Norma Young threw a birthday bash at her Woods Cove home commemorating 90 years of walking the planet and being a loving mother, talented painter, tireless educator, and gifted horticulturist. Well over a 100 people were in attendance at a recent celebration filled with family, friends and fine art. I arrived at the soiree fashionably late, which was a big mistake because I missed out on putting my bid in for the “big raffle.” More on that later.
Norma and her husband Stan moved into their Laguna cottage in 1957 when she was pregnant with her third daughter Jan. At the party, daughter Patty told me, “The house was in such bad shape that the realtor wouldn’t let my mom in for fear she’d fall through the floor.” That notwithstanding, they set up housekeeping, Norma’s daughters Karen and Patty, in order of birth, on board. Daughter number four, Tina, was a glint in the eye and a scant two years away.
And talk about the Young sisters. Holy smart-sweet-bevy-of-blonde-beauties Batman! They always were and will always be “the Young girls.” I’m closest to Jan and Tina. We went through school together; Jan and I graduated LBHS the same year.
When asked about their place on the family totem pole, Karen replied, “I’m the nicest.”
Patty, “I’m her favorite.”
Jan, “I’m the smartest.”
Tina, and I love this, “I’m the best.”
Having known these wonderful women for years, all of those attributes are interchangeable.
Before moving her burgeoning brood with Stan to their Laguna digs, Norma taught fourth grade for 10 years in Santa Barbara. After they set up shop here, so did she, opening a Scandinavian import store in 1973 on South Coast Highway near The Surf & Sand Hotel. She sold an eclectic mix of goods, crystal, China and fabrics. She was always an ardent artist, which she majored in at college. But running a family and a business somewhat derailed her creative endeavors so her painting was put on hold. After Stan passed away unexpectedly in 1988, she began painting again.
Did I mention her giant green thumb? Years ago, she became involved in, and continues to be, an active member of the Hortense Miller Garden. Her own yard is a spectacular explosion of color and fragrance, not to mention edible goodies. I feel honored that I’m allowed to “liberate” some of the most delicious figs a body could pluck.
The highlight of the event was Norma raffling off her art pieces, which were hung about the garden. Each painting had a red dot stickie with a number on it. Corresponding numbers were placed in sealed envelopes. Party guests wrote their names on the envelopes and at the end of the event were drawn from a ponderous pile. You didn’t even have to be there to win, though nobody left early; too much fun to be had. Of course, you had to be there on time to get a chance to scribble your name on one of the magic envelopes and win one of Norma’s beautiful works, which I wasn’t.
Never arrive fashionably late. I’ve been to quite a few birthday parties in my time, but never where the party favor was a fine piece of art.