by John Hawkins, President and CEO, The Club

John Hawkins, Club CEO

For this, our July issue, we continue our yearly tradition honoring Club Members who are also US military veterans.

This one, with Michael Bevelaqua, 93, Retired, Transportation, was really fun. Like Michael, I served on a US Navy submarine. In my era, the 1980s, we heard stories of what it was like to serve on the old diesel electric boats like Michael did, and this was my chance to find out.

Traffic Officer Michael Bevelaqua, probably late 1970s, aboard a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson Servi-Car. Vintage LA Coppers

The Club first learned Michael’s story in April 2020 as part of our Club Care Calls program, when we called all of our Retired Members – one by one – to make sure they were doing okay during the pandemic. (We then called all of our Members, too, 50,000, in what became the largest outreach in Club history.) Michael told us he was doing fine. Looking at his age, we then asked if he had served in the military, and he told us his story. I couldn’t wait to interview him! The pandemic got in the way, though, and prevented our meeting safely for more than a year. But when it finally cleared enough to be safe (all involved were double vaccinated), we visited Michael in Alhambra just in time for this issue.

I learned a lot about the old subs and about Michael, who equates freedom with the simple joys of walking down the street, supporting his family, and so forth. I hope you enjoy our story.

A sidenote: Michael’s son, Mark Bevelaqua, Sr. Inspector, Building and Safety, wanted to include a photo of his dad as a Traffic Officer. He couldn’t locate one, so Alive! editor John Burnes reached out to Vintage LA Coppers secretary Sgt. Kevin Ahlemeir for any generic vintage photo of Traffic Officers on a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson. Kevin supplied one … that just happened to feature Michael himself! That’s an amazing coincidence, and we’re happy to reprint it here.

Itching to get outside and enjoy nature, now that it’s safe to do so? Head to Rec and Parks’ stunning Orcutt Ranch right after the Fourth to pick some true City oranges right in a citrus grove, for a small fee. I visited park curator Robert Baker there a few years ago, and it’s awesome.

I wish you a meaningful and happy Fourth of July. As the pandemic eases, celebrate freedom, big or small, with your family. It’s so important.

— John