Some Family History And A Little Wisdom.

I have a family tradition that each year I go through our scrapbooks to renew memories and make sure pictures haven’t fallen out.  I love to look at the photos, because they take me to places that were special.  I enjoy seeing photos of the Rogue River as it changed over the years and study faces that no longer exist.  Such an experience makes me aware of the transience and unfathomable mystery of life.  Playing in the snow in the Angeles Crest, following the stories of record readers, remembering when a simple table could provide hours of entertainment, trying to create a miniature golf course by digging up the lawn in our backyard, Grandpa David pulling out yet another Hershey bar from his “secret” closet,  all these memories flow into an ever changing and ever beckoning past….

Murray Weiss:  Around 1940, we purchased a 12 acre ranch above San Fernando.  It came with two horses that I used to ride.  There were also groves of lemon and orange trees, and a barn for the horses.  The water came down from a spring in pipes.  I would drive up there at least two or three times a week and give the horses bales of hay and feed them.  But, after awhile, the horses figured out how to get out of the gate and would wander around San Fernando.  I would often get a call from the Dog Pound in the middle of my medical practice:  “We have one of your horses.  Please come and pick it up.”   And, it was really kind of a mess.  I would attach the horse to the back of my car, and drive slowly up the streets and put it back.( In 1966 the ranch burned to the ground in the Pacoima Canyon Fire.)

Geraldine(Jerry) Hilton:  My mother(Grandma Lena) dominated.  Any time we asked Dad if we could go some place, he would say no.  My mother would say: “Let the kinder go.”  When it came to gifts, my mother was very generous.  She’d say:  “Give it to them.”  My mother loved to buy stuff wholesale and she would always have a stock of silver-plated platters and trays in case she needed to give a gift for somebody.  She had a whole warehouse in the closet.  As long as it was wholesale, she would buy it.

Twyla Weiss:  When the earthquake of the early 30s happened, I was playing hide and seek, and I was “it”, and I had my face against a house that completely collapsed.  I became absolutely panic-stricken, and I would not go back into our brick apartment house.  I stayed in our big seven-passenger Buick all night long, and I remember my sister, Cecile, stayed with me.

My mother was a warm person, but had a volatile temper.  She would slap you, get angry, and the next minute not remember it at all.  My mother was not a homemaker, even though she loved to cook and bake, but was a very bright, astute woman, who had little formal education.  She was always trying to learn to drive a car and get a license.  She often smashed the car, and one of our admonitions was:  “Oh, be careful!  Watch out at the corner!  Mom may be coming down the street!

Boris(Buddy) Yorkshire:  Grandpa Yorkshire did the driving in the house.  He had a glass eye in one eye and was almost blind with a cataract in the other.  How he drove, I don’t really know, but he did.  The day he had his cataract removed, he said up till then he never realized what things look like.  He really wasn’t even sure what his children looked like!

I can’t understand why we fight wars.  I haven’t quite figured that out, except that there are good salesmen there at the top that want to own a little bit more of the world.  I think being tolerant is probably the most important thing you can be.  Be tolerant of the other guy, and try to understand his feeling, too.

Grandma Lillian as a teenager.

Grandma Lillian as a teenager.

Grandma Lena and Grandpa David.

Grandma Lena and Grandpa David.

Grandpa Johnny and I at my Bar Mitzvah.

Grandpa Johnny and I at my Bar Mitzvah.

My Dad enjoying himself at Casey's Auto Camp in the 1930s.

My Dad enjoying himself at Casey’s Auto Camp in the 1930s.

My Dad today at 90, engrossed in American History.

My Dad today at 90, engrossed in American History.

Mom at 88, reading a biography of Elsa Maxwell.

Mom at 88, reading a biography of Elsa Maxwell.

Remembering Martha P.”Pat” Brooks: A Personal Tribute

I first knew Pat when my family stayed for a summer vacation at the Obstinate J Ranch in 1961.  We liked “Steelhead Point” so much that we returned every summer until 1980, when we built our own home on Rogue River Drive.  Although Pat came from an elite eastern women’s institution, Smith College, she had no difficulty adjusting to life on a ranch in Southern Oregon.  In fact, she loved her horses, cattle, and especially her two poodles.  I remember Pat calling out:  “Dragon!  Gagette!”, and the poodles would come running out of her house, and jump into her pick-up.  And when she was on the road, she was not known for dawdling.  She may have set a speed record going up and back from Hwy.62 to Persist, a 38 mile scamper.  In spite of that, time was not something sacred for her.  Dinner was when she made it, and she was known for being late and forgetting to call people.  Yet, she never missed a board meeting when I was Director of Medford Education International and had an adept mind at preserving details.  Pat had an encyclopedic knowledge of Rogue Valley events.  She belonged to many organizations and often helped support them.  She also had a great love of family and a great pride in her children and grandchildren’s achievements.  Pat was a strong individual that many relied on in good times and bad.  She possessed a winsome, yet knowing smile.  Her young, vibrant voice was often heard throughout the valley.  But now as I look across the darkening hills, there is an uneasy silence…