Friday Night with George and Mimi

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

This evening I did something very different: I went out for the evening! My dear friends George and Mimi Niesen invited me for dinner and a show.

The Madonna del Sasso

The dinner was one of the Friday night fish feasts at Madonna del Sasso. This is the Catholic Church with the largest social hall and kitchen, so the whole Salinas Catholic community gets together and puts on seafood feasts every Friday during Lent. I’d only ever been inside the church, which is spacious and lovely. The social hall is huge! There were probably 20 tables with 8 people each, and they were mostly full. People were coming and going, talking, eating, drinking really generous pours fairly good red wine from plastic cups, talking to old friends.

This Salinas tradition is very popular and raises money for all the Catholic churches and services in town. It is attended by folks from other churches, too. I saw friends from Temple Beth El and a lovely lady from St. Ansgar’s Lutheran.

social Hall madonna
Room full of happy people!

But before the wonderful grilled shrimp, there was half a steamed artichoke, salad, garlic bread, and pasta with sauce. There were desserts, too, but after all that dinner was gone, I was stuffed.  We said thank you to the servers, who were all volunteers, and headed off to the next part of our evening.

George drove us over to Hartnell College for their Music Extravaganza! It was an evening of music performed by the Orchestra, the Choir, Piano students and the Jazz Band. George said “It’s good to see that music is in good hands!”

The teachers who lead the groups we saw were Sandy Rudo, who heads the choir, and Steve Ettinger, who leads the Jazz Band. Their skill, as well as their affection for their students, was delightfully evident. We heard southern gospel music, selections from “Hamilton” and “Moana”, Chopin, La Llarona (which, fittingly, always makes me cry), George Gershwin, and Count Basie.

Two stand-outs for the evening were young Monica Mendoza and Alexis Munoz. Miss Mendoza sang in the Choir, picked up a flute and played a solo, then, with pianist Alexis Munoz, accompanied the Chamber Singers. Then she grabbed her saxophone case and ran down the hall to play with the Jazz Band!

Alexis Munoz played piano as accompanist to the Choirs, then played for the Jazz band…later we learned that he has only been playing piano for a year. Wonderful talent, great skill, great fun. We wandered out of the Music building, and past the pool to the car. We were still glowing with the joy of hearing such lovely music in this small town of Salinas.

Thank you, George and Mimi, for a wonderful evening out in Salinas!


Grandma Judy


Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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