The Concrete Foreman My father was a construction contractor and I worked on his jobsites from the time I was 8. So from my earliest years, I knew Vic Vaca. He was my dad’s concrete foreman. By God, he was a specimen. I did not know that then. All I knew was Vic worked […]
Author Archive for Michael Ray
My father was one of seven kids from Kansas. During the Great Depression, he got married and the next day took the freights West. There he eventually joined the Coast Guard and at the end of WW II ended up in Newport Beach. He did well in real estate and luckier yet, did not lose it back during one of the many down cycles.
He and Mom lived full and good lives, and their kids, we four plus one foster brother, still are going strong. Our foster brother, Gary, came from a broken family and joined us at the age of 16.
At Christmas, I no longer am sure who my whole family is. Yes, I know it includes my brothers and sisters and their offspring and their offspring too. But it is more than that. My former wife lives near me in Laguna and our children navigate between us in a manner that works for all concerned. During holidays it can be tricky, but we all accommodate one another and go to the same music recitals together.
Beyond Posh First, the disclosure: I am a personal mess. My clothes are of no discernable style. My shoes are scruffy and sometimes do not match. My hair is uncombed. My home in Laguna is a mish-mash of styles, junk, discarded objects never thrown away, paintings that belong on some other wall, chairs with battered […]
Arts School Survives Early Setbacks A high school music teacher named Ralph Opacic founded the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA) in 1987. By the late 1990s, it had some 400 students and was at an excess school site in Los Alamitos. When the local school district needed the site and kicked […]
The Homecoming My second daughter Garbrielle, 19, went off to her first year of college in August. She is at Lewis & Clark in Portland, not that far away, but it feels like forever. We knew we would miss her terribly and we did. But she called often and told us all about her […]
Midnight Encounter It was a strangely Laguna night last Friday, but it began in Newport. There was a political fund-raiser for Suhkee Kang, who is running for Congress in a district that includes Laguna Beach. Suhkee, currently the moderate mayor of Irvine, is running against incumbent John Campbell, who’s claim-to-fame is that government should […]
Tribute to a Tragedy This last Sunday in Heisler Park, precisely at 11 a.m. on Sept. 11, the 10-year dedication began with bagpipes playing and the assembled crowd silent. The ceremony was to commemorate the official unveiling of artist Jorg Dubin’s 9/11 sculpture. It features two steel beams donated by the New York Port Authority […]
Graceful Endings and Transitions In my last column, I wrote about the founding of the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center (DSC) in Santa Ana. Its founders were my brother Walkie and his wife Janet. A week before the official opening, City Manager Dave Ream called for advice about naming the tiny road leading into the […]
The Birth of the Discovery Science Center Earlier, I described the non-profit Art Spaces Irvine (ASI) and its program to put public art in Irvine, a program eventually killed by then Irvine City Councilwoman Christina Shea. Nevertheless, out of ASI came two seminal ideas: creating a huge park in Irvine and a hands-on science […]
Art Outcasts Envision a New Venture Over the years, I have been involved in many non-profits whose influence continues to reach every corner of the county, successes that often sprang from adversity. This column and others to follow will tell some of their surprising histories. My involvement with non-profits began with Art Spaces Irvine, whose […]
Cousin Darold From Kansas Cousin Darold Longhofer and his wife, Barbara, arrived from Kansas the other day. He was here on business, but also pleasure, so he brought Barb. It had been more than 20 years since he had visited California and he was not impressed. “Too damn crowded,” he said. Darold […]
Just Do It We each measure our own aging in various fashions, mostly by ascertaining what we no longer can do. For me, it is body-boarding, a type of surfing I love. In each of the last 12 years, I have made a deliberate trip to my favorite island, Kauai, and favorite surfing beach there, […]
My Son the Football Player My son Harrison is a football player and I have failed. He is only 16 and I never meant this to happen. He is gentle, kind and a musician, and is the family peacemaker. After all, his two siblings are older girls and though they were a bit hard on […]
The Return Of The Dolphins I live in north Laguna and have kayaked from there for some 20 years. I cast off from Diver’s or Fisherman’s Cove, push beyond the shoals, then turn north to Emerald Bay. If feeling strong, I paddle all the way to Irvine Cove. Heading north, usually I hug the coast […]