“Believe in laughter”, she always said. Another of her favorite sayings was ” Life is too short”. Hers wasn’t, she passed on at age 94.

Like a lot of people, I read the obituary column, if only to make sure my name is not on it. Occasionally, more now than before, I read the name of a dear friend or acquaintance, and wish I had been a better friend. They sound like such interesting people, and did so much I never knew about.

Natalie Schreiber Marino sounds like someone I would have loved to know. Daughter of two cultures, her beauty was astonishing. A pioneer from before birth, she was conceived in the Peruvian Andes, the home of her father, the son of a three-time prime minister, yet born in Alameda, which was the home of her mother. Wanting to give birth in the U.S., her mother rode down the Andes on horseback while pregnant, which Natalie said contributed to her own quirky personality.

Her many smiles and laughs were as numerous as the pins she wore uniquely, on the back of her right shoulder. “You meet the nicest people that way!” What a clever way to strike up a conversation! I used to write funny or inspirational words on autumn leaves and toss them along the creek path where we walked daily. My son in law thought that was a crazy idea, but I always felt someone would get a lift by picking up a pretty leaf on the road and having it say something. I gave that up when we stopped walking on the creek trail. Now I pick up feathers.

Getting back to Natalie, She got jobs at the Peruvian consulate (I always wanted to do that), and later the pavilion at the 1939 world’s fair in San Francisco. That would have been fun too, except I was too young and living in Connecticut at the time. Dr. Advice and his sister rode the train across the bay numerous times to visit the fair. I even found a photo of him with a young girl friend and another teenage couple taken at the fair. I was happy to make a copy of it to give to one of the girls a few years ago.

Anyway, Natalie got engaged, and went back to Peru where she spied a very handsome man in the box seats who, as it turned out, was also engaged. Undaunted, she and Guillermo Marino started dating and and, despite a scandal on two continents, began their 60 year marriage. So much for people who say “It will never last”. They said that about ours too, and we celebrated our 68th anniversary last week.

Peruvian wives do not work, but Natalie presented herself at the U.S. Embassy as a translator, and began spying on the correspondence of Peruvians of German and Japanese ancestry. Not being able to translate anything except Latin to English, I would not have been good at that job either.

Natalie and Guillermo came back to California and went to Hollywood to coordinate war bond broadcasts to Latin America. Natalie began frequenting the Warner Bros. lot and was spotted by studio executives who thought she’d make a great Latin leading lady. Given a screen test alongside Sidney Greenstreet and Eve Arden, she was unable to “laugh with her eyes”, and didn’t get the job. Later Guillermo won the Mexican lottery and they built their dream home in Piedmont.

In still-scarred post-war Japan, Natalie once drove a coal-fueled jalopy through Tokyo to pick Guillermo up at the airport. They traveled abroad throughout their lives, once sharing a floor with the Aga Khan in Pakistan, even being set adrift for three days in the Caribbean after their cruise ship caught afire on its maiden voyage. They won the on board version of “The Newlywed Game” by answering the question “What did you wear on your wedding night?” Natalie answered “A smile”! Now I ask you—doesn’t she sound like someone you might like to have known?

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

13 thoughts on “A WOMAN I NEVER MET”

  1. Katy … this is all very well; but I have to ask you what YOU are doing in regard to your own memoirs. Posting is one thing; seriously putting ’em together is another ! 🙂


      1. RUBBISH ! – total garbage woman !!!!!!!!!!
        The occasional anecdote with which you bless us is indication of the awful porky you just told me.
        I am ashamed of you.
        How about a little voice-recorder then …?

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Wonderful tale Kaytisweet. Sixty eight years of wedded bliss. How do you manage? Any special recepes? 😉 Does he do the vacuming? Our locomotive is heading towards 59th. toot-toot…chuck-a- chuck…toot.


  3. Yes, it took many years for me to put my clothes on top of the basket. H now got me practsing lifting the lid and putting it IN the basket. She reckons another few months and I’ll get there (eventually).
    I wonder if it is genetic? Helvi also spots (within seconds) if I haven’t returned the coffee mug back to the sink. She says,” when you get up, can you take your cup to the sink?” I answer ” yes dear, but I am still busy sitting.”


  4. interesting…I once put a gold leaf pin on the bottom of my pants leg and it received so many comments that I decided that it was a good thing to put pins in unusal places to start interesting conversations…


    1. I love it! It’s a fashion statement. After I read this, I took a look at an old fishing hat I hadn’t seen for years, and found I had it plastered with small pins I had collected from
      European trips. It’s all about communication isn’t it?


  5. She was a fascinating woman, indeed. On the other hand, the most fascinating tidbit here isn’t about her, but about your pechant for strewing poetic leaves about. There was a movement going on a year or two ago. I can’t remember where it started or how widespread it was, but one blogger I know participated. The point? To write small poems and leave them in unexpected places, like the birthday card section of Walgreens. Annie Dillard spent a childhood summer strewing pennies around for people to find. Come to think of it, blogging’s got a few things in common with all these practices.

    I’m a feather-picker-upper, too. One of the great mysteries of life is what happens to cardinal feathers. I’ve never found one. Maybe they fade to brown once they’re not attached to the bird and aren’t so noticeable. Still, you’d think cardinals would lose feathers, too.

    I’ve never been a pin-wearer, front or back. But I have some beauties of my mother’s from the 50s. I love the sparkle, and when I take them out and look at them now and then, I’m about sixty years younger.


  6. I began the feather thing in order to put a little one in each note/letter I wrote. I sent a card to a grandson with 3 feathers in it (My Pueblo name) one I picked up in Florence, one from a trail I walked each day, and I forget the third) People began collecting them for me and leaving them on my doorstep. One neighbor even had her little grandson getting them. I finally got too many so I took them out on a trail and tossed them in the wind where they came from.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, Kayti, no idea what to comment on – pin conversation starters, talking leaves, 68 years of marriage, Latin to English, or visions of you engulfed in flying feathers. Mrs Marino certainly sounds an interesting woman, but no less than yourself. “Believe in laughter”, you can’t go wrong there. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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