Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].

Liz Davis is the founder and publisher of Kidsguide, a twice-yearly print and online publication founded in 1986 and dedicated to local activities, events and services in and around Southern California for kids, teens and families.

Tim Grobaty: What was your childhood like, back in the days before parents had Kidsguide?

Liz Davis: Growing up in a log cabin in Castro Valley….

Q: The artichoke capital of the world!

A: No, that’s Castroville. A lot of people mix them up. Castro Valley is up in the East Bay. I grew up in a neighborhood next to a regional park with a reservoir called Lake Chabot that was closed to the public so we had hills to explore. It was a neighborhood with a lot of kids. There was one house with 10 kids living in it and another with five, so there were always enough kids to field teams and there was always someone to play with. It was a great place for a childhood and to hang out when you were a teenager.

Q: So you didn’t have parents digging around looking for activities to do with you?

A: My parents’ parenting style was…not neglect, but so unsupervised. There were no helicopter parents in those days. A lot of parents were at home, but the kids were outside every day.

Q: Same with me. Our mom would either drop us off at the park for six hours or just tell us to get out of the house and then she’d lock the door behind us. Parents would call my mom to tell her that her son was peeing in the bushes. I couldn’t even get back in the house to use the bathroom. Anyhow…Where do you live now?

A: We live in Alamitos Heights. We bought a home here in 1980. We came from the East Coast to Southern California in 1977 and we had to live fairly close to LAX because my husband Jay traveled a lot. We didn’t know where to go, so we got on the freeway and said “left or right?” We went through San Pedro and got lost and wound up in Long Beach, which we liked so we rented in Belmont Shore for a while then moved to Belmont Heights and then to Alamitos Heights.

Q: What made you decide to start Kidsguide? Were you just looking for activities for your own children?

A: No. I always noticed in the morning when mothers were dropping their kids off at kindergarten they would stand by the fence and talk about where they could send their kids to camp, or swim lessons, or tutoring. Everyone had so many questions and they were asking other parents for advice. So I thought it would be cool to collect all that information in one guide.

Q: When did you start?

A: In 1986 Apple’s Mac Plus came out and I got one and just entered as much information about activities for children that I could gather. I started asking parents what they did. I had a dot-matrix printer and I printed out 300 pages that I took to Kinko’s to have them bound up in a big thick book. I took it around looking for financing. I took it to GTE and Roger Rayburn paged through it and said, “Can I have this copy?” and I said no because it was the only one I had, so I sat there while he looked at it and he agreed to give us money and he continued to help us for years afterward.

Q: You had two kids. Were their days action-packed with museums and classes and movies at the beach?

A:  They were in kindergarten and preschool when I started 36 years ago. They were playing around me or crying and fighting. I was too busy working, I would say, to do anything with them. That’s not entirely true, but I was starting Kidsguide and I saw all this stuff we could do. They did a lot of activities but really not as many as they could have.

Q: Kids today have it so much easier….

A: Well, there are some things we have in the guide that are amazing. There’s a guy who teaches shop classes, how to fix things and how to use power tools. There are sophisticated art classes,  cooking classes. But with all of that there’s the logistics of getting the kids there, when there’s schoolwork to do, soccer, team sports. It’s a lot for parents and kids, but the activities are certainly there for the taking.

Q: Do you have people helping you?

A: My editor Alina Na has been here for five years. I couldn’t do this without her. She carried the guide through COVID, which was hard for everybody. She’s a former educator with Oakwood Academy, so she’s able to look at things from a teacher’s point of view.

Q: How badly were you affected by COVID?

A: I’d like to not revisit those years. We put out two guides a year, a spring/summer and a fall/winter. We were about three weeks from publishing the spring/summer guide and then everything got canceled. Everything was closed. Museums, galleries, parks, beaches. Close. We had to rewrite that book three times. One of the activities was for parents to come up with a bucket list of things they wanted to do when things started working again.

Q: What kind of activities do you plan for yourself?

A: We did the Camino Portugués, one of the routes of the Camino de Santiago, walking from Portugal to Spain with my daughter’s friend and another friend. When I told my grandson what I was going to do he say, “Oh, Grandma, you’re too old for that.” You follow a trail from Porto to  get to Santiago following a trail of yellow arrows and scallop shells. You walk all day and spend the nights in dorms or private rooms.

Q: When did you do this?

A: Just last May.

Q: Your grandson is right, you are too old for that.

A: Well, when you get older, that’s when you’re supposed to have adventures, isn’t it?

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.