South Redondo Beach takes to the street to sing, six feet apart
Over the past three Sundays, neighbors in South Redondo have left their homes at noon to stand six-feet apart and sing. On the first Sunday, they sang “America the Beautiful.” On the second Sunday, they sang Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl anthem “This Land is Your Land.”
This past Sunday’s theme was Halloween in April. Over 50 neighbors came out in costume. The singing began with a celebratory “Star Spangled Banner,” followed by a somber note.
“That was the only song my husband ever took his hat off for,” long time South Redondo resident Betty Baron Anderson said when the singing stopped. Her husband Mike died Friday of lung cancer.
His black cowboy hat with its band of silver and turquoise rested on a table with a photo of him next to his 1999 Plymouth Prowler. His wife said the Prowler was her favorite of the four hotrods that Mike, a former aerospace mechanic, took to the Ruby’s car show every Friday evening in summer, until his illness.
She was fortunate, she said, to have been able to bring him home from the hospice house just days before the statewide lockdown would have made bringing him home impossible.
“Because we can’t have a funeral, Mike would have really appreciated all of you coming out. He used to know every person in every house on the block. But then he got sick and couldn’t get out, except to sit on the porch. Old neighbors moved out and new people moved in. I hope when this is over, that all of you will know every person in every house on the block,” Baron Anderson said.
In her husband’s memory the neighbors sang “Always On My Mind,” the love song famously performed by Willie Nelson.
The final song of the afternoon was an anthem for the times, the late Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
Vanessa Poster, a Beach Cities Health District Trustee, organized the neighborhood sing after learning older adults are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Her 93-year-old father David lives with her.
“I realized, I don’t really know who lives on my block and there might be other, older people who need help,” she said.
Poster knocked on her neighbors’ doors, stepped back six feet when they answered, and asked them to share their contact information and note special skills they could share with neighbors. She also gave out the Beach Cities Health District website address and emergency hotline number.
Then, inspired by the Florentine opera singer who sang from his balcony to his quarantined neighbors, she invited neighbors to gather the following Sunday on their street, six feet apart, wearing name tags and sing.
“Marc Kravetz, who lives down the street, prints up the lyrics and serves as the song-leader. Now, if things get bad, we’ll be ready to help each other. And when things get better, we will have a champion Neighborhood Watch set-up,” Poster said.
Before the neighbors went back inside Sunday, Poster asked them to leave food on their newly widowed neighbor’s porch so she wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store.
“Anything except liver and onions,” Baron Anderson said.
“I’ll take those,” Poster’s 93-year-old dad David shouted from his wheelchair. Next week’s sing-along will feature Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” For public health information or assistance, visit BCHD.org or call 310-374-3426, ext. 256. ER