By Katta Hules
This week’s city council meeting saw long-time Arcadia Weekly columnist Dorothy Denne receiving the Mayor’s Certificate of Commendation for her weekly column. Dorothy’s Place has been running since before the inception of the paper and is now ending. Denne called the decision ‘bittersweet,’ saying, “Twenty-three years is a long time. It’s a lot of weeks and a lot of columns…It was just time.”
The column came into being after she had to retire from teaching for health reasons. She joined a writing group in Pasadena. While waiting for a meeting, she idly began writing about a lamp. After everyone in the group had read, the leader turned to her and asked if she had anything to read. “I said ‘I don’t have anything’ and she said ‘but you were writing’ so I read it,” Denne recalled. It was well received.
On a whim, she submitted it to a newspaper, not expecting anything. The editor liked it “and that’s all she wrote,” Denne said, laughing.
Two decades later, Denne stood on stage, smiling and dressed in a blue ‘Meowy Christmas’ cat sweater with matching blue shoes and cane. Her ‘heart-son’ retired police chief Bob Sanderson, his wife Marie and Denne’s young neighbor Luke, clutching a bouquet, accompanied her.
Mayor Tom Beck read the Commendation aloud, saying, “It is said that anyone is replaceable. In Arcadia, California, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. You are one of them. You are a true Arcadia treasure.”
When handed the microphone, she commented, “There was a man that used to be on council that said whatever you do, don’t give Dorothy a microphone but I will be brief.” This was met with protests and laughter. Beck smiled, “As long as it wasn’t one of us.”
“We got rid of him,” Denne reassured the crowd. “I appreciate this so much. It was a surprise and I appreciate all the letters and the emails and the letters to the editor and even getting on the billboard of (former Arcadia Mayor George) Fasching’s carwash.”
She finished her speech with wisdom and her trademark humor. “Enjoy every minute you possibly can, because none of us know how many more minutes we have and on the light side of that, don’t forget to remember that how long a minute is can often be determined by which side of the bathroom door you’re standing on.”
Sanderson spoke next, saying it is a pleasure to be in Denne’s life, calling it “like a family relationship for us. And something that we treasure and hope (to continue) for many more years to come and we also congratulate you on 23 years of writing every week. I know it’s not always easy but you did a great job.”
Denne grinned. “He’s heard me complain more than once.”
Denne says she will remain active with the police department, the library and in the city. She is also thinking about writing her memoirs. “I’ve had an interesting long life.”