I don’t think Thanksgiving should be only celebrated one day each year. For me, Thanksgiving is a 365-day a year celebration for everything that has come one’s way.
I just returned from celebrating my 90th birthday in Los Angeles with my three adult children.
I was born in Hollywood in 1924 when the entire Los Angeles basin had fewer than 1 million people. Today I believe there are approximately 15 million people living there.
My grandmother and my grandfather and his brother got on a train in Wilmington, Delaware, sometime in the 1890s and got off the train in Los Angeles and the odds were stacked in my favor from then on.
In the early 1900s oil and coal and railroads opened all of the Southern California basin with big red street cars that you could ride from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena, San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, or Long Beach for about 25 cents each way. I road those streetcars and then my bicycle until I was old enough to hitchhike.
Like everywhere in the world, Southern California has also changed a great deal since I left when I was 60 years old.
Living at the beach as I did for so many years, many of my friends who came to my birthday party were beach people I had not seen for as long as 30 years.
Forty years ago I paid Jerry Costello, one of the guests, 50 cents to sweep the sand off of the sidewalk in front of my beach house. When he was finished, I suggested he do the same thing for my next-door neighbor, who also paid him 50 cents. Later that day while surfing together, I suggested that he go to Sears and Roebuck and buy a power sweeper and find more sidewalks in front of beach houses to sweep clean. Today Jerry owns 88 huge street sweepers and sweeps city streets from Los Angeles to Sacramento to San Diego to Las Vegas. There was a need, and I’m thankful that he filled it.
Every time I get out of bed in the morning I am thankful that I can look ahead to one more day of retirement. I can’t really use the word retirement because I don’t believe that I ever had a real job. When I was very young I had a few short-term jobs making milkshakes at a soda fountain, waiting tables in a restaurant, digging ditches, pounding nails and teaching skiing. All of which led to a life of leisure traveling the world with my camera in my pocket.
I am very thankful that I met my wife Laurie 30 years ago on the top of Mount Baldy in Sun Valley and she has changed my life for the better ever since.
For the next five or six months I will be thankful every day while living in Montana because Jack Kemp introduced me to a man who we all thought was the ultimate dreamer.
He conceived and started the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky Montana, the world’s only private ski and golf club. I’m more than thankful that Sam Byrne stepped in and saved it from total bankruptcy. I’m thankful for the fantastic staff that operates this one-of-a-kind oasis in a world that appears to have gone mad if you watch the evening news.
There are a lot of days in my 90 years to be thankful for.
When my wife Laurie picked me up at the depot after my long trip from Los Angeles, we both realized that we had an abundance of things to be thankful for and to only celebrate Thanksgiving for one day year wasn’t enough. From now on I’ll be celebrating it better 365 times a year.