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An interview with La Jolla’s Don Allison

Hollywood, Calif., is where I was born and raised, and I went to Hollywood High. Few could contain their amazement when I was made Principal for a Day during Boys Week in the L.A. school system.

Armed with outstanding grades, I entered UCLA as a 17-year-old, and soon found out that college, like surgery, is not for sissies. Eventually, I succeeded in adjusting, and ended up as president of UCLA’s Animal House and an officer in the U.S. Navy. (I had) a two-year tour of the North Pacific, listening to Sputnik beeping its way around the world and maneuvering a destroyer to pick up floating Japanese fishing net balls. (Interesting bit of trivia: When Sputnik was launched, the ENTIRE U.S. fleet went to “General Quarters.”)

After that tour, IBM had remembered a college interview from two years earlier, so I joined them, overcome by the flattery. However, for reasons lost to memory, I had always been interested in real estate, so I went to work for a company in Westwood, which leads me to your first question ...

What brought you to La Jolla?

The first time? A college party in the ‘50s. The second time, in 1967, as I was walking up Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles and heading to lunch with a group of suits, a soon-to-be-ordained Jack Thornton exited his car in the fast lane of the four-lane street with traffic whizzing by and asked me to come down to La Jolla, where I soon joined him at the Willis M. Allen Co. with Bob Collins and Harry Collins.

Where are your favorite places to go in La Jolla?

Home, when Janet is there; Pasquale’s, when Pasquale is there; Alfonso’s, when Alfonso is there; Union Bank, when the Priority Girls have candy; and Crab Catcher, when I need an ocean fix.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I would have La Jolla enjoy almost cloudless, sunny days all throughout the year.

Who or what inspires you?

Sometimes the morning shower triggers an inspiration, oftentimes a good glass of wine enables me to become incredibly wise and full of advice (for others), and Ayn Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” has provided some insight for me and many others.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Sammy Davis Jr., Ed Malone, Bill Tribolet, Mike Dessent and Jack Thornton.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start In the Morning” by Celia Rivenbark, “One Hundred Essential Things You Didn’t Know You DIDN’T Know: Math Explains Your World” by John D. Barrow, and “25 Great Drives in France,” Frommers.

What is your most-prized possession?

If one can possess good health, however momentary it may be, that’s it. Material things don’t even get a call.

What are your favorite movies of all time?

“Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Let It Ride,” “Sense and Sensibility” (‘90s version) and “The Bourne Identity.”

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

Being brought up by great parents is not quite the answer to the question, but they are responsible for whatever I have accomplished.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

“Suum cuique,” which roughly translates to “to each his own.” Secondly, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” And lastly, in a direct steal from Satchel Paige, “Don’t look back, someone might be gaining.”