Death of a Blythe Spirit


The Letter

First Sib Meeting

Dreams of Love

Family Origins

The Making of a Batterer

I Care for Him!


Keeping Company

What Price Love?

Wedded Bliss?

The Honeymoon


The Honeymoon's Over

The Babies Come

Home Sweet Home

Moving Again


Other Mat'ls

Thoughts on Mother's Poetry

Mother's Essays

Penny's Vampire Chronicles

Gina's story fragment


Site PDFs

Death of a Blythe Spirit
(web contents)

Cars Hate Me!
(letters '46-'57)

New York Diaries
(life in the 1930's)


Camille's Diary

Vampie Chronicles

The Fifties  

May 17, 1950
It must be true that hope springs eternal...I must be forever hoping that somehow, sometime it will be different. It will never be. I shall always be the same and feel the same and he shall never change his ways either. Chained together forever by a few precious moments, enduring forever, hoping forever but secretly knowing that my life is ruined forever. I can't go back and I can't go on. Whatever my life might have been, the chance is gone forever

In June, 1950, I finished the second grade at Wiseburn Elementary School in Hawthorne [according to an internet search and a saved report card]. I think we then moved to Downey; I started third grade there in September, and Penny was born there in December. I have no idea why we moved so often—four houses in as many years.

I don’t remember much about Downey. I remember absolutely NO fighting between my parents. Considering what had to have been going on, I must have suppressed my memories. I do remember that Bob and I bicycled all over the place and once returned home with a painting we had found in an abandoned barn. I also remember that once I threw up in my bed (the top bunk), and Mother yelled at me. Now, that’s probably a symptom of what was going on!

Mother was Rh- and apparently had a lot of trouble with this, her fourth pregnancy. Probably she was not able to be as accommodating as usual. And obviously Father was not up to the challenge. Remember, pregnancy is threatening to abusers.


May 17, 1950

     If this illness of mine has taught me anything at all it's that you are never so alone and isolated than when you are not in possession of your strength.

     I've prided myself so on my health and vitality and [am brought so low] in that all the things I did and did gladly when I felt ok are still expected of me. I don't know why I should be so surprised at this late date just as if I had never found out before just how selfish a man can be. "In sickness and in health", that phrase echoes [loudly] in my mind.

     It must be true that hope springs eternal...I must be forever hoping that somehow, sometime it will be different. It will never be. I shall always be the same and feel the same and he shall never change his [ways] either. Chained together forever by a few precious moments, enduring forever, hoping forever but secretly knowing that my life is [ruined] forever. I can't go back and I can't go on. Whatever my life might have been, the chance is gone forever. I can never make a new start even after the children grow up. A [drudge] is I'll ever be and the one thing to look forward to is a few peaceful hours after my day's labors--alone. God, I yearn so desperately for aloneness, I'd [join a nunnery] if I knew [that] and could still have my children.

     He [irritates] upon me constantly and in my desire for peace I allow it. And what will be the good of saying what I feel. We must still live together if we are to live at all at least while the children need us both. And so who knows, but there is a new life [quickening] in my body. I would tear it from me if I could because to me it's another tentacle holding me. But if it shall be born I shall love and cherish and protect it the same as the others. Are they not given into my keeping and how shall I [lucky] that [time}?


October 8, 1950

     He has broken and destroyed everything I've ever loved or cherished, including our marriage, and given me nothing but grief and the children for which I feel responsible. Every pleasant memory has this overtone of unpleasantness, and its all I can remember. Well, he isn't going to hurt me anymore, through anything or anybody, because I shant care for anything ever again, animate or inanimate, and be this indifference the seeds his tempest has wrought. Each time after a scene I've tried to pick up the pieces and build something again but to what avail? How can affection, love and joy bloom under these conditions?  To be rebuffed and bruised in body and spirit time and time again will wear away in time even the strongest bonds until I can feel nothing but an aching search for peace. There will never be peace or tranquility with him, never. Must I wait for Death to bring it me?  His reproach is that I haven't given him love or companionship or affection for a long time. But again I say whose fault is that? Not mine. As ye give...in like measure shall ye receive. And God knows I've given enough for a long time. I am not a dog to be petted one minute and kicked the next for being a nuisance and in the way.


Unknown month and year

            Jere, you know that I am a lighthearted person and nothing bothers me too much, not poverty, or sickness nor adversity, but one thing is slowly crushing the life from me.

            The thought of you striking me is like acid to my soul, every time someone looks at the marks on my face, my mind is in a turmoil. I'm ashamed, ashamed for you and ashamed for me for you for doing this to me and of myself for allowing it to happen. It's not a pretty feeling and I know it haunts my action night and day. The bitterness is slowly eating me up. I can't think or feel anything except degradation and only one thing is clear. Like a rabbit in a trap, my one aim is to get away, away at any cost. You have no right, no right on earth to do this to me. No man has, and I must make my stand sooner or later. I have no wish to part from you, but this I cannot endure any longer.


April 18, 1993--Remembering Downey



Do you remember in Downey going to that barn where all the hay fell down? and where I found the pictures, the paintings?


Whewww, when you mention it I sort of recollect it, but it could have been any time, and there could have been other barns, ha ha h!






And I remember getting on the bus and I remember somebody blue, blue ribbon, something blue, I remember riding the bus and I remember a boy hit me in the stomach, and I went over to the teacher.




and she said




Sit down'




Lump it, you were on a field trip.


No it was at school, this was two memories


Oh cause see I was little in Downey, I didn't go to school. You were teaching me to read so I would be.


I was teaching you to read??


Well maybe both of you. Probably you.


Did you we had bunk beds? And I remember distinctly the bunk beds, and I remember throwing up while in the top bunk and mother yelling at me, YELLED at me!


Ha ha ha ha!


…because I THREW up! I can't get over that!




Ha ha! I don't remember that either, who yelled at you, I did?


No Mother.


Mother, oh..


Like you did it on purpose.


Yeah! like I did it on purpose.


Every once in awhile she'd do stuff like that.


She couldn't, you see---Mother couldn't cope. She had three children…




Pardon me, four children, well, most of the time three children.


She had miscarriages didn't she?


Yeah--you remember that?


Yeah, sort of yeah.


that's funny cause I don't


She was in the hospital and Dad said--we got in FIGHTS while she was gone, I'd, maybe that was when Penny was born, I don't know. I,  I, I, You and I would have blood curdling knock down drag out fights, and I remember once I was going to hit you with some pots, and dad stopped me.


Ha ha ha!


Pfufff, no, he said, you can't do that, ha ah ah aha, but evidently he was letting us fight it out up to that point.


More than what he couldn't handle.


Physical violence, ha ha ha!


Well he couldn't even handle us! Because he maybe, remember that, maybe he took us for five minutes, but we were shipped out. I remember, every, to this day, whenever I drive down highway 101 past this certain exit in San Mateo I remember a lady who moved there after she lived someplace and I can't remember about this lady, but we had to stay with her, we had to stay with this lady, and then there was another time when and you told me you remember this, I think it was in Downey or somewhere where these people had RABBITs behind us…


All I remember is the kid peed in the bed.


May be the kids, Penny was born…


…and I had to sleep with the kid and the kid wet the bed.--it was awful!


He never took care of us.


Well I don't know...


Well now maybe it was not possible for him to take care of us, if we were not school age yet.


Well we must have been


Give the man a break!


School age, come on.


You were but I wasn't. I didn't go to school til Hawthorne.

Father Tunes Out

It’s amazing how out-of-touch Father was. Or maybe he was just so self-involved, it was beyond him to notice what was going on with Mother. In the following letter—written during what must have been an arduous trip by car from southern California to northern Washington-she continues to be, for him, his ‘dearest love,’ his sweetheart. Father in Hawthorne


letter from J at Chidester Cabins, 12914 Empire Way, Seattle 88, Wash.

     Are you well, and our four sprouts too?  This is the first chance I have had to write. got telegram off yesterday afternoon:  it cost almost as much a phone call, $1.85.

     For want of ideas I'll go right thru. Traffic was heavy up Sepulveda, especially near Sunset. 99 over the Ridge fast and clear but just other side south Bakersfield, fog, which stayed with us without a break. Often it so thick that cars fifty feet ahead were invisible.

     I was my usually bad but lucky self. Somewhere near Merced passed a couple of cars on divided highway going about 72 mph. The second car police car, and few minutes later purple light shone in mirror (this 7:30). pulled over officer said dangerously close fast, he wasn't concerned so much with speed. Here again thought had plenty room. looked tired advised me to rest. been looking for gas station, intending have cup coffee. Well, issued warning, which will go record. Following this drove some miles Richfield station between towns ran out narrow section. little farther found bite Sacramento. wandered around inimitable manner, finally getting right road north city when bedded down night at 1am.

     At 6 in the morning I was on my way, fog still with me, and road wet. Around an S curve lost control of car a ditch ahead truck approaching--I thought'd be wrecked sure. skidded first toward then towards approaching which had almost stopped. nick time regained proceeded chastened wiser. experience stood me good stead, for no further trouble from this score even very bad curves mountains.

     The Sacramento valley is quite similar to San Joachin, and had same dense fog. Eventually I arrived at mountains, where rain then snow were added. All time was traveling between 70 80, road permitting. [Drencurve] stopped for lunch about decided take mountain 97. asked a native advice, he emphatic sticking with It well that did because found out later 97 iced up.

     These mountain roads were tough for me and I became very tired, aching in every bone joint, muscle sore, my seat especially bothersome. concluded that auto seats are not properly designed. the evening put pillow under which much improved situation raised enough to improve visibility eased strain a little. neck was about broken by then. had intended travel Seattle night, but time reached outskirts of Portland simply unable proceed. It then

     Since it was dark until late and I very tired slept 7:30. True to form, got lost again in Portland, found myself going down a one way street--yes, the wrong way. Then went threw red light without seeing meeting anything--you see, my guardian angel works hard, know not why.

     In the outskirts of Portland, on rite road, I breakfasted while sun came out all its glory. It is truly beautiful country, becoming more so as you go north. Washington very attractive, has good roads but rigidly enforced traffic regulations. Portland car ahead went through a changing signal, stopped, and then saw patrol watching me--ha ha.

     A truck driver had told me to cut off 99 on 5H. Driving along and saw 5, thinking the H been left I drove down it--it turned out be 100 miles of mountain road thru Rainer National Park. Some short cut?

     I finally arrived at Boeing 2pm and waited around for two hours fruitlessly. It turned out that one of the boys had gotten himself in hoosegow was being bailed fired.

     Boeing is very large, perhaps larger than NAA. It difficult to say anything about the setup at this time. Seattle seems like a pleasant place, although I haven't yet seen city. country wet--that say, ground and vegetation soft, saturated, fresh, green, rivers lakes are everywhere, mountains in all directions, snow overhead. drove thru some of them. Rain be expected any time, clouds always evidence, but still sun shines occasionally, with burst glory beauty. considerably colder southern California, not overcoat weather. think sweater or jacket under raincoat would work. Oddly enough, road reflection night, which longer here because latitude, trouble me most. find see my lane keep it. addition, terrain not  [easy].

     Sweetheart, this is the end of stationery, so let me say I love you, girls Camille, Deedee, Penny, my little man Bobby. Kiss them all for me, do wish you were here. It appears that I'm a family at heart. Too bad!

     Please take care of yourself, my love, and do telegraph should you need anything. I feel it ay have been careless me to leave at this time.

     Again love to you all,

     Jere daddy


Amazing! Dad was perfectly capable of driving over 1000 miles(?) from Los Angeles, across three states, to Seattle, Washington, and yet whenever Mother was available, she was always required to be his chauffer. Dad had no self-control behind the wheel, and he had a lousy driving record. Once he actually drove onto the sidewalk to get around some slower cars!

So before long he was depending on Mother for all driving. She drove him to work, she picked him up at lunch time, brought him home for lunch and back to work after lunch, and picked him up at 5:00. If he needed to do research, she drove him to the library and waited for him while he perused the stacks; if he had a job interview, she drove him to it and waited in the car. She did most, if not all, driving on vacations.

The sad thing was that whenever she behind wheel, Dad subjected her to a constant stream of abuse—yelling, screaming, vile language, insults. All car trips were nightmare. We children cowered in backseat, afraid say “peep.” Penny remembers one time peeing into jar found there because interrupt his tirade mention had go bathroom.

One characteristic of wife batterers is their dependency on partner. Driving was not the first, but perhaps most obvious way, that Dad ended up totally dependent Mother.

Dependency is uncomfortable to Borderlines and makes them anxious. They have learned that they cannot trust anyone. Dutton writes:

Moreover, borderlines experience intense anger towards those upon whom they depend, not only because their dependency shames them and exposes their weakness, but also because of the others’ power in having “forced” them to yield and acquiesce.

It’s interesting that Father thought “I feel it may have been careless of me to leave you at this time.’ With Penny a month old? And Mother suffering the consequences of a fourth RH negative pregnancy? I think SO!

I believe Penny suffered neglect from the beginning, and I think she is also a borderline.


1952 Letters to Mutti

I think we were only in Downey one year and moved to Hawthorne in 1951, but I don’t remember. No diaries, letters, or journals exist to clarify. Nevertheless, in September, 1952, I started the 5th grade at Eucalyptus School in Hawthorne. In Hawthorne I began accumulating memories. Interestingly, memories of abuse continue to be blocked. I think it is not until my memories are of high school that abuse is a part of them.

To my knowledge Mother never mentioned the abuse she suffered to any living soul. Her letters, including those to her mother, are invariably lighthearted, funny, and full of the details of the busy life she led. In the fifties she appeared to be an ideal wife, mother, and friend to all. And that’s exactly the way I remember her.

It is interesting to read, however, the clues. Father drank a lot—sauterne—and even letters reveal this. He doesn’t come across as helpful—he wasn’t. He doesn’t come across as understanding—he wasn’t. He also wasn’t considerate or thoughtful. He was demanding; his needs came first. But he was generous--he bought presents occasionally—and was generally a good provider, at least until the end of this decade.


Hi, Honey Lamb:-

Kate and Rudy

If this letter is a little bit choppy it’s because, like a dope I cut my finger on Jere’s electric saw. It was one of those days when everything goes wrong---I stuffed a lot of cardboard boxes into the fireplace and because I was mad at the kids and their messy rooms I turned my back to scold them and looked up in time to see the flames licking Mother in Hawthorne over the outside of the fireplace and though I put it right out still it left the paint all blistered and burned, Holy Cow! Now we’ve got to paint...While I was still mad at myself about that Bobby asked me to cut out his boat for him and although I should know better I reached over the saw for a piece of wood without turning it off first and whang---I had it, but good. Blood dripped all over the joint, while I stood there and read Bobby a moral lesson about why now he should know why I want him never, but NEVER to touch that saw...Oh well. To get back to your letter, I also am full of questions...like do they want to live in a motel while they look the situation over?  Are they looking for a furnished house or apartment?  Are they coming out by car, plane, or train. And shall I meet them?  (Wear a white carnation) Our phone number is in the book, in case they should lose it. It’s Osborne 5-1748. Gosh how I wish it was you I was expecting...Of course, I’ll have them to dinner and do all I can to help. Too bad I can’t put them up, but of course you realize that’s impossible, with Jere and the kids and the house so crowded. If I knew them it might be managed, but total strangers, no matter how nice a set of people they are, is something else again. We can be on our best behavior for an afternoon or evening, but those early morning hours when everything is at sixes and sevens and there is a mad scramble to get the kids dressed and fed, you know how it is...Sure, I’ll keep the paper for him, I can see why even if you don’t. Ads, remember?  Ads for jobs, ads for houses, ads to see what the score is. Luckily it’s only the two of them, so the housing situation isn’t too bad. There are lots of furnished apartments, close by and everything, also trailers. I’m enclosing a clipping from a local paper to give you an idea.

Honeybunch, we are not that broke that we can’t have company for dinner. Remember our well-stocked meat locker?  Don’t worry, I’ll look after them to the best of my ability, and so will Jere.

Now to your questions, one at a time. Our trailer cost a thousand dollars everything included, hitch on the car etc. We took a note on the car, so now we own a trailer and still have $800 to pay on the note before The trailerwe can own our car again. No, me myself, I haven’t gotten me a camera yet, the one we had fell off the icebox in Downey and shattered into a million pieces on the cement floors we had there. It was plastic, you know. Jere bought a good camera for fifty dollars that he takes those colored slides with. I had him make up some pictures, but they are not too good as pictures, though very lovely when looked at with a viewer on a screen. The trouble is they are so expensive and I wanted just an ordinary little old camera to take snaps with to send to you like I used to. I asked for one for my birthday but got the purse instead. But Christmas is coming up and I’m still hoping!  Though Jere and I bought each other a fireplace set, screen, and so forth, and we got Camille another accordion. So Christmas is going to be slim pickings for our family. She said she wanted nothing so much on earth, if she could only get a lighter accordion. The one we had bought for her has a lovely tone, but it IS heavy, I know, I get pooped myself after about fifteen minutes. She never wanted to take it anywhere to play for people, said it was ugly and she hated it, so one day at the stores I overheard a man say he had a little one for sale for a hundred dollars, his daughter got a better one, since she was ready to go on professionally and I asked if I could see it. It was exactly what we had in mind, and I had priced the same one I had priced at the store for three hundred and twenty five, so quick as anything I grabbed it. Now Cammie is happy and making the [walkin] ring morning noon and night, I never have to remind her to practice.

Darling, I have to cut this short, will try to fill in the details in a later letter. Bye now.


Monday, June 30

Hello, Sweetie pie

Maybe you’d better fumigate this letter before you start to read it--it must be as full of germs as a dog is of fleas. Bob of boy, what a session we’ve been having!  Wait until I put on my nurse’s cap and finish taking temperatures...Deedee came down with the mumps and is one sick and unhappy little girl, and all of them have the whooping cough. Poor little Penney has it worse than any of them and it just about breaks your heart when she begins to whoop it up, and those deep circles under my eyes are not from the great night life I’ve been leading but because I’m up every night a half dozen times wondering if she’s going to last the night out. Poor Baby, she just doesn’t understand it and every attack leaves her faint and limp as a dishrag, although she is much better now. As a matter of fact, aside from having Deedee come creeping into bed with me is the very first night I haven’t had to get up for Penney. You should just see the array of medicine bottles sitting on the dresser, and I line them up knee deep with an assortment of teaspoons to give them their medicine four times a day.

And here we had Cammie all packed and ready to go to camp this week, and Deedee was enrolled in summer school, supposedly a special privilege reserved for the brightest and best pupils. And of course there was wailing and gnashing of teeth because all that is out for the summer. Happy Days!

To get back a little, I sure have been one busy little girl for the past month or so. First of all one of my neighbors was suddenly stricken temporarily blind, she is a diabetic and one of the veins behind her one good eye broke, and the doctor ordered her to bed to lie absolutely quiet lest it become permanent, and since she has a couple of little girl twins, Deadeye’s age and what with medical expenses and such, unable to hire a housekeeper us Neighbors rallied round and took turns going over to do what we could for her. One would give her breakfast, and by ten I was caught up with my own work to go over and take care of her until noon, see the kids off to school, dash home and make lunch for my own family, and before I could catch my breath Jere would be along to have me drive him hither and yon. He was doing some sort of research that meant I had to drive him from one place to another and spend hours sitting and biting my nails thinking of all the ironing piling up at home. The kids all helped a great deal until they got sick, and even then, they were good little troupers. By now, I hope he has it all lined up and I can relax a little. His vacation starts next week, but of course now we’re going to spend it sitting on the patio. We had meant to go away for a week while Cammie was at camp, and I had planned to send Bobby off too, that would have meant only the two little ones. Oh well, the best laid plans---

Myra’s husband has shifted to the night shift now so he is home during the day, and I only have to pop in at night to give Myra her supper, and she sent the twins to her sisters for the summer. Makes it a lot easier on everyone.

I still have the cubs every Tuesday afternoon, and until this epidemic broke out at our house, I used to take the kids in the neighborhood to the  and leave them there for the day. One day all the boys, and Bluebirds had their Fly-up ceremony and are now Campfire girls, and I’m through with them for the summer, and I’m trying to get up enough nerve to tell Sophie Mae I won’t resume my role as co-leader in the fall. I just don’t see how I can.

Let’s see now what else is new around here. Oh yes, I got a new gas stove--a beauty, with a stainless steel chrome top and a cover that makes up into a shelf, griddle in the middle--the works. and I’m so proud of it that up till now if nothing else gets done in the kitchen the stove gets polished up first. We also got us a set of new tires and slip covers for the car. Sears had a sale on them, and I bought them but nobody told me it would take days and days before they got around to putting them on our car. I went up three days in a row and put my name down on the list and they never did get up to my number. So on the fourth day I got mad and said unless they put them on right away they could have them back. You know how far you get with that kind of talk, so I got my money back. And since we got such a wonderful deal on the stove through a discount house (Northrop’s employees get cards to different houses and they get as much as 20% off) we had looked at them all over town, and priced it at 300 dollars and got it for 235.00  So Jere called them up and asked about slipcovers and next thing I knew I was trotting off to Downey to order them, and picked them up the following Thursday and had them installed. They are awfully pretty, grey quilted plastic on the top and a green, gray and tan striped plastic material on the seat.

Last Saturday an Indian came by the house with the prettiest handmade jewelry while I was out and Jere bought me a bracelet, earrings, and pin to match. It’s silver, with set-in turquoises. It’s supposed to be an anniversary present, and I love it so much I haven’t taken the bracelet off since. He also got Pop a tie clip, which I hope he will like, and which finally got in the mail yesterday. The kids had ed their money and bought him some skin bracer and he better write and tell ‘me he just adores the stuff and it’s just what he always wanted, they got their daddy the hair lotion, just what he needed of course!

The weather is lovely again today, and I’d give anything if I could take my brood to the beach, but until Deedee’s swelling goes down, that’s out. Gee, I feel just like Typhoid Mary, nobody comes near us, though the do call me on the phone every day to see how my poisonous brood is coming along. Thank God for television!-----

That Indian came back again and I got Jere a watchband, it’s silver and made like a buckle, and it’s a pity it doesn’t fit mine. She looks nice and he likes it a lot.

I’m running out of inspiration, gosh, I’m so darned tired, I get no place fast, and I don’t know where the days fly to. Well, I’ll mail this, and maybe things will ease up a little and I have more time to write to you. I know, I have been a stinker, but honestly Mumsi, time goes so fast, please don’t be mad at me.

I haven’t heard from Filmore, so I guess I’d better write again. I was talking to Myra and she told me her sister (the one she sent the twins to) lives in Santa Barbara which is not too far from there, and she knows everyone and about everything, and she will ask her to look into the place for me. I have done a lot for her and I know she’ll be tickled to do something to return the favor.

Well, goodbye again, and have a happy birthday darling, I will put your present in the mail this week, and it will be a little late, but I haven’t forgotten you, angel.

Lots of love from the kids and me

P.S. Cammie has been fooling around with the typewriter to pass the time away, and she doesn’t do too badly, so she wrote you a letter, did you get it?


Thursday, August 7. 1952

Hi, Parents:-

Excuse me while I wipe my fevered brow and catch my breath first----what a week, what a week. First let me thank you both for your letters, long looked for and very, very welcome, thanks again, I’ll get around to them later, but let me tell you of our latest exploit!  Pop, you are so right when you say you wouldn’t be surprised if we mailed a postal card from the moon, although after last Sunday ‘Heaven’ would be more like it.

Well, we decided to go up to Palomar State Park for the week-end and because Gary, the kid next door, practically belongs to the family now, he and Cammie are so much together, we took him along too. Jere had put a cot up over the table in the trailer, so ostensibly we’d have enough room. After a hectic and frantic day Friday, I finally had the trailer stocked with food and clothing and the beds made up, ready for the kids to crawl into when dark came and after supper we stuck the dishes into the sink and off we went. Everything went along smoothly until we got near Elsinore. It’s been over two years since we’d gone out that way and I distinctly remember the road making a sharp right turn by an old farmhouse. So blithely I turned right and after a quarter of a mile Sibs (Deedee, Camille, Penney, Bob) early 50sran smack into a barricade, and what a time we had turning the trailer around on that narrow stretch. I always get out and let Jere do it, figuring, if he ruins the car or blows a tire, he isn’t going to bawl me out, and he really did it quite neatly, even though he practically plowed through a barbed wire fence to do it. Well, it was dark by then so we bundled the kids off to bed and set off again. Seems they built a new highway and cut out all of the old road with its twists and turns and pot holes. We were barreling along at a good clip when finally Jere succumbed to the wine and the monotony and went to sleep. That would have been alright if this new highway hadn’t completely thrown me off my stride, the map didn’t show it, and I hadn’t the faintest idea where we were going or how to get there. I finally succeeded in waking Jere up but it was too late. The road kept on winding up and down through the mountains without a sign of habitation or signposts that looked familiar and consequently we went about thirty miles out of our way before we finally in a round about fashion found ourselves on a road that said “Palomar State Park, 26 miles”. We went a little way up the mountain until I found a convenient stopping place and we pulled up for the night. Bright and early the next morning we went on, and it was sure fun, nobody on the road, nothing but chipmunks and deer and squirrels, but it was rather a steep grade, and between Jere telling to shift all the time when I could see the motor wouldn’t take it, I guess we were a bit hard on the transmission, and the upshot of it was when we got to the top and into that fine dirt the poor old thing couldn’t take it. Oh, the motor purred alright but the car wouldn’t budge. And we smelled something, brakes, transmission, or what have you, and there we were stuck right in the curve of a narrow dirt road. Brother!  With a trailer behind yet!  But the woods are always full of helpful people, in this case a bunch of boy scouts and their Scout master, and he came to the rescue. We unhitched the trailer and pulled it to one side and then after the car had sat awhile we were able to pull it into a vacant spot and the scout master hitched our trailer onto his truck and pulled it up into place too. And we had breakfast. That’s the lovely, lovely part of camping, as far as I’m concerned and some day I shall just quit! I drive us there, and we pile out and everybody wants to eat, so who fixes it?  You know darned well, poor tired cramped little me. Before I can calm down with a cup of coffee I have to make it myself first. Oh well, that’s the way it goes. Well, we ate and washed the dishes and took a hike, and although it was hotter than the hinges of Hell, we had a lot of fun. And that’s the time I found out I had come away without my purse. I had my driver’s license and a couple of dollars, and a credit card for Richfield, and us pretty near out of gas! Holly cow!  Jere had forgotten his too. So we didn’t dare take the car Penny riding my neck I sure enjoyed myself no end, you can imagine. Well, we decided to go down further where we had been once before and where I remember a stream running through a meadow. The kids had brought their bathing suits and wanted to go swimming, but the lake there had dried up so much it was nothing more than a puddle good for fishing only. So we piled the kids in the car and took off. But when we got there there was no trace of water, it had all dried up. But we did find a campsite that was much nicer, under a great big old tree, where the branches hung clean down to the ground and made a nice breezy canopy. There was one old trunk shaped like an elephant’s trunk that the kids could swing on and have a wonderful time, so we decided to move the trailer down too. That night we built a campfire and sat around it until late at night. The kids, Gary and Cammie, played the accordion and we sang all the songs we could remember, and I even gave a rendition of some of the German songs I knew, like “Lorelei” and “Lindenbaum”, boy could we use a good voice!  The next day we started for home around one o’clock, and everything was going along nicely, we found that because of the downgrade we probably could make it into Temecula where I remember there being a Richfield Station. But no, there had to be a slow car in front of me, and I had to keep applying the brakes to keep from running up the back of him. Well, the next thing I knew, I’m stepping with all my strength on the brake and yanking on the emergency and the darn old car keeps right on gathering momentum. I tell you, I’ve never been so scared in my life. Bad enough to have the whole family spattered over the mountainside, but Gary!  So the only thing I could think of doing is to try to pull up at a cutout, and I aimed the car straight for a roadside marker, hoping and praying it would stop us. It did. And how. There was the darndest crunch, and there we were hung up and a big boulder, in a ditch yet. Practically the only way it would have stopped us. Jere got out, boiling mad, visualizing a crushed in radiator, or smashed oil pan or something worse, but all we got was a scratch on the bumper guard. Of course we were still hung up, and Jere and a couple of young men on motorcycles, worked like mad, to jack the car up and roll stones into the ditch until they got the car out. Then they had to get the trailer out too, and it was caught on the rock too, but finally we got back on the road, and I told Jere nothing could persuade me to get in that car with the trailer on it. So the kids and I started to walk and he drove off and I walked along thinking if I looked good in black, and how much insurance I could get, and seeing Jere and the car smashed up in a gully, when we met him walking back. He said apparently the overdrive hadn’t engaged and here we were barreling down the mountainside in free wheeling. Jeepers!  Jere had pulled up around the bend and threw the switch and it was now quite safe. I got in with trembling and trepidation, but I could feel the motor drag right away, and knew it was alright. If I could only have realized before that there should have been a drag going in first, oh well, some day I’ll learn, but times like that I curse all modern inventions and wish I had a plain old regular motor in the car like old Lizzie had. This overdrive business gets me all balled up. But like Jere says, I have the luck of the Irish, and seem to have a special guardian angel watching over me. (Kids, drunks, and fools you know)

Maybe I ought not to tell you of our experiences and just say we had a lovely time, so I’ll do the next best thing--I’ll promise faithfully on my Girl Scout Honor to drop you a card each Monday following an excursion so you know we’re home safe and sound and in one piece. Okay?

In a weak moment I took the cubs fishing from the Manhattan Beach Pier, and Bobby caught a mess of fish, for which I was duly grateful, it being ebb-tide in my housekeeping money. I left them there for the day, and the rest of the time I was in an agony of suspense wondering which, if any, had fallen off into the water. But they got along beautifully, and had a wonderful time. Next thing I knew I was scouring the town for the most inexpensive fishing rods, and incidentally that’s where your five dollars went. The rods were the cheapest things of the gear, but the reels, and line! Brother, they added up. But we have happy kids now, and I just hope we will continue to like fish, because they always come home with a pail full. Comes Sunday morning at the crack of dawn and there’s Penny slapping me in the face with my slippers as a gentle hint to be up and doing. Oh my aching old bones!  That baby is sure growing like a weed and is as active as a flea. She sure enough keeps me hopping to be one skip and jump ahead of her...

Nellie went east to Pennsylvania and I was sorely tempted to go with her, but now we have the trailer to pay for, and she made up her mind at the spur of the moment so it didn’t give me much time to think about it She left me her pregnant cat to take care of, though, and I had a high old time keeping her around the house. Practically every day you could see me hunting through my neighbors backyards calling “Here, kitty, kitty.” Well, she managed to birth on a Saturday morning just when we were ready to take off, and the next thing you knew you couldn’t get into our backdoor because it was knee deep with kids, their noses not more than six inches away from the process. I should have charged admission. She had four, but the very first minute the mother got out of the box to stretch her muscles, Tarbaby, that bad old Tom of ours, quicker than greased lightning went and caught one of them and killed it. And after that he never paid them the slightest attention. Cats are sure funny critters. Well, Nellie didn’t stay away very long, only about three weeks and now she is back and took them away, cat, kittens and all.

I took the car to the garage the Monday following our trip and had it checked, realigned, and the wheels switched. Now we’re all set to go off again. Jere has taken another week off, and this time we’ll go to King’s Canyon again. I hope Saint Christopher works overtime, he looks after travelers, you know, and he’ll have a full time job looking after us.

I had given Bobby a birthday party at the beach, with the Cubs, and they had a swell day. No, that was Michael’s party, the week before, I took them to Ladera Park, because one of them had a cold and couldn’t go near the water, so we decided on the park instead, so he wouldn’t always be left out. I no sooner got there and unloaded the car, an ice chest full of soft drinks, the cake, with smeared icing, and the presents and candles and what have you, when we discovered we’d left one of the cubs behind and had to run back and pick him up. It sure is hell to keep track of so many active little imps. We had bought Bobby an ‘atomic space gun’ (heavens to Betsy, when will he outgrow guns!) and a set of space men and rocket ship, which kept the whole crowd busy for hours on end. Your dollar as usual, was spent over and over again, and he ended up by buying more space men--oh well, it made him happy, and would have done your heart good, and been worth more than the slip of paper, to see the eager anticipation with which he received it.

Cammie on the other heart (you see those lockets are on my mind and more of that anon) I meant hand, settled for a five dollar bill in a wallet, rather than a party, and then turned around and planned a beach party for her friends after all. Sent out the invitations and bought the franks and buns and potato chips and drinks out of it, and all Mama had to do was lug them all up to the beach and spend the afternoon there. The very thing I was trying to get out of. Oh well! You can hardly ever win with kids. She sure counted her pennies and made it go a long ways, and even managed to squeeze out a pair of shoes. Oh she had such plans for those six dollars (yours included), and she really does quite well with her money, and those years of allowances haven’t been wasted.

Oh yes, those lockets and watches, they still got them, and wear them mostly on Sundays, and the watches sure come in handy when they want to go off someplace and I want them home a certain time.

I went to a couple of Stanley parties, the sewing club met once, and I had a cub scout meeting, and in between I’m trying to squeeze out enough time to sew for fall. While I was waiting for the car I traipsed around town and found a shop that sold the new bubble picay, the stuff you don’t have to iron, at two yards for a dollar, and I bought scads of material. I even got some gold-print for myself and made a darling dress, that cost me all of two dollars. I love the way the stuff sews up, and looks so nice, gee how I long for one of those new sewing machines that do everything but wash and iron. But don’t worry--one of these days---

Well, darling, I guess I’ll close for this time, I still have to get the trailer ready to take off Friday afternoon, and it takes a lot of preparation. Will write again next week, no not next week, unless they have a post office there in King’s Canyon, but the following Monday, for sure.

Bye now, and don’t worry about us, Sweetheart, you know:  unkraut verdirbt net. And besides, we all got to go sometime, can’t live forever. It doesn’t pay to worry about things that might happen, and if your time is up, you’ll slip on a banana peel and break your neck in front of your own house. I tried to talk Jere into letting me take the trailer east next June, but so far no soap. He says it would be lots nicer if you came out here for a visit. More fun for you, too. How’re things going with you? Still working hard, and perishing from the heat in between?

The kids and Jere send their love, and so do I, oodles of it. I got to go and clean that darned old stove again, it sure is a vicious circle, I cook, and then clean it, and then it looks so nice the icebox needs to be wiped, I wipe it, and then I see the fingerprints on the woodwork, and so on, and net thing I know I’m cooking again and start all over. I wish I were an Indian and lived in a tent!  So back with the nose on the grindstone, and I’ll be seeing you (in print),

Love to you both,


Friday, October 2, 1952

Hello, Sweetheart:-

Gee, my conscience bothers me, and if I want for those mythical free five minutes, I’ll be old and grey and you’ll be in your grave before you get a letter from me. So to heck with the dishes, I’ve locked Penny in the backyard, disconnected the door bell, taken the phone off the hook and here goes...(something tells me locking Penny in the backyard was not wise, I hear the water running, and shall have to debate whether I should wait until she’s good and muddy before I go out and turn it off, or try to rescue my flowerbed before it gets turned into a mud puddle...)  Honestly, Mumsi, I’m busier than a dog with fleas, and my good intentions are strictly not legal tender, on other words, no good of me saying Gee, I meant to write, when what you want is cash on the line or a letter in the mailbox..

Right now, and working backwards (as usual) we’re getting sidewalks put in and never in my life have I seen such a messy job done, our lawn is now practically non existent what with the gravel and rocks and dirt clods all over it. And now I’m waiting more or less patiently for them to come back and fill in the huge gaps they left between the cement and our so-called lawn. Being a corner lot it would take at least two truckloads of top soil or so it seems to me, to fill it in, and I’ll be gosh darned if I’ll go to the expense, not after what they are charging us taxpayers for the job. The fruit man gave my son two boxes of soft plums and I spent a hectic day putting up marmalade and jellies, and now I’m trying like mad to give them away. Do you like plum jam, dearie?  I had given the cubs my last bit of paraffin and here I was, surrounded with glasses of hot jam and not a smitch of it in the house, and the kids in school. So I stuck it all in the icebox, but not even in our maddest moments can I expect the kids and me to eat fifteen quarts of it in the near future. It’s good, too, but there can be too much of a good thing around, can’t there?

I had the cubs that day too, and they were busily varnishing coasters, so when Jere came home that night, he wasn’t sure, judging from the smells, whether he was going to have jam, varnish or stuffed peppers for supper. Last Thursday I took the kids to the Pomona Fair again, and we had a wonderful time. Came home, dog tired, but full of excitement that hasn’t died down yet. Not while that chameleon we bought there lives, anyhow. I seem to be spending the best years of my life taking care of Bobby’s zoo. Because if that poor old lizard is going to eat flies, it will sure as shooting be Mama that does the catching. Right now we also have a little white and black rat, and if you were to pay me a surprise visit you needn’t be surprised to see me walking around with a rat on my shoulder. In fact I’ve been reduced to setting him in the window sill and talk to him while I do my dishes, and he makes better company than my no-good family who enjoy the TV while I slave my life away in that old kitchen. The week that Jere was away I had high hopes of having a little peace and quiet, but it was not be to. That’s when they started the sidewalks, and I worked madly for several days carting the sod and topsoil into the backyard to fill in the space under the clothes line where the previous owner’s foolishly had gone to a great deal of expense to put pebbles. And said pebbles naturally turn up all over the lawn, and in the house, and I went nuts trying to get them to leave them where they belonged. Thank goodness they are a thing of the past now. The grass has grown together nicely and it was well worth the effort. Then I had to move the tree in front, and that took care of another day. Boy, I sure worked that week.

I bet you were surprised when you came home and found Jere there.

Good grief, here it is Wednesday again and this letter is still sitting around. Jere stayed home Monday and Tuesday to look at, of all things, the World Series., and how in heck can I get anywhere with him bouncing in every two minutes to give me a blow by blow description of the last bit of play! Yesterday I went over to Nell’s in desperation until he phoned me to say the game was over. Monday night I went to a Tupper Party at Myra’s. A Tupper Party you say? Don’t you know Tupperware yet. My God you haven’t lived! And in spite of Jere saying as I went out the door:  “Don’t forget now, we have the trailer to pay for yet,” I went in hock to the tune of seven dollars. I bought the three sizes of juice pitchers, with their no-leak covers, which is just what the doctor ordered for the trailer, Jere is always putting his wine in and getting it spilled on those jouncy rides we take. And I also bought a big whatjamacallit, like a huge three cornered sink strainer with the cover on it, to put my garbage in. Now Jere won’t have to yak at me about garbage sitting around in the open. And I hate garbage cans under the sink, and there’s no place else to put one. Talking of doctor, or were we?  Anyway, Cammie’s been home from school with a couple of boils on her thigh, and how in heck she got a boil from I’ll never know, but they drove her wild, and me too, what with putting wet compresses on it all day, and then she got one right under the eye and closed it up. But now she’s okay again, at least, they are healing nicely, though we practically murdered her on Sunday, getting the core out with the help of a hot soda bottle. Suction you know. She screamed so, every kid in the neighborhood came running in. But it worked, and now she has to take some sort of pill to clear her blood and help speed up healing. Honestly, this has been one heck of a year, just one dratted thing after the other. The very first day of school she manages to get her foot caught on the school ground fence and had a deep puncture wound that had to be treated by the doctor, and the amount of Epsom salts we’ve used around here lately is phenomenal. Soak her foot, soak her leg, then Bobby stepped on a board and drove a splinter into his foot and here we were getting the old Epsom salts out and soaking him, but the splinter popped right out and no fooling it was at least an inch long. Kids!  Honestly, when you have more than one, seems like it’s always something. Our rat problem seems to have been taken care of by the cat. Anyway, Penny was forever taking him out of the cage, and when I came home from Myra’s Monday night they told me the rat was gone, and Tarbaby has been sitting around with the most contented expression on her face and for all of a morning never once hounded me for something to eat, so I drew my own conclusions. Tough to be on the safe side I cleaned up the kids bedroom and closets, and moved every stick of furniture to see if he was there. Anyway, the bedrooms got their spring cleaning, and I managed to throw out a bushel full of junk from each closet. Myra and I went to see her sister up in the foothills, and she gave me a permanent. Came out okay too, but it only looks really well when Myra sets it for me, and I hate to ask her too often because, you know she is still partially blind, and it puts too much of a strain on her eyes. But at least I don’t look like a skinned rabbit every other day, when it gets the least bit oily a curl won’t stay more than a half day, but now I look like the bottom end of a mop, unless I put a card full of bobby pins in to hold it in place.

I wanted a little old box camera for my birthday so I could take some pictures to send to you, the ones we get from our new camera are in color and in slides, so it doesn’t do me any good, but when I took Jere down to the Union station when he went East, we found ourselves with an hour on our hands so we browsed around Olivera Street and he bought me a hand tooled leather purse, something I’ve been wanting a long, long while, but never thought I’d get because they cost so darned much, listen, sixteen dollars ain’t to be sneezed at, but I guess all that expense money burned in his pocket, and he figured he’d get it out somehow, so here I am with a simply gorgeous purse. Some fine day, before it wears out, I want the shoes to match.

Monday October 13th

Okay, okay, I know, I’ve been a bad, bad girl, good grief, I wished I knew where the time goes, all I know is, it goes...I just came back from my training course, I’m taking it every Monday for the next month, when the mailman handed me your two letters. Letters did I say?  Hah! Sweetheart, I love you. And so help me I’ll get this letter off today or die trying. And let not rain nor snow nor the fact that I haven’t a stamp in the house delay me.

Nothing new has happened lately, same old routine. Now that we have the sidewalks everybody wants skates, Bobby I hardly ever see anymore unless he comes in for something to eat. He’s grown into such a big boy, and is always out with the kids, playing football and using his archery bow and arrow. Getting real good at it too and one of these days we’ll remember to take his bow camping with us so he can have a try at an honest to goodness rabbit or something. Over the weekend we still try to take the trailer out whatever chance we get and while the good weather lasts. Cause when the rains come, we’ll probably head for New Mexico and the dessert. When we were up at Crystal Lake the other week, we ran into rain and it sure was cozy to sit it out in our little trailer home. Sure, and it had to start while we were in the middle of the lake in a rowboat, I’d taken the kids out to teach them to row, and they were just getting the hang of it when the first drops fell, and I had to take the oars and row hell bent for shore and make a dash for home. Home in this case being the trailer.

Well, I guess I’ll sign off for now, the baby just woke up, and if I leave her locked in her room too long she turns it upside down and it makes more work for me to pick it all up again. Honest darling, I’ll try to do better in the future. We’re having our pack meeting this Thursday, and my boys have quite a lot to do in it, and I’ve been wracking my brains for a couple of weeks just how to get it done. They’re hosts this time, and I made them make paper corsages for the mothers to wear. We need fifty, and I could get them concentrating only long enough for about twenty, that meant I had to make the rest. Then they’re in a skit, and I’ve had to turn out the props in my spare time. What spare time, if any, I don’t know. One of our mothers made the posters for me, after I gave her the idea, and I made an imitation camp fire out of papier-mâché, what a struggle, nobody could tell me exactly how it’s supposed to be done, so I had to figure it out for myself. Next month we’re having a booth at PTA to sell things they have made so we’ve been turning out coasters and hot dish pads by the score. I sawed out the first batch then turned it over to one of our fathers, and the boys were supposed to cut out flowers, birds or what have you and paste them on and varnish the thing. But it meant I had boys running in and out of the house for the last month. Oh well, just think of the fun we have!  The PTA is having a carnival and Myra and I are supposed to be Fortune Tellers. On brother!!  And this neighborhood has a party at Halloween where we all go in costume and of course before the night’s over you don’t sleep anyway, so you see, there’s always plenty doing around here but not anything you can put your finger on or put in your diary. Just doings. Some day I’ll join a nice quiet old lady’s home, but not just yet, I’m having too darned much fun, even though it keeps me stepping, at least it keeps me on my toes too, and I don’t have time to sit around and sign.

Gosh, darling, I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, what is it this time, too much work and not enough play? Cold in the head? Getting up too early? or something more serious?

Well, I said goodbye once and kept right on talking, but this time I mean it. Best love to Pop and you as ever



February 5, 1994--Remembering the Broom


Well even as a kid I remember when we lived in Hawthorne, and I don’t know how old we were. I guess I must have been 5 or 6.

No you were older than that


7 or 8. and I was 5

Cause I started the 4th grade at least the 4th grade up here, maybe the 3rd grade up here, anyway I remember that a kid across the street, and I don’t know how old he was, he must have been a teenager or something like that, had the broom, and I don’t know how he got the broom, but it was our broom, and dad went out and got in an altercation with him and wanted the broom and I don’t, I remember seeing the action but not hearing the conversation, and dad took the broom and smacked this kid over the head with the broom and broke the broom, and the police came and arrested him, took him to jail

Do you remember what you felt?


We talked about this one before, that’s why you have bits and pieces cause you didn’t have them all at once.

You didn’t know he went to jail.

You told us before that you and dad were cleaning the garage or something and you left the broom out.

I left it out?  I don’t remember hahaha.

You said that you left it out, you know being an irresponsible kid, and you went in to eat lunch, and that’s when the teenager found it, and he told dad I found this it’s mine

Is that what happened?

That’s what you said

Oh, God, I don’t remember this hahaha.

Cause I didn’t know any of that, all I knew was the doorbell rang and I answered it and looked up at this police officer who took my father away and my dad was in jail for the night and didn’t come back til the next day, we weren’t in school so it must have been Sunday.

I can’t handle, EVER talking that way to an adult, I mean if I had a broom, and some guy came screaming at me that it was his broom I’d go, “here.”

Yeah, but you see if you didn’t like that old asshole Casagrande, you know, if you thought he was a real asshole, and, and he said gimme my broom and you were a cocky teenage kid you’d say, ‘what broom?’

I wouldn’t do that.

You know a little kid. they would today that’s for sure.

Today, oh today they’d probably pull a gun and shoot you!



Father was apparently arrested and spent the night in JAIL! He must have been extremely embarrassed and humiliated. I remember learning that as a condition of release he needed to go to a psychiatrist for six months. This could have been an opportunity for Father to make some changes, but his response was to move the family to northern California as soon as "his sentence" was up.

Deedee says that years later they were talking about psychiatrists, and Father said he didn't like them because "they always blame everything on the mother." Interesting. And how unfortunate that psychiatry in those days knew nothing about Borderline Personality Disorder.


Mother is probably addressing that incident as she writes the following:


We must all stand on the strength and weakness of our own character, however it may be. Only a moral coward shifts the blame for his shortcomings elsewhere. His mother, she either had too much or not enough; his environment "we were too poor, or too rich. his neighbor, 'he made me angry so I hit him' or "I had to hit him before he hit me." Always the fault lies elsewhere. When will men learn to stand up and say: alright, I was mad, so I lashed out at my neighbor. I'm sorry. Tomorrow the sun will shine and I will feel more kindly. As for me I will take my life in both hands and savor what I can of it. When the heart rejoices and is glad, that will be my reward, whether it is because of the baby's sweet smile or because I've given Candy a little pat and yes, even when Jere and I had had a lovely minute. I won't let the unpleasantness of my life touch me anymore. I will and must repel any invasion of my "self" and refuse to accept the blame for another's unhappiness. Why should I ravage my soul trying to analyze what makes up someone else's happiness, when moods shift so constantly like a kaleidoscope. I would be beset and bound about with more laws and commandments, rules and taboos than there are hairs on my head.


Today My Husband Died to Me.

January 24, 1953

     This has been a bitter day for me, for on this day my husband died to me. I can no longer endure it and neither can I cure it, though I laid awake thinking of ways and means to escape this intolerable existence and still keep my children. And since I can't the only thing left is to build a wall and shut out this evil in my life until Death breaks the shackles or time brings another solution. I shall be like the oyster and build around the source of irritation; that will be the only way I can survive. In moving my bed I moved myself out of his life, and to me he is as dead as he will ever be, and oh how I shall mourn my lost love.


Humm. It wasn't the last time she moved her bed out of the conjugal suite, but somehow it didn't make any difference. She always ended up back with him.

In any case, the day after her husband "died" to her, she wrote the following letter to her mother. "Nothing much new," she writes, confiding nothing; at most I can say that it was atypically short, and the last paragraph a bit somber.


January 25. 1953

Greetings, Family:--

Here I set--in shorts and with the blinds drawn because the sun is so hot and think of those newspapers you sent me, blizzards, sleet and all, well, all I can say, honey lamb, is “It’s lucky when you live in California.”  You can keep that lovely white feathery stuff all to yourselves. Only thing is, when it’s so hot I lose absolutely any ambition I might ever have had and inspiration forsakes me as far as this letter is concerned. Rose and Jack were here Friday night to view some of the pictures he took of the Rose Parade. I’d promised to dig up a projector so we could all look at the pictures at the same time, and when I cajoled one of my neighbors into letting us use hers and brought it home and unwrapped it, it turned out to be a moving picture projector. After frantically phoning around, because I expected the Groethers any minute and they were bringing a neighbor, too, I finally came up with the bright idea of renting one. And so I did, why didn’t I think of it before, it’s really very inexpensive and a lot less trouble. The pictures he had taken were very beautiful, I’d never realized what a riot of color those floats are. Of course he still can hardly wait to go home to New Jersey, honestly, Mumsi, what a viewpoint! They came out to have fun and see what there is to see, so why not do it, and accept the bad with the good...It makes Jere real cross to hear him talk. But I do like Rose, she is very sweet. She showed me your letter. MOTHER, whatever do you mean by saying I don’t write. I’m glad you got the package. Like Grapefruit?  Huh? I have some more presents coming up, just to drag Christmas out until Easter again...The kids are all at the movie and the baby is asleep, boy, it’s peaceful around here. But it’s so warm it’s making me sleepy, too.

Nothing much new.  One day rolls into the next without effort and the groove wears deeper all the time. You know what I mean. I finally got around to using my new sewing machine and I’m just crazy about it, when I get caught up on my mending and sewing,, why I might even experiment with embroidery and such like.


February 1

     All the foregoing pages were written in the heat of anger, in bitter frustration and the natural letdown after emotional chaos, and now I feel I ought also to set down my thoughts after time has had a chance to smooth out the turbulent upheaval of emotions. God, in his wisdom has seen fit to grant me the barest glimmer of understanding and with understanding comes maturity and with maturity some measure of wisdom.  After a frantic seeking through the words written by sages, philosophers, and other works for some balm to my bruised spirit, I found some that express much better than I ever could, a way of life for me:

     Epicurus says: "The blessed and immortal nature, knows no trouble and causes trouble to no other so that it is never constrained by anger or furor, for such things exist only in the weak"  So I shall strive for serenity...laugh and philosophize at the same time and do my household duties and employ my other faculties...we must try to make the end of the journey better than the beginning.

     As for my relationship with Jere...no bad man is all bad, nor a good man all good, so take what is good and wall off the bad in his nature. So I shall try to 'remember that foul words and blows are not in themselves an outrage but your judgment that they are so, when anyone makes you angry, know that it is your own thought that has angered you.'  Don't be resentful.


April 15, 1953

Hello, Family:---

Remember me?  Gee, it really has been a long time this time, hasn’t it? And I have so very much to write about, too, I don’t even know where to start. I told you on the phone that Jere is up in Redwood City, since last Sunday. You know Jere, every so often he gets the itchy foot and distant pastures look greener and seems like every Spring he wants to go North with the birdies. Well, he finally talked me into it, and for the sake of peace in the family I consented, but I was quite firm that he go up by himself for awhile until he gets a chance to look around and settle down and be quite, quite sure this is IT. In fact for awhile it looked as if I had the choice of staying here with the kids and lose a perfectly good husband or going along with the idea. Of course you know, when he puts it that way there’s only one answer... Honestly Mami, it will just about kill me to leave these dear and kind people behind and go move away. I will never, never, find a nicer bunch of neighbors again…

… Well, in the meantime, every single day I’d take Jere to work in the morning and every day around nine he’d call up and come home…

… The kids have been awfully good since Jere went away, and they get up in the morning and get dressed and et and get washed without me having to hound them at all. In fact Bobby has been simply wonderful, he even combs his own hair and remembered to take the garbage out and brought the pail in without having to be told. It absolutely floored me, because as a rule, I have to remind him at least half a dozen times. And when I tell him to come into the house at eight he does without a murmur. I heard him tell the kids in the backyard last night, well, fellows I gotta go in now, see you tomorrow”, and he came in and put his pajamas on and they all stayed inside as good as gold. The ladies usually come around eight-thirty, and there wasn’t a peep out of any of them. And don’t think that isn’t miraculous. Yes sir, it sure has been peaceful around here since Sunday.

I haven’t heard from Jere yet, and if I were the worrying type, I’d sure have plenty to worry about. I don’t know whether to keep the house clean expecting him to pull up any minute now or whether I’ve lost him for good! I suppose he’s been busy and hasn’t had a chance to write yet, and if he did I wouldn’t get it anyway until today or tomorrow. Well, I’ll see.


The house was put up for sale, and Father remained in northern California. Below is a fragment of a letter.


…When I called the other night I had completely forgotten about the Pack. I could have called a ten just as well. Camille took down the address and she and Deedee assured me they were taking good care of you and missed their daddy. It was a great disappointment to be unable to hear your voice.

Did anyone come to look at the house? Let me know how it looks and what the prospects are. Camille said you got the check--how much was it?  I would like to pay all our debts. Incidentally, I can’t find my check book, so please send a few checks. I sent off the state income tax return two days late and without a check. The amount was $30.78, and at least $8 should have gone with it. You will probably receive it back. I signed your name to it. Let me know when you receive it.

I shall not drive back to Hawthorne unless I can get someone to go along. However, I may be able to find someone and will let you know in time to send your milkman away.

I’ve been up here about a week now, and the countryside looks better everyday. Always clouds, sky, sun, hills, trees, birds. We’ll love it. It does appear that we can get much of what we want.

The job looks good. I’ve spent the week learning about tape recorders and the Ampex standards. I expect to start my assignment next week. It is a very important project for an oil exploration company in geophysical prospecting. It looks like a difficult one, and one that will tax all my powers.

Goodbye love and love to Deedee to Bobby, to Camille, to Penny, and you, to Candy and Tarbaby--but especially to you



Humm, not quite as loving as those letters from the 40’s. Well, Father is now 45 years old. Mother’s letters still begin and end with endearments, but they’re just filled with financial or household matters.


Monday Morning
April 20, 1953

My own Darling:-

Faithful Penelope, that’s me, and I can tell you one thing, by the time my Lord and Master has come back from his seven year’s odyssey, he will find Jack the Odd-job and I-fix-everything Man has muscled in on his territory. Why, oh why, must the old furnace give out on me every time you turn your back, and of all times how, when the doctor’s order specifically stated “keep her warm and quiet”. I even crawled under the house clutching a flashlight in my hot little hand, and…

Darling, I wouldn’t say this to the kids, but was I ever glad to have that phone call Thursday, even though I wasn’t here to receive it.

… Sweetie, I’m so glad things worked out so well for you. See, I told you once you get up there and talk things over it would be alright. Just the same I’m also glad I insisted on staying on down here until June, gives us just enough time for you to settle into your new job and know whether or not it will be permanent, and for us to have a breathing spell.

Thursday afternoon
April 23, 1953

Ave, imperator! morituri te salutant.

And Boy, I’m not just a-kidding either. I had everything figured out so neatly on paper and every time the mailman comes by he drops another bombshell in my lap. Now get the latest--the State of California gives us notice that they’d like us, nay, they insist we do, come across with $52.43 for the taxable period ending Dec. 1950. Didn’t we file that year either?  That lops off ninety dollars right then and there from my nice fat little nest egg. Plus the forty-eight to Madden, plus the seventy-five for the house. And the new phone bill came in--thirteen dollars alone for your calls to Redwood City. I’m dead!

If and when the answers to those letters I’ve been bombarding you with come through I shouldn’t be looking for the mailman in vain, like I’ve been doing, at least for awhile. You dog, you. You mean you didn’t set yourself down over the weekend and dash off a nice long loving letter to your Dear Ones at Home? Shame on you, now you get that Redhead right off your lap and start missing us.

I dragged your picture out of the mothballs and displayed it prominently in the living room. And Bobby of all people, came out with the amazing statement this morning, that whenever he sees it he starts to miss you something awful. Your faults, dear, are completely forgotten, and all we can think of is that all of us together make a family, and that’s the way we like it to be. For better or worse…


letter from j at 523 Eaton Ave., Redwood City, Ca., to Frances Casagrande, 12202 Sundale Ave., Hawthorne, Ca.

Redwood City, Calif.
Tuesday, 28 April, 1953

Dearest Love,

     I arrived here safe, but tired. The night ended with a very heavy rain. It started by my arriving at the USO after a miserable drive, only to find that my [marine] had left, and no one there wanted to go. I was  mad enough to tear down the place. I drove down to [Sunset] and wound around for what seemed an eternity and finally arrived at 101. I drove alone to the far side of Oxnard, and there picked up another sailor (no marines for me!)--it turned out he had been a truck driver and was going to Hunters Pt in San Francisco. I turned the car over to [him immediately] and he drove to Paso Robles and I took it the next hundred or so, and he took it the rest of the way. We had an enjoyable (used advisedly) journey and in spite of two stops for food made it in 9 hours thru the rain. Incidentally, they couldn't find my credit card at [Solience] so check for signature any debits we receive from now on from Richfield.

Monday morning I got up at 7:30 and went without breakfast. Had a cup of coffee and a doughnut at 9. Was very nervous and tired all day, just about made it thru the day. Monday night, in order to relax I set up the amplifier and tuner. Found I had forgotten the [outring], so I had to improvise one by taking a portion of the speaker line and the clip leads. Now there is a piece of [lay]card for the FM tuner, throw two clip leads to the ceiling lighting fixture and to the wall. It works fairly well, and there are more and better stations here.

Did the children have anything to say when they came home and found me gone?  I don't believe they realized I would be gone when they returned.

It rained all morning here Monday, was pouring when I left in the morning, and the place here was quite muddy, so my shoes were [soiled] muddied.

I got a good sleep last night and felt my usual self today, thank God.

This is a very beautiful place. Look in any direction at any time of day and there is something of interest and an individuality of color and form. Clouds, hills, [hobelchai,] the bay, always variety, interest, stimulation, esthetic satisfaction. The feeling is, here I will tarry awhile. It distresses me that I must needs tend to my driving instead of the sights. It was a beautiful day this day, and I [wanted] to take time out for dinner and a [bais] out. I find it significant that no one with whom I have talked is otherwise than enthusiastic about the area. Some prefer this part, some that, but all prefer this above all.

I am writing this on the chess board, resting on the bed, listening to an FM station in Berkeley which is supported by listeners satisfaction. The material has been varied, from Bach to Boogie-woogie, science, current events, a wide variety of well chosen material. Right now I'm listening to a good jazz pianist, Newel.

I must close now as it is late, love to you all, to Cammie, Bobby, Deedee, Penny, but especially to you, sweetheart,

Your "head of the household"



April 29, 1953

Light of My Life:

It’s a little difficult to write when your fingers are chewed clean up to the knuckles--and this suspense is killing me--DID Jere pick up that Marine and DID he arrive safely and WHAT TIME? And was he half dead the next morning? and HOW did his job go? Tune in in two weeks and get the answers to these burning questions. I should live so long!

Well, let’s see what happened in our little groove since you left…


Redwood City, Cal
Saturday, May 2, 1953

Dearest love,

You must see “Moulon Rouge”--the [colors form] are the best I have ever seen, the technique something remarkable. The tale is an interesting one, and I saw nothing that might be considered subversive by any stretch of the imagination--a truly good picture, one long to be remembered, a work of art.

I wrote to Camille and to Garry. I thought it best to wait on the others until they write to me--yes?


The Corls (pronounced Corral) invited me to have dinner with them last night, Sunday. It was pleasant to eat with someone I knew for a change. I usually manage to do so at least once a week--Sheffield, Hkofean, home, here.

I finally received a letter from you, this evening, May 4. What was the trouble with “little-little”?  Was it the closing phase of the measles?

It was quite warm here today, and the ventilation in our labs is poor, ditto for the restaurant where I usually dine, and I had a white shirt and tie.

Tuesday, May 5

I usually awake at 6 or so to the rising sun and loll until 6:45. Breakfast at Kings drive-in (that’s the one we frequently stop at, the good one) and get to the office (being that my desk is in the lab it should probably be called something else) early.

I’m writing this in bed by the light of the early sun to the accompaniment of birds chatter. An occasional distant car, or the low cling of a train peaks the curiosity. It is quite peaceful here, and life can be very pleasant. All we have to do is sell the house, move up, find a place, and settle ourselves--that’s all. I plug my ears to your anguished outcries.

Love to you all, to Penny, to Diane, to Bobby, to Camille, but especially to you dear,

daddy Jere


Monday morning, bright & early
May 4, 1953

Hello, My Darling:--

Here we go again, bringing you all the news that’s fit to print, and I get to wonderin’, would you rather have several letters a week or have one long ‘diary-style’ epistle once a week? We (us girls, naturally) were talking the other day about getting mail from our nearest and dearest, and several said they never could find anything to write about to keep a chain of letters going every day. Not me--give me five minutes and my trusty typewriter and I could talk your ear off, with nothing very consequential. D’you mind? Of course, I have no breath taking scenery to describe but things do happen here during the course of the day, and you must be pretty bored by now to hear me mention the kids etc. etc. etc. But here we go anyhooooo…


May 12, 1953

Greetings, Lord!

There’s no getting around it, Light o’ my Life, if you expect to get a letter before the middle of the week I’d have to practically send it off before the thunder of your Jovian Wrath has faded from our ears…

Monday morning I got so desperate about Bobby’s contrary behavior that I finally blew my top and told him if he didn’t want to pull his share of the load and that if he felt he was too imposed upon to consider himself as a separate entity, as far as the rest of us were concerned there was no Bobby. I wouldn’t ask a thing from him, because there was no B0obby, and proceeded to ignore him from then on. I’m afraid that was not the proper thing to do, because sometime around eleven or so maybe even after lunch, I forgot, anyway, his teacher called me and said I’d better come in for a little chat. He had driven her beyond endurance too, and she had lost her temper and spanked him. I told her not to worry about it, that under the circumstances he no doubt deserved it but that I would be in to see her anyway. To make a long story short, we had a long talk after school, and the upshot of it is, the same old story, Bobby is apparently laboring under a heavy burden of inferiority, and he has to try to assert himself at whatever cost. He brags, he teases and doesn’t know when to quit. He’s got to be the firstest with the mostest and in his book the whole world is out of step but him. His teacher has had to give up praising him because of his bragging and then he said right out loud that she never called on him for an answer because he knew it all, although she tried to explain to him that she knew he knew and she was trying to draw out some of the others and get them to participate. Well, she had to speak to him about one thing and another several times during the morning and then when he went to his seat at her request she said he had the most sneering supercilious ‘superior’ look on his face. Anyway, you must get the picture by now. I sure wish I knew how to get it across to him that while he is not the only people on the beach he gets his fair share of rewards and punishment, and that everyone, at home and outside, gets according to the need, and that there is a difference. I tried to tell him that babies get more attention and tolerance because their helplessness makes it necessary, and girls and boys and younger and older people all have their special needs and differences and you treat them accordingly. At the same time I told him if I heard no further reports of his teasing and obstreperousness at school he would have all privileges curtailed for the rest of the school term. And that means no allowance, no movies, and no fraternizing with George. He certainly is a chastened little boy today. I hope it lasts. He is still trying to earn a dollar and by gum, he did, too. He washed windows for Myra and mowed the lawn for Lucille and is now a dollar and 60 cents richer. He still wants to buy that model airplane motor and the wires and batteries that go with it.

Camille has been a wonderful help to me, each night she washes the dishes and cleans the kitchen spick and span. She makes beds and tidies the house and earns every bit of that dollar extra she gets. We’ve decided not to pile so much responsibility on Deedee, but to treat her like the seven year old she is. She goes to bed at eight with Penny, come Hell, High water or “I love Lucy”, and does only the lightest of chores, such as the cans and garbage and picking up her own messes. There is no reason why she should compete with the two older ones anyway. She is after all, only seven, and in a different class than the two older ones. There is a difference, too, between Bobby and Cammie, which has nothing to do with age, and I must allow for those differences, whether they like it or not. Well, we’ll see how it works out this week, but it won’t be easy. I know Bobby feels he must assert himself with the girls, but after all, he has to live with them, I can’t drown them to suit him, so he’ll just have to learn to like his role as the only boy in a family of females without getting his emotions all tangled up. Like is not the word I should have used, ‘accept’ is more what I had in mind. He must learn to accept things, even the unpleasant ones such as failure or coming out second best, or even losing. But how do you teach him that. I wish I knew.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever wanted to become a parent…

There had been an ominous calm and on investigation I found her quietly sitting on her bed surrounded by a mess that defies description. Our precious youngest had gotten the big box of band aides, the mercurochrome, the can of B.F.I. powder and applied first aide all over herself. What a mess!  Her legs, hands and pretty sun suit completely ruined. Excuse me while I go and have a nervous breakdown. Now not even the medicine chest is safe from her marauding little hands. All this, because she got a tiny little ‘hurt’ on her leg.


Redwood City, Cal.
May 16, 1953

Dearest love,

Time seems to slip away, almost like fine sand through the fingers at the beach.

Monday evening I assembled the bicycle and have been using it as my means of transportation. Tuesday was the first day, and I sorely missed the mirror--finally got it replaced Friday. The roads are a bit rough in spots, and with somewhat of a grade. This in combination with the stiff seat and the long gap without cycling gave me a sore seat Wednesday. The distance must be between 4 and 5 miles most of it with some traffic, part of it with heavy traffic. However, it is not too bad, and I like better than driving.

Last night I walked the almost two miles into town to the local movie. The walk was alright, but the return was quite cold. I had to walk very fast to keep warm.

I forgot to mention that it was very windy here on Wednesday and Thursday, and the ride home was very tough--uphill against a 40 mile an hour wind, through traffic, without a mirror. But we made it, by gosh.

Walking here at night is an experience. The first mile and a half is along a winding street flanked by expensive houses, large trees, a suburban atmosphere. The last half mile is along a straight stretch uphill in pitch blackness. Many large trees nearby, the houses mostly back from the road, all giving an impression of being off in the middle of nowhere.

Received your letter Friday afternoon. First as to the house. I discussed that with Madden. The mortgage principal will be approx. $8200. I want 2500 net. This adds as follows

    11300 absolute minimum

I believe we decided to list it at 11500 or there abouts. I think it would be worth while to move up here and leave the house vacant if necessary.

Bobby is a problem, indeed. Tell him anyone can be a winner, but it takes a real man to be a good loser. Again, since many compete and only one may win, an individual may expect to lose much more often than he wins. Thus it is clear that it is more important to be a good loser, to be able to lose with grace, savoir faire, to hold the admiration of all thereby. The test of a man’s character is his ability to face adversity, and especially unexpected adversity.

On another tack, tell our boy that we are each tried in proportion to our ability. Those of us who can do much are required to do a lot, those able to do only a little are required to do only a little. For example, if a boy is playing baseball and is a poor batter, to strike out is no disgrace However, if he is a good batter, he must get a hit, maybe a homerun, and should he strike out his team mates will think he let them down. This does not mean that we must all be homerun hitters, but it does mean that homerun hitters are expected to hit home runs. The same can be said of school work. Some boys can spell well, others cannot. The good spellers must be right all the time, the poorer spellers are allowed some misses. Tell him that there are so many things to do that no one can be expert at them all, so any one boy finds he can do some things easier than others, and people expect him to do them well. Some of us can do many things well, but still not everything. For example, daddy can’t speak German, or sew, or cook, and daddy’s woodworking is not very good. Mother accepts it because she knows that is daddy’s best, and it is good enough even though Mr. Farham might be able to do a much better job. When we are young our teachers and parents decide how much is expected of us in each direction, and they try to make it easy for us by little stimulations, by making up games, giving challenges, offering subtle incentives to extra efforts in the weak areas.

I think I’ll fly home Friday night. I’ll write in time I hope, and would like you to meet me at the airport (LA)

I stopped in at Ford service station this morning and discussed the overdrive problem. The manager thought it was caused by a defective cut out switch, so when I got home to the car shorted the switch out with a clip lead, and that seemed to clear it up. I shall therefore replace or repair the switch, which isn’t very good anyway. The car is now sitting out in our parking area unused while I concentrate on the bicycle.

The day is overcast, the sun has not shone its face all day. I went to bank this morning to cash a check after breakfast, and found it friendly place as banks go.

I think I’d better wind this up and take it to the post office.

Love to you all,

Jere daddy


Redwood City
May 26, 1953

Dearest love,

Yesterday I was too tired to write, and just managed to get home and to bed. I got very little sleep on the train and shall not use it again. And to top if off, we were 47 minutes late starting, so you could have waited with me. When I got to Redwood City the restaurant was not yet open, so I had that long 35 mn walk up to the house on an empty stomach, on wet streets, it had just stopped raining.

While I think of it, when you come up this week bring my sweater and a case of wine. And how did you make out on the hole in the bedroom wall?  Incidentally, we don not get a holiday this week, but get the Friday after Thanksgiving Day instead.

I talked to John Hosford last night. We think we can refinance it and realize enough that way to get by with the 2500. He arranged for an appraisal and perhaps by the end of the week we may have a commitment. He seemed to be most interested in the July 15 date, and every effort should be made to spur on Madden. It seems that Hosford has an FHA commitment on the bill for July 26 (or 21?). Then, if this refinancing falls through we can take the 850 for the car, and the 550 from Commonwealth total 1400, and thee we are. So I think our only worry is the house sale, and I repeat, we must spur him at every opportunity, without being merely a nuisance.

The shaver works very well, and I’m quite pleased with it, on this, my birthday, thank you, dear, it was a good choice.

I’ll close now, in order to take this to the post office. Love to you all, even Deedee, but especially to you, dear (are you my dear?),

daddy Jere


Wednesday, afternoon
June 10. 1953

JERE, how can you do this to me! Not a single blessed word from you since I left up there, a whole week and a half and not a sign of life. Even if you haven’t been able to accomplish anything about the house, at lest you could have answered my letters. I didn’t expect to hear from you until Friday, Friday of all days a letter from you would have practically saved my sanity, but nothing, nothing at all, and every day I’ve waited patiently for the mailman and I just cannot understand this silence on your part. What’s wrong?

I’m sending along that note for you to sign and look over. I’m much too wrought up to write a coherent letter, besides a one-sided conversation isn’t much fun.


Eventually, the Hawthorne house was sold and the Belmont house (not first choice!) bought. It was to be the family home for almost 10 years!  All us kids grew up there, all our memories are of Belmont. It was our “home, sweet home.” Sadly, it was also where Mother’s love for Father finally and irrevocably died. She never wrote another diary or journal entry after 1961. But beginning in Belmont Mother wrote a million letters! I am including only a few here; see Cars Hate Me! for Mother’s letters from 1946 through 1990??? I think in her letters she lived a fantasy life where abuse didn’t exist, but they could be interesting


Box 561
Belmont, Cal.
August 19. ‘53

Hi, Parents:-

At long last I finally get a chance to sit down and write you an honest to God letter with all the latest details. As you can see by the fact that this letter is typewritten and not painfully hand printed, we finally made it. But it was the darndest fiasco of “A Comedy of Errors” it has ever been my misfortune to encounter in buying a house. I can’t remember whether I’d written you about this before, but when we arrived here on the nineteenth we found that the loan we had applied for and thought was all taken care of, had not gone through in the amount we had been led to believe. So we had to apply at another company for a higher amount. Of course that meant we wasted two weeks, it takes about that long for it to get approved. But Jere being the impatient type, just wasn’t going to sit around for another week-end listening to Choo-choos shake the foundation of the house, that could only end in a straight jacket or in a murder. So we tried to get a hold of the builder to ask him to let us move in before escrow was completed. I think I wrote you that they hadn’t done any of those last little details that were still lacking to call this house complete [.................]  As for me, I love it here. It’s beautiful country hereabouts, reminds me a lot of Dover. Our house is on a hill and overlooks a little valley and the other side of another hill, and I never get tired of sitting in the living room and looking out of the picture window at the landscape. We’ve had simply grand weather too, except for that one or two rainy day. The skies are clear and blue and the sun shines brightly, and there is just enough wind to keep it from being too uncomfortable for me. There are some big old trees next door on the hill and the kids have a heavy rope hung from it on which they swing by the hour in the shade.

I’ve been busy for the last couple of weeks trying to create order out of this chaos of boxes, and it seems to me that every other one I opened contained clothes to be ironed, and no matter how much time I spend at the ironing board I haven’t been able to create a dent in it yet. The backyard is still one yawning raw hole in the ground and the front yard slopes so much I don’t think I’ll attempt a lawn. The girls from the sewing club had given me a lot of plants that I nursed along all this time and finally got into the ground for better



The letter below was found in a box of loose papers so I don’t know if it was actually sent. Mother was, however, an avid reader of Sunset. Unfortunately, I don’t believe she ever solved the problem of the backyard.


I have a problem and the stacks of “Sunset” magazines I’ve accumulated over the last two years have not come up with an answer to it, yet. We fell in love with our brand new house because it is located on the south side of a hill, overlooking the Canyon, and rising to the skyline of the hills beyond. Unfortunately the builders of our little homestead saw fit to scoop out the side out of the lower part of the hill and [therefore] this so-called backyard of ours has been my despair ever since. My neighbor’s dry walled fence towers above me and I’m not just kidding when with each winter’s rains I expect to find him angrily sitting where my clothes line ought to be. The soil is strictly ‘soil’ and how the weeds and wild grasses can grow so luxuriously in all that rock and shale is a source of amazement to me. However, if weeds flourish there, I don’t see why, with a little imagination, a lot of hard work, and some well-chosen shrubs and trees, I can’t have a backyard to be proud of.

Surely somewhere in your vast experience there must be an answer and I would anxiously look forward to an article at some future date wherein someone has dealt with the knotty problem of working a garden out of a hole in the ground.

Sincerely yours,


September 1, 1953

… Jere went out to visit a local lodge tonight and I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope he finds a few congenial souls and is willing to go again. I don’t think it’s a good idea to stick so close to the house all the time. Our constitution (the kids and mine) justKate Miller 1953 can’t stand the strain of having him underfoot so much. The first few weeks herein the new house he almost drove me to a nervous breakdown, he was so darned fussy about everything, the kids hardly dared breathe or come in to go to the bathroom, mealtimes were an agony, they must needs act like ladies and gentlemen or else. And so help me, if he said one more time words to the effect of turning over a new leaf, I’d have strangled him. I finally blew a fuse and said this was a home and not a museum, and though I’m as willing as the next guy to keep a neat house that’s no reason to act as if he’d never heard of soap and water. With Penny, you know, you always have to keep one jump ahead of her with a mop, she gets into the darndest messes. Well, anyway, I guess he saw my point and he doesn’t ride us so hard anymore, and life is a lot more peaceful. He enjoys his fireplace and his view from the picture window and drops his pearls of wisdom into my not unheeding ears and everything is peachy-keen. As for me, if I don’t take my mending or a fresh-baked pie down to my neighbor soon, I’ll be talking, or rather, mumbling to myself. I see her every day when she goes by for her mail and I’m outside watering my flowers, such as they are, and each time she asks me to come down and I say I will. I also say come and stay for a cup of coffee some day, and she says she will, and there we are, unable to break the ice further. Ah well!...


Belmont, Cal.
September 15, ‘53

Hello there, Light of my Life:---

There’s nothing like losing your front tooth to make you feel like an old hag and the mood to turn blue. Boy, how I miss you today, Sophie Mae, old friend. I’d give my good right arm to turn our Golden Chariot towards Compton, of course that letter of yours was most welcome…

… Ever since the kids went back to school I’ve had moments when I wandered around the house like a caged lioness, and despite all the tasks staring me in the face, waiting to be done, I’d be bored and restless and would have given anything for one of those Sophie Mae Duncanwelcome interruptions I had back in Hawthorne. I’d sit over my solitary coffee cup and smoke a pensive cigarette and even a Science Fiction Magazine (my secret vice) couldn’t pull me out of the doldrums. But the day I don’t feel like talking to someone there were three visitors in a row. Ho hum. One of my neighbors is an English war bride, her little daughter is Deedee’s age and goes to the same class room, and for weeks now I’ve seen her pass the house on her way to the mailbox and she’d say ‘come and have a cup of coffee with me’ and I said I would, and I’d ask her to stop, and she said she would sometime, and THIS is the day she picked. The other lady also has a daughter a year older than Deedee and stopped to pass the time of day. Kids are sure great little icebreakers, aren’t they?  My third visitor was the gal that sheltered us the first day we came to Belmont, and I’ve gone up to see her a couple of times, but she has two little bitty children, and is expecting another, and she seems always so very busy I feel like I’m interrupting her, so I rarely go anymore. However, here she was knocking at my door bearing an armful of geranium slips.

…. We have even regained some of the tranquility of our early married life, now that I’m not on the defensive all the time. This eternal battle of the sexes has ceased and we can begin to enjoy a sunset together or a walk at dusk without rehashing the children’s refraction of rules and regulations. Our weekly jaunt to the movies has become a ‘date’ again and not an armed truce. We saw “The Seven Deadly Sins” the other night and it was the best picture I’ve seen in a long while, and not because it was a foreign film either, as a rule I find it tedious and boring to have to read English captions while trying to follow the plot. You know the sort of thing, they make a speech and the English translation says bluntly “yes”. However, this one was good, and I didn’t mind after awhile once I caught the drift of the plot, no wonder they rated it so highly. It certainly was a welcome change to go to a show and see just one picture, the one you go for, and not have to take a grade Z western or comedy along with it. Besides we got home fairly early, though it did take the kids by surprise, and they got bundled off to bed before they knew what hit them, while papa and mama indulged in a deadly sin or two themselves...


Tuesday, Sept. 29. 53

Greetings & Salutations:-

I half expect to drop this letter into the mailbox with one hand and take one of yours out of my box with the other. Anyway, with a half dozen tasks staring me in the face I’d rather sit down and visit with you for a little while. It’s a lot more fun than swishing a dust mop around the place. Honestly, Soph, judging from the amount of dirt I sweep out every day it’s a wonder there’s any left outside…

Yesterday I had a birthday again (from now on I’m starting to count backwards!) and since nobody remembered I was firmly resolved to let the day come and go without saying a word about it. But you know human nature. No matter how indifferent you claim to be, that certain little core of Ego that makes you YOU wants you to make the most of that special day, that birthday, that gives such importance to your life once each year, and no matter how hard you try, you want to shout to the world “Today is my birthday”, as if anyone cared beside your own immediate family!  Anyway, Jere was cross with me about something at breakfast, some trivial little thing and I can’t even remember what it was, anyway, I started to hum “Happy Birthday to Me”, just like Lucille Ball, remember?  And of course I won my point hands down, there were no presents (we’re too broke for that) but I had the happiest birthday anyway, my family was loving and thoughtful all day, Cammie baked me a cake and after supper my two darling daughters went into the kitchen and forbade me to enter, and by gum and by gorra, they had that kitchen sparkling. Even washed the icebox, stove and cabinets and washed and waxed the floors. I was stunned, no kidding, and it was the best birthday present I ever got. Besides I can always go out into the yard and admire my pepper tree, which grows and flourishes and gets nicer all the time. I struck gold, too, at the post office, and there was a pack  of letters and cards from my friends back in Hawthorne. Bless them. You know, Sophie Mae, that’s something that never fails to delight me, the way everyone has written--long lovely letters from some, short notes and cards from others, and people I never been too intimate with have been sending me the friendliest letters. I knew I had sunk my roots down deep in that community but had no inkling that others felt about me the way they do. And I feel that we were the better for having come to know all those folks back there. Everyone I knew there has in some measure made my life richer and fuller for having had their acquaintance, sharing their life and sharing mine with them has made me feel less alone. You know in the last analysis each one of us just an island surrounded by loneliness, and words are the bridge we build to communicate with each other. The urge to share our experiences and thoughts is just a desperate bid for recognition of our Selves. Without it our soul drowns in loneliness. Of course we need all of us sometimes to draw up the bridges and be by ourselves to collect our resources, sort out our thoughts and evaluate experiences.

Darn it, just when I get carried away on a philosophical strain, my baby dumpling comes in and distracts me. Oh well, a mother first last and always, and a philosopher in my spare time...

Well, Sophie Mae, the afternoon has fled, and me with no dish washer. I’ve got to earn MY keep by the sweat of my brow, you know. You might know I couldn’t get through the day without losing my mind over Penny. Yes, Penny. I keep telling myself it’s my last chance to enjoy a baby and to ENJOY her, but oh my aching back, all those rhapsodies don’t mention the lipstick on the wall, the dirty pants just when you think you’ve got the toidy problem under control, the pot lids strewn all over the place, and the WHINING that’s the last straw. I could cope with practically all her naughtiness, but that whining (how the duce do you spell it anyway, too tired to look it up) she just exhausts me. She tugs at my skirts and fusses and is usually at her worst when she knows she’s done something. Then she beats me to the punch and moans piteously:  You’re always mad at me, why are you always mad at me?  or she’ll cry You just don’t spank little babies. Where on earth does she pick that up anyhow. To listen to her you’d think we beat her ALL the time instead of just once in a day!  She’ll peek around the corner at me and say: Don’t look at me, and then I spring into action, that is generally the forerunner of some of her worst behavior. And then as a last resort just as the wrath of God is about to descend on her she looks like a little cherub and twinkles I Love my Mumi. WHAT can you do with a soft soaper like that?  Go and wipe up the lipstick, I guess and swear to go with a naked face in the future.

I’ll see you in the padded cell, bye now

with best love, as ever


Wow! Poor Penny is THREE YEARS OLD!!!! Obviously, she suffered greatly from the reprercussions of the spousal abuse. Clearly Mother wasn’t able to mother her properly. She doesn’t seem to have anything left. But neither was it Penny’s fault that living in an abusive home made her subject to “irritability or inconsolable crying.” We can infer that, like her father before her, she didn’t receive the attachment nurturing needed. Now James suggests that Penny’s environment may have caused her to develop:

high-pitched "excessive" scream, poor eating habits, and disruptive sleeping pattern Toddlers exposed to violence in the home inhibit acute behavioral and emotional problems that have significant negative impact of the child's early socialization skill. There is also a significant difference between the behaviors of the two sexes. Boy's behaviors are more "externalized" while girl's behaviors are more "internalized").

Well, neither was it Bob’s fault that he wet the bed, yet another symptom of children living in abusive homes. The literature lists so many symptoms faced by children in violent homes that I only consider us lucky to have as few as we do. We didn’t develop into murderers.


1954, Chauffeur in Bondage

February 13. 1954

Greetings and Salutations, Old Friend:---

Christopher Columbus, WHERE does the time go anyway? I’m more than a little behind with everything and no wonder my mailbox has slim pickings lately. Me and my big mouth! Whatever happened to my good intention of sticking in my own four walls and tending strictly to my own business. The business of cooking cleaning and raising a family. Hah! and double Hah! I thought of catching up when Jere had to go to Houston again the week before last (good grief, has he really been back a week already?) but I found myself in the same old rut and not even the ironing got taken care of. This has been the heck of a busy month for me. Before Jere left he thoughtfully enrolled me in a Christian Educational Training Program, he ought to know by now I never have the chance to be either lonesome or bad when he goes away. Not with a bunch of kids underfoot. They all thought this an excellent opportunity to have overnight guests, and I had one batch hop-scotching in the garage and one playing army, and Deedee and her friend playing house in the living room and Penny unable to make up her mind which gang to bless with her presence. Monday night I went to this here school equipped with pad and pencil and my thinking cap screwed on tight to see what information I could pick up to keep little ones on the straight and narrow. Did I tell you I got roped into teaching Sunday School?  The nursery class, yet!  Tuesday night the PTA asked me to go on the Mother’s March for the march of dimes, and I grabbed my little old peanut butter jar and walked up and down endless flights of stairs. This is hilly country remember? Wednesday I helped Ruby with the Brownies, Thursday Cammie and her friends went square dancing (I took them and picked them up again) and Saturday I went to pick Jere up at the airport. I’m not even mentioning the fact that I went every single afternoon from Wednesday on to meet the plane because my darling had said he’d be home Wednesday night. The week before he left the Men’s Club had their little dinner, I bet I never mentioned that The Light of My Life raved so much about the way I cook red cabbage and offered my services so freely that I ended up cooking red cabbage for about two hundred people and nearly lost my mind over it. But at that it wasn’t too bad, I went around for a couple of weeks mumbling to myself: if one head feeds six and takes two spoonfuls of sugar and vinegar how much would it take to feed etc. etc. etc. and how many spoonfuls for twelve heads etc. etc… Even Jere is in it, with might and main, and full of griping, as usual!  but doing a good job as you would expect of him. He even teaches the Adult Class now. So with that, and the choir and the Men’s Club, he is really in it up to his neck, and it’s so good for him and all of us. Who would have thought the day would ever come that the whole doggoned Casagrande family would be off to church in the morning at nine and stay there until twelve!  Why, my whole schedule is turned topsy-turvy. I used to sit over endless cups of coffee and read the funnies and fix dinner at noon and maybe even bake a pie or some butter horns. Butter horns, that reminds me, Jere did it again. Tht MAN, words fail me. It was his turn to have refreshments at the Men’s Club last Wednesday and he thought it would be no trouble at all for me to bake some for the fellows. Twenty hungry men. You know what it’s like to bake with yeast, your whole day is taken up what with letting it rise, punch it down, let it rise, shape it, etc. etc. etc. NO TROUBLE ATALL. But my honor as a good cook was at stake so I did it, and baked a chiffon cake, too, just to make sure there was enough, and all he brought home was two little measly horns and one piece of cake, just enough so I could sample my own baking and see whether it was good enough. It was…


April 26, 1954

Hello, Parents:

And a very weak ‘hello’ it is, too. Here it is Monday morning and there are a hundred things I ought to do to catch up and just thinking of it makes me tired. So maybe I just better sit down  and write that weekly report to you, and what a week it was, too!  It started the day before Easter when all hands fell to to clean up the church for the next day, THE DAY we opened it for our first service. Jere ,and can you just imagine Jere who never does a darn thing for me, Jere went to work with a will cleaning windows, the week before he’d spent his spare Saturday painting the kitchen…

Tuesday, May 4.54

You see what I mean, Mother, “Der Geist ist willig, aber das Fleisch ist schwach!”  I never really get back to finish the job, there are always so many things to clamor for my attention. Jere called me to take him over to the University in Palo Alto for some research, and really, I can’t think of anything I’d rather NOT do than sit in a parking lot riding herd on Penny waiting for him to come back…

June 2, 1954

… All last week my household went to pieces while I chauffeured Jere to Berkeley and Santa Rosa. Three days in a row we came home at eight or thereabouts. Oh it was a beautiful drive, we’d come home along the coast and prettier scenery you couldn’t hope to find anywhere, but I keep thinking of all the things left undone. Every morning this far I’ve had to iron a couple of dresses before the girls could go to school and it looks as if I’ll never catch up with myself, especially of this Spring Fever of mine lasts. All I want to do is stand around with the hose in my hand and water the garden. Oh, of course it was grand to be able to pick a nice place to eat without having to worry about cooking it...Jere had a birthday last week, too, and the night before he treated me to dinner in one of the better places up on the hill overlooking the bay area, drinks and all, and a show. So the next day I thought I’d show him what a good cook I am and went all out, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream and steak and mushrooms--the works--so what does he do but go to Santa Rosa again and not come home until midnight! And me pacing the floor wondering if I should send out a police call for a missing husband. Or maybe I should have washed that man right out of my hair...


June 23, 1954

Dearest Mumsi & Pop:

…Jere’s been home since last Monday and I haven’t had a peaceful minute since, never saw such a man for wanting to be on the go all the time.

Days later

Well, I’ll make another try at finishing this letter, darlin’, but I make no guarantees. For one thing Cammie and Gary have gone to Hawthorne and my, oh, my isn’t the house peaceful now! and Jere has gone back to work, bless his wicked little heart. Honestly, I never know from one day to the next what to expect of him. With Gary coming to stay for two weeks and the first week of vacation and he had to go and have a falling out over policies at his job and quit cold. Now you know why I wasn’t in any light-hearted mood to write bright letters, and there would have bee no point in worrying you. Not that I did any worrying myself, things have a way of turning out okay, but it’s the strain of having him and the kids and the thought in back of my mind that bills have a nasty habit of coming in promptly on the first of the month. Not to mention the fact that I had to chauffeur him around and couldn’t take the kids to all the places we’d planned. I didn’t tell them naturally, so they thought their daddy was downright mean to spoil their fun. Oh well, we managed to get to the beach and the park and Jere was so darned restless (no wonder) he wanted to go to the movies practically every night. So they had a fine time after all..


Well and let that be a lesson to me, now I know exactly where I stand. Let there be an end to my being the Patsy and Fall-Guy for everyone around here. I know it’s childish to feel this way, but I always had told myself that above else I was cherished. I could have borne everything secure in that knowledge.  Cherished, indeed! I’m less than a servant who gets paid for his effort and has the privilege of quitting, I’m a slave held in bondage I’m supposed to do what I’m told or suffer the consequences. Well, I have one weapon left, so I’m a slave, well, I can’t be fired either, only left or given away, and from now on I’ll do just what I like and the devil take the hindmost. Maybe the break will come that much quicker.

Such a little thing, really, and nothing much to get upset about. But that’s the way women are, it’s the little things that count in the long run. A little affection, a little tolerance and a little thoughtfulness go a long, long way toward contentment. So I drove him to the Dollhouse for lunch and waited around, so he came out munching a piece of candy and brought me nothing, so alright he went to L.A. and spent twenty dollars for presents for the kids and brought me a dollar book about L.A., and I bet that was incidental. Sounds infantile to get upset, doesn’t it?  But there it is. No thoughtfulness. I thought surely he’d have the sense to pick me up a candy bar at the movies last night, especially since I left the sewing club to pick them up. But there you are. I’m just taken for granted but not anymore. I’ll scream loud and long for what I feel is my right after this. And I will not go along like a docile mule any longer, sure, I’ll probably do it, but not graciously, no siree, my ladylike gracious days are over. I read someplace you get just what you ask for, and I seem to bear that out, make a foot of yourself and don’t be surprised if you’re taken for a fool. Well, I’m through buying affection, it bought me nothing but trouble and all I ever hear is “You never think of me, if you thought etc. etc. etc.” and “what am I around here anyway?”  From now on I expect nothing and nobody need expect anything from me.


Saturday November 27, 1954

Greetings to you, Old Pal ‘o Mine:--

Rudolph is beginning to breathe down my neck again, and a faint tinkle of bells can be heard in the distance. My eyes are getting glassier by the minute--who’s got time to write letters?  You do, by the looks of that nice fat one I just retrieved from the mailbox (along with a fistful of bills) Oh Soph, you would have to heap coals of fire on my bowed and shamed head...a still small voice tells me that I owe you a letter from since when???  Anyway, I was delighted and thrilled to get one from you and enjoyed every word in it. I sat on Jere’s bed and giggled myself through it and kept him in a state of suspense as to who or from why. (Tsk, tsk such ENGLISH!) I s’pose I ought to at least inform you why I’ve been such a long time not writing (gad, here I go again, and I want my eldest girl child to get good marks in English--I simply must break myself of this habit) anyway to dig back into a hectic and dim past, say, when DID I write you last?  Have I told you about Jere and me getting all involved in PTA? Parent Education Study Groups, no less? He’s chairman and I do all the work. Hah!  …


1955, the Tape Recorder

Saturday and raining yet!
February 26, 1955

Hello, Brainy:---

And I don’t say that with tongue in cheek either, I certainly do envy you. Anybody that can get up in front of a crowd and make with a speech has my sincere admiration.  The only time I ever had to get up in front of the PTA and say a few appropriate words on behalf of my Cub Pack I died a million deaths and couldn’t have told you afterwards exactly what I did say. So I’d say you won that Oscar ‘fair and square’…

Jere is in the throes of going into business for himself, with two partners, that is. This has been brewing up for quite awhile, and now they have a chance to bid for some business at Moffet Field, and I have been going crazy driving him here there and everywhere. One of the fellows lives in Palo Alto, and the other night when I met him at four-thirty he wanted me to drive right away to Palo Alto and be there by four-forty-five. At the peak of the rush hour yet, and without a chance to call the kids and tell them we’d be late. And late we were! I did get a chance to get to a phone and told them to fix themselves something to eat if they were hungry, and to look after Bobby who is in bed with a fever (it jumped from a hundred and three to a hundred and one and up and down like that for a couple of days, now he’s on the mend). We didn’t get home until seven, and this man’s wife is one of those heartless wenches who left me sitting alone in her living room without so much as a cup of coffee or a word of cheer. Later on the other partner-to-be and his wife came up to discuss the blue prints and stuff like that. Listening to them makes me feel like the dope I am, and this gal is right nice and very clever and capable. If this is getting confusing, don’t be alarmed, it’s my natural state of mind these days. To get back on the subject, I think it would work out very well, and those three guys work well together, one would be public relations and make the contacts (he’s the one that rustled up this bid) and the other one, (they live in San Carlos) would do the mechanics, and Jere the research and electronics. However, not one has any capital to speak of, and they will continue in their jobs and do this on the side until they can get the capital together to incorporate  If this pans out, and for all their sakes I wish them every success, they might even make enough to get a start. I don’t know too much about it yet, and will keep you informed as I absorb it. But it means a lot of putting heads together and they talk far, far into the night and all this night life is leaving me slightly bleary.

To get down to my level again, we’ve had some lovely weather and I got into the planting mood, planted three threes, an apricot, a pear and a black walnut after bribing Bobby to dig the holes for me and following Go-Go around with the wheelbarrow to season the soil with his ‘liquid gold’. Now I’m right pleased to see the rain, it will give them a good start. You know, Soph, if I sound a bit depressed and inferior, it’s because of this association with all those clever people. No kidding, after another evening spent with Lyn and her husband Jean (the San Carlos couple and partner-to-be) I feel like a stupid clod, and really I shouldn’t, I don’t know what’s the matter with me, or even why I tell you this. She’s really awfully nice, but so ultra-ultra modern it scares me. Their home has a ‘dingus’ dangling from the ceiling and their lighting is a Chinese lantern contraption hanging from the ceiling, too, and the chairs are wrought iron and canvas slings, you know the kind, and a couple of Siamese cats slink around, she paints in oil with a palette knife, and adores modern art with ‘moods’, oh heck, what IS the matter with me. I like her and yet cringe inside with all this bright talk, I must be jealous because she really is clever and it makes me feel inadequate. I was just going to drive Jere over and the go up to Janet Katchen and have a nice cheerful talk about such things as Brownies and kids and the husband whom she just divorced and look at her television (since ours ain’t functioning) and instead he insisted I come in, it would only be for a little while, and two hours later I was still sitting there talking about modern art, or should I say listening to other people talk about modern art. All the way home I was as grumpy as an old bear and couldn’t have told you why. The only thing that tickled me that evening was an article in one of those slick magazines lying around on “non-conformists versus Conformists” that had a picture on one side of six houses all alike on the outside and all furnished differently inside, and then six houses all different in the modern trend on the outside and all furnished identically with a mobile hanging from the ceiling, sling canvass chairs and an identical modern painting over the identical modern fireplace. Get it?

Well, I think I’ve mooned long enough, and I’d better cut this short and get back to my Sunday school lesson for tomorrow. Our Mama rat had ten little babies again in spite of my separating them, so Jere put his foot down and said those rats have got to go. Now we have just one left, Harlequin, and a little limb of Satan she is too. I let her out for a little while every day and it’s a tonic to watch her and Bootsie play together. She thinks Bootsie is an oversized rat, too, and follows him around and he in turn thinks she is the nuts and no better toy was ever invented. Doesn’t hurt her either, so by now

Lovingly, as ever


March 17, 1955

Greetings & Salutations:-

Jere just called and said he was going out to lunch, so that gives me a few extra minutes and it suddenly dawned on me that I haven’t heard either from you or my Mom in ever so long, must be almost a month. What’s up, friend? Busy?  Mad at me?  sick? or something?  As usual we’ve had the usual hectic time around here and I guess the only thing to do is start where I left off and go on from thee. I s’pose both Harvey and you are wondering how Jere’s business venture has turned out. Well, after working like beavers on costs and production and what have you they finally came to a decision on their bid and (naturally) after I typed up the necessary papers I rushed over to Moffet Field with them. Now Moffet Field was an experience in itself for me, I wandered around like a lost soul in all the restricted areas looking for this particular place, and each person I asked for information sent me off on another wild-good chase. Next time I’ll take a guide along with me...I finally found it, and after the usual red-tape of filling out forms in triplicate and practically swearing my life away that I had no fire arms, camera or sinister designs on Uncle Sam I was allowed to enter the hallowed halls. I dropped off the papers and fled. That afternoon I took Jere back when they opened the bids and clutching tightly to my rabbit’s foot I waited breathlessly in the car for the results. The results were sad to contemplate. The fellows lost out by a couple of hundred dollars. Most of the bids were higher and most of them almost a third as much, but this one little outfit from Marin County, I think he said, underbid them by a couple of hundred dollars. I just can’t get over how close it was, but who knows, it might have been for the best. They hadn’t had time to incorporate yet, and Jere was doing it under his name, and if things had not worked out the way they were planned he would have been solely responsible for a six thousand dollar contract. (Goodbye house, goodbye Belmont!) Ah well, but my darling has not given up. The kids and I had cleared out the garage and I had the junkman come and haul all the clutter and junk away, including the bikes we didn’t use, and all the wheels and bearings and kiddy cars and stuff my sonny-boy had accumulated; we’d even taken away the swing and stacked all the firewood neatly in a corner, and the very next day Deedee had taken to housekeeping there and let Bobby use the trailer for his ‘kite headquarters’ and club house. Then Jere got the brilliant idea of enclosing the back end of the garage and make his workshop there. He left me just enough room to put the car in and Mac’s been kidding me ever since about knocking the wall out when I park the car. Mac’s been coming up in his spare time and doing the job, and boy, does it ever look nice. There’s a door with a lock (thousands of dollars worth of equipment will be stored there I’ve been told) and there are workbenches running around two sides, and shelves florescent lighting--the works. And my better half will be busier than a one-armed paper hanger with the itch. He has to make a working model of some kind of measuring device or instrument to show at an exhibit or something like that coming up in a couple of months, and they hope to get orders for it on the strength of it. Meanwhile they are still trying to dig up contracts to bid on like the one at Moffet Field. They will use the garage as a workroom until such time as business booms (?) and they can expand.


April 11, 1955

Hello Mumsi:

It’s the day after Easter (and of course the beautiful card I bought you is still sitting around waiting to be sent in ’56, darn it anyhow!) and after combing colored eggshells out of my hair for the umpteenth time, I can now sit down and relax a little and at long last get around to having a little chat with you again. Have you about given me up for lost again?

We finally decided to sell the trailer, the kids aren’t doing it any good, and every time I go to look at it something else has broken or gone wrong with it. Somebody came by the other day and asked if it was for sale, and after talking it over we decided we might just as well realize a little something on it. What with the T.V. set that Jere brought home and that other little surprise that I haven’t gotten over yet, we’ve got to lay our hands on some extra money. Jere brought home a tape recorder and I was so mad about it I wouldn’t speak for a whole night and day. But the family is so enthused over it, everyone wants to get in on the acct, and it sounded like so much fun, I gave up sulking in the kitchen and rattling pots and pans (no more dishes to rattle). My curiosity got the best of me and I crept closer and closer to the living room and just couldn’t resist hearing how I sounded. I found out, oh Horrors! Just awful, now I know why everyone still asks me where I was born, why I have an ACCENT, ME! Jere turned it on one night at the dinner table, and oh boy, you never heard such bedlam in your life. Penny crying, Deedee whining “It isn’t fair”, and Camille sounding just ducky screeching “Why me all the time, let someone else go”, Bobby yelling, I want more, I didn’t get enough. Oh brother!  And this is what’s known as a nice peaceful quiet dinner hour...

… Well, anyway, we have a lot of fun with it, though it seems to me we have to be amused an awfully long time to make up a hundred dollars worth, that paltry little sum is nothing to sneeze at. Jere tells me that the reason he got it so cheap (cheap, hah!) is that the fellow who ordered it got into a fight with his wife over it, well all I can say, for awhile there it looked like the Casagrande family would break up over it too. Good thing I’m a reasonable woman, I’m not saying a word mind you, but I’m just going to gather up all our bills and serve them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This will be ammunition for a long, long time to come, whenever My Nearest and Dearest gets mad at me and tells me all I ever do is spend money, hah, will I get my licks in then! Meantime I got downright reckless and instead of just window shopping at the Nursery I went all out and bought six dollars worth of shrubs and plants. Oh boy, am I ever a spendthrift...Oh incidentally, this year I actually went and got me a new dress for Easter too. The Sears catalogue had a darling dress in it, and I just happened to mention it to Jere and he said magnanimously, Why don’t you get it. Well, why don’t I? So I did, and it fits beautifully and looks just lovely. Though whatever will I do with the parasol that some with it, I’ll never know. I can’t see myself strolling in the hot sun shading me lily-white complexion with a parasol.


May 9, 1955

… Jere did such a fine job with his Parent Education Program that they’ve asked him to run for School Board Trustee, and the way things have gone around here you’d think he was running for President! Meetings, and writings up in newspapers, and this morning I took him to the Redwood City Tribune to have his picture took, yet, tonight we’re due at the Luis Barrett School PTA meeting for him to say a few well chosen words as to why he’d make a good School Board Trustee. The phone rings, more letters to type. WELL. Of course I honestly do think he’d make an excellent one, but there are five applicants and only two openings, and all five are well chosen. One is a teacher at the local high school, two are active in PTA and other civic organizations, and one is a business man and father, and of course there is Jere Casagrande, well qualified for the job. The election is on May 20th and then I’ll either have peace or could be I’ll wish we’d never heard the word, Jere being the type who carries his claque (ME) around with him. Maybe I’ll even have to hire a gardener, can’t be seen with dirt under my nails you know, and hire a maid to serve afternoon tea on the family heirlooms from the five and dime. Like I said so many times before---never a dull moment!...

I was up at Ruby’s this noon, because my Lover Boy had phoned to say he was eating lunch out, and I wanted to talk to her about our Brownies without interruptions. Hah!  Not five minutes after I sat down to a cup of coffee the phone rang and My Lord and Master was on the line to ask me to trot down to S.F. to pick up some text books for him on Market Street. Well, that seemed as good a time as any to get my own private personal copy of the Field Book of Wild Flowers for Amateurs (that’s me) and so I did. I s’pose the next thing on the agenda will be a flower press and scrapbook and Latin terms will roll off my tongue like oil, at the drop of a petal. Oh, Soph, Life is so full of a number of things I hope I’m around this good ol’ earth for several centuries to catch up on all the things I want to tackle…


April 18, 1993--Remembering the Parenting

well we started thinking about what we were allowed to do, I mean our parents were just OBLIVious

oblivious!! Do you know what she told me?  Tell him about the, you and Harrelson going on the bus

oh! Harrelson and I were in 4th grade. He had been on the

4th grade, remind him how old 4th grade

4th grade. ok, 4th graders are nine years old, and Harelson's birthday is in April, and mine's in March so we might have been not, we might have been just turned nine,

or been eight or 10

or been eight, and we were on the traffic patrol, safety patrol,

I remember that, little white belts and badges

and little yellow slickers...and they said that as a treat they gave us tickets to things, like they might give you tickets to Great America or someplace like that, and they expect your PARENTS to take you, right? well they gave us a ticket to Cimerama, remember when Cimerama was, the big, wide

un huh

screen and everything

you mean in San Francisco?

yes, in San Francisco

ha ha ha how astute of you!

so, we, the two of us, all by ourselves, got on the bus down in Belmont. Mother probably drove us down there,

ha ha ha

and got us on the bus. We took

well you don't know that for a fact, you might have done it on your own

no, we had to get from up on the hill down there so somebody had to drive us. I don't think so. I think somebody probably drove us. So we took the bus to San Francisco, got off in the bus terminal there and then took a city buses and we ate in the little drug store across the street from Cinerama, we went to Cinerama

you know there are ADULTS who couldn't cope with that.

and then after that we took the bus to the TRAIN station, think about where the train station is, in this seedy side of town, and we drove the train home.

yeah, I know exactly where it was, and I know where the bus station was too. You took the bus up and the train back?

uhhuh, by ourselves.

nine years old.

well, I, I have mixed feelings about that kind of stuff because on the one hand

I wouldn't even have let Mandy go to Oakridge by herself

I think it's very dangerous but on the other hand what we end up with in our children when we're too protective is that they're unable to do things, so it's a real trade off.

yeah, well, we're, I agree with you...ye, but we're coming to grips with this not because of a criticism of childrearing practice so much as a recognition that mother and father were just not, not

tuned in

not tuned it.

well it is a criticism of child rearing practices; that's exactly what it is

yeah, well, it, but, not a discussion on child rearing practices, like not something like 'should we be more or not' because what it boils down to is that, mother, especially as we read about ACAs and stuff like codependents and stuff like that, is like all her ENERGY went into coping


with him and when she writes in her diaries it was a REVELATion to me for my entire life I thought she was, well we both thought, that she didn't care, she didn't care about us, and what, that all she cared about was him, you know, he got the pork chops, we didn't

ha ha ha ha ha ah ah ah ah
but that's what I thought!

yeah but haven't you ever asked yourself what effect did that have on you? I would always give the pork chops to my kids.

so would I

and I don't understand, in fact if the situation arises where there's not enough, or better still, we're playing a game! I let them win it, I don't tell them I let them win

that's right

it, I just let them win!

in fact


exactly, bob, exactly! being a parent teaches you, and you look back and you say, my GOD, WHAT could have caused them to be that way? there's something wrong!

maybe it was the time, too

no it WASN"T, there was something  wrong,

you mean there are other parents who weren't that way?


oh yeah

there was something very wrong, and what was very wrong was um it was a dysfunctional home and whether you want to call it alcoholism, child abuse, I mean not child abuse,

wife abuse,

spouse abuse

whatever you want to call it! there was something wrong. and to read those letters and to have mother say, and she to this DAY!!!, Deedee and I made her cry,  what did we say?, she said the most important thing to her was her children, they always came first.

oh yeah, and we said we didn't think that.

we didn't perceive it that way

we thought he came first

she just

she started to cry

and when you read her diaries you realize that from, there was a part of her that was a normal mother who really did put her children first and she stayed and put up with that because, this would have been, this would be hard to take, especially if you're a man and not a woman, I don’t' know it you can identify with it, but I can, because I had the same problem with Gina, I mean I can't commit suicide because, he, he, I would have to leave her with her father, I CANT DO THAT!! and that's exactly what mother said. She can't leave the children with him, and she

and she couldn't

and she couldn't take the children with her. so she had no choice but to stay and take that abuse and when

the only problem I have with that it

she THOUGHT she had no choice

yeah, early on there weren't any children so why did she stay then?

because she thought she could change him

she thought

there's always an excuse!  What I'm saying is

you see that's very typical!

the person who isn't strong enough to break the chain or whatever you want to call it always has a reasons for not doing that. That doesn't mean they're correct reasons, so ok I understand that that's how mother felt and that's why she stayed

yeah but the point is, the point that I'm trying to make is that she was dysfunctional.

I have been in some, ok maybe, I don't know...I have been in situations where I didn't like the situation and I wanted to change it but I didn't leave it until after I had an alternative, but I would be working on the alternative from the getgo. If I had a boss I didn't like I wouldn't quit; I would go look for another job on the sly and when I found one, then I'd quit. Actually, ha ha aha, I've never had to quit, but I would find another situation that I would like better and then move, but not say, that's it I quit, so mother could have been in that scenario where she was felt obligated to stay until she was able to build a situation that would allow her to do it, but she never worked on that, she never did it.

but you have to understand everything about her, about being left behind when she was 13, all kinds of things,

all right so there are reasons

10 or 11, not 13, she got over here when she was 13

that explain it, the point is I don't buy into it that she couldn't do it. She wasn't emotionally able to do it maybe, but it could be done.

it was possible but it was not possible for her.


personally I don't even think it's relevant. What matters to me is acknowledging what the behaviors were and that it had an effect on me, part of it is relevant in the sense that I needed to understand so that I could FORGIVE, if you will, I mean I know they didn't do it on PURPOSE but some people, like Penny for example, isn't there yet and she hates mother,


whereas I don't hate her. I accept the fact that she did the best that she could under the circumstances


1955, Deadening Security

Thursday, June 2nd. 1955

Greetings & Salutations:

Well, next to having you live close enough to borrow a cup of sugar I like getting nice fat newsy letters. It always lifts me out of whatever doldrums I happen to be in just then, and believe you me, I’m just the gal to have them, doldrums, I means. Luckily they don’t last long--to busy with too many things to brood.

…Lover Boy did not make the school board election and my little heart is just broken. Think of it. No meetings to attend to, no endless correspondence to write, no waiting outside this place or that place, no phone calls to make, no house calls, oh, how can I ever bear it! Oh sure, it was a little deflating to the ego, but after all, there were two posts and five candidates and those other four a lot better known over Belmont than Jere, a veritable newcomer. Personally I was relieved…


June 7, 1955

     "So does necessity make cowards of us all..."  Who said that I wonder, some like Shakespeare, he had such a rare understanding of human nature. What would I not give to be able to take my life into my hands and tear myself loose from this miserable bondage, this deadening security. Surely, oh surely, a crust of bread eaten in peace is better than having every meal soured by this eternal bickering…


My Dearest Mother (I still have a mother, I hope!)

April, May, June and now July, good grief, don’t you ever answer a letter, or are you on another sit-down strike? But before we throw brickbats at each other I’d better remind myself that I haven’t exactly bombarded you with letters during all that time either, so alright, I’m a rat and time doesn’t stand still even for a rat. You’d never believe, no, guess after all these many years of being late with my cards, you probably would at that, but anyway, I now have two Easter cards reposing in my messy drawer, both bought with love and good intentions and both never mailed off. Now they also have a Father’s Day card to keep them company, I really am slipping aren’t I? Please don’t be cross with me but no kidding, the days are so very full of so many things and the older I get the more forgetful I get...Gollies, sometimes I think it would be an absolute relief to have a job, work eight hours a day, and sit on my laurels the rest. If I had time, which I don’t lucky for me, I’d sit down and have a nervous breakdown thinking of all the things that keep me occupied. It’s the same old merry-go-round, and if I gave you a blow by blow description of my days, you’d have a nervous breakdown just reading about it. But enough of that, I have to fill in the picture for the last three months and I have to save my breath for that.

Since school’s been out I’ve been operating a regular shuttle service taking the kids to the swimming pool and once a week to the matinee. The idea being I’d have a little peace to catch up with my work, but somehow it never works out that way. By the time I take Jere back to work after lunch, get the kids off to the swimming pool or wherever else come back home for a quick cup of coffee, comb Penny out of my hair, it’s almost time to start picking them all up again. When I go out and putter around the garden I have to keep one eye on the clock all the time, or Jere would meet me half way home, which wouldn’t be so bad either, I think he’d need the exercise. All he ever wants to do is walk, walk, walk after supper when I’m so bushed I’d like nothing better than to go to bed. Yep, I guess I’m getting old at last.


Poor Penny. According to Deedee, Penny remembers only that mother punished her unfairly. Once she brought a kitten to school (she was like 5) and mother spanked her. Once mother spanked her and called her a liar when Mrs. McCoy complained to mother that Penny had picked her flowers. Penny denied it, said it was a friend. Once again she spanked her and called her a liar when she denied having the Tupperware lids that mother later found melted at the bottom of the dishwasher. Deedee thinks mother did this kind of thing when she was embarrassed—course that doesn’t explain the Tupperware incident.

I searched the entire text of the fifties and never found Mother writing a single nice thing about Penny. Mostly she wrote negative things. Penny internalized the feeling that she was “a brat.” By comparison, Deedee is mentioned 21 times, Bob 23 times, and I 47 times.


September 10, 1955

… I guess my mind isn’t functioning very well in this weather, I read over what I’d written and found I repeated myself. I babble and don’t say nothing. After what happened to me today I guess I’m entitled to sound a little crazy. Yesterday I worked myself into a frazzle canning plums and pears and making jam. Jere’s partner, Herb, had brought three boxes of fruit and I had to do something with it before they spoiled and with what the kids didn’t eat. You must remember what it’s like, preparing the stuff and getting the jars ready and then watching the clock and so on and on and on until you wish you’d never see another pear or another plum in your whole life. Well, today I was still tired and it’s still hot so I wander around in a daze--put the dishes in the dishwasher and wanted to soak the pots. I put them in the sink and ran the hot water and then wandered off into the bedroom to do a little ironing. Jere had gone to his workshop and the kids were all downstairs playing ping-pong. Much, much later Bobby came upstairs and started yelling for me. I looked up and the water came meeting me in the bedroom. Water, water everywhere and HOT water at that. Honestly, I didn’t know where to begin. It was inches deep I the kitchen and I got to worrying about the hardwood floor and the inlaid linoleum. Well we all fell to swabbing the deck and had it pretty much under control, when I discovered that all the drawers by the sink and the cupboards were full of water, and we started all over again. Just when I thought we’d see the end of this, Bobby came rushing upstairs to inform me that it had started to leak into Jere’s workshop and all his tools etc. were getting a good soaking. Oh Brother!  He had some T.V. sets downstairs that he was working on and that didn’t even belong to us, and I had to madly try to dry everything off at once. He came home while I was still trying to dry things out and of course he gave he H*E*L*L. What a day!  Supper was two hours late and now I’m sitting here at ten o’clock at night trying to compose myself and this letter. I sent the kids to the movies, the atmosphere was positively poisonous around here and now I have to stay awake long enough to go and pick them up. I’m too mad at Jere to go in and watch T.V. (so much the good for you) though what I’ve got to be mad about I’ll never know. Sure he flipped his lid, but why shouldn’t he?  Even though a still small voice inside me keeps saying, all right so it was my fault, but once the milk is spilled there’s no use crying about it, you have to go to work and clean up the mess…


November 10. 1955

My Poor, Darling Mother:-

… We’ve also had another little communication from the Los Angeles Welfare Agency, registered mail this time, to make sure we got it. About Jere’s mother. Jere wrote them a letter explaining our situation, and if they feel we can squeeze out thirty dollars a month for her they’ll just have another guess coming. After reading over the figures they’ll probably come to the conclusion that WE should go on relief. I feel a little bitter about that anyway, because she was useful to George and Laura for the past ten years and any money that Jere would send her would only help them out, let them look after her, they owe her some responsibility, outside of raising Jere for seventeen years she never did a darned thing for the kids or me. You know, if she had shown the least bit of feeling or affection for the kids I’d be breaking my neck to see that she got something, no matter how hard it would be for us, but it’s always been just Laura and Adelaide and Albert, well, the three of them can take care of her now. Jere was so mad about it he said if they force him he’ll move out of the state. He would, too, it would be just like him, especially now that he’s beginning to feel hemmed in with all the building going on around us. Gosh how I wish the house next to us were sold so I’d know what sort of neighbor I’d have.

… For the last three weeks we’ve been having our summer weather again, in other words it’s been hot. After putting all the summer clothes away, I’ve had to dig out my shorts again, and you know how hot weather affects me. I feel like a wrung out dishrag and everything is just too much effort. And yet, the wash has to go out and be brought in and sorted and put away, the yard has to be watered if I don’t want to lose all my plants, the kids still come home from school and want to find a cake or cookies to eat, and I get so doggoned annoyed with Jere saying “Now be sure and get a good rest this afternoon” I guess he’s worried the old grey mare will collapse in harness one of these days.


Pets Unlimited

When you have a boy in the house, animals have a way of becoming members of the family. It starts when he [comes] clutching caterpillars in his hot little hands and exhorts you to make a home away from home in a mason jar. You progress rapidly to polliwogs in the Spring, and well do I remember the spring when our backyard became a [boarding house] for polliwogs belonging to every little boy in a radius of five miles whose mothers were not as zoologically minded as I was. Truth to tell, no one watched as eagerly as I for the legs to develop and the tail to disappear, [who mourned] the casualties as much as I. But [polliwogs] at best are only transitory guests. Have you ever tried to keep a wash tub full of little frogs from leaving their happy little mud puddle and venturing out into the world?  Although they cast no shadows of the events to come. Life really became exciting several years later when son gleefully bought his first white rat with his painfully saved up pocket money. One white rate is fine, it makes a dandy pet, can be carried in a pocket and whisked out to scare girls and women into hysterics at the drop of a whisker. But what do you get when you add another white rate and that one of the opposite sex?  Yes, our cage finally got too small to hold the [gang]. My mind leaps ahead a few years and as sure as snakes shed their skins and frogs grow legs and lose tails I can see a new generation of little boys come [trudging] to Grandma’s door begging a mason jar to house all manner of creepy, crawling creatures. And I love it.


Pop and Kate Miller and little Penney, 1956

1956 Letters

My grandparents came out to California to attend my graduation, but I think they really came to pick up some pedigreed dogs because apparently they left hours before the ceremony! Mother went to work for the first time since the 1930’s!!!! Money must have been really tight. There were no more letters to the friends in southern California either.



June 24. 1956

Hello, Folks:

Gosh, the house sure seems awfully empty after you left, and we all miss your face across the table from us. I sure do. Ruby and I have waited with bated breath to hear from you, whether you got there safe and sound and picked up the excess baggage and whether the shock of that pretty near killed you. We hope with all our hearts that it was all right, but honestly the way you two feel about Bostons, Toby couldn’t have a better set of owners.

Please, mother, loosen up and write a nice long, newsy letter. I realize you probably put your nose right back on the grindstone the following Monday but have a heart and give...

It’s been one hectic weeks for me, I’ve gone job hunting starting last Monday. I went to Lenkurt in San Carlos, they always seem to be taking applications and from what I hear they pay well. Since I’m doing this strictly for the money I thought I’d start with them. When I got there Monday they handed me an application to fill out and told me to bring it back next day. I also stopped in several other places but no luck. Tuesday I figured to just drop the application off in the morning and told the kids I’d be right back. Didn’t even bring my cigarettes from the car. Well, to my surprise they told me to take a seat (along with about thirty-six others) and wait. So I waited and waited and waited. They called them in in bunches of six, some came back and some didn’t. The suspense was about to kill me. Well, around ten-thirty it was my turn. First they handed me a set of questions to determine my I.Q. Fifty questions to answer in twelve minutes and some of them mathematical problems and you know right well arithmetic was never my strong point. Well, again they called three of us out and the rest of us sat and waited. Next came another test to put pieces into a pegged board. That was okay too, but on the eye test I failed. I couldn’t make out the fine details on the smaller little squares and the girl suggested I have my glasses checked and come back again. I made an appointment with the optician for that afternoon and also made an application in the five and ten down here in Belmont. He didn’t say aye or nay, just said he’d call me. Well, when I went back for my eye test I found to my dismay it was no wonder I couldn’t see to thread the needle on my sewing machine--my glasses were badly out of focus, and it’s a wonder I got by for so long. Well, even if I don’t get a job, at least I had my eyes checked, only trouble is, my new glasses will cost my about thirty-eight bucks. Seems I have to wear bi-focals from now on. When he adjusts them for far vision I can’t see close up, and when I can see good close up I can’t see in the distance. Now I know I’m getting old--bi-focals yet!

June 26.

I’d better get this letter written because something tells me I won’t have too much time to write pretty darned sooon. I got my glasses yesterday and went back to Lenkurt this morning. Got there a little before nine and the place was jam-packed with people already. Once again I waited and waited AND waited. Passed the eye test with the greatest ease thanks to my new glasses, and oh, what a difference they make, I don’t see how I bumbled along with the old ones for so long. I can see objects at a distance with clearness and clarity and the printed page close up a lot better. It’s just getting used to that in-between space will be a little tough at first. Anyway, next I was given the aptitude test, fitting pegs into holes with both hands and putting washers, collars and more washers on as quickly as I could. Then I waited some more. By that time it was twelve and they sent us out to lunch until two. As it was I picked Jere up half way home and it was one gosh awful hot day. What I call hot anyway, around eighty, nothing like your hundred which would kill me for sure. Anyway, I went back at two and waited some more. Had my interview and was told to report for training classes on July the 9th. In other words until I’m told to the contrary I am now a working gal. I’m just a little leery about my citizenship status. What if they ask me for my papers?  Which I ain’t got. They did ask me to bring my birth certificate when I report. I spent another half hour making out forms and more forms. Seems I have to join the union, at twenty-five dollars. Gosh, that and my glasses and I have to work a week for that alone. I’m going to start at a dollar and fifty-five cents an hour, and boy, that ain’t hay. Maybe if I work just for a little while it will put our financial standing on an even basis. I was also told I’d be on a probationary period of sixty days. Oh well, if I just work for sixty days I’ll have a nest egg.

I got your card and today the letter. Gosh, you sure kept us in suspense... But I’m glad you are both home safe and sound and it’s okay wit the doggies. I’m so very sorry I couldn’t be with you those last few hours, but I’m kind of glad I stayed at the graduation, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world. The girls and boys looked so serious and sweet walking up the aisle in pairs, and when it came time to hand out the diplomas and awards you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. They said: And now for the award of merit for outstanding scholastic achievement--Camille Casagrande. I was so darned proud of her. The honor student of her graduating class, think of it!

This has been such a hot week, and I’m always so thankful for that cool breeze that springs up just around the afternoon. All I do is sit around and pant until it cools off. Anyway, I just wanted to finish this letter even if it kills me, my fingers are so sticky and the kids have the record player going full strength. I would have done better to give in and take them to the swimming pool this afternoon. But I had told them payday was Friday and I simply couldn’t afford to run around and use up the gas. I made up my mind to pay for the gas in cash even after the Richfield bill is paid up. Boy, I can hardly wait for my first paycheck. I know it’s going to be rough on the kids this summer not having me drive them hither and yon and having to take care of Penny and do the housework, but after all, it’s for them I’m doing it, not for myself.

Bobby had a windfall last Sunday, he was walking down to the store and found fifteen dollars, a ten and a five, one right after the other. Gollies that kid is lucky. Of course he lent it to me and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I got the films and I do think they turned out swell. Bye now darling, until the next time.

With love from all of us, and we do miss you a lot.


July 9, 1994

After I finished typing that letter, I found myself curled up on my bed crying my eyes out. Typing these letters has been difficult for me, yes, but this was the first time I cried. I wondered why, but it didn’t take me long to realize why.

I’ve suffered from low self-esteem--or whatever it is--all my life. All I know is I never get to feel good about myself. So it felt really strange to read that forty-one years ago I was some kind of special honor student at my eighth grade graduation, and I DON’T REMEMBER IT AT ALL. Nor have I ever heard anyone else in my family mention it. My daughter Gina also graduated from the 8th grade this year. As Student Body President she was asked to make a speech--the only address made that day by a student. I was more than proud of her, I was in awe. I can hardly believe she’s half me--she was (and is) so confident, so self-assured standing there with a pair of white ribbons over her graduation gown to symbolize her service to her school as President.. But what will SHE remember when she’s fifty-one years old?

I was also hurt to read that whereas my grandparents had come out to my ‘graduation,’ they actually left a few hours before the ceremony, and my mother, far from chastising them for this, apologized for not skipping the ceremony and accompanying them to the airport. I don’t remember this either.

So I cried. I cried for that little girl who should have grown up confident and self-assured, but didn’t. I cried because if, as people say, “all families are dysfunctional” then there’s nothing we can do to change it. I cried because I don’t want my daughter to cry when she is fifty-one year’s old.


Friday, at long last
July 13, 1956

Hello there, Fellow Wage Slaves:-

Well, here is my first progress report, and it sure looks as if I’m going to be a lot more faithful in writing than you are, in spite of the fact that I, too, am punching a clock at eight in the morning. Today we graduated from training school, and for awhile there it looked to me as if I’d never make it. To get back to the beginning (in case you’re interested) we started in bright and early last Tuesday, remember Monday I spent sitting and waiting most of the day. Anyway, we were instructed to clean wires and solder them together, teensy weensy wires the size of sewing thread, and great big ones with insulation on ‘me. We learned to wire bare wires to lugs and solder them, and to wire tube sockets. Wednesday we were given a test board to do, and I sure flubbed that one. I got so nervous my hands were shaking and I had to brace my elbows on the table to do it. The best thing my instructor found to say about that was that it was a nice ‘neat’ board. Oh brother!  Finally on Thursday we were shuffled around in new groups that were going to work on the same thing and my job seems to be to make transformers. Beastly little things there are four little wires about the thickness of a hair which you pick up with a pair of tweezers and solder to a thicker wire, four different colors and they have to be right or they won’t work. Anyway, it will be my pleasure to make the best doggoned transformers I can turn out.

The company is an excellent one, and they sure do take care of their employees, once you’re hired they give you all the help they can and make every possible effort on your behalf to place you SOMEWHERE. Their slogan is “There’s a place for everyone in Lenkurt” the only thing they don’t tolerate is tardiness. You simply can’t be late, three times late and you’re discharged. So after hearing that from every side for a week I’ve tried my level best to be on time. Makes it awfully rough on Jere, I want to leave at seven-thirty and after dropping him off at twenty-five to eight I barely make it to the parking lot and hurry to the plant and no matter how hard I try the clock always rings up 7:49. I’m supposed to be at my bench at two minutes to eight. Now they tell me I’ll be in Plant #4 and will start to work at a quarter to eight, that means I’ll have to leave before seven-thirty. Yoiks, poor Jere, he’ll just have to buy himself another car.  At night it takes me about fifteen minutes nevertheless, to get clocked out and to the parking lot and out of that mad bedlam, and I never get home before five. Jere has consistently beaten me home all week, somebody else always picks him up on the way.

Oh, incidentally I’m still on a thirty day trial, and then another month to see how I fit in, if I manage to get past those sixty days, I’ll be okay for as long as I want it.

The kids have been just wonderful this week. I get up at six and before I leave I stack the dishwasher and make Jere’s and my bed, and start the washer if there’s a load to be done. I’ve got me a big notebook and every morning I write notes to the kids what I want each of them to do. They make notes to me or if we run out of something I have to buy. Works out pretty good that way. Cammie has worked awfully hard keeping the house clean and tidy, and they each take care of their own bed and clothing and room. That leaves just lil old Penny at loose ends and Cammie sure takes care of those loose ends. She’s harder on them all than I ever could be. When I come home at night all I do is cook and take care of the things I want to wear the next day. I did some baking at night and yesterday I cooked the stew ahead of time and just added the vegetables. That will be my biggest problem--what to cook that doesn’t take too long. Besides hamburger that is. And since I haven’t gotten that first pay check yet I can’t buy steak and chops every night, can I?  Wednesday night we had a Court of Honor for the scouts and although I’d much rather have gone to bed I had to attend it. Naturally I ended up in the kitchen, which was all right too, we had much too much food, and a great big sheet cake left over that we divided in four quarters and each of us mothers took one quarter. It was the yummiest cake with real fresh strawberries under a layer of creamy frosting, and a lucky thing for me that I took a piece for my lunch, for believe it or not, that enormous cake was all gone when I got home that night. I’ve been taking my lunch, although I’d much rather eat at the cafeteria. But I have to fix Jere a lunch and this week we’ve been rather short of funds. It cost me about ten or twelve dollars more to eat the way we did and I didn’t want to add the expense of a cafeteria lunch to it. As it is we go out for a coffee break sometime in the morning and also in the afternoon, so naturally I have to have a cup of coffee and a doughnut. (I miss Ruby and those morning cups of coffee...)

Monday night

Mother DARLIN’, where is your letter???? Please give me that information before I lose my marbles completely. As it is it will probably take all of my probation period to get that blankety-blank citizenship paper.

I spent such a restful weekend, I could hardly wait for Monday morning so I could go back to my nice peaceful sitting-down job again. Jere was putting up a thirty foot aerial that insisted on falling down. After the second try and a new aerial later, I was about ready to leave home, and I know for sure that Bobby was. Poor little guy, he sure got it in the neck... We wasted the whole darned day on it. Saturday night we got a couple of extra boys as guests. Remember Gary, from Hawthorne?  He and his brother have come to spend a couple of weeks with us. So what the heck is a couple of kids more or less, they are on their own anyway. Sunday went by so fast with the kids wanting to go swimming and me and my clothes ready. I am now about eighteen dollars in the red already, I went out and bought me some pedal pushers and blouses. About time I got some new clothes out of this deal.

Today I went on the assembly line and they put me to work stacking transformers. I worked diligently all day long and didn’t even take time out to smoke or go to the bathroom and at the end of the day I found out that I was twelve short. Good grief, I wonder if I’ll ever get fast enough to make my quota. I can tell you one thing, I certainly am not going to smoke myself into an early grave on THIS job. I just won’t have the time. Incidentally, I had my physical, too, and a in excellent physical health. It was a great satisfaction for me to come home and report to my darling husband that I thumped clear as a bell, and he needn’t think I put another coffin nail in with each cigarette I light up. As he seems to think.


Thursday Night September 20, 1956

Hello, Sweetheart:--

Got your letter tonight, and gollies, what a lift it gave me. Thank you, dear. I really don’t much feel like writing--I wish I had a tape recorder hung around my neck and could just talk into it. My head buzzes with all the things I want to say to you and when I just sit down to the typewriter I feel ‘blah’ and don’t know where to start. You know every once in awhile I get so discouraged and feel as if I was getting nowhere fast. This always happens when I have my monthly rendezvous with our unpaid bills and spend a jolly night madly writing out checks and watching the old bank balance dwindle away. Right now I have a hankering for a drier. And by golly, I shall have a drier before the rains come. I spend much too much time hanging out the wash, piece by piece, and remembering to bring it in. You know Jere is so funny. During his vacation we had him really housekeeping, and he hung the wash out a couple of times and decided it was time I got a drier. That, and to finish the half-bath downstairs is really what I’m aiming for before I quit work (if and when I quit, that is).

,,, Mumsi, I’m sorry to say I did nothing about my citizenship papers yet, after all the rush and hurry and hounding I did. But I tell you, one part of me wants to keep working and one part of me doesn’t. They have never asked me about them anymore, and it’s over two months now, and I sort of feel in the back of my mind, if they ever say anything, or let me out I won’t care too much because our finances ought to be better by then, and the need for working past. So I let it ride. Besides, Jere had said he’d help me compose a letter, he didn’t like the one I’d written up, and if he isn’t any more interested in my getting those papers and continuing to work, why should I. He’s been in San Francisco on business a couple of times, and after all the errands I ran for him in my lifetime he never thought to take a little time out to see about it. He said he couldn’t find it, and he doesn’t like to drive around downtown (I believe him) but just the same, I just let it ride up till now. I do think I ought to do it anyway, and one of these days I’ll just take it into my head to get on with it.

… Well,, darling, it’s getting late again, almost eleven, and I’m bushed. I washed the kitchen tonight and am sitting here enjoying a nice clean spot for a change. I know by tomorrow it won’t be. Did I tell you that Penny has been giving me a bad time about complaining about a pain in her neck. The little stinker. I know she had fallen off the bed some time ago and off and on when things didn’t go to suit her she would say her neck hurt. Finally came the day when she absolutely refused to go to school, and came out in the morning with her full cowgirl regalia on instead of a school dress. I had just about five minutes to snatch those clothes off of her and stuff her into her proper things, comb her hair, wash her face and insist she’d better go to school or else (or else what?)  Anyway, I worried about it even though I felt in my heart of hearts that she was just putting it on. I called the doctor for an appointment and like a good soul he let me bring her in on a Sunday morning. Gave her a complete physical check up. And I mean complete. And told me she was a perfectly healthy specimen of girl child. Nothing whatever the matter with her. A little tall for her age but her weight matched her build. I looked Penny firmly in the eye and said I wanted no more talk about a pain in the neck or she’d get a pain in her bottom. Now she pleads a headache whenever she has to do something she doesn’t want to, like going to bed. But it cuts no ice with me. She might as well learn it now as later. All my kids go to school while they can still crawl. And if they can’t crawl they stay in bed.



If you were gone from me forever,
     what would my mem’ry be of you tonight?

What rune did Life’s Recording Angel write upon my heart
     (or mind) since this has driven us apart.
The need for you to think with ‘mind’,
     and mine to feel with all my heart.

The nightingale has fled, thru no one’s fault but mine
    Mine was the choice--I knew
love’s blindness needed only love’s light tho
    to turn me in the path Love bade me go

But stubbornly I opened wide the door
thru which my blythe spirit flew.

Oh let the past lie dead, look to the future

Each bright tomorrow brings new life and then,
Would I remember lying warmly sheltered in your arms again



Having read The Diary of Ann Frank, I too started keeping a diary. I include my 1957 entries here only to illustrate how this dysfunctional home was already having an effect. “Don’t talk, don’t feel, don’t trust”—the characteristics of the Adult Child of an Alcoholic—were already in evidence.


January 4, 1957
West to Belmont show with Bob; saw Bud, Tim and Ricky, and Howie. Stupid me, I left my glasses with Tim.

January 7
Back to school!  Everyone in a good mood, including me. This is our last week in Cooking!  We will have a Final on Monday.

January 8
No after school sports, so I walked home! Lucky for me it wasn’t raining at the time.

January 9
Music lessons!  What a mess, hadn’t practiced all week!

January 10
In cooking I “goofed” in measuring water so we got halfway thru and had a liquid mess!  But Miss Jones let us start over. Went to Mariners. I get to go to “Bridge of honor & ball”!! Lucky me.

Jan. 11
Took Deedee and MaryElla to the show to see “Love me Tender” for the 3rd time and “The Mountain” for second time. All the girls and Jim Arvenson and Mike were there so I had fun, anyway.

Jan. 12
West with the Mariners on a boat ride on “Fury” with Redwood City Sea Scouts. It began to rain quite a bit and I got soaked. The cutest guy (some sort of headman) helped me off the boat. Later they asked us our names and he asked me mine again. Bonny said she heard someone tell him “So what (or something?) you’ll never see her again!” If only  he would like me, I wouldn’t be lonely for awhile again! Well I’ll find out in 2 weeks. Got installed in Jobs. Stayed for the dance.

Jan. 13
Don’t feel too good today guess I had too much excitement yesterday!  Dad’s on the rampage again!!!

It hailed today and rained hard!

Jan 14
Back to school. Today was horrible!  I accidentally brought mom’s smokes to school (forgot to empty her pockets!)  Close shave!  The Pats and I were teasing Jane today. I wouldn’t tell her about my new hope so when I got my apron, Pat Coffee told her in 2 weeks I was going to a doctor because I might be pregnant!!  She believed them too!  I told her later tho, don’t want to take any chances of rumors!!

Jan 15
I stayed home today to receive the dryer.. I got a lot done too. I made a cake and for the first time it really came out good. I began to read ELEANOR THE QUEEN!  Real good too!

Jan 16
Another dreary day!  Got counted as unexcused absence for yesterday.

Went to music lessons and did very well.

Jan. 17
I was not dropped in basketball so I went today. We had a wonderful game! I finished my boo, Boy was it good! Went to Mariners, heard nothing about nominees for queen, Guess I will just have to wait for next Thurs. Man is school BORING. I guess that includes every thing. They had the Starlighters at noon today. Real good!!

Jan 18
Today was nice. McCall’s mag. was at school to take pictures. I got a 7+ in modern dancing! Highest in the class (our group each got one)  I did ok in the Eng., Orient, and Algebra tests too!  I went to Ann’s after school and had lots of fun with the baby and everything. Went to the Belmont and saw “The Girl He Left Behind” and “Unguarded Moment”  Real good pics!  Saw Bev and everyone but not Bud or Ed or anyone else whom I cared to see. Well, tomorrow is going to be long so...Night, night, ZZZZZZZZ

Jan 19
The most wonderful thing happened today. I got nominated for queen!! At 9”30 I went to Jobs rehearsal and at 11:00 I got my picture taken with 3 other girls. After lunch I went to the Conference. I baby sat for Ann. I just adore Stevey.

Jan 20
Our downstairs furnace room is now converted into a laundry room. We have a new dryer and the long table serves to put the clean wash on. We plan to finish the half bath too.

Ann and I were to go bowling but they were having a tournament so we played canasta at her house. Today was a very nice Sunday and I am at the height of anticipation for next Sat. night. I am going to cut down this week and get rid of my pimples.

Jan 21
I brought the portable to school today. A boy accidentally knocked it off my desk and broke it. I stayed after school to be a score keeper. Went to choir practice. What a mess! I am cutting out sweets and down on staples for awhile.

Only “5” more days.

Jan 22
Man are my joints sore!  We won our tournament in basketball 31-16. I made a lot of the points. Went to Jobs initiation. 7 more girls, that means we now have 99. We are having a snow trip in March. Cost is $7.00  Some lady talked and talked. I didn’t get home till ll:00.

Only 4 days left.

Jan. 23
Got a C in Algebra. Guess I’m going to do horrible in all my subjects this time! Went to music lessons. Took a shower. Mrs. Simmons called. Our pictures will be in tomorrow’s Times!  Painted you diary. Looks nice. Bonny said the pic was cute. I wonder...

Only 3 more days.

Jan 24
Today I fixed my hair different. It looks cuter. No after school sports so I went to Diane’s house till 5:00. Went to Mariners and registered. I am going to the Joanna to the dance Sat.

Only 2 days left

Jan. 25
Today was the worst!  Everybody in a bad mood, especially teachers. I went shopping and couldn’t find a thing so I borrowed Ann’s heels (or should I say spikes, oh, my aching feet). I wrote Gary a long letter too.

Just think only 1 more day with (I only lost 2lb!!) PIMPLES bugging out all over me, God Blast it!  I forgot to say my pic was in the paper. Cute. Turns out there are really 7 girls running.

Jan. 26
Nancy Weeks won!  She is so nice. I did dance but not with whom I wanted. I don’t see why I even bother falling for any boys cause they never even look at me. Bonny and I had a big beef cause we both liked the DOLL but he was going steady. Poor Bonny. Found out later that the one I like is his pal and he isn’t going steady!  Why bother, its impossible. I probably won’t ever se him again. But I can’t help it. I always really like a lot the ones I can never have (for one reason or another).

Jan 27
I went to “Young’s” today. What fun I had. I had a nice swim and visit with Phyllis and Tony. When Angi came I really had fun. He is now 19. I still like him tho. He’s really nice. He sort of likes a girl tho. Phyllis likes an 18 hear old. Wow  She’s lucky!!  Went to Teen’s. I’ve come to the conclusion that if something doesn’t happen soon I guess I am going to be a very unhappy, lonely, girl!!


January 27, 1957

Hi, Baby:

Wouldn’t blame you if you threw this letter in the wastebasket saying you know of no such person, and even this won’t be much of a letter. Anyway just a few lines to let you know I’m still around and kicking. There was a time I had lots of TIME to write and nothing much to say, nowadays things are happening all the time, and I never have a minute to sit down and pound this own machine. (Ever since Cammie has taken typing at school she has referred to Poor Old Faithful as ‘that old machine’)  Incidentally, daughter has made the honor roll at high school, and we are really quite proud of her. But the way she has been going socially these days I don’t know where she finds the time to do her homework. Here we are with the old TIME again, it seems to be at a premium around here. She also joined the mariners, that’s a Girl Scout organization with a SHIP, or boat to you and me. Two Saturdays ago a troop of Sea Scouts (boys that is) invited the girls for a boat ride with the purpose of looking them over, getting acquainted and choosing a queen for their annual ball. Of course Mama, that’s me, had to go along to chaperone and here we were about twelve of us, and it started to rain and how it rained, and all of us practically drowned. We were wet to the skin, and how in the world they could choose a candidate for queen among that bunch of drowned kittens was beyond me, but choose they did. Cammie, natch. She got her picture in the paper and it came out real cute, too, as soon as I can get a hold of a copy I’ll send it to you. Last night they had their dance, and once more I was elected to bring them home. Them I say, four boys and four girls got squeezed into the car, but I can honestly say I’m just not cut out to be Cinderella’s Godmother and stay up until midnight. My bedtime happens to be at ten, and after that my eyes begin to close. Oh, yes, by the way, Cammie was not chosen to be queen, they picked an older girl, she was really nice though, but they knew this other girl better and as I said she was older, and these boys are all over fifteen. But just the same she had herself a wonderful time, and maybe next year she’ll have better luck. She said herself she was glad she wasn’t chosen, she would not have known how to act, in such a conspicuous lime light. Seems the boys picked a candidate from each troop, seven in all, and out of these they chose the queen. I still think it was quite an honor even to be candidate. So there we are. Music lessons one night, mariners the next. Job’s daughters on Thursdays and the movies on Friday never any time left over to pick up her room. Though I still remember MY rat’s nest, so girls don’t change much do they?  Deedee is going great guns, too, and Bob is doing very well this year, he’s getting his block letter for scholarship this year, and for him that’s really going. Penny is her same old ornery sweet self. And me, I too still got my nose to the grindstone and loving it. Oh yes, I finally got my dryer and it’s been like a kid with a new toy. We washed and dried like crazy from the minute Jere said it was all ready and set to go. It sure is a great time saver and things come out so fluffy and nice, hardly need any ironing. We cleaned out the furnace room and put the big table in there so I can fold the wash and the ironing board and all the ironing is down there so at long last my room looks like a bedroom and not a junk yard. I bought a new bedspread for the girls and a rug for the floor, so really it looks quite nice (most of the time). We also got us some of those basket chairs for the den, the kind that look  like a hat with ...now everyone has a chair and there is no fuss as to who sits where. Maybe now we can think of having the bath finished downstairs and fix up the den, floor and all. So maybe my working hasn’t been for nothing.

Hey, did you get the package yet? The glasses and ceramics are from the kids, Cammie made the little figures herself for you, I never did get that 4711. I tried all over and the girl at the drugstore ordered it several times and each time it didn’t come. Where DO you buy it? That’s all for now, Dear, and don’t be too mad at me. I also had to do some typing for Jere this last week in my haha, so-called spare time and you know what a fussbudget he is when it comes to things I have to do for him. I’m sure glad I don’t have to make my living doing it... Anyway, goodnight for now, and I’ll try to do better. Are you feeling okay now?  Legs and back and all, all better?  Pop working? The dogs still driving you bats? Write and tell all.


Jan. 28
Got up late today. Guess what. I might get a low A or high B in English. Test Wed. in Home Making. Went to Hillsdale with Tina and Saw Tim. Bought some earrings too.

Jan 29
God Blast it!  Steve is going with Judy Smith!! Oh well, guess what?  After our boat gets out of dry dock it is going to stay at Redwood City Harbor so...

Camille working on the "Albatross"

Jan 30
After school sports were a mess. We had crummy refs. We tied. Went to music lessons and rewrote my theme then watched Disneyland “Magic”

Jan 31
Terry was dropped from sports and we were all sorry because it wasn’t her fault she sprained her ankle. Now both Laura and Martha quit Mariners. Laura is getting married Sat. at 7:00. Next Tues. at 7:00 is a Red Cross meeting. We might move our boat to Redwood City harbor!

Feb 1
I went to the Belmont to see BATTLE CRY and STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND. I loved Battle Cry just the same as before. WOW! Got home at 12:00. Found out that Bev quit too! Guess I won’t see any of them any more. Bootsi has disappeared.

Feb. 2
Went to Laura’s wedding. They served drinks. What a party, hordoerves too and punch. It was at the fraternity house. Diane got a little drunk. 3 boys were there.  Dennis is a real doll-ll. Got home at 12:00

Feb 3
Played basketball with Bob and Pat and Bob racked up my foot with his horseshoes!!  Went to Ann’s, saw Mr. DiPaolo at school, did my Algi, and watched T.V. Took a shower

Feb. 4
After school basketball. We tied!

Feb. 5
Sports again!  We won!  I found out that boy’s name is Howell Cole. A senior. His buddy asked me if I would go out with him but I said he’d have to ask me himself. The bus came at 10 to 6 and the bus driver was really mixed up because he took us all the way to Sequoia and back to Carlmont then home. I got here at 6:30. Went to Red Cross. Came home and stepped on a nail.

Feb. 6
Got an A in English!! B in P.E. B in Homemaking A in typing B in Geography and C in Algi. Saw Mr. Kelvie, went to music lessons, did a puzzle with Mom, watched Disneyland (goofy) and Navy Log with Family and Ann.

Ray asked me to go to Leach’s party Sat. night!!! Yippee!

Feb 7
A model show at noon. Decided I should weigh 125!  Guess I lose weight...Got all my homework done before dinner!! and I mean all! What a blast at Mariners! Diane is going out with Dennis Sat. night!  I have a girl to get a uniform from. I came in 3rd in a drill exercise!! on the 16 we all must go to Palo Alto dry dock. Test in all 4 tomorrow.

Feb. 8
Talked to Howell, some. Tina was going to go to the dance with me but she had to baby sit till 9:00. I waited and waited and that stupid Nancy didn’t come home till 11:00 and Tina wouldn’t go then! God Damm something always happens.  Broke my diet and read with Mom the 1st act of Merchant of Venice. Did very well in the geography test!  (I wanted to see Ray at that dance too, shit)

Feb 9
Washed my hair and set it. Took it out at 2:00. It looked darling. Went to the party with Ray. I really had fun but I’m dreadfully afraid he was only LEADING me on. If he was, I’ll never forgive him.

Frances came tonight. We had lasagna. I really had more fun at this party than any I’ve ever been to. I wish  Ray would like me...but....

Feb. 10
Mom and Dad went to a concert. I was very disappointed that Ray didn’t phone or anything. Even Tina didn’t come over. What a boring Sunday!! I ironed my gym clothes and watched a part of a TV movie. Set my hair. I don’t see why I even bothered hoping Ray would like me, cause I know he won’t even look for me at school and even if he does he’ll probably act nonchalant!! boohoohoo!!

Feb 11
Didn’t see Ray at all. Went to the game dance in high hopes but... I dance mostly with Howell. Very tired.

Feb. 12
What a day!  So very dreary and I’m so very unhappy!!

Feb. 13
Still no sign of Ray. Jim and everyone keep after me “Do you like Ray”. I’m afraid to say yes and I can’t say no!

I read Portia in the play.

Feb. 14
Very sick!  sore throat and all but I’m going to see “War and Peace”  If I have to crawl there!  Judy told me that Ray likes me. When I got home I went to bed. Tina phoned. Ray had phoned her. Said he liked me. I’m so very happy!! At last!  I just can’t get to sleep!

Howell gave me ‘3’ valentines. C.G.A. meeting. The show was “real” good!!

Feb. 15
I was really sick today. That bratty Ray. I’m so hurt and mad it’s pitiful. He won’t phone me, only Tina, he said he’d come up but he didn’t. I am really unhappy. Rosalee phoned. We get to go on the “Fury” Sunday. They are going up with our boat to Palo Alto.

Feb. 16
Feel better today. went babysitting. wonderful! Ray phoned. We talked for a couple hours. Told him I wouldn’t go on the boat ride tomorrow so he could come up.

Feb. 17
Ray couldn’t come up but talked to him on and off all day. Got quite a bit done.

Last week Bev told me Bud was in the hospital. He “bruised” his knee in a car wreck. He demolished his car. Bev and Ed aren’t doing so hot...

Feb. 18
Waited and waited for Ray but didn’t see him. Saw him in swimming. Saw him at 6th period. He asked me to wait for him after 6th and he would come down to meet me. He didn’t come and I waited for about 6 minutes. He didn’t phone tonight either. I had another argument with mom and dad. Gee, I wish Ray would walk me to at least some of my classes. At least see me at school!!

Feb. 19
Today I was told that Ray liked Johnette, not me. I believe it because he didn’t phone me tonight either. God blast it! Boys always treat me like that. Just not any good for any body. Went to First Aid, what fun. Diane is going out with Dennis again. Lucky stiff!!

Feb. 21
Test in Geography and algi, did pretty fine in geography but ohhh that algebra!! Frosh Board meeting. What fuN!  We had a good idea, a paper drive and an “auction”. We will auction off all the freshman girls to the Sr. Jr. Soph, etc. boys. They will carry their books, etc. for one day!  Cool huh! Went to Hillsdale. Got a wool skirt (full) and my jersey dress (both “at last...”)

Feb 22
Got up at 7:00 to go to work on the boat. Gee, its really fun but such hard work! Stupid me wore moccasins and I’m dreadfully afraid they’re ruined. There’s mud all over!  The blow torch is the most fun. My feet are wrecked! from sitting in those muddy wet “things” all day till 4:00. I was so tired I just took a shower and went to bed. I took out time to write this. It’s raining!  We probably won’t be able to do much tomorrow...

Feb. 23
Another day of work. I decided to wash my hair. Mom and dad had a “row”. Seemed to have calmed down when I took Diane to see “Anastasia” and “Trouble at Table Rock”. Both were good. Saw Bud and talked with him. Saw Bill and Chuck...Mom and Dad must have had another fight cause something was thrown at my dressing table and shattered the glass at one end.


July 9, 1994

I find it incredible that it apparently never entered the head of this 13 year old Camille to inquire about her dressing table. Even my lovely barometer, 13 year old Regina, thought it was a joke; she insisted that even if she wouldn’t say (as she wants to claim she would have) “What the fuck did you do to my dressing table?! You just damn well better replace it NOW!” she would most definitely have inquired and expected it to be replaced.

However, the first law of the ACA is, remember, “don’t talk.”  The family simply does not talk about anything having to do with the parent’s disruptive behavior. Everyone pretends that all is well, there is nothing wrong. Finding your dressing table shattered is a normal, everyday event not worth mentioning. To discuss it would be to acknowledge the behavior that engendered it. To acknowledge it would legitimize it.


Feb. 24, 1957
It was raining too hard so we didn’t work on the boat. Dad got to roarin’ again and what a fight!  Everything got wrecked...I re-arranged our room and I like it very much. My back, torso, and face are full of pimples!!! The birds were moved in our room. Well, homework must be done...nit-e-nit

Feb. 25
Talked to Howell this morning. Had 4th lunch and had a horrible time. Went to “Career of the Month” meeting. Got the ski suit from Ann. Had another quarrel with Mom. Went outside and had a cig. Decided I am a stupid coward and daydreamed about killing myself. I just can’t help it...I’m getting so I can’t stand it anymore. Now I know what they mean when they say teenagers go from extreme happiness to utter despair... Only it seems I rarely have any happiness at all!  Bed at 7:30

Feb. 26
Saw 2nd part of the Wild One. Went to Red Cross


Jan, heck no February Feb. 26/1957

My Darling Mother:--

Got your letter today and my conscience began to hurt before I even got a good look at it. “Elfriede”  brrrr. But no kidding daarling, IAM sorry, but I’ve been so darned busy lately, and simply never did get a chance to write. Not that I haven’t been thinking of you, I sure did, why, I even got you a present and a card for Valentine’s Day, I just never did get to sending it. One of these days, one of these days (preferably before Easter).

Now let’s see where were we. Busy, naturally, but outside of that where were we. I’m sorry you’re not working now, I know just exactly how you feel, I would too, if I had to stay home now and I haven’t even been working as long as you. And it isn’t even the money so much either. Though goodness knows, it comes in handy. We’ve had the half bath finished downstairs and I’ve been working overtime to help pay for it so we could get it done sooner. I’ve also been roped into taking Cammie and her friends around for things like going to San Jose with a car full to attend the wedding of their Skipper, and now we’re all doing First Aide again. I’m chaperoning the girls, and it will last about four more weeks, once a week. Tonight, in other words in about three minutes I have to quite writing and get going. On top of it she tied up my weekend, we had Friday and Saturday off, in the most beautiful way that almost makes me wish she had never wanted to join the Mariners. Their boat was in dry-dock for three days and all hands fell to, to clean, scrape paint, putty screw, put on  water repellent stuff, and if possible paint it before it’s going back into the water. I forgot the caulking, and that is most important. Anyway, on Friday I had to get up at six and pick up four girls and be in the Palo Altos Boat Works by eight. We worked up to our ears in mud, until four that afternoon. I might add that it was raining on and off mostly on, for all of three days, and by Sunday had turned into a regular storm. Saturday I got there at nine, worked until every bone in my body ached from the strain, went home when my relief came at one, and on the way home my windshield wipers quit working. I stopped at a gas station but they couldn’t fix it, so I had to creep home at a very slow pace. I ate lunch, rested a bit and then started back to pick the girls up. Halfway there the car gave up the ghost altogether. I had to call Jere to pick me up in the little car, took him home and then started out again. Try crowding four healthy big girls into a little sports car, it ain’t easy! By Sunday morning it stormed so bad I didn’t care whether I ever saw the boat again, and the father who was supposed to take the girls called and said he wasn’t going, well, neither was I. Monday morning I went back to work feeling as if I’d been through the mill. I ached in every muscle.

No doll, I didn’t faint dead away at the suggestion that I save some money. I’m sure enough trying, and who knows, I might even succeed. Your last letter tickled me, you old sweetie. Please don’t get cross, you know I love you, it’s just that it isn’t easy to come, do a thousand and one things, do things with and for the kids, and I simply can’t neglect them because I’m working, and still feel ambitious enough to sit down and write.

Oh by the way, did I tell you Jere changed jobs? He’s in Belmont again, almost a stone’s throw from where he used to be. So now he’s driving himself in the little car and comes home for lunch. He takes care of himself, and that way I have it a little easier. I’m starting at seven-thirty these days and get off at four, makes it nice, I get home in time to start a decent supper and we won’t have to eat so late. I know I’m going to like it when the nice weather comes and I can go out in the garden awhile before supper. I miss that no end, and everything is starting to grow and blossom now, though we still get an awful lot of rain.

Let’s see what else goes on around here.  Nothing really I guess, and anyway I see by the clock it’s time to get going.


February 5, 1994

What did you see Bob, did you ever see dad hit mother?



Oh God, you’re like the D.A. now, I don’t know, sometime in the past.

When, do you remember?  come on try to remember. How old were you?

I don’t know.

what was going, where did we live?

I don’t remember anything prior to being in sixth or seventh grade, I don’t remember anything from early, early.

Ok, 6th grade, where did we live?

Belmont. On Monserat.

And um, what did you see, him hit her?

Slapped. What I remember is Dad threatening mother, screaming at her, shaking his fist at her and swatting at her, and occasionally hitting her when he’s swatting her. I don’t remember him socking her in the eye or anything like that.

Me either, I don’t remember. I have no memories of that. I do remember her being in the bathroom, medicating her broken nose, do you remember that?


I think he threw a lot of things, and hit a lot of times.

Yeah, he threw stuff.

You couldn’t have anything that you didn’t want to get broken.

And I can remember him being angry at the beans and throwing them on the floor, and I can remember him throwing pots off the stove, and I can remember him doing stuff like that.

Were you afraid of him?

Nooo, I don’t think so, I don’t remember ever being afraid of him.

What did you do when he was mad and throwing things?

I hahaha made myself scarce I suppose, I don’t remember, I mean I don’t have, it’s not like a moving picture, I can remember restraining him more than once.


Oh yeah, and I can remember him being angry at me about it.

You can remember RESTRAINING him?

When you were little?

Little, well I was a teenager.

Honest to God?


What did he do when you let go?

He was furious.

And what did he do?

He didn’t do anything. He yelled.

Just stand there and shake?

Yes. I don’t remember what he did.

He never hit you?


He never hit you?


I think down deep he didn’t like that he hit mother.

He wanted someone to restrain him.


Feb. 27
Talked to Howell this morning. Had 4th lunch and had a horrible time. Went to “Career of the month” meeting.

Feb. 28
The worst day so far in my “blues” that I’ve ever had. I was mean, unhappy, grouchy to everyone. On top of that I saw Ray again that made it worse!  Somehow I can’t face seeing him... Went to Mariners . Passed all but 1 requirement.

March 1
It started out bad but ended up good. Saw and talked to Howell quite a bit. Went to the show with Ann and Diane and saw “Written on the Wind” and “Durango”. Both good. Howell was there and I talked to him a lot. Saw Bud too and Dennis, Bart Bodine, Barbara something's step brother. Mary taught me--ou te amo--[hearts] HC + CC I know it will never happen tho

March 2
Today was rather nice altho... you see I understood we were to be at the boat at 9:00, so dad rushed me down, but no one was there. They came at 10:00. I don’t think we really got much done but I took a role of film. Sally and I went to see “You cant take it with you”. Very good. I was embarrassed to death when a boy asked me “Does that gum taste good?” “Yes” I said and he replied “You sure chew it like it does!”  I swallowed my gum.

Saw Howell as we were leaving.

March 3
Couldn’t go to the boat till 1:30 because mom and dad had to go to church. It was raining. We didn’t get much done. We decided since today was our last day we would have fun. We got all painted up muddy and soppin’ wet. Rose was so funny!  She said, “I’ve always wanted to jump in mud puddles!” and she did, it was hilarious...Saw “Life raft” on T.V. and read “Magnificent Obsession” both very good.

March 4
I’m fairly sure Hal likes me. He talked to me in P.E. A girl in Typing said he was really broken up Sat. because he thought I had come with Bob!!  Tom asked me if I was going to ask Ray to the dance and I said no and he said “why not?” and I said “why should I” and he said “well you just think about it...”  Got the pics back and bought some tennis shoes. Tina came over.

March 5
Tina didn’t come to school today. Type girl asked “If I had a party would you come with Hal?”  I said “Yes” I would. I’m scared now, very much. I think I saw Ray in swimming, whether it was or not, he waved to me!  My heart skipped a jump...

March 6
Talked to Hal. Went to music lessons.

March 7
Hal is going to the dance with a soph. girl. Drat it. I decided I’m going to fight for him!  Went to Mariners. Made cookies.

I finally did a good letter in Typing! Horrible test in Algi. Wouldn’t be in the least surprised if I flunked. I really felt bad after I asked him if he was doing anything tomorrow night and he said he was going with that girl. It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach.

March 8
I’m scared. I want Hal so much but I’m afraid I’ll not get him. Went to sell cookies at 4:30. Sold four boxes. Went to the show and saw “Friendly Persuasion” and “Shark fighter”. We called Dad and waited 45 min for MOM to come. Dad is so lazy!! During that time is when I started really getting scared. On top of that, Bud was talking with me. Oh, how I loath him!

March 9
Had a real rowdy row with dad. Got my Mariner uniform and some black heels. Went baby sitting at “M”. Don and David were real sweet. We had a tea party with a cough drop mixed with water. Got 3 dollars and was there till 12:00

March 10
Went to church in my uniform. Didn’t do any homework. Bought some film and took a few pictures.

March 11
Hal met me at English and we walked to PE together. I had the Home Nursing Test. Some kids in the later test got to study cause Jan stole a test in 1st period. I think I flunked. We have reports to do in geography. I picked Britain. Got a C+ in Algi test. Had a meeting for Festival Day. Saw Hal at baseball practice when I was on my way home. Worked on my project straight thru. took a shower and washed my hair. Tina phoned. She wants me to chaperone her on a date!! ha! ha!  I feel wonderfully content, right now!

March 12
Hal walked me to my locker and to PE and to 6th period. Wore my Mariner uniform. A boy said to me when I said “Excuse me” (he was in front of my locker) “Oh, sure...I didn’t know you were still selling cookies!”  Cracks bad and good all day!  Went to First Aid. Left my specs. Boy, I’m getting to really like Hal a lot!!

March 13
Didn’t see Hal in the morning. Later, he told me he had stayed home to finish a report. He walked me to Eberts and Algi. Test tomorrow in Algi. I think I understand it now...Went to music lessons. Did pretty good. In homemaking we did a grooming chart. I am going to work on ”me” a little... Took some more pictures.

March 14
Tina and I were doing her math at the balcony. I saw Hal. We walked to PE together. I waited and waited for him after PE but he never showed. Saw him and talked to him before and after lunch. He walked me to Algi. We had a test and I think I did pretty good. I just couldn’t get 3 problems. Did my nails and washed my hair and took a shower. Went up to Tina’s.

Pat was here when I got back. Talked to him. Poor Pat, I secretly think that he will always like me deep down inside of him...

March 15
Hal walked me to Algi. Got a B- I the test. I finally got Tina to go to the part but I regret it now. Poor John, he really looked unhappy. Burton Abbott was ‘jabbered” about all day. “A moment of silence for Burton Abbott”. We had a discussion about him at dinner.

I really had fun at the party. Hal’s so sweet and I like him so much... I sat in his lap practically all the time!  WOW!

March 16
Mom worked today so I did some work. Tina and I went to Hillsdale and I got some material and a record. We saw Dennis and Roger and another guy and talked to them. Bud phoned. A buddy of him, Jerry, a Marine, wants to take me out. Mike asked me to Davidson’s party. I went but I regret it now. I just couldn’t make out with him, I kept thinking about Hal and how I couldn’t stand to lose him!  Poor Mike. I guess I wasn’t very nice to him.

Deedee’s party was a riot. All the plans were perfect tho...

March 17
Went to church with Tina. Read “Especially Father” some more and Tina came up and we played records. I looked for some English history but it was nil.  Otherwise did nothing, washed pots and emptied dishwasher.

I am sure that Hal won’t be any different. I know he won’t hold my hand or put his arm around me, oh I wish with all my might he would cause I like him so... That boy asked Tina to the Senior Ball!  She will get a new gown and accessories if she goes.

March 18
Steve, Tom, Leach, and the others got in trouble with the cops again. Cops caught about 20 guys over the weekend. Guys got in dutch for parking their cars on Chula Vista.

Had swimming. My hair didn’t get too wet and the curl stayed in. Hal insists on not doing his work. He thinks that now he’s a senior he doesn’t have to work. Frosh Board. I was really feeling sorry for myself later today. Hal never takes me to school or home, never phones, kisses me or holds my hand, takes me anywhere, all he ever does is walk me to classes. I cut out my dress in 30 minutes.

March 19
Swimming was easier today. Still sunny weather. Did good in typing because felt wonderful all day. Went to meeting but only Jerri Joyce was there. We watched track for awhile then I walked home. Went to 1st aid. Was grouchy as soon as I got into this goddam house but when I left it was better!!

I’m hoping Hal will ask me to the senior ball...but I don’t think he will.

March 20
We had free swimming today. I got an A in English, C+ in home making, B+ in typing, A in geography, C+ in algi. Hal is positively making me sick and tired!!  Went to music lesions. Cleaned up the kitchen and washed the pots. I hate algi. I simply don’t understand it! I sewed on my dress for 35 min. That boy phoned and wants me to go to the show. I just might go too. Hal never asks me anywhere!! Well must study for geog test. By the way, I didn’t include a history in my report.

March 21
Got a B in PE  Decided not to go out with Ron but I really want to because I’m sure I’d have fun. Hal makes me sick. He explained my algi to me so maybe I’ll do better in the test. I stayed after school for another non-existent meeting but watched frosh-soph game instead. Went to Mariners. Ann Vincent makes me sick. She thinks she is just “it” (she works so hard!)  I will get my senior and mariner pins at the court of honor. Ron phoned and we talked awhile.

March 22
I was real snotty to Hal this morning. But at Algi I was just as “sweet” as ever!  He irks me sometimes. Gary is really mad at me!... Test in algi and I did bad again, darn it. I read the most heartbreaking story ever. Called “Tiger Roan” I cried buckets and I was sobbing my heart out at the end!!  It was another story about a “bucking” bronco at a rodeo.

Tina and I went to the band-o-rama. Boy was it wonderful. Elliot was so darling as one of the German band!!

March 23
Swimming at 8:00  Tough man!  Dad made Tina and me go on the paper drive with him. After lunch I went to Tina’s. We splurged on film and I got real tan (back) or sunburned?  We went to see “Battle Hymn” and “Three Desperate People” at the Carlos. Had tons of fun with the girls and made tons of noise too!  I really miss Hal but I’m getting to loathe him too!  All he ever does is smile and I’m getting to just hate it!!

March 24
Went to work on the boat but we couldn’t find it. Found it at 1-1/2 hours late. Bob came too. Spent most of the day doing nothing but get sunburned and sick. Watched a movie called “Crash Dive”. Very good.

March 25
I was sick so I didn’t go to school. I really ache now, from lying in bed all day. Mom got a deep fryer. I read some True Love mags., listened to radio. No one phoned!!!


March 25, 1957

Dearest Mumsi & Pop:-

First of all let me assure you that the reports of our demise have been slightly exaggerated, and the reason you have not heard from me is not because the earthquake swallowed up all of San Francisco and the peninsula, but for the simple fact that your darling daughter has not found any time to settle down to a cozy chat via the typewriter. Isn’t it awful? Gosh, I meant to drop you a card to let you know we are all okay, and there IS a letter here that Cammie wrote but which I forgot to mail. She told me “Never mind now, it’s all stale news now”, but I’ll mail it anyhow.

Well, I ought to start someplace so I’ll go over your letter first and try to answer all your big and little “????”s. No, I don’t always have to take the girls, but you know how much I enjoy the kids, and they like me, too, so why not. Somebody has to. I want very much for Cammie to be with girls her own age, nice girls like that, and would do a great deal to make it possible. I’ve seen too many nice kids turn bad because nobody took the trouble to do things with and for them. If you don’t keep them busy and happy goodness knows what mischief they get into, hanging around movies and snack bars and going about with the wrong crowd. I want her to have fun and have things to do, and belonging to the Mariners and working on the boat is good clean wholesome fun. I took them again this past Sunday, even Bob, to help with the painting and cleaning up.

About vacation, well, I don’t know. I will get only one week with pay, and I’ll have to take the other, but I still want to keep on working, so I couldn’t very well come out for the summer much as I’d like to. Ruby will be pretty busy planning to build their new house, hasn’t she talked about that yet? Anyway, I haven’t made any plans at all yet.

Yes, and what about those books? You mean I have to come all the way to New Jersey to read them again?

I don’t want a new car, the old one is good enough to take me to work, and when we go out or I want to put on the Ritz I can always drive our little Doodle-Bug. She’s pretty.

No, Jere will never change, and anyway, in his profession there is always more demand than supply, and he can get what he wants anytime. (Darn it)

Spaaren, sagt sie. Hah!  Da muss der Gaul lachen. I couldn’t save two cents, for some reason or other there is always a use for money. But it will be better in another year, when those big mortgage payments will be off and we’ll only have the 75 a month for the house. You’d be surprised how much it costs to have a kid in high school, it’s a dollar here, and five dollars there. But I don’t mind, I’m glad I have it to give, and next term it will be Bob’s turn.

You know Mumsi, it was the nicest feeling to go out for a party dress for Deedee, and for once in my life, we looked at the dress first and then at the price tag. I wanted the prettiest, fluffiest party dress I could find, and we got it. An adorable pink nylon, with an overskirt embroidered with little flowers. I also saw a sister dress, in white nylon with velvet bands on it for Deedee and Penny to wear at Easter. And I bought Penny a little shortie coat for Easter. Now all we have to get is shoes for Penny, Deedee had gotten black patent leather party shoes, so she used your five dollars to buy a bathing suit and cap. She’s taking swimming lessons every Saturday for the next eight weeks, and needed it. You know, our kids are awfully good that way, they never waste their money, but always buy something they need or want to wear. Bob had wanted a Rock and Roll coat (the very latest the boys are wearing) and he saved eight dollars from his allowance and we put in the difference. He had brought home such a good report card we said he could have anything he wanted and that’s what he wanted. But he did put in his share. Cammie, she made the honor roll for the second time, and we’re so proud of her, she wants a record player, and just as soon as she can supply a part of it, we’ll make up the difference and get it for her.

Boy yes, we had a birthday party, too, and wasn’t the joint jumping. j Wouldn’t surprise me none if it caused that earthquake. Fourteen youngsters, seven boys and seven girls, oh brother. But it must have been a huge success, every time I see one of those kids their eyes light up and they tell me what a “WONDERFUL” time they had. Best birthday party ever. I ordered a cake from the bakery and they took over the den, yes they had fun.

Honey Lamb, it’s getting awfully late, I think I’ll send this off as the first installment and write tomorrow night and tell you all about the earthquake, etc. etc. etc. Okay?

Meantime love to you both

(signed) your loving daughter


March 26
I was sick again today. Very boring!  Fiddled around with homework. Hal phoned!! He asked me to the Sweet Heart Ball!! W We talked for quite a while too.

March 27
Went to school. Scads of work to make up. Wow! Mom talked to Mrs. Cole today at work. She told her that Hal wanted to take me to the Senior Ball cause he likes me, BUT that seniors aren’t supposed to take freshmen!!!  boohoo, and I wanted to go real bad!!

March 28
Did very well in English “editorial.” Horrible in swimming, tho a beautiful day. Turned windy and cost around noon. Algi test tomorrow! I’m keeping my fingers crossed!! Went to Mariners. Sat. I am coming down with the boat at 10:00. That means I must leave at 9:30 SHARP. We did knots and I passed square knot, bowline, and sheep (something or other). I love knots. I now have 38 pts.

March 29
It seems every time I see or talk to Hal I completely forget all my troubles!!  Tina was dreadfully sick with cramps today!  Hal isn’t going to take me to the senior ball!!!!  I HEARD him say it... I really feel bad about that. I was goofing off and I broke Mac’s pencil, boy that made me feel bad too. Tina and I stayed to watch track and the Science Fair. It was raining!!  Went to Hillsdale and got bra, petticoat, nylons, pattern ($12.00)

March 30
Didn’t go on boat cruise!  Bought material. Went to dance with Hal at 8:30. Man, it wasn’t at all like I expected!!  Hal danced real close and put his arms around me and stuff... What fun I had!!  He got real tired around 12:00 tho. After the first dance I wasn’t nervous or scared any more... We went to PeeWee’s [pizza] afterwards.

March 31
Did the bookcases. Mom and Dad had a fight. Bob, Mom and me went to the show to see “[The Incredible] Shrinking man” and “Kelly and Me” I didn’t like them very much. Didn’t get much homework done.  Saw “Cinderella” on T.V. starring Julie Andrews. Very good.

April 1
Book reports!  Pretty good, I did... Hal made me mad!  Tina and I got together at lunch!!  Hal also made me mad at 6th. Test in geog. I did surprisingly well!! I paid Hal back after school (Board Meeting)  I took his physics book and wouldn’t give it back and I held him up too!!!  Got a letter from Jackie. Feel unhappy and I’m worried about Hal. Ginnie told me today he went out with a “Phyllis” last Fri. I’m scared to death!!

April 2
What a day!!!!  I got a C in Algi. Hal played a game but we didn’t go cause Teen forgot to ask her father. Teen and I went Bike riding. After dinner we went again. We stopped at Peekies and that stupid Judy took Teen’s bike and rode off. At 7:00 I finally had to leave her to go to red cross. I got 95 in the test. Watched DuPont Theater.

April 3
Beautiful, hot day!!  I was slightly uneasy all morning but in the afternoon I got real nice, calm, cheerful. HAL ASKED ME TO ONE-NITE!  Boy, was I surprised! It didn’t hit me right away. He said, “Would you like to go out with me on the 13th?”

Teen and I went bike riding. I fell down in some dumb gravel and got all racked up!!! We went at 7:00 too. Mrs. McCain asked me to come Fri instead. I sewed on my dress, took a shower.

April 4
I didn’t start ‘sam’. I wonder why?  Hal and I got along fine today, it was another beautiful day. We recorded “Red Chief” in English today. Eberts gave us another LONG assignment sheet. WOW, Eberts and her geog.!!!

Went to Mariners. We elected Bosons and coxswains. I don’t like the crew I’m in. I get the feeling they don’t want me and don’t like me... I might be able to take a ‘water safety aid’ course. Wonderful, then I won’t have to be a library or program aid!!

April 5
I still haven’t started my period. I was really worried about swimming. What will I do when I do start? Boy was I made at Tina. She wouldn’t go to the game with me, her and her excuses!!  Polly and I went to the game. Hal did pretty good. I bet he would have done lots better if I hadn’t been there. He was so embarrassed!!

Went to Hillsdale. Was up till 9:45. Wow, how grouchy!!  Getting ready for Asilomar.

April 6
I got the bus at 7:00. We arrived about 10 to 10 and were early. Tho it was very cold and windy the beach was wonderful, the water was green!  We heard a speech and had lunch on the beach and went to discussion groups. I was loving every minute!! In our free time Sally, Bonny, and I went running along the beach. They had ‘tons’ of food. We had loads of fun at night. (There were some army men hanging around the lodge)  We exchanged notes thru a crack in our wall (Rose and Dee were next door.

Babs the Barge woke us all up at 6:00 and that why we call her “barge”. We were really mad boy, we made up a song about her. After lunch we left at 2:30 about.

Awards assembly today. I didn’t see Hal until 7th. I went to hear the Marine Band. Man were they good!!  Polly convinced me to go to the baseball game but it turned out there wasn’t one! Poor Paul!  I stayed for girls baseball but I found out later there wasn’t class V. When Mom picked me up we went to see Mr. DiPaolo. But we didn’t talk much about Deedee (of course I’m his apple [of his eye]). Tina and I went riding. The time of year is coming when I hate school and want to get out!

Tues, April 9
R. again today. I only see Hal about twice a day and I’m worried too... Polly and I went to see the game. I talked with Hal a lot. He was still embarrassed but played pretty good at times but others ‘no’. Went to Red Cross. I don’t know how, but we all managed to pass bandages and get our cards.

Took a shower and washed my hair (gat a wonderful book at C. library called “Lost Queen of Egypt”)

I decided, against my better judgment, to go swimming today, and I started again!  Saw Hal ever class today. Except 3rd of course! I was tardy for PE and swimming. Hal asked me to go to the show with him next Thurs with Normie and Polly. Stupid Camille told him Polly didn’t like Normy but after I told her I found out different!!  I mustn’t forget to tell Hal tomorrow!!!

My book is turning out pretty good...

April 11
went swimming. Perfectly safe!  Normie didn’t believe Hal!!  For English we had to write a poem. Mine is included. I didn’t do any geog. Pooh; if I get an F!!

Went to Mariners. Court of Awards next Mon. night at 6:30, 7:30 for guests. I must bring cookies and equipment for skit. What fun!

Mr. Goldman liked my poem. There were several other nice ones too. Started sewing my blouse. Got a C- in algi test. Polly and I were going to Burlingame for baseball but she couldn’t go. Hal is going to pick me up at 6:30. Stayed after school for Festival Day Committee. I am on sewing and skit groups. At last vacation and Senior Ball tomorrow night. Went to Hillsdale. Got pictures. Laid away ‘darling’ suit. Got purse, earrings, NO SHOES. Pearl is going to see about a job for me in San Carlos.

Sat. April 13
Bob painted him room PINK!

Hal picked me up at 6:45 and we went to Tom’s. With him and another couple we went to dinner. I’ve never seen a person eat so much as him!  We didn’t get to the dance until 10:00. Real nice. Hal went to sleep on me for a couple minutes near 12:00!  We had our picture taken!!  It was raining. We finally got to Jint’s house and there we ate again!  (Normie is taking Polly to the show Thurs.)  He kissed me!!!! Didn’t get home till 2:45!

Really t-i-r-e-d today!  Wonder why?  Took a shower. Took a sun bath and read some Life Saving. Still got about 200 pgs to go. Tina came up and we went for a ride and talked. Pat and Ray came over and we played records. Pat gives me a pain sometimes!  Drew pictures. Must WORK this week, pooh!! Nit-i-nite


Well, instead of hunting around for a florist Saturday, or even busily putting my nose to the grindstone to make the money to buy that gardenia for you I spent sitting around the doctor’s office in the dark, while he took pretty x-ray pictures of my insides. For the past two weeks I’ve had the darndest funny pain in my stomach right under the breastbone so I made an appointment to see the doctor, gave him all my symptoms and little aches and pains and past history and he thought it might be an ulcer. So next step was the radiologist for x-rays and so on. Went back yesterday to get the findings and the findings kind of floored me. I was all set for ulcer and had been going easy on my diet and practically lived on milk and cottage cheese and what he tells me I have is gallstones. Gallstones yet. Next Saturday I’m scheduled for further x-rays for him to study and pore over an then he will tell me whether medication will do the trick or what have you. Whathaveyou meaning an operation. Honest to Pete! Well, anyway Jere was a little relieved, I think he felt if I had an ulcer, the life I lead would have a lot to do with it, and this relieves his conscience, I can’t blame a gallstone on him (not that I would have blamed an ulcer on him either). I haven’t written you before because I didn’t feel too hot, and there was no sense worrying you about something I wasn’t even sure yet. And by going to the doctor early enough, it isn’t serious at all. On top of it all Jere quit his job and is now working as a sales representative for electronic equipment. It keeps him busy and humming and he has no time to sit around and look for trouble. And as he gets more integrated in his job it will keep him even busier. He might even make more money one of these days, but right now it’s pretty much touch and go, even though he is on a salary basis, rather than on commissions. It hasn’t been too easy on me, because he expects me to be a sort of silent partner, the man he works for wanted to meet me and make sure I approve of this radical change in his profession. It really was funny. Jere called me and wanted to know if I would go out to dinner with him at eight thirty. So I put on my best bib and tucker borrowed Ann’s good little jacket and we went forth. We had a very interesting evening, even though Jere kind of puzzled me by saying I shouldn’t mention my job. Seems they were offering less than he is making now and he wanted me to be the one to hold out for more by insisting I couldn’t make out what they offered. Anyway, nine o’clock came and went before she finally went out to make some coffee and that’s what we had. Coffee and cake. And our stomachs were growling for food by then. I’d catch his eye and sort of giggle, anyway, we broke away by eleven and hunted up a hamburger stand. With fifty cents between us! Laugh, honest, I haven’t had so much fun in ages. I kept insisting he must have misunderstood and they said “Come over after dinner” and he insisted there was nothing wrong with his ears and they had said “Come up for dinner”. Oh well, I’ll let you know what the doctor says as soon as I know. So be patient with me in the meantime, and remember my mind is not exactly at ease either.

Bye for now, and best love to you both.



M. Simmons phoned and told me I had to go on a bike ride or else I couldn’t get my senior pin, so Marcie, Joann, and I, after many trials and tribulations fed him a piece of hotdog, water, and a five cent ice cream. Got home at 2:00 and decided to go to MA vs. Carlmont game tomorrow. Mom talked to Hal’s mom today!  At 6:30 went to court of awards. We finally got started. Everyone was nervous and goofed terribly but I eventually got my senior and mariner pins. Our skit turned out pretty good. I got pics at Farmers Market. All turned out good except ones of me.

April 16
We didn’t go to MA. Tina’s father wouldn’t let her. Marcie’s mother took us at 1:00. We lost 7 to 2. Our team didn’t decide to play until the last inning!!  Man was Hal surprised to see me. We walked 3 miles to Redwood City to get a phone!! Hal phoned me at 7:00. We talked til 8:00. John wants to meet Marci!! Hal bet me a coke he won’t strike out tomorrow. If he does he pays me a coke for every one!!  (I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. He told me about going to the beach yesterday!  What fun!

Left at 10:35 with Tina and got to the park at 11:00. Hal struck out only once! We went to Foster’s for lunch. It was very windy all day. We won the game and at 1:00 it started to ‘pour’ rain, all of a sudden. Tina and I got sopping wet going home. ‘Everybody’ saw us too!! I went to music lessons and did horrible!  Must practice this week!!!  I baby sat for Ann for an hour and watched Disneyland. Watched Navy Log too. I really wished Hal would phone, but no...!

Mom was ‘spittin’ mad when she got home, tho I did do a lot of work!  Hal picked me up at 7:00. Polly and Normie didn’t come cause Norm is mad at her... Darn!  I had a wonderful time with “The Rainmaker” with K.. Hepburn as her usual ‘woman’! and “Attack on For Petticoat” which was exactly like a story I read in Colliers. It was freezing but Hal kept me “REAL” warm !!!  Tomorrow at 1:00 we’re going over to Polly’s.

Penny was very bad today!  So was Diane!  Tho I got a lot accomplished, I, also, was bad. Hal came for me at 1:00 and I acted like a stupid, spoiled, baby!!! I feel very bad about it, so very guilty, why couldn’t Hal have gotten mad at me and hurt me?  I’m such a fool!!

We had “Farmer’s Market” Chinese food. Very good. Went babysitting for Van Lindens. I had a very enjoyable time plus getting 3 dollars! I HATE myself!!!! Dam-it-all!!!!!

Still feel very bad about yesterday... Went to Lifesaving and tho it was raining we still went swimming for awhile. I slept for a long while after working on my dress. I was very unhappy to discover mother doesn’t intend to move in with Dad!!!  There goes my room!

Went to the show with Mom, Bob, Bill, and Danny. Positively hated “Crab Monsters Attack” but I really enjoyed “Not from This World”. I didn’t want to go in the first place because science fiction movies always scare me to death, but this one was funny, scary, and just plain good!!

April 21, a sunny Easter Sun.
I wasn’t able to get my suit or hat and altho I worked on my dress, it was a very large ‘fit’. Boy was I mad!!  All that work... Still feel bad, and worried about Hal. Well, I hope to see him tomorrow! Only Deedee went to church. I took a shower and washed my hair. Did my algi. I really like it, this kind anyway!

My head aches and I feel very very bad!!! I must remember to write grandma...

Hal wasn’t mad at all!!  My hair looked horrible!  I went to Frosh Board. Got a pattern and worked on dress almost 3 hr. Spent last 30-15 min. basting the damn thing on backwards!!  How maddening!!!!  Most read my poetry.

Hal wasn’t here today. I really missed him. Polly still hoping on Norm. Did very well on home making test!  Went to Jobs.  Was in choir, I did everything wrong!!! Ate 4 cookies and a glass of punch. Horrors, my diet! Might ask Hal to Rainbow dance. Mom brought the Nash and we had ‘8’ people in it. (Mom, me, Teen, Peggy, Jean, Shirley, Bernice, and Chrissy. 5 in front and 3 in back!  WOW!!! What fun!

Hal and I and Norm and Polly might go to the Rainbow Dance  Oh how I like him!!!!!!! Algi test. I think I did ok. Music lessons. West to open house. No Hal!!  Very good tho. Saw Bud. My God, how he’s changed! From bad to ‘much’ worse!! Well, not really...

Hal went to the library to do his term report so Polly and I made plans and talked. I have a feeling they won’t work tho. Went to Mariners. We got out early and were talking to a few Sea Scouts. I, one in particular. Hal, please get on the ball, my eye is roaming, but I like you and don’t want to lose you, so please, oh, please, get on the ball!  What would I do???  I’m just a stupid baby (flirt) Oh!!!  Oh, shoot, why do I have to like boys??

I was in a very unusual unhappy mood today. I think Hal suspected it too cause he waited for me after swimming. Polly and I went to the game and then made our selves dinner and went to the show. We couldn’t get mom on the phone so we had to go to San Carlos show. it was too late for Petah to phone Hal and Normie so we had a ‘crappy’ time. Polly isn’t sure whether she likes Norm. Oh, next Sat, what will you bring? a whole week away too!!

Woke up at 8:30 so no swimming. Went to Regatta at 11:00 and worked til four!  Wow. We washed all the dishes too. I saw Sam Burk again. Met this other guy who’s from ‘cross the bay. He invited us to go on his boat (biggest one!) tomorrow. Went to dance at 8:15 and danced with Sam a (doll!!) bunch and one (bunny hop, oh my aching feet!) with Ron Collins and all the rest with Steve Halgrimson. Oh, I had a ‘wonderful time, but Sally is just crazy about him and she was crying!  I felt bad about it but I couldn’t feel too bad cause I really do like him and I had so much fun!!  ?Will go tomorrow.

Worked on the boat from 15 to 11 till 12:00 then we went to ‘Regatta’. Belmont won five 1st places and the regatta!!!  When the ‘Monster’ pulled out, she forgot her oars so she had to come back. Sam waved to me... Sally and Babs told me about a beach party they would have in celebration. They told them they were going to invite us instead of Belmont Mariners. So I went home and hoped and was happy but NO they didn’t!!!  It was plum mean just DAMM hot today too.

Hal had a ball Sat, too, I found out. So I don’t feel bad about giving him a ‘brush’. Went to F.D. meeting. Sally told me that Steve told her that because of high tide they couldn’t have a shell bank party Sat but will have one next week and invite us. WONDERFUL!!!  Finished my home project and went to Hillsdale and got my suit, zipper, and peddle pushers. Tried on a darling semiformal dress. WOW!  A highway might be built thru the canyon!!  Oh, gad!!!

Had a back ache this morning but by 8:00 pm I was in agony with every movement!!  Ditched Hal today... Almost didn’t make it through the day with B.A. Miss Nagai said I had a very good SIDE STROKE but needed more leg power.

Stayed home today and WOW WOW!! could hardly move. Read “The Way West” very good. Going to the doctor tomorrow.

Went to Dr. Pryor. I have a muscular ‘rheumatism’ or something. Went to Ann’s for awhile. Went to open house at Cipriani, even tho I felt rotten!! It was Pearl’s birthday so her and mom and I went to Anne’s and had a party and gabbed till 10:30. Wow, am I beat. (and when I should be getting ‘extra’ sleep too!!)

Didn’t feel too well today. Tons of home work to make up!!  (Polly was real sick)  At 8:00 Hal, Pol, and Norm and I went miniature golfing and then over to Polly’s When Petah came (brought Gloria) we drove around for awhile. I had a horrible time but Polly did!, didn’t get home til 12:00, tho I kept telling them I had swimming tomorrow. Oh my aching ‘sleep muscles!!!

Sat., May 4
Went swimming. We had demonstration with small craft. Went on mystery trip in Mr. Hillpish’s pick-up truck. What a ball!  Went to S.F. aquarium and museum and tea gardens. Went to Young’s with Polly. Tony, Phyllis, and two other boys. Had nice time, but water is sooo shallow!!!  Watched “Men of Annapolis” and Last of Wyatt Erp.

Ironed a lot today and did my report. Took shower and washed my hair. Dad acted like a spoiled child all day. I made a cake. Forgot to go to Jobs. Watched “Touch of Venus” with Ava Gardner. Very cute!! Got to bed at 11:00!!! and me and my low blood pressure! oh, my achin’ sleep buds. Had Stevey for awhile too...

Cot a C on the other English test. I like tennis. Got a book called “My true love waits”. Saw Hal. Went to F.D. Com Meeting. Went to Hillsdale with Anne and got some shoes. Man, I wish I were rich and could buy anything I wanted!!!

(Polly likes Normie!)  Yea!!!

Just think only 5 weeks left of school and report cards tomorrow.

Hal was watching me play tennis!! I can’t play at all either! Saw Steve. Worked on Tina’s map after school. What a mess. She is rinsing her hair tonight.

Got a B in English, B- in PE, B in Sewing, A- in typing, B+ in geog. and C in Algi. Forgot my lunch money so did without lunch. Tina and I worked on her map in the morning. Saw Steve!  Hal asked me to a beach party. If Normie asks Polly I might go. Went to skit committee meeting. What-some-a-callit wants everyone to do what he wants. Hal’s mom took the picture to work and mom saw it!  Rats!! Finished “Ann Laurence of Old New York” Very good. It rained. I went to music lessons.

Dad wouldn’t eat breakfast with me so he starved! Courts were wet so we practiced our swing and reviewed rules. I love tennis. Because of Mother’s Day the boys postponed party till next Sun. Thank goodness!  Finished “West Pt. Pete” Very good. Went to Mariners. We moved boat over and “shot” it on land so we could paint it Sat. We need lots of equipment for our cruise. I’m getting fire extinguishers. Sally, Bon, and I are going to be first aiders for an overnight on June 1.

Played Tennis. Still love it and still can’t play it. Did nothing in typing. Finished “Sue Barton, Student Nurse”. Like it too... Got “Cross My Heart” from Tina. Went baby sitting and Mrs. Wishers. Juli and Robin were talking and I gathered that their household isn’t all ‘peaches and cream’ either. She almost ran out on them!!  I read a lot of the book.

Dad and I had a fight this morning but he got the extinguishers for me this afternoon.

We’ll start testing next week!!! Wowi!!! Worked on the boat from 10:30 til 2:00, 7pts. Sam was there too, and others. It was raining off and on all the time so it made painting difficult. Dot’s husband Tom was a big help. Ann deserted Sally there, then had the nerve to phone and ask her to bring home the sandal which she had forgotten also!!! What a nerve.

Ate candy and other junk all day. Gads. Decided to ‘glamorize’ myself and wear my glasses... Did most of my homework, geog. Fixed my dress but it needs washing, looks ‘dingy’.

Mr. Goldman was about to give us a test today! We played volleyball in gym and senior boys were there also. Almost finished my blouse. Got our driver’s training books and Eberts said she would give us a ‘real hard’ quiz every day! Substitute in algi, a real nutty old ‘bag’. Festival Day meeting. Read “Emily of Deep Valley”. Real good. It rained.

May 14
Test in English. I didn’t do too well tho. We played volleyball in the gym again. Almost finished my blouse. I got 100% in the driver’s test. It was easy. Caught on to the algi too I think. No one showed for skit meeting so Mrs. Sanders took me home. West to Jobs. Tina’s and my robes had disappeared!!  I might enter a contest for a theme on “Sharing is the Crowning Glory” or something...?  Got my picture and five tickets to a ‘tea’. Hal asked me to go ice skating this weekend.

I got a C in the last test and was I ever mad. I’m not going to study any of those tests any more. Played a fairly good game of tennis with Midge. Almost finished my blouse. I was racing down the hall to catch Tina when something fell out of my purse. Before I noticed it, I had stepped on them “My glasses”!! Wow I got another A in geog. 1 wrong. Went to music lessons and practiced “ens” before and after dinner. Tried to write some of Jobs theme. Ann came over for awhile after school. Bob went to Sea Scouts (with Bill) and both liked it a lot.

May 17, Thurs.
Did very bad in the test. My right wrist is weak and that makes tennis hard. Mom said she’ll get me a wrist guard. Washed dishes. Went to Mariners. We got a lot of stuff from our boat but still need a lot. We might go in August tho.

Took a shower.

Got an F in English. Saw Mr. Worthington during 2nd. Decided to take bookkeeping ‘stead of geometry. Made only 3 errors in typing. Missed one in geog. Did all the problems in algi test. Was really surprised when Bob brought Steve to the skit meeting. We had a ball, tho I was really embarrassed with Steve there an’ all... Rob is going to make up a part for me. Diane gave me a lift home. She’s still cute. Stayed home...

Swimming, Didn’t do very well. “Swimming in the rain”.. Went bowling. Got a tremendous ‘40’ compared to Pat’s 150. I quit. Got my hair cut. Ate like a pig. Mom and dad make me sick. Every time I do something, it’s wrong!! She made me wash dishes twice today, just to ‘punish’ me but she wouldn’t tell me ‘why’?  Damm. washed my hair and wrote Jack.

Was really mad at everyone so when Marci phoned and invited me to board a ship in Redwood City I went. It was a Navy ship “currier”. They had been yesterday. Barb liked a cute one named Jimmy Bennett. Marci one named Jack. Al gave me a tie. Real nice. I lost them once and a southerner name of Orville Young took me over. I’ll never, ever forget him. I really fell hard!  We talked for ages but he was called below. I gave my address to 2 guys. I hope they write but I doubt it.

Mon, May 21
Festival week was postponed due to the rain. Deedee left for camp. Skit committee meet but nothing came about. walked the “ways” in mud and raid. Tina Ann Mom and I went skating. What a, I say, what a ball!  I love skating. Lenkurk's party! One guy asked me if I worked there and then asked me if I was a senior or a junior!!  Compliments?  Next week Tina and I will try our luck at ice skating... Hal, Margo were there too

Today was nice and sunny, only missed 3 in Orient. altho I didn’t read it. Had a rally. Very good. Quite a mob outside the closed doors. I got an A in Algebra. 100% correct. I was so surprised!!  I got a letter from Clay!  Another surprise. I wrote him back then tore open the envelope and wrote him again. I just couldn’t make my mind up!!!  Mom and dad went out to dinner with the Daltons. Thinking of Orville.

Mom went to a night club last night. I passed the tennis test. Barbara wrote to Jimmy and Marci to Jack (or someone). They went wild about my letter. I got 100 in geog test. West to Polly’s after dinner and Bob and Bill went to Sea Scouts. Almost half thru with “Yearling”. Really like it. Polly and I had a ball!! Had to come home and wash dishes tho cause mom waited til 10:00 for Bob!!!!  Mom has to have an operation for her gallstones in July!! Ruby came up and showed us the plans for the house. I wrote Clay’s letter over again (three times all count) but finally sent it.

May 24
We had a good assembly lasted two hours. Then we had PE for 1-1/2 hours. Wowie!!  Skit committee met. I’m to be a “French girl” who does all the extra!!  Raspberry asked Hal to a Jobs Instal. dance!! I’ll prob. ask Steve-o. Mariners hardly anyone there!! We’re prob. go on our cruise in August but Bel. boys aren’t going with us. They’ll go to Santa Cruz!  Darn!! Barb. sent her letter. Got motor for dish washer! No more washing dishes, at last!!!

Polly and I went ice skating. What a ball!!  I was pretty good too. I fell down so many times that my hands were ‘really’ swollen. It was cold to!! I met a real nice guy from San Mateo. Sam was there. I skated with him a bit. A guy from MA junior college got my phone num. Stayed overnight with Polly. ‘Everyone’ was there!!!!

Sat. May 26
Did pretty good in tests. He gave us some real hard questions we must turn into Mr. Thornoe by Wed. Went to work on the boat took Polly. Sam and Steve were there. Got covered with paint and had to go to Steve’s that way!!  But I had fun anyway. We accomplished nothing tho... I really wish Steve would like me man!  Marty, Brenda, Johnny and Gary were the only ones there besides Steve and I. Sagers wanted me to go out with her, NO DICE!!!


May 27. 1957

Hello, Parents:---

I’m restless as a doodle-bug tonight--it’s been so doggoned hot again and I have no ambition to do anything, so I might as well sit here and see if I can turn out a decent letter, for a change.

Thanks a million, darling, for answering so quickly, it’s really more than I deserve.

Well, I’ve had my appointment with the doctor last week and the verdict is that I’m scheduled for an operation on July 12th. I’ve arranged for a leave of absence of five weeks, including the two weeks vacation in August. That should give me plenty time to get on my feet again. It’s really not so very bad, and incidentally, the doctor says they can’t dissolve a gallstone, that that is a popular fallacy, he says that people go along with a gallstone or two for years, but that eventually it will give trouble, and you get jaundice and pain and they don’t like to do emergency operations. They like to do it when a person is in good health, and I am in the pink of condition(?) right now. Oh, he gave me a long lecture on gallstones, and while he didn’t exactly twist my arm to have this operation now, the upshot is, do you want to live or don’t you. And I do. Anyway, with the group insurance from work it won’t cost me too awful much (I hope) and I will draw about forty dollars a week while I’m off work. Apparently it is something I’ve lived with for quite a long time, judging from the size of the stone in the x-ray, and I really am not a bit worried about it. Don’t worry about me, Angel, I’m fine, really I am, and this is as much a surprise to me as it is to you. And honestly, do I look like the kind of person who would have a nervous breakdown, do I? Going to work, well, it still is fun, and more relaxing to me than staying home. It lets me off the hook from so many things, from PTA to church right down to Jere. In case you haven’t heard, I declared my independence from the day I started to work. No more running errands, no more struggling to make the outgo match the income, all I do is worry about how to stretch my sixty-one bucks to cover food, cleaning, baby sitting, gas etc, etc. etc. and have enough left over to pay off Sears revolving charge account and the account at Hartfield’s for my clothes. That’s all, hah!  You know very well, dear, tht I don’t mind doing things for the kids, after all, that’s what I’m working for, so they can have a little extra, and it pleases me to see them all busy and active in things like Mariners, Jobs Daughters and Scouting. Now that Jere has the little car he’s taking quite a load off of me, by doing his share of ferrying them around. Matter of fact, he is the one who is insistent of my going to bed at ten, and no waiting for the kids to come out of the movies at eleven. He goes and picks them up. So really, I never had it so good. This gallstone thing is just one of those things that will happen in the best regulated families, at least it ain’t no ulcer. Which I’d really have minded.

Jere likes his new job very much, and something tells me I’m going to, too. Gee, he called me at work last week and said would I like to go to dinner. (Here we go again) and I said “Dinner? You’re sure you said DINNER?” and he said yes, someone would pick me up at six and we’d meet him down in San Francisco. Well, I rushed home and Cammie said to call Mrs. Dalton (the boss’s wife), I did and she said she’d be picking me up at five. Holy Cow, and here it was four thirty already. I jumped into my bubble bath, put up my hair, looked over my dresses and found I hadn’t a thing fit to wear, the last dinner, if you’ll pardon the expression, had left relish spots all over it and I hadn’t noticed it before I hung it away, so luckily Ann, bless her little heart, came to the rescue with a darling navy blue sheath dress, that fits me like I was poured into it, and which made me look like a million dollars. Cammie’s little white shell of a hat, Cammie’s black shoes, and isn’t it nice to have a daughter whose clothes you can wear?  And I was turned out looking like a lady about to go to dinner. We had a simply marvelous time, too. Turned out we were entertaining an out of town manufacturer. We were a party of six, so we really had a swell time. We went to a really swanky place down there in S.F. a nightclub with entertainment and all. Four Daiquiris and I’m floating lighter than thistle down, boy, it was fun. Came home at midnight but it was worth it. Last Friday I was supposed to go to another dinner, but begged off, I simply have to get me some clothes first, I can’t go around borrowing my friend’s clothes all the time, can I?  And now I wished I had gone, seems they wee giving Jere a birthday dinner, cake, card and all. Oh well. I didn’t know. You know it’s fun to have friends, the girls at work were all working hard gathering data on clothes I could borrow if I needed to, one offered a black velvet sheath dress, another her fur stole, and so on, so actually I could have quite a few changes if I want to. But gosh darn it, I want to buy some of my own. I do have that lovely Easter suit of mine, but you can’t wear a suit all the time. I went out tonight, window shopping so to speak, to see what there was, and believe me as soon as I can I’m really going to splurge. And I don’t mean any old little eight dollar number either. If I have to dress to fit the occasion, I’m going to buy good clothes. And that will be fun, after all these years.

Darling, I was reading your letter over, and you simply don’t understand. I’m not spoiling Cammie, but when they start going to high school they simply have got to have clothes and good times like the other kids, I’m not able to do nearly as much as I’d like, because after all, there are four to spread around. As it is now they get what they absolutely need and that’s all. That’s the reason I went to work, so we could send Deedee to camp, and buy shoes, always we buy shoes it seems. They all get their fair share, and not one of them feels that the other one gets more. I know when Bob goes to high school this fall we’ll be starting all over again, they wear different clothes, no more jeans, but ivy league pants, no more simple shirts but the really snappy ones the boys wear out here, and we started with a bang buying his graduation outfit. The kid really has good taste and likes to be a snappy dresser. Boy, wait till you see his picture. You know, Mom, you only had the two of us, but you must remember what it was like. I don’t want them to feel they have to go to work too soon. Already Cammie is talking of taking a job for the summer, and good God, she is only fifteen, time enough for that when it is necessary. I want them all to have good schooling, as much as they can take and make something of their lives. They don’t get spoiled by no means, but they should have what their contemporaries have without feeling they are left out of things. Bob is about ready to join the Sea Scouts now, and I’m very pleased about it. It will keep him out of trouble for a few more years.

As far as our debts are concerned, you knew this would go on for a few more years. It gets easier with each month. I don’t even think about it anymore, it just goes on and on, I guess.

Oh well, I rambled on enough for one night. Time to sign off. But put your mind at ease, sweetheart, everything will come out all right, sooner or later.

I’ll write again soon, so bye-bye for tonight,

and best love to you both

P.S. How about dropping a little line to Deedee, she’s anxiously awaiting a letter from you, or even a card will do.


Monday, May 28
I flunked the driver’s test. Missed 9!!!  Got C in Algi test

Had skit meeting after school. Had another at 5:00. Had a lot of fuN!! After everyone left, Bruce and another Bob wrote ‘60’ on the senior lawn with sand!!  We played football in the dark. It was fun tho I really wrecked Steve!! haha must finish questions. Ray Bozzo, Steve, Bob, and Bruce were left!!!

No school!  Fixed my skating skirt and made bloomers. Took Bob down some lunch at the Barge. Steve came up!!!  Oh, I was sooo surprise and happy...!  We talked for about an hour...Decided not to say home tomorrow.

Flunked English test. Saw Steve after 5th. God, I was shakin’ so much I could hardly talk!!!  Oh, I want him to like me...

Went skating. My foot still hurts. Tina came along. That guy didn’t come but about 10:00 two guys picked us up!!  Mine’s name was Ron Anderson, a junior at Sequoia, and hers named Bob. We had a coke and then they took us home. Oh, my achin’ conscience.

June 1
Left at 11:00  Waited at Bonny’s till the lady came. We went with a real nice family. The food was very good. The kids were brats, the  and the mountains were wonderful. Studied my algebra with Bon.

Was freezing last night and caught a horrible cold and slept very bad. Kids turned out to be ok. I life guarded them!!! Carved “CAMI + STEVE” in the bridge. No one phoned and we went to see Mrs. Sagers.

Started today and so did Teen. Didn’t dress in PE. Brought my lunch. Was late for school. Steve walked me to lunch. Saw him after 6th. Got an A on my blouse. Got 100% in drivers test. Final in algi on thurs. CGA meeting. Bob stole my F.D. Swiss hat. Boy was I mad!  Teen stayed overnight and we went to Hillsdale. Bob Peterson promised us a picture. That darn bus driver left us again!!

We forgot our lunch. Talked to Steve until the bell rang. He walked me to English, PE, Eberts. I had 3 ice creams for lunch!!  Lent Steve my test. Took a shower.

June 5
Steve put his arm around me!! About 3 people asked me if I like a guy named Gary Anderson(?). Goes to Sequoia. Was I shocked, never even heard of him!!! 8th graders came but I didn’t see them cause I was in home making. Tina stayed home with a cold. Got my Jobs robe...went to music lessons.

Steve asked me to go skating. Got my yearbook. Had algi test. Went to Jobs installation rehearsal. Dull as usual with Mrs. Aminack. Got home too late to wash my hair.

Went to the library during English. Always the mad dash to sign year books!!!  I signed Steve’s and he signed mine. Mrs. Abraham gave us the whole period to ‘fuss off”. I got into the 95 percentile. Number ten in a class of 33!!  Both Tina and I were really worried about our guys but Tina and Bob danced all night and he took her home. Steve had trouble at first but got going good. I had a fabulous time. I made Steve fall down a trillion times and he was soakin’ wet tho I fell down only once but got soakin wet anyway. Tina is staying over night...

Went down to the Barge and helped get our boat back into the water. It really looks nice. The Monster wasn’t back yet. I typed a letter for dad and then we all went miniature golfing. Bob, as usual, won, dad came in next, then me, then mom,  Penny was having a gay time. Afterward we had hot cocoa.

Mom and dad really went at it today!! and do I mean it!!  all day too... Deedee came home after lunch. Bob didn’t go over to Tina’s last night. Bob went to the Barge. Bill came home with him. Mr. P phoned up in late afternoon and asked us to come down. He needed help cause the calking had come out in one part of our boat and it was sinking!! We finally got it on land again. I went thru the Belmonster and the crash boat. Man is it a beaut!! Didn’t hear from Steve...

Only saw Steve in morning...?? Went to nurse 6th and 7th Forgot to stay after school for sewing. Went to Hillsdale. Tina went too. Fixed my pic.

Went to the Hobo party. Put red lipstick on my nose, found out it was indelible!! Goood entertainment.

Steve asked me to a beach party Sun. Said he might come to dance on Sat. Barb wants to go with us to the City on Sat. Washed my hair. Teen, Marsh, and I went to graduation. Quite similar to ours only we were more grown up. Stayed awhile for the dance.

Steve and I are getting quite tired of walking around the school!!  Had a substitute in geog. What a riot!!  Steve and I are really confused, now, about our dance. Jean invited me to go swimming with her, then she asked me if mom could take us and then assumed she would also pick us up!!  On top of that, she bought herself, Bernice a coke, but not me!!!  God I wasn’t mad or anything. Mr. DiPaolo FLUNKED a girl!! ....Saw Angi

Got a B in Eng., B in PE, B in homemaking, A in typing, C in Algi, b in geog. Polly and I walked to bowling ally, bowled, me t Steve, Bob Coleman, and others. Walked back to Polly’s and struggled up hill to Coleman’s house on top of the world!! Had a glorious time swimming and stuff. Went to graduation. What a rush too! It was windy and absolutely freezing. Steve and I couldn’t get a ride so we finally phoned his dad. We ended up at Larry Fry’s house and then Steve, Bob, Bruce Jim Bettencourt and the other girls went up to my house. Steve and I had lots of fun!  I was worried tho, cause he was supposed to be home at 10:30 but he didn’t get home til 12:00.

Woke up at 9:45 and had 15 min to get to Martha’s wedding. It was late of course! Afterwards they had a reception but it wasn’t over till 12:30. Polly, Marsh, Barb, and I finally got to Pier 45 (not the one we wanted) at 3:00. We had one hour. It was horrible too. Absolutely DEAD!!! Got home at 6:00 and rushed to get to Nesbit. What a mess. They forgot my chair!!! Steve couldn’t make it so I left early.!

Went to Bee Hollow with Steve. Polly was there too. It was cold and the water was freezing too!!  We had a wonderful time.


June 16, 1957

Hello, Darlings:-

Well!  It isn’t my birthday--?Christmas is a long way off, so how come I rate a package in the mail????? It was a lovely surprise and I do thank you for it, but how come???  It fits like a dream and both the dress and the coat is just darling, but again, HOW COME? Honestly, Mumsi, did you really think I had NOTHING to wear when I told you in my letter I had nothing to wear? I meant nothing truly suitable to wear out to dinner when you don’t know exactly where you’re going. I meant something sleek and check like a navy blue or black sheath dress, something really elegant like taffeta, oh you know something that looks at home at a cocktail bar or in a show or restaurant. And I shall have a dress like that one of these days without having to borrow it. Telling you about the girls at work was a joke and we all took it as a joke, I never meant to take them up on it. But thanks anyhow, you are a dear and I know you love me (and that’s the nicest thing about it).

You know, Mumsi, I wish now I hadn’t put that operation so far ahead, it kind of is always at the back of my mind, and though I’m not worried I still and all wish it were over with. Well, I go in on the twelfth of July and I won’t go back to work till the nineteenth of August, so that gives me plenty of time to get well. And if by that time I decide not to work anymore, well, I can always stay home. Everything is all arranged and you’re not to worry your little head about it. The kids and Jere can look out for themselves and believe it or not I have lots of friends that are willing and anxious and ready to stand by to see that I take it easy.

I’ve had a pretty bad cold again last week and I really was miserable from it, seems whenever my system is a little out of whack I get those stomach pains and the wheezy allergy again. So it probably is just as well to have it out. The weather is so screwy too, hot one day cold the next, and for the past week it’s been a real scorcher. Luckily our new plant is air conditioned and cool enough to make me want to wear a sweater, and then when I go outside at four-thirty it hits me like a blast from the furnace. And oh last Sunday, boy was it ever hot. I should have gone to the beach, Cammie did with her boy friend and she said it was downright cool there.

Well, Bob had his graduation and he, too, made the Award of Merit for Scholastic Growth, and was we ever proud, boy, our chest puffed out a mile. He was on the honor roll too, and so was Cammie, well, they may not be the best kids in the world, but they sure are smart!  Jere got Bob a television of his own for ten dollars, and very good looking piece of furniture if I do say so, and it works too. All he needs is an aerial to make him a completely happy boy. He sure does keep his room and his person nice, not at all like his sloppy mother.

Darling, I still have that pretty nightie you sent me a few years ago and I have a bed jacket and I got a new bathrobe so I really am all set and don’t need a thing. Thanks anyway.

No, Jere has no hospitalization right now since he changed jobs, but mine takes care of most of it. Yes, I found the stamps, didn’t you recognize them on your letters? Yes, I got the seeds, and planted some, I sure do love a green salad and borage makes it taste better. I’ve been putting the radish leaves in to give it a little tartness, and it works fine, but there’s nothing like borage.

Well, it’s getting late again so I’d better sign off for tonight.

Thanks a whole million for your lovely present, and you take care of yourself too.

Bye now, and best love to you both


Cleaned house but didn’t do a very good job on the kitchen. Very hot and house was quite stuffy!  Went skating with Marsha. Hal was there. Didn’t have any fun either... Two of Marsha’s friends took us home in their convert. very nice guys!!

Dad got everyone up at 6:30 to tell us, ”You are not to go anywhere after four o’clock in the afternoon without my permission” unquote!!  Gads! Cleaned kitchen. Robert and his friends wee pests and very bothersome. Stayed home all day!!! Practiced on Ruby’s grand and went for a short bike ride. Dad and I had another row. Went to meeting practice for Jobs. Got home at 10:30 Dear Mrs. Arminack, I just LOVE her!! Steve didn’t phone

Steve phoned. I made some fudge. Watched TV. Steve phoned again to say he couldn’t take me to the Y dance so I decided not to go anyway.

Took Penny up to Cipriani to practice roller skating.

Got up at *;00. Had house quite clean by 9:00 so spent rest of morning doing nothing. Marsha and Polly phoned. When Steve came over he and Bob and I played cards and Steve ended up winning about 8 cents. Then we watched Bob’s T.V. Polly walked up too!  My, Steve looks good in pink lipstick!!  We’re going out tomorrow night. I hope it’s to the show too!

Polly and I went to the Carlos and saw “Desk Set” and “[clung] Wall”. Desk Set with Katharine Hepburn was hilarious. Pete Sears is going to  China this summer. By boat yet!!

Fri [Steve and many hearts]
got a new dress!  Deedee did the kitchen today. I did nothing!!  I went swimming with her at Sandies. I had a BIG ONE with dad and mom. Decided I’ll just have to stop rebelling and learn to take it!!  Tho I know I’ll end up hatin’ dad... Walked half way to Carlmont, then Polly’s college soph. gave me a ride. Had a ball!  Before swimming we played in the gym and after swimming the dance was cancelled cause someone pushed Pam Wilsen and Bettencourt in the !!!  Darn it!  Just a beautiful night too!! Steve was really in dutch with his folks too!!!  He kissed me good night...

We went by bus to T island wow!! Polly and I went bowling after. My treat. I got a 90 and the a 35!!  Oh well... they rooked me for $1.60!! darn. saw mike there. ate at Polly’s

Mom and Deedee and Penny went on a picnic. Bob went to the Barge. Bill told me later that he had seen Steve there!  I went with Polly, Owen, and her mom to the Coleman’s to swim. There were a lot of people there tho... Very hot again... Ann gets home Wed.

June 24
Steve came over early today. When Bob, Bill, and Pat got home from school, they were playing with water balloons and of course between the four of them they managed to get me and the floor covered with dirty water!  Oh well, the floor got clean... I am beginning to think that Steve is pretty darn DURTY!!  Went with Polly’s family to a count fair at Pleasanton across the bay. A blast except Polly and I have lost our touch. We couldn’t even get three sailors to pick us up!!!  It’s hopeless!!--

June 25
Woke up at 11:30 when dad came home. Watered garden and picked berries. Won 20 cents in poker with Bob, Pat, and Bill. Bob was fuming. Went to Jobs. It was fun and everyone did pretty good. Was on serving committee. Wilda Durcan gave me two comic books. I wrote Jobs theme.

June 26
Waxed all furniture. Steve came over. I baked a cake. Steve and Bob left for swimming at 1:30. I went bike riding with Polly. Ann came home. Bob went to Sea Scouts and I went to Y dance. Steve never came!! I was heartbroken, tho I did dance quite a lot. Came home with whats her name’s brother. Was in one of my moods!! HOT

June 27
Steve came over and after winning almost a dollar from Bob, we decided to go swimming. Bootsie got hit by a car and after we finally got him to the vet he was luckily only badly bruised. Polly, Steve, and I had fun swimming. We beat Steve in hitch hiking home too!!  Went to Mariners. Some girl was saying how she had seen Steve with his arm around his girl friend while on the diving board. I was standing right there too! How embarrassing.

June 28
Polly, Betty Lou, and I rode bikes all over ‘nature’s half-acre” today. Then I played badmitten with Dee Callas. When Steve came for me, I was already dead!!  The dance was a blast!  I entered the apple eating contest. Came in second (I think?) Between Mr. Cutler and I we got Steve to enter the ballroom dancing contest. We won!!  (Nobody else would enter it!!!) Started my Sam this morning too (early)

June 29
Polly and I were the only ones to go today. We covered around 30 miles. I got hit by a car at a corner. Not hurt much to... Feel very sick now tho. Dad got mad and he got on my nerves. I didn’t tell him about my accident. Bob is sick too. I miss Steve all the time.

Davenport 2-6603

Dad on rampage. I ache all over my arms. Very weak too. My head quite sore. Walked down to San Carlos with Polly. Saw a snatch of a baseball game. Hal gave me a lift to Polly’s. She from someone else. We went to San Carlos and saw “Love is a Many Splendid Thing” and “Three Coins in the Fountain” Had very fun. Didn’t hear from Steve

Cleaned house. Steve came over after lunch. Oh, how I like him. He worried me today tho. After a few kisses (not a make out) I sorta melted every time he kissed me...when I say melted I mean melted... KOBY pick of the week is “Flying Saucer #2” Pretty cute too. Didn’t go to music lessons.

July 2
Washed my hair. Polly and I walked over to Water Dog Lake. Two crazy people were there. No hear from Steve...

July 3.
Went to Y dance with Steve.

July 4
Went to the beach at Half Moon Bay with Peek. Got sunburned. Polly couldn’t go. Stayed overnight with Peek. Dennis is “up the hill”.

Steve didn’t phone all day!!  Went to the Redwood Carnival with Polly. Was always dashing to the phone. Belmont Sea Scouts have a booth!!  We went to the Calypso dance. dull...

Went to the fair with Bob and Bill. Stayed all day. Jim Ennis took me on all the rides and I didn’t get sick!!  He taught me how to do it psychologically!  He’s nice and I like him. Steve showed up and Gary Woods with him. I got to sort of like Gary too, even tho I wouldn’t trust him at all!!  I won a poodle, but not really fair.

July 7
Went to the carnival with Polly this afternoon (Deedee too). We all had fun too. Jim Ennis bought us dinner and took me on a ride. Him and Dick took us home. We went down to the barge and fussed off for awhile. Dick sat in the back with me and Polly in front. We’re going out with them next Sat. Ennis with Polly...How did that happen. God darn, how, how, how, we had a blast tho.


July 8, 1957

I feel curiously numb; how well the scriptures describe it "therefore I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me; for all is vanity and vexation of spirit." and further: "seeing that which in the days to come is not forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool."

Yes, the fool that I am. And isn't that a lovely word to enter into this new chapter of my life with?  What lovely memories can I take with me to give me the will to live and endure this life of quiet desperation I've been leading lately? 

Every new day conspires to bring me deeper and deeper into this slough of despondency. If I live through this I will long remember the "thoughtfulness" and "concern" for my welfare that was shown me by one on whom I had every reason and right to lean. And in whom I've been so bitterly disappointed.

Who is to say that the fault was or wasn't mine. All I can say is I've tried over and over again to bring joy and happiness back into this household and been rebuffed time and again. There finally comes a time when the soul reaches its nadir and feels it is useless to try further. It just can't be done by one alone. And how much humiliation can one take before the spirit is broken and pride and self respect crushed?


Interesting that on the day Mother wrote the foregoing, I had nothing to say. I suppose it’s possible that I didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary, but…


No one phoned. I waxed and cleaned books. Hot day. Started my ditty bag. Bonny phoned. We’re going to be on TV on the 26th. She told me to beware of Dick. Richard Phoned. Wanted me to go on a blind date Wed. with a 19 year old. I said yes.

July 9
Steve and Bob Norbit came over. Later Steve, Polly, Ron Collins, Bob (Casa) and I went to Redwood City to work on the “Ranger”. Steve taught me how to lash the ?steps? to the top of the mast. A square lash. Ron showed me a French Bowline. I had tons of fun tho Bob and Polly didn’t do anything. My hands were a wreck after lashing three pipes!!  Read some of Edgar Allen Poe. Hard reading too...

I could kill Richard!  Lennie was an OK guy but Richard had told him “I wouldn’t care...” He was nice tho and he wants to take me out again. We saw “Island in the Sun” at the Palm. I had a luscious strawberry soda at Kibbies afterwards

Dick phoned. Jim never intended to take Polly out. I think he must have been dreaming or something when Dick suggested it...! Dick and I talked for quite awhile. Mom went to the hospital. I did a bit of shopping. Polly and I went to Mariners but “no” “meeting?”  We had fun tho. Watched T.V. Teen comes home tomorrow, I think

Polly and I went down to Lee’s Market. I cooked pretty good hamburgers for dinner. The hayride was miserable for me. Steve didn’t come, of course. To busy, I guess.. I acted crazy to strike back at everyone and later I acted completely drunk. Polly was amazed and so was I. I just couldn’t stop myself.

Polly and I went shopping. Spent over 22 dollars. Tina came home!!  God, what a blast she had! Dick, Jim, Polly, and I went to the drive-in. We saw “OK Corral” and “Abandon Ship”. I didn’t like OK Corral but A.S. was real good. About shipwrecked people. I think Dick likes me and Polly, Jim, but not vice-versa in either case, oh well, I really feel lousy with a capital L. Got home at 1:30.

Dick phoned this morn. I told him I couldn’t go cause I had to make dinner. It was a pretty crummy dinner too and I didn’t even get any. Went biking with Polly and I really had a scrumptious time!!  Went up to Teen’s. Dick phoned. Wanted to come up and see me. I said no. Darn, I feel rotten. Dam rotten... I just don’t like him. I think I really still like Steve.

I’ve decided I like Steve very much and I miss him terribly, even tho I’m not at all sure how he feels about me. Played Canasta with Teen and Ann. Polly, Teen, Dad, and me went to see Mom. She looks pretty good and we all had a nice chat. Nursing looks like an interesting profession. Might go swimming tomorrow.

July 16
Tina, me, Diane Larsen, and Jean Rutherford stayed at Diane’s house for a slumber party. She had a bottle of wine and between us (excluding Jean) we cooled it. It was a blast tho... Miss Steve muchly.

Teen and me walked home from Di’s. Polly and I went biking. Very exhausted. Margo E. boosted my morale concerning Steve. Went to the Y dance. Wow, the attention I got!! I worked in selling cakes and danced a bit too. Steve didn’t come and I think he is sick of me... Dam it, anyway. Met T.V. He’s pretty nice.


July 17, Wednesday

Well here I sit on a bright July morning blankly trying to think back on these last few sort of hectic days. Let's see now...Thursday afternoon Jere was waiting for me to bring me in. The only ones that seemed to be at all concerned were the two little ones. Honestly now, what did I expect? Bob and Cammie were watching TV and hardly even noticed me going. Oh well! I might as well get used to it.

Anyway, at the hospital I was checked in and escorted upstairs. My suitcase weighs a lot...those magazines no doubt. The room is lovely and cheerful but I didn't quite know what to do next. So sort of aimlessly I got out my pajamas and climbed into bed, feeling awfully foolish all the time. Jere and I [ ] felt very ill at ease, so I told him he might as well go home. I got supper served to me, a very light lo-fat one, but more than I expected. Talked to my roommate, a nice elderly lady who had had surgery on her breast, read my magazine, and finally went to sleep. Oh my, I forgot that the anesthesiologist came to see me and told me they'd give me a shot at six and presumably make me feel  he had no intentions of putting me to sleep permanently. Just before lights out [ ] stuck her head in the door and handed in a package from the girls, I was astounded and delighted. A lovely leline duster and card signed by the girls, bless them. It made me feel all warm and good knowing I had friends  At six the next morning they gave me a hypo and I must have gone to sleep for awhile but I woke up when they came with the gilder and I was able to move myself and enjoy being wheeled limpidly up the aisles and into the surgery. I got a dime for ey sksdf and Dr. Howard and that's all I remember. I have a very hazy feeling of someone next to me moaning and moaning (could it have been me?) and then there was Jere holding my hand and looking worried. I guess I just did a lot of sleeping that day and it was the best thing I could do. I know I was awfully thirsty but they wouldn't give me anything by mouth. Had a sleeping pill which naturally didn't keep me asleep much past midnight. Needed the bed pan twice. In the morning I got an intervenus feeding--two bottles--and Pearl called me on the phone. That phone sure is a blessing. They were bathing me, kdk, at the time so I asked here to call me back later.

In the afternoon the nurse came into my room and asked me if I would mind to be moved across the hall. They had a very sick man who needed this quiet room. Apparently it was the best room in the house. I enjoyed looking out of the window and seeing the green rolling landscape of Redwood City and at night the moon would come up and shine into the room and lying awake wasn't nearly so lonesome.

The elderly lady went home at two and the little lady I could watch obliquely across the hall must have gone home because it was her space I was to occupy.

Naturally I said I would gladly give up the room, and they moved me. I watched with a great deal of interest when they brought in the patient. He is a young man who was badly hurt in an accident and they fear his back will be permanently paralyzed. I felt pretty good by then even though I had an awful tendency to cough and everything hurts like fury for ldkjf yet. But that night Dr. Howard relented and said since I was doing so well I could now take my nourishment orally. Starting with a cup of tea. How lovely that tasted. I still have to cough and learned to do it in a ladylike manner holding my stitches meantime.

Meantime phone calls and visits poured in and I feel enveloped in a warm glow of friendship, oh it's so wonderful to have friends about you who care.

Ruby and Pearl came and brought me the loveliest bouquet of posies, pretty pink marguerites.

Jere came and brought me the radio which doesn't work and I don't even care. There is a gay little sprite across the hall whose radio entertains us all and she laughs and laughs like a silver bell all day long.


Wednesday, July 17th

My Dear Helen!

You are on my doctor's blacklist, as of right now...don't you know I'm only permitted a polite ladylike "haha" and after sorting through your "mail" I had all I could do not to burst my stitches. Tsk, tsk, you wicked girls. Oh but I wish I were sitting next to you right now playing post office for you and Christine. I do so miss you all. Not that Life at Sequoia isn't exciting. It is, there is enough excitement passing my open door to write a book about but unfortunately time is so relative sometimes it drags by at snail’s pace and then again it seems incredible how so much could go on in so short a time. Anyway I never will understand hospital procedure. They stood me up and said "walk" the very first day, and now that I'm used to "ambulating" around and sticking my nose in every door, now all of a sudden they discover I have a sore on my foot and before you can say "Jack Robinson" I'm down for the count with wet compresses and concern from everyone. All this time the nurses would wash my foot and never even notice the sore, which incidentally was NOT healing as I thought it should. I'd say coyly "look at the sore, its getting bigger" and they'd say "yes" and keep right on scrubbing. But yesterday when the doctor came by to check on any new or old complaints, I had my foot up and you'd have thought he had discovered a new world or something. What's that, he cried...oh you know, that little ol' sore I mentioned last week...and boing before you know what happened a nurse bustled in and slapped a hot towel on me!  I still hope to go home Friday...Everyone has boon most kind, and I never realized I had so many good friends. Every mail brings me lots of cards. The phone is constantly ringing and visitors have come afternoons and night. Of course my "steady" is the guy I said yes to, so many years ago, bless his heart. I got three gorgeous plants and a bouquet of pink daisies, the loveliest things. Jere's boss' wife brought me a lovely nightie and her cheerful presence and one of my girl scouts sent me a pair of earrings, the little doll. And Dear old Lenkurt...LRA...send a plant, bless them.


Thursday, July 18

That sure was a hectic day yesterday...I asked Dr. Howard if I could go downstairs and he said yes. So when Ruby came in the afternoon I thought nothing of taking her arm and going down the elevator to the cafeteria. We had a cup of coffee and talked and talked and talked for two hours when I saw my nurse hurry toward me. Seems everyone had been looking for me and they couldn't find me anywhere. I went upstairs and Ida Sagen was patiently waiting out in the hall. Poor dear, if I had only known I was wondering why I hadn't heard from her. Well, Ruby went and Ida stayed a half hour longer. We had quite a good talk. Seems the minister's wife had brought me a  clock that Mr. Banger said he'd [ lend] me "in my father's home" and in a way I wasn't sorry I missed her.. Jere brought the little girls in the evening and we took them to the cafeteria. It was quiet and fairly empty. It was so good to see the little darlings, bless me. I'll be glad to get home tomorrow. Friday I feel sort of blue. Can't read. Don't feel like writing or talking at all and my yen for cigarettes has come back full strength. I had some left and Jere didn't leave me any money so I finally reluctantly borrowed a quarter from Mrs. Siles and sent out for some. It serves me right that they brought the wrong kind. They taste awful; bit O s,ple e, amuwau/


Steve came over!!!!  Bob sold me a darling lighter. I revolted and wouldn’t cook dinner.

Went to Polly‘s Juli never came. Went babysitting at the Van Lindans. Got $4. They got home about 3:30!!

Went down to the barge with Polly. Neither Jim, Dick, or Steve was there. I don’t particularly like Skipper Ennis! Polly and I got close ups! Gads!  Dick phoned. Wanted Polly’s number and wanted to know what I was doing tonight...! Cooked a nice dinner. Went babysitting till late. Now my current funds total $7.25 and I owe Bob $2.55. I’m practically rich!! No hear from Stephen.

Got up around noon. Made a delicious chicken supper. A guy who says he likes me kept phoning up, but wouldn’t say who he is!! Steve didn’t phone tho. Teen wasn’t home either.

July 22
Tina and Diane Sagers came over. We listened on the free line on the phone. Interesting. We all slept down stairs on mattresses. We went to Hillsdale

Mom put me to work. Hard too!! Went out in the sun for awhile. Watched T.V. Pat is going on T.V. with us on Friday. My face is some mess!!!!

Went to the Y dance with Teen, Diane, and her friend Ron Roberts. A cute junior, but oh, what a square!!  Didn’t have fun. Pat told me today that Steve liked me and he might come up, but of course he didn’t. He seems to tell everyone that he likes me except me!!!

Found out for sure that my secret admirer is Chuck Cadigan. Jim phoned and asked me to phone Johnette. I had already planned to do so tho. Dick didn’t come to Mariners. Only Jim, Kevin, and another Jim(?). It’s going to be on the 10th. Luckily. We probably won’t go on our cruise!! I finished my ditty bag and took it.


[picture of little girl sitting in rocker reading huge book]

July 25, 1957

Hi, Toots:

Gee-whiz, Soph, you are truly a good and faithful friend, and you make me feel like low man on a totem pole. I know it sounds like the lamest darned excuse to say I meant to write, but...but please believe me, time is the culprit not I, it has such a nasty habit of slipping away. But if I’m to write that book (see sketch) I’d better not waste the first five chapters on apologies. Not that I wouldn’t if it were necessary, but again Time, that subtle thief, won’t permit it.

Come to think of it now, Time I happen to have a lot of right now, so maybe I’d better start at the end and work back. I was going to write you from the hospital but like a dope I remembered to bring stationary, pen, and even stamps but no addresses, so all my letter writing had to wait until I got back home again. I can just see those question marks sprouting over your head. Hospital she thinks, what on earth can Frances be doing in a hospital, not a baby (I hope), not an accident I trust, What???  Well, to make a long story short about three or four months ago I got to having the funniest feelings in my little insides that had all the earmarks of an ulcer. Yep, calm, placid, even-tempered (I think) Frances with an ulcer. So I went to see my doctor and told him all about my little aches and pains and vague symptoms and he thought it was an ulcer, too. But to make certain I had a series of--oh gosh, what do you call ums--fluoroscopic x-rays taken. And much to my surprise and everybody’s amazement it was no ulcer at all, but a perfectly beautiful gall stone. Well, the doctor gave me my choice, have it out while you’re in the pink of condition or wait until you’re really in trouble, live or die, it’s up to you. Sooo, since my group insurance policy would take care of most of the bills I thought I might as well take five weeks off and have it over with. And that’s where I’ve been. Matter of fact I’ve only been home a week, well not quite home, I persuaded the doctor to let me go last Friday and my girlfriend Ruby offered me the sanctuary of her home for four days, and then when they thought I was fit enough they let me stagger back to my own homestead. Thee are times, believe me, when I think I’d like to check out of here for good and by Ruby’s favorite star boarder.

I’ve booked a cabin at Ben Lomond for a week, and we’ll be going there next Friday, Deedee, Penny, Cammie and her girl friend and I, just us girls. I’ll be back home on the eighth and that makes it just perfect for your visit. Gosh, all this time leading up to saying you will be more than welcome, nay, you will be eagerly looked forward to and welcomed with open arms. I have so much talking to catch up on and no job to go to until the 19th of August (if I have one then) it will be a real treat and a pleasure to have you with us.

You know, Soph, one of the nicest things about this operation is that it showed me how many wonderful friends I’ve got. I checked into the hospital on a Thursday and that evening just when I was feeling pretty darned blue about the whole thing, Lucy, one of the girls, sneaked in and presented me with a present that the gals on the line had chipped in on. A lovely blue duster sort of a thing and cologne. The next day they must have kept the operator busy answering the phone to find out how I was. I had a phone in the room and so help me, I didn’t have time to be lonesome. Every visiting hour brought visitors (besides my favorite character) and I got enough flowers and plants to make you think it was a florist shop. There were gifts of books and nighties and candy and every mail call brought me a handful of cards. I needn’t tell you it warmed the cockles of my heart and I’m sure was one of the main reasons I got better so quickly. Seems everyone was pulling for me. I do feel fine now, simply wonderful, and have to keep reminding myself forcibly that I’m still supposed to be a semi-invalid. Although I must confess that this enforced idleness is driving me slightly wild, I finally couldn’t sit home any longer and took the car and went to the store. Didn’t kill me either so I kept on doing it. I had noticed that I developed more than a slight ‘pot’ and none of my skirts and dresses fitted comfortably over my fancy stitching that’s decorating my tummy, so yesterday I went forth and bought me some housedresses. Of course they may fit around the middle but hung like a sack about the shoulders so I had to so some altering, and am now finally able to dress in something besides a nighties and duster. The doctor put me on a moderate ulcer diet because he found that besides the stone (which I have in a jar of alcohol, simply revolting) I also had ulcer scars and he wants to be sure they are good and gone. So, my dear, if you can stand the thought of giving you a blow by blow description of MY OPERATION Please hurry up her to Belmont and be my guest. I will look forward to seeing you, and if you don’t want to get the impression we don’t want you I’d better sign and seal and get this letter in the mail, right pronto.

Till the ninth then,

bye-bye and love to you all


July 26
Rode up to the city with Mr. Lannen, his son and daughter, Richard Lubke, Pat, and Bob Ferguson. Chuck gave me his pic. We had a rehearsal and the went on the air. There was a dance contest and Mike Morrissey and her brother won. Steve “joined the band” but Buddy Laughlin won. Steve danced with me. I went home with Mike in her brother’s convert. Steve and Chuck and Jim Hammond too. What a blast, sure was fun!! Neither Jim nor Dick went!!(?) Tina and I went ice skating. Boy, did I  get tired!!

Went to Polly’s and walked to Dee’s to get my glasses. Steve is leaving tomorrow He’ll still be there on the 3rd. Met Julie, Vickie, Pat, at miniature golf. Julie is a card. Met Mom down town and went home with her. Have a splitting headache. Chuck phoned. Steve didn’t tho, even tho Dee asked him too.

July 28
Barb Jones asked me to go out with her and the two guys from back east (Terry and John). I got Terry. I think he is the nicest and the cutest of the two. I had a very nice time. Went with Polly to the P.F. dance. Had sort of fun but went haywire again. Boy, I sure do like Vern Tucker  Wish I could only get a glimmer out of him!! The other guy took us home. He said that Vern and he had come up that night.

Went swimming with Polly. Rode my bike all the way home!  Chuck phoned again. He really boosted my morale (Diet ways)

July 30
Polly and I rode our bikes bowling. The first game I got about 60, the second around 87. Went to Bartlett’s again and painted oars. Stayed overnight at Polly’s

Polly and I walked over to my house. Mom took us to the thrift shop. I got some shorts. We went to Hartfield’s and I got 2 pairs of Bermudas, 2 blouses, and a pair of shorts. NICE and about time!!  I went swimming and had fun. My strokes are much better then I expected!!  Bob looks nice in his uniform. Chuck phoned briefly.

Fri, Aug. 2
Got packed. Teen came home. mom brought my tennis racket and I went up to the school to practice. Must remember to stay on my diet!!  Hope to see Steve manyana... Have my doubts tho.

We arrived in Ben Lomond at noon today. Tina and I went swimming at the dam. It was really fun. After we were there awhile, Steve came by! Heah!  We went swimming at the lodge with a bunch of kids. It was fun too. Tonight we went back and after a long search we finally found them. I guess Steve must like Bonny, the way he was following her around. Dam!  Well, I really can’t blame him. She’s so nice and so very darling...

Tina and I set out in inner tubes with our towels on our head, for the dam, but we never got there because we went the wrong direction and headed for Santa Cruz and the ocean!!  I never did get to see Steve again. Teen and I had loads of fun at the dam (Mom took us). We went back in the evening and saw two guys again. We met two real nice guys, here only for the day with their parents. They took us inn “Lou’s” for a coke. Now we’ve been in a bar!  Earlier we called Jim in Florida on a broken phone, then hung up!  Man did we ever feel guilty!!!

August 5, Mon.
What a birthday for a girl of 15!! We drove to Felton and looked around. Two guys took us to see a covered bridge. It was real cute. Otherwise it was a very boring day. Too cold... Mr. Jones and Tommy came over. We went to Ben Lomond to see the pictures. We froze our _____ off !! It sure is very discouraging to see tongs of guys who won’t even look at you!!



We always wondered if Mother had an affair with Al Jones. This poem of Mother’s makes me wonder. I seem to remember that he was up there in Ben Lomond for some reason…

Deep in the redwood forest was a glade,
A circle, twenty strides across it, made
By Titans trees that stood in formal line
Like demigods on guard around a shrine
of beauty in the silence of the night.
The fog hung shifting veils of moon shot white
To close the world and all its woes away.
Wordless with wonder, awed and still we lay
Half dreaming, half awake, but all aware
Of mystic music pulsing in the air.
The sound of growth, the life song of the land.
My hand sought comfort in your friendly hand,
(beauty when met alone can wound the heart
and beauty can bind two hearts that walk apart)
Time ceased, the hours paused in their swift flight
While Life stood naked in that sacred light
And let us feel her heart’s exultant throb
Not Fate nor long gray years can rob
Our memories of those hours made divine
By prayers we shared before that redwood shrine.


Teen and I went to the beach again and met two nice guys (friends of Wink)  They asked to take us to the dance tonight. When they came we drove around for awhile and then parked upon the hill cause the dance hadn’t started yet. Then they dragged out the beer!!!  Teen had some too!!!! I don’t like the way Ric drinks beer, kisses, dances, bobs, or anything. Pooh, what a night. We went to Santa Cruz for awhile also.

Teen and I went to the beach again and got to know Bob and his brothers (twins) David and Mikey (Mike) and Pat and Joanie. At the dance, it was between Tina and me and Tina won. Bob and her paired off and I had a miserable time...

Today we went to the beach with Bob and them again. We had a blast. Bill still pesters me!! I had fun at the dance. Pete came and I also danced with Bob a lot (2035 Tina Way)  Some buy bet me 50 cents that I wouldn’t go swimming from 10:30 till 11:00 but I fooled him, I did!! Almost killed me too.

So, we said goodbye to our friends and ol’ Ben Lomond and headed home. I went to swimming lessons and Pol told me of her new beau. Doll!!  Went to the San Carlos with Mrs. Kid, Pearl, and Deedee and Ruby. Saw “Bernadine” and “Love in the Afternoon” Wow!  Very good!  Duncans haven’t arrived yet...

Sat. Aug. 10
Bought two new pairs of shoes and two sweaters. The Duncans arrived. Polly and I went bowling and saw Bob Norbit. Went to the dance at 7:30. Jim and Dick were there! Check, too, but no Steve, darn! I danced with everyone and Polly came at about 10:00. Jim took 7 of us home. I was in “one of my moods”!! FUN THO.

Aug 11
I ate like a pig! Sophie Mae, Mom, Ann, Tina, and I went to the Bel-Mateo Bowling alley. What a beaut!!  I played two games and on my second got 109!!  Soph is a real pro tho with 150 or something. With mom and Soph’s help I planned my fashion Find collection. It shall be titled “New Trends”. It’s going to be hard going to.

Mom made me  sick today. We swam at a new  today. Had “team” contests. Ours won everything!! They went to see “around the world in 80 days” tonight but wouldn’t let me go along. Damm, I’m getting pretty darn fed up. I couldn’t have a party, they changed their minds about a dinner date... I suppose I should be grateful that they were kind enough to give me the tennis racket (which I now discover I will never get a chance to use! Poor me!  A girl leads a hard life...!

August 13, Tues
Went to Mrs. Ottenstein’s. Had fun tho only got 13 on the quiz, 16 was the best. Went to the show and saw Bernadine and Leo in the Afternoon again with Polly and Polly Jenson and Mike. Fun tho not much. Spent another dollar of my 5. Now have on $l.50 left.

West swimming at Bibers. We just practiced since Marge wasn’t there. FUN  Went to Pol’s for awhile. She isn’t going Sat. and Mike prob. not also so that leave ME Went to Y dance. Served Cokes. Danced only 2 dances since Mr. Cuttler shut down at 11:00. Polly’s boy, Doug, is really a dream (in all ways) so far as I know (fun).

We took our written tests today but Polly didn’t come. Went to Mariners and brought Tina along. Fun. Ann, Roslie, Dee, and what’s her name were all there. No cruise in sight for these sailors. Can hardly wait for school to start!

August 16
Forgot to go swimming. Went down town with mom and Ann and Deedee. Went to the hayride. What a blast. Our truck was so crowded that everyone was forced to stand up! We drove thru some fog. Wow was it icy!! Vern took Tina and I home. He put his arm around me for awhile and also held my hand. Thee were 8 kids in the back seat and 4 in the front  He kissed me good night!!!  What a surprise. I wonder if I should have let him...

Only one girl showed up. Nancy Beck and she also brought her sister Joyce. That, with Polly, made four. We made very good time and made it to Stanford at lunch time having stopped first to look thru the Stanford shopping center. We had tons of fun and made it home by about 3:30. Washed my hair and took a shower. My date with Jim was fun too. Polly was going to come with Dick but her mom said no. Jim and I saw Frankenstein the Curse of and “X the unknown”  Frankenstein was really a scary one. We got home early but sat and talked for a long while. He kissed me and asked me out for next Sat.

Gary Bartlet asked me out. I didn’t want to go but I went anyway. We went to the Starlight and saw “Buster Keaton Story” and “The Delicate Delinquent”. Wasn’t a total loss. Polly’s mom had a barbeque. Twas fun, roast beef.

Polly and I went to explore the old houses. Jim brought back my sweater and Gary showed me his new car. What a beaut!! VERN DIDNT COME DARN

Polly and I went to Stanford Shopping Center with her mom and Uncle Harry. We had parfaits. Stayed for dinner.

Teen came over and got me out of bed at 11:30. I read some more of “Bedlam” Am now almost 1/2 thru. Vern phoned and said Polly had talked to him, uh oh..He came over after mom and dad had left and wow--well I guess I do like him, so far!  But man was he ever hard to get rid of. Didn’t leave til after 10:30 and even then I had to walk him to his car and force him into it!!! I wonder tho if he is only stringing me along...

Went to Polly’s and we went to San Carlos. Decided to get Mom a purse for her birthday. Pitah came over to Polly’s and we played canasta. He’s going to take us to the beach tomorrow. Jim phoned.

Went to San Greg with Polly, Jim H. and Pete Sears. It wasn’t warm and the sun was no where’s to be seen, but we had fun anyway--I was in the water a lot of the time.

Sat. August 24
Row with parents. Went out with Jim. Polly and Dick and Mike and another guy came with us, in Dick's car. Went to the drive in again! Oh that Jerry Lewis. After one pic we rode around and fussed off.

Mike and I played tennis in San Carlos. Man, wouldn’t I love to go out with John. But that is a dream never to come true. Tho it might be worth trying a bit of strategy on... Watched T.V.

Polly and I walked down to Mikies but she wasn’t there. Barb came to visit Teen. We all went to Hillsdale and finally got our mystery faces in.

Tina Barb and I rode to the old house but got chased away. We rode to Belmont to wait for the Doc to open up. Didn’t get home to our lunch till 2:00 Went with MYF to bowling. HORRIBLE

Polly Owen, and I went by bus to KPIX to see a sneak preview of the “Money Tree”. I was one of three to do a stunt. We had to make sandwiches for 1 minute. I made 4. I got a pass for 2 on a two hour bay cruise!!  Mikey and I went to the Fox to see “Tammy”  It was good.

Thurs, August 29
Polly, Deedee, Bob and I went to the drive-in to see “Loving You”. We had FUN. I hope Jim will take me on the cruise.

Polly, Teen, and I went to the Villa Chartea for dinner. The waitress spoiled it all, tho, by placing us “little girls” (as she called us) right by the telephones!  Polly and I had lobsters. I only ate 1/2 of the 3.25 junk too!! Twas fun tho.

Polly and I went riding. Discovered we did pretty good on the mystery faces. Jim and I went out again. “We is getting serious-er!” He’s goin’ to give me a mink named Anastasia!! I think he shall ask me to go steady next week. He hinted. We all is goin’ to the State Fair manyana.

Jim didn’t call. Went over to Pol’s in the afternoon. Jim Dick Polly and I went to Coyote Point. They had told us we were going miniature golfing. I decided that Dick is going to spoil Jim’s and my relationship if I see him much more. I do like Jim. I think I would go steady with him too if it wasn’t for Dick. We went to Polly’s after and had popcorn and ice-cream.

Mon, Sept. 2
Didn’t go to the fair. Jim and Dick came over tho and we went to Polly’s for an hour. They didn’t come over again until dinner. Jim’s mom wouldn’t let him come over. Dick brought us to Jim’s house at 8:00. We stayed till nine. (Dad left for L.A.)

Painted more of my picture. Babysat for Mr. McMeekins’ daughter Sally. Sally is very sweet but I suspect very spoiled!  Jim phoned. He’s coming up during his lunch hour tomorrow.

Painted some more. Jim came over during his lunch hour. Gave me some Bambi pictures he had drawn. He’s good. Got some clothes at Hartfield’s. Teen came over. Jim came over after Scouts (about 10:15). He’s going to ask me to go stead. Latest bulletin from B-o-b.

Ray came up, then Brian, Jerald and another guy. Tina came up and we eventually got rid of them. We got one set of pictures from Ben Lomond. Turned out there was no Mariner meeting. Jim phoned.---He told me (hinted) he’s going to ask me to go steady...

Teen came up and I drew her picture. Wow was it HOT!! Talked with Sue Nackard. Practiced my drawing. Jim phoned.

September 7, Sat.
Very Very hot (radio said 117 deg.) Bonny, Marge, and I went to Daly City to plan the Mariner gam on Oct. 29. Got home at 5:00. Jim was really surprised about his little party. Bambi was good but I think I enjoyed it more as a child. Strictly for young uns!  I am now goin’ steady with Mr. James ENNIS!!!  Ooooh that guy - he kills me!!  Giner and Kevin, and Dick and Bobbi Harrison went also.

Sun, September 8
Cooler today. Woke up at 4:00 and got up at 6 or 6:30. Jim came by for about 5 min at 9:30. Went bowling. Pooh!! and double pooh!! Bobbie Dick Jim and I went to the beach. It was beautiful man. We had hamburg buns and hot dogs and potato salad. A fire too! We wrestled, fought and I just had a marVELout time!!  But wow, did I ever get dirty. Got home about 10:00. P.S. My first night at the beach and I’ll never forget it either.

Cooler. Jim came over while I was still in my pjs sitting in the window!! We rode all over Nature’s half-acre too. Met his mother. Went along while they practiced Flotilla Drill but they did pretty lousy. Jim taught me the clove hitch and the two half hitches so now I know all 5!! It’s hard to believe school starts tomorrow. Dad had me type up a paper till 9:00 and then found it was the wrong one!!  Darn him.

School is a blast, tho I’ve got crappy kids in my classes. First I have PE, second art with Bauer, 3rd Engle with Canazaro (damm it!), 4th lunch, 5th typing II with Miss Hurst, 6th Bookkeeping with Mr. Goff (crazy guy), 7th biology with Mr. Guy. Tina has lunch and biology with me!!! Jim nothing. He took me both ways to school.

Jobs - got home at 10:00. Got pictures - cute

School was fun today but I am worried about Art and especially biology. They seem difficult. Jim came over about 5:00. We had cream puffs for desert. I ate 3!!!! What a way to stay on a diet!! It makes me sick. Canizaro is a blast... Sea Scouts tonight and Jim might come over for a sec. afterwards. Mom went to a union meeting. They might go on strike!!!

Jim got a ticket for speeding. Went to Mariners. Ginger won for senior crew leader instead of Bonny. Dam was I mad!!! Jim took me and brought me home [ 10/20 I never knew or even suspected what that little ticket would mean! Jim’s parents haven’t let him take his car to school since then--except on occasion--oh that mother of his!!!]

Fri., Sept. 13
Jim took me to the dance. Dick didn’t want to take Barb and everybody was real mad at everyone else. I danced with Steve. If it wasn’t for Jim Steve would be first on my list. I danced with a couple of others who were fun. One Texan that’s really nice (soph too). Those Southerners never fail. Jim had a talk with me. [ arrow to ‘steve would be first] not any more. I never even think of him anymore cause I love Jim.

Polly and I went for a very short bike ride. We’re really out of practice!! Jim and I went to the party at his mother’s. He ignored me again. Damm him anyway. I really don’t think he likes me at all--only my kisses, and any girl can give him those. I’ll give him one more chance next week and if nothing happens I’ll break up with him. After all, no one ever treated me like that!!!  Poor Jim, I just don’t understand him.

Bobbie phoned and wanted me to come over. I did. Jim picked us up. We made up a little bit. We saw the Scouts get initiated. He was going to come over tonight and take me to the Catholic Festival but his parents said no.

Took the bus to school. Jim walked me to art. I finished the project. Took bus home. Jim came over at 7:00. He, Bob and I went out to distribute keys but Bob went with some others and Jim and I went looking for two more guys. Nil!  We parked in front of our house. We are now completely ‘made up’. I really like that guy. He likes me too, I’m sure now!  Philips has the Asiatic flu. Stuck to my diet...

Tues., Sept. 17
I only saw Jim after 1st today. Bookkeeping is getting harder. Stayed after school with Tina for Hockey. Fun, but tough. No Jobs tonight. Sun at 1:30. Bob went to do keys. I am trying to keep awake if Jim comes too!  Jim’s dad won’t let him take the car for a few days...

Took the bus to school. Saw Jim often today. Tina went home at noon with severe cramps. I decided to go out for ‘wing’ I hockey. I love it. Did some typing for dad. Jim came up. Lost 4 lbs. now only 5 to go.

Was real sick today. Think I have a touch of flu. Went to after-school sports. Went to Mariners. Jim and Kevin brought Ginger and me home.

Teen and I went and saw “Band of Angels” and “Tammy [and the Bachelor]” at the Carlos. (Still sick)

Still sick!  Jim and I and Reno (Dick) and Gail went and saw “Pajama Game” and “Bernadine”. I never even watched them...what a mess! (means that I didn’t like the pictures--10/20)

Fairly recovered. Teen had little fun at Elks Dinner with Lennie. Went to Jobs [retier sale]. Gads!  It was awfully hot too!  Jim came over. Teen is going out with us next time. Jim and I are quitting smoking.

Mon., Sept. 23
Polly and I went to the library. I took out “Bedlam” again. Stayed for Art Club. I like!!

Hockey was really good today. The gang is going to Santa Cruz Sun. Got a C- in Typing II. She was really unfair. Also got a C+ in Bookkeeping test.  Jobs. I get to model!!!!  I’m so happy. I’m thinking of running for Marshal cause Rena had to quit. I absolutely love being inner guard!!

Waited for Jim to come up (at 10:00)

Sports. CGA Assembly. Mariners. Gam on the 19th.

Soph meeting postponed until Mon. because of rain. Kind of wet getting to T. My alphabet is getting quite good. Jim took me home. I’m sooo very tired today. Ray and Joe came up.

Sat., Sep. 28
Went to the dance. I really had fun too. For once. Stayed at Gingers. Wow, were we tired.

The boys came over and we had breakfast. Reno brought Margaret Bain. Thee was a storm. It came down in torrents for awhile, thunder was [desuning.]  Santa Cruz was a blast. Dick’s parents are nice but a bit too wild for my taste. We saw Teen at Playland. She came with Lennie. I went on the roller coaster but it was a mistake. Jim went on about 5 times!!!  Oh that guy. I really got shook up, man.

Mon., Sept. 30
Stayed home sick. Jim phoned tonight.


September 8, 1957

Hello Baby:--

Feeling neglected lately?  Lonely?  Blue? Forgotten?  With a “Nobody loves me kind of feeling?  Cheer up, so have I. It just doesn’t seem possible that only about five weeks ago I was flat on my back making like an invalid, and here I am feeling fit as a fiddle with my nose back on the same old grindstone and on the same old merry-go-round. And only those fancy stitchings on my tummy to remind me I still ought to be taking it easy.

October 1, 1957

Good grief, can it really be a month since I started this letter?  Well, it sure has been a hectic one. At the plant they have been laying off and each time there is rumors of another one, but so far I’ve always been skipped, I don’t know whether to cheer or feel bad. Oh, I love working all right, but I have so little time for anything else, and the weekends go by so fast just trying to keep up with the washing and ironing and making up beds. Now that the kids are back in school they can no longer be the help to me that they were during the summer. Bob, who had been taking over the kitchen, and doing a very good job of it, nowadays goes to school when I go to work and comes home about five minutes before I do. Same with Cammie and when they  stay for after school sports I don’t see them until supper time. Deedee is the only one who is stuck, poor baby. She has to get Penny dressed and make their breakfast and clear the table and get the dishwasher started. So it doesn’t seem fair to make her work after school, too. Oh well.

I got my darned allergy back again, it seems to me it started last year just about this time too. I get the sneezes and the wheezes just like before and the only thing helps is taking those multicolored pills. I sleep badly at night and consequently I am forever tired. Taking the pill cures my wheezes but keeps me awake. Well, I can only hope that it’s seasonal and will go away again by November the same as last year.

We have an awful lot of flu around. All the kids are taking turns getting sick. First it was Cammie and then Deedee and today Bob stayed home with a fever of 102. Thank God for Pearl. She looks in on the kids and gives them lunch and I don’t have to worry about them being home alone.

A lot of the girls on my line have been out too, I remember one day a couple of weeks ago, three of them collapsed and went home on the same day, and one girl had a heart attack, boy the place really looked empty that week. Oh well, you see what I mean, I feel real jolly and it’s no kind of mood to write a letter.

How is every little thing with you these days? Oh by the way, Cammie insists she took a picture of me in the pink dress and white coat and that I sent it to you. I have no recollection of it, did I? I enjoyed those snaps you sent of Joe and his brood. My how big that Leo has grown, and Susie is cute as a button.

Well, Doll, here it is ten o’clock again, and between running up and down the stairs bringing Bob chicken broth and fruit juices and making toast and writing on this letter I am positively pooped. So I will say goodnight for now. Maybe you will break down and write to me for a change.

Bye now darling, and take care of yourself.

Lovingly, as ever


Tues., October 1
Steve won for Soph. pres. and Norbit for vice-pres. and ‘probably’ Elliot for sec. Homework galore!!  Now I know what is meant by ‘test week’!!  Stayed for sports. Jim took me home. He phoned tonight.

Big test in BKK tomorrow. Stayed after school for “News Bureau” meeting. Steve did too. Jim took me home. I liked Jim awfully much tonight. He was in such a cheerful, laughing mood. Saw him a lot today too.

Oct. 3
Sports and Mariners.

Jim and I went to the Starlite. Carlmont lost to San Jose 6-7.

Practiced lifesaving and drill. Jim and I talked from 9 to 10. I went to Teen’s for Marilyn’s surprise party at 8:00. Jim phoned again from his mom’s at 12. We talked till 1.00 (Mom took Bob and me driving)

I love him. I am sure of that.

Art Club. Saw Mrs. DuBois about Safety Confab. Babysat for Mrs. Larsen’s 4 kids. Jim came over.

 Jobs. Ate a bunch of junk. Dam it anyhow. Jim came over but I wasn’t home. After school sports. Wrote article on Confab. Got 2-1/2 hrs. at Student Court.

Rained. Teen and I took a bus to San Carlos for our date at “Laurea Wies”. We got DARling clothes but didn’t get home till 6:30. I was really in a rush to get to Redwood City Bethel 170 by 7:00 by myself alone! On top of that Jim wanted me to go to the scout meeting but I couldn’t!!  DARN, WHAT A DAAAAAY!

No sports. Mariners. Caught up on my bookkeeping. Was very blue. Jim called.

Jim took his car to school. Short day cause of Paly game. We won!!!!  First game in 4 years and we won!!!  18-13. I wish I could have been there but Jim couldn’t go. Tina took me to see “The Ten Commandments”  I didn’t like it.

Sat., Oct. 12
It rained but Jim and I went to the drive-in anyway. Dick came too. By himself. We were able to see fine. Both good pictures:  Man with a Thousand Faces and Run of the Arrow. Jim and I got home at ‘bout quarter to 12 but parked in front till quarter after one!!

Sun., Oct. 13
I drove once. Jim and Tina came up. Teen and I worked on insects. Went drilling at rec. center. Jim phoned from his mother’s where he was babysitting. He came over afterwards and we sat and listened to the radio. I couldn’t let him go. I was practically crying. Oh, I do love him.

Went to Mrs. Ottenstein's girl scout meeting, had fun.

Wed., Oct. 16
West to iron for Mrs. Capitalo. Got lost. Earned $1.75 and got home at 6:00. Went to Sea Scouts with Jim and stayed in the car by myself.

After school sports. Mariners.

Jim might have to move!!  I don’t know what I’ll do if he does... Teen and I went to Sequoia for our Cubberley game. We did wonderful during the first half but during the second they caught up and we lost 25 to 34.

The gam was a mess. It was freezing cold and I had to coat. We did ok in swimming, drill, Mariners quiz - considering - Steve came up. So did Doug Cammeron, Sam Burk, and another guy. I went home at 4:00 and at 5:30 Jim and Dick came up. His mother left town. We got to South City at 6:45 and waited around till 8:30. Dance didn’t start till 9:30. Band was good but Jim didn’t want to dance!!  We left at 11. When Jim was pulling out of    Four drive he got a flat!! Oh help  He’s going on a bay cruise tomorrow.

Jim and Dick came over. We rode around for awhile with Barb and Ruby Callico. He came back tonight.

Very bad mood. I love Jim sometimes while other times I hate him (like when he pays no attention to me! and others)  I wish he really loved me but I know he doesn’t. I want to break up with him and go with Steve or someone else. At least I  had fun with Steve. Jim never does anything... It breaks my heart cause now I know we’re not going to last...

Jim and I are at odds...!  Jobs and potluck. Man did I stuff myself. Dick likes Sue Brent. Poor Sue Nackard!!!

Rainy. They lost my pictures too!!  Damm. Everything went wrong today. Went to Sea Scouts. Barbara too. We had fun. Man, do I love Jim. I know he wants me to lose weight so I am. Starting manyana. (went ironing)

Grades. I got B+ in hockey, B in Art, C in Cannizaro (thank God!), B+ in typing, A in bookkeeping and A- in biology (what a surprise!). Teen got all Cs. Jim got a D in Eng. in spite of a straight A average!  I think he got an F in history too!  His mom said he must do 5 hrs. homework every night, can’t use his car and worst of all, can’t go out for 6 weeks!!!  Damm her!  I’m on a diet. Got elected first mate. Jim phoned (Barb and Sue came too) No sports.

I don’t think Jim likes me cause he told Tina that he doesn’t mind not going out with me. I feel so lousy... Went ironing and was really tired but Tina wanted me to go to the game anyway. We lost to Sequoia 18 to 6. The dance was lousy and I felt lousy.

Oct. 26
Went to San Carlos with Polly, Mike, Carol and whats-her-name. Saw Jim on the way back to Polly’s but got the impression that he wasn’t glad to see me. He said he would phone me at Larsen’s but he didn’t. I now have $8. Got home at 2:30 pm

Dad was in a “mood” again. Jim and Dick stopped by for a moment and do I mean a moment!! Crummy day..

Went to a tenor recital by John McCullum with dad. He was very good.

October 29
First tournament game. We won clan 1 by 5 to 1 points. Went to Alpine Club meeting.  Love it.

We beat clan 3 nothing to nothing. Was a dress meeting at Sea Scouts but we had our meeting too so I couldn’t go. Nick didn’t come over so Sue stayed and talked to Jim for ages and then when he finally left, he turned to me. I cried later. It breaks my heart to know that I love him when he barely even likes me!!  I wish he would break up with me...

Thurs. October 31
We won clan 2-4 one to zero. We won the tournament and get a half-stripe!!!! What a Halloween to remember. We had a lousy time. I walked over to the Y and Mr. Cutler shoved me into a group and someone took a picture for the Enquirer!! I’m so embarrassed. I’m so damm tired!

Tho I was exhausted, Tina begged me to go to the game. We lost as usual. While at [Capitola] David was home. What a livin’! Jim came over while I was at the game.

Jim phoned at 9:15 to tell me he couldn’t go out tonight but ‘twas too late to go on the camping trip. Very cold today.

Sun., Nov. 3
The Alpine Club went on an all day hike. Jim Day was there too. We drove over the golden gate, clear to Muir Woods. There we hiked thru the woods, up a mountain, over several more (whose green grass and beautiful view of a calm ocean reminded me of Scotland.)  We arrived at Stinson Beach at 3:30. Had a blast and left at around 5:00. We reached the top of first hill at dusk and had a stupendous view of San Francisco stretching over the whole horizon--all red lights. Hiking at night is fun!! All together we covered about 13 miles and was I bushed!!!

Art club. Went to Mrs. Ottenstein’s. Makes two hours... Jim phoned. Asked him to dinner Thurs.

By a miracle I got an A in the biology test... Art club. Only Judy and I showed. Have been eating like a pig. Don’t get to go to work Fri. She wants me Wed. so no chance of seeing David!!  Gee Wiz...


November 5, 1957

My Dear Mother!

Honestly, you make me so mad, I simply can’t understand you... you have a heck of a lot more time than I have to sit down and write a letter and I haven’t heard a word form you since July. You wrote to Ruby and asked her to have me call you! For crying out loud, it would have been a whole lot better for the both of us if you’d gotten on the phone and called me yourself. You say the kids don’t write, well!!!  How often do you write to them?  And must you always criticize and say how much better a letter Susie writes or Leo or heaven knows who, you ought to just be happy they think of you at all. Deedee says if she can’t measure up to your expectation she’d rather not write at all, and I can hardly blame her. Cami always writes you and you hardly ever answer her letters. When are you ever going to learn not to expect too much from children. I enclosed a dollar in Bob’s birthday card because I couldn’t bear to see him disappointed in you, I also know he’d never say anything, sure I could bear down on them and say sit down and write, and would it make you happier to get a few lines?  No, it wouldn’t. You’d say why can’t they write a decent letter. As for me, you know darned well I’m up to my neck in things that have got to be done when I come home from work, and apparently a card isn’t sufficient for you, you didn’t even let me know whether you got my messages or not. So okay, maybe you are sick or don’t feel well or broke an arm or something, how in thunder would I know?  Oh well, there’s no use or my scolding, you’ll never change, but I’ve been standing over the ironing board for the last two hours brooding and getting madder and madder at you and simply had to get it off my chest, perhaps I ought to just tear this letter up and start over again, but I won’t, you always let me have it with both barrels when I displease you.

Things have changed quite a bit down at the plant, and for the worse, as far as I’m concerned. I went back into training and am now on the cable assembly line. Oh, it’s interesting and all that, but I feel like a dunce, I can do it all right but haven’t got my speed yet, and the next person that says ‘standard’ to me will get his head blown off. I was doing well in transformers and working at a hundred percent standard and better, 106% to be exact and now I’m right back where I was sixteen months ago. I have about a dozen or so different colored wires to solder in exact pattern onto a plug with a lot of little hooks on them, and between looking at the blue prints to make sure they go in the right place and soldering and twisting and what have you I feel like I have two left hands and thumbs on both of ‘me. I’ve only been doing it for a week so maybe it will get better, it had BETTER or I know when I’ve had had. I almost wish I’d gotten laid off the last time. See, I really feel low tonight. Sure I haven’t gotten any of my work back yet, but nobody seems to care about tht, only how many of them you do in eight hours. We work different hours, and I get out at four-fifteen and somehow that fifteen minutes makes a lot of difference. On top of that I’m saddled with two riders and I don’t like it one bit, but don’t see how I can get out of it. After all, one of the gals works right next to me and I couldn’t very well refuse when she asked to ride home with me at night. She lives way the heck up in the hills and it takes me an extra ten minutes to get her home and turn around and come back down where I want to go. It seems a small thing, really, and I ought not to mind it so much, but I’m so used to going my own way, and sometimes I’d go shopping or even visit for a half hour before going home and I can’t now. By the time I stop at the store and get my daily loaf of bread and milk and whatever I think I need for supper it’s five before I get home. Oh heck I guess I’m getting old and cranky.

I hardly ever get a chance to see my friends, the evenings are so taken up with a number of chores and Saturday and Sunday are a pure nightmare. I catch myself coming and going, trotting to the store, taking the girls to choir, taking Bob down to the sea scouts, feeding the family and throwing the wash in the machine in between times. Jere does most of the drying for me, and that’s when I bless the dryer. I see Ruby when she comes down, and of course Pearl, the darling, is always popping in on me. She was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and I spent all my spare time going to see her. She did it for me, and I was bound and determined to do as much for her. I know how nice it was for my friends to come and break up the monotony of the day. It sure can get dreary lying in bed waiting for things to happen.

Ruby’s house is coming along just beautifully, I bet she will be in by Christmas. It’s going to be a lovely house, too, and Mac is doing a nice job. There are a lot of new homes up around the bend now, and I hardly know my neighbors, so many cars go up and down and I don’t know where they belong. One of these days they’ll be fixing Monserat, but I wouldn’t put it past them to start when the rainy season comes, and we’ll be in mud up to your ears. But I won’t care so long as they get the job done, it will be an improvement (Holy cow this typewriter is a mess, everybody’s using it, both Cami and Bob do their homework on it, and I noticed tonight that even Deedee’s been using it, the poor old thing can’t stand the strain. Of course at the head of the Christmas list is a new typewriter, my stars and stripes, did I say Christmas?  It will be here before I know it, or am even ready for it.

Well, doll, here it is ten o’clock again, and I must sign off. You know it’s early rise and early to bed for me, and I don’t even know anymore what a television is. I sure enough never get to watch it.

The kids are fine again, though we had a siege of the flu there for awhile, only Cami went on a long hike Sunday and her muscles are still sore. Penny has shot out of all her clothes and even though I’ve lengthened all her dresses already she is about due for a new wardrobe. Their school pictures ought to come any day now, we’ve gotten Bob’s, isn’t he a nice looking kid?  but unfortunately they lost Cami’s pictures. The little ones haven’t come yet. I’ll send them when they do.

Well, nightie night now,

Best love to you both as ever,

from all of us


Wed., Nov. 6
Jim wasn’t at school today. Nor at the Court of Awards. The guys think he’s up the Hill [Hillcrest Juvenile Hall--the pokey]. But Mr. Ennis won’t say anything. Just “he’s out of town.” God, I’m so dam worried...

What a cool way to spend a two month anniversary. Jim’s up the hill all right. Dick brought Bobbie to Mariners and he told me. Jim is home now but for how long we don’t know. He might go to school tomorrow afternoon. Krow was the one who spread it around school!  He also has the stolen junk. Jim’s all shook, says Dick, MY GOD, he oughta be!!!  Bobbie stayed over night. It’s raining--perfect weather!  (Dad got me up to see Sputnik this morn. but it didn’t show!!)

Sat., Nov. 9
Baby sat for Van Lindens until 4:00. Got 5 bucks. Jim phoned.

Fussed off. Played miniature golf with Bob and Sue.

Mon (holiday)
Bob and I went with Alpine Club on a tour of San Fran. Flirted with Jack Macarty. Think I broke up his romance with Bonny, tho I doubt it. Had a blast altogether. Jim has the flu but will come to school manyana if possible.

Got all spruced up and Jim did come. Man, how I missed him. It rained last night. Our road is a sight. At least 2 [feet?] from street to driveway. Stayed for Art Club.

Nov. 13
Tested in Modern Dance. Jim said his mom didn’t want us to go steady. At noon he got caught smoking. That cooled everything. Suspended, grades lowered, no dates. He wants to break up. I’m so fed up with him, it’s pitiful. I used to be proud of him, now I’m ashamed!! I’ll be glad to break off... but darn, I wish we had a ghost of a chance. Even tho I love him, that isn’t enough. Had a dilly of a biol test. Of course we didn’t go to scouts. Got in a fight with parents...

Officers meeting at Gingers.

Went to Mariners dealie at Redwood. Jim phoned. I love him. Talked till 10:30

Took some pictures of me. Tina’s hair came out darling. Dick came over and he said I could go to the drive in with them all. It was a tall blast. “Pal Joey” was absolutely the greatest. Wrote Jim a letter. We all came up to our house for coffee and Jim was talking to mom (12:00). I took over and we talked till 15 min to 2:00. They cheered him up wonderfully. I really love him.

Tina had a ball last night. She’s a doll. I hope Arnie and her go together. I’ve still got a terrible sore throat. Feel lousy. Sue is an idiot.  Jim promised to phone back but he didn’t.

Nov. 18
Whats a young girl
to do when she falls in love?
Nothing to do but wait;
Wait for the inevitable graduate,
And trust in the Lord above.

Nov. 19
Went to school but regretted it because still sick

Sick. Big fight. Everyone in family versus Dad.

Nov. 21
Sick. Jim phoned. He’s moving for sure in two weeks to Burlingame. Can go out after the trial on the 4th of Dec.

Nov. 22
Sick. Short school day. Went bowling with Bobbie and her uncle Guy.

Sick!!  Went out with Jim. We all (Dick, Bobbie, Kevin) went to where Giner’s baby sitting over the weekend. Was fun, sort of... Jim didn’t feel well after awhile. That guy doesn’t know how he hurts me sometimes. Felt lousy, still.

Sick, still!!  Drove a little. Cut and permanented mom’s hair. Jim phoned. Bob went down there today to help him work on his car. He’s getting real cute!!! Wrote Jim’s theme. Purty good too. Still nice and warm and sunny out.

Art Club.

Nov. 26
Sports.  Loads of fun. Jobs elections. I died of shame. All thru the whole thing I got only 3 votes, the last time 4, and both times one was my own!  Joan Gule won queen. I’m glad of that, but Miss Russell won Marshal.

Sea Scouts. Dick didn’t come after me and no one phoned either. I was boiling mad. Dad poured water all over my bed. Not so hot for my cold...

Nov. 28
Thanks Giving Day. What have I to be thankful for?  Went to work at 4:30 till 10:30  Really worked hard to earn that $4. Jim phoned twice.

Mom, Pearl, and I rode all over Nature’s Half Acre today. I feel drained of all energy, no pep. Jim phoned. As always he had an answer for everything. I’m getting fed up. He has absolutely no sympathy for me. Boo hoo hoo.

Dec. 1
Went down to the barge to draw. Saw Jim.


December 1. 1957

Greetings, Aged and Respected Parents!

Well, there were no skull and crossbones in the letters to the kids saying I was not to read ‘me, so, although not a sign of life has come addressed to me, I am sort of abreast of the times and lives of the Millers in Dover. I hope by now things are a little better with you both again.

I never got around to telling you, but our lives have been encumbered with a very lively, very impish little kitten, a cross-eyed member of a Siamese. Bootsie is very unhappy about her, she teases him unmercifully and is quicker than greased lightning so he can’t get back at her, and if that dratted cat lights on my chest one more night and purrs in my ear I’ll make mince-meat out of her. Our cat was poisoned about a couple of months ago and Penny carried on so about her kitty that Jere said to for goodness sakes get her another one, and I got this little devil through one of the girls at work. Cute little monster with her blue eyes and her pretty seal point fur, even if her eyes are crossed. She caused me more trouble too, got out the first day we had her and we turned the neighborhood upside-down trying to locate the stupid little thing, and met more nice (or not so nice) people that way. Now we couldn’t get rid of her if we tried. Put her out one door and she cries at the other.


Mon., Dec. 2
Art Club. Made up in sports.


Dorm wants me to go out with a guy named Al Lissay tomorrow night. Been trying all week to break up with Jim. No luck. Tina and Arnie doing fine.

Went out on a double date with Dorm and Norm Day and Al Lissay. He turned out to be cute and loads of fun. But when we got home he kissed me good night and said “You can do better than that!” That burned me and I then proceeded to make a fool out of myself. Jim phoned while I was gone.

Jim phoned. When he asked me where I had been last night I said “out”, he said where “I said “show” he said “who with?  Tina? no, Sue? no, etc, etc. I told him and he simply said “oh”  Didn’t even get mad!!!

Went down to the barge for awhile

Art Club. Started basketball in PE with Miss Lum, the dear. I love it. I got an A in my Xmas Card. I did a little boy ice skater.

Sports. Jobs. It was so sad. Just to think, next meeting is farewell night and it won’t ever be the same again. Oh how I’ll miss everyone, Rena and Judy Grotts, Judy Cook, Kay, oh shoot. Mom and I have sold 20 fruit cakes--that means $10 for my snow trip.

Grades. B- in dance, B in Art, B in English (that slob, she gave Jim a C tho he didn’t turn in a book report or a term report!!) B+ in typing (darn) A- in bookkeeping (pure luck) B+ in biology (gyp!) Tried out for “Man that came to dinner” but doubt if I will get it.

Didn’t feel well. Mom and Dad wouldn’t let me go to Mariners. I cried up a storm.

Stayed home. Felt lousy. Dad wouldn’t let me go to the scout dance nor out shopping. I cried madly. After Jim came over and wanted me to go out and I couldn’t I really cried. I think it did me good. The SS Base has been condemned.

Sat. Dec. 14
Still feel lousy. Went shopping. Jim came over and took back his ring. Shoot, my heart broke in a million pieces. What a merry Christmas present.

Sick. Family went to Lenkurt's Xmas party. Jim phoned. Had horrible argument.

Very rainy. Missed Jim terribly but I suppose I must get used to it. Art Club. My man is coming along ok. Jobs Farewell Night and Initiation. It was the most perfect and most beautiful Jobs meeting ever. The Labr. report was wonderful. Tina and Beth did exceptionally well in stories. Started SAM tho.

No sports.

No word from Jim

Tina’s still absent, since Tues. I wore her clothes for sports. Think I made B team.

Tina came back. The assembly was wonderful. Went to the Chlorophyll dance. Had a blast but made a fool of myself. Bob Kinsman’s brother is a doll. I drove home with a guy named Ken and Bonny and Sharon and Don Rowe. We went to Sugar & Spice [a drive-in cafe]. Don’s nice. Got home at 1:15.

Sat. Dec. 21
Penny’s birthday. Jim phoned last night. Was supposed to phone tonight but didn’t. Went out with Ron. Didn’t have much fun.

Jim still hasn’t phoned. Darn that stupid blond. Went caroling, Ick!!

Jim phoned. Cleaned house, visited Anne and Celeste. Got Jim a darling Xmas card. Quote--they were all cleaned out of partridges--Merry Christmas anyway--Cute huh?  He’s got a job a Hillsborough Yacht Club driving cars--and what cars!!!  Went shopping with Mom and Pearl

Tues, December 24
Snuck out and bought mom a book, Northwest Passage. Dad took me. Jim phoned. We had a nice talk. After dinner we all opened our presents. Tina gave me a beautiful purse. Mom gave a beautiful baby blue pixy slippers. Grandma’s package came. Went over to Jones’s. Deedee and Penny were thrilled! Had a wonderful time altogether but I wish Jim could have come over--maybe tomorrow...

December 25
Christmas Day. Dad started it off with a whiz. Tina got a beautiful portable radio. I drank sauterne. Ate like a pig and am gaining weight galore. Babysat with three spoiled kids for 2 hours. Brian Petty phoned. He was drunk. Jim phoned. Leaves tomorrow for Yosemite. Be gone about 3 days. He’s working New Year’s Eve. DARN.

No Mariners. Decided not to go on the Alpine Trip tomorrow. Almost finished “Northwest Passage”.

West out with Guy to drive in and saw April Love and Jet Pilot. Jet Pilot impressed me because it gave a true picture of an airplane, of how very difficult it is to fly one. The vast difference between a light plane and a large passenger plane.

Dad was very unreasonable again today. Jim phoned. Wrote a letter about it. Anyway I am going to now. Finished Northwest Passage. Very good.

Puggy and I walked to the bus depot and took a bus to the city. We saw “Sayonara” with Marlon Brando. Ooooh-la-la. Oh I love him--- then we window and people shopped. Real fun. We took a bus home and walked up the hill.

December 31
New Year came in with a bang. Dick phoned and asked me to go out with Ed Brooks. We went to the Rio Vista Drive in down south, saw three pictures. Crummy all. Had trouble with Ed. He expects too much. Got home at 3:15 pm. wow--a record!! That Ed didn’t even bother to walk me to the door!


I always could see both sides and I suppose that’s what kept us together all these years. But now I no longer care to assume the whole burden of guilt and would like for once to disregard the [beam] in my eye and put out the speck in the other fellow’s. If that is what he [asks] then, this armed truce, I will try as long as I humanly can to oblige but He’d better realize our relationship from now on is strictly Master and Servant and I will only give as little as I can get by with.


See that it isn’t as easy as it seems to keep house for such a large family and have enough good humor left over to live with six assorted individuals without too much friction. Only to have the frustrating experience of hearing the same old phrase [thrown] in my teeth at the slightest provocation. What’s the point of [wearing] myself out cleaning and working when all I ever hear is “Dirt, filth, and disorder” that I’m ‘a stupid bitch’ and don’t know enough to go to the bathroom. Such vulgarity! When other people don’t practice what they preach is it any wonder that I, a weak mortal myself, adopt a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. At least I have sense enough to stop short of  that ‘thank the good Lord for my own faults, they’re not as bad as yours” which would really mark me as stupid. However, that doesn’t solve any problems.

It's a funny thing, but whatever mood or situation I'm in I can always find a book to exactly fill the bill. Take this one, for instance, for years I've been subconsciously following that practice of writing out my thoughts, and they do clarify your thinking. So just for the heck of it, let's do some more thinking on paper. Too bad my best thoughts are 'thunk' in bed at night and have escaped me by the time I get around to writing. But because I've had to organize my thoughts into proper sequences for so long this Free-wheeling style is a little difficult to do, but here goes. I got to thinking what went wrong in this marriage of ours and when and where did I go off course. It would be infantile to lay the blame all on the other party and only fair to try to be objective about it. And anyway, I'm not concerned with Jere right now, I only want to straighten out my own life. The evidence all points up the fact that he's as fed up with me as I am with him, although for different reasons. I may as well face it, that starry-eyed dream of twenty years ago always was just an illusion I've built up to bolster my own insecure ego. I've built my life around this obsession (and I can now call it that callously) this obsession of wanting people to like me and all this self-less 'goodness' on my part was all directed to this aim. I have had always to prove myself. For goodness sakes WHY? Pat me on the head and I was your friend for life, but any unconscious or conscious criticism, fancied or real, through me into a blue tizzy. One part of me is so very independent it's almost a fault, and another part of me clings to approval at whatever cost. I fell in love, and oh yes, I was in love desperately, desperately, that's the key note. I fell in love because I told myself I wanted to make HIM happy, I babied and pampered and lived for him alone, why? Because he loved me? Oh no, because I wanted to have one person love me and me alone, to be mine. How possessive can you get?  Anyway, with that technique I could have fastened on any man and won him, but I had to pick on someone like Jere. Because he needed me, or so I thought. Like marrying a drunkard and expecting him to be reformed by love alone, I thought I could soften his tempers and his moods. Hah!  Why or why does wisdom only come with age, experience and living!  I wanted him and I got him, and why not?  At the psychological moment I cam along, made no demands, was fun to be with, listened with rapt attention for all those pearls of wisdom to fall from his lips, gave my attention, my love, helped with the upkeep, kept the home, sure, it was a snap for any man, and any man would have snapped it up. And when did the stardust fall out of my eyes?  I guess I began to realize that no matter how hard I tried it still takes two people to make a go of anything, and it takes more than love, it takes liking to smooth over the rough edges of two different personalities. Yes, I would say I changed, not Jere, he always was and always will be like he was twenty years ago and it shouldn't surprise me or make me feel resentful, hurt, or bitter. He never made any bones about it, right now he may be held by circumstances and habit, but not by love, and circumstances permitting he will leave me, I know, because I no longer represent the ideal we started out with. Oh between spurts of quarreling we'll talk and laugh and take walks and go to the show, yes, we'll be together but in reality we're miles apart and strangers. He's never taken the trouble to try to understand me, why should he?  He never really cared, what he cared about was this mythical Frances he built up in his mind, this wonder-woman fit to be mate to the Wonder-man he feels himself to be. This Frances is an intelligent woman, able to match him mood for mood, whether it's listening to Stravinsky (whom I hate) or discussing the meaning of Life, with a capital 'L', to go for a walk when the mood strikes him and audibly express her feeling for clouds and shapes and such abstractions. This Frances is a superb cook, a hundred percent of the time, always spends money wisely and still gives her family everything they need in the way of extras, manages the children so well they are never a nuisance and keeps the house in apple-pie order. This Frances is a marvelous combination of mistress, housekeeper, manager and wife. Anything short of that is merely a pernicious design on my part to annoy and fret him.

On reading this over I suddenly realize that for all my protesting that I'm not concerned with Jere, he seems to take up the greater part of my thoughts. Am I, too, bound by habit and circumstances?  I suppose so. But I also know I've stopped liking him, and therefore stopped caring. And that will make the situation increasingly worse and not better. And Frances, Old Girl, don't go around telling yourself that his hitting you all the time has killed your love. That's sentimental twaddle, and the reason for writing this little epic is to get the facts, man, the facts, not fancy.


September 8, 1957

That was a curious remark for Jere to make to me. "You know," he said, "I don't think you really have a poetic soul at all." Which just go to show how little we really know about anyone, and how very little we really know about ourselves. I'm sitting here thinking if it really could be time and whatever made him say so. It hurt me deeply for a moment until I thought about it and the more I think the more I realize what made him say it. On the other hand, what makes me say the things I do, resentment I guess. I resent deeply his, what shall I call it? indolence, laziness, or what have you. I really don't know, he isn't really lazy, anymore than I am. I suppose its knowing he doesn't really like work, I mean physical labor. Take the business of family, that's where I put my effort in it every time. Why can't I remember that it is a land of Utopia to him, a heaven, a dream, and when you dream you dream only of the desirable feature, you don't bring a dream down to reality. And I suppose its this very realism in my make-up that made that remark possible. Can you be a realist and a poet too?

It's been a long, long time that I've been day dreaming. I guess I'm too practical I won't lift myself to exalted heights anymore because I'm too bruised from the many falls I've had to take. I only dream of the possible these days, not the impossible [notes] to be achieved. I suppose I have gone flat.



January 9, 1958

I can't talk to anyone of my emotional problems, though sometimes I do really wish I could. The next best thing has always been to write them out. I get so desperate sometimes and there seems to be no solutions at all. I can't leave and he won't. And these terrible scenes occur with greater intensity at more frequent intervals and there seems to be no common meeting ground at all anymore. But we drift on any on together with no end in sight.

About my indifference there is no doubt whatever, and from the remarks he makes when he is angry I guess the feeling is mutual, with one difference. I want to stay clear of him at all costs, and he seems determined to follow me about and make my life unbearable. I just can't understand it. If I'm that repugnant to him why does he want me around?  I would give a lot if he went out and he wont, but when I absent myself there is always hell to pay when I come back.

Of course I realize he has a picture of me in his mind that though it bears no resemblance to the facts, nevertheless it is quite real to him, and so long as that image is real, why so it is. I couldn't change it even if I wanted to, not unless  I went all the way back to my first flush of absolute admiring selfless, mindless love. And that I'm not about to do. Not now and not ever again. It got me nothing except what I created in my mind, the fist time around and once the fire is out, its out and ashes can't come to life unless you put more [firewood] on them.

I doubt if he is capable of loving anything or anyone and I doubt greatly if even in the fist years of our marriage I was ever anything but used to further his self esteem. Even our lovemaking was but a test of his skill. Oh, he was skilled all right, and I enjoyed it. Sometimes I didn't but to admit that (even to myself) meant admitting that I was an unfeeling dolt. The fault, you see, was always mine.

Heavens knows I've suffered enough from a feeling of inferiority and rejection that I just have it in my marriage also. Always, always I've dreamed of a person who would accept me for what I am, imperfect but with an "E" for effort. Someone I could come to in sorrow and sadness and blue moods, someone to laugh with, someone I could say for "we are together", we against the world, and that ideal died slowly and painfully and perhaps it was to much heaven to hope for and not to be achieved on earth. Yet some people must share that feeling together, surely, somebody must. Anytime in our intimate talks when there was the slightest question or the hint of criticism of his acts or person, I'd run into this wall of rage.

Well, so now I have nothing to say. Take the other day when he mentioned that incident in Hawthorne, well, if you can't joke it away or talk about, why the only thing left is to bury it. And it stinks. He knows, or he should, that it’s always been for better or worse, and if I have one virtue only it is loyalty, but that apparently means nothing at all, it is taken for granted. Can I ever say with wifely concern: watch that temper of yours. Heck no, I'd get a slap for my pains. What kind of a relationship is that anyway. The whole world's out of step and I'm the world's prize fool.

Is it fair to put the burden of guilt on me for everything?  When the children are smart, they have his brains, and when they're bad, it's all my doing. Can he honestly say that the trouble he has with Camille and Bob is due to my indulgence only. I don't deny I'm a softie where the children are concerned but can they be exposed to his temper and indolence and not be affected. If I really thought it would be better for them I'd leave them, but I don't think it would. So here I am playing possum like a coward and waiting waiting for I don't know what. Sometimes I wonder what his [mimes] life is like. He doesn't like women and I guess that can be laid on my doorstep also. I suppose he feels they are good only as far as they can be useful to men. They have no brains...nothing but work horses and playthings. He hasn't any friends; his inability to make allowances, his total absence of tolerance, makes that almost impossible. Sooner or later the people he holds discourse with will differ and that's always the end. So of course they are of no consequence. He cuts himself off from everyone and then feels utterly alone. And he need not look to me anymore to act as buffer.

It so happens I don't think of myself as so utterly devoid of attractiveness as he'd have me believe. Without flattering myself I can only say there are not many women who have kept their youthfulness as I have. Other people find me pleasant and nice to have around. I'm well liked by everyone I'm in contact with and surely it must be just his distorted picture of me that can cause him to say the things he does and act the way he does. Well, from the looks of things I can look forward to a lovely weekend again. The [soap[ is kicked down the stairs and things scattered in the kitchen. Oh well.

November 2

Another weekend started off with a bang. Gollie, I just dread Saturday and Sunday. I do all I can to stay out of the house, although I have so much to do. Friday night I asked Cami to stay home to dish out the 'treats' to the kids and she had a small fit. From the looks of things, she and her father had another round of it, when I got home I found his slide rule on the kitchen floor. Saturday morning he started in [about] Bob. The car, of course! Bob was called to go to the base and after I put my 2 cents worth in saying he had to go if he was to continue (that was the wrong thing to do apparently.) he said he could go. Then he said he couldn't and we all sat through another lecture in the living room. The upshot of it was that Bob went when his ride came. Cammie [asked] me if she could take Marsha to S.F. and I said of course. more to get her out of the way than anything else.

Supper came, and of course the stew wasn't any good. More lectures about how badly I cook. Cammie went to the Sea Scout dance after another round of arguments, but since the date was made ahead, he let her go. I took Bob to the show just to get out of the house.

Bob found the garage [dirty] and had to clean up the garage then and there with Penny's help.

Off and on there were further lectures about the kids. I don't know why he feels those kids aren't any good at all. Now the story goes the only reason he sticks around is because of the two little ones they show promise and he wants to see how they turn out.

Could it be that he is secretly and sub-consciously frustrated because neither Bob nor Cammie show evidence of being other than bright, intelligent normal kids instead of geniuses? I know I'm satisfied with them and quite proud they turned out the way they did.

I didn't deny he did them a certain amount of good besides inheriting his mental capacities (up to a point) and for since as far as Bob is concerned it has been good for him to be pressed into doing things. But how much pressure can a youngster take before breaking?  Cammie now has the stronger personality and she will fight back. But I feel that is not good for her. It will spoil her for a [husband sympathetic companionship] in marriage. She will definitely have that emotional block to overcome. She is too [withdrawn] and her warmth doesn't show itself.

Bob late 50'sAnd Bob, what shall I say about him? He just goes along with things and takes the easy way out. If there is trouble he'll go the other way, he'll knuckle under for whatever reason and that, too, isn't good. He feels so insecure, he has become selfish and greedy and grasping except with those he loves and trusts. Right now he seems to care only for me and Penny. What can I do? What can I do? I feel somewhere we've gone off the path. This is not a healthy atmosphere for the kids. It fosters all the emotions and feelings I've tried to control. I can't be just a [sister]. I tried it and the children's cry still wrings my heart. "Why didn't you stick up for me?"  I'm a mother and the instinct to protect my young against any and all is too strong. As much as I'm able I've got to stand up for them until they can stand up for themselves, and I have a feeling that won't be long. And I'm sick about that, too. I never wanted my children to leave home to "get away". I never meant home to mean just that to them. And yet how can I blame them. [Every nerve and sinew] in me wants to get away too. I can't even permit myself the luxury of wishful thinking. Thinking of how it might have been, of not being jealous when I see and hear others whose marriage is more serene. There is no use in saying It might have been. All I can do is work with what I've got and that means going along from day to day without its letting me get the best of me. Take the calm and lull when it comes and ride out the storm when that comes.


On my birthday, August 5, 1959, I started a new diary. On the first page I wrote a description of my family:

Oh, by the way, I have one brother, 16, whom I love, one sister, 13, who is sweet, one sister, 8, who is an ill-mannered and snotty child largely caused by her siblings, a mother, about 47, who though usually sloppy, is the sweetest and most good-natured person on earth, a father, about 49 who is a Dr. Jeckyll-Mr. Hyde. The Dr. Jeckyll is a cheerful, kind and understanding man while the Mr. Hyde is a spoiled little boy who yells, wants the best of everything, refuses to listen to criticisms , is irritated by the slightest thing, and is generally one of very selfish tendencies and one who settles everything with violence. Also at present we have a dog, Bootsie, two cats, Eloise and Timmy, three kittens and a duck.

And some insight came on August 17:

…The dominant problem is my home life. I can’t bear to be here when my father is—I really can’t. When I was 14 I resisted simply because I resented domination—now I resist because I think my father is a hypocrite who can no more guide me than my mother, who has learned from many pride-shattering and humiliating years that it does no good to try to talk to him. She feels trapped;  she has even admitted it to us. How can either a hypocrite or a “trapped” person advise me?


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