The Tardy Times

    Gossip, rumors and news items
   from Lima to Nevada to Bernal

          NOTES on Alexis Ludwig, Joan Varney/Bob Besso,
          Paula Parker, Sally (Bailey) Jasperson; Jeremy
          Lapidus, Beatrice Plack, Hilary Abramson, Lucien
          Ruby/Caryl Welborn, Myrt Cordon and Lisa Petrillo

Maids and 'cognitive dissonance'
"I ENJOY the tangible benefits of living on the right side of the social divide,” writes our friend Alexis Ludwig from South America. “But at the same time I feel first-hand the injustice of it all, and the feeling gnaws at my conscience.”
    Fifteen years ago, when he was working at odd jobs, playing pickup basketball and contributing to the op-ed pages of the Examiner, maid service wasn't an option. “I could barely pay my rent,” he recalled.
   He entered the other side of the social divide when accepted in the Foreign Service. As a junior diplomat in Guatemala, he met and married Carolina Linares.  Since then, with  two boys, they have lived in Tokyo, Kuala Lumpar, La Paz and Lima.
   When he wrote “The Politics of Having a Maid” for the Foreign Service Journal, they had two maids and a gardener.
   “For me and no doubt for many others, to live within a social structure characterized by deep-seated and seemingly immovable structural inequalities causes what psychologists call cognitive dissonance.”
Beauty spot

JOAN VARNEY still prunes, weeds and waters the lovely little garden she created. It’s a bower of flowers on a triangle of city land below the Peralta Avenue concrete wall that marks the southerly end of Hampshire Street.
    She’s not just any backyard gardener. She’s a professional, a city employee whose day job is to maintain the beautiful landscaping and flower beds at San Francisco General Hospital. She continues to volunteer her time at the top of Hampshire Street even after she and her partner, Bob Besso, rented out their nearby home.
  They moved last year to the Inner Mission into a Victorian in need of their handiwork. Each year she remembers her Hampshire Street neighbors with a holiday plate of homemade cookies. Last Christmas the goodies were delivered by her daughter, Ariel, who was visiting. Her travels in the catering business have taken her around the West, but she hopes to stay put in Sonoma – her current job – with husband Brad Weber and their little daughter, Elle.

SINCE LEAVING The Chronicle,  former copy editor Paula Parker has used her reporter’s chops to ferret out the best free music in town. She gets us out of the house, to Yerba Buena Gardens for world music, to the Filmore Jazz Festival, to Carnaval concerts. She took time from her studies at Laney College to perform this year in an Oakland production of “Frederic Douglass Speaks,” singing spirituals . . .


 SALLY (BAILEY) JASPERSON, whom we knew as the elegantly athletic ballerina of too many years ago, last year began a new chapter in her life. She said farewell to the lovely little house in Walnut Creek that she shared for 32 years with her late husband, environmental attorney Bob Jasperson. And she moved to Nevada, where her son Ted is a deputy sheriff.
   She bought a house near Reno in Gardnerville, (“with a fine view of the eastern Sierra, which Bob would have loved, too”). She promptly began volunteering with the Douglas County Library, the Carson Valley Arts Council and the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center.
   The previous year had been eventful for Sally, who celebrated her latest book, "Striving for Beauty," by taking  a “wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a ballet festival at the Marinsky Theater.”  But after she returned, a strange inflammation of blood vessels (Churg-Strauss Vasculitis) disabled the once-strong legs of the former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet (and pas de deux partner of Conrad Ludlow, her classmate at Tamalpais High and at the SF Ballet School).
    Months of recovery passed before she could make the big move because, among other afflictions, she couldn't drive on the freeways. A year later, “My Churg-Strauss vaculitis is gradually getting better, although more slowly than I would like.”    
    She returned to Frisco this year for the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Ballet and a happy reunion with her fellow dancers from the 1950s and  1960s. Then she said goodbye to the War Memorial Opera House and went back to Nevada, her new home.

Prognosis: Good

JEREMY LAPIDUS, whose cheerful serenity is as familiar on Bernal Heights as his ever-present fedora, survived another close encounter with the surgeons. They took out his right kidney and anything else that smacked of cancer.  After the operation in June, April said, “He looked quite chipper, though perhaps a bit punchy.” Prognosis: Good.    . . . Same outlook for Beatrice Plack, wife of fellow basketball addict Jeff, whose complicated heart surgery took place last year . . . .Still no communication from Linda James, but from her sister Barbara Martin came word that Linda has recovered from cataract surgery and can read again . . . . Hilary Abramson, whose lifelong worship of the hot sun is now a memory, wore big bandages on the left side of her face after the surgeons carved out the skin cancer in December. The bingo management business of her genial husband, Tom Rosenberg, has a  lot in common with newspapers. Both are severely impacted by the Internet.


THE WORD “peripatetic” was coined to describe Aristotle's habit of walking while expounding, but how else can you describe the worldwide wanderings of the busy parents we met while their daughter, Cameron Ruby, was playing basketball with Kenny at Mission Rec?
   In the past two years, Lucien Ruby and Caryl Welborn (and Cameron) have gone off individually or together, on business or on holiday, to Hawai'i, the Canadian Rockies, New York City, the Galapagos Islands, Rome, Venice, Florence, Thailand, Paris, Provence, Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles and everywhere, it seems, but their wonderful getaway house in Glen Ellen.
   What with Cameron's weekend games in soccer and basketball, they finally gave up and decided to rent it out. In the meantime, Cameron (now a junior shooting guard at University High School) accompanied her dad to his native heath in Madisonville, Kentucky. According to Caryl, their daughter “was “incredulous to learn that his stories were actually true.”

Hard Scrabble

MYRT CORDON, then a librarian, helped Margo and Lisa Petrillo stay sane with Scrabble when all were trapped 25 years ago in Turlock. Soon Lisa and Margo left the Turlock Journal, Lisa to the San Diego Union and Margo to the Times-Trib in San Luis Obispo. Myrt moved to  Los Osos (near San Luis Obispo), but she relocated last year to Rocklin on the easterly margins of Greater Sacramento. The stray humans that Myrt had nurtured over the past four decades gathered at a house-warming party to bless her new home. And there, for the first time in memory, Margo won a game of  hard Scrabble . . . After many years as one of the top reporters for the San Diego Union, Lisa walked out the door with no regrets.  She hadn’t forgotten one of her most important stories, the case of Craig Peyer, a CHP officer who was convicted of murdering 20-year-old Cara Knott in 1986. As the co-author of  “Badge of Betrayal” (Avon, 1991), Lisa reported the  first parole hearing this year for the unremorseful killer who, not surprisingly, will remain in prison for the forseeable future.  Her last story on Peyer didn’t appear in the Union-Tribune. It ran instead in San Diego Magazine. And in September, 22 years after the crime, who should we see on television (TruTV's "Forsenic Files")?

The Tardy Times
September 2008


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