Harold Feder, Cub Reporter | Crest Road
Penny Abell is, among other things, a long time Dodgers baseball fan. For me, as a Giants’ fan, the words “Dodgers fan” connotes only the negative characteristics that one would associate with the uneducated, the uninformed or the irrational. I know Penny is the polar opposite of such terms. So what drives her to this fandom? I tried to find out.
Q: Let’s get the preliminary questions out of the way. When did you first come to Del Mar and why?
A: 1978. I was hired as the Head Librarian at UCSD. I was the 2nd Head Librarian in the history of UCSD. At that time, of the 65 Head Librarians in the country, only two, including myself, were woman.
Q: I don’t picture you as a librarian.
A: You mean the little old lady wearing tennis shoes? Actually, librarians mainly teach and demonstrate how to find information. In becoming a librarian, I recognized that you could pursue any interest you wanted. One could specialize in history, reference work, etc And I loved solving puzzles. Also, there are answers to almost any question and librarians help solve these mysteries.
Q: How long were you at UCSD?
A: Until 1984. I left to become Head Librarian at Yale.
Q: That sounds like a big job?
A: At Yale, we had 500 employees at 25 locations on and off campus. At both schools, it was the beginning of the tremendous use of technology. It was exciting. I even get excited now talking about it. I stayed at Yale for 10 years and then returned to Del Mar.
Q: How would you describe Del Mar then?
A: The income levels were much lower. Also, there was more homogeneity in terms of income levels. It was a UCSD faculty town. More people knew each other because there were more long time residents and from a shared sense of activism. I don’t get that sense of this activism anymore.
Q: Is that a good or bad development?
A: Bad. Because of citizen engagement, Crest Canyon was saved, the Powerhouse was established, the library was refurbished...I could go on and on.
Q: Who was your favorite council person?
A: Jerry Finnell. He was a grown up. He listened well, was fair and pushed for and established a clear financial base.
Q: Your favorite place in the world?
A: I think Botswana. I love birds and animals and love the feel and smell of Africa. Botswana is a wonderful place to experience that.
Q: Your favorite book and why?
A: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It is a long, complex book. I think I got 5% of the meaning. But it was so skillfully written that I could not stop reading. Also, there is the wonderful surprise of his sense of humor.
Q: Ever read a book twice?
A: The 1st Volume of Remembrance of Things Past by Proust and Dick Francis mysteries. Dick Francis mysteries because they are so mindless I forget about the story after a couple of years and can read them again.
Q: The best piece of advice?
A: I was new at the job at UCSD and for reasons I cannot remember, I was visited by a guy who had been a professor at the school and had gone into business. He told me of the best book he had read regarding management was “How to Win a Meeting.” He didn’t know the author or anything else about the book other than the key to an effective meeting was to know exactly what you wanted to come out of the meeting from the beginning. The guy was Irv Jacobs now known as Irwin Jacobs. This was before Qualcomm.
Q: Seriously, the Dodgers?
A: It began when I was a child at my grandma’s house and I would spend days listening to the radio and keeping score. My romance with the Dodgers started when we lived in Wichita and my brother and everyone else were St Louis Cardinal fans. For some reason, I don’t know why, I fell in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers. This was around 1942. I could only listen to them on the radio when they played the Cardinals.
Q: Your favorite Dodger?
A: That is a very difficult question, but it would have to be Sandy Koufax because of his grit and brilliance.
Q: How did you feel when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles?
A: Deeply disappointed and still am. They are still the Brooklyn Dodgers, but they now play in Los Angeles.
Q: Ok, a Dodger fan can be intelligent, interesting and sophisticated.
But still! A Dodger fan?