Life History of Viola Lauper Johnson[The original chapter, as "composed" in 2004, did not include "Adult Life". As the result of some writings done by Viola in 2005, there are several new entries which have to do with friends and events in adulthood.]
Do you like to go to the Opera, the Symphony, the Theater? Which did you enjoy most?
I have not been afforded a wealth of opportunity to attend ever so many of these art productions; but I can say that I have enjoyed several. My first experience with live opera was here in San Francisco when I went to see and hear Aida. It was memorable. I was in awe. Several years later, Judy Lauper made arrangements that we would meet and attend a showing of Carmen. I enjoyed it even more. I had read the story and was prepared.
The symphony is an ethereal experience, somewhat. I have been lucky enough to go to several of these--both here and in Salt Lake City; and the beautiful music halls in each place are no less than the price of admission--they are sooo lovely.
I've enjoyed only 2 ballets in person--once at the invitation of Cecil Bullock, another with my daughter JoAnn. They were indescribable, both in the music and the graceful art. I've enjoyed more occasions in live theater than the other events, some greater than others, but always a taste of real art and an exposure to things I should know more about. I've considered it all a worthwhile, important contribution to my education.
I presume I probably have enjoyed the symphony presentations the most. I love piano music and have been present for several artist's presentations on the piano .... Van Cliburn for one. I also enjoy light opera and can remember several wonderful excursions to Sigmund Stern Grove in San Francisco when the season was on--to sit on the banks before the stage in the grove to witness some magnificent productions. Love it all!!!
What do you think of movies? What is your favorite movie?
I seldom see a movie--haven't been inside a theater for several years. I do watch some movies by TV and have a few in my drawer. Favorites are the old classics, most especially the musicals. However, I do prefer the stories with legal angles and particularly enjoy courtroom scenes and sagas. I enjoy some intrigue, but NOT those with excessive violence. I do not care for the modern romances and sordid stuff, greatly objecting to the trash and nonsense which is popular today. I do not care for science movies; but like biographies and historical stuff.
Is there a movie personality that you admire?
It is very difficult for me to truly admire those who have made it big in the entertainment/ sports worlds. Having chosen heroes in the past, only to be shattered and let down by some of their less than desirable doings, my feelings of admiration have altered. I enjoy reading biographies and do learn more of the lives of these people. And I do note and give credit in several instances to various individuals who have managed to hold to a reasonable standard. On the whole, however, I cannot name a person who has faithfully earned my admiration, albeit their talent and success are noteworthy.
What do you think about television? Do you have any favorite shows?
Television is a marvelous invention, and a great boon to one who lives alane. It also can be educational and extremely helpful and informative in many areas. But there is a lot of trash filmed and portrayed, and without thoughtful selections, TV can be very wasteful to one's time and learning--even harmful. A danger comes in its being so very accessible, easy to use with the ability to take over one's time and life.
I watch a good deal of political discussion, debates, and cross-firing on that subject (the McNeil-Lehrer program being a favorite). For light entertainment, I like to watch Matlock--my favorite TV shows having something to do with courtroom scenes, trials, and sometimes some suspense. Of great interest always are the musical broadcasts--the concerts, vocal and instrumental. Most all is totally enjoyable.
Is there a TV personality that you admire? Why?
For many years, I have enjoyed a PBS news broadcast. Originally, this program was the MacNeil-Lehrer program; since the retirement of Robin MacNeil, it's now called "The Jim Lehrer Newshour". I favored the personality of both of these gentlemen and was drawn to them. They impressed me with their lack of arrogance and, instead of such, there appeared to be a sense of honesty and selflessness with professional style. MacNeil is a man with an abundant background in literature. His English, his use of words, and an appreciation of the language fascinated me. I like WORDS, and enjoyed his use of them. To me, Mr. Lehrer shows more humility than the average newsman does. It may have come with his near brush with death a few years ago when he suffered severe heart troubles.
What kind of music do you like? Do you have memories of specific music?
I enjoy many types, with exception of the very modern, trendy, noisy stuff that I am at loss to call music. I enjoy much of the classics and many operatic arias; and find it very easy to enjoy music of the 50's and 60's. Mellow, marshmallow music is a welcome respite at many times, along with jazz and toe-tapping types as well. Then I can't overlook my love of the Hymns. I must make a strong vote for our Church music. (See also Hymns.)
Do you have any favorite songs when you're working?
Not anymore. There was a day when I sang all the while I was at work--sometimes unconsciously. I think, as I've lost voice, some comments made have rather cured that habit. I do often come from Church humming the hymns and their melodies carry me through the week. I am often surprised to find myself humming along.
What instrument do you play or wish you could play?
I would find delight in knowing the piano. Although we 'inherited' an old pump organ during my childhood, I was never afforded any music lessons. I learned to play a couple of hymns by ear on that instrument, but have no acquaintance, really, with the piano, which I love. How grateful I am that both my daughters play, and that Linda, in particular, is a musician. JR often expresses regret that he did not take advantage of the opportunity given him to learn to play. His comment since has been: "Mom, why didn't you make me practice?"
Record players - Do they bring back memories? Tell about them.
I must have been about 10 years old when, somehow, my parents were able to obtain a beautiful Silvertone phonograph through the Sears catalog. The cabinet, made of beautiful mahogany, was about 4 feet high ---the most attractive piece in our home. There was a large horn to be attached when the instrument was set up for playing; the crank was inserted in the side and the gears wound up. We had but 2 or 3 needles and they had to be guarded like gold--as they were. A few classic records were acquired, and what a thrill and treat to be able to listen to them. After some years, somehow a few more records (old 78's) were acquired and some very entertaining monologues and stories were included. They were so choice!! We children memorized them and would play act the whole story when the phonograph wasn't playing it. I remember that I heard a classical tune, "Over the Waves", at home, which I was later able to recognize when my teacher at school used her records to teach us a bit of music, composers, and the like. Fact is, the phonograph was quite a big part of my early music education, for I heard some classics and learned about the composers.
Tell about your favorite book as an adult.
Without a doubt, the Church books and SCRIPTURES are my favorites. I very much enjoy biographies, and get caught up in the bios of Church leaders. I did enjoy a biography about Kathryn Graham, an incredible lady; also Kathryn Hepburn in another way.
Do you have a favorite magazine? Name and describe it.
I do enjoy the women's magazines: Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan. etc. as well as the news magazines, but my only regular reading is from Church magazines like the Ensign etc. My subscriptions to many magazines almost always result in waste so any other magazines are read sporadically in public offices. There is always much good reading to be found.
Do you enjoy sports?
Oh yes - an unequivocal YES. I have always enjoyed sports; I enjoyed watching various ones with my husband. He particularly was a baseball fan. I continued enjoying this sport but have boycotted it in latter years when the players went on strike at the very time of the annual World Series Events. Of course, all the sport stars, not just baseball players, have become caught up in Money and Fame. I still seriously watch football, basketball, some golf and skating. I vacillate in my allegiance towards one team versus another. I love to discuss and chat sports with a dear grandson, Doug Peterson. He is a basketball star, originally, but engages in other events as well. I might say that I have a preference toward basketball. All the sports broadcasts provide entertainment and furnish 'company' for me on a regular basis.
What about the Olympics? Do you enjoy watching them?
Yes, indeed I do; and have done so for many years. Fact is, I was attending college in Los Angeles in the year 1930 when the Olympics were played in the large and famous stadium there. I managed to attend one Saturday afternoon of events. There were some outstanding runners participating that day; and I still recall, vividly, the small man from Finland who ran so swiftly that day, and was awarded a medal for his heroic efforts. In watching these events, year after year, I am also torn when someone who shows great promise and evidence of years of strenuous and diligent training goes down in defeat. I feel that they are all winners to have made it thus far; and the losers are entitled to more.
Have you tried ice-skating?
Not really. During growing up years, we always did a lot of "sliding on ice pranks" [planks?]. This we called skating, but none of us ever had skates. As a grown up, I have never had a desire to try to learn. I did learn to ride a bicycle as a girl, and could still do it after many years and into my married life.
How do you relax or unwind?
My most satisfactory answer to this is question is "go-to-bed". I hold on and hold out until l can reasonably retire, then I just lie down and relax. Often I do use my bedroom radio, which is geared to Bonneville Station. This station brings Church sermons and music; and I can fall asleep handily while listening to that.
What does the mail mean to you? Are you a good letter writer?
I would need to ask the many recipients of my correspondence over the years to answer the latter. I have done heavy correspondence for many years, to both family and friends. There have always been missionaries, as well as family members at different locations. Although weary at times of the continual letter-writing, I am still involved in an enormous amount.
Does it matter to you whether you write with a pencil or pen - or would you prefer to type your notes and letters?
I used to prefer typing almost everything; however, my typing skills have failed considerably with the advent of arthritic hands, arms, and shoulders; and I have less patience with these infirmities. I do considerable writing by both pen and pencil; however, I have a fetish for using only well-sharpened pencils. I am really frustrated by blunt, ugly points of lead. Insofar as pens are concerned, I prefer a medium point, and in black. I am not comfortable with every pen I pick up.
My mother, Emma Lauper, did have a treadle sewing machine, and she did know how to use it, but time to produce ready-made wear was at a extreme minimum. Along with household chores, there was considerable need for her to assume responsibility for many barnyard tasks each day. In addition, she was pregnant with a new child expected about every two years. Farm life is very consuming. The sewing consisted of mending, patching of farmer's clothing, and the "making do" of each and every article of clothing belonging to the family. To produce a replacement of her housedress required her staying up late after all children were in bed. Aprons and a few necessities were constructed whenever yardage could be acquired.
Sister Alice and I looked for mid-year, usually July 4th, when a new dress, shoes, and hat were purchased from Sears, Roebuck & Co. Otherwise, we girls managed with hand-me-downs from a thoughtful Aunt Mabel (wife of mother's half-brother, Nels). They had two daughters of comparable age and Uncle Nels had a full time job. They lived in St. Anthony, Idaho.
Another time of year when Mother would do her best "stretch" toward sewing was near Christmas time. She usually made some stuffed farm animal from worn jean material for the young boys and somehow managed a set of doll clothing for Alice and me. A thrill!!
Mother would have gladly taught me to sew for I was interested, but there was no opportunity, except on those rare-mentioned-occasions. I would then crowd up beside her, offering to run the treadle if she wanted to put up with me. I watched carefully her movements and when she was not there I tried to make the machine work. While attending Delta High School, as a sophomore, I was obliged to choose Domestic Arts as my Elective subject. This was a cooking class for half the year and sewing class for the other half. We were required to perform hand sewing at the beginning. I toiled to hem a dish towel, then a front apron. The machines were in short supply so much waiting was necessary for a turn at one of them. Furthermore, we stood in line for a chance to speak with our teacher for instructions, so we took many chances to make things work on our own, always hoping our work would be approved for a needed grade. I progressed, learned, and became more and more interested. When it became possible for a purchase of fabric, I tackled a simple dress, and then a blouse. I took the article home, whenever possible, for some help from Mother. My first articles of wearing apparel were disastrous. I shudder in recalling those items; but I persisted, and during the same class in the next school year, I was determined to construct a coat of lightweight cheap wool. I was forced to wear it, but was never comfortable. By constant trial and error, I became a self-made seamstress, and further a tailor in a few instances. I have sewn for many: my mother and sister, regularly, and for myself. Then, the children and grandchildren. I managed to turn out full outfits for the girls over and over and children's clothing galore. By practice and determination, along with taking out stitches, I enjoyed and took pride in many of the products. I've done sewing for friends, but never wanted to sew for pay. Sewing has brought a sincere love for visits to fabric stores and that would be early on a list of things I enjoy doing. Wishing that my skills were not gone, I still try at many alterations, etc.
Quilting was a necessity. I remember my mother putting together pieces of material from worn out overalls and other items no longer suitable for wear. She even washed and carded wool from the shearings. I watched and helped with this as best I could. Even though the carding went rather slow, patches of wool did result and were pled [?] upon a backing to be put together with a top piece to be tied or quilted. I enjoyed the process and picked up this handicraft easily. Later, during employment years, we were able to buy new materials and make blocks for quilting. This was especially interesting to me.
In Sunset Ward, I quilted (hand stitched) every Relief Society Work period. This is truly an art and requires patience and a desire for neatness. There were good quilters in the Sunset Ward, and I learned so much from them. Gertie Terry was a master, along with Anne Barton, Glenna Chase's mother, who attended only on Work Days). Mary Tolley and Rhoda Hickenlooper. There were some others whose names I can't remember at this time.
I enjoyed producing a hand-quilted item, but in latter years, I've seen an enormous disregard for this fine work in the treatment of such quilts. As a result I have produced many, many quilts and spreads with hand-ties of yarn, heavy thread, or even ribbon. I usually bind the raw edges with bias material strips and finish by hand sewing the blind stitch. For the last several years I have forsaken other handicrafts such as embroidery, knitting and crochet in favor of the quilt-tying. I appreciate and enjoy all of it, but seems so much of the older arts are out of style and forgotten. I did learn tatting (an intricate lacey process of fine thread) from my mother, but I have forgotten that skill almost completely.
Grunion - A Coastal Phenomenon! (addition from 2005)
During the [early] 1930’s, as a family, we were living in the city of Ventura, California. I think I remember some of the addresses: Hemlock Street, and another, 43 Catalina Street. After members of my family had relocated to Oakland, California, I, alone, lived in a rear cottage on Main Street. It was in that area [but during the earlier years] that I first learned of the Grunion Fish Fun. Grunion are small (5-8 inch, sardine-like) fish that live along the coast of southern California, where they lay their eggs on sandy beaches during late February into early September. They come up on the beaches only during the highest tides and during the night. Newspapers in communities along the coast announce grunion nights when the fish may be expected to spawn and lay their eggs. Many people gather on the beach to catch the fish, by hand, at the expected times. The announcements made good reasons for planning a night beach party, which, on occasion, we did as a family, or at other times with friends.
Our father, Emile Lauper, paid little attention to these announcements; in fact, he was disbelieving of the entire feverish conversations and planning. On one occasion, we coaxed Father into coming along with us seasoned and ‘know-how’ grunion fishermen. We were geared for a night picnic meal, including utensils and fire-making provisions for frying the anticipated fish. Many times there is a good deal of waiting involved, for a precise timing cannot be predicted. When the silvery mass suddenly appears, the crowd of people along the beach becomes excited and even crazed by the spirit of the game. We ran with pails and pans to the water’s edge to hasten the picking up of whatever did not escape. The tide recedes quickly, so the fish that have completed their mission with dispatch go out as quickly as they had appeared. During the happy hubbub, the major focus was initially off of our father, only to later find him engaged in the free-for-all. The spirit had moved him to run on out to the water’s edge, forgetting himself completely. He was soon splashed upon to the point that he was wet above his knees. With the weight of water stretching his suspenders, his trousers drooped low, but he paid no attention to the strange and comical sight he presented. Inasmuch as the activity amounts to a survival-of-the-fittest episode, no one made any effort to rescue him until we had all experienced about as much fun as could be endured. We did often laugh in remembering how dear Father looked as he enjoyed that unforgettable experience. As usual we pooled our catches, cooked them over an open fire and ate with no thought of further cleaning. We always had fun and no one ever became ill as a result.
World War II in Chicago (addition from 2005)
We left the Piedmont home [in Oakland, California] for Chicago in August of 1943, in fact, Linda and I were enroute on the train on her 2nd birthday, her daddy having gone ahead by several weeks to start his work there. He was about to be conscripted into the Military, so he chose Defense Industry work instead. We lived happily there until the War's end. Meantime, we connected with the East Shore Branch of the Church. I had a Counselorship in the Primary, Daddee Joe was a Seventy and had a Priesthood calling. We lived miles from the East Shore Hotel where Services were held, but attended each Sunday when Joe was privileged to be home from his busy travel schedule. Mother Emma had joined us in Chicago before year's end and we were a happy family there with a newly-built community home on West Balmoral (I think the number was 7243 or something like that). It was three long blocks to catch the El, which would take Mother, Linda and I downtown, as well as to other areas we desired whenever Daddee was kept away from home.
The End of WWII, returning from Chicago to San Francisco (addition from 2005)
We returned to California and to the Bay area in spring of 1945. War was ended, Daddee Joe returned to his previous employment as Manufacturer's Agent with Drug Sundries as his primary product. Linda started Kindergarten in the Fall at Ulloa School -- we walked her to and fro each day. It was quite a distance.
We also took some trips for weeks at a time with Daddee into Northwest, etc. Many items were still being rationed by our Government and were in high demand. Our auto was broken into during a trip into Portland and all Dad's items were stolen, including his garments (useless to anyone else, but difficult for us to obtain), and white shirts, etc. It was a big loss for us. Rationing was also necessary of foods all through the War period. As a family we were issued stamp books which had to be budgeted and used thoughtfully, especially to obtain staples, meat, dairy foods, etc. We stood in line to obtain all white goods, electrical items and many foods.
With World War II ending, Defense work in Chicago area no longer necessary. We needed to get back to the West for continued work with Daddee Joe's previous employment. Four of us left in our Plymouth vehicle as soon as a moving van had picked up our household belongings. The weather was somewhat agreeable. We were comfortable enroute. We stopped at Laramie, Wyoming, for lunch, including Daddee's haircut, and for the rest of us, to look up an old friend and leave a note of our attempted visit. On our way, and nearly to next town of Rawlins, we experienced a near-fatal accident. "Black Ice" was skimming the dips in the Highway and was invisible to the the eye. Our front wheels contacted the ice causing the car to go completely out of control. We rolled 2-1/2 times landing upright just a few feet from the edge of the embankment; we were saved from dropping several feet to the bottom of a gulley. Our car was badly damaged. Daddee was banged up severely and his eyeglasses were shtttered, as was the windshield. I was bruised and battered. Linda, somehow "rolled with all of it" and was not injured. Mother did not have broken bones, but was in shock and otherwise wrenched such that she suffered unrelieved pains for the rest of her life. She was upside down and had to be dug out. A Greyhound Bus came upon the scene soon. They gave assistance [back] to the town of Laramie where Mother and Joe were hospitalized. Joe was released that night. Mother was treated for several days and she nearly succumbed. I sat with her day and night. We contacted the Church Members and they cared for Linda. Joe and I had a motel room when we were not at the hospital. Finally our poor mom was able to travel. Joe had arranged for mechanical work, enough to make our vehicle road-worthy. We traveled to Ogden, Utah, for more repairs and respite. Eventually we made it to California and the Bay Area, where we sought temporary housing and medical aid until at length we located in San Francisco on 43rd and Rivera.
Upon returning to Bay Area there were absoluely no vacancies for living quarters. Uunable to locate in Oakland, we came into S.F. to lease a little home on the corner of Rivera and 43rd street, where we resided until finally we hocked both of our small insurance policies in order to get an initial down payment on the 3030 Noriega Street property. A builder by name of Claude T. Lindsey Company finally accepted our meager offer. Claude was a counselor to our Bishop Serge J. Lauper. I was immediately called to work with Corinne Howard in the Primary. I was sustained without an interview, not knowing with whom I was to work. Daddee was made part of the Seventies Quorum and a Ward Teacher. His earliest home to call upon was the John and Therma Roberts Home (they were totally inactive then, interestingly). The seven couples making up the 70's quorum became our closest friends for some time. Principally, and with most longevity, were the Howards, Beattys, Tolleys, and others who relocated. We were tight friends and enjoyed our work and associations very much. [See later section on Friends.]
Earthquake Experiences (addition from 2005)
My first scary episode happened about 1933 in Ventura, California [This quake occurred 10 March, and was of magnitude 6.4, centered at Long Beach]. We were living, as a family, in a large second floor of a duplex. The utilities, which included garage and storage spaces etc., made up the first floor. The back room of our domain was sort of a sun room but we used it for lounging as well as laundry. I was toiling away with a wash that particular day when the wash machine started rolling from its connection, due to the swaying and bucking of the building. I was unable to discern WHAT was happening and did not ever feel the danger nor serious tragedy. It was a real shake! As proof of my lack of understanding of the issue, I went out the back door to stand on the small landing. I started to reel in the clothes line to bring in my laundry. In doing this, I suddenly realized I, as well as the line of wash, were weaving heavily with the quake. Being so unaware, I was certainly fortunate and blessed.
Another stout shake occurred about the late 1950’s. The center was Northridge, California, which lies a good deal south from the Bay Area. [Grandma possibly confused the location with the much later quake at Northridge in 1994. On 21 July 1952, during the early morning hours, there was a very strong 7.3 quake in Kern County (Bakersfield). That is 250 miles away, but it would have been felt in San Francisco.] We certainly felt it and were shook up. I now knew of some precautions to take: hurry away from glass or objects that fall such as book case, etc.; go for a door frame or some reinforced part of a building; go downstairs, out of doors and into open area as much as possible. [Advice has been updated on this in recent years: get under a sturdy item, such as a heavy desk or reinforced table, or against an inside wall, away from windows and potentially falling objects; if inside, do not run outside as falling objects and building pose a danger.]
[The following section is as originally written, but it does not match exactly with the historical record of earthquakes. When I questioned Grandma on this, suggesting that it was the combination of two or more incidents, she agreed that it was probably so, and that she was unsure of the particulars. I cannot readily reconcile the “1960’s quake while at Cooper Bessemer” with any large, local earthquake that occurred during business hours in the period Grandma worked there. Possibly it was the Oroville quake (5.8, 150 miles away) around midday on 01 August 1975. But even minor earthquakes cause significant motion when up in a skyscraper, so it was possibly at another time. It is probable that most of this description refers to a quake in 1957, when the children were indeed in elementary school and husband Joe was still alive. Of course, grandmother Emma would have been alive then, too… It was a 5.3 quake centered very nearby at Daly City.]
Sometime in early 60’s a real heavy quake came into the Bay Area, both East and West. I was working in an upstairs office for Cooper Bessemer. My desk and back of my chair was dangerously close to a set of windows. The building was old and easy for destruction. My boss came hurriedly from his adjoining office, speaking loudly, “Come with me in this door frame”, which I did, and we stood together for several minutes. My two youngest children were in elementary school. They were dismissed to hurry home. JR was the fastest to reach 3030 Noriega and to find demolition. Dishes had fallen and broken from cupboard and from other shelves. The bathroom basin was cracked due to several heavy jars and bottles falling from the cabinet above. There were cracks in basement cement floor and similar material that made up the laundry basins in basement area, along with further disarray of fallen items upstairs and downstairs. My children were dismayed and frightened. I, too, was highly disturbed and anxious to get home. Their father was out of town, driving northward to get home as well. He encountered wheel damage to his vehicle due to large cracks and highway separations while making the worrisome trip to our home. He reported that he viewed and avoided much destruction on the way. [This location and highway description would be more in line with the 1952 earthquake.]
A quake in October, 1989, centered in the Bay Area [at Loma Prieta, 6.9] was major and very destructive. I was the only person living at 3030 at the time. I was making a quick trip to the neighborhood public library, and was walking hurriedly the 4 or 5 blocks [it is actually no more than 3 blocks] toward home. The whole world around me commenced to shake, the sidewalk seemed to be buckling, and the nearby school building began to sway as a strange sound filled the air momentarily. I was thrown to the sidewalk beneath. Fortunately, I did not strike my head nor did I break bones. I lay completely stunned for a very short while. By this time the street was abuzz with people who were pouring out of their homes.
No one offered to help me. A man driving a car on the street beside me was headed my way and was slowly veering from his rightful side of the street, headed directly toward me. I was terrified. The driver was either injured or stunned to a helpless stage, or whatever. He seemed to have lost control! I struggled with help of a nearby lamp post and finally was able to get upon my feet. Frightened people bumped about me as I stumbled forward down the sidewalk. The earth had stopped shaking. I crossed Noriega Street and let myself into 3030. I had to force the open patio door [leading into the garage/basement] after unlocking it, because there had been an abundance of storage shaken down from the shelves and much of it had lodged against the door. When I did get in, I found the entire basement to be in disarray. Storage and food items were strewn about, with some broken glass and a genuine messy situation. The basement had more destruction than the upstairs living area, although there were items that had been thrown from the shelving, and broken. Night was very soon on me with no utilities available. I found some candles, lit them and listened to my battery radio only to learn that the Marina section of the City was on fire. I had one phone call before the phone went dead. It was [my brother] Serge [who lived about a mile away] and we were cut off before I could explain my dilemma. I did learn that he was safe.
The radio warned and cautioned that we all should check our pipes to determine if the earth’s twisting might have caused a leaking of gas. This worried me and I didn’t know how to do it. I got outside again but could think of no way to signal my neighbor, Mr. Jones, inasmuch as there was no functioning door bell and his gate was locked. At length, with a flash light, and by throwing pebbles against the window, I was able to get him down to see who I was. I asked him to come inside my basement to check the pipes. He did this with my help by putting drops of water on each connection to watch if there was a bubble. At length, I went to bed. The utilities were off for about three days, excluding the telephone. I was finally able to call my families. The City, in many areas, suffered major destruction: lots of sadness and expenses.
When I was employed at Bruener's [in Oakland, before marriage. See Employment ], I worked closely with the people in my office. My deskmate and several other girls, who supplied figures for the monthly reports, became my friends early on. One was Doris Coates. I have a small pen and ink picture on my hall wall which she did for me, she being an erstwhile artist. We often had lunch together although we did not visit in each other's home (she was a single gal, too). There were a few others also that I connected with, but none were LDS Church Members.
My first calling in Dimond Ward, Oakland Stake, was to be a counselor to the Stake Y.W. president. That was difficult even though I did my best. I became acquainted in a better than averge way with a young married woman worker, and I listened a great deal to her matrimonial disappointments. I've forgotten her last name but she remains friend Marjorie to me. We made many night calls and meetings. Soon I was asked to help in Stake Relief Society, which was more productive, under the good leadership of Sister Ruth Hilton (the Stake President's wife). I made many calls and meetings with her and enjoyed a delightful association.
I also linked with young women of the Dimond Ward, primarily with Vera Harper with whom I enjoyed friendship as long as she lived. She was my age.
I first dated the young man that Vera later married, Roy Weindorf. His sister, Ruth, was also a friend of mine; also his parents. For several years following arrival of both Vera's and my children, we were invited several years to the family's Clear Lake cabin, where we vacationed with much enjoyment, visiting, playing, swimming, and enjoying ourselves during the weeks until our husbands would join on the weekend. We often had get-togethers when we were at our homes also.
When Daddee Joe and I were married we had acquired several other young friends in the Dimond Ward as well as some couple friends. Roy and Vera Weindorf were steadies. We resided in Oakland for the first years of marriage before moving to Chicago and then San Francisco, yet we seemed to hold on to our East Bay friends and traveled often for visits to several homes--- Elaine Kimball and her out-of-town husband, Naomi Kest and her sister and Bob, her brother, the Hilton family of siblings, etc., were all among our best friendhsips. We still belonged to the once-a-month, dress-party dance club called the Debonairs, and we would participate with the "old Oakland crowd" for all these dancing parties. It was always a highlight to go dancing at the nicer hotels and ballrooms with that Club, which continued for at least a year or two after we lived in San Francisco. There, we still went dancing at the hotels and the imported live Orchestras with various couples: Wes and Mary Tolley, Berniece and husband Fenton, Leon and Lillian Collett, Jay and Florence Banks, Ed and Florence Costa, Earl and Marguerite Roehl, George and Riti Aaron, John and Therma Roberts, etc. plus several others who moved from the area or those I cannot recall. All these were early S.F. friends with whom we exchanged visits for dinner, games, parties or dancing, as well as for our Church duties.
On one Sunday morning, I met a new family in the entryway of the chapel [of San Francisco's Sunset Ward]. I greeted the young woman, as was my custom, and inasmuch as we were still in the lobby, we entered into conversation to get acquainted. From that day forward, Claire Engel, and the family, have been our choice friends. It is part of history that Linda Luv and Wayne dated a considerable amount during their high school years, but it was Claire who became a bosom pal and was ever thus. I always felt that if ever I was in need I could call upon her at any time or anywhere. She would make all effort to come to my side. That was invaluable insurance and assurance throughout my life. We did share a good deal of ourselves. There are several other good friends who could be recounted, but since mention of Claire, there are few who compare, and somehow they pale as I mention and recall her.
In Chicago [1943-1945], most all our neighbors were fine, but we really connected with the next-door couple, Ed and Louise Archenbron. Many good and interesting experiences followed. They later relocated in Goleta, California (near Santa Barbara), where I visited them, and they also attended our Linda's wedding reception, as well as other visits on occasion. Even though younger than me, they are both gone from this earth at this writing, but are forever our truly good friends.
Since I've now been without my True-Love for most of 41 years, I have lived alone at the home we bought new in l947. Widowhood does make some difference in some forms of friendshipping, and in some friends. My life was now full of the workplace as well as responsibilities for a home with two young children, JoAnn and JR. I got little sleep due to chores, sewing, cooking, cleaning, and generally trying to heal, although I do not how to describe that issue. I engaged in very little social life those days, in fact for years. And I have never felt like dating. (I still feel married, actually). The social life I had previously enjoyed included couples, and I was the first to be single.
Some friends stayed constant, some removed from the City, other alterations entered in, many passed away. Today, I have very few old friends -- hardly anyone my age and no one with whom to commiserate or exchnge news. Each of my siblings are gone as well -- both those older and those younger. I wonder why this has happened? Perhaps I was left to learn more patience, an attribute that I've still not mastered. Oh my. But, I'm fortunate in being more or less connected with several very fine young friends -- either in person or through correspondence -- and there are all the Ward friendships both in San Francisco and in Salt Lake as well.
I had been spending a good deal of time at the David and Linda's Pleasanton home after being stricken by a severe sciatica attack. They were expert in care-giving, so it wasn't unusual when they asked if I would spend my birthday with them. But what a surprise, however, when family members appeared by twos and fours, and upwards in numbers. I had also received several interesting and generous telephone calls that morning. These came from out of the area and even out of the State, which was another surprise.
There was inclement weather that day, with torrents of rain coming down, in a much heavier pour than I'd ever seen in that calm locality, which made the travel of the crowd difficult. Nonetheless, there were grandchildren from Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona; nephews, nieces and cousins from afar, including Fresno, Salt Lake City, Vacaville, Danville, Stockton, San Francisco, and the Bay Area. I was overwhelmed to an almost speechless stage, and when I was called upon to respond to the affair, I did so with much difficulty.
Foremost in my thoughts and expression was the declaration of my extreme gratitude for such a wonderful, caring, and loving family. Also, I could not refrain from a comment regarding my sorrow that my dear husband had been gone for so many years---40 of them---- and what a pity and sadness that he had missed seeing, knowing, and associating with all this wonderful posterity and extended group of family members. Each of the people there were MY OWN.
It was truly a Grand and a Surprising Day. We enjoyed a feast-like repast, followed by a gorgeous cake, large and prettily topped with "live" red roses on cream frosting.
Linda had done a good deal of preview planning by sending or calling all these people, not only to invite, but to ask them to prepare a sentimental type of letter of remembrance. She assembled them into a book binder to give to me. A Treasure! A wonderful party. Thanks to all, especially to Linda, my first-born and lovely daughter.
[A book was compiled with photographs, memorabilia and a page created by each of the guests. At some point, parts of that book will be shown online.
[See also: Childhood Birthday]