Wednesday, March 9, 2011


It's funny the things that come to mind when relaxing in a nice warm shower. The other day, I had finished showering and was drying off when I became aware of a gathering of lint in the floor of the shower. Now, I don't know about you, but, I remember when towels did not shed when in use. Of course, that was when towels were made in the USA out of cotton that was grown, milled and made into fabric in the USA. Then I got to thinking about a dress that my mother bought for my older sister that was passed down to me and then to my oldest sister's daughter and then to my next sister's daughter. We all had a school picture taken in that dress. I don't know, do little girls dresses that you can buy now make it through four little girls and still be good enough for dress up picture day at school? Then I thought to myself, I wish I had a copy of those pictures. It made me sad to realize once again that those pictures along with everything else my mother had when she passed away are lost to me forever.

Now that realization started me thinking about my own stuff, most of which has little or no monetary value. I sometimes think how much I would love to touch something that my mother or grandmother touched and held dear. I'm probably more sentimental then some of you reading this, but, I would hope that some of my kids or grandkids would take care of my stuff, but most of all that they would be willing to share with one another. I would hate to think that any one of them would be selfish and want to hang onto all my stuff for theirself. If any of you do end up with my things, at least take care of them. Best I can find out, nobody even knows what happened to my mothers pictures, jewelry, etc. I hope I never run into them in an antique store, I'd really be mad.

Maybe I place to much importance on my stuff. I don't know that I think it is especially important, I just think the memories that are connected with things that we remember from our childhood at grandma's house are important. The memories, the connection, not the stuff. Do you understand what I mean?

Anyway kids, I know that I can count on all of you to make me proud. I have a wonderful family and that is more important then any amount of stuff. I'm beginning to babble now, so I'll end this post.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The American Dream

I was watching the news on the protest in Wisconsin the other day when the president of SEIU was being interviewed. She said something that got me thinking. She said,"We are fighting to save our vision of the American Dream." I have been pondering that the last few days and it seems to me, that possibly, therein lies a lot of our problem. Now we all believe in the American Dream, but, that may mean something completely different to you then it does to me.

When I was growing up, my father was a member of the Teamsters' Union. He supported our family with union wages on union jobs. We did not have a lot, but, we probably would not have survived those years quite as well without the bargaining power of the union. My husband, Whit, who owned his own truck, was a member of the teamsters union. In his case, carrying a union card only got him the right to unload his truck in a union run harbor. without the card the longshoremen would not let him in the harbor. The union eventually drove the company he leased his truck to out of business with demands that could not be met and continue to make a reasonable profit. After 27 years he was forced to go looking for work for him and his truck.

My last job before I retired was the only job in which there were unions. That was at the County of Ventura, where my job classification was represented by SEIU. We were not a closed shop and I never joined the union. When I asked the union representative how it would benefit me to join the union and pay them dues every month, the answer I got was if I got fired, they would represent me in getting my job back. That was not reason enough for me to join.

As I said earlier, my vision of the American Dream may be vastly different then yours. My dream was to have a job where I could get salary increases and promotions based on my job performance. I hated working on a job where the guy at the next desk, who spent most of his day wandering the halls visiting with his buddies was getting paid the same salary I was. They could not fire him, he was a member of SEIU. This was a public employee, the same kind of people who are protesting in Wisconsin. What is the matter with merit pay? What is the matter with being required to perform in order to keep you job?

Our country is broke, our states are broke. We just had an election, the people spoke. They elected people who promised to balance the budgets and get back to fiscal responsibility. Now those Governors, Congressmen and other elected official are trying to do what they were elected to do. I don't know that it would be right to take the bargaining rights away from public employee's, but, these people need to understand that they are not exempt from the economic disaster that has come up on us all. How can our schools continue to function if there is no money to pay for the demands of the collective bargaining agents. The unions call it collective bargaining, but, in many cases it is collective demands. Bargaining suggests that each side will start from opposite sides and meet somewhere near the middle. Demands suggests, "Our way or no way.".

I know that many of you will not agree with me on this and I am in hopes that we can agreeably agree to disagree. Our vision of the American Dream may be vastly different, but we have the common thread that we are family and we are American. Our opinions have been shaped by our life experiences, let us respect each other's right to form our own vision of the dream.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dogs and Other Pets I Have Known

It seems like when I was a kid we always had a dog, fish, turtles, birds or all of the aforementioned. There was generally always a dog. They were my favorites. Most of the time they had a much longer life span the the other creatures we had. All the fish and turtles ended up in the "pet cemetery" in the back yard with a match box as a coffin. Of course, we always had a full blown ceremony to mark their passing and then promptly went about playing catch or retrieve it with the dog.

The first dogs I remember was brought home by my brothers. The story goes, that they found them in a burned out tree stump in a cotton field. Their mother had decided it was time for them to get along without her and was nowhere to be found, so Joe and Charlie brought two puppies home. One for my Sister Geneva, they named him Sandy and one for me and they named him Rusty. Original, don't you think. I'm sure you can tell by their names what color they were, they appeared to be full blood German Shepard. Well, Rusty followed me everywhere I went and one day he followed me to the outhouse. This outhouse was family sized, it was a two seater. Don't ask! I don't know why they would build a two seater. I think that carrying family time a bit too far. Being only about four years old, I assumed when Rusty whined to get up where I was, that he wanted to go potty, so, I helped up on the seat. You can probably guess what happened next. I was in sooooo much trouble. They had to move the outhouse back off the hole and lower my mother down so she could rescue the puppy. I never quite understood why, but, shortly after that, momma found a new home for Rusty. Sandy grew up to be a really great dog, Rin Tin Tin type dog. He was very protective of the whole family, but, especially us kids. Geneva and I used to take him with us when we went to the store. He would set at the door and wait for us to come out. If a man was walking toward us, Sandy would put himself between us and the man. He was never trained to do this, we were his kids and he watched over us. When we still lived on the Limoneira Ranch we had to keep him tied in the front yard a lot and this one boy named Buddy would walk by and tease Sandy. It turned out later that Buddy was related to the people we lived next door to after we moved into Santa Paula. One day Buddy was visiting and we were all playing softball in the neighbors back yard. Sandy and the neighbor dog Trixie were setting on the sidelines watching us play and chasing after stray balls. Well, someone threw the ball, someone hit the ball, and Geneva ran after the ball. Then it happened. Buddy pushed Geneva out of his way and just as he reached the ball, Sandy reached him. Three days later they released Buddy from the hospital and sent him home to continue his recovery. Poor Sandy couldn't understand why he had to be tied in the back yard. He had after all, only done his job, protecting Geneva. After Sandy developed a game called kill the chickens and pile them on the porch, momma and daddy decided they needed to find him a home in the country where he had room to run. A rancher came by to see him and decided he was just what he needed to guard the gas pumps on the ranch. A week later he brought him back and said he was too good at the job. No one could get near the pumps but the rancher, the hired hands couldn't get much done with empty gas tanks in all the equipment. We gave him away two more times only to find him waiting on the steps of the school when we came out. The last time I saw Sandy, I put him in the car of the fourth person we gave him to. I always thought he stayed that time because one of his kids put him in the car and told him good buy. I kept looking for him for months, expecting to find him waiting after school. I hope he liked his new home. I really loved that dog. (more to follow)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Games We Used to Play

Remembering the house in Santa Paula made me think of how we kids used to entertain ourselves before the technology age. I thought myself fortunate to have one doll who's eyes had not been poked out by a niece or nephew. I loved my dolls, even the ones that had been maimed. One of my favorite rainy day past times was my box full of paper dolls. I remember begging momma for the old Sears & Roebuck catalogs, which was where a lot of my paper dolls came from along with the furniture I cut out for their houses. I learned early on that I could paste a picture of a chair to a piece of cardboard, cut a slit in the bottom and make a stand for them. I spent hours playing in my room pretending. I had Barbie & Ken long before someone started manufacturing them.
Outdoor games with the neighborhood kids included games like Mother May I, Simon Says, Red Rover and a favorite if there were only two of us, was Annie, Annie Over. One of us would stand in the front yard and one in back. We'd holler, Annie Annie Over and through the ball as hard as we could to clear the roof and go over the house. The person receiving would have to guess by the sound of the bounce where the ball was going to end up. Fun, Fun, Fun. Then there was always playing Hide & Seek in the scary church yard next door. Hiding in the shadows of the big stone wall or down in the basement stairs. There was this huge tree in the neighbors yard with a rope tied to one of the limbs. We used to climb up on the fence and swing off on the rope playing Tarzan & Jane, or I preferred to pretend to be Sheena of the Jungle. I still have a scar on my side where I caught a nail on that fence. I remember, too, that I could climb up easier then I could climb down. I followed the older kids up on the roof of the garage, they all climbed down, but, I was stuck, too afraid to climb down. My hero, big brother Joe, came to my rescue. He could have told me to jump off the roof of our two story house and I would have trusted him to catch me.
That reminds me of another time my hero was there when I needed him. My sister, Geneva and I had been to the library. When we came out it was pouring down rain and the wind was blowing like crazy. We had and umbrella, but, the wind turned it wrong side out. Then we finally reached our street and were standing across from our house. I looked down at the raging river that running down the gutter and had a vision of being swept away and into the drain at the end of the block. Geneva didn't have a whole lot of patience with her little sister, so she jumped the raging river and ran home leaving me there screaming in absolute terror at what I thought my fate might be. Then, there he was! Coming across the street was big brother Joe. He straddled the raging river, picked me up in his arms, gave me a comforting hug and carried me home. How I loved him.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Little More History

Before the war daddy went to work at Limoniera Ranch just outside Santa Paula, California. As I recall his duties were irrigation and setting out and lighting smudge pots when the temperature dropped into the 30's. Limoniera was mostly lemon groves and if the temperature dropped below freezing it would ruin the crop of lemons. Wind machines had not been invented yet, so the only way to keep the fruit from freezing was to set out these metal pots with things on top like chimneys and round bottoms filled with coal oil. When those things were burning through the wee hours of the morning, you would wake up with black soot in your nose and ears. Pretty gross! During some of that time, momma worked in the packing house, sorting, wrapping and packing lemons. Yes, they used to be individually wrapped. We lived in a little house on the ranch that I think was part of daddy's compensation for his work. A mexican family lived next door to us and introduced our family to tortillas. We haven't quit eating them yet. I remember my brother Charley trying to wrap momma's oakie beans up in them the way he had seen the mexican's wrap their refried beans in them. He had a terrible time trying to eat it that way. You could tell he hadn't been long off the farm.

When the war began in 1941 Daddy got a job at the Port Hueneme Navy Base, so we moved into town. I still remember the address, 133 Davis Street, Santa Paula, CA. The house was a big two story house with three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. The downstairs consisted of a large entry, french doors off the entry into the living room, next was the dining room, to the left of the dining room was the kitchen and a small eating area and a very large walk-in pantry, actually a small room, lined with shelves and room for the icebox. On past the dining room was a small bedroom with an outside entrance that led to the driveway. Beyond that room was large bedroom and a bathroom. In the very front of the house there was a sunporch that ran from the front porch all the way across the front. When you came up on the front porch, you could enter the house through the main door or go to the left and enter through the sunporch and through more french doors into the living room. We lived in that house for four years, longer than any other house until I married. There was another room on that house that was not accessable from inside the house. It was just a small room with a private entrance. Momma rented that room out to a man that worked with daddy at the base. She also rented out one of the bedrooms upstairs. There were so many people who had left family at home and come to where they could get work. The depression really wasn't over for most people until the war began and many people think that is all that brought our economy back. One thing is for sure, when the war started, if you wanted to work, you could find a job.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Setting the Stage

With the beginning of a new year and another birthday looming on the horizon, I can't help but consider my own mortality. It seems more important then ever to pass on to my family the history that I grew up hearing stories about and the history that I lived. These things that shaped who I am and where I came from should not be lost in the struggles of everday life, they should be told and retold from generation to generation and being the only one left to remember, I will try to pass it on to those of you who will read this. ( The picture is of me and my sister Geneva, taken in the year of my birth.)

My parents migrated from Oklahoma to California in the summer of 1935. They came with everything they owned and five children loaded on an old 1920 something pickup truck. They worked as they went and bartered with things they had for things they needed. They had left the farm in the midst of the great depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl. They came and worked in the fields of California, the not so kind word for them was Okie and the less kind word was fruit tramp. My parents were proud, hard working people not used to handouts and refusing to take any. When they got to Pasadena, daddy got a job with the WPA, which was a government program to put people to work building the infrastructure of many towns and cities. You can still see plaques on some corner sidwalks marked with a government seal and the letters WPA on them. I don't remember these times because I was born a year and a half after they got to California.

The history that I lived and remember first hand is when our country was in the midst of World War II. Both of my brothers were over seas, Joe in Europe and Charley in Asia. Things here at home were less then wonderful. I remember rationing, you couldn't just go buy a bag of sugar or a pair of shoes. You had to have rationing stamps for those items. Everything was going into the war effort. The people at home only got a limited amount of those things that were also needed for our armed forces. They came first and we were, at least in our home, content with that. We were patriotic (I still am). My sister, Geneva and I took our dimes to school and bought stamps that we pasted in a book. When the book was full we would redeem the book for a US Savings Bond, at that time referred to as War Bonds. Even the children in grade school were proud to do their part. I remember washing out tin cans, cutting the bottom out of them, crushing them and putting them in a box along with foil we had taken off gum wrappers and cigarette packs. These were set out at the curb for the Boy Scouts to pick up along with the newspapers . You see, your generation didn't start the recycle thing. It was in full swing in the 40's, we even saved and recycled string. Don't ask me what they used old string for. But, we all did what the government asked us to do for the war effort.