ALONG WITH HIS LATE WIFE, JUDY, DR. JULE Lamm raised three children in Santa Monica and has lived here for over 50 years. In fact, he’s one of our most well-respected citizens. Unfortunately, Lamm is worried about Santa Monica and needs your help to turn the tide. What am I talking about? First, some memories from Lamm’s long and rich life, all of which would make a great novel. (Except, at 93, Lamm continues to add chapters.)
For example, at 91, Lamm fulfilled a dream he’d had for seventy years when he flew a P-51 fighter plane.At the Van Nuys airport,the plane’s owner was in the front seat but, from the back, Lamm , as planned, guided the aircraft into a breathtaking roll. Among Lamm’s multitude of memories is of December 7, 1941 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
A high-school student, Lamm was playing touch football at Griffith Park when suddenly the field was swarming with American soldiers setting up anti-aircraft weaponry. Three years later, Lamm, an officer in the Army Air Corps, celebrated his 21st birthday in New Guinea, sharing the one beer he had with two buddies. The young trio, not that long out of high school, wondered if they’d live to see another birthday. (Unfortunately, his two friends didn’t make it.) Reflecting on his days as a pilot in WW2, Lamm confesses, “I certainly didn’t expect to live this long.” Maybe having survived the war when so many didn’t is why Lamm has lived a life helping others. Case in point, for twenty years, Lamm flew his Cessna 182 along with three other health providers and medical supplies to Mexico to provide vision care to the poor, all at his own expense. One day he noticed that a patient, an adorable 5-year-old girl, had blue fingernails, which alerted Lamm to a serious heart issue.
After tests, she was rushed to the U.S. where she received life-saving surgery, probono. Just last week, Lamm got an update. She’s now 23, happily married and working for a cardiologist in Mexico!
In Santa Monica, Lamm was one of the founders of Emergency Volunteer Air Corps (EVAC), which organizes aviation assistance during major disasters. As a volunteer, he still treats pre-schoolers in Santa Monica and goes every week to UCLA for continuing education to be able to do so. (Can you say “amazing?”) Santa Monica has always held a special place in Lamm’s heart, especially since three of his grandchildren live here. Over the years, Lamm has watched the city grow but now he’s worries we may be going too far.
Referring to over-development and gridlock, Lamm comments, “For the residents the city is borderline unlivable.” Lamm also worries about democracy, which he feels is in jeopardy. “If you think about it,” Lamm says, “ what all of us veterans sacrificed for in WW2 was for the preservation of democracy.”
But it took a Daily Press column by Bill Bauer, (“The Monster in Our Midst”) to inspire Lamm to form “Santa Monica Future Study Group.” Within a month this group of concerned residents was already working on their shared goal, to preserve democracy in Santa Monica. In 2016 the group changed to “Preserve Santa Monica,” but their concerns were the same. Dr. Lamm reflects, “It’s not ethical for an elected or appointed official to vote, either amongst themselves or in open session, on any legislation that they could personally benefit from.” It’s the group’s studied opinion that Santa Monica is becoming a commercial city at the expense of residents. They hope to attract volunteers to brain storm solutions. In the past, other such movements have come and gone but few were spearheaded by someone as selfless and with the experience and integrity of Dr. Lamm.
Issues “Preserve” is studying include : city council term limits; district voting; and spending limits on political campaigns. Referring to city council races costing $100,000 to $400,000, Dr. Lamm says, “That’s not democracy, that’s plutocracy.” For decades Jule Lamm has inspired others. With your help, he’s hoping to do it again. But, if you join him, bring energy, drive and a passion for democracy in Santa Monica because, at 93, Jule’s still got all three. Interviewing him for this column, he did laps around me with his boundless energy. The question is, will it be enough to help save Santa Monica? Stay tuned.