As Charles D. Miller pointed out the other evening, there was hardly a palm tree in sight in 1888 in Los Angeles. The population of 70,000 was shrinking due to the abrupt end of get-rich-quick speculation. Agriculture was the mainstay. No harbor existed. There wasn't water enough to serve the population. But, enter the visionary Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, intent on advertising, even exaggerating. The result: a major business center billowing from desert air.
A hundred years later, Miller, the new Chamber chairman, told the huge crowd at the black-tie centennial gala at the Century Plaza: "I feel great about this town. Los Angeles is a great place to live, a great place to work, and we have the momentum and opportunity unparalleled in the world--a can-do spirit. This centennial year has the makings of the best year ever in Los Angeles."
Centennial Committee chairman William D. Schulte and vice chairman Richard M. Ferry were exuding spirit. Much as the Chamber did 100 years ago, they've taken the centennial theme "We've Got the Climate for Business," and business expos, road shows, speakers' bureaus and a traveling centennial exhibit will do what the Chamber's Tournament of Roses Parade float did New Year's Day--promote Los Angeles.
Each year the Chamber salutes a major business in the community. Roger Barkley of KJOI had the audience laughing with his jokes about dull accountants in a humorous salute to the Big Eight accounting firms. (Locally, they have an estimated payroll of $224 million and estimated 1987 receipts of $500 million; employees contributed 113,100 volunteer hours in the community valued, conservatively, at $14 million.)
Dinner chairman John Argue noted that the Big Eight paid for the insults: Each firm contributed $25,000 to the dinner (as well as $2,000 for each table) to aid Chamber causes. Nearly $100,000 of that, Argue said, is targeted for a new trust fund to help launch minority small businesses. Said Chamber president Ray Remy, "The Big Eight have helped all of us grow and prosper."
Accepting the recognition were Sheldon I. Ausman of Arthur Andersen Co.; Hugh M. Grant and Kirk K. Calhoun of Arthur Young & Co.; Joseph V. O'Donnell and Albert A. Thiess Jr. of Coopers & Lybrand; Keith W. Renken and Sheldon Richman of Deloitte Haskins & Sells; William A. Carter and Samuel P. Bell of Ernst & Whinney; William D. Schulte and Maurice J. DeWald of Peat Marwick Main & Co.; Kenneth G. Docter and Abbott L. Brown of Price Waterhouse; James E. Seitz and Robert R. Garland of Touche Ross & Co.
In between, outgoing chairman Thomas P. Kemp inaugurated Miller, bestowing a medal, and the crowd danced to Sidney James' orchestra. The menu consisted of roast veal chops with peppercorn sauce, a Charlotte Russe dessert and the Round Hill Chardonnay and Louis Jadot Beaujolais wines. Then they settled back for a delightful finale with that attractive duo, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, closing with "What the World Needs Now Is Love."
ROYAL VISITS: Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will spend three days in Los Angeles, April 25-27. Only New York, on their nationwide tour, will rate as much time. Dallas and Minneapolis will get two days, and Washington, Wilmington, Trenton, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston one day each.
Birgitta Sidh, Los Angeles chairman of New Sweden '88, (commemorating the founding of the New Sweden colony on the Delaware River in 1638) chairs a major welcoming banquet April 25 at the Century Plaza. It's hosted by Los Angeles city and county officials and the National Committee for New Sweden '88. Lois Peyser heads the film gala the next evening, a tribute to Swedish film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Siri Eliason is chairman and former Arco vice president Rodney Rood co-chairman for all "Year of New Sweden, 1988" activities in California.
More good news: Princess Christina, sister to the king, will visit Los Angeles in October to open a Museum of Science and Industry exhibit called "It's Swedish."
WEDDING BELLS: Invitations with a tiny red heart tied with a bow to a planet reveal that Lois Driggs Cannon and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin will be married Valentine's Day in Phoenix at the Western Savings Corporate Center, which is housed in the former Wrigley Estate. They'll live at Laguna Beach.
Susan Keefe Barker and Arthur Warren Schultz were married this month in Santa Barbara.
And a multitude of parties surround the union of Monica Pereira Ferraro, daughter of Margaret Pereira and the late architect William L. Pereira, and Henry George Mindlin, son of the late Jerome and Carolyn Mindlin of Beverly Hills.