Sunday, June 29, 2008


I love my neighborhood! And, boy, do I love this time of the year - when "graduation season" rolls around.

I've mentioned my neighborhood before - it's a great place to raise a family. When my sweet wife and I moved into our house on the Eastside almost 35 years ago there were only six children in our block - and we were the "young couple" in the neighborhood. Those happy youngsters are now grown and gone and two thirds of them are raising their own little ones. But, their parents remain firmly planted in our neighborhood, so we get a chance to see this new generation flourishing as they return to visit.

Today there are more than 30 kids in our neighborhood, depending on how you choose to count those returning from college and the one we have "in the oven", so to speak. Today my wife and I are no longer the "young couple" and I've become the embodiment of "Mr. Wilson" from Dennis the Menace fame.

Four years ago we counted among our neighborhood graduates two student body presidents - one from Newport Harbor and one from Mater Dei. Those bright young people returned home last week, college diplomas firmly grasped in their hands, ready to change the world.

This year we had six, count-em, six young people graduate from Newport Harbor High School - a new record for our little enclave. Among them are athletes, actors and scholars - and all of them are great kids. They are smart, hard-working, attractive and respectful. I remember most of them being pushed around our neighborhood in their strollers many years ago. I've helped a few of them shed their training wheels and taught them the most important thing about riding a two-wheeler - how to stop.

I've watched the boys learn how to drive - sometimes too fast - and the girls learn how to flirt - also sometimes too fast. Over the years I've seen more trees in our neighborhood than I can accurately remember covered with enough toilet paper to serve the sanitation needs of a small country for a year. That's a display of affection I still don't fully understand.

We beamed with pride as our neighborhood hatched two more Eagle Scouts this year - that's three in the past few years. These young men have demonstrated that they have not only acquired a good education, but they're solidly-grounded in the life lessons that will help them excel in the future.

As original residents pass on - we had two lovely older neighbors leave us within the last year - a new crop of urchins are just about ready to join this world to replace them.

Later this week our neighborhood will celebrate it's second annual Independence Day block party, the food for which will be underwritten again by an extraordinarily generous member of the neighborhood who is about to become a father for the first time. It will be a day of fun, food, frivolity and fireworks. If last year is any indication, we will have a chance to meet and greet our returning college students, fresh from places like Berkeley, Chico, South Bend, West Virginia, Maryland, Idaho, Santa Barbara, Boston, Spokane and San Diego. We'll see those nervous kids who left home for college returning as confident, accomplished young men and women, beginning to flower. We know these young folks will soon take their turn at making our community and world a better place - we're going to be in good hands.

Did I mention that I love my neighborhood?



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