The Ballad of COCSD: Sixty Years in the Making
Sixty years ago, something very special happened. A group of Corvette lovers got together and created the Corvette Owners Club of San Diego in order to enjoy what has become America’s iconic sports car and a dream car for many. Years of fun runs, parades, tech sessions, races, parties, car shows, meetings, charitable events, newsletters, and friendships have imprinted millions of wonderful memories in the hearts and minds of over 1150 past and current members of the club.
Fast forward to 1964, when a seemingly silly TV show named “Gilligan’s Island” debuted on CBS. No one, especially the actors, expected that the show would become one of the longest running syndicated shows in TV history. Unforgettable characters, plots and music are etched in the minds of millions of viewers who have enjoyed the show and its humor over the past 5 decades.
My story today is how the COCSD, now in its 6th decade, merged briefly with that iconic TV show “Gilligan’s Island”, for an evening of magic on our beautiful San Diego Bay. Sunday evening, April 24, 2016, marked a memorable event for the Corvette club. We celebrated our 60th anniversary as a club by holding our Inaugural on the Hornblower yacht “Emerald”. The 57 attendees were welcomed to the beautiful 85’ yacht with a boarding glass of champagne and the catchy tune “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island”. In line with our theme, everyone was encouraged to dress as their favorite character from that iconic TV show. As we pulled away from the dock for our 3 hour cruise, the unexpected clouds & wind made us wonder if we too would end up marooned somewhere unexpected.
As the group mingled about our private yacht, some chatted in the Captain’s lounge, some enjoyed the fresh air on the rear upper cocktail deck and some braved the wind and ocean spray on the front lower deck. When I was out there on the front deck, I knew just how Jack and Rose felt in that scene from “Titanic”. It was awesome! As the guests found their seats for dinner, each found a cast photo or scene from “Gilligan’s Island” on their napkin, complete with show trivia questions and answers to quiz their tablemates. Table decorations included sea shells, blue glass beads, & blue chocolate candies to emphasize the ocean and island theme.
Dinner was served about 5:30 and the food was excellent. The tender chicken, steak, and vegetarian fare had tasty sauces accompanied by baby vegetables, far better than the castaways on “Gilligan’s Island” probably ate. Yummy New York style cheesecake with raspberry coulis finished off the meal.
At dessert time, the crew brought out a piece of cheesecake with flaming birthday candle to present to Marie Taylor, who was our guest of honor. She is member #2B and she and her husband Ray Taylor were instrumental in starting COCSD back in the early years. The Ray Taylor Founder’s Award is named after her husband. Marie celebrated her 92nd birthday the day after the cruise so the Club gave her a hearty round of “Happy Birthday” to get her started. I had the pleasure of taking Marie to lunch at Marie Calendar’s on her birthday, complete with rhubarb pie for dessert. She regaled me with stories of her many trips to foreign lands since Ray passed away. She’s quite a fascinating and adventurous lady! Marie, we’re all wishing you many more happy years and exciting adventures.
After our fantastic dinner, our president, Randy Brown conducted the Inaugural proceedings in his inimical style, thanking the retiring board members and welcoming the new ones in for a productive year. Vice President Steve Hucik presented the awards including some cash prizes to the following deserving club members:
The John Waters Outstanding New Member Award went to Elizabeth “BJ” Comer.
Afterwards, it was time for our costume contest to see who emulated the various show characters most closely. Alan Atha conducted the contest with his usual flair. We had four contestants each in the men’s and women’s contests. For the men’s contest, there was Randy Kilpatrick and Paul Fitch starring as Thurston Howell III and Randy Standke and David Johnson posing as the nerdy professor. Our winner was Randy Kilpatrick, complete in navy blazer, yachtsman’s cap and pipe. Awesome costume!
Our ladies contest attracted Judi Spuris as Lovey Howell, Beth Jacobson as Ginger, complete with red hair, and a duo of MaryAnns; both Erica Johnson and Leah Johnson were adorable in their gingham blouses. The prize went to Judi, who knocked it out of the park with a bright blue suit and huge white hat with blue feather boa trim. Thank you to everyone who took the time to “dress the part” so we could have some more fun on the cruise!
Both Randy and Judi each received two ceramic coconut shell drink cups complete with paper umbrellas for those tropical drinks. Sadly, one of the cups did not even make it off the boat. Perhaps a real coconut cup would have been a better choice!
The final event of the evening was my “Gilligan’s Island” trivia contest. Eight creative questions, some harder than others, were offered for the club members to ponder and answer. Sorry, I don’t remember who all the winners were, but they each had a bag of chocolate gold coins tossed their way. Here’s a sample question: Based on the show’s back story, why did the Skipper put up with the bungling Gilligan? Answer: Gilligan saved the Skipper’s life when they served on a destroyer together in WWII. I think I am probably the club expert on “Gilligan’s Island” trivia after making the table decorations and the trivia quiz. What a fun project!
In the final moments of our cruise, everyone was able to enjoy seeing the beautiful San Diego skyline full of colorful lights as we approached the dock. The Hornblower ship’s crew was outstanding and provided excellent service. The smiles on the passengers’ faces showed that not only had they just had a once-in-a lifetime experience, but they were really glad to get back to land safely! As we disembarked the ship, I’m sure everyone was looking forward to the next exciting adventure as COCSD celebrates its 60th year. “The Ballad of COCSD” is a continuing saga; who knows what lies ahead?
Cast: I appreciate everyone who attended this milestone event because you helped make it the outstanding success that it was. The following stars are listed in almost alphabetical order: Alan Atha and Nancy Oeh, David Baker, Steve Breault and Jennifer Sanchez, Randy and Janet Brown, Leonard and Cooky Campbell, Jim and Christine Brannen, Sam and Beth Campbell, George and Diane Dauphine, Paul Fitch and Beth Jacobson, James and Peggy Gamboa, Steven and Diane Hucik, David and Erica Johnson, Leah Johnson, Dave and Cindy Keetch, Howard and Terry Kendall, Randy Kilpatrick and Judi Spuris, Richard and Debra King and their granddaughter Victoria King, Keith Kingsley and Gloria Jones, Jim and Viki Lassiter, Greg and Eunice Magill, Bob and Nancy Michels, Lee and Margaret Olson, Ray Provencio, Bob Pratt, Brent and Anne Randall, Carl Scavo and Katie Mielke, Bill and Lin Siepert, Randy and Dawn Standke, Marie Taylor and Danny McGehee, and Michael and Christine Wilbanks. Sadly, Jay Orband called in sick with the flu and couldn’t make it. I know he would have been a memorable Thurston Howell III! Award winner BJ Comer was also not able to be there due to a prior commitment.
Executive Producers: I want to thank COCSD and the 60th Anniversary Planning Committee for their financial assistance in making this fun event happen. Committee members Sam Campbell, Tom Kelly, Janet Brown, Howard Kendall, Viki Lassiter and BJ Comer helped Alan Atha and me to plan, decorate and promote the cruise.
Director & Research: Nancy Oeh—COCSD’s resident micromanager and “Gilligan’s Island” trivia queen.
Advertising: A big “Thank You” to Viki Lassiter for making the cruise flyer!
Photographer: Dawn Standke—Thanks for the awesome job!
Website Management: Craig Moya and Randy Standke—Thanks for their technical support & patience.
Transportation and Catering: Joy Liu and Monica Heckenberg of Hornblower Cruises and Events, the Captain of the “Emerald”, event manager Salvador Rosales and his crew. Thanks for the great dinner and getting us back safely.
Legal: Thanks to Randy Brown for reviewing contracts, his advice and encouragement.
Emcees: Thanks to Randy Brown, Steven Hucik and Alan Atha for joining me in emceeing the various events. Thanks to Randy Brown for lugging his PA system down there!
Passenger Check-in and Boarding: Thank you to Jim Lassiter and Alan Atha for their assistance.
Muse: A special “Thank you” to Alan Atha for his unwavering support and belief in me.
Submitted by Nancy Oeh