Friday, November 28, 2008


When we were first married I saw an adorable kitten in front of our grocery store. It was free. I said to Sam that I would like to get the animal. He said: OK you can have the kitten or you can have me. It only took seconds for me to decide. But for fifty plus years we joked about my cat-less life and I told Sam that if he died before I did, I would go to the pound and get a cat on my way home from the funeral. Well, he did die, and I did get a kitten a few days later. The first Saturday Farmer's market after Sam died I saw a woman sitting spinning yarn. She had a basket at her feet, and in the basket were three kittens. One was black and white and when I held him I was at first so amazed at the heat I felt in my hand. He was so small that he fit perfectly into my hand. When I turned him a bit, I discovered that there were hundreds of black fleas on his white stomach. I could not put him back in his basket. After visiting the pet store I took him home where he met Cap our two year old Brittany. The fur stood up on the back of the cat and he made a treathening sound and so he was named. He was an Edgar Allen Poe cat. He and Cap saved me from years of misery of missing Sam.

Smoke Signals

Our son ran away from home before he was five. I helped him pack a going away bag. He was gone for a few hours. He never told what irked him. Probably too many females in the house. After we moved to Diablo he had three of the cutest playmates across the street. And three of the naughtiest boys, you will ever want to meet. They and their new play mate committed arson. They raided peoples garages looking for a chicken in the freezers. They somehow knew which package contained a chicken and were not careful about returning the steaks and lamb-chops to the freezer. After finding what they were looking for they lit a fire in a culvert on the golf course and tried to barbecue their catch. Our son was in his indian suit as he came home, rushing into the house, through the living room, into his room. I had a few friends for afternoon coffee and they all laughed and said 'he's in a hurry'

And then we heard the fire engine. And then a thin whiff of smoke reached my nostrils. And then I knew. I ran into the Indian's room, grabbed his arm and ran to where the firemen were working. Everybody thought, How cute! The talking to of the four boys was much to easy and as far as I could see had no consequences for the three neighbors. Ours was forbidden to play with them and was campused for a week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Orange-juice cans and macaroni

A few people asked about our hydrotherapy time. I found with our first child that the hour between five and six was the most difficult hour of the day. Especially the two year old time. And since I liked to cook I was forced to spend that hour in the kitchen. If we walked to Mrs Murphy's house, I was sure to have our potatoes baking in the oven or our casserole was getting warmed. Then I fed the children when we returned.

But if Sam were working nearby, then we would wait for him and then we had an extra hour of entertaining the brood. The older ones liked to read or play with crayons but the little ones were restless and had to be entertained. It might not have been the safest, but the two little ones stood on chairs and immersed themselves as far as they could go into warm sudsy water. All they did with the macaroni was pour it in one can and then poured it into another. Occasionally they would put a piece of macaroni in the mouth and I figured it could not hurt them. They could have pushed each other off the chairs, but they never did. If they got too wet they metamorphed into their pajamas before eating. It was cheap and it worked. The amount of macaroni was minimal.

The orange juice cans have a story. We could afford one can of juice each morning. You young people don't know about frozen orange juice. There were six of us and we shared the content of of one small can. The children were so happy if one of them got invited to spend the night elsewhere. The one who was invited, because she would probably get more in the house where she spent the night, but her siblings because the little cheese glasses would be filled to the brim next morning. You might say: why didn't you buy bigger cans? We were extremely poor and If I had to buy a tube of toothpaste, we probably had baked beans that night. I even drove in to Walnut Creek to buy concentrated milk which saved a couple of cents. Safeway was in Walnut Creek and the groceries were cheaper than in our family owned stores in Danville.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My little Indian

Gilbert, our first child, had just had his fourth birthday before we moved to Diablo. His favorite present was an indian suit. He might have received a head dress and a hatchet but I only remember the suit. There was plastic fringe on the sleeves and on the side of his pants. He wore it every day and sat by the dryer when it had to be washed. After we moved in he escaped and ran up the street. The front door at the neighbors house was open and he ran into the living room where several adults were peacefully having a post breakfast conversation. He circled the coffee table and exited the room and returned home. Not a word had been spoken during his attack. It was the house of the Greers where Mike Bray spent his teenage years. Harriet Greer was the first one to ask me if we were Catholics. The three tiny children and me being very pregnant made people suspect that the church had been guilty of some pressure. It was difficult convincing people that it was because we got such a late start.

We were quite a conversation stopper when we would go for our evening walk. About five in the afternoon, when little people usually get cranky or restless, we would all walk up the street to Mrs Murphy's house to see the ducks in her front-yard. Early on we had one child in the stroller and two walking along-side. It would usually take half an hour or 45 min. and by the time we got home supper would be ready. If Sam were in the neighborhood, we would wait for him so we could have dinner together. Then there would be Hydrotherapy for the two younger children. I would fill the kitchen sink with warm bubbly water and get out all the orange juice cans and the macaroni and nothing soothed tired toddlers better than that. After Jane was born, a month later the stroller was exchanged for the baby buggy and then Martha would sit at the foot of the buggy and Gilbert and Anna would hold onto the buggy as we wandered up the street. And then the Hydrotherapy still consisted of the two youngest. It worked well for a long time. I wish they could all have remained under five, for I felt so secure as a mother. Then they got smarter than their mother. But we were very lucky. They were all healthy and grew p to be wonderful people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More of Herb Caen and the Gordons

Herb Caen was a very powerful man in Northern California. We heard the owner of Danville Hotel say that when his place was mentioned in Herb's column he rushed to the phone and hired three extra waiters for a week or ten days. And still people had to wait to be seated.

Once there was an art show that asked me to enter something. I really had nothing available. As a joke I found a portrait of a beautiful girl, the sister of a friend. I changed her eyes, and painted small raisin size dark eyes. And then I signed it
NEAK RETLAW. When it was accepted I told Herb what I had done. Naek Retlaw is Walter Kean backward. He mentioned it in his column. The story does not tell if Walter Keane knew about it.

The first time I heard about Walter Keane was early in my career. We were both exhibitors at the Berkley Sidewalk show. We were sitting across the street from each other. I set up early and then waited for my first victim. A lovely elderly woman came by and wanted to know what I was doing. I told her I was there to do quick sketches of anyone who wanted to see themselves in charcoal. I said 'Why don't you sit down and I will do a quick sketch of you. I won't charge you, I will just use you, to get my fingers charged up. She sat down and she was easy to catch. When I was pleased with what I had caught and there were only details to finish I told her she did not have to sit any longer. While I was working on a little lace on the brim of her hat she stood behind me and studied her likeness. Suddenly I realized that she was crying. What's the matter? I asked. She put her hand on my shoulder and said 'It looks exactly like my father.' Do you look like your father? No, not at all.

Across the street Walter Keane and his wife were busy. It was the first time I had seen his large eyed portraits and my first feeling was How cute! But it did not take long for it to seem old hat.

It was a fun time for me and I was lucky it happened on a weekend. Sam was home and I knew the children were in good hands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


There was so much work to be done. Our house had been uninhabited for several years. It was sold by the estate of Hockenbiemers and our realtor bought it as an investment. There were cigarettes on the hardwood floors telling us that it had been a hangout for teens. And the plumbing was old and antique looking. The two showers were lined with white, tiny ceramic tiles. The kitchen again was old-fashioned and no one had thought about how many steps were wasted there. But beneath all the ugly parts there was such beauty in nature surrounding the house. The backyard was bordered by the highway going up to Mount Diablo. On the other side of that road were green hills where cattle were grazing. A bull lumbered up and down these hills. The bull became famous, which we did not know for several years. I have to consult with the Gordons, for I forget the name of the bull and I forget the name of the owner who used to drive around the country side with the bull in his convertible.

The Gordons came later, but I just spoke to them on the phone and so they are invading my memory at the moment. They moved to Danville when their early children were tiny. Semmes started a news paper called the Blue Paper. It was mimeographed and Semmes referred to his wife as 'His cute little stencil cutter' It made us think of Herb Caen's type of writing and I think he was popular from the very beginning. They later bought The Valley Pioneer and he was then in the high Media world. The way we met was my idea of using the weekly grocery adds with recipes containing the specials. I invited Semmes to come to the house to discuss my idea and he at once poured cold water on the whole thing. He said the grocers wanted customers to come buy specials but more than anything they wanted customers to buy the steaks and the other expensive groceries. I was no home-ec educated person and I was trying to tell people how to live on specials and how to save their money. And I was going to get rich in the meantime. One of my early failures.

After a couple of years of painting I asked Herb Caen if he would sit for a portrait. I would drive in to San Francisco and paint him in his office at the San Francisco Chronicle. He agreed. I painted and tried my best and when I had to do the back ground I asked if he would ask a photographer from the paper to take a picture. He agreed to do so for I am sure I had become an awful nuisance. The photographer was the man who took the photo of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

And Herb promised I would get huge rewards if I made his nose shorter.

Soon after, there was some kind of contest at The de Young Museum and I entered the painting of Herb. It was accepted. Preview night Sam and I invited Semmes and his cute little stencil cutter to join us for the festivities. Sam and Semmes had never met before and neither Sam nor I had ever met Peggy. (tclsc). And so began a friendship that lasts to this day. We met Walter Keane, who painted children with enormous eyes, who invited us to go to Sausalito for dinner at Sally Stanford's Valhalla and we refused, for we had come into the city and did not want to go back to the country. He said I want you to have dinner on me. Here is a blank check for dinner at Trader Vick's


Monday, November 17, 2008


Fire Fox, I would like to read your blog. Is Sharon is Sharing your blog? Please advice. And Melissa Weishard, the reason for the initials. At first I wanted to remain anonymous. I soon realized it is impossible. Did you read the blog comment from the person who knew how to figure out the names of the fellow passengers on the Argentina. That really shocked me. In a later one, when I spoke of the doctor who said 'If my wife's hands looked like yours, I would divorce her' I feel I have to be careful about naming names. They had three children and I am so fearful that I could cause pain. The most interesting part of that story could not be told for that reason.

I promise I will call S. Sam from now on. He died ten years ago after a short illness. I miss him, and I treasure every memory of him, and even though I have moved into a Senior Living place, I feel his presence, and I treasure that too. I know he would approve of Shreve making me a blogger.

I will get back to Diablo next time. Those were my most inspired years. We had our fourth baby. She was an RH baby. All of them were cesarians but she was especially pink and beautiful when she was born. Sam was in Denver and my best friend took me to the hospital when the critical time arrived. She had never seen a newborn, who had not gone through the birth-canal and she named her rosebud. As you know, her birth made me begin painting for I had for the first time realized we were going to have four children in college at the same time. I began taking lessons. I owned an art school in Danville. I rented the upstairs of an abandoned railroad station, remodeled and gave art lessons there. This all took about 20 years. And I hope to tell you my best memories from that time. Since I began this tale claiming to be a name dropper I will promise to tell you talk about some big ones.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our home for the next 18 years.

We lived in this house an eternity and still it was called the Hockenbiemer house till the day we left. It was not built by the Hockenbiemers I found out one day when I peeled off all the sheet-rock in the kitchen. The original owner's name was written on the beams that became exposed. I forget the name now. The H.s bought the house and used it for a summer house since 1920 something. At that time there was a railroad running out from Oakland. The families would spend the weeks in the country and the fathers would arrive on Fridays. There was a lake at one time where the families would swim and picnic. There was a race course. And there was a swimming pool and a golf course near the club house. The post office was located near the clubhouse. We had no mail delivery, but had to go to pick up at the PO.

The Hs. needed more and more room to entertain. They added more and more rooms to the house. When we bought it, there were three bedrooms. A master bedroom, a small bedroom for our son and one for the three girls we would eventually have. But there were rooms that we could not understand why they were there. All of them became bedrooms for the girls as time passed.

We had a two car tandem garage and two guest houses behind that. The space between the guesthouses became a horse-port for our eldest daughter, when she became a horse owner. It had a roof above and an old bathtub for water. The hay was stored in one of the guest houses. The largest of the guesthouses became my studio when I developed into a serious painter.

It was the most beautiful place to live and we all loved it there. And even if the house was aging faster than we did, and even though we were poor as church mice, we loved it. A creek ran through our property. Mr. Hockenbiemer had poured lots of cement where the creek had a slight bend, and with a baffle he had arranged a fishing spot for himself and his guests. For us it was just a nice surface where the children could play in the summer time when the creek was dry.

The kitchen was a disaster. The walls were peeling, the floor was not safe to work in. S. told me there was no way we could afford to remodel. I was patient for a while and then one day S. left to drive to Denver I decided to test the ban on remodel. When the car was out of sight, I began peeling the broken, ugly sheet rock off the walls. There was a breakfast nook with a door to the outdoors in the corner. There was an extra room where we had to keep the refrigerator, beyond that was the laundry room where we had to keep our freezer. It was not a well planned kitchen. Poor S. when he returned tired and hoping to relax from having had a strenuous drive and a hard ten days, he was met by a mountain of broken up sheet rock. And also lumber, for I had knocked down a couple of walls. I left one 4 by 4 standing for I did not know if it was a bearing beam.

S. had not lied to me. It was over a year before we could afford to have the work done. Wind blew in all winter. I had no oven to bake our usual Christmas delicacies. I had an electrical oven that I bought at a garage sale and a hot plate. To me it was all worth it for when we were finally done we had the most beautiful kitchen. We had a fireplace, a white tiled floor, and lots of good feelings. That kitchen, when I look back, seems like the best room I ever lived in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Buying a new house

One day when our cleaning woman was coming, S said: Why don't you come with me today. I have to deliver a catalogue to a store in Danville. The country side is beautiful and you will love the walnut landscape. We drove over the San Mateo Bridge, through Crow Canyon and before long we were in Danville. S. stopped in front of what once was the Bank of America, (maybe it was still the Bank of America). He picked up a catalogue and dashed across the street to the furniture store. There was a grocery-store on the opposite corner and I thought I would amble over and get something to nibble on. I tried to open my door of the car and found it was impossible for the sidewalk was so high that it reached half way up my door. There were signs on the building where once you had tied up your horse while banking. I deduced that the side walk was so high for ease of getting back on your horse. I found it utterly charming. By this time, I had lived on the Peninsula since 1945, in Hillsborough, in San Mateo, and in Burlingame and I had decided (since I arrived in Danville) that I would like to live in a place that was a real place and not a long string of towns merged on the El Camino Real. When S. returned I said I would like to live in a town like Danville. S. picked up a different catalogue and returned to the furniture store. There he told the owner what I had said. The owner said:Let's go next door and tell Mr. Imbry, the realtor, what I said.

Sam came back to the car and said we are going to look at a house that is a real find. So we drove East I think, to a little community called Diablo. There were small beautiful houses, a post office and a country club. But the trees as you drove through were truly magnificent. Huge oak trees that met above our heads. I knew I had arrived at something close to Paradise. We looked at the house and the bridge we had to drive over to get to the house, and the many guest houses in the back of the house. What a place to bring up a family. We made an offer of 20.000 (down from 22.000) and our offer was accepted. It was subject to our selling our house. We had not checked for termites of which there were billions. We did not have the roof checked. And we knew we were on the brink of being penniless with much repair and much remodeling in our future.

When we returned home Flourine said all had gone well. She said our son had asked a really funny question while she was feeding him lunch. She said he looked perplexed and said' Flourine what color carrots do you eat? I laughed and said that I had told him the day before: Come on G. eat your carrots and you'll get red hair. Since he already had red hair, I didn't think I was lying.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Barbara wrote that she would like to have a current photo in my blog. One of my favorite daughters and husband are coming for Thanksgiving and I will ask my son-in-law to take a picture. Hope it will be flattering. I have one photo that I have saved for my obituary. It is now about ten years old.

When we lived in North Burlingame, we had a rich social life. An old friend of S.s was married to a doctor. He was going to become associated with a new internist, who had bought a house a block from us. There were many parties welcoming them to California and we were invited. They became good friends. One time we were having dinner at our house. There were ten people around the table. Suddenly this new friend took my hand, held it up and said 'If my wife had hands like these, I would divorce her. Total silence... S, My wonderful husband was the first to speak. He said: Come here so I can see your hands. I want everyone to know that the brown around the nails is caused by the painting that we all celebrated with a glass of champagne. And the large scab on this knuckle was caused by dropping a brick, when she was laying the patio in the back yard. And the infection in her hand was caused by a splinter from moving our firewood into the garage. I treasure these hands. It made me cry a little. But I learned to wear gloves for protection and use hand lotion more liberally.

The wife who was the woman I had been compared to, was the most gorgeous woman I had ever met. She looked like a classical painting. Her hair was strawberry blond and her skin looked like a babies' skin. And she had the most alluring Southern accent. She was a perfect example of a Virginia lady. She and I were pregnant at the same time and her baby boy was two days older than our baby boy. She was allowed to eat nothing but watermelon until she had returned to her original weight. It had drastic consequences.

Another old friend of S.s lived within several blocks. She had three little boys and before I had a child I spent a lot of time at their house. I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do when we finally were parents. She died early from a sickness called lupus.

And friends that we met from attending the Episcopal church who had two daughters that I often borrowed lived nearby also. The older one became an Episcopal minister. Haven't met her since the family moved away.

We had three children living in that house. And I was four months pregnant with our fourth one when we moved to the East Bay. I will tell you how that came about next time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

moving again

Anne, first a thank you for your comment. I wish we were sitting together with our tea and our stories. I would like to hear yours.

We had lived next to the Bayshore Freeway for over a year when the idea cropped up in S.s mind that we should buy a house instead of wasting money on rent. We had listened to our elders who said housing would come down and we discovered that things were going up. (And I guess this year is the first time housing has gone down since then.) We found a house in North Burlingame and it was not the Taj Majal. Maybe it was because I was pregnant that the move was advisable. We found the house through a friend of S. It had three bedroom, it was on a corner lot, and it had a bus stop nearby. We paid 16.000 for it and our monthly payment was 66.66 which included insurance and I think some kind of tax. The people who sold it had built it when they were young and it was now time for them to retire. It was not exactly the best time for me to move, for I had been allowed to borrow a corner of a neighbors lot where I had planted a garden. The tomatoes were huge and plentiful when we left. Our neighbor said 'come back and harvest them as long as you like.'

On the North end of the living-room wall was the fire place. Centered, with a window on either side. There was room to build book shelves on either side of the fireplace. I made draperies with an upholstered valance going the whole length of the wall. That made it look as though there had to be a painting covering the whole wall above the fireplace. I knew exactly what I wanted that painting to depict. and it had to be an oil painting. I searched many museums and libraries for a photo of what I wanted. It had to be a historical sight of a fleet of sailing ships. One day I was looking through a Swedish History book that I had brought from Sweden. And there was a perfect picture of the Vasa sailing out of the harbor, before it heeled over and sank. I had some oil-paints that were used for porcelain painting. I bought a piece of parchment paper to fit into that space and began with a pencil drawing in all the details. I was lying on my knees on the floor doing this. And then, since I didn't know how to accomplish what I wanted, I took a wide flat brush, a brush a house painter would have been proud of, and in wide swathes covered the parchment paper with a wash of sepia colored terpentine. It worked swell as an eraser for every line I had drawn disappeared.

So I enrolled in the Junior College in San Mateo. I visited the art class once and found out what kind of material I had to use. Then I went to the hardware store and ordered a piece of masonite the correct size and to the art store for two tubes of paint, a large white and a small burnt umber. And so began the painting again. I had to put the masonite on the mantle place and stand on a step stool to do the painting. It took so long that our baby son was teething when I was working on my masterpiece and the way to keep him quiet was to hold him in one arm while I was painting with the other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Manufacturer's Representative

I love all the comments on my blogs and it makes me eager to write some more. So many of them are encouraging and it means a lot to me. I have to thank all of you for being so generous in your comments.

Anonymous wrote 'strange that I should be home making a sofa while S. was working in a furniture store' or words to that effect. S. had become a Rep. and sold furniture to furniture stores. He was one of four reps working for a company that covered the Western States. He covered all the factories that had signed up with L. Associates. This meant he had to go to Furniture Week sales in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Later Chicago was eliminated and High Point North Carolina added. In the beginning they went by train but soon flying was substituted. The cost by air was higher but speed made up for for the lost days of selling. When S. became a partner in the firm, his travel costs were taken over by the L Associates. But the only benefits he had as far as getting furniture were: he could get it wholesale, or he could get discontinued floor samples off wholesale minus 5%. Our house looked like early Salvation Army and discontinued floor-samples for years. Pretty drab, until our fourth child was born and I began painting. I may not have been Leonardy but I was colorful.

I have to tell you a funny story about Furniture Week. We moved to the East Bay before our fourth child was born. Summers there were fierce, often well over 100'. One Sunday I had to join S. in the city. There were many factory owners and wives who were present and we local wives had to help entertain. My baby sitter was late arriving and I left forgetting to take into account the difference in the temperature in the city and in our area. It was 104 on our side of the mountains and it was 52 in SF. I was wearing a sleeveless dress and had no sweater or coat. What could I do. All the people were already in our hotel room when I arrived. I looked at the bedspread in our room and the color was impossible. I asked if I could check out our Southern California rep's room. There were beautiful pale Aqua covers on their twin beds. So now I could relax and charm our guests.

After several drinks it was time to get going to Johnny Kahn's Chinese restaurant. I dashed into the room next door and helped myself to one of the bedspreads. Folded properly it was a charming scarf and felt great when I got out into the foggy, chilly evening. The funniest moment came when I checked it at the door. The poor, young chinese woman took forever before she had it hanging with all the other garments.

Now that I have finished the story I feel as though I have already told you about the bedspread. Sorry. Hope it turned out to be the same a before.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our new sofa.

The thing I remember most clearly is how poor we were. We had spent what was available on my trip to Sweden, on a new (used) car, on a wardrobe for S. and first and last months rent for our apartment. But we were as happy as clams just to be together again. But we needed something to sit on. I visited every yard sale and second hand store in the South Bay area. The only sofa I had seen was the kind that looked like an unmade bed. Bulging in all directions.

Finally I went to a yardage and upholstery store in North Burlingame. I asked if they ever sold sofas that were neat and skinny looking. The owner of the store said: Why don't you make the sofa from scratch. I said there was no way I could accomplished that kind of work, all I wanted to do was try to upholster one. He said, I will help you. I will deliver to your house the frame of the type of sofa you like. And I will deliver the straps to which you will later tie the springs. If you don't do it right I will make you start over. I asked how much the sofa would cost and he said with an average cover the sofa would cost less than $150.

And so began the hardest work I ever enjoyed. The cross stretched interwoven straps had to be so tight that if you dropped a 50-cent coin on one of them, the coin had to jump to a considerable hight. My fingers were actually bleeding from using the tool my teacher had lent me. But it was nothing compared to the blisters I got when I began the next step, tying the springs in four or five directions. Here I failed and my torturer made me untie four or five because they did not stand up at attention. I remember it was finally completed the day we had big family dinner, Auntie Aggie played the piano and we asked the husband of S.s cousin Jane if he would be kind enough to bring a piano. He arrived with a standup piano on the back of a pick up truck. He was sitting at the piano playing ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS,in Jazz tempo, as they drove up our street.

This happened in 1946 and we used the sofa with a new cover until we moved to Laguna Beach in 1964. I saw it ten years after that in the home of a good friend who bought it at our garage sale. I have heard that one of her children is still using it.

Meanwhile S. was learning how to build, finish and sell modern Swedish type furniture. The factory was in the shipyards in Saucalito, Marin County, Ca. Fridays he spent in the Furniture Mart in San Francisco, and the rest of the week he spent trying to make his three thumbs work properly. But Fridays at market he learned how to sell and he was offered other lines and so his career had begun.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


S. before leaving for the war, as a Lt, in 1944. He returned a captain.

Civilian Life

There were so many chores for S. He had left a good looking set of clothes at the house when he joined the Army and his brother, who was ten years younger than S, had pretty well shot them to rags. Before getting a job, he had to get a new wardrobe. He had been attending Lehigh University in Pennsylvania (his father's school) before getting drafted and he had no clear idea of where to start looking. The friend who had convinced him that the future was in Bat Guano had tried it in Lima, and changed his mind.

S.s father was an engineer in Maine, when he died suddenly in the 1918 Flue epidemic. Sam was then two years old. He and his mother moved back with her family who lived in Hillsborough. In 1920 or there about, she fell in love with a British Army Officer who had friends in San Francisco. After a couple of years they moved to England, where S. who was eight, was sent to boarding school. There, the favorite disciplining was done with a cane. Luckily S. was a great runner and won many silver cups, and became popular with his fellow schoolmates. The family returned to America after the crash, when his stepfather had lost his job and all his investments. A cousin of S.s mother paid for their trip back to the USA and formed a partnership with S.s stepfather and had an office on Montgomery Street where they recouped some of the lost money. S. was a Jr in High School when they returned.

S had an English accent when he began his Jr Year at San Mateo High School. His Track and Field prowess and his accent made him popular with his fellow students who elected him Student Body President. He was also courted by Stanford University. And then he got mumps and never ran again. What a blow.

When I was working at Dibble General Hospital I got to know an elderly man who spent a lot of time working with all the patients. He owned a plant, manufacturing Model Airplanes and Model War Ships, etc. He would give his wares to any wounded soldier and come back and help him assemble the parts. He was a fine man. I spent a lot of time telling him how fine S was. Since he had no children he bewailed the fact that he had no one to leave his company to when he had to retire. He made me promise that S. would get in contact with him, when he returned to civilian life. S. who had too many left thumbs was loath to call him. He finally did, but only because I had promised. S. liked the man and agreed to work with him. He met the man who was the book keeper there, and when a few months later this man told S that he was also the book keeper for a furniture Co in dire need of a salesman, S went to work for them, and he was in the furniture business until he retired forty years later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Phone cqll from NYC

I think it was two days after i returned that the call came from S. He did not have time to talk long for his flight to Sacramento was leaving in minutes. I had to arrange to get hold of a car and drive to the air force place in Sacramento. S tried to convince me that he could hitch hike. I said wait for me.

I asked Mr S, S.s stepfather if I could borrow their car with assurances that I would fill the car with gas before I returned it. He said NO. AND FROM NOW ON WHEN YOU ENTER THIS HOUSE YOU HAVE TO RING THE DOORBELL. I was shocked. Throughout the war he had been my best friend. He had been generous and jovial. Everyone remarked about the change in him. And now because S. was returning he had become an ogre and the two had not even seen each other. I was devastated. I felt I had lost a good friend. I called the Aunts and Uncle and asked if I could borrow their old old Ford. They said Of course. But our tires are not very solid. Uncle P drove over and I took him home and continued on my way. It was a scary drive for me for I was not that well versed with the traffic around San Francisco. And I did not know where that Air Field was once I got to Sacramento. I had been scared before, but I knew I could make it.

I had a flat tire before I left the Peninsula. That was lucky for I knew my way around there and I called the garage that I had used when I worked at the hospital. They were about to close, but I convinced them it was a national emergency and so they came. When the repair truck arrived the man said: Where is the spare? I said: I don't know. He found it and it was flat. "I may have one this size in the truck. But you really should not drive anywhere on these old tires, I told him how important it was that I get to Sacramento soon and he understood. If you were my daughter I would forbid it. But I will wish you Good Luck and you will need it.

I think the Air Base was on my side of Sacramento. I made it in fairly good time and I had to wait till S. was disenrolled in the War Effort. And then he finally had time to to talk to me. He was starving and we stopped at a fast food someplace on the way to the Peninsula. When I told him about his stepfather he was not at all surprised. He felt it was typical behavior for him. We got home late and someone had seen to it that we did not have to ring the doorbell. S. went in to give his mother a hug and a kiss. Luckily his parents slept in different bedrooms. Next morning we decided that we would return the car to his Aunt and Uncle with a full tank of Gas and a gift card for new tires. And then look for an apartment.

We looked at the classified ads. We called an old friend of the family's and found out that rentals were hard to come by. Several people told us not to buy anything at this time for prices were predicted to come down soon. We were in a unique situation and felt we had to get out as soon as possible. I said let's call Tom, the patient who so wanted to walk. And so we went to an Auto place and bought a car, went to see Tom, who had the perfect apartment for us to rent right alongside the
Bay Shore Freeway. And by 10.30 am we were all set to move into our new abode. All we needed was furniture and cooking equipment etc.

Someone gave us an old black double bed with all the bedclothes and linens. And so we were all set for camping in our new headquarters. That night we went to sleep early and at 2.30 some one was knocking on the door asking if they could use our pone for they had been involved in an accident. We told them we had no phone. We wondered if this was going to be a nightly occurrence, but it never happened again in the year and half we lived there

Monday, November 3, 2008

Los Angeles

We were met by a crew of news paper reporters and photographers. The headline about me was that I was the first army wife who had seen her husband in Europe. I have a copy of the story but I have no idea of what happened to it when I moved. I will search. It seems as though we were in Los Angeles a short while. Probably because their unloading and loading was more modern in it's efficiency.

Before long we sailed below the Golden Gate Bridge and that was enough to bring a tear to many eyes. My father in law met me again and he was invited to have lunch with us at the Captain's table. The two men hit it off. I think they were about the same age. Captain Renke looked like Jimmy Durante, and like him he was constantly fiddling with his nose. I had to wait for a freight company, for I had quite a lot of luggage. I had a coffee table with painted troll tiles, and I had the Soup tureen that S. had told me he did not like and many other items I had painted. And there was the big pillow like thing on which you made pillow lace. And there were several things I had bought on farm auctions, such as Hoganas crocks and Dala horses and a fabulous Painting by a famous painter we saw in Dalarna. It is hanging in front of me at this moment and when I look at it my spirits soar. It is a landscape depicting the church in Viken. It was first built in the eleven hundreds and later destroyed by a thunderstorm. When it was rebuilt my grandfather was the strongest boy in the village and he put the cross on the spire. The last couple of sentences could be wrong, but that is the story I have always heard.

The freight man arrived and I rode with him in his truck to S.s family house on the Peninsula.

S.s mother met us when we arrived in Hillsborough, and she was welcoming and I was so glad to see her. I asked what she knew about S.s whereabouts and she did not know any more than I did. He should be on his way home for he had enough points. She watched me open crates with the painted items and when we came to the soup tureen I gave it to her and she immediately put it on the dining room table and it made it look very important. She was very happy about it and I as so glad I had something to show how grateful I was for having lived there so long.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aboard The Argentina, 1946

The Long Journey

First I would like to send a message to Anonymous. I was stunned to read the list of passengers. I am so glad that I try to write carefully and sticking to facts. The list of people you found were the passengers who got on the ship in Columbia. We had many people disembark in Venezuela and in Columbia. I'm a novice in the computer world and am so surprised to learn what you can do when you learn to speak computerese. Thank you for showing me this startling ability one can learn by getting more education.

Later I will go back and learn the names of the people who began their trip in Sweden. One was a German woman, elderly but much younger than I am now. She became a good friend. She should have been sitting at the captains table instead of me. I had read about her family in Time Magazine during the war. They settled in Venezuela and became successful in dealing with oil and steel and manufacturing. USA dealt with them, but suddenly it was discovered that they supported the German war effort and they were declared tabu for American businesses. They had built an empire of sorts in Venezuela. When she left the ship, she said she would send her chauffeur the next day to pick up another passenger and me to come to Caracas for lunch. She lived in a Castle-like home and it was an unbelievable day. We kept in touch for years.

The reason this trip took 45 days was stored in the hold of the ship. Cranes would bring up the freight from the hold and the freight could only leave if there were trucks to haul it away when it was produced. It was slow going by todays standards. And what we learned from the young engineer in Stockholm lent promise that it would change in the near future. Since we were one of the first freighters there since the war, a lot of port dignitaries came to visit the proceedings. Many of these were invited onboard for lunch and the next day the towns people would reciprocate and invite the Captain and his entourage for lunch ashore. I was lucky to sit at the captain's table, for we saw things tourists were not generally able to see.

When we got to Columbia, we lost some of our friends. But their berths were filled with new people who wanted to get to Los Angeles. One was the man who had been Consul in Paraguay. He was Columbian and we called him the tobacco king. He brought lots of cigarettes onboard. He also brought a huge entourage onboard. His doctor, his wife, his secretary. reading the names from anonymous, it appears to be a gang fleeing Columbia. But some of us were lucky to have him on board. Every morning, around 11, he invited a group of people to share his supply of Aquavit and beer and rye-crisp and Russian Caviar. Each day, it was a short interlude before lunch.

The Panama Canal was a sensational experience. I stayed on deck through the entire delivery. I felt I had filled every stall with water and helped the ship up and down. I suffered for days with a terrible sun burn but it was worth all the pain. I consider that day one of the best days of my life. I have been through the Canal twice since then and it affected me as monumental but nothing like the first time.

Then we stopped at all the pacific countries of Central America. We did not go into any harbours but were ferried in to ports in small dinghies. We saw tons of bananas and we saw a mountain bulging with lava and towns without sidewalks and beautiful basketry. I bought a beautiful basket that I sold a couple of months ago at my garage sale prior to moving here.

Next stop Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Embassy

Writing these blogs have a very severe affect on my psyche. I feel, while writing about my mother that I am loosing all my enthusiasm and joy. I am with S, the man I love, but I don't think he realizes what is happening to me. Even getting over to the computer gives me a huge knot in my stomach. I think, as self protection I will make this part of my story as short as possible.

While we were in Goteborg we had to go to the American embassy to see what I had to do to get my re-enntry permit. It worried me. I had a reservation to return to USA on a Moor & Mc Chormac freighter but I had to cancel. We visited the Consulate the day after the cocktail party. And since I am famous for name dropping, I have to tell you the name of the consul. A young, very likable man. His name was SWINDLE. He not only got my re-entry permit delivered to me, he also got a reservation on a Johnson Liner for me, when there was no possible way I could have accomplished this on my own. The Swedish American Line had nothing available for a year. I was told that the Swedes had been caged in too long during the war and everyone was ready to sail away.

We made the best of S.s 30 days. When we returnd to my home area we were invited to stay with my sister and by this time most of my class mates wanted to have us for dinner. A special friend whose parents owned a hotel, Hogvakten, invited us to spend the night. She had visited me in 1939 and together we saw Niagara Falls and the NY Worlds Fair. And much too soon it was time to go back to Kopenhamn where S would be picked up by the same jeep and drivers. It was hard saying Goodby again but we knew that the next time we saw each other would be the beginning of the rest of our lives. Luckily we had not yet heard that all of Sweden was planning to travel or we would have worried about that.

Then came Martin Luther's birthday and the goose and the blood sausage. And then came the day of Santa Lucia, the 13th of december. And Christmas of course was filled with surprises and a lot of fun work. I had finished all my lessons before Christmas and that was fortunate for the day after Annan Dag Jul, The 27th, there was a call from Mr Swindle saying he had a reservation for me on a Johnson Line ship, sailing on the 2nd of January. the only berth available was the owners cabin, which was not the cheapest way to get to the US. And then he told me it was going through the Panama Canal. I said Yes, Yes. I will take it. And again, How do I get back to Goteborg, How do I get clothes fitting for the tropics. I had one day to it all the stores in Helsingborg, but since it was mid-winter there was nothing.

I remember the name of the ship, Argentina. And I remember the Captain's name, Renke. But I do not remember the names of my fellow passengers, and that is a pity, for there were a couple who would be erfect to drop here. There were about 30 of us. The journey to San Francisco took 45 days. And it as filled with adventures.