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David Nelson / Society

Constitution Revelers Get Out the Red, White, Blue

July 10, 1986|DAVID NELSON

SAN DIEGO — That lady whose torch lights New York Harbor was not the only centenarian in the country to be given a red, white and blue reception during Fourth of July week.

Nearly 400 members and friends of the San Diego County Chapter of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution ambled down to the Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park for a celebration on Fourth of July eve to kick off the more than three years' worth of festivities that will culminate in 1989 with the 200th anniversary of the Constitution.

This early-evening blowout, which was hidden away in the courtyard that is the hole in the doughnut-shaped museum, sent out several kinds of homing signals that proved useful to strangers to this corner of the park. Anyone with a moderately functional nose could have found the party from a good half-mile away--the aroma of sizzling barbecued ribs and chicken sailed around the park like a ship laden with spices and perfumes.

The ears, also, could home in on this party easily enough, thanks to the Navy Band San Diego, which dropped anchor just outside the museum's entrance and serenaded arriving guests with an appropriately stirring selection of marches. This band, however, was just a sort of clef to the musical groups that waited inside; the Patrick Henry High School Marching Patriots entertained with patriotic melodies, and later, the Navy's Port and Starboard Combo played for dancing. (Obviously, when a party hopes to hop to all these Navy drums and basses, it helps to have a little Navy brass on the steering committee, and this one had plenty, including Rear Adm. Bruce Boland and Vice Adm. James E. Service.)

Nor was uniformed brass the only sort in the spotlight that evening. Party chairman Janie Newell arranged for a roster of speakers, all on patriotic themes, that was a blue-ribbon roster indeed, and included Reps. Jim Bates, Duncan Hunter and Ron Packard, as well as state Sen. Wadie Deddeh.

The Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution was established by Congress in 1983 and will continue to function through 1989. Retiring Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger is chairman of the commission, whose major goals are to heighten awareness and deepen understanding of the Constitution, the freedoms it guarantees and the civic responsibilities upon which its preservation depends.

Thousands of organizations across the country have been promoting the commission's goals, and the San Diego County chapter already has scheduled a series of events, including boat and hot air balloon races, air shows and a ball, that will culminate with a parade on Sept. 17, 1987.

Joan Bowes is chairman of the San Diego County group, and her committee includes Judges Earl Gilliam, Jack Levitt and Elizabeth Riggs, County Supervisor Susan Golding, Charles W. Hostler, Philip Klauber, Author Hughes, Jack Morse, Fern Murphy, Tom Sefton, Gene Yee, Gordon Luce, Joe Francis, Louarn Fleet, Wanda Kaufman, Robert Golden and Kenneth Thygerson.

Among those assisting with the kickoff celebration plans were Reba Brophy, John Vandegriff, Ann and Bob Plachta, Eleanor and Al Mikkelsen, Sally Fuller, Patsy Gaynor, Virginia Gaburo, Ruth Summitt, Vicci Taft, Charlene Meenan, Barbara Ozeroff, Jeannie Groebli, Janie Collins and Mara Pollack.

LA JOLLA--Meanwhile, on the Fourth of July, the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air brought smiles to the face of terrorism expert Mary Duncan.

Safely ensconced with about 30 close friends in her penthouse apartment high above La Jolla Cove, the San Diego State University professor and author (she is working on a book-length "expose" of evangelist Terry Cole-Whittaker) cheered loudly as La Jolla's now-annual fireworks extravaganza exploded in the heavens above the dark Pacific. Her buddies, several of them immigrants from other lands for whom Independence Day holds a special significance, cheered too, their energy fueled by the lavish, international-themed buffet Duncan had spread before the sparkling show.

This was an artsy crowd, and the guests' descriptions of the sometimes Rorshachian meanings the star bursts held for them were colorful. The list of those who work directly in the arts included film maker Carroll Blue, Shakespearean scholar and dramaturge Gideon Rappaport and playwright Manny Peluso, with his wife, Lucy.

Among the guests who were born abroad were Alma Joyce Lynch, a member of the Irish clan that counted author James Joyce among its number, and banker Bob Turner, who was born in Germany and in 1956 became, at age 7, the youngest person ever to take out his own United States naturalization papers (the law previously had required that individuals seeking the status of naturalized citizenship be at least 18).

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