It is a safe bet that Lynne Siegel will never be asked to be a spokesperson for the village of Cambria. Just mention the picturesque hamlet that Lynne has called home for the last six years and the one-liners start flying, Henry Youngman-style.
“Cambria is a beautiful place to live–if you’re a bird or a fish.”
Or how about this one?
“Shopping is always a challenge in Cambria. Unless you want art on your walls.”
What about the people of Cambria, Lynne. Any thoughts? “There are some very nice people here. But many are very WASPish. They’re afraid of minorities.”
Had enough? Lynn has. This Cambrian woman pines to be somewhere else, preferably in a city that is filled with people, music, and, yes, even smog. That’s right. Lynne left her heart in that riot-torn, crime-infested, traffic-congested armpit of Western civilization.
Put the down the rope and hear the woman out. Despite her droll sarcasm, there isn’t a mean bone in Lynne’s body. The 58-year-old pharmacy technician is a devoted mother and loving wife.
But unlike most Southland expatriates who are enjoying the Good Life on the Central Coast, Lynne has painfully discovered just how deep her roots are to the City of Angels. And how not everything can be neatly packed into a box and moved along with the couch and the bed.
Lynne was born and raised in Los Angeles. She was an only child. Her father died when she was just an infant. Her mother put most of the responsibility for raising Lynne on a series of boarding schools.
“My world was one of imagination,” Lynne says of her childhood. “I was by myself a great deal of the time.”
Then she discovered what would become a true, lifelong friend.
Lynne discovered music. She grew up around the music club scene of L.A. during the 1950s and 60s. Mel Torme was a neighbor. Bobby Short sometimes slept on her couch. Concerts at the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl became her passion. Lynne went to all the clubs–the Coconut Grove, El Cid, Ciro’s, Seven Seas and the Bar of Music.
Name a musician and Lynne gushes at the memory of a live performance. Harry Belafonte, Artie Shaw, Sophie Tucker, Sammy Davis, Jr. all pop into mind. When she and her husband Jerry decide to migrate to Cambria, Lynne thought she could survive without the clubs, without the live music.
Now? Now she’s not so sure.
“I miss my friends and I miss the music,” Lynne admits with obvious regret. “I get pretty tired of driving 70 miles to do anything.”
What comfort Lynne does find in Cambria is tucked away in a downstairs room in her Plymouth Street home. She has set up her entire collection of records ands cassette tapes. Bing Crosby is right next to Flatt & Scruggs.
Doc Watson holds court with Flaco Jimenez. Rosalie Sorrels occupies a special place on the shelf. And somewhere in the stack is something by Sam Hinton, the first record Lynne ever bought. These are Lynne Siegel’s friends in Cambria, true-blood acquaintances that have been in her life for years.
Lynne recently received a job offer from an old boss in Studio City. She could move back this summer. Go back to her friends. Backs to the clubs and the live music. It’s not an easy decision, however tempting it might be. Lynne doesn’t know what to do. Jerry wants to stay in Cambria. Lynne might have to commute. Decision time is approaching.
Sitting on the day bed in her favorite room, surrounded by her favorite friends, Lynne drops another record on the turntable. Chet Atkins fills the room.
A visitor reminds Lynne about the famous Thomas Wolfe quote, the one about never being able to go home again.
Lynne shrugs, already lost in the music. We all sense what her decision is likely to be.
“Home is like a turtle,” she says. “It’s your shell. Wherever you go, it goes.”
San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune (1993)