All posts by Dan Place

Santa Anita

Joe Morris, a Vice President of the Stronach Group, who oversees Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, gave a brief history and update on our local track. Santa Anita opened on Christmas day in 1934. The track has had a number of firsts, the first pari mutuel tote system, the first $100,000 race, the first photo finish cameras and the first electronic timing of races. The track has been home to the top horses, the top trainers and the top jockeys in the country.
One of the problems affecting horse racing today is the number of thoroughbreds available for the sport. In the 1980’s there were 37,000 horses bred each year. This last year 21,000 were bred. The closing of Hollywood Park also caused problems. It was not difficult to move race dates around but the loss of that facility meant the loss of 1800 stalls. Another problem is that California is the only major state in the country that does not allow tracks to have alternate forms of revenue. Other states allow slot machines and lotteries at their tracks. This puts California at a disadvantage.
Joe gave an update on improvements at the track including a new surface on the dirt track, increasing the width of the grass track and plans to add more stalls. Despite the many challenges facing Santa Anita, Joe painted a bright picture for the future of racing here in Arcadia.

Craft Talks

Larry Callaham grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. After graduating from San Gabriel High School he attended Cal State L.A. majoring in Music Education with a minor in English. The summer after finishing college, he went on a cultural exchange trip to Japan. That was an eye opening, life changing adventure. He knew he wanted to teach and spent a final year getting his credential.

Larry went to work at Rosemead High School in 1970 as a music teacher. Music is different from other subjects as there is no set curriculum. Instead, skills are taught and appreciation is learned through performances such as concerts, festivals, chorus tours and Broadway Shows. All this means extra practice, and it is not unusual for a Music Teacher to put in 14-hour days. As a husband and a father of three young children, Larry decided to step aside from the performing arts and teach English full time so he could devote more time to his family.

In the early 90’s Larry had the opportunity to open a new school: South El Monte High School. It was created as a Career Path School connecting what students learn to what they will do for the rest of their lives. Five years later he was back at Rosemead High as a Guidance Counselor. He eventually became Principal at Rosemead and is very proud of his accomplishments in that position. Larry retired in 1990 and now devotes his time to hiking, gardening, music and travel. He works with the School Accreditation Commission, is a docent at the Huntington Library, and is the new Vocational Service Coordinator for the Arcadia Rotary Club.

Swati Puri began her craft talk informing us that she will be moving shortly to Seattle, Washington, to be with her new husband of 6 months. She is sorry to be leaving, but has enjoyed her time with the club. Swati is the Senior Director and Regional Consultant for Business Network International. She used the talk to tell us about her Indian Wedding. They had a wedding at a temple in Walnut but returned to India for the traditional 10-day ceremony. Initially her arms and legs were decorated with very ornate patterns using henna paste, which could be removed later. This process took 4 hours. On the third day of festival there were performances and singing and dancing. The dancing went on until two A.M. On the fourth day a yellow paste was applied to her body. This is an old tradition, used many years before current lotions and creams were available, to make the skin and body beautiful. Next was the bangle ceremony. Bangles are put on the wrist by aunts and uncles and are worn for 6 months to show you are a newly wed. On her wedding day Swati wore a traditional outfit with a long shirt and pants. At the ceremony they were blessed by the “Teachings of God” and took four vows to serve God. Swati wore another outfit at the reception and again they danced until dawn. It was quite an event.


Frank McDonough is the Arboretum’s Botanical Information Consultant. His topic was “Seven Things that Gardeners Do that Should be Banned.”
1. The use of Pre Plant Fertilizer: fertilizers are basically salts and if they are put into the hole prior to planting they dry out the roots and harm the plant or tree.
2. Using Blowers: they blow fungal spores up into the trees and on to the leaves where they can infest your plant.
3. Buying Impulse Items: people have a tendency to buy plants or trees without knowing how tall it will grow. Research before you buy. Frank, at the Arboretum, is there to answer any questions you have about any new plant, hedge or tree you are considering.
4. Topping Trees: trees should only be pruned if they absolutely need it. Nature prunes trees by the wind. The only pruning that should be necessary is to remove dead branches. Buy the proper tree and it will grow to a size that will not require pruning. Do not use “Tree Seal.” It damages the tree. Trees don’t need bandages.
5. Hardscaping up to he base of a tree: putting stones, gravel or cement up to the trunk of the tree is bad. Trees need 2/3 of the area under the canopy free from hardscaping.
6. Installing irrigation systems and leaving them on default: sprinkler systems should be reprogramed as necessary to supply moisture as needed through out the year.
7. Using Weed Block Cloth: it is not biodegradable and it is a perfect “Ant Farm.” Huge colonies of ants can live and breed under this cloth.
Frank can be contacted to answer your questions at {626) 821-3236 or at

Speech Contest

The theme for the 2016-17 Rotary year is “Rotary Serving Humanity” which also was the topic for this year’s Four Way Test Speech Contest. Competing in the contest were Karen Thai from Arcadia High School and Monrovia High School’s Daisy Garcia.

Karen asked us to stop seeing the world in a negative light. She urged us to stop complaining and to start doing. Being optimistic gives people a positive outlook. She decided that volunteering was her way to work together for a common goal to improve the world. Volunteering has had a positive effect on her life and she recommended it to all.

Daisy also extolled the values of volunteering. She related her experiences working with children at the Monrovia Library. She encourages other students to take up volunteering as a means to serve humanity as well as giving a person self-satisfaction.

After deliberation, the panel of judges determined Karen Thai the winner meaning she would move on to compete in the District Contest in Palm Springs later this year.

Pauline Bullock

Pauline Bullock is a representative for “Damsel in Defense” products. Their mission is to equip, empower and educate women to protect themselves and their families. They provide safety products such as flashlights with alarms, stun guns and pepper spray to be used to provide protection from aggressors. One in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Pauline’s purpose is to make people aware and able to protect themselves.
Pauline spent 24 years in the Navy and was one of the first females to be deployed onboard ship. After the service, she taught Navy ROTC at Lakewood High School and conducted female and male leadership academies, which she found extremely rewarding. After her stint in education she was searching to do something with purpose and meaning. She found “Damsels in Defense” a perfect fit based on her background and personal knowledge of sexual aggression. Providing women with knowledge and equipment to protect themselves has been very fulfilling for Pauline.

Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills

John Wilson gave an update on the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills. John is the Executive Director of the club, a position he has held for seven years. The club was established in 1994 in response to high levels of delinquency, juvenile crime, and drug use among youth in the densely populated, multi-ethnic areas of Monrovia and Duarte. When John took over the club management it was poorly run. Under his leadership the club has grown. Today, a 30-passenger bus provides transportation from five elementary and two middle schools in the area to the club sites. The original club is on Shamrock Avenue and a second site is located at Mayflower Elementary School. In 2014, they expanded their services by opening a dedicated teen center in the Mary Wilcox building in Monrovia. Today they serve over 350 youth each day with 900 members registered annually. They have a waiting list of over 150 children and youth.
The mission of the club is to enable all young people, especially those who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. The three main goals of the club are (1) to have the attendees succeed academically, (2) to develop good character and citizenship and (3) to develop healthy life styles.
The Club can use a lot of help, not only financially, but also from positive, caring adults who are willing to get to know the kids, to work with them and to be mentors and role models. A few of the areas where help is needed are as Translators, ESL Teachers, Tutors, Homework and Reading Helpers, Art, Music and Theater Instructors, Computer Instructors, Youth Basketball, Soccer, or Baseball Coaches. Please contact John if you would like to help the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills in any way.