IT’S IN THE GENES


a-hat-for-all-seasons “A HAT FOR ALL SEASONS” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Is there a different category for each of those tiny gene things we confidently assume make up our personality? Just because Great aunt Hattie was an accomplished oboe player, will that make us a musician? If Uncle Henry cashed it in at the ripe old age of 102, does that mean we will follow suit?

Of course not, what a silly thought. But what about the clothes shopping gene? I can only answer for myself, and I’m sorry to say that because of the women in my family and their example, I have not only spent an inordinate amount of time and money in the rag trade, but have passed that gene on to my female descendants, including a ten year old great granddaughter, to my shame.

Call me shallow, but I even remember the new coat I had at age 11 when we went to see “Gone With the Wind”. The Depression made it difficult for people to indulge themselves, so that pink coat was a one-off experience for me.

I can’t remember a time when shoes have not attracted my attention; either on someone’s feet or in a store display. Perhaps it was the effect of the shiny Mary Jane’s my Grandmother bought me. I spent a lot of time washing their soles at the end of the day. One of my first jobs in dressing window displays was trying to make men’s work boots attractive. This was before I made a business of doing it a few years later.

No one can go into the clothing trade unless you truly love clothes. My grandmother, mother and aunt were accomplished seamstresses who also had a great deal of good taste, and I became comfortable sitting at a sewing machine as well. One of my daughters at age six was annoyed with me for not mending the hem of a dress as soon as she wanted it, so she grabbed a needle and thread and did it herself. I think sewing may be a lost art among the young today.

My mother in law tired of sewing soon after I married and gifted me with her old electric sewing machine. They were not always electrified. As a small child staying with an auntie, I slept in her sewing room, where her old foot pedal Singer machine stood.

My ‘new’ sewing machine was a Damascus Grand. It had copper fittings inside and when it need repair, there was only one old man in town who knew how to fix it. It perked away for years, keeping me and the girls presentable, eventually turning out clothes for the grandchildren. When it finally gave up the ghost, we made a lamp out of the head, which stands now in my studio.

We seldom throw things away, sometimes keeping them long after their usefulness is a memory. It is fortunate to have a friend of the same size and taste as your own, and closet cleaning is a fine time to share. Some years ago a friend called and asked if I could come help her clear out her closet. You can only do that with a close friend. At the end of the afternoon, glass of wine in hand, she decided she could bear to pass along a pair of light green sling back shoes I had admired. A few days later she knocked on my door at 7:30 a.m. to say she really wanted them back. What could I do? Sometimes we become too attached to our belongings.

So saying, I said a sad goodbye to my collection of ‘never-to-be-worn-again shoes by loading them into the trunk of a friend’s car. She is happy.

WHEREIN THE PYRAMID?


146“Renaissance” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Five thousand years ago in Egypt, long before the pyramids at Giza, the mighty king Djoser ruled a land dry beyond belief from a seven year drought. His vizier Imhotek, physician, scientist and architect, designed a limestone step pyramid at Saqqara as a tomb memorial, commemorating the good works of Djoser, and hoping to bring about an end to the drought.

Saqqara_pyramid_ver_2

Where is the magic in the pyramid shape?

Danish churchDanish church

oxford martyrsMemorial to the Oxford martyrs

Finnish pyramidSectional wooden pyramid made by Finnish artist

Transamerica pyramidTransamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco has been called an iconic symbol of tomorrow. Is that what a pyramid stands for? Is the shape a symbol of rebirth, of renewal? We all hope for a better tomorrow.

THE NEWNESS NEVER WORE OUT Kate’s Journal


Episode 34 Kirkland 1969-1974

051 “Inuit Mother and Child” watercolor by kayti sweetlanhd rasmussen

There was some success selling my sculptures in Seattle, and a minor bit of chicanery. If someone doesn’t try to cheat you, you haven’t made an impression.

For our second Christmas in the Northwest, Dr. A with the aid of a large truck and a large friend, brought home an enormous tree which reached to the ceiling of the barn, and became home to a number of enormous papier mache elves, while several more elves, dressed in colorful velvet clothes, straddled the rafters. The California family arrived in full force. and audience participation prevailed while serving up the old Rasmussen Christmas breakfast, with a few aebleskivers thrown in.

We learned that a family isn’t complete without a new generation, and in 1973 our California daughter gave us what we knew to be the world’s smartest and cutest grandson. It was troubling that he lived in California while we presently lived in Washington.

The flu can make a wet dishrag out of you, and in the midst of feeling sick and sorry for myself, alone on Valentine’s Day, our youngest daughter announced that she wanted to get married on St. Patrick’s Day. Better than that, she wanted to get married in our barn. Dr. Advice was traveling two weeks out of every month, so he was slow in getting the news, good or not so good.

marvin Oiver Large print by Marvin Oliver, Professor of Indian Studies, University of Washington

It’s amazing how fast a wedding or a climatic catastrophe (there isn’t much difference between the two) can get you out of bed. The amount of time spent on wedding arrangements today can give you plenty of time to change your mind on the whole thing. We had a month, and our daughter was in the middle of finals.

Handmade invitations, wedding clothes and food appeared in the appropriate time with the help of friends including pickled oysters from the Hood Canal from Georgia and Emmett. When everything else was set, we needed someone to marry them, and believe me, it isn’t easy when you do it at your home cold turkey. After a number of rejections, including all the regular churches, someone had a relative who was an unemployed Mennonite minister who would come.

The day of the wedding gave a display of weather the Northwest is famous for; rain, snow, hail and brilliant sunshine, not necessarily in that order. The bride walked down through our meadow on the arm of her handsome father and into a warm and cozy barn with sunshine pouring down through a large window near the ceiling. The groom was a lapsed Catholic, the bride was unaffiliated, and we were just guests, and we built a chuppah which was covered with daffodils and daisies. The new grandson slept peacefully in my arms throughout the service, undisturbed by the festivities.

North Coast Shaman “North Coast Shaman” sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

We sent the new couple off with the bride carrying a small cage of crickets (don’t ask) and found that the Mennonite minister had not signed the wedding certificate. Ominous? Everything got straightened out eventually.

There are strange sights in the country which you don’t usually see in the suburbs, a lot of them involving animals. A small Shetland pony being led down our road at 5:30 Christmas morning would be one of them, an entire line of cars at morning commute time regularly stopping to let a row of ducks cross the road, a couple of escaped horses stomping through our newly planted lawn., and of course, the belching goat.

One of our friends was a weaver of lovely things, which led me to try my hand with the warp and woof, but without her expertise. It seemed a shame not to be able to even weave a reasonable set of place mats and napkins, but it was a nice feeling to sit and try on a rainy morning.

The barn allowed us to have more parties involving more than four people. On one such occasion, a woman guest left in a huff when her husband told a raunchy joke. She just didn’t fit in or got tired of her husband’s boorish behavior. At another party, planned to entertain guests from California, fell apart when the belly dancer planned for the entertainment, refused to come when she discovered one of the guests was Jewish. Later, when our house was for sale, she wanted to buy it to use the barn to teach belly dancing in. She couldn’t come up with the money.

Seattle is one of those places where float planes fly in and out to Lake Union, taking you to places further north, and if you want to, you can go even further north to see the Iditerod races, fishing and meet new friends.

A 12 pound turkey graced our table on our last Thanksgiving in Kirkland. Complete with all the trimmings; potatoes, gravy, dressing and pumpkin pie, it brought home the fact that we had a 12 pound grandson waiting in California. Not that he was eating all this stuff by then, but you couldn’t ignore the weight or cuteness similarity.

Dr. A had supervised the building of the Alaska pipeline, caught a respectable number of fish, and made a lot of new friends, so we semi-reluctantly pulled up stakes and headed back to California.

chilcat blanket

Addendum: This post was written without using the word “I” even once. In this day and age of people like Donald Trump who seems to have a monopoly on the word, and even nice people who don’t realize they are doing it, it seemed a good lesson.

MANY WINTERS


Navajo Grandmother “Navajo Grandmother” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

These words written by Nancy Woods in her book “MANY WINTERS”.

“You know how it is. People come here and they want to know our secret of life. They ask many questions but their minds are already made up. They admire our children but thy feel sorry for them. They look around and they do not see anything except dust. They come to our dances but they are always wanting to take pictures.

They come into our homes expecting to learn about us in five minutes.

Our homes, which are made of mud and straw, look strange to them. They are glad they do not live here.

Yet they are not sure whether or not we know something which is the key to all understanding.

Our secret of life would take them forever to find out. Even then, they would not believe it.”

The words came from an old Indian at Taos Pueblo who sat on the roof of his house one afternoon, his back to the sun. He sat wrapped in his cotton blanket, his long hair in to braids. His face was wrinkled and the color of the earth from which his adobe house was made.

LIFE CHANGES Kate’s Journal


Episode 30 1969–1974

Moving can enable the powers of uncertainty. The act of transporting oneself from one place to another is exciting because you don’t know what awaits on the other side. It’s like going through a door, or climbing a stairway you hadn’t noticed before.

stairase“Ascent” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Once we had decided to make the move to Seattle, the job of making it happen began. We were both active in the community, my display business had to be disposed of and I needed to quit my teaching job. And we needed to find a place to live. My partner Joan, wanted no part of JoKay Display, so we simply went out of business, the City shed no tears at my departure which left a quick visit to the Northwest to househunt.

Dr. Advice was in the best shape. The Company was moving us, he would take over the Seattle office plus have as his territory all of Alaska, and all of the northern states. Fish and the Great Outdoors were calling and he was ecstatic. Though he had traveled to the Pacific, to China and to the Philippines during the War, he had gone to very few other places, and I think he rather imagined himself as a self-sufficient Mountain Man.

Though moving from Oakland to Fremont had been tinged with regret, the death of the son of our close friends by suicide and the poison pen letters I had received plus the presence of a perverted flasher made it easier.

Our oldest daughter was living in the Sorority house at San Jose and engaged to be married, our youngest would join us at the end of summer before the start of the Fall session.

We had lost Hilda, the dachshund with abnormally long legs, at a ripe old age, and Mrs. Emma Peel came to live with us. Mrs. Peel was a sweet cuddly brown dachshund who spent a lot of time being groomed by Rudy, an independent grey and white cat who had arrived in my Christmas stocking. The small tan chihuahua with the unlikely name of Tuffy, made up the menagerie we would be transporting with us.

In clearing out one bedroom, I discovered all sorts of junk still under the bed of Janet, the friend who had lived with us during her last year of high school, when her parents moved to Jacksonville, Oregon. Janet had come equipped with a large Mercedes Benz and a flute, and a penchant for living in her coat. Now in my later years, I can see with more compassion how lonely she must have been. Janet stuffed all sorts of stuff under her bed including candy with wrappers, Coke cans, etc. I had respected her privacy and had never looked. As for the coat, I can understand that it was for protection from outside interference rather than from the cold. Much like me having changed my name at each school I went to. Taking yourself away from an unwanted situation.

In January, 1969, knowing absolutely nothing about the area, we drove to Seattle looking for a place to live. For those who are unfamiliar with the area it can be confusing, because there are so many wonderful choices other than the city itself and they are all beautiful and green. We eliminated Seattle as a possibility and decided a semi-rural location would be best. Someone from the Company kindly drove us around for a look-see. He lived on Mercer Island, which as it turned out, would have been perfect, but for some reason, he never showed it to us. Our youngest daughter after her marriage lived and raised her family there.

We drove through Kirkland, which is a small and delightful town on Lake Washington. I could see lots of small shops, a couple of galleries and restaurants though not as many as now that the town has become yuppie/gourmet. It is just across the bridge from Seattle giving us the feeling of the Bay Area only smaller.

Driving down the road we spotted a FOR SALE sign by a small red and white farmhouse with a white fence around it. It was located on a small lane and had trees–lots of them. It seemed perfect and they were willing to wait until June till we could move in. In fact, the realtors were glad it would be awhile because they were busy harvesting the raspberries and other fruit coming into season! As we flew home I felt that we too, were coming into a new season.

LIVIN’ THE GOOD LIFE Kate’s Journal


Episode 29 Fremont 1966-1969

The years after my Southwest odyssey were ripe with possibility. I had come away with a deep feeling of humility and admiration for these people who had so little and yet were so generous and had the gift of laughter and ingenuousness.

The window dressing business, was still going well, spreading our good will and fancy frippery from San Jose to Oakland, our daughters became young ladies and began their University lives, we continued our outdoor life camping, hiking, fishing in the Northwest and Canada, went often to the family cabin at the Russian River,and generally enjoyed life.

Russian River

As fascinated as I had become with seemingly endless native subject matter for my painting, the opportunity to paint closer to home arose.

Child

IMG_20160218_0001
Other People’s Children

The City Recreation Department, using a charming old building across the street from Mission San Jose, had a sculpture class, and I decided to take a class. The instructor left and I was asked to teach the class as well as begin a pottery class, and they would even pay me! I couldn’t believe it. I was so rusty at throwing pots, I went to a neighboring town’s recreation department to brush up. We had no pottery wheel, so we bought a hand-made wooden kick-wheel through the newspaper, which turned out to be so uncomfortable, prospective students were dropping out. After a few money-raising events, we bought the real McCoy and things picked up. City coffers are notoriously empty when you need them.

We had a few memorable parties in our Japanese garden, even digging a pit to roast a pig for one party. The pig was still squealing at midnight, so we ate chicken and shrimp. The infamous zucchini parties came in the summer.

Just before high school graduation, our youngest daughter and a large number of her girlfriends had a photo-op on our red arched Japanese bridge, which suffered loudly from the added weight. Unfortunately, no photo remains.

J Garden 4 (1)

We all seem to have a favorite car in our past, and mine was a yellow Karmann Ghia dubbed “Herman”. It was truly mine, but with two daughters, one at San Jose State U., one still in high school, I waited for my turn. Herman lived with us for 15 years or so, and when he had reached his doddering years, a young grandson sobbed that he had hoped to drive it when he went to college.

420px-MarignyMay07KarmannGhiaFrontSide

We found ourselves traveling to the Northwest, often as guests of Georgia and Emmett Oliver at their lovely home on the Hood Canal. Dr. Advice was an ardent fisherman, and Georgia and I had formed a strong bond during our summer in the Southwest. Emmett was introducing me more and more to Northcoast art and the country itself was beautiful. Our youngest daughter had been accepted at the University of Washington, and we began thinking seriously of moving to the Seattle area. Karma was right and it seemed to be the right thing to do.

INDIAN CAPITALISM


Old Plains Indian
“Plains Indian Chief” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

It is hard to imagine the Plains Indian of the 1800’s as a pedestrian hunter, but until the arrival of the horse in the early 1500’s, they were a nomadic society following the “grocery store”. As the herds of buffalo meandered, so too did the tribe.

By 1865 the Sioux nation was a century into an economic and social revolution, triggered by the arrival of the horse. They were feeling pressure from the neighboring Objiwa, who in turn felt pressure from their own eastern neighbors and from whites. They traveled on foot and hunted on foot, devising elaborate strategies for killing the largest animal species they encountered, the bison, or buffalo. A favorite strategy entailed setting fire to the grassland behind the herd and then channeling the resulting stampede toward a cliff. most of the herd would stop short, but a few beasts would fall or be pushed over the cliff by those behind.

Sioux Chiefs Sioux Chiefs

The Sioux encountered the horse about the time they reached the plains. The horse increased their nomadic range, but not until the mid eighteenth century did they truly become an equestrian people.

The Sioux had to learn how to train them, breed them, and care for them which all took time. But the long lag also gave them an understanding that, in adopting horses they were giving up other things.

The Cheyennes told a story about their own adoption of horses from the Comanches. According to this story, the Cheyennes god spoke to them through the oldest priest of the tribe:

“If you have horses, everything will be changed for you forever. You will have to move around a lot to find pasture for your horses. You will have to give up gardening and live by hunting and gathering, like the Comanches. And you will have to come out of your earth houses and live in tents. You will have to have fights with other tribes, who will want your pasture land or the places where you hunt. You will have to have real soldiers, who can protect the people. Think, before you decide.”

Almost certainly the Cheyenne story showed the wisdom of hindsight, which may or may not have helped the Sioux appreciate what they were getting into. At that point the Sioux might have reconsidered and become full nomads following the buffalo herds for most of the year, but the lure of private ownership and a competitive system brought them new opportunities. With change comes new opportunity; still a hallmark of our society.

ARRIVAL AT TAOS Kate’s Journal


Episode 28 Taos

Taos “Taos In Winter” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Taos stands resplendent in the late afternoon sun, magnificent against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains. Taos is the jewel in the crown of the nineteen New Mexican Pueblos, unchanged throughout the centuries, despite the influx of visitors who come to marvel at the three story architecture still inhabited by this proud people. The tourist town of Taos and the Pueblo village of Taos are separate places, and no where is this more apparent than in the peace and quiet of a sleepy summer afternoon, with a few wispy white clouds drifting around the mountain, and the buildings painted hues of pink or yellow with deep purple shadows, all accomplished with a solar paintbrush. It is the most highly photographed of all the villages, and the camera fee has increased throughout the years. In the l960’s it was $5, but a number of years ago when we were there, it had grown to $15. There are restricted places where visitors may not enter or photograph, because of course this is home to many people. Of course, common courtesy demands that permission must be obtained before photographing the people, and a fee tendered, whatever the going rate.

It is estimated that the pueblo was built between 1000 and 1450 AD and is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. There are over 1900 people in the community with some of the people having modern homes near their fields and stay in the pueblo in the cooler weather. There are about 150 people who live year around in the pueblo.

Many families still conduct their businesses in their residence in the pueblo. We first met Georgia’s friend Tony Reyna, in his jewelry shop on the road into the pueblo. Tony , who is now 100 years old, still sells the very best Indian jewelry from the finest artisans in the area. Tony’s son now runs the shop.

Tony Reyna Tony Reyna
kiva san ildefonsoKiva San Ildefonso

kiva interiorKiva Ruin showing sipapu in floor

The kiva is a place for religious ritual, and solemn ceremonies. Though there were no “Keep Out” signs posted, the sight of the ladder emerging from underground sent the mysterious message that this was a holy place. I felt it to be spiritual yet crackling with life from the ages. Ancient kivas had a sipapu, or small hole in the floor, symbolizing the portal through which man arrived.

Taos Man 2 Taos Man

Photo Taos 1966 Taos 1966

Taos Cemetery Old Taos cemetery at sunset

Bert Geer Phillips and Ernest L. Blumenschein came to Taos, New Mexico as part of a tour of the western United States in 1898, but upon seeing Taos, decided to stay. Within a few years other American and European artists joined them and they formed the Taos Society of Artists which heralded the beginning of the Taos art colony, who collected around the visually spectacular Taos Pueblo. The founding members fostered the emergence of a major school of American painting.

Many artists were drawn to Taos due to the presence of Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy heiress from Buffalo, New York who had run a prominent art salon in Florence, Italy, and Manhattan, New York, before settling in Taos in 1917. After both divorced their spouses, she married a Pueblo native, Antonio Lujan, and built a house. She spelled her married name ‘Luhan” as it was easier for her friends to pronounce.

Luhan carried on the tradition of the European salon. For decades she invited artists, writers, and other luminaries to be inspired by Taos and each other. Among them were Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, author D.H. Lawrence and his wife.

As the summer drew to a close, we spent a lot of time in Santa Fe, which was not completely taken over by the tourists yet, and was beginning to develop a thriving gallery business on Canyon Road. I entertained highly unrealistic dreams of living there, being quite sure that Dr. Advice would thoroughly enjoy running a gallery while I spent my time painting and sculpting off in the hills somewhere.

In the week before we departed for home, there were many bread bakings at Isleta, stewed chile feasts and much laughter. On one such evening, more women seemed to be dressed in traditional clothing, and there was lots of giggling and whispers as if a secret were there trying to escape. I became aware that I was the object of their mirth when Georgia announced that she was giving me a new name. After much thought and many discussions with the other women, she had decided that my new name should be “Pacho Fa” which means Three Feathers, signifying family, friends and Art. It was a special moment for me climaxing a long visit in which we began as strangers wary of one another, and ended with a community which had embraced and honored me as a friend.

THE OLD ISLETA CHURCH Kate’s Journal


Episode 25 New Mexico, 1966

I Am Home (2) “I Am Home” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The New Mexican July heat is invasive to the body but not to the adobe churches that hold onto the coolness of winter, releasing a gray coolness slowly throughout the summer. I have a feeling, walking into this one, that I am walking into palpable silence. A lid, or a large gentle hand, seems to descend on our voices. I never tire of going into these old Indian churches. Each one has its characteristic dust smell, the smell of time. I do not expect to emerge as a Catholic, or even as a believer, I am a pagan by birth. But surrounded by the simple whitewashed walls and dark beams, my imagination is awakened, and I am joined by countless generations of ancestors of my friend, Georgia Abeita.

I seem to hear the shuffling of moccasins filing in for the Mass, and to hear the voices of the children raised in song. There would always be more women and children than men, as in many other cultures. The little girls are dressed in their colorful best, with black shining hair, made clean for Sunday service by washing in rainwater and yucca. Little boys, bored like most other little boys, shuffle their feet and long to be outside as soon as the priest finishes his prayers. The absence of pews makes the hope of a short sermon a significant consideration.

church at Isleta

The people in Isleta are involved in a bitter religious struggle,. The priest who was here for 9 years was not a man who understood the Indians. He wanted to make them give up their Indian ways and just be Catholics. The people wanted to be both. He spent most of his time down-grading them, instead of teaching them, and even had a part of the plaza where the people danced covered in cement. This might not sound so bad, but these people believe they cannot dance on anything but the soil, or God won’t hear them. So this was really a serious matter with them, and did not endear the priest. Finally, after asking the archbishop for 8 years for a new priest with no success, Georgia’s cousin Andy Abeita, who is the governor this year, ordered the priest out of the village. Monseignor Stadtmueller, or “Father Fred” as they called him, refused to go, and instead of handling the situation more diplomatically, Andy handcuffed him and they led “Father Fred” out of the village.

Naturally, the priest had some followers, and this divided the village, and led to a great deal of bitterness. Even whole families were split by this action. The summer we were there, in 1966, an attorney had been called in, but the council members refused to listen or work with him. In the meantime, the priest had taken all the valuable Navajo rugs, the hand carved stations of the cross, paintings, etc. from Isleta to his new church which is a few miles away.

Amusingly enough, this was not the first time an Abeita governor had ousted a priest, as Georgia’s great-great grandfather threw the priest out of the village in his day as well. That time he was followed by several villagers, set upon and killed. They packed the body in a cottonwood coffin, and brought it back into town. He is buried someplace in the village, and due to a freak water table in the area, the coffin rises on occasion. (Or so it is said.)

THE OAKLAND YEARS Kate’s Journal


Episode 20 Oakland, CA

053“Watercolor” by kayti sweetland rasmussen Iris from my first real garden.

Living in a semi-rural and hilly part of Oakland in the 50’s was quite different from our flat island of Alameda. With Sam traveling from Monday to Friday and me without a car, there were adjustments to be made. One of them was Al Cook’s small corner grocery store which not only delivered, but also let you run a tab. The girls walked to school, I walked to the bus for school, and we all walked 2 miles to Jan’s piano lessons.

We acquired Hilda, a small black and tan dachshund with strange long legs, who stayed with our family for many years. She actually became part of the neighborhood pack which included a large furry collie who was repeatedly attacked by a small chihuahua who buried himself in her thick neck fur to hide from his parents.

I joined a women’s singing group and we sang at women’s clubs, churches, etc. One of our members was a woman from Centerville, before it became Fremont, whose husband owned a nice steak restaurant there. She became ill with tuberculosis and had to be in an institution for a year and a half. When she returned in good health, she found that her husband had found other means of entertainment while she was gone, so she divorced him. The restaurant has changed hands several times since then.

We had a very active Campfire Girls group, and though it I met a very inspirational woman in her 80’s from Fremont who had been a real mover and shaker in the organization for many years. I will write later about her when we move to Fremont. In trying to find an interesting theme for our girls group, I had chosen Japanese children’s holidays which morphed into much more a few years later when they moved into high school.

I found returning to school to be harder than I had realized. Math and chemistry were not my strong points, but glaze calculation required a certain knowledge of.. them. I met a lovely old Japanese potter who was horrified that I could not retain the right information. When I begged for a simple calculation, he exclaimed “But that’s fourth grade math!” I told him I knew that and that’s what I wanted to know. I also began to be interested in a class about window dressing and display to see if it was different from what i had done for J.C. Penney in Alameda.

Sam’s parents had moved to Centerville which was just emerging from rural farmland, with a couple of very nice neighborhoods being built. Sam’s sister’s family followed a year or so later into a new home. At that time there was perhaps 6,000 population. There was bus transportation to Oakland, and there was a train to Sacramento. Our weekends were often spent together at the cabin at the Russian River, where the whole family gathered.

Our little neighborhood was safe and we had good neighbors. A creek ran behind our house at the bottom of a hill. Bishop O’Doud high School was on the other side of the hill. Neighborhood children played in the shallow creek, and the mothers all felt quite safe.

One morning I received a terrible ill-written note in the mail, accusing me of trying to steal someone’s husband. No name or return address. It was disturbing and I threw it in the fireplace. A few days later I received a package in the mail containing another note a pair of dirty men’s socks. I called the police, and in today’s world, I’m sure they would not bother to come. I was frightened to think that someone even knew that we were there and alone. Later we heard that a man had exposed himself to the kids walking the long distance to school. We were mentally gearing up to move when I looked out my upstairs window to see someone obviously proud of his manly equipment looking directly at me.

We had been happy in our first little home, but it was time to move on, and we chose to join the rest of the family in the little town of Centerville.