GLENDALE MAN KEPT CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.
Odds and ends from around the Valley:
It was a hot day in July when the van pulled up to the curb outside Robert George's house.
The year was 1976 or '77, and George was causing quite a stir in his Glendale neighborhood by decorating his house year-round as the North Pole and playing Santa Claus for anyone who wanted to stop by and visit.
The neighbors wanted the decorations out of sight from January to Thanksgiving, and city officials were thinking about going along with the idea of limiting George's Christmas cheer.
It didn't sound like an unreasonable request, I told George, so why fight it? I mean who cares about Christmas in July? Why don that heavy, wool Santa outfit when it's more than 100 degrees outside and everyone's thinking about the beach, not the North Pole?
George just smiled and looked over my shoulder, out to the curb where the sliding doors on a van were opening.
Half a dozen children got out, accompanied by two attendants. Most of the kids had no hair. All of them looked sickly.
``They care,'' George said, straightening his Santa hat and walking to the front door to meet them. ``Most of these kids aren't going to see December.''
By the time the kids reached his front porch, the sadness in his eyes was replaced by a warm, loving glow.
``Ho, ho, ho. Welcome to the North Pole,'' said Santa Claus, kneeling down to hug and kiss six terminally ill kids who were smiling from ear to ear.
They were having Christmas in July because they couldn't wait for December. They didn't have the time.
That's why his North Pole could never close, George said.
He was laid to rest this week after dying July 1 at age 74. Rest in peace, pal. You were one of a kind - a truly great kind.
It usually takes about 20 years or so for the nostalgia to kick in, Betty Clarke and Gail Coyle say. Twenty years, and then grads of North Hollywood High School start joining their school's unique alumni association.
``We've got people who have been out of school for 60 years who are still active with us,'' said Clarke, who is editor of the newsletter regularly mailed out to more than 5,000 alumni.
What sets this alumni association apart from most is the active role it takes in keeping a watchful eye on the North Hollywood High School students and campus of today.
Each class still has its own reunions, but the talk of the night always seems to get around to what's going on today at the old school.
``The student body is not a wealthy one, and the school could use many things they cannot afford on their district budget,'' Clarke said. So the alumni association has moved in to fill the breach.
Last year, it provided $16,000 in scholarship money for needy students with good grades and $15,000 for things like computers and materials at the school.
``More than 500 of our members donate money for the scholarships and school items, and the rest of the money comes mainly from our annual picnic,'' said Coyle, who is the association's treasurer.
The alumni picnic this year will be held on Sunday, July 26, from noon to 4 p.m. at the school quad. Organizers expect from 600 to 800 grads - a few of them from the North Hollywood High Class of '29.
Now that's an alumni association.
And finally, a pasta dinner will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Francis Xavier Church in Burbank for Chris Hays, a 42-year-old man in dire need of a liver transplant.
Chris is the son of Verne Hays, well known in the Burbank community for his many years as a teacher and a counselor at Muir Junior High. His mother, Jean, worked at the school as a nurse.
Born with hemophilia, Chris has survived by receiving thousands of transfusions, but the blood that has kept him alive also has given him HIV and destroyed his liver.
While he and his wife, Rebecca, wait in a family's house near the Pittsburg Medical Center, where Chris has been accepted as a transplant candidate, his family and friends at home try to raise the $280,000 cost of the transplant.
They've got a mountain to climb and not a lot of time left to climb it.
You'll get a big pasta dinner at $8 for an adult and $4 for a child. If you can't make it and still want to help, you can send a donation directly to the liver fund.
It's the American Liver Foundation/Chris Hays Fund, 1425 Pompton Ave. Cedar Grove, N.J. 07009-1000. Put account number 0392 on the check. Donations are tax deductible.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jul 10, 1998|
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