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WHEELS  .   .   .


PCVF Volunteers Serve Box Dinners to Arriving Guests

Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation “Night at the Drive-In!” Honors Local Veterans

By Bonnie Carroll



World War II Veterans, Art Peterson and Ugo D. Arnoldi

The long drive into the Goleta West Wind Drive-in was lined with welcoming American flags as guest arrived for the Veterans Foundation “Night at the Drive-In presented by Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation (PCVF) to honor World War II Veterans, Art Peterson and Ugo D. Arnoldi on November 11th at the PCVF annual event. The Veteran’s Day spirit was alive and well at the event, where attendees were invited to decorate their cars and guests  enjoyed watching so many cars and trucks come through the entrance covered with red, white, and blue ribbons and American flags while the Santa Barbara Trombone Society performed.

Santa Barbara Trombone Society Performed

Every year, PCVF has their in-person Military Ball to show their appreciation for all Veterans but this year, due to COVID-19, they changed their usual in-person event to a drive-in event to fit social distancing guidelines. 2020 guests enjoyed a gourmet BBQ boxed dinner, an inspiring tribute program and a movie screening of Memphis Belle to keep their tradition of honoring veterans from the Santa Barbara community alive.  


Lt. John Blankenship & Guest Speaker Eileen Mcdargh

“We are proud to be able to have a Veteran’s Day event for Santa Barbara since we can’t have our annual Military Ball. We are excited to show support for our local veterans during “Night at the Drive-In!” and it is with our highest honor to show appreciation for Art and Ugo during this event,” said PCVF co-founder Lt. John Blankenship (USN former).  


UCSB ROTC Color Guard

UCSB ROTC presented the Colors and CDT Tally Darsonval lead the Pledge of Allegiance. David Gonzales, Sergeant, SBPD (ret) sang the National Anthem and Jack Armstrong, U.S. Army (ret) gave a moving invocation.

Lt. Kaitlin Cashin, Public Affairs with Keynote Speaker Col. Anthony J. Mastalir, Commander 30th Space Wing Vanderberg AFB

Keynote Speaker Col. Anthony J. Mastalir, Commander at 30th Space Wing Vandenberg AFB shared an inspiring speech on how wonderful it is that Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation in Santa Barbara honors its veterans each year in this way. He shared the greatness of our United States Armed forces and communicated exciting information on the important work being done by 3,000 service members at Space Wing Vandenberg AFB with news on an exciting upcoming launch.

This year PCVF honored 96-Year-Old World War II Veteran and Santa Barbara native, Art Peterson. Peterson was a paratrooper in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during World War II. On D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Peterson was involved in the largest seaborne invasion that has occurred in history. Peterson fought in some of the biggest battles in the European war, even though he had a hard time getting into the military. He was just 17 years old and finishing up high school when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the U.S. into World War II.  

Event  Invocation Given by LTC Jack Armstrong, U.S. Army (ret)

Peterson was sent to basic training at Camp Roberts, which is on the San Luis Obispo/Monterey County Line. While there, he volunteered as a paratrooper and was sent to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. His unit, Fox Company, arrived in England in late 1943 for final training before the invasion.  

Though he came through D-Day without a scratch, he was not so lucky three months later as the 101st Airborne pushed into German occupied Holland. He was preparing to jump out of a plane with his unit when a bullet came through the floor of the plane, and hit him in the leg, severely wounding him. His sergeant ordered him not to jump, and to take the plane back to England.  

Also honored at the evening event was PCVF Ugo D. Arnoldi, now deceased, who also served on D-Day and was a machine gunner and a driver as Patton was breaking out of Normandy.  Arnoldi was drafted into the army in June of 1943 at the age of eighteen and took basic training at the Fort Riley, Kansas Cavalry School. He was then transferred to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for further training.  

Early in 1944, he was sent to England to prepare for the D-Day invasion where he was stationed on the Salisbury plains, once called the Cloth of Gold due to the lavish tournaments held by early English kings. It was within sight of the famed Stonehenge, thought to be the ruins of a sacrificial temple from the days of the Druids.  

When the 3rd army broke out of Normandy in early August, its movement across France proceeded very quickly. By early September, the 3rd army was near Metz, Germany just south of Luxembourg. Several months later, Arnoldi boarded a ship for the United States and left the army on January 10, 1946.  

Upon his return to Santa Barbara Mr. Arnoldi went to the Santa Barbara Business College and became the bookkeeper-accountant for his parents who owned Arnoldi’s Café and a local masonry company. His family still owns the property but is no longer in the restaurant business.  


Lt. John  Blankenship with UCSB ROTC Members

Renowned motivational speaker Eileen McDargh, founder and CEO of the consulting firm, The Resiliency Group, gave an inspiring speech on pride and gratitude for the many veterans who have served our country and touched our lives, and Lt. John Blankenship closed the program as guests snuggled in warm blankets and prepared to dine on their box of delicious roast beef, chicken, mac n’cheese, warm roll and a cookie for dessert, served with a variety of beverages while watching the historic film “Memphis Belle,” starring Matthew Modine and Santa Barbara’s won Eric Stoltz.


Great Box Dinner and a Movie on Veterans Day

The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation is committed to honoring the men and women who have served in uniform at any time. PCVF does this by supporting veterans and active duty members, and related partner organizations, in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, as well as preserving military history and legacy. The Foundation works to uphold Pierre Claeyssens vision that those who have served are “Never Forgotten.” PCVF is funded entirely by private donations. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.pcvf.org or call (805) 259-4394.



Celebrating Classic Cars & Cool Coffee Memories

By Bonnie Carroll

Miss America with Big Train Coffee Winner

 In 1996 following meetings with coffee makers and coffee media moguls in Portland and Seattle during a Coffee Fest Show it became clear to me that LA needed a coffee show. I had attended the Beverly Hills Charity Car Show at the high school for several years and with ticket sales waning I thought the new coffee trend of blended drinks might be a cool addition to attrack more attendees.

This was the start of a six month adventure organizing and producing the Coffee Classic and “Best Cool Blended in the West” Invitational held in tandem with the Sixteenth Annual Beverly Hills Charity Car Show, produced by Andy Cohen of Beverly Hills Automotive Accessories to benefit the Unified School District.

The show attracted all the coffee companies from the Northwest and baristas from every coffee house in LA. Coffee makers donated coffee gifts and competed in the “Best Cool Blended in the West” Invitational. Miss America agreed to serve judges the delicious concoctions and the judges included beverage writers from newspapers and magazines and the late Ward Barbee founder of Fresh Cup Magazine in Portland.

Every major coffee company had a barista whipping up exotic cool blended coffee drinks and Mayor Thomas Levyn presented first place to Brandi Stevens representing Diedrich Coffee with second and third going to Big Train Coffee. Torani Syrups was a sponsor and provided delicious flavors for drinks being served to judges and attending guests as our “Francois French Roast” the dancing coffee bean I designed and made for the occasion danced around the classic cars.

Robert Petersen, Peterson Museum & Bruce Meyer, Geary's - Bonnie Carroll & Jay Leno

Andy and Jimmy Duffy’s show featured a collection of the finest classic autos and motorcycles including several belonging to “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno along with classics belonging to Bob Petersen, founder of Peterson Automotive Museum, and car collector Bruce Meyer, owner of Geary’s of Beverly Hills.

I produced the coffee classic in 1996 and 1997 and worked as a public relations consultant for the 18th annual show which became the ongoing Concours on Rodeo, filling both sides of Rodeo Drive with beautiful cars every Father’s Day. This was a huge undertaking, but I am glad it worked out and I have very fond memories participating with all these great car and coffee people and I know the Beverly Hills Unified School District appreciated the funds it brought in.

The media were exceedingly kind, and I’ve included a sample below.


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© 2008 Bonnie Carroll, All Rights Reserved