What does it take to turn a run-down backyard into an appealing and safe playground for children?
At the House of Ruth, an East Los Angeles 24-hour emergency shelter center for women and their children, it takes 10 tons of sand, eight volunteers and three hours--to start. Last weekend the volunteers, under the direction of House of Ruth coordinator Sister Judy Vaughan, formed a human relay system and moved the sand. It was placed in a 10-foot-by-10-foot sandbox and underneath a swing set, in an area about double the size of the sandbox.
"We're putting in sod next week and adding a garden and picnic area and all of this is being done by volunteers," said Vaughan, who's been the coordinator of the shelter for four years, during all of which the backyard was barren.
Vaughan was particularly pleased that when the playground is completed it will aid both mothers and their children.
"The parents need some time for themselves," she said. "The playground is in a fenced-in area that's secure. And the mothers can now send their children out to play and know they'll be in a safe place."
An open house to celebrate the new yard will be held on March 22 at the House of Ruth, 605 N. Cummings St. For more information or to make donations, call (213) 266-4139.
Athletes to Trade
As of this summer, consumers will be able to pay their rent with a photograph of Jimmy Connors or perhaps buy a basset hound with a photo of Carling Bassett.
Photographs of Connors and Bassett, along with other tennis stars such as Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Kathy Rinaldi, will begin appearing on bank checks this summer, according to John Heller, co-founder of Sports Checks Inc.
The West L.A.-based firm expects to be selling the checks, which Heller describes as "bubble gum cards for adults," at 200 for $9.50.
But what about check writers who don't care for tennis stars? Is there anything out there for the Pete Rose and Jim McMahon fans of this world?
Heller, a sports photographer, says that his firm is close to signing golfers Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Calvin Peete. And he adds that negotiations are under way with the licensing divisions of the National Football League, the National Basketball Assn. and the Major League Baseball Players Assn.
And what about such sports personalities as John Madden or Howard Cosell?
"They wouldn't sell," Heller said, then reconsidered his position. "The Madden one might, and Cosell might because he's so controversial. But the main emphasis of our program is the professional athlete."
New Life for Old Church
The mail brings a letter from George E. Cocker, 65, a recently retired secondary school science teacher living in Deal, Kent, United Kingdom, who has read with interest of the plan to dismantle a small 13th-Century English village church and transplant it to Orange County.
Although he has never seen St. Bartholomew's, built in 1257 at a parish established 171 years earlier by William the Conqueror at what is now the village of Covenham (population about 253) in Lincolnshire, Cocker feels a certain affection for it because he was a Royal Air Force officer in training during World War II at Mandy, only a few miles from Covenham.
So, after reading in the Daily Telegraph that old St. Bartholomew's would have a new lease on life as home church to the small St. Matthew's by the Sea Anglican congregation--as well as a new found celebrity as the oldest church in the Western Hemisphere--Cocker sat down and wrote an anthem, "America, Our Homeland," that he hopes the St. Matthew's choir "might like to adopt" as its own.
This means, then, that Cocker approves of carting old St. Bartholomew's off to the home of Disneyland? "Oh, very much so," he said during a brief transatlantic telephone chat. "We have so many, and St. Bartholomew's is redundant. I think it's the best thing that could possibly happen."
(Indeed, the Church of England officially declared St. Bartholomew's redundant in 1978 when villagers, unable to support their two village churches, were forced to choose one.)
In the cover letter with his anthem, Cocker reasoned, "It was from Lincolnshire that many of the first settlers sailed on their way to the New World . . . (and) as a survivor of the R.A.F. Bomber Command I share with thousands of American airmen who were based in Eastern England a special affection for that landscape, with its homely villages, mature farms, venerable churches and ancient inns.
Asked Cocker, a published poet, amateur songwriter and self-described "keen bird watcher": "What finer memorial could you erect to those 60,000 American airmen who flew in defence of freedom and did not return to their homeland?"