Part Three: A Biography of the Bailey, Bliss and Snell families of Ukiah, Berkeley and Marin
lovingly written for her children and grandchildren by Nancy Bailey Sugars email her here
In Three Parts
Nancy Anne Bailey
|As I think about my growing up, I realize that as secure as I felt with my parents,
particularly with my mother, I never felt like I was a real part of the sibling part of my
family. Peg and Henry were very close and I never was to them. They werent mean but
it was just that I was sort of in between. We had cousins at the "ranch" all the
time, and they were the age of Peg and Henry and I was sort of a tag-a-long, except that I
didnt tag along. I spent hours in the grape arbor, imaginary people with me as
companions they probably got hives as well as I from eating the grapes!! Picking up
fruit and getting stung in my mouth. I spent a lot of time with grandmothers and my mother
and my father. I was very happy but just sort of in my own world. I dont think I was
aware of this non-connection while I was young; its a matter of looking back at my
life and realizing certain facts that deal with later life. I also know, that as
extraverted as I am, I am not and never have been a "joiner" of any group
from Campfire Girls to Officer Wives Clubs to social things like groups that support
good-works!! My attempts to do so led to a life-changing event later in my life. More
about that later.
As I have written before, Mom let me cook when I was very young, and she ate what I cooked or pretended to do so She never was crabby about the mess I must have made. She was a very comfortable mother. She said that once while ironing clothes, Pegs and my dresses, at eleven oclock at night, she thought that she wanted her kids to remember having good times with her rather than that the house was always sparkling!! I think I learned that lesson well, dont you? And I remember my Mom the way she wanted.
As I look back, I realize how close my mother and I were; and I am not sure why exactly, except that she and I were typology twins. So we understood one another. Perhaps my arriving after she had had a miscarriage and being the only one left at home after the other two had gone to school. I dont know, but she provided a great model for me as a mother; certainly not perfection, as you kids know, but full of love and acceptance and fun. And support, always.
Dad and I werent as close while I was growing up and I think this is mostly because of his typology and mine being different in our attitudes he was an introverted thinking intuitive and it was the introversion and extraversion, both extreme, that made connection harder. More looking back has made me understand how much he loved me always greeting me with, "Good morning, Mary Sunshine, and how are we today?"; his calling me a dizzy blonde with affection; his teasing, which at times embarrassed me very much, but somehow I know it was his way of letting me know he noticed me and loved me. He was not a man who said, "I love you" to anyone even with Neta whom he adored, he would say, "After me you come first!", until the last year of his life when he changed it to, in reply to her telling him she loved him, "Not half as much as I love you!"
We were truly fortunate in so many ways in fact, sometimes I wonder how come?? We never realized how hard times were during the depression we always had enough to eat and we had great imagination in finding games and other fun. My parents were adventurous, intelligent, without prejudice as far as I know. (Except maybe about Catholics a little bit but at the same time, they were probably among the few in Berkeley who voted for Al Smith for president, so the prejudice wasnt too strong!)( And that disappeared long before I grew up I pretty much didnt experience prejudice because I had no model for it, just the opposite. Neither of my parents felt they were better than anyone else ever.)
We had a car in Sacramento, one with ising-glass windows that had to be snapped in. And the engine had to be started by turning a crank handle in the front of the car. Driving licenses were not needed at that time and Mom and Dad learned how to drive on their own. It was easier to start if one person cranked while the other sat behind the steering wheel reading to hand-choke it and put on the gas. And from that car on my mother was fearless in driving anywhere and therefore we had wonderful trips and vacations Dad drove when he wasnt working, but then men worked six days a week and had two weeks vacations only.
This car, called an open touring car, was probably the one in which my parents and I had the accident. We were driving back up to Sacramento at night and had left the ferry at Benecia and were on the road that at that time was the main one. I was three years old and was asleep on my mothers lap. There had been roadwork and the workers had left a good-sized hole without marking it and Dad hit it and the car overturned. Mom was under the running board (a sort of step along each side of the car, for luggage as well as a step into the interior) which was pressing on her back; I was under her, and the car was on fire. Dad had been able to get out but, of course, was frantic to get us out. As it happened, two other cars had turned over there and so there was a tow-truck nearby and other drivers, so they lifted the car off us. (See how lucky you are, if they hadnt done that, none of you would be here!!) I remember being in somebodys arms, and seeing the glow of the fire. Vividly! From what I later was told, there was blood all over my face and I said I was going to go to sleep now and Dad thought I was dying! A lucky thing for my siblings and me he never punished us again!! Dad was so sure I was dying when I went to sleep that he never punished us in a corporal way again!! Actually not in any way very often; Mom became the discipliner.
The next thing I recall was having my split head sewn up without any anesthetic, as the doctors were afraid I had a concussion or skull fracture. And I remember how truly, truly painful that was! Mom had suffered a broken back, but not one that would leave any lasting effect. And the next day sitting on Moms bed and looking in the mirror and seeing two very black eyes!
My mother told me later about a man who stopped by to see if he could help he had an expensive car, with balloon tires, which were new on the market and also very expensive. (I think tires before that were solid rubber and thin didnt make for a comfortable ride.) He drove us to the hospital in Fairfield and drove so fast he ruined his tires left no name, just did a very nice thing for us. People can be very willing to help out, cant they?
Turning three was for me the beginning of a wild year. Besides the accident, trauma enough for most people, I also caught scarlet fever when we were camping, perhaps in the Santa Cruz mountains. This meant that the family was quarantined for a good long while maybe two or three weeks. My father had to live in town with his brother, Roy. Not much was known about scarlet fever at the time, there was no penicillin, of course, and it was known to leave people with bad hearts, if they lived. (We now know that it is a streptococcus infection, and is still serious but not as it had been in my childhood. But I remember when Peg had it in Castro Valley, we were not quarantined, Peg was allowed back in school as soon as her fever went down, but none of the neighbors would let their kids play with Peg, Bill or Becky!! Left food for us on the porch, because not only did Bill and Becky get sick, though not very because Dr. Morrison gave them gamma gobulin shots, I also did! Poor Dick was kept running!!)
|Dr. Foster must have been a very good doctor because I recovered totally, but was kept
in bed or in the big oak rocking chair,(which I think my brother now has,) for a long,
long time. It was in the living room so I could watch what was happening and as you
know, I, even then, had to know what was going on!! Nana Bailey had sent a present for
each day I was sick. The one I remember was a little leather bunny, flat, white with pink
eyes and outlined features. I loved it and was heartbroken when it was going to be burned
everything I touched had to be burned or sterilized somehow. So my mother
sterilized it. It was, and is, if untreated, a very serious illness and often left
peoples hearts damaged because it easily turned into rheumatic fever. Dicks
sister, Grace, had this and it damaged her heart so much that she died in her forties. So,
Dr. Foster did good, or you all might not be here or might be motherless as young
ones! Morbid thought!!
Because of the scarlet fever, my tonsils filled my throat and I had them out; then I caught mumps which I gave to Mom and this caused her to have a miscarriage. So there is a five and a half year space between me and my brother, Bill. I dont remember my mother being pregnant, but dresses were full then so I probably just didnt notice, and I doubt that my parents ever said much to me perhaps to Peg and Henry. I dont remember his coming home, but I do recall that he was a truly beautiful baby and everyone adored him. I may not have, but I dont remember that being true.
Richard Harrison Sugars
One of the special places in my life has to be the "ranch", but before we moved there, we lived in a house in the town of Sacramento. My grandparents and no doubt Midge lived just down the street. In fact, when I was a baby, my Nana had me most of the time except when it was time for me to nurse. But after I was fed, back to Jennies house. No wonder she and I were so close all of her life. It must have been a blessing for Mom because there were no mechanical "helps" for cleaning, laundry, ironing, etc. so there was always a lot of work for her to do. I may have wondered where I belonged, but at the same time my grandmother probably felt like I was part hers, and she adored me for the rest of her life. I was her "Dolly" and she took me everywhere on the train and bought me wonderful presents. I remember one Christmas I wanted a cradle for my dolls and she gave me a life sized bassinet filled with dolls. She spoiled me and I loved her very much we had such good times together playing cards. She made beautiful clothes for both Peg and me. I still remember a green velvet dress with crystal buttons down the front. And I remember watching her sew on her treadle machine how her feet would fly! I think it confused me a bit as to who was my mother and why I was sent away from home. And when I became a mother myself, I realized what a time-consuming job it was, and how nice it was to have a break.
An older couple lived across the street from us, Anne and Carl Beaton; the two families were very close, and even after we moved, I would spend the weekend with them maybe Peg, too, but I just remember me being there and playing dress-up in their wonderful attic. They had a daughter, Dorothy, who was adult but younger than Mom. She married a man who had epilepsy and that was a terrible thing in those years like he was mentally ill or something. Very little understanding of what the disease really was. Dont know why that came to mind!
Dad never outgrew being a farm boy, and before I can remember even, he and Mom and Midge and my grandparents bought some three acres on the Folsom Road in North Sacramento it was and always will be known as the "ranch". What a great place to be a kid! No neighbors to get after you for getting the ball in their yard, and all the room in the world in which to have adventures!!
There were two houses, the green house and the white house; since we lived in the smaller, green house, which had an outhouse and perhaps no electricity my memory is of a dark place, but perhaps that was because of the trees surrounding it. We did have a stove that not only cooked our food, but warmed the kitchen and perhaps warmed the water as well like the one in the little house in Vina. We had the storied Saturday night baths in a big metal tub in the kitchen, one after the other. I honestly cant say that these were the only baths of the week, but Mom was always good with what she called spit baths!! When water had to be hauled and heated, it was only good sense to use sponge baths part of the time.
Harriet Van Eaton
|I remember Nana Bailey visiting us there, and reading to us while sitting on a limb of a great tree that was in the yard. How she loved to read, like me, but she wasnt like I was when I read to you kids I dont remember here stopping reading out loud while reading to herself ahead in the story!! (I didnt do that with my grandkids, though!) Its one of the few memories I have of Nana Bailey she died when I was quite young. I sort of recall visits to her somewhere, and she gave me the china newborn baby doll that I named Bobby. I grew up hearing so many stories about her, her intelligence, her busyness, her telling her three boys to wait until their father got home to punish them I also heard Mom and Gertrude (Roys wife) talk about how she made Hal and Roy send money home so the girls could take piano lessons. And I was almost shocked when my father, who had always spoken admiringly of her, took time, in the last few months of his life, to tell me how glad he was when his mother died. I didnt find out why this was but it had to do with the way they were raised and the favoritism shown to the girls and Phil.||
We didnt live in the green house for too long; the white house is much more familiar to me and I remember lots of the times there, while the other house is more of snatches of things. Midge, in merchandising, went either to San Francisco or Los Angeles I think the former as I recall visiting Nana and Grandad in a very high apartment right by Lake Merritt in Oakland where I used to eat wonderfully tasty brains of cows, thinking they were scrambled eggs! Does that gross you out??
And so we moved into the bigger house which had a bathroom (thank goodness), electricity, running water and a telephone!! I imagine the green house had been built for farm hands, and they usually had (and have) few amenities. It, (the white house) did have just two bedrooms, at least that is all we used as the three of us slept in one room. It stood on a large lawn which went down to the fence along the highway where there was also a row of trees, maybe eucalyptus. The front door was on the east side off a porch; there was a very large picture window that looked out on the highway. This made a particular impression on me because of watching out one night after a convict had escaped from Folsom, homes around had been warned, I suppose, and Mom and Dad were watching a man out by the fence. The lights were out and I imagine that the sheriff had been called and they were keeping an eye on the man to see if he left. The thought was that he may have been wanting to steal a car. I wonder if this is when Dad bought Muzz, a big Airdale who was a terrific watch dog, who scared people half to death. Dad, or Mom if my father wasnt there, would tell Muzz that a certain person was okay, and from then on, Muzz would not bother that person. But more than once we would come home and find a delivery man on top of his truck!! We had to leave him when we left the ranch, and that was very sad for me as I loved him and he was so good with us kids.
Another time I was in Dads arms watching a very wide fire east of us on the other side of the highway. Whether we were waiting to see if we would have to leave, I can only imagine, but I still remember that long orange line.
Another thing I remember that took me a long time to get over, while I was on the front porch, I felt something on my neck and reached up and knocked a big black spider off my neck! I did not like spiders for a long, long time!! Until I found out how very helpful they are in controlling bugs like mosquitoes and flies after I was grown up and became wiser! I take them outside now, but I cant say I LIKE them--I respect them. .
Like cats now; while I am basically a dog person, I have loved our cats and enjoyed having them stray cats, Goldie and Blackie, and also Ding-a-ling, the kitten Peg brought to us Johnny, the black cat who adopted us at Lincoln Ave. Goldie died of leukemia, and when we had to leave Bothin, we had Blackie and Ding-a-Ling put to sleep because all they had known was the wide open spaces. I have never forgotten that--they were waiting for us the day after we moved and then we put them in carrying cases and bill and Dick took them to be put to sleep. I really loved them But that all changed when, in St. Louis, a friends cat bit me, a very deep bite in the palm of my left hand, and I almost ended up in the hospital. I had made it bleed and my friend got a prescription for an antibiotic that night, but by the time Peg arrived on the plane, it was red and swollen the next day I had red streaks running up my arm and so I went to the ER and I was seen before anyone else by a doctor who looked at my arm and said, "Lady, youre in trouble!!" Seems that the bacteria in a cats mouth is the most potent one after a human bite; he was going to put me in the hospital but I had a seminar to give, with Peg and my friend, that night. So he gave me a double injection of a very strong antibiotic and more to take for two weeks And now, I am very leary of cats!! Particularly if they roll over on their backs like they want to be rubbed Eddie did that but didnt want to be rubbed!!
Walter Silas Bailey
|We lived on the ranch when the depression started, but I never realized
there was a depression until I was old enough to see the pictures of the soup lines and
the professional men doctors, lawyers and such riding the rails, like hoboes
looking for any kind of work. I doubt that I even knew that we didnt have
much money, as I am sure we didnt. But I never sensed any despair or worry. We had
food that we grew, so we werent hungry, and maybe, too, because my father was in
merchandising and people kept buying clothes, etc., it didnt hit us like it did so
many people. We had fun as usual and once a month we went in to town to meet Dad and go to
eat at Harts Cafeteria. We could pick out anything we wanted, but we always picked
what we liked at home (for me, soup and Jello!). Mom always laughed at that.
My parents shared what they had with other members of the families Earle and Joe would stay at the ranch at times, and he would send them money. Perhaps he helped his family, too, as I heard about the tough times Les and Ruth and Hazelynn and Fred had on their farms they did have food for themselves, but couldnt get much for the products from their farming. There was a lot of bartering and trading then, which is how Joe got the redwood burl from which he made the table for Mom and the one for Midge. The owner of the tree gave the burl wood to Joe in return for Joe making things for him out of the burl and doing other lumbering.
My brother Bill and I often speak of what great childhoods we had loving parents, lots of freedom to be and do many, many things as we were growing up. Bill was just a baby when we lived on the ranch and so didnt get to experience much of that place. For which I am sorry because it was such a special place. The one place I can compare it to in our family is Killeen Base in Texas; Bothin was, too, for the grandkids, but you three were grown and mostly gone while we lived there. We were read to, played games with I shall never forget playing William de Trippety Tan with my father! It was marvelous We kids would put two fingers on dads knee and he would count us out one by one with "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe" and the last person left would get to be his partner and would choose the animal Dad would be for the ride home. The other kids would be asked, "Which would you rather ride home on, i.e., a bloodsweating hippopotamus or a laughing hyena?" If that kid picked the right animal, the one chosen by Dad and the partner, my father would give him/her a ride never to be forgotten roaring, leaping, jumping around (he would carry us on his back standing up). If they guessed the wrong animal, they would have to walk home. Our favorite game of all time.
There was a water tankhouse outside the kitchen, and that became a playhouse for us kids more for my siblings and cousins than me. There was a dirt floor where the pump was and then stairs to a small room below the water tank. There also was a large building, part garage, part too house, part chicken house. Beside that was the orchard with every kind of fruit tree you can imagine one was a sour cherry that we all loved to fool visitors into trying! Dad would irrigate the trees by turning the water into the ditch and then playing pinochle with whomever was around and then move the table from tree to tree. And I was allowed to play in the ditches as long as I didnt break down the sides. No wonder I used to let you kids play in the mud!
The tankhouse was a great playhouse for all the kids who came to stay with us often Mom would fix lunch for us to eat there. I am sure plays were thought of and acted out either up there or out on the grounds. There were just silent movies at that time, and with the help of a rocking horse and a dishtowel to make herself into the sheik, Peg became Son of the Sheik from the movie with Rudolph Valentino, kidnaping me as the beauteous white heiress who was undoubtedly engaged to a British nobleman! I dont remember it but somewhere there is a snapshot of us on the rocking horse.
Lunch for me was often served at a table right outside the kitchen door a sandwich and an egg nog! And I never got salmonella, either!! What a good place to be a kid!
You know, as I write about this time, I am surprised at how little I recall my brother or sister being around it must say something about how much I didnt feel connected to them. They were there, there are snapshots of us all, but, boy! I am surprised!
There was a huge grape arbor which became my secret house I played there so much, with imaginary friends, all of us eating the grapes as they ripened and all of us suffering hives from eating them. There was a plum tree or apricot or peach nearby and because I couldnt reach the branches I used to pick ripe fruit off the ground to eat, until one day I also tried to eat a bee or wasp and was most unhappy when I was stung!
No doubt part of my not remembering my siblings being around was their going to school. A bus picked up the schoolkids along the highway, stopping at every farm (Oops, ranch!); the school was in North Sacramento. The bus drivers name was Red, for obvious reasons, although I couldnt swear he had red hair. Anyhow, I was alone on the ranch for a good part of the time.
Mom kept me home from kindergarten, but luckily I was able to ride Reds bus to the first grade in the school in North Sacramento a true adventure for a small one. Red would check if we werent out by the road when he stopped and the kids on the bus behaved!! I think I sort of danced through that school as well as all the others school was very easy for me. I wasnt ever embarrassed by the things I did that the teachers laughed at the socks and the shot for typhoid fever. In case I havent told you about that my mother had told Dad that she was going to buy me some socks as I was all out. That day at school it was announced that anyone needing socks and underwear could get them so I asked for some it was intended for needy kids. The typhoid shot came about during a flood of the American River when at school it was announced that anyone in the flood area who got their water from a well would be getting a typhoid shot for nothing, so I got that, too, even though the ranch wasnt in the flood area. My intuitive function worked even then! Things that turn a mothers hair white one day I went home with a little girl who lived near school, without my parents knowing about it. Somehow I got home no doubt the girls mother found out that I hadnt asked and called Mom, but I dont think, or at least dont remember, being punished for it perhaps made to understand that going off that way was not permissible.
Some things are very hazy in my memory, but I do have vivid pictures of my brother Henry dragging himself from chair to chair because of his asthma, barely able to breathe. There were no medications to speak of for asthma then, but he did smoke Asthmador a greenish-grey powder that would be lit and he would sit with a towel over his head breathing in the smoke.
Jack Rabbit came to live with us when he was just a tiny little baby bunny cant remember why or what, but he must have been abandoned or his mother had been killed. Our great cat, Tom, a big black and white long-haired cat, took care of him, though we had to feed him not me, but probably Mom! Moms always do those kind of things, try to save all the wounded creatures their kids bring home! After Jack got bigger, he and Tom would chase each other all over the house. I would imagine he was set loose after he was big enough. Tom went with us when we moved to Berkeley, but I guess he missed the ranch, because he soon disappeared and we felt he had no doubt made his way to the place that was home for him.
Dad was offered a job as basement manager at The White House, a big department store in San Francisco and after interviewing and looking at the possibilities, he took the job and so we were on our way. He had been offered positions in New York City, but had turned them down after talking it over with Mom they didnt want to raise us there, and they didnt want to leave extended families in California. My parents always put family before money and I am glad because I dont suppose that I would have met that neat man I married. So you wouldnt be here! And I would have missed all the joy and love and fun I have had in my life!!
We lived at 1155 Walnut Street when we first moved to the Bay Area, in Berkeley, about five houses from Oxford School. It was a big brown shingle house, two stories, with I dont remember how many bedrooms or bathrooms except there was a huge master bedroom with a sun porch off it, where I often slept when there were overnight visitors. I recall a big front hall, a living room that went the width of the front of the house, a dining room and a den, plus a kitchen, large, with a porch, half-bath and laundry beside it. Big back yard that slanted uphill, though not steeply. There was a porch off the dining room and a big sand box, where Zeola Grace used to play with brother, Bill. (Zeola Grace was what would have been called in those days a big black mammy people really did talk that way, although we didnt a large black woman who so loved us and took care of us she adored Bill and would take off her shoes and play with him in the sand.)
There was a front porch off of which were stairs to a landing; from there you could go around either side of the house, down to the street or onto the top of the garage. The garage had a parapet all around it, probably two to three feet high, except where one went onto it, which was like a big step. We were allowed to fill it as full as possible when the weather was hot, and then keep cool, thinking, no doubt, that it was a neat pool.
In those days, tradesmen would come around door to door with fruit and vegetables, breadstuffs, and dairy products. The milkmen carried not just milk and cream, but cheeses, butter, and ice cream on dry ice. It was like a moveable farmers market! This was in addition to the stores we went to in downtown Berkeley Appletons Grocery Store, on University Avenue, near the university Samsons Meat Market, where we kids were always given a old-fashioned hot dog good memories.
Peg and I went to Oxford School, of course. The principal, Mrs. Partridge, had been my mothers first teacher when she was in school in days past. I can see her still, short and plump, with gray hair and glasses really nice, but a principal, nevertheless, and there was always the fear of being sent to the office-- I think it bothered us then more than it does the students now, at least at Pegs school , although they dont like being sent to the office either! The school was stucco, sort of a pink color there were two playgrounds, the upper one for the younger grades, and the lower one, down about five steps. All the usual play equipment on the top level bars and rings and slides, etc. lower had a wonderful marble layout- I was a terrific marbles player, did you know that about me? Not the game in a circle, but going from hole to hole in fact, I was a very good athlete when I was young, before I had you kids. Never terribly competitive, but enjoyed athletics and was good at most of them a limited number for girls at that time. And there were hopscotch games always an attempt to find the perfect thing that could be thrown into the right square without rolling out! I see the kids now playing the ball games, and on the slides, etc., and also jump rope and hopscotch, but there was one game or thing we did in the lower grades that I doubt kids would do today we would form a circle and join hands; someone would be it and that person would weave in and out around the circle, beneath the joined arms, like in the maypole, while the rest of us would sing I remember most of the verses "Go in and out the windows, repeated two more times, as we have done before." Next, we would sing," Go forth and face your lover, etc" during which the it would kneel in front of another kid and he/she would sing, `` I kneel because I love you, etc."; they then would join hands and skip around the outside of the circle as we all sang, "Go skipping round the valley, etc." Can you see that now? It might be nice! Maybe by the 4th grade they would like each other!! I must have really liked that game to remember it so well I think I got kneeled in front of a lot. Of course, even at that age, there was a lot of kidding and oohing and aahing when someone new was knelt in front by the lover!
I remember some of my teachers, but not all I thought I did, until I started to think about it. The second grade teacher, Mrs. Funke, was the one who was always sending me to the cloak room at the back of the room, because I talked too much! Fourth grade was Mrs. Morton, who was married while I had her the nicest teacher there. Sixth grade was Ethel Bachelor, who also was a member of the church we attended. It was a good school, and had all the extras that schools no longer can afford without a lot of fundraising. Art and music and P.E. and sewing for the girls beginning in fifth grade, I think, maybe fourth. Cooking in the fifth for the girls; shop, called manual training then, for the boys; in sixth grade the boys took cooking and the girls, shop. I made a stool with a woven seat in shop. Dont remember those teachers, but do, with dislike, the sewing teacher, an English woman named Mrs. Clark. She wouldnt let us talk at all, and I have yet to know women who like to sew together in silence! We all had to make undershorts first, not the easiest thing to make, and she pronounced it shots. We undoubtedly made her life miserable!!
Oxford School was like schools of today in a way same games, same classes, same fights between girls every so often, same fights between boys every so often. The difference was that there was not the violence that I see at Lake School, for instance. When the girls fought, it was with words and mean gossip and all the girls in that grade, and maybe other grades, got on one side or the other and it mostly was over in a day or two. The boys would have fist fights, but no one worried about guns or knives and no one called another one "gay" or SOB or the "B" word as the girls report to Peg. No one knew much about sex now the kindergarten kids know all about it!! Probably not correctly or really understanding it, but they know,
Gridley Dorr was my boy friend in the second grade he had had a cleft palate which had resulted in what was called a hair lip or maybe it was hare-- so his mouth was a little deformed and he had sort of a nasal accent, but he was cute. His brother would drive us to the Saturday matinees you kids never had that fun, did you? Saturday matinees were made up of cartoons and serials --- which always ended that day with someone in dire danger, so you would come back the next Saturday and then the Laurel and Hardy kind of movie. If it was your birthday, everyone in your party would get a free ice cream bar, so naturally in our group, someone was always having a birthday!! This wasnt just in the second grade, but all through Oxford.
For some reason I had lots of boy friends and they would bring me flowers or go down to the drugstore at lunch and bring me gum I can even remember what most of them looked like. Schools then had lots of plays and celebrations for everything, with parades, etc. Like the 200th birthday of George Washington, all the Berkeley Schools participated in the town parade, and two students from each school paraded; I was one of the two from Oxford and it was lots of fun. The various days like Lincolns birthday, Memorial Day, Armistice Day (which is now Veterans Day), we celebrated them all and there was always a big Halloween party that night with apple ducking and costumes and bonfires. On every May 1, we had a Maypole where long colored ribbons were intertwined as we went in and out around each other. Then add all the church bazaars and suppers and you can see how family oriented time was. We went home for lunch as no one lived very far away; it was an upper middle class area, everyone white except for the Japanese consuls family who lived on Walnut right next to the school.
Its hard to remember if I have already written about moving to Tacoma for about six months it was not a good time for me. My father lost his job at The White House because of his temper - which surprised me when I learned about it later on I didnt see that at home maybe thats why he showed it at work!! And he quickly learned from that to control it and it never was a problem again in his work. He immediately was offered a job at Rhodes Brothers in Tacoma, and so I had to leave Oxford, where I was pretty much the leader of the crowd. It was in 1932, and before we went to Washington State, we visited in Los Angeles and were able to see some of the Olympic Games. Pretty exciting, and the USA didnt have much competition lots of color and noise and fun.
We drove up the Redwood Highway north, which was not the freeway of today, but the Highway of the Giants, beautiful but slow. Our little dog, Nellie, my dog really, makes me think of Pegs Red, who used to curl up at our feet Nellie did the same, just happy to be with us. We moved into a very large apartment that overlooked Puget Sound and was really beautiful; we were up some floors so had a great view. Which reminds me of my sister bringing Nellie back from a walk and Nellie running into the wrong apartment my sister was very much embarrassed I dont recall that the people minded.
Of course we went to school up there I was in the fifth grade. I dont have a clue as to what it was like made no impression on me at all. I wasnt too happy and I guess no one was because when Dad was offered his job at Montgomery Wards in Oakland, he took it and we left Tacoma to return to the Bay Area, to Berkeley. To home. The house we had lived in was occupied and we rented a house on Los Angeles Ave. which ran into the Marin Circle. It was a Colonial type house with a very steep driveway which was very hard to drive up when it rained and it got slippery. We were still in Oxford School territory and so I returned to my friends. It took a time for me to take over again and it was never quite the same, but it was wonderful being back with my friends.
Sixth graders from Oxford went to what was then Junior High School 7,8 and 9th. grades--- along with kids from Cragmont (near Grizzly Peak) and Thousand Oaks School, off of Solano Ave. This is when I met Frances Baker McPeak she had gone to Cragmont and lived on Shattuck Avenue right on the corner of Marin Ave., that very steep hill that led from the circle to Spruce Street. I learned later that she timed walking to school so we would meet and walk together, and so began my relationship with my very best friend.
There was both the street that wound down to the area below Marin Circle and also steps that whole area was on a hill and at the bottom were the tracks of the Southern Pacific red train, the commuter train that took people to the ferries and then to The City. Because of the hill, there was a tunnel for the trains (it is now a street) to get to Solano Avenue. There was a drug store at the little station spot there that became the usual stopping place as we walked home. I cannot begin to tell you of all the flavored cokes we got the soda fountain man to concoct chocolate and cherry and lemon, of course, but one was a mixture of every flavor available. We never got sick of anything but the taste.
From there we would walk down Street to Garfield Junior High School. It was a unique setting; the big earthquake in Los Angeles had made everyone very nervous and all the schools were tested and so all the building except for the auditorium at Garfield had been condemned. We went to a tent school, literally tent platform school rooms. Which wasnt too bad because it was never too cold, and when it was hot, they rolled up the sides; the only bad times were the rainy times, when we went to school in a sea of mud. One year it rained for over a month and it was really a bog. I am sure there were heaters in the tents because I dont recall being all that uncomfortable we didnt really mind the rain except for the galoshes we had to wear, because there were no boots like they have today, and galoshes were not glamorous and that age group was very sensitive to clothes and looking right probably are today, too, but in different ways then it was clothes and looking the same; today it is baggy clothes and tattoos! Though I must say that is not true of Pegs class, the kids dress quite nicely not always clean, but attractive clothes.
What fun it was to walk home, taking our time, stopping for cokes, chatting all the way, talking about boys, I am sure, who always seemed to be around, playing around, shoving,etc. I doubt we made it home in less than an hour or so, and it was only about a twenty minute walk.
School was fine; in fact I started taking Latin in the seventh grade, and I loved it. We had a great teacher, Mrs. Kilkenny, and she loved my love of Latin I took it for four years and got into Virgil and "Omnia Gallia est divisa tres partis". Latin helped me, still does, with words and meaning and also in learning other romance languages. We had all the regular courses sewing again, where my report card was always marked "garrulousness"-- never could get it that it is not permissable to talk while sewing during tests, yes, during teaching times, yes but sewing?? We had English every year, math, history, art and music. I remember having to make a mythology book in ninth grade which seemed dumb to me because the teacher indicated that all these myths were untrue and also quite dirty-- that was because of Zeus! Never a word about the depth of the meaning of myth nor that these stories came from Greece, the center of Western civilization.
We had algebra in ninth grade, which was sort of interesting. I will have to admit to you all that I did get into difficulty all through school because I let friends copy me I was a very good student and math was easy for me, so kids would copy not only my home work, but my tests I didnt realize at the time that I was keeping them from learning for themselves. Frances and I got a zero in one algebra test during which we hadnt cheated but just exchanged rulers or erasers or something but I have a feeling we deserved it overall!
I dont recall art too well, but I do remember a friend of mine who got a bad grade because she painted a picture of a lone oak tree on a hill and the teacher said there was no such thing, but I knew there was, in Altamont Pass, and I tried to tell the teacher, but forget that! I think I had a strong feeling of what was just and what wasnt fair. In music, there was a teacher, Mrs. Smith, who adored the ninth grade "in group", and treated the others like they were nothing. Well, there was a yearly program of "solo day", where every student had to perform alone it was so awful for kids who didnt have a musical talent (I played the piano); they suffered waiting for the day to arrive, for the time to perform, the performance, and then sitting down. The in group didnt have to do it! I always thought that was so unfair like the geometry teacher in high school who, if she didnt like a student, when they had to make a circle on the board with a string and a piece of chalk, (did you have to do that?), made them do it over and over again until it was perfect for those she liked, anything went. But I always made my circle perfect (she liked me) even so, because I had friends she didnt like, and I thought it very unfair. I adored geometry but not her, and luckily had a different teacher the next semester.