Pacifica-Daly City Democrats Club, Pacifica, CA – February 16, 2019

George J Elbaum

Pacifica-Daly City Democrats Club – It started with a Letter to the Editor which I sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.  It was published January 6, 2019 (photo below) and read subsequently by Connie Menefee, the Club’s President.  A week later she emailed me and invited me on behalf of the Club’s Executive Board to speak at their next monthly meeting.  I informed her that I speak primarily to high school audiences because the students are “old enough to understand, yet young enough to have an open mind,” and learning that, she took the initiative to arrange the 10th grade enriched English class of Pacifica’s Terra Nova High School to attend my talk, even though the Club’s meeting would be on a Saturday morning.  The meeting’s venue at the Sharp Park Golf Course Restaurant and a student-discounted breakfast might have clinched the deal with Alyssa Jenkins, Head of Terra Nova’s English Department.  While Ms. Jenkins could not attend, 40 of her students arrived as scheduled, accompanied by Janet Pon, mother of two of the students.

After ending my talk, two situations occurred that surprised me.  During the Q&A, several of the club members, some my age and some older, stood up and offered their own Holocaust-related memories. One spoke of his father, a tough US Army sergeant in WWII who was fluent in German, served as a translator for Gen. George Patton during Patton’s visit to a just-liberated concentration camp, and the horrors they saw during that visit haunted him for the rest of his life.  Another member, in his 90s, described receiving a post card from a relative in Lithuania shortly before the Nazis overran it, and sadly, no communication thereafter.

A pleasant surprise afterwards was that Connie Menefee and I are both aviation buffs, which led to a very enjoyable discussion.  It started because Connie’s email address includes the names of 2 great airliners, and led to her father who owned and flew several unique and/or antique airplanes, and whose obituary was titled “The Man Who Loved to Fly.” When she identified these airplanes I asked for photos, and 2 of them are shown below.

In organizing this event, Connie (who also took the event’s photos) was ably supported by her husband, Mike Haase, Club “publicist” James Crow, and Pacifica Rotarian, Tom Turek, who provided audio-visual support for the program.  Also attending it were Club Officers, Pacifica City Council members, San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and Pacifica Tribune Editor & Publisher, Sherman Frederick.

Emails from the Audience 

Shortly after my talk I received several emails from the audience, which I much appreciated.  Below are two excerpts from these emails.

  • Your mother was an amazing woman.  Her cleverness in buying goods that could always be sold in an emergency, being able to shuttle you around to different families to survive, managing to move to America.  Brings a tear to my eye.
  • You have devoted your life to display the evil of hatred & to educate us on how to stop it. You inspire us to do the right thing & not tolerate hatred or prejudice. It’s imperative that “Never Again” resonates with all of humanity.

students from Terra Nova High School

after talk, students from Terra Nova High School

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4 Responses to Pacifica-Daly City Democrats Club, Pacifica, CA – February 16, 2019

  1. Connie Menefee says:

    The Pacifica-Daly City Democrats Club extends its heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Elbaum for a fascinating and moving talk about his wartime experiences. The audience ranged in age from 16 to 90+. Each and every generation in attendance was touched and informed by Mr. Elbaum’s stirring and timely presentation. Many, many thanks! Connie Menefee, Club President

    • gelbaum says:

      Thanks you, Connie. I appreciate your feedback, just as I do the faces of those who approach me and thank me after the talks. It’s what keeps me doing these. George

  2. Alyssa Jenkins says:

    I am so glad that so many of my students could attend, and I am sorry that I missed it (I was out of the country). As a Jew whose family tree is missing a large branch, the quest to expose young people to Holocaust stories is both personal and professional. I am grateful to Connie for inviting my students and to you for spending the time with them. If you have the time or ability to come talk to our students on campus, please email me at ajenkins@juhsd.net — I would love to have more of our students hear your story.

    • gelbaum says:

      Thank you, Alyssa
      Considering the trend to prejudice & hate that’s been growing in the US and world-wide the last few years, I’ve doubled the number of talks I’ve been giving each year and would be pleased to come and speak to your students on campus. Please look at Speaking Events on my website or the the upcoming schedule of my talks, and if you see an opening that would fit your school’s schedule, let’s do it.
      My very best, George

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