LA MESA, Calif. — Sometimes you can walk right by greatness and not even know it. In this Zevely Zone, I found myself star-gazing in La Mesa. I never knew downtown La Mesa had a "Walk of Fame" where the sidewalk is filled with names on stars. I picked one and wondered what did Clifford Raines do to become star?
It must have been written in the stars, because we found the La Mesa celebrity at Patty's Cafe just a couple miles from his "Walk of Fame" star.
"Oh, there's the coffee girl," said 91-year-old Clifford Raines.
His daughter Sharon sent me an email about her dad and that's what sparked my curiosity. I met Clifford, his wife Kay, and Sharon at Patty's Cafe. On the table in front of my is a thick file filled with pictures, memories and Clifford's family tree.
"Clifford Raines," I said. "This is your life."
"That's me," he said. "Clifford Thomas Raines."
Clifford told me he grew up a Brooklyn reciting the address: " 293 Mary Street, Brooklyn, New York."
He then told me he was a boy who loved baseball.
"I know the Dodgers, and the Yankees and the Giants," said Clifford.
He hit a home run alright when he married his wife Kay.
"I'll put it this way, we've know each other 47 years," said Kay who appears to be the smartest person at this table.
But this story isn't about who is smart - or their children, their grandkids or even Clifford's favorite meal.
"Roasted turkey dinner? Oh, I love turkey," he said laughing.
It's about the star we found on a sidewalk and why Clifford's name is on it.
The story goes: after retiring from the computer industry, Clifford went right back to work.
"I didn't like doing nothing so I went and volunteered for the sheriff's department," he said.
For 20 years, Clifford helped the sheriff's department and La Mesa Police Department as a volunteer. They even gave him a plaque once for being volunteer of the year. He showed me a picture of that too.
"Now you are just showing off," I said
Clifford said if that were true, I'd ask him about his bowling.
"Now you're talking about something I like," he laughed.
Clifford is 91 years old, but the number he's most proud of is his high bowling score.
"280. Yeah, she was there that day when I bowled it," he said pointed at Kay.
Clifford's daughter Sharon says he has a secret to living a long and productive life.
"He is very feisty, I think that's why he's lived so long," Sharon said.
In other words, if I stole a line from Jerry Coleman, the legendary baseball announcer and Hall of Famer: "You could could hang star on this guy."
"I don't see the star much, I don't go to downtown La Mesa much there's no place to park," Clifford said laughing.
That's OK, there's plenty of parking at Patty's Cafe where Clifford shares his final secret to success and endless energy.
"Coffee, black coffee. And keep it coming," he said with a chuckle.