Roland Hansen knew he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Lorraine, somewhere romantic somewhere along the southern California coast.
Hansen, who served in the Navy Air Corps from 1943 to 1945, had returned to Compton, where he had grown up. The two met at Compton College after a friend who went to school with Hansen told Lorraine he was interested in her. They dated for a year, then Hansen, who was completing two credits before going to dental school at USC, decided it was time to ask the question. She had obtained a scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, which had prompted her to speed things up.
So, Hansen considered all the possible options.
âSunset Beach had too much garbage on it,â he said. âThere were a lot of cans and debris. Long Beach had too many oil rigs. I could have driven further north to the peninsula, but there were no restaurants or hotels along the coast. Where would I have proposed? In the car? No other place had an appeal like Laguna Beach.
It was September 1947 and two months later, on November 26, the couple were married in First Christian Church in Compton. They spent their honeymoon at the Mission Inn in Riverside. The $ 8 reservation was given to them as a wedding gift.
On Friday, November 26, the couple and their five children, Craig Hansen, 70, Ann Sebek, 69, Cary Hansen, 65, Karen Smith, 62, and Kristen Lenders, 56, returned to the Laguna Hotel for celebrating the 74-year-old wedding overlooking the beach where Hansen proposed.
In a private room in Larsen, the newly renovated restaurant of the Laguna hotel, Lorraine, now 94, and Roland, now 96, remembered their children by looking at photos of their many years together. Photos and other memorabilia, including a notebook of newspaper clippings and a mock-up of a Stearman biplane – the plane Roland Larsen learned to fly while on duty – rested on the long, white-lined table.
There were photos of their longtime home in Rolling Hills, a gated community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The one-story white ranch house was simple. It had a two-acre yard and barn and was surrounded by a white three-rail fence. The couple were proud to keep the native California plant yard and did their own landscaping.
âMy father wanted the land to be kept as the original land,â said Sebek, from Irvine. âFor 35 years, they never had a gardener. My dad went to classes at UCLA to learn about native California plants. He and my mother planted all the plants. They did everything to save money.
âThe California poppy was his favorite, and it’s mine,â Sebek said. âWe grew up with them all over the property. He taught us to listen to the poppy pop when the seeds come out.
And there were other memories, like when the whole family traveled to Europe to celebrate the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was a six-week camping trip, which the couple’s children said instilled in them a lifelong passion for camping and traveling. The family rented a motorhome and stopped at places in Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. I
In Denmark, they found the church where their ancestors were married and buried. This trip also inspired Hansen to research his Danish family line.
There were also photos of outdoor accomplishments, like when Hansen turned 60 and set a goal to hike Mount Whitney. Lorraine Hansen and four of her children were there to conquer. And then, when Lorriane Hansen turned 65, the whole family climbed to the top of Half Dome, the famous rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
Sebek said she still remembers the experience and became emotional when talking about what it was like for her mother to reach the top.
âMy mother has been a very strong woman all her life,â Sebek said. âShe never cried. But, when we got to the top of Half Dome, she cried about the way we did it together. She brought us all together to tell us how important it was to her.
Roland Hansen graduated from USC dentistry in 1950 under the GI Bill and majored in pediatric dentistry. He then served as president of the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Society of Dentistry for Children. Lorraine Hansen was a stay-at-home mom.
âMy mom and dad were depression-era babies, they didn’t grow up with much,â Sebek said, adding that the outdoors was a cheap way to have fun.
Their passion for camping, hiking, fishing and skiing has taken them on trips to the High Sierras and Mammoth Lakes. They settled there after living in the Palos Verdes peninsula for 35 years. Roland Hansen continued in dentistry and treated patients at the Toiyabe Indian Health Project in Bishop for seven years. Lorraine Hansen volunteered at Mammoth Hospital and the couple donated to the local college.
After 10 years and many snowy winters, they moved to Palm Desert, where they spent another decade. Most recently they moved to Orange County and are currently living in Laguna Niguel.
As their children reunited with them on Friday, they reflected on the lessons learned and what their parents’ unit had taught them.
Craig Hansen, who still lives in the Mammoth Lakes area, said his parents’ passion made exploration of a lifetime important.
âOn many of these family excursions, we stopped at ‘points of interest’, monuments, along the roadside turnouts,â he said of early family trips. âIt was their way of teaching us the history of the region.
âAs an adult, I realized the importance of exploring,â said Craig Hansen. “It could be an alternate route to your destination or going home, reading a different author or book, or taking on a big house repair project yourself.”
Kristen Lenders, the couple’s youngest child, listed the values ââshe learned from each parent. From his father, there were many, including that “the outdoors is an unrecognized exercise”, “take care of your corner of the world and plant things” and that “photography helps to document everything”.
From her mother, she learned all aspects of the home, including that coupons and sales are important, as are growing and preserving food.
âShe did it all,â Lenders said. âOur house was immaculate, and it was always assembled and beautiful. She welcomed dad after work every day and home-cooked meals were always eaten with the family. “
As she looked around the table on Friday, her eyes filled with tears as she watched her parents and siblings exchange memories.
âIt’s the epitome of what family is like,â she said. âFor them, the circle is complete. This is where it all started. It’s not just a birthday, but a lifetime achievement.
And, for Lorraine Hansen, the place her husband chose to offer was still quite special.
“Oh my God, this is beautiful,” she said, looking around. âThen it was just an old hotel. “
Was she surprised when he asked her?
âWe were in love and I knew it was going to happen,â she said with a smile. âI was like, well, why not? “