Volunteering on the Fourth Starts Early
It is 4:30 a.m. on July 4th. Teeth are brushed, hair is combed, makeup applied and change of clothing packed.
It is the start of the day for volunteer Lee Calvert, who has been given the first Arnie Wishnick Award by 4th of July organizers.
A Pacific Palisades Optimist Club member, Calvert is one of the first people at the Palisades Recreation Center at 6 a.m. on the fourth. One might have spotted her in prior 5/10K Will Rogers Runs as the person handing out water. She’ll be doing it again.
As soon as the race is over and the last of the race T-shirts handed out around 10 a.m., Calvert changes clothes and heads to the Methodist Church.
There she starts setting up the registration for the VIP luncheon. As guests arrive, she greets them and checks them in with a smile.
When the luncheon concludes, she goes to the parade grandstands and is in place, by the entrance, at 1:30 p.m. “I keep people from blocking the people who have seats who have paid,” she said.
In the past, Calvert continued volunteering by going to the concert venue to work the ticket office, but this year the 94-year-old doesn’t think she’ll work in the evening. “By then I’ll be exhausted, and I will go home and collapse,” said Calvert whose first Fourth of July volunteer job was in 1995 as a parking attendant.
“I go with the flow,” Calvert said. “I go where they need me.”
Calvert moved to Tahitian Terrace, with her daughter Nancy and son Jeff in the early 60s, when Nancy wanted to attend the newly opened high school.
“I think we have a town that’s exceptional,” Calvert said. “I was lucky my daughter wanted to go to Palisades High School.”
She started her own business with “The Lucy Show” for Desilu in 1964, working with continuity in scripts. Calvert even worked on the early Tom Hanks sitcom “Bosom Buddies.”
When that company was sold to Paramount TV, Calvert’s business went with it.
As computers came into the picture, Calvert, a 1941 Santa Monica High graduate, learned Wordstar, Word Perfect, and Word.
When Paramount was sold to CBS, an executive asked “where’s your continuity department?” and was told, “it’s a lady in the Palisades. She always gets everything out on time and has never been late.”
For 40 years, Calvert had two women working for her as they provided continuity for “The Good Wife,” “NCIS” and “Rules of Engagement.” She retired when she was 89.
One of her co-workers found the jacket Calvert wears every Fourth of July in a second-hand store. The jacket, although a little big is probably 50 years old.
Now that she’s retired, she said she has more free time. “I can go to the YMCA every day and work out.”
The other thing you should know about Calvert is she’s in the Badminton Hall of Fame, having accumulated numerous national and international medals before knee surgery stopped that athletic pursuit when she was 87.
“I missed the competition,” she said. So, she switched to table tennis and last October returned from The Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah, with three gold medals.
Calvert has already paid her entry fee for this year’s games in October. And has a 93-year-old male partner lined up and a woman, Calvert describes as 80+.
But first, she will celebrate her 95th birthday in August with a party that will include the tango.