Nov. 12-15, 2009
Robin was too sick to go with me to California. I was up until the wee hours of the morning packing, and got only about 3 ½ hours of sleep. I arrived at the Ontario, CA Airport about noon. CASSAR (and MXSSAR) President, the Right Rev. Lou Carlson was there to meet me. We stopped at a neighborhood pizza place for lunch, after we discovered that the place he wanted to take me was not open for lunch.
It was a beautiful day when we arrived at the Mission Inn. This was absolutely one of the most beautiful hotels, if not the most beautiful, that I have ever stayed in. Construction was started in 1902, with many additions and renovations since. It is a favorite week-end spot for Hollywood movie starts. Robin and I have visited some grand hotels during our travels around the world. Some in Oman and the UAE are grander and more opulent, but at the Mission Inn, one feels he is in Tuscany, Italy.
My section of the hotel was pure Tuscany. Other parts, including the full size church were in Colonial Spanish, with a hint of the Alhambra. The hospitality room was in an Oriental section. They were in the process of installing Christmas lights. I would love to return at Christmas time and see this beautiful edifice.
The CASSAR provided me with a two story penthouse suite. Later I discovered that Suite 401 was haunted by the ghost of Aunt Alice, whose name is carved across the top of an entrance no longer used. Fortunately, Aunt Alice never bothers the males guests of this suite – only the women! Because of the great number of complaints, the hotel will not rent out this room, unless it is specifically requested. Among those who loved to stay in suite 401 were old blue eyes, Paul Newman and his wife Joan Woodward. The only inconvenience I experienced was that the bedroom was upstairs and the bathroom was downstairs. Before an informal dinner with a few of the CASSAR leaders that evening at a noisy bar with mediocre food, I enjoyed a short nap.
On Friday, I participated in the CASSAR business meeting by bring greetings from NSSAR. Joe Dooley (VASSAR) was endorsed for reelection as Genealogist General. The Public Safety Awards Luncheon was at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Our private room was huge and well decorated. After lunch I caught up on my sleep with another nap.
I stopped by the hospitality suite often, and I could see that many of the members were having a great time. On Friday evening was the President General’s dinner in my honor. It was by invitation only at a swanky restaurant across the street from the hotel. We actually ate at a very long table in the alley behind the restaurant. Both the food and service were wonderful. After dinner we watched a demonstration of colonial dancing at the hotel.
On Saturday I was thrilled that at 9:00 a.m. I was able to watch the Ole Miss Rebels play football on TV. They were winning big when I left in the third quarter to attend the Youth Awards Luncheon at the hotel. The venue was the Spanish Art Gallery, which was filled with eye candy. That afternoon, Steve Renouf and I had a lengthy meeting about the SAR trip to Spain.
That evening there was a lovely banquet in the San Diego Room. Unfortunately, there were two weddings in the hotel that evening. The hotel placed our group in a room so small than none of the members of the host chapter were able to eat with us. They dined on another floor. Even so, it was still very