almond and vanilla ice creams, caramel and chocolate sauces, and homemade whipped cream.
Today, Leatherby says about 70 percent of the stores’ sales are from ice cream and 30 percent from food from its lunch and dinner menu. “It’s very simple food that’s made to complement our ice cream,” Leatherby explains. “We don’t want people getting too full on food that they can eat our ice cream. We do have some people that come in and skip their meal and eat the ice cream for their meal – we get a lot of that.”

Two girls enjoy their Leatherby’s black and white sundaes. // Photos by Corrie Pelc

Then and Now
Over the last 30 years, there have been a few changes made to Leatherby’s Family Creamery. For example, Leatherby says the food menu has been expanded and now includes more salads. Additionally, the dessert menu now includes different size portions, as when the company first started only one size of sundae was available.
Changes have also come over the last few years with the economic downturn. To continue to make Leatherby’s budget friendly for families, the restaurant added a child’s menu and began offering meal specials at a discounted rate.
At the same time, many things about Leatherby’s have not changed, as attested to by Joppa, who during the last 10 years worked in commercial real estate, had two children, and successfully battled breast cancer. During this time Joppa also started a blog – myhonestwalk.blogspot.com – in which she talks about her fight against cancer and what she learned during her time at Leatherby’s.
Joppa returned to Leatherby’s in July as a manager at the Elk Grove location, and says everything is still done the same. “The size of our sundaes has not changed, the way they’re made has not changed – the product has stayed completely the same,” she says. “I think the value, the heart, the generosity – all of that (is still there).”
Leatherby’s also continues to do what it can to give back to the community. Leatherby says the company supports a number of charities, and also does a number of donations throughout the year, both in ice cream and certificates to the restaurant. “We believe very strongly that we have a responsibility to give back to the community in many different ways,” he adds.
Looking forward to the next 30 years, Leatherby hopes Leatherby’s Family Creamery will continue to be a wholesome gathering place for the community where every person is welcome. “They come, they feel welcome, and they find joy here,” he says. “I hope we can continue to do that in some fashion.”


Golfers enjoy their string putting contest and ice cream social

Golfers participating in the California Eagles Golf Program competed in a 9-Hole string putting contest on Tuesday, August 7, at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex. The golfers had to putt under and around several hazards and obstacles, trying to achieve the lowest number of putt strokes to win a new putter. After completing all nine holes of putting, the golfers enjoyed ice cream donated by Vic’s Ice Cream.
California Eagles is a golf program designed specifically for people with special needs. There are approximately 75 participants in the program. It is sponsored by Morton Golf Foundation and The First Tee of Greater Sacramento.
Haggin Oaks Golf Complex: Tuesday, 5:30-7 p.m., Mid-April – Mid-September
William Land Golf Course: Monday, 5:30-7 p.m., Mid-April – Mid-September
What you get with the program: Golf Instruction * Life Skills Instruction * On Course Demonstrations * Playing Time * Contests * Putting Contest/Ice Cream Social * Year End Tournament/BBQ * Participation in Special Olympics Golf Tournaments

For more information or to sign up, call Janie Bucher at (916) 765-0870, or join them on Monday or Tuesday night.

Kiwanis Club of Carmichael celebrates 50th anniversary

Left to right, Kiwanis members Judee Shoemaker, Jan Lovejoy, Vonnie Kramer and Diane Powell attend the 50th anniversary event at the Carmichael home of Michael and Debbie Koerner. / Photo courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Carmichael

Certainly the world was a much different place in 1962, as John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records, the Vietnam War was far from ending and gasoline cost about 28 cents per gallon. And in this community, the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael was founded.
Many other significant events have since made an impact on the world and gasoline prices have soared to uncomfortable and depressing levels for many people.
As the years have passed by following its founding, the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael has continued to dedicate itself to its work as a constantly motivated service organization.
Altogether Kiwanis history dates back to its 1915 founding in Detroit, Mich.
The headquarters of this international organization is in Indianapolis, Ind. Its international status was established in 1916, when it expanded to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Originally established as a business networking organization through the work of Detroit natives Allen S. Browne, a professional organizer, and Joseph C. Prance, who was a tailor, and other men who they recruited, the Kiwanians changed their focus to service three years after the club’s inception in Detroit.

Kiwanis name, motto and membership
The name Kiwanis was derived from the Otchipew Native American language expression, “Nunc-Kee-wanis,” which is translated as “We have a good time, “We make some noise” or “We trade or advertise.”
In 1920, Roe Fulkerson, the editor of the Kiwanis magazine, proposed the term, “We Build,” as the Kiwanians motto.
This international organization, which has more than 600,000 members, adopted a new motto, “Serving the Children of the World,” in 2005.
The Kiwanis Club of Carmichael, which has 94 members from different areas, including Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Sacramento, Roseville and Lincoln, is part of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District and is one of the clubs of Division 44.
This local club, which is the largest club in Division 44, was chartered on August 15, 1962.

Special gatherings
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the club recently held two special gatherings.
The first of these gatherings was a catered dinner at the Carmichael home of Michael and Debbie Koerner on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Seventy-six people, including Carmichael club members and notable Kiwanians, were in attendance at this event, which had the theme of “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.”
The next gathering occurred during the following morning at the Carmichael Elks Lodge with special Kiwanian guests, Lt. Gov. of Division 44 Bernie Bowes and California-Nevada-Hawaii District Gov. Dick Olmstead. While Olmstead lives locally, Bowes traveled from the Lancaster, Calif. area to participate in the event, which was attended by 80 people.
During his visit, Bowes, who travels about 300 days per year, installed Sky Pohle, a local scoutmaster, as the Carmichael club’s 94th member.
Another feature of the Wednesday morning event was District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters’ presentation of a proclamation honoring the club.

Carmichael resident Cathryn Snow is the current president of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Kiwanis International
Cathryn Snow, president of the Carmichael club, met with the Arden-Carmichael News last week to share details about the local club and the overall efforts of Kiwanis International.
Very early in her interview with this publication, Snow recognized the Kiwanis Family House, which provides temporary support to families of seriously ill or injured children and some adults who receive treatment at the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
“We’re the only Kiwanis Family House in the world,” said Snow, who was born and raised in Modesto. “Two wonderful Kiwanians started (the house). The med center gave up the eternal lease on the land and then we built the house. It is run similar to a Ronald McDonald House, in that it’s the families of critically ill children and even some adults. If we have room, we’ll take adults. Those people are referred to the family house by the hospital. They pay, if they can. If they can’t, they don’t (pay). It’s a wonderful service that they have there. This last month, we served 1,200 people (at the house).”
Snow also recognized Kiwanis International’s work of eliminating iodine deficiency throughout the world.
She added that Kiwanis International is presently working toward achieving its goal of eradicating maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide.
“A series of three shots cost $1.80 per person to eradicate (maternal and neonatal) tetanus in the world,” Snow said.
She noted that millions of dollars are still needed to accomplish this goal.

Local club projects
Locally, the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael is dedicated to many other projects.
The club supports local scouting programs and elementary schools.
Kiwanians of the Carmichael club provide tutoring and classroom participation at Cameron Ranch School in Sacramento.
During each winter holiday season, local Kiwanians also dedicate themselves to their See’s Candies program, which supports the San Juan Unified School District’s fine arts program.
Carmichael Kiwanis club members also worked with other service club members to create a current “Welcome to Carmichael” sign.
Other Carmichael Kiwanis projects include contributions to the American River Parkway, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, middle and high school jazz programs in the San Juan Unified School District and three food closets.
One of the exciting elements of the Carmichael Kiwanis club, Snow said, is that the club is “an active, growing club.”
And she added that Kiwanis International records more service hours than any service group in the world, and that Olmstead recently described the organization as the only service club in the world that is growing.

Another anniversary to celebrate
Snow, who joined the Carmichael club in 1994, said that in addition to the club’s 50th anniversary, another anniversary is also occurring this year.
“It’s also the 25th year of the women in Kiwanis,” Snow said. “The first woman to join Kiwanis was Kathy Stake, who lives over in the Monterey area now, and I believe she’s still a Kiwanian.”

California-Nevada-Hawaii District Gov. Dick Olmstead was a special guest of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael during its recent 50th anniversary events. / Photo courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Carmichael

California-Nevada-Hawaii District Gov. Dick Olmstead was a special guest of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael during its recent 50th anniversary events. / Photo courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Carmichael

First members
Overall, Neil Loveridge, a now retired dentist, and Bob Cosans, who was a San Juan Unified School District educator, were the first members of the Kiwanis Club of Carmichael.
Neil said that the Carmichael club’s anniversary is especially meaningful to him, because he acquired his dentistry license on the same day that the Carmichael club held its first meeting.
It was through his brother, Gordon, who was already an active member of the Kiwanis Club of Sacramento Suburban, that Neil learned that efforts were underway for the establishment of the Carmichael club.
He added that it was also because of his brother that he decided to move to Carmichael from his native state of Utah in 1962.
“I came to Sacramento (from Provo, Utah), because my brother was here practicing dentistry and he’s my only sibling,” Neil said. “We decided if we could be close together, we could somehow get our parents to visit us more often.”

Membership grew
During its early years, with the exception of a brief relocation to another local eatery, the Carmichael club met in a back room at Sambo’s Pancakes at 7201 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael.
When the Carmichael club was established with about 15 members on its charter roll, it was limited to men who either lived or worked in Carmichael. And no more than two people from a single profession could join the club at the time.
Other charter members of the Carmichael club included Ted Baker, a banker for Bank of America, Paul Barkin, a pediatric dentist, Oden Bohlander, the principal at Coyle Avenue School, Bill McCreary, the club’s first president, and Orrell M. James.
Neil, who acquired his practice on Fair Oaks Boulevard from Dr. Darol Rasmussen, said that the club’s first project was raising funds through the operation of a cotton candy booth at the Carmichael 4th of July parade.
Bill Fellers, whose father was a Kiwanian, said that he was also an early member of the club.
“I was teaching at American River College and the college president (Bill Priest) wanted us to get out and (join) organizations and other things to make a name for ARC,” Fellers said. “So, I joined in 1966, when Neil was president. When I went in, I think there were 30 (members).”

Making great progress
Fellers said that the club has made great progress during its half-century-long existence.
“The club has become much stronger and much better, much bigger and able to make more money to give to charitable organizations,” Fellers said.
The Kiwanis Club of Carmichael meets every Wednesday from 7 to 8 a.m. at the Carmichael Elks Lodge at 5631 Cypress Avenue in Carmichael.

For additional information about the club, contact Cathryn Snow at csnow@cbnorcal.com.

News of Buggy Whip restaurant’s closure spreading slowly

In today’s world of advanced communication technology, news can still travel slowly.
For instance, many longtime Arden and Carmichael residents would have trouble guessing the obvious newsworthy answer to the question: “What do the Coral Reef, the Palomino Room, Ken’s Red Barn and Buggy Whip all have in common?”
A quick answer would be that these are names of popular restaurants that have operated at various times in the north area of the city.
Although this answer is true, the newsworthy answer is these are all north area restaurants that are no longer in operation.
Certainly many years have passed since the Coral Reef at 2795 Fulton Ave., the Palomino Room at 3405 El Camino Ave. and Ken’s Red Barn at 500 Fulton Ave. were serving their customers.
But still, there are very many residents of the area who remain unaware that Buggy Whip, at 2737 Fulton Ave., ceased operation on May 8 after more than 52 years in business.
Arden-area resident Cindy Simmons, for instance, said that she was surprised to hear that Buggy Whip closed three months ago.
“I had no idea (Buggy Whip) closed,” said Cindy, who has been an occasional patron of the restaurant since the mid-1960s. “I got married (to Doug Simmons) in 1966 and we probably went there three or four times a year and we would go with other people. We would always get the same thing – the prime rib. It was a wonderful meal with the soup and salad and the whole nine yards. You could always count on a good meal at an appropriate price. We never had a bad meal there. It was always very positive. I’m really sad that they needed to close. I hope they find a way to open again.”
Fortunately for Cindy and other locals who have enjoyed dining at Buggy Whip at various times during this eating establishment’s longtime existence, some very positive news may be on its way.

Good news?
“I am edging toward the idea of reopening the restaurant,” said Larry LeSieur, who took over ownership of the restaurant in 1980 following the death of his father, Aaron LeSieur, who opened the restaurant in 1959.
But of course, many people are still left wondering why the restaurant closed in the first place.
With a quick view inside Buggy Whip’s windows, the old eatery’s tables remain set like a place that has been closed for several hours, as opposed to the past 90 days.
On one of these windows and on a glass panel on the front door are signs, which read: “Remodeling: Closed for repairs. Thank you.”
As of the publishing of this article, no recent remodeling had occurred and the restaurant building sat awaiting its unknown future.

Setting the record straight
When presented with the opportunity to share details about his landmark restaurant with readers of this publication, Larry LeSieur, 65, was eager to set the record straight.
“What really happened was (Buggy Whip) was a union restaurant for 50 years,” he said. “I talked to the union (representative). I had to sign a new contract, and I said, ‘Hey, listen, we’re going through the toughest times.’ You can’t have a mom and pop (union) restaurant. We’re the only one left, except for The Firehouse (in Old Sacramento), in all of Sacramento. And the reason we were union is because 50 years ago, everybody was union. You can’t be in the union. So, anyway, I said, ‘I can’t pay benefits. There’s no way. You can’t have health, welfare and pay these three-week vacations. You can’t do that.’ Most (employees) were only kind of part-time, too. They wouldn’t even work 40 hours (per week). So, basically, I said, ‘I can’t sign (the contract),’ and I didn’t sign it. But I didn’t get out right.”
LeSieur said that a year and a half later, the union representative who had worked with him had left his job, and LeSieur was then approached by a different union representative who told him his contract was still valid.
Eventually, however, LeSieur was sued and the restaurant was later closed.

The lawsuit
“When you get out of a contract, you have to do certain procedures, which I didn’t do,” LeSieur said. “So, they had me red handed. So, what they do is get a judgment against you. The judgment was $60,000 or $90,000. But then they said, ‘Hey, listen, we’ll let you pay $30,000, but you’ll have to sign a new contract with us.’ I said, ‘Either way, I can’t pay the $30,000, but let’s just say I would pay the $30,000, the problem is I can’t sign a new contract going forward, because I can’t make any money.’ You can’t have health and welfare benefits for a small, little mom and pop restaurant. So, I filed and that’s how I ended up in Chapter 11. And some mistakes were made and now it’s into liquidation. Otherwise, I would still be open today.”
Regarding his financial situation with the restaurant, LeSieur said he paid off most of the IRS debt, but he still owes the state board and the Education Development Department a small amount.
“It’s a lot of money, but it’s not a lot of money,” he said. “I would have to make those whole and then go back in, but the liquidation would take care of those things.”

To reopen or not to reopen
LeSieur said that if he reopens his restaurant, it would likely reappear with a slightly different name change. He said that the place would probably become known as “The Buggy Whip” – a name so subtlety different that many people would never notice that the name had been changed.
Although he does not like the idea of keeping many of his former customers in limbo, LeSieur said that he needs some time to determine what he wants his future to be in the local restaurant industry.
“The update is I’m just not quite sure what I’m going to do,” he said.


High attendance shows community investment at area parks

For the past 67 years, the Carmichael Recreation and Park District (CRPD) has continued to offer a variety of programs and manage the area’s parks.
According to Deputy Administrator Jack Harrison, high attendance at area parks shows that the community is taking advantage.
“People really seem to be invested in the parks system in Carmichael and they really enjoy the recreational program,” Harrison said. “That’s why we have such large numbers in our programs. We know it makes a difference in peoples’ lives. We believe what we’re doing is very important, and the response from the community to everything we do makes it really clear this is very important to the community as well.”

Disc golf
One of the newest recreational offerings through the district is the disc golf course at Carmichael Park, which had been relocated from Schweitzer Grove Nature Area.
“It’s been very successful,” Harrison said. “If you drive by the park, you’ll see them out here pretty much all the time.”
Harrison says the course is a nine-hole disc golf course that closely mimics a traditional golf course.
He explained disc golf is played with a disc, similar to a Frisbee, and players throw their disc from a designated “tee” toward the “hole,” which is really a basket mounted on a post.
The basket has chains on the outside that help the disc fall in to the basket. And like in golf, players try to get their disc into each basket with the least number of throws as possible.
According to Harrison, the game attracts players of all ages. Those new to the game can borrow discs from the CRPD Office at Carmichael Park to give disc golf a try.
However, Harrison says those serious about the game will have different types of discs, similar to how golf players have different types of clubs.
Schweitzer Grove Nature Area
Now that the disc golf course has been moved to Carmichael Park, the district is looking to make some improvements to the 17.2-acre Schweitzer Grove Nature Area.
Harrison said the district is working on a master play for the grove, which will be coming before the CRPD Board in late August. The plan would include creating a trail system, as well as an outdoor education where youth groups and the Schweitzer school next door can come and get an environmental education in the outdoors.
The grove primarily contains oak and eucalyptus trees, as well as a variety of bird life, and Harrison says the plan would include interpretive signs on the trails to explain particular trees or birds that are common to the area.
“People walk the site now for exercise or to walk their dogs,” he said. “We’ve outlined a very interesting trail system so people can get their exercise, be able to traverse through some very pretty areas and have a little environmental education along the way.”

La Sierra Community Center
CRPD is currently under construction with a new playground at the La Sierra Community Center, which is expected to open to the public on Aug. 15.
Harrison says since the La Sierra site used to be a high school, there was no need for a playground. But with new schools leasing space at the site, there was a high desire to have a playground for elementary-age children in the area.
“That will be not only an advantage for the students who are at the various schools that lease space from us, but also children who come out to the soccer fields (and) Little League baseball – all those outdoor sporting areas will have access to this playground,” he said. “We think it’s going to get an awful lot of use by all the visitors to La Sierra, which is a large number each year.”
According to Harrison, the California Montessori Project is sharing the cost of the new playground with the district as one of La Sierra’s new tenants is a Montessori preschool.
Harrison said the preschool has been open for about four months and is a state licensed preschool that operates full week, full day year round.

The future
New tenants like the Montessori preschool will eventually help CRPD financially, according to Harrison, as they provide a source of revenue.
This year, that revenue is being used to restore La Sierra for its tenants, but next year Harrison says monies brought in from the leases should have a positive impact.
“We won’t see the full benefit of that revenue until we’re on the other side of all the improvements we have to make for our new tenants, but those are five year leases and we should get some financial benefit from that for at least three years, possibly into part of a fourth year,” he said.
This is all part of CRPD’s overall budget plan of becoming solid again.
Harrison said the district recently passed its budget for this fiscal year and things are turning around. “We’re certainly not at the point where we can add employees or give raises or any of those things – we haven’t done that in years – but at least we’re not facing layoffs and the kind of cutbacks that we were facing the last three years,” he said. “We think we’re turning a corner and not this fiscal year, but next July, our budget should have some extra money to do some things we’ve been differing for a long time.”
And that money will then help CRPD implement the items from its recently adopted Recreation Master Plan, which Harrison says is the most important thing the district has done in the recreation area as it sets priorities for the kinds of recreational services they will provide to the community.
Harrison said the plan is built with feedback from the Carmichael community and research.
“The master plan sort of paints the picture for over the next five years these are the things we’d like to accomplish assuming the budgetary funds are available,” he said.


Vedanta Society of Sacramento adds to diversity of area

Swami Prapannananda has served as the swami-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of Sacramento since 1996. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

Swami Prapannananda has served as the swami-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of Sacramento since 1996. / Photo by Lance Armstrong

The diversity of the Sacramento area is undoubtedly great. And a fine example of this can be found at a unique place on Mission Avenue, just north of Fair Oaks Boulevard.
This place is the Vedanta Society of Sacramento at 1337 Mission Ave. on the Carmichael side of the Sacramento-Carmichael border.
The Vedanta Society of Sacramento is a nonprofit religious organization that promotes the practice, study and teaching of the philosophy and religion of Vedanta – the ancient spiritual wisdom of India, especially as expounded by Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) and Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920).

What is Vedanta?
Swami Prapannananda, minister and teacher of the Vedanta Society of Sacramento, presented the following words when asked to describe Vedanta:
“Vedanta forms the basis of the various branches of Hinduism and is one of the living philosophies and religions of the world. The word, ‘Vedanta,’ means literally, ‘the concluding portions of the Vedas,’ and also ‘the supreme spiritual knowledge.’ The Vedas are India’s most ancient scriptures, whose composition (is) said by scholars to extend as far back as 4000 B.C. The books that comprise Vedanta – known also as Upanishads – were composed, for the most part, during the second millennium B.C., and consist of the accumulated knowledge of God, soul and the universe, as derived from the spiritual experiences and discoveries of generations of India’s seers.”
The basic Vedanta teaching is that God exists in every being and man’s real nature is divine, he said.

Society’s roots
The roots of the Vedanta Society of Sacramento’s history date back to 1948, when a small group of Sacramento area residents became interested in Vedanta teachings and began traveling to San Francisco on a regular basis to attend services at the Vedanta temple in that city.
The Vedanta Society of Northern California was established in San Francisco on April 14, 1900.
This Sacramento group’s travels to San Francisco, coupled with the desire of various residents of the area to have a Vedanta temple in the capital city, led to efforts to construct a local Vedanta center.
Heading this project was Swami Ashokananda, who was then serving as swami-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of Northern California in San Francisco.
By the following year, a branch of this main society in San Francisco was formed in Carmichael, and the center of the branch was named The Church of Universal Philosophy and Religion.
It was not until November 1970 that the center was registered as an independent religious corporation and renamed the Vedanta Society of Sacramento.

Constructing the center
The earliest branch classes were held at the residence of a local devotee.
For the purpose of establishing a permanent place for services and other uses, all but one acre of the local Vedanta center’s present 8-acre Mission Avenue site was purchased in 1950.
An additional acre of property, which included a small house and walnut trees and was located adjacent to the north side of the property, was purchased in 1963.
After the acquisition of the initial property, architect Henry Gutterson of San Francisco drew plans for structures that would be built on the property.
These plans were designed in a manner that construction would occur based upon the growing needs of the branch.
Initially, volunteers provided the entire workforce for the project. But as construction progressed, several Vedanta members from San Francisco added to these labor efforts.
A temporary chapel was dedicated on the grounds on Feb. 28, 1953.
Altogether it took 14 years to complete the main portion of the project, and the temple was dedicated on Saturday, Nov. 14, 1964.

The new temple
Swami Aseshananda, swami-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of Portland, officiated the dedication.
In attendance at this special event were about 220 people, including swamis, monks, nuns and devotees from the Bay Area and Portland.
Today, the site includes a permanent chapel, a monastery, an auditorium, a 3,500-volume library, offices and a bookstore.
The present chapel, which has a seating capacity of about 100, includes an altar with the universal OM, or Order of Merit symbol, which is an ancient, sacred Indian representation of the highest impersonal spiritual ideal.
Also included on the altar are flowers, candles and images of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Sarada Devi, Guatama Buddha and Jesus Christ.
It is at this altar where daily worship is performed. The Sunday services, which are held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., are the most widely attended services. These services are followed by an 11 a.m. public lecture.

The grounds
Adding to the uniqueness of this religious site is its landscaped, lightly-wooded grounds, which, for the most part, have the appearance of a beautified park.
Many first-time visitors of this site are pleasantly surprised to observe such a highly developed, serene setting, which includes tall Italian cypresses, magnolia trees, fruit trees, lotus ponds, lilies, roses and statuary.
These grounds were recently enhanced with the presence of colorful, lotus blooms, which are used as a religious symbol in Hinduism, as well as in Buddhism.
The garden of this local Vedanta center is known as Santodyan or “Garden of Saints.”
Included within the garden are shrines dedicated to St. Francis, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Moses, Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna, Shankaracharya, Sri Chaitanya and Guru Nanak.

Religious tolerance
Swami Prapannananda described the idea behind the garden’s wide variety of shrines.
“We respect all kinds of religions and we learn from all spiritual personages, so to focus on that, we have made this Garden of Saints,” he said. “People can also learn from this sort of teaching of religious tolerance or mutual understanding.”
Swami Prapannananda, who is a native of Kolkata, India, became a resident of Gujarat in 1966. Gujarat, a highly populated state in western India, is the world famous birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1989, Swami Prapannananda came to the United States to become the assistant swami of Carmichael’s Vedanta center.
Seven years later, he replaced Swami Shraddhananda as the local center’s swami-in-charge. Swami Shraddhananda, who came to San Francisco from India in 1957 to become the assistant swami of that city’s Vedanta center, served as swami-in-charge of the Carmichael Vedanta center from 1964 to 1996.
Vedanta centers are located throughout the world, including more than 150 centers in India and 13 centers in the United States.
The local compound is open daily from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. or dusk, whichever arrives first.
For additional information regarding the Vedanta Society of Sacramento, call (916) 489-5137 or visit www.vedantasacto.org.


Carmichael dog park welcomes furry, four-legged friends

A “barking good time” can be had by dogs and owners at the Carmichael Canine Corral off-leash dog park.
It is well fenced, including a double-gated area for entry so any anxious four-footed “friends” could not easily get away. Most of the dogs run loose and are well behaved.
Dogs of all sizes can run free, chasing balls or other toys and get plenty of exercise in a large fenced-in area.
The dog park at Carmichael Park is located in the southeast corner. If you enter the park off Fair Oaks Boulevard, at 5750 Grant Ave..
Turning left at the end of the parking lot and follow the drive around, you will find the dog park on your left near the natural outdoor theater area.


Arden-Carmichael 4th of July Parade 2012