THE SLADOJES - Patricia and I moved to Sierra Madre
in 1998 and one of the first things I did was join the
one year old Sierra Madre Rotary Club, since I ‘d
been a life-long Rotarian. I was the first non-Charter
Member of the club and Susie was the second.
and Susie moved to Sierra Madre from Chicago because
George accepted the position of President and CEO of
the California Power Exchange. A former senior executive
with the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Stock
Exchange, George had been selected to put together a
mechanism for the distribution of electric power after
California deregulated its power industry. The Exchange
worked fine until the politicians screwed it up.
had been a “Power Volunteer” in Chicago
and Rotary was a natural outlet for her enthusiasm and
SPRINGS - We became friends with the Sladojes at the
Rotary District Conference the following spring held
that year in Palm Springs. We ate together and shopped
the antique stores together. Since I had lived in Palm
Springs for 8 years in the late 60s and early 70s, I
knew where most of the “celebrity” homes
were and I took them on a tour, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra
and Walter Annenberg’s estates included.
MIA - Later that year we all attended “Mama Mia,”
the musical based on the songs of the 1970s Swedish
singing group “Abba.” It was playing a pre-Broadway
run at the Shubert Theater in Century City. We all agreed
it was going to be a hit and, of course, we were right.
Unfortunately, it will be the last time any of us see
a show at the Shubert as the theater closed permanently
shortly after Mama Mia left for New York.
ADVOCATES - Susie’s sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta,
has adopted the “Court Appointed Special Advocates
Child ” as their national philanthropy, so Susie
transferred her interest from the Chicago CASA to the
Los Angeles Friends of Child Advocates when she moved
to Sierra Madre. The local group promptly made her the
chair of their annual benefit and we had the privilege
of attending the event with her and George at the Los
Angeles Hilton. Pat Haden, the former U.S.C. Quarterback
and now a CBS sportscaster, was honored and we enjoyed
the program immensely as he and his former “favorite
target” J. K. McKay (son of the famous Trojan
Football Coach, John McKay) exchanged “barbed”
but good-natured insults.
- Susie and George then invited us to go to Chicago
to attend a world famous, museum quality Craft Show
called The American Craft Exposition, which Susie chaired
prior to moving to California. The show is held in Evanston
on the campus of Northwestern University and features
unique crafts from artisans chosen from among hundreds
of applicants. It is a spectacular event.
stayed at the Ritz Carlton on Michigan Avenue near the
historic Water Tower. They took us to some of (what
are now) our all time favorite restaurants.
110,” less than two blocks from their new downtown
Chicago Condo has the most fabulous Artichoke you’ve
ever had. Strange that the best Artichoke is 2,000 miles
east of Watsonville where 95 percent of American artichokes
“Capital Grille,” walking distance from
the Ritz boasts “The best steak in Chicago”
and they certainly won’t get an argument on that
statement from the Halls.
took us on a tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, the
Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options
Exchange. It was particularly interesting to have a
tour led by an insider who is so obviously held in great
regard by the people who formerly worked for him. Also,
the Sladoje’s son, Steven, is now carrying on
the family tradition at the CBOE.
took us shopping on Michigan Avenue (among the best
in the world, we can hardly wait to go back) and then
on a driving tour of North Shore. We saw their former
the beautiful suburb of Glenview and then we all joined
George and Steven, after their golf game, for lunch
at their local County Club.
and Steven also arranged for me to attend a game at
Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Dodgers, a lifelong
dream for me. We had great seats in the field boxes
and our neighbors were all very gracious. George explained
that everyone in Chicago loves the Cubs, but nobody
really expects them to win, so they are less disrespectful
of the visiting teams. Before the game we had a “Brew
and a Brat” and watched the kids chasing batting
practice balls hit over the fence into the surrounding
quick anecdotes about the game:
mentioned the people chasing balls outside the stadium.
In the 5th inning a Dodger hit a homerun over the left
field wall. George said, “Watch what happens now.”
As the Dodger rounded the bases the Cub Left Fielder
faced the fence. Before the Dodger reached home plate,
the ball came sailing back over the wall. George explained
that it’s a tradition for homerun balls off the
bats of opposing teams to be returned over the wall
by the kids outside. You have to wonder if balls hit
by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds while setting their
homerun records were also returned in spite of their
escalating market value.
us Californians know that it was a tradition for legendary
announcer Harry Carey to lead the crowd singing “Take
Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning
stretch. What is less well known is that since Carey’s
death the tradition is carried on by “celebrity”
song leaders? That day Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bear
and Professional Football Coach, led us in song. All
I can say it’s a good thing Ditka didn’t
have to make his living as a singer.
it was interesting to me that Sammy Sosa, the incredibly
talented Cub Right Fielder, is sincerely loved by every
Cub fan. After every catch in Right Field he tosses
the ball up to a group of kids who hang out in the bleachers
on the chance they’ll get one of Sosa’s
gift balls. I learned later that Sosa’s contract
calls for him to be able to do this and he pays for
every ball. Right in front of us, in the front row of
the Field Boxes, there was a little boy who stood by
his mother every time Sosa went out to the field and
waved a small Dominican Flag. Sosa is, of course, Dominican,
and is worshiped by kids there. About the 6th inning
Sosa spotted the little boy and ran a long way out of
his way after a 3rd out catch to hand him a ball. Everybody
in our section cheered his thoughtfulness.
a far cry Sosa is from Home Run record holder Barry
Bonds of the Giants who is hated by his team-mates and
routinely insults his fans young and old.
and I left the game early and took the world famous
“El” back to the Hotel.
and Susie also took us on a special “Architectural
Foundation Boat Tour” up the Chicago River to
see and appreciate the magnificent architecture which
abounds in that city. It is a thing about which Chicagoans
are justly proud.
visit happened to coincide with the “Cow Decorating”
contest that started a trend nationwide. Life size statues
of cows were placed strategically all over Cook County
and artists were invited to decorate them. There were,
of course, prizes for the winners and we were amazed
at the talent and inventiveness of some of the artists.
A year later when we went to Washington, D. C. we found
that City had copied the Chicago idea and had invited
artists to decorate donkeys and elephants, for obvious
day before we left Chicago we went to see the “Blue
Man”, the comedy/satire/pantomime show that has
since gone to New York and Las Vegas to rave reviews.
It was great, great fun. I couldn’t describe it
if I wanted to, you’ll just have to see it. Take
my word for it, you’ll enjoy it too.
D. C. Patricia and I decided to attend a fundraising
dinner for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee
at which George Bush was featured speaker in Washington,
D.C. in the spring of 2002. It happened that George
(Sladoje not Bush) was testifying before a Congressional
Committee on the California Energy Crisis at the same
time, so we agreed to meet for dinner.
met at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse near Dupont
Circle; home of the finest steak you’ll ever eat.
We shared a bottle of wine and took our time eating
dinner. What a treat to meet a friend in a faraway place.
CALIFORNIA ENERGY CRISIS When the California Legislature,
with much fanfare, “deregulated power” in
California in the mid 90s, they deregulated wholesale
prices, but not retail. They didn’t want to face
the wrath of voters if electric bills went too high.
The California Power Exchange was created to provide
a mechanism to handle an unregulated wholesale market.
Like all exchanges, it worked quite efficiently.
Environmentalists in California had blocked the construction
of new power plants for decades, so the supply as a
percent of demand was declining steadily. As the supply
went down, the price went up from the producers to the
power companies who were severely limited in passing
on those price increases to the public. The “Power
shortages” ensued and the Politicians promptly
announced, “deregulation doesn’t work.”
Davis, then the Governor, panicked at the height of
the crisis and signed long term contracts with power
suppliers at exorbitant rates in hopes of quieting the
public. He announced that the problem was with suppliers
and the Power Exchange where the suppliers sold their
power. Like all Democratic Politicians, Davis refused
to place any blame on the real culprits, the Legislature
whose members were afraid to let the “Free Market”
work on retail prices, and the environmentalists who
caused the shortage in the first place.
might say (to paraphrase Harry Truman) “Gray Davis
couldn’t take the heat, so he got out of the kitchen.”
LESSON IN ECONOMICS: Think about it; if your own price
of electricity doubles, won’t you find a way to
reduce your consumption? Of course you will. So, you
reduce your electricity use. At the very same time some
producer discovers he can make more money and increases
his production. The price stabilizes. That is the law
of supply and demand. That’s also the definition
of a “Free Market.” Unfortunately the process
takes a little time and is sometimes painful. Too bad
so many legislators are ignorant of basic economics
and unwilling to stand up to an angry, if uninformed,
END OF THE POWER EXCHANGE: Through it all George kept
the Exchange going until the Politicians decided to
shut it down. George remained with the Exchange to wrap
up the business of the group, but now found himself
with some time on his hands. So, he joined Rotary, too.
MADRE ROTARY CLUB For more than 5 years Susie and, then,
George were active members of the Rotary Club. They
hosted Board meetings at their home in addition to numerous
“Fireside Meetings” and parties. They willingly
volunteered to work on and chair such events as the
Fourth of July Dunk Tank, The Annual Wisteria Festival
tri-tip sandwich barbecue, the annual Pioneer Days Dinner
Dance and the summer “Concert in the Park”
featuring impersonators of famous rock stars. All of
these were successful at least in part because of Susie
and George’s leadership and hard work.
of the Rotary Club were always more fun with the Sladojes
around. George shamelessly promoted the Ohio State Buckeyes
and feigned confusion over the rules of the raffle,
to the delight of all. Susie and George did a joint
“Craft Talk” where they talked about their
childhoods and their early days together. That was “Part
one” and they have promised to come back to deliver
FOND FAREWELL When George and Susie announced that they
were selling their Sierra Madre home and moving back
to Chicago in early 2004 it was a great disappointment
for their friends in Sierra Madre. George is starting
a new company and they will be moving into a condo in
downtown Chicago. While we’re all sad to lose
them in Sierra Madre, we’re excited about their
dinner was held at the La Parisienne in Duarte on Friday
Night, February 13th to celebrate our friendship and
bid them a fond farewell. Present at the dinner, in
addition to the Sladojes of course, were Frank and Patricia
Hall, Spike and Carolyn Crowley, Kris and Sue Poulsen,
Dan and Julie Alle, Denis and Karen Keegan, Rudy and
Susanne Hayek, Bob and Carmen Thibault; Steve and Marge
Garrett, and Bob Young and Susan Nunnery.
BUSINESS: George never did explain what a Buckeye really
DESSERTS: The California electorate recalled Gray Davis
George and Susie, for the memories.
you in Chicago.