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A Chronicle Of The Passing Scene

March 26, 1993|SUE REILLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Sit-Down Comic

Gene Mitchener, a Woodland Hills motivational speaker, can inspire people without speaking.

Then he starts talking, and he makes them laugh.

When he rolls out onto a stage in his wheelchair, the first thing he does is look down at the chair and say, "I was born this way."

Then he grins, wickedly, and adds, "It was a difficult birth."

Mitchener has a congenital sensory-nerve disorder known as Kugelberg- Wylander. Disabled from birth, he uses his own challenge to challenge others about the way they think about people with disabilities.

His slightly outrageous sit-down comedy breaks the ice for the message. "Once you make them laugh, you've got them," he says.

Mitchener--who will be the master of ceremonies for the May 15 and 16 California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard--has been decorated with honors, including those from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Spastic Children's Foundation for his work with disability awareness.

For the upcoming festival, he's the one who will be doing the decorating--his wheelchair will feature red, pink and white streamers, with tasteful little red strawberries here and there.

His festival duties include providing snappy patter and humor between acts at the Strawberry Meadows Amphitheater. The acts will include rock, blues, country and salsa bands and run most of the time both days.

The festival, which costs $5 for adults and benefits 20 local charities, is expected to draw about 75,000 strawberry-loving fanatics who would put strawberries on or in anything--including pizza.

Loving Beautiful Downtown Reseda

Some people may make fun of the incredible shrinking town of Reseda.

Some residents try to pretend they live in some other town.

Some former residents have spent time and money actually getting their turf annexed to some other city.

They figure it adds not only prestige but cash value to their homes.

There is such a rush to get out of what some people call Re-seedy, that a woman named Lillie E. Cordero, who runs Cordero Escrow Co. in Reseda, recently wrote to the Reseda Chamber of Commerce to take them to task.

She says that instead of being adults and dealing with the problem, the runaways are just trying to rename it away.

"Moving doesn't make your situation better," says Cordero. "And it doesn't fool anyone, either."

"The post office isn't going to change anyone's ZIP code," she says, and the $20,000 or so it costs to effect the in-name-only name change could be put to use to correct and/or beautify what is already there.

When her Canoga Park address became West Hills, her property didn't look any different. She was just worried the neighborhood stores would start charging more.

Does the Easter Bunny Know About This?

Mary Ann Sacherman has a lot of egg cups--you know, those quaint things once popularly used to hold soft-boiled eggs.

For the uninitiated, you put the egg in the cup, decapitate the egg and scoop out the remainder to get the (runny, gooey) yolk.

But the Woodland Hills woman doesn't use the cups.

She doesn't even like her eggs cooked that way.

She collects the cups, she says, because of something her mother-in-law said to her in 1943 in Cleveland.

"I was 19, just married to my World War II soldier sweetheart, and was going to be traveling around," she says.

"My mother-in-law said I ought to start collecting something to keep me occupied," she remembers. "Ispotted an egg cup in my mother-in-law's china collection, and that was that."

It's now 50 years and 275 egg cups later.

She has fine china, glass, wood and metal egg cups, funny ones and ones that are kind of hard to figure out.

"One has feet on it and looks like it's running," she says.

Others are intricate, or delicate, or all of the above.

Sacherman, who from 1980-89 was director of volunteer services at Valley Hospital Medical Center, says some of her favorite cups come from Maiden Lane in London.

"There's a woman who's sold only egg cups there for more than 10 years," she says.

Now that she and her husband, Lee, are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, she says they are going to have a party they are calling an Awards Ceremony.

Will one Sacherman present the other with a loving (egg) cup?

The Grass Is Always Yellower . . .

The folks at the Topanga-Las Virgenes Resource Conservation District are relentless.

While you try to dry out from Mother Nature's near-successful attempt to drown us this winter, they are still preaching conservation to the committed and the uncommitted.

They remind us that since we have chosen to pitch our tents in a desert, we'd better continue to conserve water if we want to continue to do things like bathe and drink the stuff.

So, just as you were starting to ponder lush green lawns and the scent of gardenias, they want you to come to their native and xeriscape plant sale Saturday and Sunday at 122 N. Topanga Road.

The question is: Who wants a yard full of grumpy-looking, prickly plants whose only wish in life is to impale you?

On the other hand, you don't have to mow, feed or put snail killer around them.

Even snails have their pride.

Overheard

"I've bought enough shirts, ties, socks and underwear to last me and Donald Trump into the next millennium."

--Young man to shopping companion at the Sherman Oaks Galleria Robinson's at its going-out-of-business sale

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