Bette Jane Baker Clarno
Written by Bette Clarno
Edited & published by Sally & Mark DiVecchio
Chapter 1 Childhood Years
Chapter 2 Early-Teen Years
Chapter 3 Later-Teen Years
Chapter 4 A Family is Born
Chapter 5 California, Here We Come
Chapter 6 Our Children Grow-Up / Grandchildren are Born
Chapter 7 Retired
Chapter 8 Europe
Chapter 9 Dad is Sick
Chapter 10 Final Years
I was born Betty Jane Baker on June 3rd, 1921 in Portland, Oregon, on the kitchen table, my mom always told me (Photos 1 & 2). I don’t remember living with both my mom and dad. They were divorced when I was a baby. My dad was a butcher, though, and I have a picture of the store he first worked in when I was a baby.
After the divorce, my mom and I went to live in the four-plex apartments that my grandma & grandpa owned on S.E. 30th Street (Photo 3). My mom was a nurse and she frequently worked nights. While she slept during the day, I was downstairs in the apartment that Mutti & Dad (my grandparents) were in, sleeping, eating, etc., so I was back and forth, upstairs and down. Mutti and Dad were from Germany and spoke a lot of German, or English, with an accent, and I grew up hearing it. I recognized a lot of German words, but I didn’t really speak a lot of it. I picked up more of the accent and ways of pronouncing certain words that I relearned quickly when I started school.
About my dad, I called him Daddy Charles; my mom was Mama Frances. He would come on a Saturday sometimes and take me out for a meal. (“What do you want to eat?” Pork chops.) Then he would take me to a show. (“Would you like to go to a ball game or a show?” A show.) So we would go to the theater downtown that had vaudeville as well as a movie. We both loved the vaudeville part. One day my Dad took me to the apartment of one of the dancers whom he got to know and dated. I heard much later that she died...of pneumonia, he said. Sometimes when he came to see me, Mutti would corner him and say, “Betty needs new shoes, and she can’t wear those cheap ones.” So my Dad would give her $5.00. That bought good shoes. There was no other child support, I’m sure. Mutti and Dad supported me and my mom. My mom always worked a lot of special duty cases where she would stay with the patient after he or she went home from the hospital, usually night duty.
When I was five, Mutti took me with her to San Francisco to see my Aunt Carola (my mother’s older sister). We traveled by boat. All I remember is that Mutti was seasick and stayed in her bunk most of the two days while I ran around on the deck. I met Carola’s husband, Mac, who was an invalid in a hospital. I never did understand what was wrong with him. He was eventually moved to Los Angeles where his mother cared for him until he died. Carola stayed in San Francisco where her job was. She met Joe there at the “Y” where she used to go swimming. Anyway, Mutti and I then went to Los Angeles to see Uncle Val (my mother’s brother), his wife, Helen, and their little three year-old daughter, Jeanne. Uncle Val was doing the “extra in the movies” bit, and he took us to see a movie set. I remember a bunch of fake trees. Funny what sticks in your mind. The night we were there, Jeanne came running into the room before bedtime, stark naked, and danced the “Black Bottom” for us...a jazzy little number of the 20's. I saw Uncle Val just one more time when he came to the beach one summer while we were there. He didn’t stay close to his family.
My very earliest memories are going to Mutti and Dad’s beach house in Long Beach, Washington for three months every summer (Photo 5). I went every summer until I got married in 1940. The “old house” was several blocks from the beach, but I remember walking down there with Mutti and Dad to pick up driftwood to burn in the wood stove. Dad would tie it up and drag it along behind him back to the house. One summer he used driftwood to make a playhouse for me with a small table and chairs. Sometimes we went down to the beach and dug up the razor clams, Dad with a shovel and me with my hands. Mutti carried the clam bucket. When Uncle Bob was there, he caught crabs, raking them out of “crab holes” at the edge of the ocean. This was all done at low tide, of course. When he caught a couple of crabs, we took one of the galvanized tubs that we took our baths in down to the ocean, filled it with sea water, built a bonfire and brought the water to a boil, dropped the live crabs in it and cooked them for about 20 minutes. You didn’t dare let the crabs die before cooking them; they would become poisonous, or something like that.
I remember that the old beach house had no electricity or running water. There was a pump on the back porch where you could pump nice cold water from a well. There was always a tin cup hanging on it that you could drink from. The outhouse was out, away from the house, by a huge bush of evergreen blackberries. You can imagine why the bush was so big! I can remember sitting under the kitchen table when I was little, a kerosene lamp on the table, and my grandma and grandpa playing a card game called “66.” I can hear the “slap-slap” of the cards above me. When we brushed our teeth, we went out on the back porch and spit over the edge of the porch. When we bathed, Mutti heated up the water in one of the galvanized tubs, and we bathed in the kitchen by the stove...me, Mutti, Dad...in that order. We eventually got electricity, but never got running water or a bathroom all the years we went there. The house was divided into a kitchen, a bedroom in the “sunroom”, and another bedroom in the small passage that led from the kitchen to the sunroom. That’s where I slept. The rest of the house, which was closed off by a door from our rooms, had two bedrooms, a nice sized living room, and eventually a kitchen added on. That part of the house was rented out all summer to various people. You see, my grandparents were LANDLORDS!. They rented everything they could!
Mutti & Dad were, indeed, landlords. They owned the four-plex on 30th St., besides a small, one bedroom house in the back. They also owned a couple of houses on Water St. and Porter St. on the West Side. The winter before my 14th birthday, they traded the old Long Beach house, outhouse, pump and all, for a big house in Portland on 39th St. Of course, it became a rental. The next summer, when we went to Long Beach, we had a lovely, big house on the “ridge,” which was what they called the area overlooking the ocean. It was two stories, with, of course, an indoor bathroom, running water, lots of nice furniture, and room to sleep at least a dozen people. (That should have told me). I had my own bedroom for the first time. I was in heaven! Oh no! A month after we got there, Uncle Bob and a couple of local guys started building a one-room cottage right in front of it...not the ocean side...the road side. After about a month, when it was finished, we moved OUT of the big house and into the cottage. It had running water and lights, and all that, and even a bathroom built on to it. You had to go outside to go into the room that was built into the cottage, but there was no shower, and we still had to heat water on the stove for a bath. The “big house” had a fine bathroom with a big, long tub. Mutti and Dad RENTED THE BIG HOUSE!
In Portland I lived upstairs and downstairs. When my Mom was between cases, we lived in the upper, right-hand apartment, Mutti and Dad in the lower left-hand one. I could go down the back stairs, which were outside, but covered, to get to Mutti and Dad’s apartment. I remember looking out the big living room window and seeing the vegetable wagon, drawn by a horse, going down 30th Street. I remember every evening, just at dusk, a man came with a tall ladder to climb up and light the gas street light by hand. We got ice for our ice boxes from a truck that came by regularly...no refrigerators yet. We kids used to like to reach into the back of the truck and get small pieces of ice and suck on them. I liked to skate. I would use a skate key to fit the skates on my feet, and then away I’d go, around the block. I liked the far side of the block, because there was a smooth part of the sidewalk that felt good to skate on. I drew lines on the sidewalk with chalk and played Hop Scotch. I played something called Roly Poly with a ball. I don’t remember how that went. I watched the nuns in their long black habits, walking two by two, up the street to the streetcar on Belmont Street. There was a convent across the street and up about a block from us, St. Joseph’s. There was a curfew at 10:00 P.M., and we could hear the wailing siren every night at that time if we were awake. Every once in awhile we’d hear a boy off somewhere shouting, “EXTRA, EXTRA.” Then we knew that something important had happened, and the paper had put out an extra edition and sent out its paper boys to announce it: “LINDBERGH BABY KIDNAPED” or “THE HINDENBURG CRASHES!”
When I was seven years old, my mom had old Mrs. Frank, of Meier and Frank, as a private duty patient. When she was well, Mrs. Frank took my mom as a nurse-companion with her to Europe. This was in 1928. My mom was gone for seven months. I’ve read letters that she wrote to Carola, and she must have had a grand time. She was treated very well, and even had a proposal of marriage from some German Baron. This was not too long after World War I, you know, and I imagine some of those guys would have loved to have gotten an American wife. I even have a letter that I wrote her that year, first grade. She saved it. The next year she could have gone again with a friend of Mrs. Frank, but she had met Everett Abbott.
All the time I was growing up, until my Mom came back from Europe, I had never seen her date any man except a fellow named Tom Stevens, who worked in the sheets and blankets department of Meier & Frank’s. But in a letter she wrote to Carola from Europe, she intimated that it was all over with Tom. So when she got home, she went back to her usual private duty work. She got on a long case where she went home with a patient and worked until 10 or 11 at night. She had to ride the 39th St. bus as far as Belmont St. and then take the streetcar down to 30th St. Everett Abbott was the driver of that bus. She must have been one of the last people on the bus every night, because they became friendly, talking to each other. I don’t know how long that went on...I think the case lasted three months...but by then they had become interested in each other. Anyway, they got married, and for awhile the three of us lived in the apartment. But one day we moved to a small house on 47th St. off Halsey. I started going to Laurelhurst School, but every Friday evening I went back to Mutti & Dad’s for the weekend. I had started taking piano lessons from a woman who lived in the other downstairs apartment...Miss Johnson...that’s all I ever knew. I would go over to her apartment at 7 A.M. Saturday mornings. I can still remember her jaw cracking as she sat beside me, yawning. At home, my mom bought me a small upright piano so I could practice during the week. I would sit there and practice, imagining Mozart walking by, hearing me, and smiling. I was very happy.
In Portland schools in those days, the school year was divided into two halves...like 1A and 1B, etc. I was good in school, so I skipped the 3A, the first half of the third grade. I started school at Sunnyside Elementary School that was a block off of 35th and Belmont. When my mom and Daddy Everett and I moved, and I had to change to Laurelhurst School; I wasn’t too happy. But as long as I could go “home” on weekends, I got along fine. I remember having my 9th birthday in the 47th Street house, and then, all of a sudden, we moved just around the corner and down a block or so to a bigger house with a big tree in the back yard. I was to learn why later. I played with a girl who had a small two-wheeled bike, and I learned to ride it. I was ecstatic! But I wasn’t allowed to have a bike. I’m sure finances had a big part in that decision.
Everett had quit the bus-driving job and was working with my Uncle Bob in the linoleum business. Uncle Bob taught him how. But this was during the Depression by now.
There might have been a Depression in other places, but at Mutti and Dad’s...none. Not that they ever spent extravagantly. They went to auctions to buy furniture to furnish the apartments. Sometimes, on a Saturday, Mutti and Dad and I would walk from 30th St., down Belmont, which became Morrison after a few blocks, past the Heinz pickle factory, with its 57 varieties of smells, eventually over the Morrison St. bridge to the Yamhill St. open market. As we shopped for groceries, we would stop at one of the stalls and Mutti would have a five-cent cup of buttermilk...eeew...I didn’t like it, so Dad would buy me an ice cream cone. Then we would catch a streetcar home.
Back with my mom and Everett, times were a little harder. My mom always worked, being a nurse, but Everett didn’t always have a job. But those lean times never seemed to affect me. I guess I was just nine-year-old-oblivious to it all. I did well in school and got to go “home” on weekends, and best of all when summer came, I got to go to the beach, as usual.
At times I’ll tell you about people in my life whom you know of or have met. All the years we went to the old beach house, my grandpa would leave Portland to go down and plant his garden. It wasn’t a food garden, it was a beautiful flower garden. He fashioned beds in the front yard which were filled with dahlias, roses, snapdragons, geraniums, daisies, what have you. By summer the flowers would all be in bloom in the round or square beds and in the pots on the porch which surrounded three sides of the house. There was a white fence around the front and sides of the yard which had silver-painted wooden Japanese fishing floats that we picked up on the beach, set on a nail every foot or so. They were also on the railing around the porch. People used to slow down or stop when they were driving by to see how beautiful it all was. My grandpa gloried in all this.
Mutti and I would come down as soon as school was out, early in June. Sometimes she took me out a week early. We traveled by train to Astoria, and then took the ferry across to the Washington side (Megler), and took another train that traveled the length of the Long Beach Peninsula. We got off at the Tioga stop which was just a couple of blocks west of our house. On the corner at that stop lived Mr. and Mrs. Marks, who were the grandparents of Betty Jo and Bessie Marks. I met them the summer I was nine years old. They were fraternal twins. They and their parents had moved back to Long Beach from wherever and were living in one of the houses that Grandma & Grandpa Marks owned on that block before getting to our house.
Yes, they were landlords too. Betty Jo and Bessie were a year older than I was, but we hit it off right away. Of course, I almost blew it that first summer. Betty Jo was taking lessons on the kind of guitar that you hold on your lap. I forget what kind that is. I came in one day, looked at the notes, figured out where they were and picked out a tune. Bessie was indignant. I don’t think Betty Jo cared. But it was the start of a friendship that is still going on.
When I returned to Portland at the end of that summer, I found that the “other shoe had dropped.” I learned why we had moved to a bigger house. Three of Everett’s four children had come to live with us. Their mother in Spokane had sent them.
Everett’s children were Beth, who was 10, a year older than I was, Violet, who was seven, and Rodney, who was five. There weren’t enough beds in the Halsey St. house for each of us, so I had to sleep with Rodney. I wouldn’t have minded except that Rodney wet the bed! I would wake up in the morning wondering if I had done it! I complained to my Mom and she moved him in with Violet instead. We all went to the Laurelhurst school. It was my job to take Violet back and forth to school. I don’t remember what Beth did. All I remember about her was that one time she and I got into an argument about something, and she Hit me! I was horrified and backed down immediately. I didn’t like that. We stayed in the Halsey St. house for a couple of months and then, for some unknown reason, at least to me, we moved to Vancouver. I suppose that jobs were better there or maybe rents cheaper?
Anyway, I didn’t like the school there. In Portland, schools had the Platoon System. We had a Home room class for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then we walked, as a class, to another classroom for Nature Study, another for Geography, another for Gym, boys in one gym, and girls in another, etc. etc...some classes just once a week, except for home room classes. At the Vancouver school, we stayed in the same room, same teacher, all day long. I really didn’t like it as much. I didn’t have to worry much, though. After about three months, we moved back to Portland. We went to the Kellogg School, out Powell Blvd. someplace. Back to the good old Platoon System. I was relieved.
I don’t remember exactly when, but not too long after that move, my mom and Everett decided to move to California...Stockton. Uncle Bob had been down there scouting out places for linoleum laying jobs and had said Everett should come down too...and my Mom and all the kids, too. I heard later that Mutti put her foot down and said that under no circumstances were they going to take me. I moved back to 30th St. for good...at least for the rest of my Grammar School years. I moved back with a glad heart to Sunnyside School and the friends I had left there just a year before. I had gone to three different schools, with a summer at Long Beach, in just one year! Maybe if it had just been my mom and Everett and me, I would have gone too. As it was, I didn’t mind at all being left behind.
I know you must think that I was heartless in not caring when I was left behind. But you must realize that all my life, I had lived between the two households...every summer, three months with Mutti and Dad and then eight months with them when my mom went to Europe with Mrs. Frank when I was seven. I was never “mother needy.” I loved her very much. She was sweet and loving, and I never saw her lose her temper, the very opposite of Carola, but I didn’t NEED to be with her. We had no idea how long they would be gone. It turned out to be five years. My mom came up to see me at least once or twice a year, and I loved it when she did.
The “little house in back” was in back of the apartments. I don’t remember it ever being rented to anyone other than family in those days. Uncle Bob lived there for a time with a girl friend, Nita. When Carola and Joe came from San Francisco to live in Oregon, they lived there for a time. So when my mom and Everett and his kids left, and I went to live with Mutti and Dad, we moved into the “little house in back.” Mutti and Dad slept in the bedroom, and I slept on the daybed in the living room. Mutti made it into a bed at night by putting a feather bed on it for me...not OVER me, like in Europe, but UNDER me. (Good Lord, no wonder I have scoliosis and arthritis in my neck.) Anyway, it was fine as far as I was concerned.
On 30th St. I had a girl friend who lived across the street and up two houses from me. Her name was Marie Hatton, and she was two years older than I was. Nevertheless, when Mutti allowed me to go across the street, instead of just going around and around the block on my skates, we became buddies. She had an older brother, Earl, who was about three years older. Her mother was a tiny woman who wore her hair poofed up like in the 1800's. Her father was a large man who was a mailman. He wore the biggest shoes I had ever seen. I figured he must have had to, because he was a mailman and had to do all that walking. Marie played the piano too, but she took lessons from Mrs. Carl who lived in the house next door to the apartments. She played harder pieces than I did. Marie’s father and brother both sang in the choir at the Sunnyside Methodist Episcopal church. That’s where I went to Sunday School. I don’t remember, but I probably started going there with Marie and her family in the beginning. Certainly nobody in my family went to church. Marie used to accompany her father and brother when they sang at home. Marie and her mother slept together in one bedroom, and her brother and father slept in the other bedroom. Sometimes I would sleep over at their house, and her father would move in with her mother, and Earl would sleep out on a screened-in porch. Marie and I were good friends until she started high school at Washington High the year before I did. After that we kind of moved in different worlds. There was another reason too. At the age of twelve I was introduced to the joys of ballroom dancing...with BOYS! Marie’s mother did not approve.
When I went back to living with Mutti and Dad, I was already taking piano lessons from Miss Johnson who lived in the apartments. Then I started taking dance lessons too. I have no idea where Mutti found out about this dance studio. It was run by two young women, Frances Houston and Louise Wagnon. Frances taught ballet and Louise taught tap and acrobatics. I took all three. The studio was on Alberta St. I had to take the street car from SE 30th and Belmont St., over the river to the West side to 4th and Morrison, and transfer to another street car which went back across the river to the Northeast side to NE Alberta St. Then the reverse going home again. I went twice a week besides taking my piano lessons too. I loved it all...especially dancing. When I was thirteen our dance studio was chosen to perform a special ballet number at Multnomah Stadium for the Rose Festival! Frances and Louise were so proud! Back to the “dancing with boys” thing.
I had another girl friend my age named Geraldine Siegner. She lived with her mother and grandmother, not near Sunnyside, but up in the Mt. Tabor district. I think they lived in the apartments for awhile...I forget...but anyway, we kept in touch with them as a family. Once in awhile I would go and stay all night with Geraldine. I liked going there, because Geraldine had all the OZ books, and she would lend them to me. Also, when I spent the night, her bed was right next to a window that looked out at a telephone exchange building. When we went to bed, we would open the curtains and watch the telephone operators plug in their plugs as people called “Central” for a number. “Number, please” they would say, and they dialed the number you wanted. When I was twelve, Mutti found out that Geraldine’s mother was a secretary at Hill Military Academy, and she was in charge of the invitation list to their dances. Well! In no time at all, I was on the list. Mutti went downtown and came home with FIVE organdy formals (all very tasteful for my age). They cost $1.00 apiece! Then Carola found out that the daughter of one of her best friends, Bertha Justice, also went to the Hill Military dances. Her name was June Justice. So when the first invitation came to me, Carola took me across town to where June lived on Holland St. so her father could take me along with them to the dance. Does Holland St. strike a note? Twenty years later, Carola and Joe bought that house! Anyway, those dances were pretty miserable for me. I was shy where I didn’t know anyone, and the 12 year old boys they partnered me with were just as shy, and neither of us knowing how to dance very much. June, who had been going for a couple of years (she was a little older) knew boys there and got invited by boys she knew. I never knew WHO I’d get. I asked Marie, my girlfriend at home, if she wanted to get on the invitation list too. To my surprise, her mother had a fit. It was IMPROPER that boys and girls should dance around the room with their arms around each other. Marie started to get a little stiff about such things too, so that did it as far as our close friendship was any more. I wasn’t wild about the Hill Military dances, but I could see that I was going to like this boy-girl dancing stuff, if I learned to dance, and I didn’t want to be inhibited. I eagerly enlisted my Uncle Bob to teach me to ballroom dance.
Buddy Ryan---- The summer I was 10 years old, a man who was named John Ryan, a big-wig in the Greybar Electric Company in Portland, came to Long Beach with his son, Buddy Ryan (Photo 6). Buddy was my age. We were still in the old beach house at that time. They stayed in the rental side of the house for a maybe a week, and when the father left, Buddy stayed with us for the rest of the summer. His father thought he needed a well-disciplined place to stay for the summer, and he had worked something out with Mutti and my grandpa. I have no idea how Mutti found these renters they used to have who would stay at a house that had no running water and an outhouse. Well, that was the 20's and early 30's. Anyway, Buddy’s mother and father were divorced, and it seemed like the father must have had custody, at least in the summer. There was a sister, but she was at least eight years older, and didn’t figure into this. So Buddy stayed and became like a pesty brother. He wasn’t a bad kid. My grandpa built a platform in the back yard and installed two pup-tents on it for Buddy and me to sleep in. It was kind of like camping. We kind of went our own way, as far as friends were concerned. I had Betty Jo and Bessie, and he just kind of did his own thing. But we would all go down to the beach together and play in the waves. I don’t recall that Mutti and Dad ever had any trouble with him. I think his father had threatened him with Damnation if he caused any trouble. They were Catholic. On the 4th of July his father came and we sat on the beach by a bonfire on the night of the 3rd. and shot off $10 worth of fireworks! That had to be all the fireworks in the world!! On the 4th there were doings in downtown Long Beach. Buddy won the pie-eating contest. He would just push his face right in and gobble it down! He was with us for three summers, and then didn’t come anymore. He was getting too old for that stuff any longer. Mutti must have kept track, I guess, because about a year after Dad and I got married, she got an invitation to Buddy’s big Catholic wedding. A year or so later she went to his funeral. He was killed in the war. War is Hell.
Uncle Bob didn’t stay in California nearly as long as my Mom and Everett did. I don’t remember when he came back; I know he was back when I was twelve. He brought unsettling news about my mom and Everett. Everett had begun to drink, something I had never seen him do when they were in Portland. But what did I know at that young age? Also, he had left my mom and the kids for awhile. There was a woman (or women) involved. Then he went back and everything evidently was OK again.
Lucille: I didn’t get to know Lucille Heckard until a couple of years after I knew Betty Jo and Bessie. I knew who she and her four brothers were, because when we were in the old house at Long Beach, and Mutti wanted bread, it was my job to go down the road a couple of blocks to the corner where Pioneer Road came in and sit there with my dime until the breadman came. Across the road from where I sat on the ground, waiting, was a big fenced field that led up to the Heckard house where Lucille and her family lived. I would see some of them sometimes, but then one day Lucille came down to the fence and we started getting acquainted. She would become one of my best friends at the beach along with Betty Jo and Bessie. I also got acquainted with Elinor Walters at the beach, even though she lived in Portland. The year I turned 12, I was at the beach and I had a birthday party...one of two, I think, in my whole life...and Betty Jo and Bessie brought Elinor along and a couple of local boys. Betty Jo and Bessie knew EVERYBODY. Their mother was a housekeeper for various of the summer families. So I became distantly acquainted with Elinor at that time. Her family owned a beach house too, but didn’t stay as long at a time as we did. So I didn’t really get to know her until years later. More about her later.
Another old memory...my dad had moved to Tacoma, WA in the middle 30's, and a couple of times, during Easter vacation, I went up there and stayed with him. He room & boarded in a big old Victorian house run by a woman named Martha. I loved the visits. I got to sleep in the top-most third story bedroom and go places with my dad. The year I was 13 or 14, however, he arranged for me to stay with Uncle Cornelius and his family of four children. Cousin Lois was my age, and Corrine and Phylis were a little older. The boy, Van, was about five years younger. They were good to me, of course, but I was too shy to really have fun. Aunt Fay remarked to my dad that she never knew if I was having a good time. I really wanted to be with my dad, but maybe he didn’t know what to do with a teenager by then. I didn’t go again for five years, and by then, he was married to Ruth. I saw him every year at one time or another, though sometimes in the summer at the beach.
Because I had skipped the 3A, I graduated from the 8th grade (8B) in January. I was thirteen and a half when I entered Washington High School. High school years were divided into semesters too. 1st and 2nd term was the Freshman year, etc. Washington looked so much bigger than Sunnyside School, and the football guys were so big. I had to walk a mile down Stark St. to get there. No coming home for lunch. I ate in the school cafeteria the first term, but then learned to go across the street to the drugstore/soda fountain to buy my lunch. Another thing - I decided to give up my piano and dance lessons. I did take a few lessons on the piano for awhile from the son of Carola’s old friend, Myrtle Backus. Billy Backus was an albino...white hair, pale eyes...and he played great jazz music on the piano...had a band, and all that. I was supposed to learn to play “popular music” from him. In playing popular music, you have to improvise. Well, I have never been good at improvising. I played from music very well...could “sight read” just fine. So during the few months I took lessons from him, I learned a few of the current songs by rote in the “popular” mode, but I never could improvise on my own. So I ended that. As to the dancing lessons, when I quit I really got Mutti off the hook from making all my dance costumes. You see, she didn’t have a sewing machine, so she made every one of my dance costumes by hand...perfectly. I know that she must have been very disappointed when I gave up all my lessons, but she never said a word.
Moving to the house on the ridge opened up a whole new world for me at the beach. We were much closer to “town” and all that was going on there in the summer. We didn’t have a mailbox out on the road anymore, so we got our mail in town at the post office. It was my job to walk the 1/4 mile or so to town and get the mail every day. The fellow who was helping Uncle Bob build the cabin was the most handsome guy I had ever seen (too old, tho’...at least 18). He had an older sister named Millie who owned and operated a hamburger stand across the street from the post office. Their father was the lighthouse keeper at North Head. There was another sister my age. Millie had one glass eye, but she made the most delicious hamburger with “everything but onions, please” for a dime. So every day when I went for the mail I began to “hang out” with the local kids there. So it was usually hours before I got home with the mail. Millie let you charge your purchases up to $1.00, and then she would tell you that was all you could have until you paid up. So that’s what I would do. My dad would come down from Tacoma, sometimes, to visit for a few days, and he always would pay my bill at Millie’s if there was one.
But the most fun was finding out what else was doing around town.
I learned that there were dances at the Pavilion every Saturday night, and there were the “old time” dances at the Old Time dance hall too. One Saturday night Uncle Bob and Roma, his girlfriend at the time, offered to take me to the Pavilion to dance. I was getting to be a pretty good dancer under Uncle Bob’s tutelage, so I was rarin’ to go. Mutti said I could, if she came along. She also asked another boy, Frank Yet, who was the son of one of the families that Betty Jo and Bessie’s mother worked for at times. Mutti always had her eye out for potential future mates for me...oh dear...even at 14. Roma loaned me a cute dress to wear, and away we went. We sat on the far side of the dance floor, and I danced with Uncle Bob and Frank. I think he was 16 at the time. At what turned out to be the last dance of the evening, a boy came from across the hall where most of the dancers sat, and asked me to dance. His name was Johnny McGowan. He was from Ilwaco, the town on the bay before you got to Long Beach, and where the high school was. He was part of a group of the more prominent boys there. The next summer, when I was going regularly to the dances, I became acquainted with all of them, and they became good friends. But that first night at the Pavilion was magical for me, and I believe I became addicted to dancing from then on.
That Fall my mom and Everett came back from California...without the kids. Their mother had finally taken them back.
We moved into one of the apartments...the lower left hand one. I think Mutti and Dad were in the little house in back at that time. Carola and Joe were in the 39th St. house. Uncle Bob was around somewhere. All seemed OK on the surface, but underneath there was something I didn’t understand. I don’t remember what Everett was doing those days...whether he was still doing the linoleum laying jobs. Of course my mom was nursing. She always worked out of St. Vincent’s Hospital, and worked different hours, depending on the case. One day I came home from school...Washington High...and saw Everett’s car parked in front of the apartment. There was something attached to the windshield wiper, so I went over to see what it was. It looked like a balloon and there was a note attached to it. It said “Hope you had a good time.” I didn’t know what it meant, (naive me) but I didn’t like the undertones of it. I thought it meant he had gone to a party while my Mom was at work. Of course it wasn’t a balloon, but what did I know? I went into the apartment, but Everett wasn’t there. A few minutes later I heard him come in and I went and hid in the very back of the deep closet that was in the dressing room off the hall. I didn’t know what it meant, but I didn’t want to be around just then. He left then, but later that evening, when I was taking a little nap on the couch, I overheard he and my mom talking about something. It must have been about that. My mom never ever raised her voice. I never knew if they were arguing. There was just one bedroom in those apartments, plus a screened-in porch in the back, and a pull-out-of-the-wall bed in the dining room. I slept in the one bedroom, and my mom and Everett in the pull-out. One night when my mom was on a night case, I woke up and realized that Everett, smelling of alcohol, was standing over me in his long underwear and was rubbing my back. I didn’t turn over...I just said “go back to bed, Daddy”,and he did! I guess he was just sober enough to realize what he was doing...and didn’t. It’s funny, but I wasn’t the least bit scared of him after that. Perhaps I was too naive to know what he had in mind. I knew later that when they left for California, I had been a child. When they came back, I was a budding young woman. I never told my mom what he had done until many years later when she was married to Tom. She was horrified!
Summer came and I went to the beach, as usual. Shortly after I got there, Betty Jo and Bessie asked me to go with them to the Old Time dance in town. Their folks took us. Betty Jo had a boy friend from Ocean Park who was there that night. He was a good dancer and he asked me to dance, once, twice, a few times more. Bessie got real unhappy with me for dancing so many times with Betty Jo’s boyfriend. Betty Jo didn’t seem to mind. (Sound familiar?) Well, he asked me. But the highlight of the evening was a boy named Bob Caples who asked me to dance several times as well. His mother played the piano and led the Old Time Band which played for the dances. His older brother, Hal, played the trumpet. There were a couple of others too. Anyway, I became “smitten” with Bob Caples that night, and later he changed something in my life forever!
The Old Time dance hall always closed down early in June and the dances at the Pavilion down on Main Street began for the summer. Bob Caples’ Mom’s band played for the dances in the winter, but for summer, the town always hired an out-of-town band that played the more modern music with maybe a waltz or two thrown in. I was 15 that summer, so Mutti said I could go to the Pavilion dances if Uncle Bob took me and brought me home. Great! For a couple of weeks that cute Bob Caples paid a lot of attention to me at the dances. He worked during the week in Astoria on the docks, or a barge, or something. He was 17. One day I got a letter from him from Astoria addressed to BETTE BAKER. I was enchanted! Bette Davis was the leading actress in the movies in those days, so I thought it sounded so glamorous. From that day on, I was BETTE. I’ve had to spell it ever since. Now people think it’s pronounced like Bette Midler. What about Bob Caples? After about three weeks, he came to the Saturday night dance and completely ignored me. A new “summer babe” had arrived in town with some of her girl friends and he spent the whole evening with her. I was Heartbroken!..for about one week. After all, the aforementioned prominent Ilwaco boys were there. Jack Petit, who was 6'4" tall and girls had to put their arm UNDER his to dance with him...Ike Saunders, who was tall and heavy, but surprisingly light on his feet...Kenny Tetz, a nice guy who was tall and darkly handsome...and Johnny McGowan, who had danced with the shy 14 year old the summer before, and lots of nice Long Beach boys. Uncle Bob would take me to the dance...dance a dance with me, and then leave me on my own. I soon learned that if you wanted to dance a lot, you did NOT sit on the benches. You stood at the edge of the dance floor. Everyone, almost, came stag, and the boys stood to one side and came over to ask you to dance. I never missed a dance. Fie on Bob Caples! Who needed him? We did become friends again, however, in the years to come, but not in the same way.
Back to the real world. On June 11th of that year, Mutti and Dad received word that their oldest son, Otto...Val, as he was known, had shot to death his young second wife and had then turned the gun on himself. He was 45 and she only 21. This occurred in Los Angeles. His daughter, my cousin Jeanne, was 12. He had been divorced from Jeanne’s mother, Helen for a few years. I have all the articles that were written in the LA paper and even the Portland papers, so I won’t go into the details here. Mutti and Dad left Long Beach for a week to bring back his body even though they had not seen him for ten years. Uncle Bob stayed with me, of course. He let me go to the dance that Saturday night at the Pavilion, but in deference to his older brother’s death, he did not dance. I have letters that Uncle Val wrote to Carola during the years he was in Alaska and Canada and WWI, and years later, after we moved to San Diego, I sent them to Jeanne, so she could see the man he was before all the troubled years. I was sorry afterwards that I did. She only thought of him as “sick.” Too bad. I’m glad I didn’t send the newspaper articles. They are in my file.
That summer of 1936, Uncle Bob started teaching me to drive...stick shift, of course. One day he took Lucille Heckard and me up to Loomis Lake so we could swim while he went fishing. Loomis Lake was about half-way up the Peninsula. Lucille and I went swimming for awhile, and then I decided it would be fun to take Uncle Bob’s car and go for a little ride. He had left the keys with me. We took off and got to the entrance of the main road where I was going to turn around and go back, but I couldn’t turn around in the small space. So off we went onto the main road that went toward Ocean Park up at the north end of the Peninsula. In those days, almost all of the roads on the Peninsula were gravel. We were driving along the road when a car came along towards us. I got nervous, swerved in the gravel...forgot all my instructions about clutch, shift, gas, and brake...and took off across a grassy, rutty field, with my foot GLUED to the accelerator, and came to a crashing halt against the only stump in the field! I bumped my chin, a little, on the steering wheel, and Lucille bumped her forehead, a little, on the dashboard, but we were OK. But, the front of the car was bashed in. The car that had been coming towards us had stopped, and the driver, a minister, had gotten out to see if we were OK. But then here comes Uncle Bob, in a car with somebody, looking for us. I went running to him, and he just hugged me, glad that we weren’t hurt. He could have raised Holy Heck, but he didn’t. It was the first time in his life that he had shown real affection for me...outwardly. I don’t remember if he drove the car back to Long Beach, or if he had it towed, but it went to the Long Beach garage. We had decided that we wouldn’t tell Mutti about it, but you couldn’t fool her for very long. She missed the car, even though she never rode in it, and the next morning she walked into town, with her purse over her arm, and found the Long Beach garage, and there it was. Well, she told us both what she thought about all that business. But Uncle Bob never did tell her that I had been the one who wrecked it. But what a stupid person I was to have done that! I could have killed or maimed us both! So when I hear about teen-agers doing some dumb things, I think of my own stupidity. By the way, I didn’t try driving again for the next twenty years! I only learned again when Dad bought our first “automatic shift” car in 1956 in San Diego!
That same summer at the beach, I was out sunning myself one day on the sand, when along came Elinor Walters, whom I had met a couple of years before through Betty Jo and Bessie, and another girl whom she introduced as Virginia Shelby...everyone called her Shelby. We all went to Washington High in Portland. We sat there and talked for a couple of hours. I told Elinor about the fun dances at the Pavilion, and how my Uncle Bob would take us, etc. Elinor said she would “put me up” for a club she and Shelby belonged to, called Las Lecturas. Shelby said SHE would put me up for Neak, a “sosh” club at Washington. Neak was short for Neahkanie. Elinor didn’t belong to that one. So that Fall, back in school, Elinor got me into Las Lecturas, and because I had to be a “pledge” for a couple of months, and I lived near her, she said I should come to her house every morning before school and help carry her books, as well as my own. That was being a “pledge.” She lived just off Stark St. on Ankeny, and I only had to go one block out of my way to get to her house. Well, we did that arrangement for the allotted time, and by that time had become fast friends. We walked together the rest of the year. Elinor was a year ahead of me. We had a lot in common...we both loved Long Beach. I don’t remember what Las Lecturas was all about, about reading books I think, but the girls in it were from different schools or even graduated, and all real nice.
Shelby put me up for Neak, like she said she would, and I made it into that club too. It was a high school club...literary, if I remember right, and was overseen by a teacher, but the girls ran the club with officers, etc. I was much more comfortable with the Las Lecturas girls, but Neak was “Sosh” and that counted a lot in the social life of a high school girl-----I thought. Well, it was kind of fun, too, being involved in that kind of thing. I almost resigned, though, one time, when the President of Neak, at that time, saw me with a Neak pin on my jacket, along with a Las Lecturas pin and, of all things, a Rainbow Girls’ pin, and told me it would be better if I wore only the Neak pin, and that I should go around more with Neak girls, instead of the girls who were my friends at that time. That included Elinor. Shelby belonged to both clubs, so she was OK, presumably. I just looked at her, and in my mind said “phooey” and kept my own friends and wore the pins I wanted and it was never brought up again (Photo 8). I had belonged to Rainbow Girls for a time when I was 12...I had to go downtown to the main Masonic Temple...but after I went to the beach for the summer, I never went back to them. So that was the start of my long friendship with Elinor and my introduction to the “upper crust” of Washington High School.
The next summer at the beach...1937...Uncle Bob had built a bedroom onto the cottage, mainly so he could stay there. He was living there full time then and had bought the Long Beach Tavern on Main St. just across the way from the Pavilion. When Elinor came down with her family that year, she and I would go to the dances together. I was sixteen and Uncle Bob didn’t have to chaperon me anymore. We would go in when the Pavilion opened, dance together the first dance, maybe, because the boys hadn’t arrived yet. When they came in they would cut in and the evening’s fun would begin. At intermission, everyone would go out and have a coke or something. Elinor and I would go out with a couple of fellows for intermission sometimes, and then with a couple of different ones to take us home...the round-about way. We were “Summer Babes.” On Sundays we would go to Uncle Bob’s tavern and he would furnish us with nickels for the juke box so we could dance. Washington state law wouldn’t allow minors to set foot in taverns except on Sundays when they couldn’t serve liquor. Uncle Bob even let us use his car to cruise around. Of course Elinor drove.
One weekend my dad came down. He was with a woman named Ruth. She was a tiny person, about 32 years old, which was 15 or 16 years younger than my Dad. I liked her immediately. Uncle Bob didn’t think she was that cute. What did he know? I was still hanging out at Millie’s hamburger stand and my dad, as usual, paid up any bill I had run up.
When Elinor’s folks went home, she came and stayed with me a couple more weeks. The big house wasn’t rented at that time, so we got to sleep in the big, front bedroom. Uncle Bob slept in one of the other bedrooms while he was building the bedroom onto the cottage. One night after we came home from the dance, Elinor and I were lying in bed, talking, when we heard footsteps on the stairs. We called out “Uncle Bob?” and got no answer. The next morning Uncle Bob and Mutti confronted us with “Did you have boys up there last night?” It seems they found burned matches going up the stairs, like someone was lighting their way up the steps. We were horrified and told them what we had heard. We never did find out who it had been.
That summer, some of the fellows we knew at the dances had weekday jobs at the pea cannery in Chinook, the first little town you got to after getting off the ferry from Astoria. Elinor and I would hitchhike sometimes from Long Beach to Chinook to see our friends on the job. You could do that safely in those days. One time, when we had hitched a ride going back to Long Beach with a couple, we were just out of Ilwaco, heading towards Long Beach, when I looked out the window of the back seat and there was my grandpa, with his walking stick that he picked up on the beach, and a stray dog, walking towards Ilwaco! I yelled “Stop!” and the people let me out and waited until I got my grandpa, minus the dog, and they took us clear to our house. At that time my grandpa was getting quite blind and also senile and just wandered off sometimes. When we got home, we found Mutti very relieved that he had been found.
That was a good summer for “summer babes” and we hated to see it end. But back to Portland and school we went...back to our “real” lives.
In the Fall of ‘37 my dad married Ruth and they moved from Tacoma, a little south, to Chehalis. My dad worked as the head butcher for the Piggly Wiggly store there. My mom and Everett had moved from the apartments to a big old house a few blocks away on Yamhill St. It was the first of four moves we would make in the next two years. I never knew why we moved away from the apartments, but there was some rumor that Everett didn’t get along with Mutti. What did I know? At school, I signed up for an optional class, drama, which was called Oral English. The teacher’s name was Cecil Mattson. We called him Cecil B. DeMattson after Cecil B. DeMille the movie director. The first term we learned to speak in front of people. (I had had experience in that from our Auditorium classes in grade school, where we learned to preside over mock meetings, etc.) There was one girl in our Oral English class who fainted the first time she got up in front of the class to recite a poem. Not a graceful, folding up your legs faint, but a head-first, crashing between the desks faint. We all held our breaths, after that, when she got up to recite. Actually, she was very good. The second term we started on the acting classes.
That Fall I pledged an off-campus sorority, Alpha Zeta. A very nice girl named Carol, whom Elinor and I knew, belonged to it and put me up for it. Elinor wasn’t interested. Carol also belonged to Las Lecturas. The girls were basically, maybe a year older than I was and from different schools. It put another pin on my jacket. Ha!
Some time that fall or winter my mom had to have a hysterectomy, so while she was in the hospital Everett and I went to stay with Carola and Joe in the 39th St. house. It was a big old house and I had a small bedroom upstairs. One night I woke up to feel Everett rubbing my back. He smelled strongly of liquor. I didn’t turn over...just said “Go back to bed, Daddy,” and he did. Does this sound familiar? After that I locked the door every night. I didn’t say a word to Carola, because I knew what would happen if I did. I should have, of course. It never ever happened again, though, ever. He never mentioned it...maybe he didn’t remember...and I never did either. My poor mom, though. During her operation, her bladder was punctured, and it took five more operations to fix it. She did this in intervals all during the next year. She worked between each operation wearing a catheter strapped to one knee. She never complained.
At school things were going along fine. I was a good student. I took my required two years of Latin and then started German classes. Latin was considered the basis of all the modern languages, so we had to take that first. I soon found out that high school German wasn’t much like the German I had heard all my life at home with Mutti and Dad, but I learned to read it and write it...in English script, not German, of course. Speaking it conversationally was another matter. I joined the German Club and met other kids who were in the same boat. We had fun, anyway. I didn’t try to show off my high school German to Mutti and Dad though. They probably wouldn’t have understood me.
On Valentine’s Day of 1938 I received a box of chocolates from Kenny Tetz, one of the Ilwaco boys I danced and dated from time to time at the beach. He was a freshman at Washington State College in Pullman, Washington which is in eastern Washington, near the state line of Idaho. He wanted me to come to a dinner dance weekend his fraternity was putting on the next month at the school. My mom said it would be OK. I had to ride the train from Portland. It was an overnight trip and I had to change trains at 4:00 in the morning in the middle of eastern Washington somewhere all by myself. Fortunately the other train was right there. I had to sit up all night, and to add insult onto injury, I had started my period the day before I left. I barely had time to wash up a little in the restroom of the train when the train arrived in Pullman. Kenny met me at the train and proceeded to drive me all around the area, even over into Moscow, Idaho to see the sights. I was thrilled because I had never been to Idaho before, let alone eastern Washington, which seemed to me to be a lot of sage brush. I hadn’t had any breakfast, but I was too shy to tell him. I finally found out that we couldn’t go to the sorority house where I was going to stay, because it wasn’t ready for me yet. We eventually had lunch and then I got to go to the sorority and rest before getting ready for the dinner dance that night. I found that their hot water tank was out of whack, so there wasn’t any hot water for a shower, so I had to just sponge bathe. I had brought a nice organdy formal dress with me and managed to look fine enough for the evening. I don’t remember what went on; I’m sure it was all very nice. Kenny was a very nice fellow, but when I went back to the dorm for the night, I found that I was SHARING an upper bunk with some girl, who was asleep there when I got there! I climbed up and got in with her. She got up early the next morning. I never ever saw the poor girl. The next morning Kenny and I shared a ride with another couple who drove us to Spokane where the girl lived. I stayed there until my train left for Portland. This one went non-stop. It was both a delightful and nightmarish weekend.
In Portland, every year come May, the big concerns of the high schools was choosing their Rose Festival Princess who would be in the court of whoever was chosen Queen of the Rose Festival. At Washington High two girls from the seventh term (the first half of the Senior year) and three from the eighth term were chosen by the student body to run for Rose Princess. I was one of the seventh-termers to run. When the day came to choose the Princess, an assembly was called, and the students gathered in the auditorium to hear the five girls give their little speeches and to vote upon them afterwards. The five of us, along with the Dean of girls, stood outside the door of the auditorium and she said, “Who wants to go first?” When none of us volunteered, she decided it should be in alphabetical order...Bette Baker?! I gulped and then opened the door to start the long walk from the back of the auditorium to the front, up the steps of the stage, and then establish myself to speak to the WHOLE STUDENT BODY! I wore high heels for the first time (dumb), so going down the aisle was rather tricky. But when I got on the stage, I found I had confidence after all, from all those piano and dance recitals I had performed in. I put my feet in 5th position, a ballet position that keeps you from looking knock-kneed (yes, I’m knock-kneed), found Elinor in the audience, a ploy we learned in Oral English class, projected my voice, and gave my little talk and got out of there. I sat in the audience to watch the others do the same. When we had all finished our talks, we all went back to our classes and the other students were given ballots to vote. A couple of hours later the winner was announced. It was Marie Nordquist, a very nice Scandinavian blond type girl from the eighth term. I came in second. One of the teachers told me she liked my talk the best. The weekend that the Rose Festival Queen was chosen from the Princesses from all the high schools, the Las Lecturas girls came down to Long Beach and stayed for the weekend at our house. Mutti and Dad had already come down for the summer, and my mom came too. We gathered around the radio and listened to the ceremony of choosing the Queen. Washington High Princess, Marie Nordquist, won!! She was Queen of the Rose Festival!! We all celebrated and were so happy, even the ones who didn’t go to Washington. In my own mind, I was glad it wasn’t me. It would have interfered with my summer at the beach. Ha!
In Portland neither Elinor nor I actually dated a lot. The public dances weren’t like in Long Beach. You didn’t go “stag” to those dances. There were school dances, some that you didn’t go to with a date. The clubs, like Neak, sponsored dances, sometimes with other clubs. The off campus sororities, like Alpha Zeta, had dances, especially during Christmas vacation. One bought “bids” to those dances and went with a date. A favorite thing that Elinor and I liked to do, sometimes, was to get her dad’s car, take a quarter to spend, and on a Friday night go to five different places, buy a glass of Coca Cola for a nickel, look over the boys, and move on. Big evening. But there were no “special guys” like there were at the beach. There was no boy I ever wanted to go steady with. I was too fickle. I started going to Elinor’s church, also Methodist, when we became friends, and there was a group of fellows and girls who kind of “hung out” and sometimes did things together. One of the fellows was Richie Smith. He had graduated from high school, and had a job riding his bike all over downtown, delivering messages for different businesses. He was a handsome guy and a good dancer. I asked him to one of the club dances, but I considered him a “cheapskate” because he only bought me a coke after the dance, instead of the usual hamburger and coke that a girl expected those days. As it turned out, Elinor married him two years after I married Dad...in San Diego, no less. Richie was in the Navy during WWII, stationed here in San Diego. Elinor came down here to marry him. He was really a nice fellow, and they had a good, long marriage.
In the summer of ‘38, when I was 17, we went to the beach, as usual. Elinor came with her family and sometimes stayed on longer with me, if the big house wasn’t rented. Uncle Bob had sold the Long Beach Tavern (he gave away too much to friends, Mutti said.) He had also met Ethel, a stoutish woman, who liked to run his life. I don’t know when they married. Carola swears they never did, but I always thought they did. Anyway, no more borrowing Uncle Bob’s car. Ethel wouldn’t let us. Hmm. During that summer, cousin Jeanne came up from Los Angeles to Carola’s in Portland, and she brought her down to Long Beach and left her with Mutti and Dad and me. It was the first time she had ever visited her grandparents. She was 14. She stayed for a month. At first she wanted to go home with Carola, but at the end of the month, she didn’t want to go home. I took her to the dances, and I picked out appropriate fellows for her to dance with. She thought we were a little stodgy, though, because we weren’t doing the Lindy Hop yet. She liked to body surf in Santa Monica, but our Washington ocean was too cold. But we did have fun anyway. I thought she was a little strange, because she had a 21 year old boyfriend at home, and she called her mother “Helen.” I don’t know if the boyfriend was Bill, whom she later married. I didn’t see her again until years later.
This is about George...George Phelps of Long Beach, Washington. I knew him from the age of 16 on. He was definitely not one of the Ilwaco “elite.” He was tall, blond, and flirty. We used to dance together at the Pavilion dances on Saturdays. The summer I was 17, things started to change between us. One of the “fun” things to do during the week was to go to town and sit in somebody’s car and “people watch.” I would walk to town every evening around 7:00 and find someone who had a car to sit in. At that time, George and his folks were living in a house not far from our house, and they would drive across the meadow across from us to get to the main road to town. That’s where I would walk to town, so they started picking me up, and I would spend the evening “people watching” with them. His folks would usually leave us and go to the beer parlor, or something, and we would just sit and talk and look at the tourists. So George and I became more acquainted as friends, rather than just someone I danced with on Saturday nights. His folks liked me too. There was just one catch. George became jealous. Elinor came down with her folks, and one night at the dance, Elinor and I had gone out at intermission just by ourselves, rather than with a date. When we got back to the Pavilion, I was dancing with very tall Jack Petit when in comes George, storming across the dance floor, grabbed my arm and pulled me off the dance floor. Fortunately there weren’t too many people back from intermission yet. I asked him what the heck he was doing, and he said “You’re my girl.” I said, “No, I’m not...you’ve never asked me to go steady, and where were you at intermission?” Poor George. He thought I had gone out with Jack. Just then Jack came over and I grabbed another guy’s arm and said “Shall we dance?” I kept an eye on what was going on between George and Jack, and breathed a sigh of relief when they shook hands and George left the dance hall. I didn’t see him again that evening.
The next day Elinor came by with her dad’s car. She told me that all my friends, meaning she and the “elite” guys from Ilwaco, thought I shouldn’t be seeing George because of his behavior the night before. We drove into town, and there he was, sitting in his folks’ car just off the main street. I told Elinor to stop, and I went to his car and we talked. He was sheepish about what he had done, and said that he had had too much beer. I told him that I wouldn’t be seeing him again, because he was “ruining” my reputation. Then I went back to Elinor’s car, got in the back seat and cried and cried while she drove me around for awhile. That afternoon she left with her folks to go back to Portland. That evening I took off for town (it was Sunday)and I held back when George and his parents would have picked me up. The Old Time dance hall had been converted into a skating rink, so I thought I would check it out and perhaps go skating. I went in, and as I was strapping on my skates, in came George. Of course, in about five minutes we were skating together. We ended up “people watching” from his folks’ car, as usual, just like before. That night, though, he told me he was going over to Ft. Stephens, outside of Astoria, to join the army. This was during the Depression, and lots of young men who couldn’t get jobs did join the army. So off he went. He got stationed at Ft. Stephens, of course, and I didn’t see him again for a few weeks. More about George later. This was becoming “real life.”
That Fall of 1938 when I went back to school, it was the second half of my senior year, which meant I would graduate in January ‘39. Because I had run for Rose Festival Princess the last Spring, I had good name and face recognition, so I was elected President of my club, Neak, Vice President of the Student Body, Secretary of the student council, and was selected by our drama teacher to be in the Class Play. Fun, huh? We had moved to another house near the Old Commerce High, so I had to take the bus to school at Washington High. Commerce High was where you went if you were going to go to business school afterwards, rather than go to College. (My mom and Everett seemed to move every time I was at the beach.) However, we didn’t stay there too long. We eventually moved again to an apartment out just past 39th and Belmont Street. I rode the streetcar to school from there. I remember the only bedroom area was kind of an alcove between the living room and the kitchen. My mom and Everett slept there and I slept in a pull-out bed. I also remember there was a shower in the bathtub, which I had never seen before. The first time I used it I didn’t put the curtain inside the tub, and I flooded the bathroom. Ha!
Anyway, back to the Class Play. It was called “The Goose Hangs High.” I have no idea now what it was all about. All I remember is that I played the twin sister of one of the fellows. (Is that why I had twins?) There was also an older brother, a mother and father, and a grandma in the play. I got to wear the dress I had bought for the Senior Prom in one of the scenes where I was going out on a date. One of the nerdy boys who was in the play said that I “looked like a princess.” Well, we had to go to each of our teachers every Friday and have them sign a paper that we were keeping up with our studies OK while going to rehearsal after school. It was great fun being in the play, and the audience seemed to like it when we presented it...two nights. The only activity of mine that suffered during those weeks of rehearsal was my being President of Neak. The Vice President did a good job of taking over, though. In my year book at the end of the year, some of the Neak girls wrote that I was the best President they ever had. They sent me yellow roses the night it opened. I got one other thing the day BEFORE it opened...my period! Ain’t it fun being a girl?
At the first of the year when I got back to school, I got to thinking about the Prom. I knew there wouldn’t be anyone in my graduating class I would be going with. I hadn’t dated any of the boys, and the ones I liked best from some of my classes didn’t date yet, let alone know how to dance. The boy who had been elected Student Body President, Jack Leonard, was just a seventh termer, meaning he wouldn’t graduate until the following June. He and I were friendly, being on the Student Council and all, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the Prom with me, and he said OK. He was nice...tall...good looking, and also the captain of the football team. He also belonged to the Church of Latter Day Saints...also called Mormon, or something. I had never heard of it. Anyway, we went to the Prom. I think we went with another couple, I don’t remember who. I wore my lovely peach colored prom dress, which had a hoop skirt and everything...and he was a lousy dancer! We went out afterwards to the Coon Chicken restaurant for hamburgers like the kids always did in those days. We had a nice, unmemorable time. It was the first and last time that Jack and I dated, but we were always friendly in a casual way.
Every year...I should say, twice a year, because there were two graduating classes in a year...a year book was put out. I still have my January ‘39 one. I only bought one other year book in the eight terms I was there, and that was my 5th term one. But of course I had to buy my graduation book. My picture was in it eight times. Shortly before the book came out, the Dean of Girls called me to her office and told me that she had recommended me for outstanding student of that graduating class, but that another girl, Shirlie Anderson, was going to receive it, because she had done one or two things more than I had during her High School years. Shirlie had been in the class play with me. I wasn’t stunned or anything, because I didn’t even know that such an honor was given out. The Outstanding Girl and Outstanding Boy of each graduating class had their names engraved on the Activity Cup, which I didn’t know about either. I have no idea why the Dean even told me about it. I guess she was afraid I would be unhappy about not getting it, but I wasn’t expecting it, so I wasn’t unhappy. I’ve been thinking about it, though. Outstanding Student...why on earth shouldn’t it have gone to sweet, shy little Hattie Kawahara, or to nerdy little Victor Ruddy, both of whom got seven out of eight scholarship pins during their eight terms in high school? Or to Victor Attiya, who later became Governor of Oregon? You have to be pretty smart to attain that goal! I learned, years after WWII, that Hattie and her Japanese family spent the war years in our famous “relocation camp” in northeastern California. I don’t know about Victor Ruddy; maybe he became a rocket scientist, or something. Outstanding Students! By the way, I got two scholarship pins, probably in my first two terms. Anyway, in the yearbook, I am listed as having belonged to Gulick (don’t ask), Third term Girl’s League Representative, Secretary of Girl’s League, President of Neak, Vice President of the Student Body, Secretary of the Student Council, the Class Play, and the class pin committee, the two scholarship pins, and, oh yes, the German Club for a couple of terms. Our class graduated on January 19th, 1939.Then something happened that kind of changed things for the whole family. Everett’s daughter, Lillian, came to live with us. She was the only one of his children who hadn’t lived with us years before. Lillian was my age. I liked her right away. But she had lived with her religious, Holy Roller type mother all her life. She didn’t go to shows, of course not dances, and worse yet...she didn’t even shave under her arms!! Her long hair just hung down. She was pretty in a slightly overweight way. So I took her under my wing. I showed her how to do up her hair on curlers, and all that girl stuff. But here we were in that small apartment. We had to sleep together in the roll-out bed. Oh well, more about that later.
Since it was only January, and any further schooling that I would be having wouldn’t start until the next September, I decided to take a PG (post-graduate) course in typing along with something else I don’t remember. I had taken a whole year of shorthand, but I had never taken a typing course. Smart girl. When Easter vacation came along, Elinor, who was already in business school, having graduated a semester before me, proposed that we go to the beach in her dad’s car and spend the week with Maxine Day and her mom. We had done that before in the off-summer days. There might even be a dance we could go to. So off we went. The first night there we dropped in on a basketball game, and who should we see playing, but George. I managed to give him a wave. A little bit after we got back to Maxine’s house there was a knock at the door, and a guy named Archie Oman was there telling me that George was out in the car. Well, out I went, and we drove off to park someplace. During the course of the evening we argued about something, and he took me back to Maxine’s and dropped me off in a huff. Elinor and I spent the week just doodling around, saw some of the Ilwaco boys, etc. and then it was time to go home. Well, I was feeling bad about George, and guess what I did...I had Elinor take me and my suitcase to George’s house and drop me off! She waited until George’s sister, Lucille, who was my age, opened the door. I asked her if I could spend a few days at her house...and Elinor drove off. She had the job of telling my mom that I would be coming home later. What was I doing? George’s Mom said that I could stay. She liked me. When George came home later that day, he found me there...surprise, surprise. Well, I shacked up with George, his mom and dad, his older brother, and his sister for almost a week. George was home on leave from the army to help his family dig clams during the week-long (or more ?) commercial season when people could dig clams and get money for it. They left early every morning to go clamming. I asked if I could go with them, but they could only have a licensed person with them. So I would get up after they left each morning, get my breakfast, take a bath, wash the dishes, and make the beds. I loved it, and so did Mom Phelps. They were reading Withering Heights. I had recently seen the movie and loved it, so they had me read aloud from the book. We all had a great time, and George and I were definitely an “item”. On Saturday, he left to go back to Ft. Stephens, and a half hour later, my Uncle Bob appeared at the door to take me home. I never did know why my mom let me stay so long. I guess it was because Uncle Bob was busy moving my grandma and grandpa down to the beach for the summer. I was returned home with Uncle Bob and Ethel. None of them approved of my relationship with George...maybe it was because of his “working class” family? I was told I’d better break it off. I did...but that’s later. A couple of months later, in May 1939, my sweet grandpa died...in Long Beach. After the funeral in Portland, I gave up my PG classes and returned to the beach to spend the summer with Mutti.
After I had been there a couple of weeks, George came home on leave again, heard that I was back and came over and we went off in his car. I was in a quandary. Part of me wanted to carry on the relationship, but that would mean sneaking around because my family didn’t approve of him. I didn’t want that kind of thing. So I told him that all was off. So that was that...I thought. In the meantime things had changed in town. Millie’s hamburger stand had folded the year before, but a new place had sprung up for hanging out. It was Red’s Place right on Main St. It was more like a malt shop...sandwich place. Red was actually a red-headed guy in his thirties with a wife called Rusty. Cute, huh? He served hamburgers and all that stuff, and also a new sensation...a tuna and cheese on a toasted bun with tomatoes and lettuce and whatever. It was marvelous, and I got one whenever possible. Not on the cuff, like at Millie’s, however. I think I surely put on a couple of extra pounds that summer!
Red’s nephew, Jack Hurd, was there working for the summer. He lived in Portland, as did Red and Dusty, although Red and Dusty moved to Long Beach permanently after that first summer. Jack was older and, to an 18 year old, quite sophisticated. He was 24. I got acquainted with him and we became friends. I would go into town every evening to do the usual “people watching” thing, and one night he offered to take me home after work, and that established a pattern that lasted almost the full summer. Our relationship wasn’t the least bit romantic...well, we did kiss once in awhile...but mostly just talking and smoking (me, one cigarette, he several). He as much informed me that we wouldn’t be going out in Portland, because I was too young to go to bars...or whatever they were in those days. I didn’t care. He didn’t dance and I probably wouldn’t have gone out with him anyway. But we liked each other and got along very well. (Little did I know that he would become the famous Jack Hurd...disk jockey talk show host of Portland, Oregon!) Well. On Saturday nights, I would go to the dances as usual, and out with somebody maybe at intermission, but at closing time, I went home with Jack. Poor Mutti...all that summer, when I was sleeping with her, night after night I would come tip-toeing in at a very late (early?) hour, and crawl in bed with her, no doubt smelling to high heaven like cigarettes. She never complained. I told her who I was with, and she found it acceptable.
In Long Beach the 4th of July dances were always held on the 3rd of July, because people who were just there for the holiday would be going home on the 4th. So on the 3rd Elinor, who was down with her parents, and I went to the dance as usual. An hour or so into the dance George showed up. I hadn’t seen him since May when I told him I couldn’t see him anymore. He hadn’t been home on leave. He came over and asked me to dance. As we were dancing, he told me that he had gotten permission from his commanding officer to get married, and that he had come home to get permission from his parents, as he wasn’t 21 yet. I was a little startled and I asked him if it was anyone I knew, or if it was an Astoria girl. He said “It’s you.” Well, I really almost fainted. No letter asking me, no trying to get back together...just that announcement. His parents were delighted...they did like me, you know. We stopped dancing and went over and sat down to talk about it. He said that he wanted to get married the next day in South Bend which was the County seat, because he was being sent to Treasure Island in San Francisco for a month, I think it was, and he figured it would be a good place to honeymoon. There was an Army base there at the time...before WWII. He would be giving me his mother’s engagement ring. I asked him where we would live when we got back to Ft. Stephens. He said that the army provided houses and everything...wood stoves and all that. Wood stoves!? I couldn’t even cook on a gas or electric stove! I told him that I wanted my mom and grandma, etc. to be at my wedding. He said that my mom could meet us in South Bend the next day. I said that she would never give her permission, let alone everything else. We were sitting in the front of the dance floor, right next to the band stand. He put his head in his hands, and almost crying, said, “But I love you.” Then he said he wished that he had made me pregnant when I was at his house in May. I made some inane remark about his not respecting me if he had...good night...we hadn’t even “done it.” All this time the dancers were going past us, looking at us and wondering what was going on. Especially Elinor. George and I decided to go outside someplace to discuss things further. Elinor came running over and wanted to know what was going on. I told her that he wanted us to get married the next day. She asked if I was going to, and I said “no.” I have wondered since if he heard me tell her that. We went outside, and since there wasn’t a car handy for us to sit in and talk, we walked over to the tennis court, which was dark, and talked...rather I talked. He was rather withdrawn. I said that we should wait until he got out of the army in two years and then talk about it. Two years...1941...who knew? So he quietly gave in. He said, though, that I wouldn’t be getting his mother’s ring. OK. We agreed to meet the next morning by the post office and go down on the beach before he had to go back to Ft. Stephens.
Since George didn’t have the car to take me home, I went home with Jack as usual. I told him about the proposal, and we talked about it. The next morning I did meet George at the post office, and we went down and sat on the beach for awhile until he had to leave to go back to Ft. Stephens and Treasure Island. Not another word was said about marriage. I got one postcard from San Francisco...very impersonal...and that was the last I heard from him. It was obvious...now or never. It was also obvious that I didn’t love him, or I would have done anything to be with him. I guess I wasn’t ready to be engaged or married. More about George later.
Meanwhile, things and people were changing around the beach. There was a strange group of young men appearing around town and at the dances. They were rather swarthy in looks and spoke with a strange accent. I learned that they were from Brooklyn, New York, and that they were part of the newly established CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, which the FDR government established, mostly to give jobs to the growing number of young jobless men. In their infinite wisdom, the government sent those from the east coast to the west coast to work, and visa versa. Here were these “DEAE and does” speaking guys in Long Beach, WA...like fish out of water, socially. They worked in the forests during the week, and a few ventured out on weekends to the town. A few of the local girls danced with them, but not very many. Poor guys. I did hear, though, that one of the girls married one of them.
Then one week, late in August, a group of bicyclists came to town. They were from the East coast...New England. They had bicycled across country, followed by a car or truck, and had come to Long Beach for a few days. I had talked to a few of them at Red’s place, especially one fellow who went to Dartmouth College (in New Hampshire?). Anyway, on Saturday, some of the bunch were going to the dance, and as we were hanging out at Red’s, the fellow I had talked to said “See you at the dance.” Out of the blue, Jack Hurd said to me “If you dance with that guy, you don’t come back here again !” (WHAT??) where did THAT come from? We had a strictly platonic friendship, I thought, all summer. I asked him, sarcastically, if that meant we were going steady. No answer. So I just went to the dance and danced with whomever I chose, as usual. But there went a perfectly good friendship. Maybe he felt that is was getting near Labor Day and that he wouldn’t be taking me out in Portland, so why not break it up. I never did figure it out. But all the next Fall and Spring, right up to the night before I got married, Jack would call me every few weeks, and we would talk, mostly about what I was doing. No, he never asked me out...after all, I was too young, you know, but we became telephone friends again. At one time, Jack’s mother called and talked to my mom and asked her if she could influence me to date Jack. I had met her that once at the beach, and she thought I would be a good influence on him. Actually, she liked me because I didn’t pluck my eyebrows too thin. Ha. Well, my mom said it was all up to Jack and me, and that was that. Strange, all around.
But I’m getting ahead of my story. Back to the beach that same summer...more was to happen before the summer ended...my last teen-aged summer. I met a couple of fellows from Vancouver, and one of them, Miles Leaser, asked to take me to the dance at the Pavilion. Well, since it was to be the last dance of the season, I actually said, “Yes.” As we were going in, the manager of the Pavilion pulled me aside and said that he was going to present me with something just before intermission. I couldn’t imagine what. But just before the intermission dance, he went up to the band stand and called for me to come up. He then presented me with a cake because I had attended every dance that whole summer season! I was dumbfounded! I’m sure my date, Miles, was embarrassed. He didn’t know the “gang” like I did. Well, I didn’t know what the heck to do with it. If I could have comfortably gone to Red’s place, I would have taken it there and shared it with everybody. As it was, I had Miles take me to Maxine Day’s house (my grandma would have been asleep), and I gave it to Max’s mother to keep for me until the next day. What a nice honor.
There are so many other stories I could tell about Long Beach...like the times I went to Astoria...and Seaside...the dances there...Oh Golly.
Meanwhile, Labor Day came and instead of going right home, I went to Keyholes, where my dad and Ruth were living, and spent a week with them. If I remember right, I think I saw The Wizard of Oz there. They wanted me to come for a week after New Year’s too. Then I went home...guess what...to another house again. With Lillian living with us, we needed more room than the apartment had given. Also, my beach friend, Lucille Heckard, who was coming to Portland to go to business school, asked if she could board and room with us, and my mom had said it would be OK. Lillian would be going to beauty school...paid for by my Mom...and I would be going to St. Helen’s Hall Episcopal Junior College for girls! My grandma had said she would buy me a fur coat if I went there. She had told my mom that, not me. She so much wanted me to become a “lady.” She really had wanted me to go to their K-12 all-girls school, I found out later, because it was taught by the nuns, but it had cost too much. But this was to be a two year school. She didn’t know that it wasn’t taught by nuns at that level. They even rented a house across the street from the school where the girls could go to smoke. Ha! Well, more about that later. So the Fall of 1939 started.
We three girls at home, Lucille, at business school, Lillian, at beauty school, and me at St. Helen’s, each had our own thing going. Our social lives were different too. But one night we joined forces and had some fun. Lucille knew a fellow at business school who had a couple of friends, and they wanted to come over some night. So we set up a plan. I had a friend at school, and Lillian had a friend at Beauty College, and we arranged for them to call us that evening while the boys were there and pretend that they were other guys calling us for dates. That included Lucille too. So about every 15 minutes all evening, the phone would ring, and we took turns pretending it was for one of us asking for a date. We had a ball! The boys were nice enough, but not ones that we would particularly want to date. However, I did date one of them a couple of times...I told him about the joke...but he didn’t dance, and we just went skating once, and to a show once...so of course he had to go. I wonder how many really nice fellows with good brains I missed knowing. Don’t worry...he wasn’t one of them. That was the one and only time, though, that we three girls did something together. We got along very well, though, and liked each other.
I never thought that I would enjoy going to an all-girls school like St. Helen’s Hall, but I actually had a good time for the one quarter that I was there. There were some girls there that I knew, but more that I didn’t know. Some of the girls, who lived out of town, were boarders. I got on a committee that got dates for these, and any others who wanted them, when the school put on dances. For the Fall Festival, for instance, I called boys that I had known in high school, and asked them to take out some girl who didn’t know anyone in town. I still don’t know how I knew these fellows’ phone numbers. Of course, I always got my own date first! One night when I was doing the “dating service,” Jack Hurd called to talk. I offered to get him a date. He turned that down in a hurry! I never knew if he could dance, but I was pretty sure he didn’t.
The classes at SHE were pretty much like the Senior classes we had in high school. For extra classes I took sewing which I hadn’t had since the eighth grade. I made a pretty yellow crepe dress with a “bustle bow” which was in style at the time. I slaved over that dress...and the first time I put it on to go out on a date, I spilled ink all down the front of it!! I never made another thing...EVER! I also took clay modeling. I watched carefully how to make a bowl, or something, which was OK. But when we were supposed to make something of our own design, all I could think of was the same bowl...all over again. I had no originality. We all had to go to Chapel once a week on Tuesdays. I think the only one who didn’t have to go was a Jewish girl. The Episcopalian priest was very handsome...and married. And I mentioned the “house across the street” where we were allowed to go and smoke. Another girl named Betty and I went there once in awhile. Come to think of it, I got her a date for a dance with a fellow I had met at the beach. He was short, like her, and a good dancer. They eventually got married. I wonder whatever became of them? I do know that she miscarried her first pregnancy. But I stray.
Another job I volunteered for was the school paper. I was supposed to go around and get advertising for it. I was given a list of previous advertisers, and one day at lunch time I headed out to try one of them. It was for Shaw Surgical Supply. I didn’t know exactly where it was, but I started walking downtown to find it. (By the way, St. Helen’s Hall was on the West Side, kind of at the top of the Park blocks. I don’t remember what the street was, but it was close to downtown.) Anyway, as I was walking I noticed this place that said Surgical Supply, and I figured that must be it, so I went in. Behind the counter was a fellow who had gone to Washington and graduated a year before me. He was Johnny Still. As we were talking, another guy came up from the basement (he was on his lunch hour) and Johnny said, “Hi, Bob,” and I said, “Hi,” and that was that. I recognized him because I had seen him at a dance with a girl I knew from Washington High, but I didn’t know his name. Then I went back to talking to Johnny and found out that I was at the wrong place. This was Physician’s and Hospital Supply and not Shaw’s. So I left. I can’t remember if I ever got to Shaw’s and got the ad or not, and I can’t remember ever doing anything else for that paper or not. I think I was better at getting dates for the girls. This was November.
Miles Leiser, who was going to the University of Washington, came home to Vancouver on a break that Fall and took me dancing at Jantzen Beach. In those days Jantzen Beach was an amusement park with roller coaster and all that. It also had a beautiful ballroom with one of those big balls that hung from the ceiling and sent sparkling lights dancing across the floor. In the summer the Big Bands came and played there, but I never got in on those, because I was at the beach Pavilion enjoying the “Big Band” from Aberdeen, or someplace like that. Anyway, Miles took me there and we made a date for him to come to the St. Helen’s Hall Christmas dance in December during his college break. Well, he did come to that dance with me, and we made a date to go out on New Year’s Eve too...to Jantzen Beach again. This was getting to be a little serious, but there was one thing about him that I didn’t like. When we went out together, he would talk about other girls who were there...how pretty this one or that one was, etc. and I was getting a little tired of it.
Also, Miles had offered me a ride to my dad’s house in Chehalis on New Year’s Day when he would be going back to Seattle.
It was about this time that a girl at school came to me one day and said that the fellow she had been dating had a friend who had been trying to find me after seeing me at Physician & Hospital Supply the month before. Johnny Still didn’t know where I lived because I had never dated him, and neither of them knew my mom’s name in the phone book. But since they knew I went to St. Helen’s Hall, and his friend, Bud Greer, was dating a girl from there, they thought she might know me. She asked me if it would be OK if he called me. His name was Bob Killarney, or something. I thought “Hm, sounds Irish.” So sure, he could call me. Well, he called...said his name was Bob Clarno...and we made a date to go to one of the Sorority dances that he had a couple of bids to. These were non-college Sororities like I belonged to for awhile. I was a little apprehensive because I knew he went around with and dated more wealthy type girls (or so I thought). But that night he showed up in his step-dad’s old ‘29 Oldsmobile, and I started to feel right at home with this guy. We went to some rich girl’s “cocktail” party, as was the practice, if you got an invitation, that is. There were a couple of girls that I knew there, but I didn’t feel real comfortable. I always have had a slight inferiority complex around people with more money. Then we went to the dance. It was the big, downtown Masonic Temple. Lots of club and social dances were held there...also some at the country clubs. Well, I had a perfectly wonderful time. This Bob Clarno was a very good dancer, and he put me at ease by talking my ear off about DeMolay. He was the regional high Whatever in DeMolay then, and he told me all about it. All I knew about DeMolay was that they put on good dances. I had been to a couple. I didn’t have to worry a bit that I might be out of his league, socially. I found out that we came from basically the same economical background, and that made me feel just fine. But when he took me home that night, we stood on the front steps and shook hands. I told him I had a good time, and so did he...but he didn’t even TRY to KISS me! Now that was unusual in my experience. I thought...well, I probably won’t see him again...and went inside. The next night I went over to Elinor’s for the night. While I was there, a phone call came for me. “Who would be calling me here ?” I thought. Well, it was Bob. We talked and talked for almost an hour (poor Elinor). We both had plans for New Year’s Eve, and I was going to my dad’s for the week after New Year’s, but we made a date for the weekend after I got home. That was it! I knew I had him!!
Did I mention before that Mutti was going to buy me a fur coat if I went to St. Helen’s Hall?
Well, she did, and I loved it. It wasn’t an expensive one, but it was beautiful in my eyes. I wore it all Fall and Winter when I went out. It was dress length and looked very nice.
On New Year’s Eve I went out with Miles to the Jantzen Beach ballroom. Elinor and a date came with us. It was all very festive and lovely. About halfway through the evening there was an intermission when I went to the restroom to refresh. Elinor wasn’t with me. A couple of girls I didn’t know came up to me and asked if I was there with Miles Leiser. I said I was, and one of the girls said, “You know he’s been dating a girl up in Seattle at the University ?”. I said, “So?” We’re not going steady or anything. That was all that was said. When I went out and we started dancing again, Miles said, “Did the girls tell you ?” and I said, “What?” Then he threw a mini-fit and started cussing the girls out and said they were friends of his from Vancouver and they were supposed to have told me that he had “pinned” this girl up in Seattle the week before. “Pinning” a girl meant that the fellow had given her his Fraternity pin and they were more or less engaged. Well, then I threw a fit and asked him why the heck he was there with me instead of her, and why the heck he hadn’t had the nerve to tell me himself? He said that she, like he, had other dates and he didn’t want to spoil my New Year’s Eve. I started to get a little dizzy about then, and we went out to the car. Of course Elinor was there, wanting to know what was going on, and I told her I would tell her later. Poor Elinor...she got in on all my crises. What a good friend. I hadn’t been too happy about his behavior before, as I have said. And, of course it was a slight blow to my pride...humph. The next you won’t believe...since I was going to my dad and Ruth’s in Chehalis the next morning, and Miles had offered to take me, we agreed we would still do that. The next morning he drove up in front, and when I came out to the car, he said, “I have a late Christmas present for you.” He opened the trunk and pulled out a package. It contained a picture of him...not 5 by 7, not 8 by 10, but 10 by 14! I said, “Oh, how nice,” and took it into the house. It was gorgeous! I actually put it up on the mantle. I don’t remember a fireplace, but I do remember a mantle. It stayed there until I, myself, got engaged. I think all three of us girls in that house claimed it as our boyfriend’s picture. Ha!
On New Year’s Day when I got to my dad and Ruth’s, I found out that Ruth was pregnant. They were worried that I might not like the idea, but I was delighted for them. Ruth was in her thirties and my dad was thirteen years older. During that week Ruth and I went up to Seattle for a day of shopping, for her, and to spend the night in a hotel. It was a good visit, all in all.
Back home, I went back for classes and also had my second date with Bob Clarno, plus many more. I was dating other guys also, until one night, around the end of January, I was out with him, and when he took me home and we were sitting in the car, he suddenly turned to me and said that he loved me and he wanted us to go steady...to be together. “LOVE ? GO STEADY ?” I wasn’t prepared for all this. I was really enjoying going out with him. I loved the way we danced together and how easy-going our relationship was (yes, he kissed me on the second date), but LOVE? GO STEADY? All of a sudden I knew this was what I had been waiting for. This was IT. Of course, I said, “Yes!”And that’s what we became...together. He took me out to Garden Home to meet his mom and step-dad, and we got along fine from the start. His folks were older than my mom, and since I had spent my life mostly with older folks, I was very comfortable around them. I still have the picture that was taken that first day with his mom. (From now on, I will refer to “him” as “Dad.”)
In the meantime, back at school, it was almost the end of the quarter and the Dean of girls was calling each of the Freshman girls in to find out what their major was going to be. When she called me in, I had no idea in the world what to say. Major? I told her the first thing that came into my mind. I wanted to become a nurse like my mom (Chee). She then told me that I was in the wrong school for that training, and I’d better find the proper school. Heck...I liked it there. So I told my mom and at the end of the quarter, and she had me go to St. Vincent’s Hospital where she had trained and also worked, to sign up for nurse’s training. I brought home the papers to sign, and when I read them thoroughly, I found it was a five year course during which you couldn’t get married. Well, Dad and I were getting very serious by then, and there was no way I was going to tie myself up for five years! I asked my mom to tell them that I wasn’t coming, but she made me go back and tell the Sister that I had changed my mind. I felt greatly relieved. Then my mom said that I should at least go to business school. So I said OK and I enrolled in the same one that Elinor and Lucille were going to. Of course, I took typing again, like I had started in the Post Graduate course I had gone to before going to the beach the Spring before, when my grandpa died. Uh Huh.
After we started going together, besides talking on the phone for an hour every night, Dad and I went dancing two nights a week. On Tuesdays we went to the Uptown Ballroom, on upper Burnside street, near the old Thiele’s restaurant. Tuesday was College night and we could get in for twenty-five cents before nine. We also went there on Saturday nights. They had a good dance band that played all the good Glen Miller tunes, etc. Or sometimes we went to a dance at the Masonic Temple downtown. Sometimes we would meet for lunch. The popular place to meet someone downtown was at the 6th Street entrance to Meier & Frank. Dad would walk down the Park blocks from Physician & Hospital, and then we would walk further down 6th and to the right to Hilaire’s, the “in” place then, where we would have, maybe, a hamburger and a coke.
I actually worked for pay for three days, probably in March, as a stock girl in the women’s clothing department at a sale at Meier & Frank’s. It was the one and only time that I worked any place for money...until years later, when I started getting paid for playing the piano. While I was there, I saw a beautiful powder blue, Princess style, coat that I just loved. I wasn’t going to make enough money...$25...to buy it all by myself, so I called Mutti and asked if I could charge it to her account. She agreed. I wore that coat with navy blue high heels and a powder blue hat with a big brim, that I also bought, all that Spring. I felt so good...and sexy!
Something else, though, was happening at home. I have never known the full story. In about February, Everett left and took Lillian with him. I think my mom told him to go. I never heard them fight, but there had been trouble between them when they were in California, and other times, so something must have exploded. I have no idea where they went, but Lillian was still going to beauty school. I never saw either of them again. I did talk to Lillian on the phone, maybe a year later. She called to tell us that she had married a fellow who was in the service. She eventually had a child, but her husband was killed in the war. She got $10,000 insurance from the Government, a huge amount in those days. She eventually bought her own beauty shop and had a good income. She also married again. How do I know all this? Carola kept in touch with her all her life (as she did all of Uncle Bob’s exes). It’s too bad. We hardly ever took any pictures in the thirties. I have none of either Everett or Lillian...only in my mind.
After they left, I moved from the upstairs attic bedroom down to my mom’s room and slept with her. Lucille, of course, was still with us, going to business school. Dad and I were going out on weekends, and since I lived way out on the East side of Portland, off Powell Blvd, and he lived way over on the West side in Multnomah, actually Garden Home, we decided that he should spend Saturday nights at our place in the newly vacated upstairs bedroom. My mom called his mom and all worked out real well. Dad and I were getting real cozy.
Then one day, late in April, I had gone to meet Dad to go to lunch. It was the only time, I think, that I went to meet him outside Physician & Hospital Supply. There was a low wall across the street, I remember, and I was sitting there on it, waiting for him to come out. Johnny Still had come out with another fellow, and we all were sitting on the wall, joking around, when I looked across the street and saw GEORGE and his mother going into the Medical Arts building, which was right next door to P&H. George came right out and was standing there, lighting up a cigarette, (he didn’t smoke before). I excused myself to the guys and went over to talk to him. It was the first time I had seen him since he proposed at Long Beach. We talked a few minutes about “how are you...how was San Francisco?” Nothing personal. He had brought his mother to Portland to go to the dentist. About then Dad came out of P&H and I said goodbye to George and told him to say “Hi” to his mom. I went back across the street and Dad and I headed down the street. I looked back and gave a friendly wave to Johnny and friend and past them to George, who was watching us go. He didn’t wave back, of course. I felt right then that I was waving “goodbye” to the past and saying “hello” to a wonderful and scary future. That day, as we walked down the street, I told Dad we had better get married, because I thought I was pregnant.
A Family is Born
Time out to tell you what the two families were doing in those days. My mom had just divorced Everett, but Lucille and I were living with her. She was mostly working night shifts at the hospital. Carola and Joe had moved from the 39th street house, after my grandpa died, to the apartments to manage them for my grandma. After the summer of ‘39 Mutti returned home to the apartments to live with Carola and Joe. It was a “love-hate” situation, but it helped both parties. Joe wasn’t making much money and managing the apartments helped them financially. Mutti couldn’t stay alone any longer. Uncle Bob and Ethel were living sometimes in Portland and sometimes at the beach house, with him doing his linoleum work. On Dad’s side, I mentioned that his sister, Gladys, had married Dewey McNamee the year before, when she was 38. His sister, Ruth had married Mat Anderson in 1926, and they were living in San Francisco at that time right close to the Embarcadero. They later moved to Oakland. Gladys’s Dewey worked for the Bonneville Dam Development as a draftsman. Mat worked for Loose Wiles Cracker Company. And there was Vera, the oldest sister, who lived in Los Angeles. She was 41 and had never been married. She had a good job in the accounting department of the Ambassador Hotel. And then, of course, Dad lived with his mom and stepdad, Louella and John Aune, in Garden Home on the Westside near Multnomah. That was the status of our families.
Well, I guess we should rate this autobiography PG 13?
Anyway, when I told Dad of my predicament, he didn’t even flinch. He just started figuring out what we should do and when. When I got home that evening, Elinor came over to visit and she and Lucille and I were sitting around, talking, and I went into my mom’s room and said that Dad and I wanted to get married, and would she give her permission. I was just 18, you know. Then she asked me if I was pregnant, and I said that I thought so. And do you know what my sweet, darling mom did? She said yes, we could get married, but she wanted us to live there with her! Well, of course I accepted the offer, and then I went back and told Lucille and Elinor. I didn’t tell them about my “predicament”...then. Well, the next day, when Dad told his boss that he was getting married in two weeks, he was given two week’s notice to leave. He was FIRED! because his boss said that he wasn’t making enough money to get married! I was stunned, but of course his boss was a smart man. He knew that Dad was in a go-nowhere-job, and that he was smart, and that he could do so much better elsewhere. But at the time, it was a blow. On Friday that week, I went with Dad to his house for dinner with his folks and Gladys and Dewey. We announced that we were engaged and that we would be getting married in two weeks. There was a lot of cheering, etc. It was May 3rd, 1940. And how do I know that? Dad’s sweet and darling mom wrote it in the family bible. I have it here, right now.
We decided to have Reverend Beard, who married Ruth and Mat in 1926, marry us. He was known to me, too, in that he was kind of a mascot to Washington High School’s football team while I was in high school. He would always attend the pep rallies and sit on the stage. He was known as Chaplain Beard there, because he had been a Chaplain in the army during WWI. He was the minister for the Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church which was quite a ways further up Belmont street from where my grandparents’ apartment was.
I quit the business school classes. I only remember the typing class, but there must have been more. It had only been a couple of months. During the two weeks before the wedding, we went together to Weisfield’s jewelry store to get my rings and have them fitted. The set cost $150, and Dad paid $10 a month on them. They were beautiful, in my eyes, and still are, even though the diamond from the engagement ring fell out and was lost years ago. Dad also arranged for us to go to Seaside for one night for our honeymoon. He borrowed $25 from Norm Wiener to be able to do that. He wanted Norm to be his best man, as he was Dad’s oldest friend, but Norm had a weekend job at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and couldn’t make it. So Dad asked Bud Greer to do the honors. After all, it was due to Bud’s girlfriend at St. Helen’s Hall that we met.
Elinor, of course, would be my Maid of Honor. Since neither family had much money, we arranged to have the wedding in the minister’s home...the manse. Dad’s sister, Ruth, came up from San Francisco to attend. The night before the wedding I was at home with my mom and Elinor and Lucille when the phone rang. It was Jack Hurd, giving me one of his periodic calls to chat. He asked what I was doing, and when I said that I was doing my nails, he asked if I had a big date, and I said it was pretty big...that I was getting married in the morning. There was a slight silence, and then he wished me well, and all that. I saw him one time after that when Suzie was real little. I was pushing her in the stroller after grocery shopping in Multnomah, and he saw me and stopped to chat. It was after the war...he had been in it. I think he was selling insurance, or something.
I can’t remember who all were at the wedding. We asked Johnny Still to come, partially because it was kind of through him that we met. Dad’s sister, Ruth, whom I met for the first time when I got out of the car in front of the church, was there. Dad’s mom and step-dad and Gladys and Dewey, and Uncle Bob and Ethyl, and my mom, of course (Photo 10). My dad and Ruth didn’t come down from Tacoma because Ruth was pregnant. Mutti and Uncle Joe weren’t there either. They were at the beach getting the big house ready for the summer renters. The wedding was held in the minister’s home...the manse...in front of the fireplace. There was no coming down the aisle. I remember standing there, next to Dad, and thinking “what am I doing?” and then having this wonderful feeling of love and peace and knowing he was going to take care of me forever. This was on May 18th, 1940 (Photo 11).
We all went out to Garden Home to Mom and Dad Aune’s for a wonderful dinner. Mom Aune cooked a capon (an over-sized chicken...I don’t ever hear of those anymore.) Then late in the afternoon, Dad and I drove down to Seaside for our honeymoon. That evening as we were walking down the street to find a place to get a snack, we met a fellow I knew who used to come over to Long Beach to the dance. He said, “Hi,” and asked if I was coming to the dance. I told him I had just got married that day. It was just like a dream. It had really happened!.
The next morning we drove to Astoria and took the ferry over to the Washington side and drove to Long Beach to see Mutti and Uncle Joe. I have always thought in my own mind that Mutti could have come to the wedding, but that she just didn’t want to see me getting married. She was funny that way. Anyway, they were both glad to see us. We came home that night to Dad’s folks’ house where we stayed for a few days to visit with Ruth. She was a wonderful person, and I always loved her.
In the meantime, my mom was getting all of us, Lucille, herself, and Dad and I, ready to move on June 1st to a nice three bedroom, corner apartment on the corner of 29th and Hawthorn Blvd, and we settled down to being a family again. Dad didn’t have to work at the magazine job very long. Norm Wiener’s older brother tipped him off to applying at the County Court House for a bookkeeper’s job. He did and got the job in the tax department. That was the start of what would be his life-long career, in one fashion or other. Then, since Dad and my mom worked and Lucille went to school, it was up to me to do the household chores. My mom taught me how to use the washing machine in the apartment house laundry...well, I had never used one before...I could clean, and all that, and by trial and error, I learned something about cooking. (Dad would send the meat back if it wasn’t done enough). When my mom was on a day shift, she helped me learn too. (Poor Lucille...she never complained.) I shopped for food at a small Japanese market a few blocks up Hawthorne Blvd. There were no super-markets then. I spent $1.00 a day on the four of us. One time, a couple of months after I had been shopping there, there was a drawing and I won a floor lamp! Dad and I carried it home together. I was about five months along and doing very well.
Lucille had met a nice young man at business school named Joe Re (as in ray). He was from an Italian family, and they were going pretty steady. Every once in awhile she would go home to Long Beach to see her folks and catch up on the news about friends. She had pipe-lines everywhere. One day when she had come back from Long Beach, she told me that George had married a girl from Roseburg, OR. How or where they met, she had no idea. She got all this information from George’s sister, Lucille. Anyway, George met and married this girl a few months after Dad and I got married. He told her about me, and that he wanted her to be just like me, because his mom liked me so much! Something awfully wrong there. It made me cry...not for George, but for his wife. Let’s finish up about George, now. He was sent to Hawaii, to the army base there. His wife went also. Of course they were there on December 7th, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but were more inland at the army base. After Pearl Harbor, George had the opportunity to go to Officer’s Training School in San Antonio, Texas to be in the Army Air Force. He became a Second Lieutenant. He didn’t become a pilot, but was a bombardier or a navigator, or something like that. His wife had a baby boy sometime in 1943 before he was sent to Europe. In 1944, the plane he was in was shot down over the Polesti oil fields in Romania, and he was declared “missing in action.” Of course, no bodies were ever found. Later, one time when Dad and I and small son, Robbie, were in Long Beach, we saw George’s Mom sitting on a bench in town. I went over and hugged her and gave her my condolences. She cried a little, and whispered to me, “He should have married you...you wouldn’t have let him fly.” It broke my heart. There is a small monument next to a small lake in Long Beach that has the names of all the men on the Peninsula who were killed in World War II. I either knew, or knew of, almost every one on the list. George Phelps is the bottom name on the monument. Yes, war is Hell...any war.
Meanwhile, the summer of 1940 went on. It was the first summer of my life that I hadn’t gone to the beach. It was strange staying in town...for me. We did spend one weekend there, early on, when the big house wasn’t rented. In August we got word from my dad that Ruth had given birth to a baby girl whom they named Charlene. We were real happy for them. I was getting along very well with my own pregnancy...very little morning sickness or anything. In November, when I was eight months along, my doctor was drafted into the Army. The U.S. wasn’t in the war in Europe, yet, but the drafting of men had started. My doctor referred me to an Obstetrician...no extra charge...it was the only one I had...ever. My doctor had recommended me highly to him, because I was the only one of his patients who didn’t have hemorrhoids! Ha! On Thanksgiving we went to Gladys and Dewey’s house out in the country. I have a picture taken that day of Dad and me. Me, in my beloved fur coat, hardly showing at all. In fact I only gained 15 pounds during that whole pregnancy.
On December 17th, about 10 days before my due date, I went into labor. Dad called a cab, and he and my mom both went with me to the old Emmanuel Hospital. After about 18 hours of labor, with Dad and my mom taking turns sitting with me, Rob was born at about 12:56 A.M. on December 18th, 1940. Wow! What a joy! I did NOT have natural childbirth...for ANY of my children. I enjoyed being put under before the actual birth.
Let me tell you what went on after having a baby in those days. I was bound tightly from just under my breasts to my hips. This was to get the uterus back in place. That, and doing the “knee-chest” position a couple times a day in my bed. I didn’t sit up until the fifth day, when I was allowed to dangle my feet over the edge of the bed. All this time I was nursing my baby at regular intervals...the only time I could see him. I was allowed to get out of bed and walk on the 10th day, and on the 14th day we got to go home! What a difference from now-a-days! Also, all the time I was in the hospital, there was a flu epidemic going on in Portland, so they allowed only husbands and mothers to visit. But Mutti barged her way in saying, “That’s my granddaughter and great-grandson, and I’m going to see them.” They let her in. Having to stay in the hospital that long, I missed my first Christmas with Dad. He had dinner with my family. Mutti cooked the turkey as usual, but Dad said that she kept looking at it so often that it never did get quite done enough. It was the last time she cooked for any big dinner. She was getting too forgetful. So it was already 1941 when I brought home my beautiful son, Robert Hugh Clarno, Jr. Happy Day!
On our first Anniversary we went to Long Beach to attend the marriage of Lucille and her Joe. They were married in the church she grew up in. I was the candle lighter. It was a very nice way to spend our anniversary. Not long after, Dad and I, with our baby boy, moved out of the apartment and went to live with Dad’s folks in Garden Home. I think my mom wanted to start having a life of her own. She deserved it. Not too many months after, she came up with the proposition that she would pay the down payment on any house that we could afford to make the payments on. So with her help taking us around...we had no car except Dad Aune’s...we finally found a place in Westmoreland, the other side of the tracks from Eastmoreland, a very exclusive neighborhood. A contractor had built four houses on Reedway St...two on one side of the street and two on the other. It had two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a basement with a furnace that burned briquets. To my delight, it had Venetian blinds on the corner windows of the living room. I was delighted until the day came when I had to clean them, that is. It cost $2,980, with $180 down, and payments of $25 a month, FHA. My mom paid the down payment and she gave us all...I mean ALL her furniture, and she moved into a furnished apartment. The house wasn’t quite finished when we bought it, one bedroom still needed wallpaper. And the street out in front wasn’t paved yet, and no grass was in the front or back yard. But we moved in on December 1st, 1941. I will never forget the week following our move-in. We were sitting, eating a baked ham for our Sunday dinner...the radio was on...and then President Roosevelt came on and announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese and we were at war! We had no idea where Pearl Harbor was.
Of course, after Pearl Harbor men started being drafted. Dad would not be called because he was married and had a child. But he went in anyway, and was classed 4F because of his feet. At least he didn’t have to worry about being drafted in the future. I was really happy about that. However, Elinor’s Richie went into the Navy and was stationed in San Diego. In the summer of “42 Elinor went down to San Diego to meet his ship and they were married in the old Methodist church that used to be downtown in San Diego. She took her younger sister, June, with her to be her bridesmaid. I was kinda sad because we had always said we would be each other’s bridesmaids. She had been mine...but that was wartime.
On the home front, things started to be rationed. We got gasoline stickers, which determined how much gas you could buy at one time. It depended on how much you had to use your car. (We didn’t have one.) Meat and butter was rationed. So were shoes and cigarettes. People always said that if you saw a line forming someplace, you should get in it and buy whatever was being sold that day. Carola went to work at a delicatessen downtown, and she would let us buy butter without having ration stamps. We never had margarine until after the war. The greatest prize you could buy, though, was nylons. They had become popular shortly before the war, but during the war nylon was used to make parachutes. So if a line formed at any store that had nylons, it was almost MOBBED. Otherwise we wore the old rayon stockings wrong-side-out so that the seams stuck out, nice and dark. Of course, that was before seamless stockings.
In the meantime, we were enjoying our little house on Reedway. The contractors paved the street, and Dad dug up the front yard and planted potatoes. It was supposed to make the ground better for planting grass later. We enjoyed the potatoes, I guess. I really can’t remember eating any. The second year he planted clover...for the same reason. Little did he know. That was in 1943. In the year 2002, I think it was, the “girls” and I went up to Portland, and we went by our little house, and the clover was still in the lawn...and all the neighbors’ lawns, too! Oh dear! I certainly didn’t want to knock on any doors and tell them my husband planted it in 1942!
We stayed in our nice little Reedway house until 1943, when we decided that we would like to live in the country...Garden Home, that is. So we sold our house...for a profit...war time, you know...plus all our furniture my mom had given us, smart kids that we were, and moved out to live with Dad’s Mom and Dad Aune. We planned to live with them until the war ended and then hopefully build our own house. Inflation would end, of course, and we could easily build then. What naive fools we were! Dad had quit his job at the Court House and gone to work for Willamette Iron & Steel which was building ships for the Navy. He did some kind of work on ships for a short time and then discovered what would lead into his life’s work...data processing. He kind of got in on the ground floor of that, right there at the shipyards. He started out on the swing shift, and soon became boss of that shift. I used to wait up for him to come home every night. We had bought a car with the furniture money. We enjoyed living with Dad’s folks. Every night when Dad wasn’t at work, we played the card game called 500. It was sort of a precursor to bridge, as we found out years later. Dad and I were always partners and Mom and Dad Aune were partners. They had been playing for years, but we gave them a good game.
We did Mom and Dad Aune some good by living with them too. Times had been kind of hard for them during the Depression, and they had been paying “interest only” on their mortgage. So the money we paid them for room and board helped them to pay it down some. Then they offered to sell us the 3/4 acre that was next to the house. We paid them $700 for it and planned to build on it after the war. I sent away for some house plans that I saw in a magazine. I fell in love with them. There was a fellow who worked under Dad in the data processing department named Gene Ryder. It turned out that his wife, Mabel, had gone to Washington High School when I did. She had been in Elinor’s class, and while I didn’t know her personally, I did know who she was, and even where she lived near the school. We became very good friends. They had one boy at that time, just a little older than our Robbie. Anyway, they had built a very lovely two bedroom home at Lake Oswego, before the war, for $5000. That sounded real high then. But Dad was making more money, and we felt that when the war ended we could build just as nice a house on our lot, as they had. Ho! Ho ! What fools we were. Oh well, we all learn. How true.
I want to digress for a bit from our house-building plans. I think it was sometime in 1943 that my mom met a man whom she liked and started going out with. His name was Art Hood, and she said he was from one of the Southern states and “he was such a gentleman”...always saying “Ma’am” and all that... so polite. We met him, of course, and he wasn’t much to look at, but he certainly was polite. Well, after a few months they decided to get married. They went to Vancouver to get married, as so many people in Portland did, because in Washington you didn’t need a blood test and wait for three days to get married. Carola and Joe and Uncle Bob and Ethel and Dad an I went with them. I was my mom’s bridesmaid, I guess. Afterwards we all went to Carola & Joe’s apartment to have some cake and celebrate. My grandma was there too, of course, but she had gone to bed. I think there were drinks too. Well, I was sitting on the couch next to Art, and it became clear that he had been drinking before that and was getting drunker. At one point he reached over and started groping me! I got out of there as fast as I could. I was horrified! The next day I talked to my mom on the phone, and she said that when they got back to her apartment, he just passed out. Some honeymoon!. I didn’t tell her about his “groping,” and I was sorry later that I hadn’t. It would have spared her a lot of grief. Not too long later they moved to Astoria where my mom got the job of nurse supervisor in the hospital there. If I can recall, Art was a barber. It was now 1944. One day we got a call from Carola saying that my mom had left Art Hood and was in Long Beach with Uncle Bob and Ethel. She was commuting to work in Astoria by ferry (no bridge in those days). Art had come home drunk one night and had started physically abusing my mom, and she left him, immediately. She got a rental house in Seaview. That was when Dad and I and Rob, who was three, went over to see her. Rob and I stayed with her for a week, and Dad came back for us the next weekend. My mom stayed on for only a couple of months and then she went back to Portland, to St. Vincent’s Hospital, to be a special duty nurse as usual. She was never without work.
Well, back to our efforts in house-building. We had those lovely house plans that I had fallen in love with, but we decided that it would be too expensive to build one like that at that time. So Dad and I drew up plans for a nice little two bedroom house. Remember this was right next to Mom and Dad Aune’s house. We had a foundation poured well back from the road because we wanted a nice big front yard. We also had the house framed. Then we took over. We put roofing on. I can remember sitting on the roof pounding nails into the roofing material. We started putting wallboard up in the house. I remember putting nails into the wallboard material. And then...good gracious me...we ran out of money. I can’t remember trying to get a loan from the bank, or anything...we just ran out of money. So we put the whole thing up for sale. Secretly, I was glad. It wasn’t exactly my dream house. I guess I had been spoiled looking at those lovely house plans for a couple of years. A couple of women bought the unfinished house...the whole caboodle. I guess they were a “couple”...I didn’t know much about those things in those days. Anyway, they seemed like they would be very nice neighbors for the folks.
It was about then...it was 1945...that I told Dad that we should find a house to rent. We had had a couple of very nice years, living with Dad’s folks, but it was time that we had our own house again. Dad’s mom actually cried when we told her. She wanted to know what she had done wrong. I would have thought she would be glad to get rid of us with our very active little four year old Robbie. But sweet and dear person that she was, she would have liked us to stay indefinitely. Dad Aune too. He was a very good and patient man. We found a nice little house just off Garden Home Rd., closer to Multnomah, and we moved in. It was all wood, no foundation, two bedrooms, a heating stove in the living room (wood) and a screened -in back porch where the refrigerator was. We had no washing machine...uh huh, we had sold all the furniture, remember, to buy a car...just wash tubs on the back porch. So I washed the clothes by hand and hung them out in the back yard on a clothes line. Except for Dad’s handkerchiefs...they were too slimy to wash by hand, so I boiled them in a kettle and then rinsed them out and hung them up. I think it was about a month later that we got a washing machine. I think my mom bought it for us. She probably couldn’t stand the thought of me boiling Dad’s handkerchiefs. EEEEEWWW!
One more thing...when Rob was about a year old, we decided that we would like to have our children about two years apart. So from about 1942 on, we went without birth control. Nothing. In October of 1945, one month after we moved to the little house in Multnomah, I became pregnant.
When I decided I was pregnant at last, my mom recommended a doctor she had come to know while being a special duty nurse for one of his patients. His name was Dr. Stratford, and he had just gotten out of the Navy at the end of the war, having been a doctor on one of the ships. When she asked him to take me on as a patient, he first said that he didn’t want to have any pregnancy patients because “too many women didn’t want to do what they should to take care of themselves.” But he finally said he would...just once. Well, he became our family doctor from that time on.
All went well except for the time when I was about three months along, in the middle of the winter, I slipped on the icy steps of the front porch and came bump, bump, bumping down the steps on my backside. I was scared I had damaged something, but Dr. Stratford said to stay down for a couple of days, and all was OK except that my back hurt. So he recommended I wear a certain kind of “girdle” that had lacing that expanded with me as the months went by.
All went well, then, until one day when I was in my eighth month, I was shopping in Multnomah, and I left the store with a big bag of groceries, stepped off the curb and fell forward on my stomach...groceries spilling out of the bag...and NOBODY stopped to help me!! I was SO mad that I picked myself and my groceries up and went across the street and up a block to the little Community church, went in, and just sat there, crying. I finally walked home with my stuff and called the doctor. He told me, once again, to just take it easy and call him if anything started happening. Again, all went well. At about 6:00 AM on the morning of July 4th, Dr. Stratford called and said he and his family were going to the beach for the day, and was anything happening. I was getting close to my due time. I told him nothing yet...go to the beach. He said if I didn’t start labor by the next weekend, they would induce labor. But on July 12th it started. But you, my sweet Suzie, were not turned yet to come out, so it took 12 hours before you arrived. I did not see you until you were 12 hours old, the next morning. I knew I had a girl, but they had just let me sleep. By July 12th, 1946, new mothers were staying just about three or four days in the hospital, instead of the two weeks when Rob was born. But Dr. Stratford still didn’t quite approve, so we stayed a week. When we got home, little five year old Robbie wanted to hold his baby sister, and he did...happy, most of the time, to have a little sister, Susan Jane Clarno.
That winter of 1946 was a bad one for us. The cute little house we were renting had only a wood foundation and with all the rain, developed mildew, especially in the bedrooms. The stove in the living room didn’t quite heat the bedrooms enough to keep them dry. Rob developed a bad cough with lots of phlegm. We taught him to run to the bathroom and spit it up when he got a coughing spell. Then baby Sue started the same thing. I had to make two bottle for every feeding time, because she would spit up the first one with her cough and phlegm. She slept in her crib alongside our bed at night, and all night long she would start coughing every hour, on the hour, and I would raise her up in her crib so she wouldn’t choke on the phlegm. This went on for almost three weeks. The doctor said they had a bronchial infection and prescribed sulfa drugs. But mostly we had to get out of that damp house. Rob had been in a “pre-first grade” class...they didn’t have kindergarten then...but he had missed so much school that we just had to take him out altogether for the term.
In the Spring of April 1947, we decided that we would have to leave the Multnomah rental. The kids’ colds were better, but hanging on. I asked Dr. Stratford if going to the beach would help. He said that at least it wouldn’t hurt, so Dad and my mom went down to Long Beach and found a small rental for me and the kids, actually in Seaview. The owners had a large house and two small rentals on the property. A young couple lived in the other one. We moved out of the Multnomah house and put our furniture in Dad’s folks’ attic. (I never have said how we got furniture for the Multnomah house in the first place. We sold the car we had bought from selling my mom’s furniture when we first moved to the folks’ house, and bought furniture. We didn’t need the car, because there was the bus less than a block away.)Anyway, back to Seaview. Dad had moved in with my mom and came down on the bus, weekends, to be with us. It was a nice mild Spring at the beach, and I took the kids to the beach...only a few blocks away..every day, and they soon got better and better. Baby Sue learned to walk while we were there. We had a playpen that had just some net-like kind of sides with no floor, and she stood up and pushed it all over the place. In no time she was walking on her own. Except for missing Dad, it was a good time for me. We stayed for three months.
In the meantime, Dad was hunting for another place to rent when the kids and I came home from the beach. We had decided to come back to Portland on July first. Well, he found what he said would be the right place for us. There was a place in North Portland where a lot of apartments had been built to accommodate the rising population that had occurred during the war when so many people came to work in the shipyards and stayed. It was called Vanport, because it was built right at the edge of the Columbia river, near Jantzen Beach, where the bridge went from Portland to Vancouver, Washington. The rent was cheap. Well, when we first got home from the beach we moved in, temporarily with Dad’s folks until we could get into Vanport. And then...Dad took me to see the place. I took one look at the area, teeming with shouting kids and yelling mothers and bare grounds and an apartment with one side that had no windows at all, and...and...and I FLIPPED! The one and only time in our whole marriage, I think, that I absolutely refused to do something. I could not move to that place! I must truly have had my Guardian angel on my shoulder that day, because it was a little more than a year later that, during several weeks of down-pouring rain, a 30 foot wall of water came from the Columbia River and flooded out the whole place!
After I completely rebelled against Vanport, of course we had to find a place to live. We didn’t want to stay with Dad’s folks too long with two kids now. Then we found the “big old Multnomah house,” as it was to be known forever more. It WAS big and it WAS old...one bedroom downstairs and three upstairs and the only bathroom downstairs. It had a big kitchen and a full basement with laundry trays and all and clothes lines. And it had an oil burning furnace. It was on a big corner lot, up from the road, and the bus stopped right on that corner...we still had no car. It needed painting inside and a little “fixing up,” especially upstairs. My mom said, “It has possibilities.” She said that the whole time we were there, knowing, I’m sure that we could never in this world do all that should be done to that house.
The day we moved our stored furniture into the house and settled down in the living room for the evening...Rob and Susie in beds upstairs...I went into the kitchen for something and there was a mouse on the drainboard...EEK! For the next two weeks we battled them...in the flour bin, a nice pull-out cupboard...upstairs in a closet..running across the foot of our bed...shudder...Dad went all over the house and nailed patches of tin over every hole he could find...in closets and cupboards and in the basement...set traps...until we finally saw no more. Just in time...I was ready to move out! Then we started “fixing it up.” We had a fellow come in and put up new wallpaper. “This is a bad luck house,” he said. I told my mom and she very wisely said, “We make our own luck.” We spent $1000 remodeling the big kitchen. That was a lot of money then, but it looked nice. New linoleum, a lovely blue, and new cupboards, and a breakfast bar with a light over it. All the latest improvements. We were very happy.
It wasn’t long after we moved into the Multnomah house that we decided that we could take in a boarder to help with the finances. We had four bedrooms, and the big one on the first floor was right next to the bathroom. So we advertised, and sure enough, a young woman with a three year old little boy answered and liked the big bedroom etc. and moved in. She would fix her own meals, and I forget where she worked, but she took her boy with her. Her name was Gloria Starr and her boy’s name was Patrick, but she called him Paddy. She fixed a bed for him just inside the big closet. But she was a VERY sound sleeper. Dad and I were in the front bedroom upstairs and the bedroom downstairs was in the back of the house. Some nights I would wake up and hear Paddy crying to go to the bathroom, and his mom not hearing him. So I would go downstairs and take him while his mom slept soundly. I don’t remember how long they were with us...not too long. But it worked out OK for her to cook her own meals at a different time. But just the day before Thanksgiving that year, as I was cleaning my turkey and sticking my hand into the trash can under the sink, I cut it quite deeply on the remains of a broken glass that Gloria had put in there without telling me. I had to gather up baby Sue, put her in Rob’s wagon, and with my hand wrapped in a rag bandage, pull her into town (Multnomah, of course) to the doctor to have my hand sewn up! It wasn’t long after that when I asked them to move. She had been talking about moving back to Southern California, anyway...and we had another reason too. We had moved into the Multnomah house in July or August of 1947. For some reason or other, I really got the urge to have another child. I figured it would probably take a year, maybe, to get pregnant. Ho-Ho, I became pregnant almost immediately! Our new baby was due to arrive in June of 1948.
“Remember, you don’t have to populate the world,” my mom said upon hearing the news.
Dr. Stratford wasn’t too happy that I had become pregnant so soon after having Sue, so he ordered that I should have a daily shot of one of the “B” vitamins for a month. Dad would have to learn to give them to me...in the butt! So every evening after Sue and Rob had gone to bed, Dad would bravely take out the syringe and DO IT! Gloria and Paddy were still with us at that time, so I told her that if she heard a shriek from the living room every night, to just ignore it.
The pregnancy went very well...no problems...and then about the middle of April, I caught cold and developed a really bad sinus infection. I was so miserable that my mom, who wasn’t on any case at that time, came over to stay for awhile and help me out until I felt better. My doctor put me on a new drug that had been developed during WWII...penicillin...and had me lay under a heat lamp. And one day he had me come to his office, and sitting in a dentist-like chair, tilted back with my mom holding my legs so I wouldn’t fall out, I had my sinuses drained. I was miserable, but getting better.
Then early on the morning of April 28th, I woke up with the unmistakable signs of going into labor. But it couldn’t be! I wasn’t due until around the first of June! But there it was. Dad took my mom’s car and went to get his mom to come and stay with Rob and Sue, and then he and my mom and I went to the hospital. I labored and labored...how could this premature, and supposedly tiny baby, take so long to come? Well, you’ve all heard the story. I finally was taken to the delivery room, and, as usual, was eventually put to blessed sleep. When I awoke, the first thing I saw was the delivery room nurse standing over me, asking brightly, “Don’t you want to know what you had?” “Uh huh,” I mumbled, groggily. “TWIN GIRLS!” she said, smiling brightly. I turned over and started to wretch. “Your mother almost fainted,” she said. As usual, my mom had been allowed into the delivery room because she was a nurse. That’s the way it was in those days. Sal was born first...butt first, which took longer...and while my Mom was helping to get her breathing OK. Mare sneaked out into the world. My Mom turned around and saw another baby and DID almost faint. While I was lying there, sleepily ruminating about having twins, one of the nurses...the same one, I think...asked what I was going to name them. Well, I had picked out the name Sally Ann if I had a girl, but there I was with two girls. I just couldn’t think. Then the nurse said, “I’ve always liked the name Mary Lou.” And that’s what she became. I thought that was the perfect name to go with “Sally Ann.”
Dr. Stratford wanted the babies to stay in the hospital at least ten days because they were premature, and he wanted me to stay there with them, because I had been sick before they were born and had lost a lot of weight. I weighed only 109 pounds while I was still in the hospital. I eventually gained five pounds, but stayed at 114 pounds for years afterwards. In the hospital I only got to look at Sally Ann when they brought her in and stood at the end of the bed with her. I didn’t see Mary Lou until they took me in a wheelchair to look at her through the window of the nursery. She had a slight lung problem, which is quite common among “preemies.” They both were so small that they looked like little monkeys...four pounds, six ounces for Sally, and four pounds, ten ounces for Mary Lou. But both were healthy babies. After ten days, they said I could take Sally Ann home. Mary Lou would have to stay another four days. I think Dr. Stratford just wanted to make sure that I would do OK with one preemie before sending home the other one. The day I came home, my mom started telling me about the pesty things that 7-year-old Robbie had done while I was gone, and when she brought Susie down from her nap, she acted like she didn’t know me! After all, it had been a couple of weeks and several lost pounds since she had seen me! I immediately went and hugged my mom, thanked her for all she had done, and told her to GO HOME. She didn’t argue.
Things went along in our busy lives. Dad took on a second job for awhile on weekends at a Fred Meyer store, stocking shelves. I had two small babies who had to be fed every two hours, day and night. It would take an hour for one to finish a bottle...I’d get an hour’s sleep, maybe, and then it was time to feed the other one. I was thin as a rail. At the 10:00 P.M. feeding, we used to listen to a music program on the radio that had a call-in contest once in awhile, about whose band was playing, or who was the singer. I called in once and won dinner for two at Henry Thiele’s, a very nice restaurant, for identifying Rosemary Clooney as the singer. My mom baby-sat so we could go to dinner. We weren’t rich, but we thrived.
One night in October, 1948, when Dad came home from work, I went to hug him and he just clung to me. I looked at him and saw that he was crying. I was frightened and asked if he had been in an accident. He said that he had taken his mom to see our Dr. Stratford for a check-up the week before, and that the doctor had called him to say that his mom had cancer. He said not to tell her...that it was too far advanced for any operation or anything, and that it would just upset her to know. Dr. Stratford was like that. It was intestinal cancer, and he gave her about three months to live. We immediately called Ruth and Matt in Oakland. Ruth said she would come to take her mom home with her. I called Mom Aune and told her that Ruth was coming to get her to stay with them until she got better. I also told her that the doctor said that there nothing that she would need an operation for. That was her worst fear, because her brother, Ed, had died on the operating table several years before. So she was content that Ruth was coming to get her. I don’t think she ever knew that she had cancer. She died three months later, as predicted. I have always been sorry that the girls never got to know their grandmother. She was a sweet, good woman. Dad and Dad Aune and Dad’s sister, Gladys, took the train down to San Francisco for her funeral. At that time, there was the Daylight train that went from Portland to San Francisco in 12 hours. Of course there was no way that I could go.
Dad Aune had been living with us during those three months. He was in his eighties and caring for his house and property was getting too much for him. Dad and I talked it over, after his Mom’s death, and we decided to have him come and live with us, permanently. We had put him in the big downstairs bedroom, next to the bathroom, and with the rest of us in the upstairs rooms, it was working out pretty well. Dad Aune had five daughters, one who lived in Newport, and the others all in Portland. None of them volunteered to help financially, but we didn’t care...at the time.
Dad Aune kept staying with us. He wanted to sell his house because he just couldn’t take care of so much property by himself. Of all things, Dad’s good friend, Norman Wiener and his wife, bought the house. And we all settled down...for about eight months. That summer Dad decided to put in a garden in our spacious back yard. I forget what all he planted, but there were peas, I know, and carrots, and even corn and potatoes. He figured that Dad Aune could weed the garden...he had always had a good sized garden at home. Well Dad Aune was getting a little senile, and probably his eyesight wasn’t too good, and so he weeded, but sometimes what he pulled up were newly sprouted vegetables. So we told him, “That’s OK,”, and maybe he’d better just take it easy in the side yard where we had a nice hammock and Dad had built an over-sized play pen for our twinnies to play outside in. They didn’t walk yet, but could crawl around and have fun playing with their toys. Well, they would crawl over to the side of the pen and pull themselves up and stretch out their arms for Dad Aune to pick them up...one at a time...which he would gladly do. He would hold whoever he picked up for awhile until she got wiggly, and then he would put her down on the ground...not the pen...and away she would go...especially Mary Lou...away towards the steep bank of the front yard that went down to the road. And me, screaming after her...MARY LOU! Well!
I won’t go into all the stories of what went on with an active 8 year old boy, a 3 year old little girl and year old twins who were learning to walk, and a gentle old man who was getting senile. To say the least, I was getting more and more frazzled. I finally told Dad that I couldn’t do it anymore...that we would have to move Dad Aune out. As I said before, he had five daughters, four of whom lived in Portland, and one who lived on the coast in Newport. So we started calling them. Not one of them would take him into their home...“You asked to have him with you,” they would say. True. Then Dad took him to Newport one day to see if that one would take him. When they both arrived home about midnight, I cried and cried in desperation. Then we had one other thought. The folks had had a neighbor in Garden Home, Mrs. Dean, who had moved into Multnomah and was taking care of old folks in her home. So to force the daughters’ hands, we moved him to Mrs. Dean’s house. Poor old man...what he must have been thinking of all of us. I sat him down at one time and tried to explain it all to him. I felt so guilty...even to this day. For the first week or so, he would walk from the Dean’s house back to our house, come in the back door while the girls and I were napping in the early afternoon, and go to his favorite chair and just sit. I finally locked the door so he couldn’t get in, and he stopped coming. The daughters took over then. They moved him to a nursing home and gave orders that we were not to try to see him. Then they started questioning about where his money was, etc. Ha! He got $25 a month pension from the railroad, and the money he got from selling his house was, of course, in his bank account. But fear not, our accountant Dad had, of course, every penny that we received and spent written down, and he got old friend, Norm Wiener, by then an attorney, to send it to them. We never heard another word.
Meanwhile, my mom had met a very nice gentleman named Tom Wright. He was the husband of a woman who had been a special duty patient of my mom’s. After she died, my mom and Tom started seeing each other socially. He even sent us a play swing set that we put up in the yard for the kids. Sue and Rob had a ball on it, and I wrote a letter of thanks and appreciation to Tom. And we hadn’t even met him yet! Have I mentioned that Tom was quite well-to-do? He owned the Moscow Hotel in Moscow, Idaho, among other things. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was in 1950 that my mom and Tom got married. They went to Tacoma and actually had my dad and Ruth stand up with them!
It was in 1950 also that Dad started talking about moving to California. He had gotten established in data processing pretty well and was working for the Oregon State Fish and Game Commission in that capacity. When his boss turned out to be an alcoholic, he left and was hired by Wadham’s, a grocery supply place. But he stayed in touch, always, with IBM, who kept him informed about better job opportunities. Well, at the first mention of such a move, I totally refused...I didn’t want to leave my mom. What an irony...my mom left me to go to California in the thirties...Oh well. But Dad thought we should at least move to a more modern house. He knew we could never put in the many improvements needed to make the old Multnomah house more livable. It cost a fortune each winter to heat the place. So we started looking...first in Multnomah. A young couple whose boy was in the Cub Scout troupe that Dad lead had their house for sale, so we looked at it. It was very nice...quite new and very well built...lovely. My mom and Tom went with us to look at it. It cost $14,000, a fortune to us in those days...AND it had three mortgages against it. Tom offered to lend us the down payment for it, saying that it would last us all our lives...a good house. Well, Dad and I thought it over and decided that it would be too much for Tom to do, even if he could well afford it. We had $1000 to put down on a house, and we determined to find one that we, alone, could afford. It turned out to be in Milwaukie, way across on the southeast side, and south of where our first little house had been. We sold the Multnomah house, and had the $1000 down. It was a six month old house, three bedrooms on one floor, one bathroom and a lovely full basement with a gas furnace. AND it was FILTHY DIRTY! The couple who had lived there were pigs. When they moved out, my mom and Tom and Dad went in and scrubbed that place from wall to wall. They said the bathroom was especially bad. When we moved in, my mom told us she was proud that we hadn’t accepted Tom’s offer and had financed it ourselves. She would have done nothing to discourage us, however, if we had decided to take it.
Our Milwaukie neighborhood was nice. I think there were four houses that had been built at the same time. The back yards had no fences yet, so the kids could run back and forth between the houses and the street back of us. That caused only a few problems. A neighbor man came to the door once, complaining that my two girls...that would be Sally Ann and Mary Lou...had come and knocked a couple of empty milk bottles off his back porch, and would I please keep them at home. I smiled sweetly and said ,“Sure.” Another time, when Lucille brought one of our good pals from Long Beach to see me, I had to go looking for...you guessed it...Sally Ann and Mary Lou...for most of the visit. I found them over on the back street visiting a little girl in her house, where they couldn’t hear me calling for them. Then there was the time that I was standing at the kitchen window when I saw a strange man coming across the back yard, carrying Sally Ann. Rob came hollering ahead of them “Sally got hit by a car!” Well, actually, it was the car that was hit by Sally. The girls and Rob had been playing over on the next street, and Sally got scared by a little dog that came along, and she ran out into the street and hit the man’s car. He had stopped for the kids. But he carried her across the yard to our house where we determined that there were no injuries. Hectic, but really a good place to live.
Dad Aune had a grandson who was the minister of the Church of Christ in Milwaukie, so we tried going there to see what it was like. We had never attached ourselves to any church. We had met the grandson and his wife before (I forget their names) so they knew who we were. The Sunday School seemed alright, but we went to the church service once...that’s all. The Church of Christ did not believe in musical instruments. Everybody sang the hymns without accompaniment! I said this was NOT the church for me. We never did go to any other...there.
Meanwhile, life went on. All the kids except Sally had their tonsils out by the time they were five. Then Rob, who was in the sixth grade, had to have a hernia operation. It was sometime in 1951...not too long after we moved there, that Dad opened the morning paper and saw in the obituaries that Dad Aune had died and where and when the service was. Of course none of the daughters had called us. I was madder than all heck! I called his grandson, the minister, got his wife instead, and vented my spleen to his wife. She was a very nice young woman, who didn’t know all the “stuff” between the daughters and us, but it made me feel better. Dad did go to the funeral, however.
In February of 1952 Mutti died. She was 87. In March my father died. He was 57. I was in Tacoma when he died. Ruth had called me to come a couple days before he died. I brought home two suits for Dad...and a half-dozen azalea plants from the funeral which we planted on either side of the front walk. They were still there one year when Dad and I went by while visiting in Portland, but in about 2003 or 4, when Sue and I tried to even find the house...it was all gone...wiped out by a freeway. “But the houses were only six months old when we bought here.” I exclaimed. “Yeah, but that was over 50 years ago,” my daughter, Sue, said. Huh.
Photo 13: Bette accompanying one of her many choral performances (circa 1970's)
California, Here We Come
Dad, in the meantime, was still hankerin’ to move to California. We didn’t know where, but we knew it should be where there was better weather in the winter. All three girls got sick with bad cold-related infections every winter, and Dad also thought there were better job opportunities there. We started looking at the map. Santa Barbara sounded nice. Not Los Angeles...too big. Then my mom and Tom started going to Phoenix in the winter, and they always stopped in San Diego for a few days to visit Tom’s niece, who lived in Point Loma. Also, our nice family doctor, Dr. Stratford, had been a doctor in the Navy during WWII, stationed in San Diego, and he said the climate was great. My mom and Tom even started talking about moving there...there was a nice lot on top of Point Loma that they had looked at. So we decided that it would be San Diego. Dad checked with the IBM office and they said that he could have immediate work in data processing at Convair whenever he came there, and that they would find him something else when he got there. So we decided to make the BIG MOVE. My mom and Tom were getting a little “wishy-washy” about moving, so we would go without them. (They never did move.) We planned to put our Milwaukie house up for sale in August and go then. However...fate intervened. For several months before all this happened, I had been having very heavy bleeding periods. The Monday before we were to leave for California, at my Mom’s urging, I went to see Dr. Stratford, and he said that I had fibrous tumors on my uterus, and I would have to have a hysterectomy...immediately. “But we’re leaving on Friday for San Diego,” I said. “Your husband may, but you will not.” he said. The next day I entered the hospital, and the day after that, I had the hysterectomy. On Friday Dad left for California...in the almost new Plymouth that my mom gave us. But what would I do? What would the kids do? Ah.
I stayed in the hospital for a week. My mom had ordered a private duty nurse to sit at my side and see that I did OK. I told her to go home after two days. I was OK. The twins were staying at Carola and Joe’s house, and Sue and Rob were staying with my mom and Tom, and that’s where I went too when I was discharged from the hospital. My mom had me vacuuming the rug to strengthen my abdominal muscles. “Are you sure I should be doing this?” I would whine. But of course, mother knew best. I called Dad to see how he was doing. He was staying at some hotel at first, and when the switchboard operator answered the phone with a southern accent I thought I was calling a foreign country. A chill ran through me. Were we doing the right thing? Dad had driven down to San Diego, stopping to see Ruth and Matt in Oakland, and Vera and Art in Los Angeles. He was at Vera and Art’s when the ground shook pretty hard from the Tehachapi earthquake, which was a pretty big one, but he slept through the whole thing. When he got to San Diego, he went to the hotel first, and then checked in with IBM who got him working at Convair in their data processing department. Then he moved to a rooming house across from Balboa Park, on 6th Ave., I believe. Then he started looking for a house for us to rent.
Meanwhile, we had decided that we would have to have movers come in and pack our stuff to send to San Diego. We had the Milwaukie house up for sale. We wanted to get the kids to San Diego before school started in September. So after about three weeks at my mom’s, I gathered all my kids and we readied ourselves for the big move. I had recovered enough from my surgery for the trip, and Dad had found us a big house to rent in Lemon Grove, a suburb of San Diego, so we felt we should leave the house in the hands of the realtor and get going. One of our backyard neighbors had been in the Navy and stationed in “Dago,” as he called it, during the war. (I hated that word.) He cautioned me to never let my girls down to lower Broadway where the sailors hung out. They were four and six at the time, but I promised.
We were going to make our trip by train. In those days they had the “Daylight” train, which went from Portland to San Francisco in 12 hours, and another that went from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 12 hours...all during the day. My mom and Tom and Carola and Joe saw us off in Portland. Tom tipped the train steward $20 to look after us. We were quite a bunch...skinny me at 110 pounds, three little girls all dressed alike...people thought they were triplets...and almost 12 year old Rob. We never saw the steward, but we never needed him. In twelve hours we got to San Francisco where Ruth and Matt met us and took us to their home in Oakland. We stayed there for two nights. During the day in between, Ruth took me to San Francisco to shop. In those days, I. Magnum was the hotsy totsy store. She took me there and I bought a pair of slippers. It was the cheapest thing I could afford, but I was thrilled to have something from I. Magnum.
The next day they put us on the train for the second half of our trip...another 12 hour trip to Los Angeles. Dad met us there, and I threw myself into his arms!
We all piled into the car and left L.A. headed for our new home...San Diego. It took about three hours, I imagine, driving south on Highway 101 to get to San Diego. There was no Highway 5 at that time. We drove, following a bus a lot of the way. Highway 101 was two lanes, and we couldn’t pass it. That ended up with my having the second of my vertigo attacks...but not at the moment. As we started seeing the lights of San Diego, we were driving along some water and smelly mud flats. Remember, this was at night. It was, I found out later, Mission Bay. There was no development there yet. At last we turned east, and I started looking forward to seeing where we were going to live. We drove east...and east...and east...until we could hardly see the lights of San Diego anymore. We ended up in the little suburb of Lemon Grove. There was even a huge lemon in the middle of town proclaiming this! Then we went further out of town, up a hill, and finally stopping at a house overlooking blackness. “Where’s San Diego?” I wondered. But the house Dad had rented for us turned out to be very nice. It had three bedrooms...one of them huge..for the three girls, a nice room for Rob, and the smallest one for Dad and me. It had a large living room and dining room and kitchen. And our furniture was all there, and all in place! On the lower level there was a small apartment occupied by a young couple. It was the first split-level house I had seen. The front of the house was on the street level, and down the driveway and under the house was the garage. In the morning I saw that from the back of the house, we had a nice view of Mt. Miguel. Our landlord lived next door. He was ex-Navy and had built the two houses himself. The one we were in belonged to his daughter and son-in-law, who was in the Navy, and were living elsewhere at the time. It was really a nice, big house.
It was the first week in September and Rob was due to start junior high school. Sue was starting first grade. She had not been to Kindergarten, because Portland didn’t have it. Both schools, of course, were in Lemon Grove, back down the hill. I don’t remember a school bus, but there must have been one. I didn’t drive...there HAD to have been one. I do know, though, that during the weekend after we arrived, Susie was riding her tricycle down the steep driveway and fell, completely skinning her nose...and that’s how she started her first day of school.
In the back yard was a pen containing pigeons that belonged to our landlord. When he saw Rob showing interest in them, he allowed him to handle them and showed him what to do with them. It was a good way to ease a pre-teen boy into a new hometown. Dad also set up a target on a bale of hay in the back yard and bought him a bow and some arrows so he could target practice. He had seen a similar one in Balboa Park while living in the rooming house. On the other side of our house was a family that had a swimming pool. (Ah, now this was California.) One day when I was sitting out in the yard, the woman next door came out and told me...in a nice way...that they never let any of the renters, where we lived, go in their pool. I said “OK. ” I understood. But the funny part was that they let our girls come over and go in the pool with their boy. Until now, I tell it one way and Mare tells it another way, but after all, she was only four years old, you know. Well, I say that Mare had to be rescued in the pool by the boy. Mare swears it was Sal. Well, anyway, the kids didn’t go in any more after that...probably by request.
Of course, the first thing we wanted to buy was a television! Portland didn’t have TV yet, but we had seen it a couple of times when we went up to Tacoma to see my dad and Ruth. We found the stores were very generous with their credit. We bought it in a minute! We even found a grocery store in Lemon Grove that let us charge our food bill which we paid every month just like we had in Multnomah. But soon we found the Piggly Wiggly store which was one of the first of the chain supermarkets. Wow! We could push a shopping cart around the store and pick out what we wanted, instead of having to tell a clerk. What a great invention! Of course, there was no more of charging our bill. Oh well.
There was just one drawback in our financial situation. The house in Milwaukie had not sold before I left, and we had double house payments...rent in Lemon Grove and house payments in Milwaukie. It finally sold, but we didn’t make anything on it, because we were anxious to sell. But at least we were rid of it. Our landlord offered to sell us the house we were in. It was big and it had the rental downstairs, but he was asking too much for us to afford. That was one rule that Dad insisted on...never get “house-poor.” About that time I received my portion of Mutti’s will...$1000. I was supposed to get $5000, but I had borrowed against it when we lived in the Multnomah house. But in those days, $1000 was a good down payment on the kind of house we could afford. So we looked and looked, mostly in Lemon Grove, and we found the perfect place on Citrus St. It had a nice big back yard and three bedrooms and a den, which had been the garage...but who needed a garage in California? One month after we moved in, we got a letter telling us that a freeway was going to be built and that a whole block or two would be torn down to make way for...Highway 94! We kind of hoped that our newly bought house would be one of the houses torn down...a Freeway? It wasn’t, of course...there was one house between us and the construction. It was down the bank from us, though, so it wouldn’t be too bad...?
We settled in at the Citrus St. house. We liked the nice big back yard for the kids to play in. There were kids next door, but their mother, who hollered at them all day long, wouldn’t let them come over and play. The one time she let our girls come to their yard and play ball, one of her kids accidentally hit Mary in the head with the bat. It didn’t hurt her much, but it left a handsome goose egg on her forehead. Of course, that did it...the mother said “See, that’s what happens?” and they were never asked over again. (Shades of the swimming pool incident at the other place, huh?). They had a big boxer dog which periodically liked to jump their fence into our back yard. Now-a-days I would have called him “Howard Huge.” But he was harmless and would go back easily. Rob got a paper route after we moved there, and one day he brought home a puppy that one of his customers had given him. He was a cute little thing...with big paws...that should have been a clue to what size he was going to grow. He was mixed Airedale and something. We kept him in the back yard, of course, but in a couple of months he was growing bigger and would jump up on the girls in his happiness to see them. So eventually, the girls no longer wanted to play in the back yard, and that was one of the reasons we bought the place. After a couple more months, we had to ask Rob to find another home for him. We were never “pet people.” Never fear, Rob made up for it in his later life.
When my dad died in 1952, before we moved to California, I had been very moved by the way the people in their Baptist church had responded by bringing food and all the flowers, etc. to their house after the funeral. I told Dad that after we got settled in a house, I wanted for us to join a church. We had attended the local Presbyterian church in Multnomah, once in awhile...in fact, had been baptized as a member at one time. But it wasn’t a steady thing for us. We were more involved in Cub Scouts, as a family, than church. It wasn’t as though we were Heathens, or anything. I had been baptized as a child in the Methodist Episcopal church across the street from my grade school. Dad had been baptized in the Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church as a child. We had baby Rob baptized in the Methodist Church that I had been going to with Elinor before we got married...I had never joined it, however. But we had never had the time or urge to go farther, until now. Well, I did, anyway. We saw that there was a nice little church a few blocks down Massachusetts St. It was the Vista La Mesa Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. So we started going to Sunday School there. At first we limited it to just Sunday School, but then after awhile we started staying for church services. We liked the minister, Don Jones. He was young, with a young family, and had a good sense of humor, and he didn’t preach “fire and brimstone,” which suited us just fine. Of course, as time went on, we were urged to join. But there was one thing that stopped us...their form of baptism was immersion. Heck, we thought, why should we have to be baptized again when we had already been baptized two or three times before? And especially...have to be immersed? Children weren’t baptized until nine years old when they could make up their own minds. Well, we held off for about a year, and then decided we would join...baptism and all. The day we went forward to declare that we would be joining, there were a few other couples who went up too. They were the Brages, the Creasons, the Laughtons, and the Tenisons...Kay and Ralph. We had been seeing the Laughtons and the Creasons and the Tenisons together at the church services and we had a little joke going...we weren’t quite sure which husbands and wives were which. Of course, we eventually got that untangled. Well, it was the start of a busy and fruitful 15 years. I will never regret them, because they influenced, and in many ways shaped, the lives of all our family. The Clarno family became one of the most active...if not THE most active...families in the church. We even received a plaque one year for being the most outstanding family in the church.
We stayed in the Citrus St. house until 1957. I had become ill with vertigo which just wouldn’t go away. The doctor I had in Dr. Brassington’s office, Dr. Daruud, asked me how I got along with my mother, and put me on Equanal, a tranquilizer. I was on it for 10 years. One good thing about it, though, I gave up smoking, because it didn’t taste good along with the medication. Huh. (Dr. Daruud left for Denver awhile after that. I always wondered if he went into Psychiatry...how did I get along with my mother...humph.) Anyway, back to why we moved from Citrus St. The 94 Freeway was in full use below us, and I blame the vertigo problems on the gas fumes that floated up. Who really knows? We bought a house across Highway 80 on Mary Fellows St. That was before Highway 80 became Interstate 8. There were still stop lights on the highway and cow pastures in Mission Valley. Anyway, Mary Fellows was a nice neighborhood and the house was newer. The girls had to change schools, but Rob was at Helix High School and getting ready to graduate.
Let me digress for awhile. I haven’t mentioned how much we loved the beaches in our new state. We thought we’d like to live nearer the beach, but of course, the houses nearer to the beach were too expensive for us. One time we saw advertised a house in La Jolla that we could have afforded. However, my mom very wisely said that maybe it would be better for us to be at a par, financially, with our neighborhood, than to be the poorest. Yeah, it made sense. So we went to La Jolla Shores beach instead. After twenty years of being afraid to try driving again, we got a ‘53 Buick that had automatic drive, and I decided that it was time I drove. It wasn’t too hard after all. I passed the test with flying colors. Now I was able to take the kids to the beach during the week, in the summer...as long as we left by 3:00, before the going home traffic got too heavy. I only “dinged” it once, when I drove into the Campus drive-in movie with the girls one night. Rob got his driver’s license the minute he turned 16, and he bought an older car of some kind. Rob always made money...from the paper route days to working as bag boy in one of the supermarkets. I was glad, though, when he became 18, because I had to go to traffic court with him one time when he got a ticket. No fun.
We took one vacation finally, in 1956, and went to Portland for the first time since we moved to San Diego. We did something, though, that I would not recommend any parent to do. We put all four of our children on a plane and sent them, by themselves, to Portland so Dad and I could take a week and drive up by ourselves. I can’t tell you the anxiety we felt until we called up there, after they were supposed to arrive, and found they had made it safe and sound. Sal and Mare stayed with Carola and Sue and Rob stayed with my mom and Tom. Dad and I went to Yosemite for the first time, and drove the partly dirt and board road across the pass to Highway 395, and then to Reno. It took us three hours to drive twenty miles on that road. But it was delightful. In Reno, after a fun night of gambling on the nickel machines, we had a lovely dinner starting with a crab cocktail, and I got sick as a dog...all night. That’s when it was confirmed that I had become allergic to shellfish...and after being RAISED on them at Long Beach! Anyway, we enjoyed our visit back home in Portland, and then all of us piled in the car and headed back to San Diego. We drove Highway 101 through the Redwoods, and when we got to L.A. we decided to end our vacation by going to Disneyland, which had opened just a few months before. Of course, our biggest thrill on that trip was that when we went to have lunch at one of the eating places. There was Walt Disney, himself, sitting across from us out on the patio area! Sal took a ticket stub and went over and got his autograph. Oh my, what a treat! That was the last time that all of us vacationed together. Rob was going to go into a new phase of his life. The Navy!
Rob started taking some extra classes in 1958 so that he could graduate earlier than June of 1959. He graduated 20 years after I did...in January of 1959. He had joined the Navy Reserve while still in high school, and after he graduated, he left for his two years of active duty...at North Island. Yes, except for the last six months of duty, he was right over there on North Island. Then he spent the last six months in West-Pac...I think that’s what it’s called in the Navy. Anyway, he was assigned to a ship that went to the Philippines and eventually to Hong Kong, etc. Thank the Lord that there was no war going on at that time. He then came home to San Diego and two years in the Reserves.
It was in 1957 that I decided that I wanted to do something other than church work, and I looked at an Adult Education catalog and thought it would be fun to take the typing class that I had never been able to take before. The school was Midway Adult School, and it was clear down on Midway Drive near Point Loma. The first day that I attended class, the Principal came in and wanted to know if anyone played the piano, as the chorus class needed an accompanist. In a daze, (I must have been) I raised my hand, and he took me to the class where I met Esther Segal, the director of the class and chorus. She stuck a piece of music in my hand and asked, “Can you play this?” It was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Sound of Music. Well, I had never played it, but I knew how it went, and I was a pretty good sight reader, so I passed the test and was declared the new accompanist. And I didn’t even own a piano! I took home an armful of music thinking I could go to the church to practice. When I wrote all this to my mom, saying we were looking for a used piano, she promptly sent me $100. We bought a big old upright piano for $99. I was in business, and I was in heaven. I LOVED being able to play again. It had been years...since we lived with Dad’s folks. My kids didn’t even know I could play. Ha!
Midway started an activity that lasted for 19 years. It was something that was ME. I stayed with Esther for a year and a half, and then I got the opportunity to play for an all women’s chorus called the Chamber Maids...directed by Betty Chambers. It was in La Mesa, closer to home, so I joined them as accompanist and dropped out of the following semester at Midway. I played for the Chamber Maids for six years. It was connected with the women choruses of California. All the different choruses were given two numbers to work up during the year, and then they got together at a designated place...in Long Beach one year, for instance...and each chorus sang their own number, and then all of them sang the designated numbers together. It was always quite a show. Of course, we worked on other numbers of our own during the year and sang out at different places. I always had a bit of “ham” in me, so I really loved entertaining. Then Betty began doing more and more four part harmony, like the Sweet Adelines, so I decided to quit at the end of that year. I had had another operation to remove my cervix. It had not been removed when I had my hysterectomy in 1952. This was 1964. So I rested up for the summer, and then, when the next semester started for the Adult Ed. choruses, I called Esther Segal and asked if I could join her women’s chorus, the Serenaders, and sing. Well, I went to sing, and stayed to play again. We sang out frequently and had a Spring Concert every year. Then Esther asked if I would also play for her Senior Chorus at the Maryland Hotel for seniors downtown. Then a couple of years later, I also started playing for the mixed chorus that met at Patrick Henry High School. All but the Senior chorus sang out frequently, and all had Spring concerts. I even got to play “two piano” numbers at two of the concerts. That means that two of us played at two pianos. That was really fun! And we got to sing at the County Fair a couple of years. It was all very busy and sometimes tiring, but I loved it very much. Esther and I “clicked.” (Photos 13 & 14)
Our Children Grow-Up/
Grandchildren are Born
When Rob got out of his two year’s active duty in the Navy in 1961, all he wanted to do was get married to a young woman from our church, Sandy Crosthwaite (I think). She was a lovely girl, half Mexican, who sang and played the guitar. She had even done so on the Mickey Mouse TV show. Unfortunately, the marriage only lasted about two years. (I will not comment on any of my children’s private problems. That will be up to them when they write their own autobiographies) But in 1963 he met and married Janet Short Dykstra who had two little girls, Mary Ann and Terrie, three and eighteen months, respectively. Dad and I were instant grandparents! It was a nice feeling.
Dad and I, along with the girls, started our vacation traveling in 1959. That summer we rented a small travel trailer and went to Grand Canyon for the first time. What a thrill! We traveled across the desert with a gunny sack bag tied under the front of the radiator so the car engine wouldn’t get too hot. No air conditioning in those days. We had planned going through in one day, but a thunder storm had washed out a road we were going to take, and we had to spend the night in a small trailer park until the next day when the road was drivable again. Dad and I and the twins slept in the trailer and Sue slept in the car, which was still attached to the trailer. It was a bumpy night for Sue as she felt every footstep we made. I got up every once in awhile to wash the perspiration off the girls’ foreheads. It was hot and humid. But when we got to that wonderful canyon, it was all worth while. So started the first of our annual trailer excursions with the girls. We even went to Canada one year. I won’t try to tell about each vacation, but they were varied and it was great to be able to do them with our girls. I think the last one we went on altogether like that, probably was in 1965 or '66.
I think that was the year that Sal had “mono”...mononucleosis. She was the last one of our kids to have her tonsils out. If I remember right, she developed mono sometime after that. That was also the year of Sal’s short-lived engagement to Jerry Marsh, a sweet, naive (polite word for uneducated) young navy boy. Dad and I both realized that a marriage at that time in her life wouldn’t be too smart. So we intervened. Sal went to stay for awhile with Rob and Jan, who were living up in the L.A. area at the time, while we gently, but firmly got rid of Jerry.
It was around that time, also, that Sue was starting to date Ron Tenison from church. One night they went roller skating and they fell, Ron on top of Sue’s ankle, which broke. A pin had to be put in her ankle. It’s there today. Sue received a four year scholarship to Chapman College in Orange, California. It was given to her by our church. It was a College connected with the Disciples of Christ Churches.
Ron was in Portland, going to school at Reed College, a prestigious school for the very smart. At least in Portland, we spoke of its students as “egg heads,” no offense, Ron. Anyway, Sue attended the first year, but one month into the second year, she wanted to come home. So she transferred to San Diego State. She worked for awhile at a pancake restaurant before getting a job at the book store on campus.
I must go back for awhile, now, and tell about what was happening in our lives besides vacations and other stuff. We lived on Mary Fellows St. for six years...the longest of any place that we lived. Then because so much of our lives was going on across the highway at church and high school, etc. we decided to move over there. In 1963 we moved to a house on Massachusetts St., just a few blocks from our church, and not too far from Helix High where all the girls were by then. My mom and Tom had come to San Diego at Christmas time, as usual, on their way to Phoenix for their three month winter stay. We had bought the Massachusetts St. house and were waiting for the sale to be closed. We hadn’t moved yet, but we took my mom and Tom past it so they could see where we were moving. Then they went on to Phoenix. In March, one day, I got a call from Aunt Carola in Portland that my mom had died in Phoenix! She and Tom had gone on a trip to see Grand Canyon when Tom had a stroke. An ambulance took him back to Phoenix with my mom following in the car. It was a two day trip for them with an overnight stop at Williams. Tom was put in the hospital in Phoenix where they said that his stroke hadn’t done too much damage, but he would have to stay awhile before flying home. It was a couple of days later that my mom went to the hospital to see him. She dropped dead in the hall outside of his room! Dad and I, and Carola and Joe, and Aunt Ethel all flew to Phoenix (Dad and I drove) for a funeral. There was no autopsy, but she had been seeing a doctor there, I guess, about some heart pains, so the stress was too much. Uncle Joe flew back to Portland with Tom. We had my mom’s body flown to San Diego, cremated, and the ashes put in Greenwood where Dad and I had niches all paid for years before. Tom lived for one more year, and when he died in Portland, his daughter had his ashes sent down to San Diego too, to be with my mom’s. So there we were...Dad and I, and my mom and Tom right under us.
In 1965 Rob and Jan’s first child together...a girl...was born. She was a delightful little redheaded girl whom they named Kathy. Because it had been a long, difficult birth for Jan, and the fact that they had three girls now, they decided to adopt a baby boy and call it a family. At first they thought maybe it would be an Indian child, or something like that. But the adoption agency came up with the child “just for them,” a delightful redheaded little boy about 6-weeks old. They named him Stephen. Just about a year later Laurie was born. Then Karen...then David...then Robbie...and then Jimmy. Have I left anyone out? Did I neglect to tell you that Rob and Jan had joined the Mormon Church early in their marriage? Rob wanted Dad and me to join also, but we just didn’t want to. However, over the years, we had the privilege of participating in child blessings...Dad, as a grandfather...and attended their church at various times, feeling very welcome.
When Kathy was about two years old, it was discovered that she was hearing impaired. She was fitted with hearing aids and did very well. But, because of her deafness, it was her father, Rob, who was inspired to change the direction of his life. At age 29, and the father of five children at the time, Rob went back to college to become a teacher of the deaf. He used his Veteran’s aid and finished in three years. He was Kathy’s teacher for a time in the Chula Vista school where he taught. In 1980, Rob and Jan and family moved to Medford, Oregon where Rob taught the deaf classes in one of the high schools there. What a great career!
Back in time, now.
In 1967, Sue and Ron were married at Vista La Mesa Christian Church. They moved immediately to Portland where Ron had been teaching in my old Washington High school. Sue continued her schooling at Portland State and got her teaching credential there. After teaching little kids' grades for a few years, she get her Master’s Degree and began teaching Special Ed children...special needs children...which she did for lots of years before retiring. Her last year before retiring, however, was teaching in English as a Second Language classes. Sue and Ron have two children, Mike and Mindi. Sue always loved singing...dating back to her days in the children’s choir at Vista La Mesa and the Helix High choir. So when she retired, what did she do? Well, even before that, she became a member of the Sweet Adelines' chorus in Portland, and then joined a musical theatrical group as well. Music, music, music. ALL RIGHT!
When Sue and Ron announced they were getting married back in 1967, Dad decided that we wouldn’t need the big house on Massachusetts St., so we sold the house and moved to an apartment out in El Cajon...wrong! It was too far away from everything. We were right across the freeway from where they were building Parkway Plaza. So after a few months, we moved back to La Mesa, just off of Massachusetts, to an apartment on Waite Drive. It was a little better. There was a pool. Sal and Mare had a bedroom together.
But there was going to be another change in our lives. Sal had met a young Navy fellow named Denis Bilsland. Denis lived in New Jersey with his parents who were from Scotland. In fact, Denis, himself, was born in Scotland. When he was discharged from the Navy, he came back to San Diego, and he and Sally were married at Vista La Mesa church in 1968. His parents attended the wedding and stayed with us in our apartment. Sally was going to San Diego State, majoring in music, but she later studied to become a CPA and went to work for an office in Bonita. But then she successfully established her own office. Way To Go, Sal! Sal never gave up her love of music. For awhile she played the organ for Vista La Mesa Church...then for a Methodist church in Santee. Later she sang with the choir at the Unitarian church. She got to go to Romania with them.
Sal and Denis had three children...Kevin, Kim, and Kelly...the k-k-k’s.
Sal’s marriage to Denis broke up after 18 years. There were two more marriages, but no more children. As I have said, I’m letting each of you tell your own stories.
Mary...our beloved “Mare,” graduated from San Diego State, and then went to the University of Cal. at Santa Barbara for a time. She had moved out when Sal got married. In her early days of going to college, she paid her way by working with the mentally retarded at the Home of the Guiding Hands in El Cajon. She also worked for a time for the Salvation Army project of community living apartments for adult mentally retarded people. At one time, she even worked for a family, taking care of their retarded child. She had great compassion for these people. But the ultimate accomplishment was...Mary becoming an attorney! She worked her way through law school right here in San Diego. She worked for a law office for awhile, learning the ins and outs of trusts and wills, and then she opened her OWN office. WAY TO GO, MARE!
Dad and I went through happiness and tears, at times, with all of our children, but we were so VERY proud of all of you, and couldn’t love you more. You are all so precious.
Back to Waite Drive:
When Mare left to go out on her own, Dad and I were sitting in this nice apartment complex on Waite Drive. We were doing our usual stuff, but something was missing. No yard for Dad to mess around in...so I was thinking. So we started looking at houses again...maybe a small one? Well, we ended up buying two houses on one lot! They were on Saranac St. just off of 70th St. as it comes off the freeway. The smaller house in the back was rented, and we lived in the front house...a two bedroom, one bath house, which suited our needs very well. And Dad had a yard to mess around in. It turned out that there was a young couple living in the rental. And, it turned out that they weren’t very reliable about paying rent, and they had done damage to the dwelling. So after a couple of months, we gave them notice to move. We also told them that they would not be receiving their deposit that they gave when they moved in because of the damage to the house. Well, they moved and Dad spent his two week’s vacation that year painting and fixing up the “little house in the back..” It was the last time he ever did that! A nice young couple moved in then. I don’t remember how long they stayed, but she became pregnant and they figured there wouldn’t be enough room with a child, so they moved. Then an older couple moved in and all went well.
I think it was in the summer of 1967 that Dad and I rented a trailer for ourselves and went on a trip...to Zion in Utah, I think. It was near the end of that trip that Dad came down with a slight fever, and we ended up pulling our trailer into motel lots for the rest of the trip home. We said “That’s it...no more trailer trips.” Ha. But it was also during that trip that Dad said he didn’t want to go back to church...meaning Vista La Mesa Church...anymore. What a shock...church...Vista La Mesa church had been so much a part of lives for the last 15 years. Dad was an elder at that time and I was directing the choir...had been for two years. How could we leave? The problem in Dad’s mind was a new faction that had moved into the church along with the new minister and his wife. This was during the late 60's when there was a lot of upheaval in so many places. He was fed up. We went one time to the Disciples Church in San Diego, but discovered they were in the middle of a fund raising program...no thanks. So we became churchless. To find something else to fill that gap, I became a Kaiser Hospital volunteer. Kaiser Hospital coverage had become available to school district employees in 1967, and we joined. The hospital at that time was in La Mesa. I was a volunteer there for nine years. Some good years.
In the late sixties, we were playing bridge with a couple from church...Naomi and Sam Pitts. The summer of 1968 we took a trip with them to Canada. We had stayed friends with them even though we left the church. In fact, they left too, but resettled in another kind of church. Anyway, we had a pleasant time on that trip, so the next summer we flew to Boston with them, rented a car, and traveled from Boston into Eastern Canada...Quebec, etc. That was fun, too. But then in 1970, something else happened.
First let me tell you that it was in 1969, I think, that Sal and Denis moved to New Jersey. Sal didn’t much like it, but agreed to stay for one year.
Then in 1970 we went on a different kind of vacation. Dad had been feeling a lot of stress in his work, and felt that some time away would help. So he took a three month sabbatical from his job. We had bought a magazine...something about Road Trips in America. It had different routes you could take to different places...moderate priced motels to stay in...and even good places to eat. So we started out. We kind of headed north towards Minnesota, going through Arizona, wherever, seeing the sights along the way, following the book. We had also arranged with Naomi and Sam that we would meet them at the almost end of the three months in New England to see the Fall colors. We traveled merrily on, through Minnesota, and then headed south to go to New Orleans and other points south. One night, in bed, I had an attack of vertigo. Too much riding, I supposed. We drove on to northern Mississippi and went south to Hattiesburg. That evening when we went to the restaurant, all of a sudden I felt that I was going to faint. We left and went back to the motel. Dad bought us a couple of hamburgers, and I was fine again. We went to New Orleans and had a wonderful time...no problems. Then when we left there and started going east towards Florida, I started having more feelings of panic of a sort. It was harder and harder to go to a restaurant each night. It wasn’t that way every night, and we did go on to the Keys...clear down to Key West. We even had some wonderful swimming in the warm Florida waters. At one time, though, Dad was knocked down by a wave and suffered a skinned knee. When we were in Key West, he had signs of infection in that knee. So we drove north to Miami where he saw a doctor and got an antibiotic for the infection. We decided to stay for a week at a motel with a swimming pool in Sebring, which was kind of in the center of the state. That was a good rest and Dad’s infection got well.
When we left Florida we went towards Washington, D.C. On the way there we stopped at Mt. Vernon to tour George Washington’s home. We parked the car and went on a path through some trees towards the house. We were talking and laughing and I swallowed some spit down the wrong throat and started to choke. I couldn’t breathe...I hung on to Dad and thought I was going to faint. I gradually came out of it and after sitting on a bench for awhile, we went on and toured Mt. Vernon. After leaving there, we got to Washington, D.C. What a thrill it was to see all those historic buildings and to tour the White House! We took the tram and got off at all the good stuff. When we went to find a motel, we went into one for the night but found that it was so small that the two single beds were put head to head instead of side by side. We left that one and drove down into Virginia to another one. I had a bad night, though, with vertigo and bad dreams. We had decided to tour Annapolis in Baltimore. On the way out through Washington, D.C. I started feeling real panicky. My hands started to go numb...I thought I was having a stroke! I told Dad and he pulled into the first available service station to find out where the nearest hospital was. I forget which one it was, but I was taken right in to see a doctor. It turned out I wasn’t having a stroke, but I had been hyperventilating. He told me how to blow in a paper bag if I ever had the experience again. And he also gave me a shot of something...I don’t know what it was...but we went on to Annapolis and I just floated through it, happy as a lark. The doctor had also given me a prescription for a tranquilizer which I could use if necessary. So we were all set to go. But all was not well, unfortunately. I was still having troubles, at times, eating. I felt like I couldn’t swallow. So, once again we decided to stop for awhile. It was somewhere in Pennsylvania, I don’t remember where. It was while we were there that we decided that we should head for home...San Diego. But we had agreed to meet Naomi and Sam the next month in Boston...? We called and told them we wouldn’t be there. Sorry.
So we started our trip home. We didn’t stop or make side trips to scenic places. We did get to see the arch in St. Louis, though. I was still struggling with the swallowing problem. The morning that we were about to get to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was feeling so bad that we made the decision to go to the airport there and see if we could find someone to drive our car to San Diego while we flew home. Very luckily a man who worked at the airport agreed to drive our car home to us. It would take about three days. Dad and I got on a plane and flew home. Sal and Denis had come back to San Diego from New Jersey while we were gone, and they were living in our house on Saranac. I forget what Sal cooked for us for dinner that day, but it was the best I ever ate...and I felt sooooooo good! She and Denis found an apartment to live in soon after.
I went in to see a doctor the very day we got home to see why I was having so much trouble. It was a woman doctor, and she got mad at me for flying home like we did. “Why didn’t you take more of the tranquilizers?” I didn’t WANT to get hooked on them, for one thing, and they made me feel so sluggish...thank you. By the way, it was years later that I learned that my vertigo was “positional,” and I learned that I couldn’t lay on my left side in bed. I don’t know what started the “panic attacks” I experienced on that trip. But I was very glad when we got home. By the way, I also learned from my doctor how to put my arms over my head when I had the choking episodes, and sip a little water. Works every time.
When Dad and I got home from that trip, he still had a month to go on his three month sabbatical. It happened that there was a really big fire going on in the East County...at Crest...and we were getting ashes on our patio and in the air. We went to the beach a lot. It was heaven to wade in the water or go out in the waves. I got better so fast.
When Dad went back to work, the San Diego Community College part of the school district was in the process of separating from the San Diego School District, and they needed someone to head up the accounting department. They chose Dad, who was right there heading up the data processing department, and he became the Chief Accountant for the San Diego Community District.! ALRIGHT!
In April of 1971, first a baby boy was born to Sal and Denis. They named him Kevin. Then in June a boy was born to Sue and Ron. They named him Michael. That summer we just stayed home in sunny San Diego and enjoyed the beach. Sue and Ron came down with baby Mike. Life was good.
In 1972 we got to thinking that we should have a little bigger house so that when Sue and Ron came to visit, for instance, we would have more space for them to stay. So we started looking for a place. We didn’t want to sell our rental property, however. We found a nice place on 69th and Julie St., not too far from Saranac. But before moving there, we went on a two week trip to Hawaii. It was the first time that we had ever flown over the ocean. It was a great trip. We went through a travel agency and ordered a rental car on each island and a motel on the beach on each island. We went first to the Big Island, Hawaii, then to Kauai, then to Maui, and lastly to Oahu...Honolulu. We owned a lot on Hawaii that Rob had deeded over to us one time in payment for a loan we gave him. He had bought it from a local realtor here when he was stationed at North Island in the Navy. He had paid $750 for it. We looked the lot up when we were on Hawaii, and when we came home from that trip, we got an offer to buy it, and we sold it for $1500. Anyway, we had a great time on that trip. The most we paid for any beachfront motel was in Honolulu, where we paid $24.95. The water was soooo good to swim in. I bought a muumuu, and Dad got a matching shirt. We thought sure we would come back sometime. We never did. There was too much other world to visit.
When we got back, everything was set for us to move into the Julie St. house. And yes, we had a renter for our Saranac house. Mare and her friend, Jerri Cota moved in and became the tenants of the front house. Jer was a great gal, and we really liked her. We were all set.
The Julie St. house was nice. It had two good size bedrooms, and also a dinette that we converted into a smaller bedroom so that we had room for Sue and Ron and kids to stay when they came. Oh, by the way, I should mention that they also had a little girl named Mindi (Melinda) by that time. The kitchen had booth type seating for eating, and when we had company, we set up a long table in the adjoining laundry room. There was also an extra bathroom back there. There was a wonderful back yard. There was a big orange tree, a lemon tree, a tangerine tree, and a small grapefruit tree...or more like a bush. We had never had fruit trees like that before. Then on my birthday in 1973, Dad bought bicycles for both of us! I had never had one before in my whole life. I knew how to ride a bike from renting them at the beach during the summer, so I just got on my new bike and rode. They say you never forget how to ride a bike. On Sunday mornings we would ride over a couple of blocks to El Cajon Blvd. and ride merrily down the street clear up to Park Blvd. Sometimes we would ride to the zoo area. Then Dad decided he could ride his bike to work. His office was on a road overlooking Mission Valley, and he could ride there OK from our house. That didn’t last long, however. One day, around 5:30, a car drove up into our driveway, and a man helped Dad out of his car and unloaded his bike. I went running out to find that Dad had hit a rocky area on his way home from work and had gone flying off his bike, over the handlebars. He sustained a cut on his forehead, but it wasn’t serious, thank goodness. But that ended his days of riding his bike to work. Back to the car. But we really loved biking. A little thing like a bump on the head didn’t stop us. Then in 1974 we added another item...a small travel trailer, a 21ft. Aljo, which we parked in our driveway. Yep, we were going to try trailering again. Naomi and Sam wanted us to go on a Carri bean cruise with them, but we declined. Dad wasn’t much for cruising, and we had our own trailer now! That summer we went north to see Sue and Ron, and then we went up to Idaho to the Crater of the Moon National Monument. It was a very strange area, mostly lava, having been volcanic eons earlier. There were signs saying it was illegal to take lava samples from the Park limits. There was even a rumor going around that it was unlucky to pick up the lava...doo doo doo doo. The night we were there something brushed up against our trailer during the night...a deer or something? Well, the next day we left, and after we left the Park limits, we stopped and I picked up a piece of lava for a souvenir. We stopped back at Sue and Ron’s on our way south again, and Sue came running out to tell us that Mare had called to say that our house had been broken into while we were gone, and several things stolen. She had called the police, but there was no clue, of course, as to who had done it. When we got home from our trip, we found that our stereo was gone, all of my Mom’s costume jewelry, and two bottles of wine from the fridge. We felt right away that it was somebody...some teenagers...from the neighborhood who had done it. This was a one-way street, almost, about two blocks long, and when our trailer was gone from the driveway, it was a clear advertisement that we were gone. One of the teenagers whom we suspected went by on the street shortly after we got home, and when he saw me standing at the large window of our living room, he gave me the “finger.” That cinched it. I really liked that house, but that incident made me feel that we were no longer welcome. By the way, I threw the piece of lava I picked up in the trash. It was true...bad luck!
Another thing happened in 1974. Dad’s brother-in-law, Matt Anderson, who had been married to his sister, Ruth, had asked Dad to be the executor of his will the year before...Dad being an accountant and all. In 1974 Matt died in Portland and left all his money to Dad...not much, only about $18,000...but it would make a big difference in our lives later on. We paid off the Saranac property, free and clear.
Then Dad wanted us to sell the Julie St. house and buy a mobile home in Santee. There was a nice, smaller park between El Cajon and Santee. I forget what street, but it was pleasant, and we bought a nice coach...uh huh. There was a place to store our trailer. Wrong...Santee..El Cajon...again? No, no, no! It didn’t work! So then in 1975, came the next idea...We called on our tenants in the back house rental on Saranac and gave them six weeks notice to move, as we were going to move in. Dad had plans for us...the BIG ONE. Because of being able to pay off the Saranac property, Dad said that he could retire in July of 1976. Retire?? I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I was playing for the three choruses, still enjoying it. But Dad so wanted to retire and be able to travel when we wanted to or do other things...so I agreed. Meanwhile, we moved into the house in back. Dad put in new tile in the kitchen and bathroom. He repainted all the rooms. We had a nice little home. And our Aljo was parked in our driveway, which was on an alley. Nice.
Now I’m going to take time out and list all the grandchildren and when they were born. I won’t be able to remember to tell about them arriving in the different families year by year.
Mary Ann Dykstra Clarno 1961
Teresa Dykstra Clarno 1963
(both of the above were adopted by Rob after marrying Jan)
Kathy Clarno 1965
Stephen Clarno 1967 adopted by Rob and Jan at 6 weeks old
Laura Sue Clarno 1968
Karen Clarno 1973
David Clarno 1975
Robert Andrew Clarno 1978
James Clarno 1981
Kevin Bilsland 1971
Kimberly Ann Bilsland 1973
Kelly Bilsland 1975
Michael Tenison 1971
Melinda Tenison 1972
Dad retired on July 4th, 1976...and so did I. My last “gig” with the chorus was playing the piano for them, riding in the back of a pick–up truck, around the stadium. Of course that was the year we all celebrated the Bi-Centennial. Dad had had a retirement dinner given for him by the School District and I had been honored by the chorus and given a plaque with my name misspelled on it. So there we were...free!
We took off for a three month excursion with our Aljo in tow.
We went north to Portland, of course, to see Sue and Ron and Carola. Then we went to Long Beach for a few days. There was a good trailer park in Ocean Park. A good friend of our family, Berta Eberhart, lived near the trailer park, and we went to see her about the second day we were there. We had promised Carola that we would. After visiting with her for awhile, we said goodbye and went down on the beach to walk. All of a sudden we heard our names being called and looked around to see Berta calling us. We had had a call at her place from Carola, who knew we would be in that area. We went back to her house and I called Carola, who told me to call Sal about something...she wouldn’t say what. I called Sal and found that our good friend, Sam Pitts...of Naomi and Sam Pitts...had been killed in a fall from a 30 foot ladder at the warehouse where he worked. He drove a truck for the Budweiser beer company in San Diego. We were devastated! He was only in his 50's. We called Naomi and tried to convey our sorrow. We were to miss him very much as a friend. After a few more days in Long Beach, we went to Tacoma to visit Charlene & Don. We had dinner with them, and later that night, Dad went to pee and his urine looked real dark. We figured it was some nuts we had eaten that night, or something. We traveled on to Canada...to Banff. While we were there I went in to get a haircut at a salon. I had just had a perm the month before. Well, the fellow gave me the haircut and then stood back and observed “Madam has straight hair.” He had cut off all my perm! Of course, it wasn’t his fault that I had “straight hair.” In the months before we retired, I had been taken off hormone medication, and for a long time afterwards my hair wouldn’t take a perm. The first of three off-and-on hormone episodes that I would go through in my life. Ain’t it fun being a woman? Well, after we left Canada we went south into the U.S. again and back down through Colorado and New Mexico. We got a kick out of going through the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico that had been named for the popular T.V. show. When we finally got back to San Diego, we decided to spend a few days, before going home, at a trailer park on Mission Bay called De Anza, to see what it was like there. It seemed like a fun place to be. Then we went home to our cute little house on the back of the lot on Saranac St. But all was not well with Dad. The same dark colored urine was showing up when he went to the bathroom. So he made an appointment with a urologist. The doctor discovered that Dad had a small tumor in his bladder. Of course they operated and took out the tumor...it was cancerous, but they felt they had gotten all of it. However, he had to go in every month for awhile, and then was tested once a year for the rest of his life. It never recurred. We thanked God.
In 1977, we took off with the Aljo in late March, heading east. We went to the Big Bend National Park in Texas. It was fun, sitting on the side of a hill in the evenings, watching illegal immigrants ride their horses or mules across the Rio Grande into the U.S. Nobody stopped them. They probably went back again after buying whatever. You could see the lights of a little town in the distance. We went to Padre Island, and I picked up sea shells for the first time along the Gulf Of Mexico. We went clear to Florida, and this time we took the time to swim in that gloriously warm water. It was in the 70's, and like bath water to us. The natives thought it was freezing at that time of year. They were used to water in the 80's. I found my first big shell at Melbourne City beach. I came out of the water, and Dad allowed as how I looked so happy there in the waves. I was.
Then we headed west again, because Dad would have to go in for a check-up. But first we stopped in Provo, Utah. Granddaughter, Mary Ann, who had gone to spend her senior year of high school in Provo with a family friend, was graduating. We went to the ceremony, and when Mary Ann came on stage in her robe and cap, we stood up from our seats in the balcony and cheered her. We were the only members of the family to see her graduate. We decided that Dad should fly home for his check-up, and I would stay in the trailer in Kaysville, a small town outside of Salt Lake City. He was gone for about three days, and then flew back and we made our leisurely way home. We had some thinking to do.
We decided that we wanted to become full-time trailer travelers. That meant that we would sell the Saranac property, down-size our belongings, and buy a bigger trailer to live in. We were asking $50,000 for the property. Jerri Cota wanted very much to buy it, but she couldn’t qualify, financially. So we put it in the hands of a real estate office. They said we should be asking more...how about $74,000! OK. In a very short time, one of the Realtors in that office bought it...cash. We went out to La Mesa R.V. and bought a 31 ft. Holiday Rambler trailer. Then we moved to De Anza Cove trailer park for the winter...just like the snow-birds from Canada. That was the winter of 1977. We became trailer people and traveled the U.S. and Canada for 10 years! Except, that is, for one eight month period. That will come later. We came to know favorite places to stop. We would travel north on Highway 101 to go to Portland. One of our good places to stop for a few days was Pismo Beach. We stayed in a trailer park right by the beach. We never went swimming at that beach...too cold...but it was great for walking. And the place to walk every morning was up into the town to the bakery, where we bought freshly baked cinnamon buns...yummmm. We would go up 101, through the Redwoods, and to another great trailer park, just south of Garberville. Good walking in the State Park it was on the edge of. We walked along the river and watched some river otters. And in late July, perhaps, we could pick blackberries along the edge of the park. Garberville was a quaint small town, but we were warned perhaps not to go walking much in the hills around there...marijuana growers. As we headed north, however, we would get to the Northwest just in time for blackberries up there. Or if we went to Portland in the Spring, we could go to “U-Pick” berry fields and pick baskets of strawberries or raspberries, or marionberries...just like blackberries. We would take the strawberries to Sue and she would make freezer jam (I think that’s what it was). Usually, when going up 101, we would change over at Gold River, just north of Brookings, and travel along the Rogue River to Grant’s Pass and then onto Highway 5 up to Portland.
Of course, some years we didn’t go to Portland until almost Fall. It depended where we went first when leaving De Anza for the summer.
In 1978, after going to Utah, we went back east to New Jersey and New York. We wanted to visit Denis’s folks who lived in New Jersey. We stayed in New Jersey, but there was a bus we could take, right near the trailer park, to go to New York. We took a tour of New York...going to see the Statue of Liberty, et al. We even stood in line at Times Square and got half-price tickets to see a Neil Diamond play on Broadway. It was a matinée the next day. We called the Bilslands and made arrangements to go to their place after the play. Well, after we got back to New Jersey that evening and were getting ready to go to the Bilslands, I started having fast heartbeats. I didn’t say anything, but it lasted all evening. I figured it was because of all we had done that day. I didn’t know what an impact it was going to make on my life.
We went south towards the Gulf states, because we wanted to stay for a few days at a really nice State Park just south of Mobile, Alabama. We had been there before. Well, the first evening we were there, my heart started racing again. It was so alarming that Dad found out where the hospital was and took me there. They gave me an EKG and had me stay for the night while they monitored my heart beat. In other words, a nurse came in every hour and woke me up to listen to it. Huh. The doctor discharged me the next morning, but told me to call him the next day to find out about the EKG which had gone to Chicago somewhere. Well, when I called he told me that sometime in my past I had had a heart attack. That was news to me. Hmm. Anyway, he said that when I got home, my doctor would give me the proper medication for the errant heart beat. We started home, and after one more emergency stop in San Antonio, we got back to San Diego, and our “home for the winter” De Anza Trailer Park. I called Kaiser and went to see a new doctor, Dr. Nurani, who would become my primary doctor for the next 25 years. I think I scared him a little when I first went to see him about the heart beat thing. I got up on the table, and sure enough, while he was listening to my heart, it started to race. Whoa! He knew right away what to prescribe...digoxin...and I have been on it ever since and always will be.
We thoroughly enjoyed our winters at De Anza. We were among the “snow birds” who came south every winter from Canada and other northern states. We soon had a lot of people whom we welcomed back each Fall. We played bridge every Tuesday night at the pavilion. Dad played pool there every day while I napped. We rode our bikes for miles around the bay...a ten mile ride clear around. We walked, too, on the walk from the trailer park, along the bay. It was marked off in 1/4 mile marks, so we knew how far we had gone. We also decided to try our hands at crafts. Dad wanted to learn to tool leather and make wallets, etc. We went to a store in North Park to get the leather and patterns. He made some great things. Then we haunted a craft store up in Clairemont and came up with a craft, using yarn, with which we covered pillows. I forget what they called it. I learned about Ojo’s, which were made with yarn, wound around a wooden form that Dad would put together. They swung merrily from peoples’ porches from San Diego to Portland and on the front of our trailer. I even tried “painting by number.” Rob and Jan “benefited” from that. But then...the best of all...we found needlepoint. Can you imagine Dad’s big, square hands doing needlepoint? He was wonderful at it! I did some too...not too bad either. It was so very much fun. That’s how we spent our winters. Then, usually in May, we would take off with our trailer and head for who knew where. A couple of times we didn’t want to leave in May, but our six month limit at De Anza was up. So we moved to Del Mar to the Surf and Turf trailer park that was right by the fairgrounds. We enjoyed being near the ocean there, and our walking was different. But always, by June, we’d be gone.
A special note:
In 1977, Art Barnes, Vera’s husband died in L.A. A few months later, Vera decided that she would like to come and live closer to us...the family in San Diego. Dad and I found her a very nice mobile home in a good park in Escondido, and she moved down here. It was nice having her nearer to us...and we would become very essential to her in her later years.
I think it was in 1977 that Mare began her relationship with Ann (Anna) Stoa. Ann would become like a daughter to us, and a sister to Sal, especially. She and Mare eventually established a very nice home together. But that is Mare’s story to tell.
A lot of our trips were in Canada. There were so many beautiful, scenic places to see. We loved going to Alberta and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Another favorite spot was Waterton Lakes which was right over the border from our Glacier National Park. They had a great trailer park, right on the lake and the town, which was a few blocks away. It was very nice. We traveled through all the Canadian Provinces, except Newfoundland. We loved Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada. We had to take our trailer over on a ferry. What a wonderful country! Except once...we had decided one time to go into Canada through a small border town in Montana. We had with us two cases of wine that we had bought in the wine country of northern California. It was in the back of our truck...we didn’t try to hide it...and had been told it wouldn’t be a problem declaring it. Well, we got to the border station, and the fellow inspecting came to the car and the first thing he asked Dad was “did we have any firearms?” Well, Dad wasn’t expecting that kind of question, and he didn’t answer right away. In fact, it was me who said that “no, we didn’t.” That did it. The fellow asked us to pull over and he wanted to inspect our trailer. He came in and looked in every cupboard, under the beds, looking for firearms, and even asked us if we were going to try to sell some needle work that we had in one cupboard. Good Night! Then they took the wine, which we had openly declared, and poured it all out on the ground! And they even took a couple of potatoes! Then off we went. That was the one and only time we had a problem.
In 1979 our lives changed again. While we were traveling...I think we were in Utah wending our way home, when we started hearing about the price of gas going up...to $1.00 a gallon! Well, Dad thought, maybe it was time we settled down. So when we got back to De Anza we went looking for a mobile home to buy. We heard of a very nice park in...I’m afraid to mention it...Santee. It was called Meadowbrook and was located on Mission Gorge Road in Santee. We found that there was a lovely double-wide mobile home, fully furnished, for sale. So we bought it. We sold our trailer, because we didn’t want to pay for storing it somewhere, and we bought a new silver (or was it just gray?) Oldsmobile instead of our truck. We quickly made friends at Meadowbrook through joining the bridge group. We invited friends from our old bridge club over to dinner and play. One night the chorus that I used to play for came to entertain at the park. I was recognized by the group as their former accompanist. Life was good. There was only one drawback to the location. Any walking was done along Mission Gorge Rd...not too desirable. So why was it that on my Christmas card to my old friend, Elinor, I wrote...“Why are we just not that happy?” You guessed it. After one winter, we wanted to be back “On the Road Again.” So in April of 1980 we called a Realtor to sell our lovely, completely furnished mobile home. That month however, we also went on a completely different adventure. We answered an ad about going on a train trip through Mexico. It was a group from the L.A. area that was sponsoring it. So, leaving our home in the hands of the Realtor, we went on the two week trip through Mexico.
We were picked up in Mission Valley by a bus with the group from L.A. We were taken to Calexico and went over the border to Mexicali where we boarded the train. We had a private car that was pulled by the regular Mexican train system. When it got to a city that we were to tour, our car would be set off on a side-rail, and we were taken by bus to the city and put up in a hotel for a night or two. Then back to the train again, which picked us up on its regular routine. This was a train line that traveled all the way from Mexicali to Oaxaca every day or so. It was really quite nice. We had our own compartment with bunk beds and our own bathroom. We could either sit in our compartment and ride, or go out into the main part and sit. We ate our meals in the regular train’s dining car. There was always good food available. The only time anyone got sick from food was one time when vendors from outside boarded the train, selling food. We were warned against that. We went to Guadalajara and Mazatlan, and Guanajato and Mexico City and Oaxaca and Taxco, where there were beautiful silver objects, and various other towns whose spelling was as atrocious as the others mentioned. We especially enjoyed Oaxaca, and Mexico City was good too. It was interesting, though, to see the small towns that we passed. They all seemed to have trash heaps alongside the railroad. Lots of shacks in evidence too. Another side trip we took on the way back was to their Copper Canyon. It was being compared to our Grand Canyon, but it wasn’t anywhere near that in size and beauty. I bought a necklace from an Indian woman who was sitting alongside the road with her baby in a blanket nearby. It was a two week trip, and when we got back home to...Santee...we expected to see several cards from our realtor from having shown our mobile home. There was not one card! We called her and said that we would be selling it ourselves, thank you. I was so angry, I could spit. And then another thing made us a trifle miffed. The director of our Mexico tour called and asked for more money. We got calls from some of the other people who had been on the tour, and we agreed that we would not pay them any more. They should have done better planning. Oh well.
We put our mobile home up for sale ourselves, putting an ad in the paper, and also putting notice of our having it for sale at the office of the park. People frequently came to park offices like that, looking for coaches for sale by owner. In the meantime, other things were happening in 1980. On our 40thwedding anniversary, Mt. St. Helens exploded. I called Sue in Portland, and she had slept in that day and didn’t even know it had happened. The ash would soon give evidence, though. We saw plenty of it when we traveled up there that summer. The other thing was that Rob and Jan and family...eight kids by then...moved to Oregon. They moved to Medford in southern Oregon. They had done research and found that there was a good Mormon community there and a good job for Rob to teach the deaf in the High School there in Central Point, a suburb of Medford. They had their adventures with rural life for awhile, which they will relate in their memoirs, I’m sure. But it became a good home for them. Their 9th child, Jim, was born there the following year. Golly, we missed watching them grow up, but knew it would be better for them to raise their family in the small-town atmosphere. San Diego was getting very big.
But back to 1980 and our reality of selling the mobile home and getting back on the road. We eventually did sell it ourselves...through the office listing. And we sold our silver (grey?) Oldsmobile, bought a nice big truck and a 32 foot Holiday Rambler, this time. We made Fall reservations at De Anza and went back “On the Road Again.” Bless Willie Nelson. We had spent eight months in Santee at Meadowbrook. I told the girls that if we EVER again tried to move to East County to have us committed. Amen.
The year 1982 was scary, at times, and a test of our faith, at times. In February, on a rainy day, Dad and I had gone shopping, and as we were entering the road that leads up to the De Anza entrance, we saw a woman outside her car trying to change her flat tire. Of course we stopped and Dad very gallantly did it for her. We went on to our trailer and started playing Boggle which was a favorite word game of ours. Pretty soon Dad started rubbing his chest, saying that it felt real tight. Mission Bay hospital was quite close to De Anza, so I drove him over there, let him out at the Emergency entrance, and went to find a place to park. It was pouring down rain. When I went in to the waiting room, Dad had been taken in already. In fact we were the only ones in the place. The doctor came out and told me that he had suffered a mild heart attack. I went in to Dad to reassure him. I was scared, but couldn’t show it. He was transferred to Kaiser in a couple of days and remained there for a week or so, I think. While there, the doctor told him that he had to lose 20 pounds...Dad was up close to 190 pounds or so. The doctor also said that he should walk, rather than ride bikes, because walking was much better exercise than biking. So...boo hoo...we gave our bikes away to somebody, I forget who, and after about three weeks resting and getting back his strength, we started walking every day...out on the walk by the bay. It took Dad seven weeks to take off the twenty pounds. The hospital dietitian had given me guidelines on how big the portions should be, etc. and we really stuck to them. I even got a food scale to weigh the food. I followed those guidelines forever after. Of course I didn’t have to weigh the food after awhile. It came naturally. Dad never did put that extra weight on again. I guess you could say he was “scared thin.” Good for him!
The next “test” was Vera.
That Spring of 1982, Vera started having small strokes, called TIA’s. She was put in Pomerado Hospital after one episode and then released. We had taken her home when, all of a sudden she had another attack. The paramedics took her back to the hospital and her doctor decided that she was a good candidate for a by-pass vein transplant. They transplanted a vein from her scalp for the vein that was clogged in her head and causing the TIA’s. It went real well. And she came home. It was getting time for us to leave for the summer, and we were thankful that she seemed OK. Mare said she would keep track of her from time to time, and we asked a friend of hers at the mobile home park to call Mare if she noticed any changes in Vera. Good. The next “test” was me.
After Dad’s heart attack and then the time with Vera, I had started having heartburn quite frequently, and I was losing weight...probably stress. My doctor, after examining me, told me to take Milanta for the heartburn. So I did...frequently...wrong. We left for our trip North, stopping at our favorite park just south of Garberville. When we were getting unhooked and set up at our site, my heart started racing. Not again! I was taking the digoxin, faithfully. Well, we stayed there for a few days, but I was feeling lousy, so we decided to go on towards Portland a little early. We stopped to see Rob and Jan, as usual, and then went on to Beaverton where there was a Kaiser clinic that Sue and Ron went to. I went in and told the doctor how bad I was feeling, etc. I wanted to kick him in the shins when he said I was probably not used to being in the trailer...WE HAD LIVED IN THE TRAILER FOR FIVE YEARS.! Anyway, he told me to take some more Milanta...which I hadn’t had for awhile, because I didn’t have the heartburn anymore. I said “No thanks.” But then he tested my digoxin level. It was about half of what it should have been. so he doubled my prescription amount, and we settled down for me to get my strength back. Our favorite spot in the Portland, Beaverton area was in Tualatin...very nice park on the Tualatin River. We stayed there for six weeks before I was strong enough again, and my digoxin level up to normal levels again. We started just walking around the park, and then gradually working up to the wonderful walks that we usually took when there. Then we left for our summer’s trek.
It was a year or so later that Kaiser came out in one of their bulletins saying that if you were on digoxin, you should NEVER take antacids with an aluminum base...like Mylanta, for instance. Uh Huh.
That summer we went up into Canada to Waterton Lake National Park for a few days, and then started going east, intending to go back into the U.S. at Minnesota. We stopped for the first night, but the next day dawned with a pretty heavy rain storm and winds up to fifty miles an hour. And, it was heading the way we were going...east. We decided to forgo Minnesota this trip and headed back west to Waterton again. We stayed for a week, I believe. Dad had wanted to climb the trail that went up to the top of Bear Mt. that overlooked the town. I really didn’t want him to do anything that strenuous, seeing that he had the heart attack a few months ago. But he persisted, and so we went...not so hard after all. When we left there, we decided to go back to the West Coast and then south, maybe to Lake Tahoe. When we got back to Portland, though, we made an addition to our belongings. We missed our bikes. There were times when we didn’t want to take the truck places. Soooooo...we bought two nice little motor bikes. Fun! We stopped for a few days again in Medford, and Dad took a test and got an Oregon license for his motorbike. I decided to wait until we got back to San Diego. We did go to Lake Tahoe, and the motorbikes were fun to ride on around there. There was one hill, though, that we started up that Dad couldn’t make on his bike...he was too heavy. When we got back to San Diego for the winter, we enjoyed riding the bikes there too. Of course, walking was foremost in our agenda, and we did lots of that too. We couldn’t ride the bikes on the Freeways, but we found lots of places that we had gone to when we had our bikes before. We even rode them up the grade from Torrey Pines Beach to Torrey Pines at the top. So far I hadn’t been stopped for having no license, but we knew it was inevitable, and so I started training in the large De Anza parking lot. The day came and I went to take the test. I failed!! I couldn’t do the maneuvers as fast as they wanted me to! Curses! But then another decision in our lives took care of that. Dad decided that we should change to a fifth wheel. The fifth wheel type of trailer connected to the truck in the center of the bed of the truck instead of at the back end of the truck, making it much easier to hook up. One just had to back up into the trailer to hook up instead of lifting it. So we traded in our 32 ft. Holiday Rambler for a 37 ft. Holiday Rambler fifth wheel trailer. What luxury! The bathroom was one stair up, and the bedroom, with a queen size bed, was two steps up over where the trailer would hook up to the truck. That left all this nice living space spread out below. However...just one thing...there wasn’t anywhere to pack along the motorbikes. So we put them up for sale, along with our helmets, there at De Anza, and quickly sold them. So when it was time to leave in the Spring of ‘83, we were ready to go in style!
We went east again, and got many admiring glances wherever we stopped. In Ohio, we stopped at Marietta and parked in a park right next to the Ohio River where we could watch coal scows go by, and one day, the Delta Queen...going east to Pittsburgh...where the Ohio and Allegheny and the Monongahela rivers meet. In Marietta we saw Indian mounds and the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers. We enjoyed our first year of travel in our new luxury home so much!
Then in 1984, we decided to take a cruise to Alaska. We had been to Hawaii and were working on getting to every one of the lower 48, but we didn’t care to take our trailer into Alaska. We had heard how rough the roads were in places. So we signed up with a travel agent in San Diego to leave from Portland and take a cruise leaving from Vancouver, B.C. the middle of June. We were staying at our Tualatin trailer park, and we arranged with them to leave our trailer right there on our space while we were gone. Then we flew to Vancouver and boarded the Holland America ship, the Rotterdam. Huge ship. We needed a map to go back and forth to our stateroom. It had once been an ocean liner.
The trip north is along the Inside Passage, so it’s not out in the ocean area, but more along the shore line of Alaska. I think it was on the second night out that it was the first day of Summer. It never got dark...there was a party on deck at midnight to celebrate. We were seated for meals for the voyage with a young couple...I forget where they were from. Nice couple. We got to Ketchican and got off to go see the totem poles that they are famous for. We got to go see a glacier that was not too far away. When we got to Juneau, the Capitol of Alaska, we got to tour the town. But for dinner, we were given the choice of going to an outdoor salmon barbecue on shore or staying on ship for dinner. Dad chose to stay on ship, because he wasn’t fond of fish dinners. But I went on shore and had that wonderful salmon dinner...how fresh can it be! It was good, but I missed eating with Dad. I sat with others at big, long tables outdoors.
We cruised along every day, sitting on deck and watching the lovely shoreline. We also walked every day around the whole ship. We got some kind of certificate for that, I remember. There was entertainment every night...on stage...and we could go to one of the decks and dance to a small band when we wanted. We cruised into Glacier Bay and saw such beautiful ice formations. We sat on the top-most deck for that. Then, the last stop before turning around was Sitka, which had been an old Russian town when Russia owned the Territory. It was full of history, of course, with Russian minarets, etc.
Then we started back.
When the ship started back to Vancouver, we were no longer on the Inside Passage. We were out in the ocean. We noticed that night during the stage entertainment that the curtains on the stage were swaying back and forth ever so slightly. By morning, it was raining, and the ship was swaying even more. We had breakfast, and then Dad retired to our stateroom. He was beginning to feel sea-sick. I stayed upstairs. And then we got the news that a yacht belonging to the University of Washington was sinking somewhere in that area. The people on the yacht were doing some kind of research, and the storm which had come up further south during the night had done some damage, and the people had left the boat in two rubber life rafts. I forget how many there were...ten or so...but the Coast Guards of both the U.S. and Canada were out looking for them, and they had ordered any ships in the area, including ours, to also look for them. That meant the stabilizers on the ship were taken off so it could go in a criss-cross pattern on the water. So it went for several hours...and Dad kept to his bed. But, miracle of miracles, we found them! Both life-boats full! However, because of the 30 foot swells we were experiencing, we couldn’t take them on board. But we had to stay with them until the Coast Guard helicopters came and pulled them, one by one, out of the lifeboats and on to the helicopters. I was so excited! I climbed on a chair to try to take pictures. It was so rainy and so choppy that it was hard to do it, but I got some. I also ran downstairs and yelled at Dad that he HAD to come up and see all this melodrama. He did come up for a few minutes.
The next day the storm was over, and we were making our way back to Vancouver again, and once more in the Inside Passage. Then the night before getting back was the traditional formal Captain’s Dinner. I had bought a nice formal at a La Mesa thrift shop, and Dad had a suit. But Dad still wasn’t feeling all that good, so I went down, in my formal, alone, to have dinner with our young table-mates. I wish I remembered their names. The next day we arrived back in Vancouver and were on a plane back to Portland, Tualatin, and our lovely trailer home. Wow! What a trip!
After resting up for awhile, we struck out again on our quest to enter each of the 50 states. It took us seven years from the time we became full-time trailer people, but in 1984 we finally got to the 50th state...Kentucky! We got to one of the State Parks kind of late in the day when no Ranger was on duty and left in the morning before one came on duty, so we stayed there free. We didn’t really see Kentucky the way we should have. We didn’t go to Mammoth Caves, for instance. But we had seen Carlsbad Caverns and Oregon Caves, so we just decided to skip Mammoth. We just drove on through Kentucky to Louisville and then into Ohio. But that did it! We had been in all 50 states! Was that the end of our traveling? Of course not!
In 1985 we traveled to Europe.
Once more we left our trailer in our Tualatin trailer park, flew to Seattle and boarded a plane to London. It was Pan American and it flew the “polar route” to London. It was weird looking down on Greenland. We were going on a Trafalgar Tour of Europe and a second one of Britain. The European trip was 28 days, and the Britain part was two weeks. We decided to do both of them, because we figured we’d never be over there again, and why not?
The tour was on a large bus. The driver was Austrian, and several of our tour mates were Australian. They were a hearty bunch who liked their beer...very friendly. We rotated seats every day...moving from front to back. We started the tour in London and went across the English Channel by ferry to France. Then we were in a foreign country!. It was all so wonderful to see places I’d read or heard about all my life. We saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre...the Mona Lisa up close...a boat ride on the Seine. We saw the mirrored halls of Versailles. Of course Dad got real interested when we got to the south of France, and we saw our first topless bathers in that warm water. Ha. My favorite city was Saltzburg, Austria where Mozart was born. Dad and I decided to skip a bus tour of the surrounding area, where “Sound of Music” had been filmed, and we went on our own walking tour of that beautiful, fairy-tale city. There was a castle on the hill overlooking the town and we walked to it, taking an elevator type of conveyance to the top of the hill, and then walking the path to the castle. It was so beautiful looking down on the river that flowed through the town. We met the rest of our group up there who had arrived back from the hills, and they envied the time that we had spent doing “our own thing.” Peter, our guide, was a little miffed that we hadn’t stayed with him, because, it turned out, he had been born in Strasbourg. Oh well.
We went to Italy...Rome...the Vatican...the Sistine Chapel...south to see Pompeii and to go to the Isle of Capri. North to Florence. I’m skipping around, of course. We went to Spain...Madrid...and the plains of Spain where “there was no rain.” We saw the Alhambra. Oh golly, all these places of my dreams. Switzerland...Lucerne...and on to Zermat where we took a cable car to where we could see the beautiful Matterhorn. We were there on the 4th of July!
We went to Cologne, Germany, where Mutti (my grandmother) was born. We went in the Cathedral where she went to church, and where she was married the first time. It had been spared during the bombings of WWII. The neighborhood around it where she had lived was destroyed, but had been rebuilt since the war. We went from there to Amsterdam and walked from the hotel, a mile or so, to see where Ann Frank had lived. It was a wonderful, walkable city.
I’ve left out so much...but then, after 28 days, we got back to London. A cold had spread itself throughout the bus, and I had a bad sore throat. We found out from the hotel people where the nearest clinic was, and we went and I was given a shot of something, and in a couple of days, we were ready for our Tour of Britain.
A note to all: In all my trip albums, there is a day-by-day diary. You can get more details from them.
Our tour of Britain, on a new bus, new tour guide, and new people traveling with us, started off with the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and all the pomp and circumstance that went with it. We went to see Stonehenge. There was a rope fence around the area so we couldn’t get close. For two weeks we were taken to all the historic sights of the Isles. Scotland was very beautiful.
Edinburgh was so interesting with the Castle on top of the hill. We got to go up and see it. Glasgow had a whiskey distillery that we visited...they gave samples...no thanks. We had a boat ride on Loch Loman. And we saw a fake “Nessy” on Loch Ness. We went out to the Isle of Skye on a ferry. We visited Aberdeen and saw the famous golf course there...right on the North Sea. It was a beautiful trip. Oh yes...we also made one brief excursion into Wales. I wished we could have seen more. But then it was time to go back to London, and get on a plane for Portland again. Our “home on wheels” awaited us in Tualatin. A few days rest and then on our way again through our own United States...always so much to see.
In 1986, during that winter, Vera woke up one day to find she had lost the sight of one eye...probably the result of a small stroke. Of course, she could no longer drive safely in that condition, so we all decided it was time for her to move to a retirement home. We found a good one in Escondido called Pacific Springs, and we moved her there. It was very nice, and we felt better leaving on our travels in the Spring, knowing that she would always be safe. Off we went, as usual. I don’t know where we went, or in what year, but we saw everything...some, more than once..or twice. The Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, Zion...all the beauty of Utah. Canada in the North...Florida in the South. But we always either started out...or ended up in Oregon and Washington.
In 1987, we went East. We went to Florida, where we had some problems with the electric wiring in the trailer, and had it fixed. We spent a week in Gettysburg over the Memorial Day holiday, and then starting west again. We had a slight accident in making a sharp turn one time; the side of the trailer got dented. Fifth wheel trailers turn differently than the regular type. So we stopped for a few days in Indianapolis to get that fixed. Then, on our way west we went, and we decided to head for Long Beach, Washington to spend some time. We went to our favorite trailer park at Ocean Park at the top of the Peninsula and decided to stay for a month...we were getting tired, I think. We lolled around, did a lot of reading, and we went berry picking...blackberries and huckleberries. Oh my, the wonderful pies! The weather heading into Autumn was great. And we had time to think...uh huh. We had been on the road for 10 years, and maybe it was time to settle down.
When we got back to De Anza that Fall, we started looking at apartments. We knew we didn’t want to be too far from the beaches. So we found an apartment we liked OK, just off Balboa, up the hill, and only a few blocks from Clairemont Drive. It had a nice view of Mission Bay and was just a short drive to the beach, etc. So we moved out of De Anza and put our truck and trailer up for sale. We didn’t want to put it in storage or anything. Of course we had to buy a whole apartment full of furniture. We went to good old Jerome’s and stocked up. We had taken the truck and trailer to La Mesa Trailer to be sold. Well, they didn’t sell and they didn’t sell, so we decided to take them back and sell them ourselves. That meant locking up the apartment and moving back to De Anza with them. I don’t remember how long it took, but we did sell the truck and trailer and then moved back to the apartment. Sigh. We began our new lives.
We also moved Vera to a retirement home just up Balboa from us. She was needing more care and that place had assisted living facilities. At last we didn’t have to go clear up to Escondido to see her. That was good.
Of course, that meant that when we made our trips to Oregon, we had to stay in motels.
Then we found that going up Highway 5 was faster...we weren’t traveling for the scenery, especially, anymore. So we stayed in motels that had a Denny’s handy, for instance. One year we bought an air mattress and stayed at Rob and Jan’s on the floor of their living room...and at Sue and Ron’s in their bedroom/den on the floor. Not good. It was best that we stay in a motel.
Then in 1989,we got the wanderlust again, and we went to see a travel agent in Pacific Beach to look at their travel brochures. Trafalgar, the same travel group that we had gone with in 1985, had a very interesting trip. Actually it was two trips. One week on our own in London, followed by two weeks traveling through Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, East and West Germany, Holland, and back to London. I think Luxembourg was in there someplace too...or was that the first trip? Wow!
That sounded good! So we signed up to go.
Our week in London on our own was fabulous. We were sent to the Ramada Inn. It was right on one of the bus lines, just a block away from the bus stop. We had received a map of London showing where all the historic sites were and what bus line they were on. So the night before, we would decide what we wanted to see the next day, and map out our itinerary. Our breakfasts were hung on the door of our room every morning...including pastries and small green apples and yogurt. We would leave about 8:30 or 9:00 in the morning, go to the sites we wanted to see...did a lot of walking...ate lunch always in a pub...went to a theater matinée one day that was included...went to Harrod’s huge department store...walked, walked, and walked. It was so good! At the end of the week, when it was time to join the group for our Trafalgar trip to Russia, etc. I had a rather large “cold sore” on my upper lip. I thought it was from walking in the sun so much, and we went to a pharmacy to get something to put on it. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out it was from eating those little green apples from the breakfasts hung on our door at the Ramada Inn. Ah well...so I toured Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and on and on with a big, fat lip.
When we gathered with the tour group in London, we found that we knew one of the women from our Trafalgar tour in 1985. She was from Australia. We would stay in touch with her, mostly at Christmas, for several years. Then our trip began. We traveled across to the eastern coast of England to take an all-night ferry trip, across the North Sea to Denmark. It turned out to be a little stormy night that night...mostly rough seas...and several people who were riding up on deck...no stateroom...were sea-sick. We had a stateroom. It was downstairs. As during our Alaskan sea voyage, Dad was not a good sailor. After our good Smörgåsbord style dinner, he retired to his bed. I spent most of the night going from our room downstairs up to the deck for fresh air. In the morning, about a half hour or so before landing in Denmark, I got Dad to come up into the, now, calm weather. I got him to fix his gaze on the distance, and he gradually got to feeling OK. Then we arrived in beautiful Copenhagen. I’m not going to try to tell you all about each place...read my trip diaries. We went to the renowned Tivoli Gardens where I left my camera in a restroom, but got it back immediately. We saw the palace of the Queen, whoever she was. Just great.
Then we went on another ferry trip...short one, this time...to Sweden. (I hear there’s a bridge across there now). We went to Stockholm...wonderful old city. We found out that there would be another all night ferry trip from Sweden to Finland. Oh no! We asked if we could fly there instead, but were told not to worry, it was all inside passage and would be no problem. It turned out to be fine, thank goodness.
In Helsinki, Finland, we were driven around and then told to go to the 7-11 store near our hotel and buy bottled water for our next day’s stop in the first city we would stay in in Russia. Russia!!! We actually went to Russia!
Well, after our first stop, actually for lunch in a smaller town, we went to Leningrad. It would later become St. Petersburg. Golly, it was beautiful with the Winter Palace of the Tsars and all that. We went on one trip in a boat to see another palace, and I “had to go” real bad, so our tour guide directed us up through a park we were passing to find the restroom. I stopped by a couple, sitting on a bench, and asked them where it was, and they sent us up a hill a ways, and there it was. When I went in, there was a woman standing in the middle of the room, handing out sheets of toilet paper...for a price. I held out my hand with some Russian coins in it, and she took some and I got my T P. Whew! What a relief. We caught up with our group, but we had missed the tour of the palace. Oh well.
It was so interesting seeing the small houses along the way to Moscow. Everything was neat and clean...different from our experience going through Mexico. Then in Moscow, we saw things that one reads about the city...lines, waiting to get in the markets. We went in one near the hotel...not much to choose from. We saw the old women in their babushkas, sweeping the streets early in the mornings. We went to Red Square...it was such a thrill seeing the familiar buildings that one sees in movies...or such places. We saw a long line there waiting to go past Lenin’s tomb. We were advised not to get into it, because most of the people there were real pilgrims from Russia who had come many miles, maybe, to see the tomb.
We found that their largest department store, called Gum, was next to Red Square. It turned out to be a series of booths in the huge building. Once again, we did not buy from that place. There were other places to come from which we got souvenirs. We went, one day, to a museum in a park near our hotel where we saw the Sputnik space capsule that had preceded the U.S. into space. It was so great to be able to do that! Our guide for that day was a young Russian girl. Our regular guide told us that the local guides weren’t allowed to get tips, but she took a collection from all of us to “buy the girl a blouse or something.” Another day we went to the subway with our guide to see something or other. As we waited, our guide told us what stop we were getting off...good thing. When the train came, people were surging forward, and all of a sudden, just as I was putting my foot forward to get on, the doors started to close. Dad pulled me back, and the doors closed and there we were...Dad and I...and the tour guide. My heart was beating a mile a minute. It wasn’t long, though, before the next train came, and the three of us got on first and rode on to our “stop” and there were the rest of them, faithfully waiting for us. Whew! Before we left Moscow, we saw the Moscow circus at Gorky Park. We had front row seats.
After we left Moscow, we headed for Minsk...east? west? I don’t know. At one stop along the way, there was a group of young boys standing where our bus stopped who had items that they wanted to sell or trade, even, for whatever we had. One of the boys had one of the nested dolls that we saw so much. It wasn’t new...you could tell...but I offered him some soap and shampoo from a hotel and he gave me the doll for it. Another boy gave us a painted spoon. At another place some boys gave us tee shirts with Russian writing on them, I think for just a dollar. (I don’t remember what it said.) Later we bought another larger set of nested dolls. Our tour guide bargained with the vendor for us. In Minsk we visited a Russian Orthodox church service for awhile. There were no pews...you had to stand. Lots of gold in the church. Very pretty. On our last morning in Russia, we were told that we couldn’t take any Russian money out of the country, so we spent the last of our 15 or so rubles in the hotel for little doo-dads to take home for the grandkids.
Our next country was Poland. Our main stop, of course, was Warsaw. We saw the Old City and the park dedicated solely to the Jews of WWII who were massacred. At that time there were Polish jokes going around in the U.S...you know, how dumb the Poles were? Well, we did go into the largest department store in Warsaw. We took the escalator up four floors and found there were none going down. Hm. There wasn’t much to buy in the store. Our tour guide was from Poland, and she took a day off to visit her parents in Warsaw. Then on to East Berlin.
In East Berlin, we stayed in the nicest hotel yet. Again, not too much in the stores. This was before the Wall came down...only about two months before it came down, in fact. We went up on the steps of the Reichstag (?) building, where old Hitler himself used to be. Dad took a picture of me up there...from a distance...I was still sporting my “fat lip.” Then the next day we actually took a bus trip over to West Berlin...through “Check-point Charlie.” The underneath part of our bus was checked with mirrors to make sure no one was trying to get out of East Berlin illegally. Then we saw The Wall. I even stood up on it and saw the guard towers across the No Man’s Land to East Berlin. After a day of sightseeing, we crossed back again into East Berlin and our luxury hotel. We came back through the Vandenberg Gate. Oh my...the history there.
When we left Germany, both parts, we traveled through Holland, Belgium, and France, finally to Calais...the ferry across the English Channel...and back to London. From there, home to our good old U.S.A. What a trip!
The following year, 1990, was our 50th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking another wonderful trip. Our trusty travel agent set us up in a Globus tour. Globus was just like Trafalgar. It went to a lot of the same places. This time we flew to Madrid to start our trip. We stayed in the same hotel we had stayed in on our first trip. The restaurant down the hill where we had eaten the savory pork dinner and drank Sangria the first time was no longer in business. Our trip this time took us to Lisbon, Portugal and down to the Strait of Gibraltar where we took a short boat ride to Morocco. We were in Africa! When we came back to Spain, we drove up onto the Rock of Gibraltar. We were in England, actually, when we were on the Rock. Then back through Alhambra, Spain and “Plains of Spain” to Madrid. Our next stop was Zürich, Switzerland, where we were to join a group touring Switzerland, and ultimately a cruise down the Rhine River.
We got to Zürich a few days early for the tour, so we got ourselves settled in the hotel and proceeded to tour Zürich on our own. We took the train just a few miles to the city and from the station could walk around everywhere. There was even a good lunch counter where we ate lunch. Zürich is a wonderful old city. It was fun to see all the sights. We did this for three days, I think, before the Globus tour people started to arrive. Our tour of Switzerland was slightly different than the first time. We didn’t do the Matterhorn. We did do Lucerne again, though. The lake there is so beautiful. And then we went on to Bern, the Capital of Switzerland. And it was from Bern that we boarded the cruise boat that for three days took us down the Rhine River. Oh golly...the land of my ancestors. We saw the Lorelei rock that my Grandma used to sing about...a legend. We saw castles on the Rhine. We saw WWII history...the bridge at Rheimachen that had been bombed...all restored again. And we got off for a few hours at Cologne and saw the Cathedral again where my Grandma had been married...the first time. Then back to the boat for a few more miles down the Rhine where we got off and took a bus again to Amsterdam. From there, to London and back to the U.S.A. So good and so good to be back.
I think it was in August, then, that our family had its first big Family Reunion! We really celebrated our 50th with our family, at Diamond Lake, Oregon...a beautiful spot. Nothing in Europe was any more beautiful! Especially Crater Lake, which is just a few miles from Diamond Lake. (Photos 14 & 15...from 1996 family reunion at Diamond Lake)
That Fall Dad suggested that we volunteer at Mission Bay Hospital. Dad? Hospital? He was the young fellow who had to be wheeled out of a Portland hospital when visiting a friend in his youth! Yep...him. We made a good team. I was at the reception desk and he did the rounds of errands throughout the hospital. Mission Bay was a nice, smaller hospital. It was right across the street from one of our Kaiser clinics. We spent five years there. In 1994, Dad slipped on a piece of paper on the floor while making his rounds and broke his ankle. I was at the reception desk when they told me my husband was in Emergency with a broken ankle. He was treated there...not at Kaiser. Dad never did think it was set right. It gave him trouble after that. The hospital’s insurance paid him $4000. In 1995, however, he decided that we should no longer be volunteers there because of the settlement or something. So we left. We were living, by then, in an apartment just off of La Jolla Boulevard...just a couple of blocks from where La Jolla becomes Pacific Beach...Baja La Jolla. It was closer to the beach, and we had a wonderful beach to walk on at low tide and find shells at the north end of Pacific Beach. The beach was down at the end of Tourmaline St. and was a surfer’s beach.
But I have digressed...badly. So back we go to 1992 and our trusty travel agent.
In 1992 we discussed going to Ireland or Greece, but we decided, instead, on a Globus tour to Hungary and Czechoslovakia. This time we flew to Munich...in Bavaria, where my Grandpa Martin came from. We went to Oberamergau (I sure can’t spell that one). It’s in Bavaria and where the annual Passion Play is. Also where there are Oktoberfests. Then we went to see the most beautiful castle...Neuschwanstein...where Mad King Ludwig lived and died in the river. On to Austria and then to Budapest, Hungary. What a beautiful city, with Buda on one side of the Danube river, and Pest...pronounced Pesht...on the other. I don’t remember which side our hotel was on. The first night there we went with another couple on a streetcar, across the bridge, to a café for dinner and entertainment. Dad had caught a cold and it was getting worse, and he was feeling worse, so we left earlier than the other couple and rode the streetcar back to the hotel. The next day we took a ride on the Danube River. Dad was feeling worse.
The next day we were in Czechoslovakia...Prague...another wonderful old city. We took the walking tour over the lovely bridge to a town square where we ate lunch at an outdoor sandwich place. We got to talking with a young English couple who were back-packing their way around Europe. We shared our Danishes with them. I don’t think they had been eating too regularly. We went to a folk dancing show that night, and Dad kept falling asleep on the shoulder of the woman next to him. He was getting sicker, and I was feeding him Tylenol to keep his fever down.
Our next stop, for a few days, was back in Austria...Vienna. We were actually in the same hotel we had stayed in back in 1985, but in a different wing of the hotel. We had a hard time finding our rooms, because the numbering was off. That night Dad REALLY was sick. He had severe chills and a temperature. I found my way down to the Concierge’s desk to see if they had a house doctor...“no.” Could they have one come to see Dad...“No, they would really charge a lot.” I had heard that one of our fellow travelers had some antibiotics with them, so, after finding my way back to our room...I had to ask a maid. I begged one off them and gave it to Dad...also keeping up the Tylenol. After that, whenever I left our room, I had landmarks to find my way back again. The next day was a tour to see the royal Palace and gardens. We stayed at the hotel and gave our tickets for the tour to another couple. We had seen all that on our first trip to Vienna. We sat out in the back garden of the hotel and read and rested, and Dad’s flu got better.
Back to Germany after Austria and a day in a charming old city. We were entertained in the street by a young group of singers from the U.S. We ate lunch with a couple of nuns. All was looking up again. Poor Dad...he had been pretty sick. When we got back home, Dad went to see his doctor, who found a couple of small spots on his lung. He said that Dad had had walking pneumonia while on our trip...why didn’t he examine those “spots” further?
Dad is Sick
When we moved to the La Jolla Blvd. apartment in 1994, we felt we should move Vera too, since she was needing more and more care. The first place we moved her to was a board and care place...actually the home of a woman who took in Seniors like Vera. It was in Pacific Beach and not too far from us. That didn’t last long, however, when Vera got confused and tried to get in bed with another person. Her mind was really going. Then we found the ultimate place in Encinitas. It was a facility especially for Alzheimer patients, and it had a nursing facility also. She lived there until her death on May 13th, 1995. She knew us...kind of...until a week or so before her death. It was a shock to walk into her room, as we did every week, and have her not know who we were. But she had lived a long good life, and we were thankful that she hadn’t been bedridden at the end. She was 96.
It was in October of 1994, on Kim’s 21st birthday, that we met Mark DiVecchio. Sal brought him to Denis’s house where all of us were congregated. (Yep, we always kind of stayed together as a family.) We liked Mark right away. In 1996 Sal moved in with Mark in his home in Scripps Ranch. In 2004 they were married. But Mark was “family” right from the start.
The summer of 1995, we went on a cruise of the Columbia river. We flew to Portland and boarded the Cruise ship which went from the Willamette into the Columbia River and then east. It was a fun trip...about a week, I think. We went through all the locks on the Columbia River. When we got to The Dalles, we got off and went on a train ride to a little town where we could see Mt. Hood in the distance. We had lunch there, and then back to the ship. We got off at a place on the Washington side where we saw a replica of Stonehenge. I’m glad we had seen the real one. We sailed on to where the Columbia turns north and to where the Snake River joins it. Little did we know that in about ten years Rob and Jan and much of their family would be living right there. We sailed up the Snake River a little way and docked at a place where we got off for lunch. We then took boat rides down through some small rapids, then back to the Columbia, and back west again. This time we sailed clear to Astoria, OR and out to where the Columbia goes into the Pacific Ocean. Golly! We could even see the North Head lighthouse at Long Beach! Then back and back we went to the Willamette River and Portland. It was a very enjoyable trip, all in all.
My Aunty Carola, “Coda” to all the kids, died on January 23rd, 1996 in Portland. She was 102! She had lived for a number of years in a retirement home in Raleigh Hills (?). Sue and Ron did a wonderful job for years, doing things for her, getting her established here or there after she could no longer keep her old home in North Portland. Like Vera, she had forgotten us. One time when we visited, and I was trying to tell her that I was her niece, she said, “That’s good, I thought it was just some lady with grey hair visiting me.” Uh Huh. I don’t think she had Alzheimer’s like Vera...just dementia.
In 1996 we had another wonderful family reunion at Diamond Lake in Oregon. There were new babies and new husbands. Dad and I had Great Grandma and Great Grandpa sweatshirts. Sue, Sal and Mare sang their “Mr. Wonderful” song to Dad and I cried.
It was in 1997 that Dad started having some problems with small irritations on his body. A polyp here or there...in his throat...on his tongue. In February the doctors found that a sweat gland on his right arm was cancerous, so they removed the gland. In April he started a series of 28 radiation treatments on that arm. My dear family, Sal and Mark and Mare and Ann all took turns, along with me, taking him to these sessions. It was also during this time that because he was having some reflux problems, Dad’s doctor told him to raise the head of the bed. So we put cement blocks under the head of the bed. Now, that was not very comfortable to me in my mind. So that started the “battle of the mattresses.” Oh dear. I decided that we should have twin beds so that my bed could be at its normal stance. So we offered our beloved king-sized mattress to Kevin who was living in L.A. His Dad, Denis, came to take it to his house for storage until Kevin could come and pick it up. The twin mattresses were delivered and installed. Right away I didn’t like the smell of mine. So they came and got it and brought a new one. Uh Huh. I still didn’t like it...so back again, and a new one. Then came the morning that I woke up and found Dad, in a stew, waiting for me to wake up. It was the first and only time that we HOLLERED at each other...over the mattresses! So, you know what...I got on the phone and called Kevin (got him out of bed) to see if he had picked up the old mattress yet. He hadn’t and I told him that he wouldn’t be getting it at that time. Then I called Denis and told him that we wanted our mattress back...that day! He got help from a young man named Mark Rones, who was courting Kim, and they brought our mattress back...that day. The cement blocks were installed and that night Dad and I were back together...Amen.
It was in 1997 that I finally was sent to a neurologist to find out what the progressive numbness in my feet, that I had been experiencing for several years, was all about. I saw a Dr. Blumenthal. He “endeared” himself to me by announcing, before he even sat down, that what I had could never be cured, would progress to my knees and possibly to my hands, but wasn’t life threatening. It was called Neuropathy. So that was that. I looked up everything I could about the disease and settled down to “live with it.”
In April of 1998, Dad’s oncologist, Dr. Sweet, told him that he had cancer in his right lung and that it had spread to the adrenal gland. He told Dad that he had about one year to live. Dad then started a series of chemotherapy treatments. Yes, he lost his hair. He just went in, finally, and had his head shaved. Again, the family pitched in. But also they decided that it would help all concerned if we lived closer. Sal and Mark and Mare and Ann were all living in the Scripps Ranch area. So Sal and Mare started looking for somewhere near them for us to live. Almost immediately they found a very nice condo for sale just a few blocks from their places. It was in a condo area called Glenwood Springs, just off Scripps Lake Drive. Dad and I chipped in on the down payment, and we moved in as tenants of Sal’s. It was on a corner lot, just across the walk from the pool and clubhouse area. There was also a tennis court and a lovely walking area through the trees around the whole area. Very nice. So we settled in. It was in June of 1998.
We enjoyed our home in Glenwood Springs. A hummingbird built her nest on the twisty thing hanging on our patio. It was fun watching her sit on her eggs and then her tiny baby birds as the nest went gently around in circles. Dad walked around the whole area every morning...at first. We had an outdoor mailbox, just like in a rural area. We had the same mailman that Sal and Mark did. His name was Mike. One day, when Mark was having his house painted, Mike came to the door and told Dad to tell Mark that the painters had not put on a primer coat...just like in a small town.
Then came the day in 1999,when Dad and I were taking a walk up to the street above, and Dad had to sit down on the side of the road while I went and got the car to take him home. He was becoming weaker. Then after having bladder problems he had to have a catheter inserted...full time, with a bag. We rented a wheelchair through Kaiser so I could wheel him from room to room. I’m skipping so much of this. My sweetheart, my darling, was dying from his cancer. We also eventually rented a hospital bed. We moved our bed to the garage, and we put the daybed from the den in the bedroom for me to sleep on. At first, I would help him get out of the bed and get dressed and wheel him to his chair in the living room. Mare would come on her way to work to help him too. Another thing we did, that I’m so glad for...we had Hospice care from Kaiser. Such wonderful women who came to bathe him and check his medication, people whom I could call in the middle of the night for advice when Dad was suffering so much. I’ll never forget these people. They even taught me how to give him a shot in his abdomen once a day...for something or other. Then my Sue came down from Portland when her school was out, and stayed at Sal and Mark’s. She came every day to help where she could. We finally put Dad’s hospital bed in the living room so he could see and hear everything during the day. He was on oxygen at night. We also moved the daybed there, too, so I could always sleep near him. How can I tell you how precious and wonderful my dear family was during those days?
Then came the night that Dad kept pulling out the oxygen tube from his nose. I sat there with him, stroking his brow and talking to him, but I knew he was slipping away. I called Mare and Ann and Sal & Mark & Sue very early in the morning of August 12th. They came and sat with Dad while I curled up on the small couch, which was in the bedroom, to sleep. Mare came running in to get me when he took his last breath. It was too late. My sweet darling husband of almost 60 years was gone. Oh, how I have missed my honey.
The funeral was at Greenwood Mortuary...just for family. The girls had found a recording of Peggy Lee singing “Mr. Wonderful.” I didn’t cry...I was too busy comforting Mark Rones, who was sitting behind me, crying, because his older brother had just died a few months before. People got up and talked about Dad. I could just sit there and smile at it all. He was loved. Dad was cremated and his ashes are in a niche at Greenwood, just above my Mom’s and Tom’s ashes. There is a niche right by Dad’s for me too.
I continued to live in the condo. I was still driving. I had good neighbors. I had my friends, Mike the mailman, Señor (I called him), the head gardener and his various helpers, who were always friendly and concerned about me. My neighbor behind me who had a small, broad-faced dog which she took walking regularly. The dog would pull her over to me if I was close by, jump up on me to be petted, and then would keep looking back at me when she pulled him away and went on. I wondered if he had been someone I knew in his former life...ha. There was “the gentle giant,” a big man who was entirely bald...all over. He would always speak to me.
In the year 2000, Sal and Mare and Ann and I took a trip to Portland to see Sue and Ron. We stayed in a motel near them. Then all of us drove to Long Beach and I showed them the two houses where I grew up during my summers at the beach with Mutti and Dad (my Grandpa). It was so much fun seeing them again. We stayed in a brand new hotel right on the beach. I got down on my hands and knees one morning and dug a clam! Of course I put it back. And wonders of the new world of communication, Mark, who stayed at home, actually saw us online, at a pre-arranged time, and Sal talking to him on her cell phone, connecting with the camera on top of one of the hotels in Long Beach! We looked like stick figures, but there we were! How fun! It was a wonderful few days.
I flew up to visit Sue a couple of other times. They always took me to see my old neighborhoods. My old one on 30th Street hasn’t changed much over the years.
In 2003, when there was the huge fire in Scripps Ranch, we started evacuating our neighborhood...just in case. There were neighbors who came and checked on me to be sure that I was leaving. I went to Sal and Mark’s, as did Mare and Ann and their dog and two cats and a fish. We did leave for the night and went to a motel in Mission Valley. Thank God the fire didn’t come near our homes...it did destroy many others.
I also had a special friend who worked at Von’s where I shopped. His name was Bobby Brown. He stocked the frozen food section of the store. We called each other BB because my maiden name had been Bette Baker. A nice young man.
It was also in 2003 that Rob let us know that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I cried for my son. Where could that have come from? We all read up and read up on it. No answers. He is doing all that can be done, and at this writing, 2007, is coping very well. He has lived his life so admirably. I am so proud of him.
I think it was sometime in 2004 that I took myself off the Freeways. I still did my food shopping, but since my Neuropathy was getting worse...my feet couldn’t respond as fast...I thought it better to not be in heavy traffic. I had changed the Kaiser Clinic that I had been going to for all those years in La Mesa to the Rancho Bernardo Clinic. I could drive there without going on the Freeway. It was hard for me to leave Dr. Nurani, who had been my doctor for over 25 years, but it was a necessity. Then I decided to give up driving altogether. I gave my car to my grandson, Jim Clarno. He came over from Salt Lake with a friend to pick it up.
It was in 2005 that my girls decided that I would be better off living in a place where I would have my meals...I was eating a lot of frozen meals...and be safer. Sal found this very lovely retirement home, Belmont Village in Sabre Springs in Poway,only about 10 minutes away from Scripps Ranch. I moved in on March 1st, 2005. When I told Señor, the gardener, that I was moving, he couldn’t understand why I would leave such a nice place. My apartment at Belmont Village was one of the large ones with room for my computer and all that stuff, and a great view from my bedroom window out over the little canyon and the creek just past the fence. I could see all kinds of good things. The people were very nice and the meals were fine. And best of all, I didn’t have to cook them! I started making all kinds of friends too. I never thought that I would care for living with other people, but it worked out! I think I was destined to come and live at a place called Belmont Village. I grew up in Portland on 30th Street, just off Belmont. My Grade School and Sunday School were just eight blocks up, off of Belmont Street. And Dad and I were married further up on Belmont Street in the home of the Presbyterian minister. Ahhh...Belmont.
I arrived in March of 2005, and on June 3rd, my birthday, both Sal and Mare were in Portland visiting Sue and attending the performance of the theater group she sings with. They all called me the night before, I think, but nobody here knew about it...I was new, after all...so I went all day without anyone saying “Happy Birthday.” I decided right then and there that nobody at Belmont Village would have a birthday without at least one person acknowledging it. The birthdays of the month are published in our “Gazette,” I call it, for everyone to see. So I started making birthday cards for each person who was having a birthday each month. At first it seemed impossible...who were all these people? But I had expert and willing help from Bo McMahon who was the boss over the dining room. He would tell me who was who, and after a few months I was beginning to recognize more and more people. I have done this every month since June of 2005. I have the Blue Mountain program for making cards on my computer. I can also send what is called E-Cards...animated cards...only to family, of course. Not many others here use computers. But I LOVE doing it! And I love the response I get from someone, sometimes, who never got another greeting. I am the Birthday Lady. Yes, I’m proud.
In March of 2006 I started having “night sweats.” I would wake up, wet with sweat. I went to see Dr. Shoval at my Kaiser clinic, and then started MONTHS of tests...mostly blood tests. I joked that I could start my own blood bank. I had a mammogram, an EKG, a CAT scan after drinking barium, a chest x-ray, an MRI of my lymph glands, and more blood tests. My wonderful Sal and Mark took turns taking me. Then in October I went to see Oncologist, Dr. Sweet...the same doctor that Dad had when he had lung cancer. After looking at all the test results he decided that I have chronic lymphocytic leukemia...also known as CLL. He offered me a medication...a chemo-type of pill...that would maybe ward off, but not heal anything. It would also make me sick. I declined. I am enjoying my life here...my friends, et al. I still have a good appetite. I will try to enjoy it as long as I can...without being sick half the time. I get very very tired at times, but I try to pace myself. I love my Tuesday Scrabble games and dinner here with my Mare, and my Friday Scrabble games with my Sal. And how would I keep up on my computer without Mark? I will still make cards...lots of them.
Speaking of Mark. That brings up the subject of Genealogy. (Yes, that’s how it’s spelled.) Rob has done a wonderful job of looking up the Clarno family tree. But Mark decided to look up the Baker family tree...my Dad’s. And wow, what he has found! He has spent hours and hours looking at Bakers. He has found more relatives than I ever knew I had. My Dad had a very large family. He always said I had “dozens of cousins.” Thank you, Mark. It’s wonderful. I still hope to find Felix.
Well, on September 29th, 2007, I checked into Kaiser Hospital with breathing problems. I was there for a week and lost over ten pounds of fluid...including two liters from around my left lung. I am now a skeleton! Anyway, I came home to my apartment and I am now, as of November, 2007 under Hospice care. I get my meals in my apartment, and nurses come and check on me every week or so. I’m on a bunch of new medications too. But I still have my wonderful Scrabble games with Sal and Mare. Sue was here for a week, and Rob is coming, too. I’m still here! Love you all!
Final notes from Sal:
The above is the final entry Mom made into her autobiography.
She passed away at her beloved “Belmont,” with her three daughters at her side, on December 21, 2007. She was cremated and her ashes were placed in the same urn with Dad’s.
We love you too, Mom, and you ARE still here, forever in our hearts and in our memories!
Bette Jane Clarno
Bette Jane (Baker) Clarno was born on June 3, 1921 in Portland, OR, and died December 21, 2007. She spent most of her childhood summers at her grandparents' beach house in Long Beach, WA, of which she often fondly spoke. She moved with her husband, Robert Clarno, and their four children to San Diego in 1952. She spent 19 years playing the piano for Adult Education School choruses. Upon retiring, Bette and Bob enjoyed 10 years of travel in their 5th wheel exploring all 50 states. Bette was predeceased by her husband of 59 years in 1999. She is survived and will be greatly missed by her son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Jan Clarno of Burbank, WA, daughter and son-in-law, Sue and Ron Tenison of Beaverton, OR, daughter and son-in-law Sally and Mark DiVecchio of San Diego, daughter Mary Clarno of San Diego, and sister Charlene Baker of Tacoma, WA, 14 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, and her many friends from Belmont Village of Sabre Springs. The family thanks San Diego Hospice for their invaluable support and suggests donations to them in lieu of flowers.