Episode 19 Oakland
By 1951 the patterns of our early married life were being formed, convivial, but hardly ever serene. Two diametrically opposed personalities frequently clashing.
The trucking company had been sold, and Sam went to work at the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. where he was to remain for nearly 40 years. His expertise in transportation and in safety engineering sent him up and down the West coast from Monday to Friday every week. The dye was cast for him to become “Dr. Advice” in the future.
Meanwhile I was what came to be known as a “stay-at-home” mother, just as my mother and all the women I knew then were. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, wallpaper, garden and cook. I tried my best to be perfect, still too young to realize that would never happen. (In case you wonder at the wallpaper skill, it was very important in the 50’s. Every room in the magazines had wallpaper.)
Our older women friends had long since realized that none of the above were important skills, but I still fed on their praise when I was showing off. Much like the feeling I got as a small girl when I got approval for being a “good girl”, or learning something new.
Since Sam traveled all week, and we lived in a more rural area, I thought a dog would be a good idea. Calling a pet adoption organization, I expressed the desire for a large dog. The woman said they had one but it was too much dog for me, so I took him home. Sarge was a slow, sleepy and very large Great Dane, who wanted badly to be part of someone’s family. He slept in our downstairs family room, and late one Friday night when Sam returned home from traveling all week, Sarge refused to let him into the house. Though Sarge was a family dog, it became clear that ours was not the right family.
Going to the Oakland Flower Show, Oakland in those days had a more upscale social life.
I tried to rejuvenate my painting skills, but I soon realized I needed help. I submitted a painting of my daughter to the “Famous Artists Schools” which was a correspondence school for illustrators. I received a thumbs up from them saying I had possibilities which planted a seed in my brain.
I waited for an opportune moment and announced my intention of signing up for the school. It was met with the utmost of negative reactions. As a matter of recollection he said “Over my dead body!” I believe I said OK!
Many years later I met a gentleman who had been a graduate of that school and had become a very successful illustrator of women’s clothing for newspaper advertising. This was before photographs of actual people were used.
Not being at all deterred in my quest for further education, at the beginning of the next semester, I entered the California College of Art in Oakland, sharing baby sitting with a neighbor, and walking two miles to catch a bus. The halls of higher education held wondrous possibilities, and though my intent was to someday call myself a painter, there were other avenues to pursue as well.