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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Entry 75: 1967 High School Graduation

This is me my senior year but not my senior photo.  
 The senior photos then were black and white.  I look better in this one.

I graduated from Hughson High School in 1967.  Graduation was great but it came in second in my big events of the year. 
Hughson was a much smaller town in the 60’s than it is today.  The kids all knew one another well.  We were in the same class with the same friends the entire time we were in school.  I was so happy.  I remember it was hot.  I remember we walked in boy-girl couples.  I remember some of the girls crying…I couldn’t figure out why.  I was so excited for my life to continue on to the next step.  I remember seeing Larry as I marched by him in the isle.  I remember wearing the corsage he gave me.
My partner to march in with was a boy named Coy Stark.  As we had been our entire school career, kindergarten to graduation, we were partners.  Everything was always alphabetical.  I always sat by Coy.  I was always his partner on field trips.  I was always his “student-helper” in the classes he had trouble understanding.  He was smart, he just didn’t have time for school or school work.  He hung out after school and weekends with his buddies instead of studying.  He always seemed happy.  Graduation night I was his partner for the last time.  That night felt as if an era was ending.  It was an era of school work, of childhood friends, and of being partners with Coy.
The war in Viet Nam was going furiously in our high school years.  Many of the boys I went to school with went to war.  Several of them didn’t come home alive.   I think it was the summer of our graduation that Sammy McClurkin and Coy joined the service together and went to war. 
Coy was killed in Viet Nam.  I never learned the particulars of his death but I sure did feel a loss to know someone who had always been in my life wouldn’t be in it anymore.  When Sammy came home he re-enlisted to go again.  Someone told me they had spoken to Sammy and he’d made the statement he was going back “for Coy.”  That year Sammy McClurkin’s named changed in my mind to Sam McClurkin.

Larry was exempt from the military at that time because of a student deferment and he was needed on the farm.  All of us were forced to face the fact that the world is not full of just nice people.  We all had to grow up faster than we would have liked.  The protection we’d all had in the little community of Hughson came to a slamming halt.  Every morning and every night we would search the obituary section of the newspapers hoping not to find any familiar names.
Turlock High and Hughson High were hit hard by fatalities, as were all the communities in the valley.  There were no towns where there were no losses.   Sometimes the paper check was good but very often there was a name we knew.  
I remember very clearly my mother handing me the paper one morning and pointing to Coy’s name.  Mom had been crying, she put her arms around me and we cried together.  We cried for Coy’s family, for our family, and for our country who was losing so many of her precious young men.   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Entry 74: 1966 Larry Graduates from Turlock High

                        Larry's Senior Picture

Larry's family and mine sat together in the bleachers for the ceremony.  I remember it was hot.  The main speaker was General Patton, the son of the famous General Patton.
I don’t remember the speeches but I do remember when one of the speakers was talking a dog walked up to the podium, lifted his leg, and relieved himself on it.  The audience clapped and laughed.  
When graduation was over the graduates all threw their caps into the air and ran (in no orderly fashion) in every direction.  
It was another step into adulthood.  Time seemed to be flying!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Entry 73: 1967 Engaged

  I can be more specific.  April 16, 1967, after many welcomed proposals and as many half-hearted refusals, Larry gave me a beautiful engagement ring.  Of course, we knew it was coming but that was the official day. 
Larry did it right, he even asked my dad before he gave me the ring.  When he asked dad for my hand dad replied he’d need to take the rest of me too not just my hand. 
We went to the Branding Iron Restaurant in Merced for dinner that evening.  I remember feeling like the ring on my hand just had to be so noticeable no one could possibly look in my direction and not see it.   
Dinner was great.  We had steak, baked potatoes, and the Branding Iron’s famous creamed spinach.  The room was full of patrons and servers.  No one noticed my ring.  I was shocked!  I think I finally told our waitress about it so somebody would make a fuss.
When I got home mom and dad called me into their room.  They asked me to turn on the light and show them my ring.  Finally!  They were both very happy and excited for me. 
The Viet Nam War (I don’t care what they call it!) was raging.  Larry and I were both losing friends.  We didn’t want to wait too long in case Larry might be called to serve before we had a chance to marry.  We decided we’d marry in June of 1968.  Larry would have his degree from Junior College and be enrolled in Stanislaus State by then and I’d have a start at Junior College.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Entry 72: 1966 Candy Striper Experience

Mom and dad agreed to let me be a candy striper my junior year of high school.  Bernie decided to be one too.  We rode together to the hospital in Ceres every Saturday to volunteer.  Besides having fun working in the hospital we got to wear really cute uniforms and we got to drive ourselves to Ceres and back!
I was chosen to work in the lab.  One of my assignments was to label test tubes.  I was always a little afraid I would do it wrong and some person would get the wrong blood work done.  I also was a delivery girl taking reports and collecting reports from all the departments in the hospital.
The one memory that sticks about Candy Striping is the time my manager took me into one of the storage rooms and showed me the long rows and high stacks of things that had been removed from patients during surgery.  
I remember seeing all types of body organs.  One thing I will never forget was three gallon jars full to the rim of fat.  My manager said all this fat had to be removed from a patient before the surgeon could perform the needed surgery.  
Being a Candy Striper was supposedly my first step to becoming a nurse.  That and taking German for two years.  My plans for being a nurse were pushed aside and never missed as time moved on.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Entry 71: 1966 Life Guard Class

I took the Life Guard swim class at the Hughson pool.  I don’t remember much of the class but I do remember we had to go to the bottom of the deep end of the pool and retrieve a "body."  Of course the body wasn’t really a person.  It was one hundred and fifty pounds of cinder blocks wrapped in a cloth. 
I passed the 100 laps we had to swim.  I passed the treading water for an hour.  But I thought I would drown trying to rescue that body of bricks.  Not passing that class was a real heart-breaker to me.  I thought for sure I could do it but I couldn’t.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Entry 70: 1966 Mrs. Daniel's Cat

Charlie Daniels was an older gentleman in our church while I was growing up.  I don’t know exactly how old, but even when I was young and he seemed really old.  I remember he married one of the widows in the church.  I don’t remember what her last name was before they married.  My mom and I went to visit the new Mrs. Daniels and took her a casserole one afternoon.  I guess she wasn’t feeling well.  It seemed my mom was always taking somebody food or something.   While we were visiting with Mrs. Daniels her cat came into the room. 
Her cat was a pretty black and white.  His bowl of food was on the opposite side of the room when he entered.  He took a few steps and fell to the right, he got up taking a few more steps and fell to the left.  He’d walk in spurts and fall forward as if his feet weren’t there.  I was horrified. 
I must have gasped.  Mrs. Daniels was startled at my response to the weird gait of the cat.  She explained to me that her daughter worked in a lab somewhere where experiments were done on brains and how they respond to certain medications.  She told me that her cat, along with others, were paving the way to new medicines that would help people.  As she explained the background of the cat it seemed a little less disturbing to me.  Mrs. Daniels assured me her cat was very happy living there with her. 
I got down on the floor and played with the cat for a little while.  It was hard to do.  I tried to get it to chase a ribbon but the poor thing would swat at the ribbon and fall over.  It couldn’t follow my finger with its eyes…they sort of wiggled from side to side.  It couldn’t even make a decent meow sound.  Instead it almost sounded like a human saying, “More, more, more.”  
Just when I was getting back that feeling I’d had of pity for the cat, Mrs. Daniels swept him up into her arms and said, “Watch this Joyce.”  She started singing and petting the cat.  He settled down into her lap.  He looked happy and comfortable.  He started to purr in one of the loudest purr sounds I’d ever heard.  He did seem happy after all.  I felt better when we left, not good, just better!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Entry 69: 1965 Rear-ending a Horse

Larry picked me up way too early one Friday.  We were going to the movie theater but we had a couple hours before the movie started so we took a drive out in the country.  
We noticed a horse standing beside the road, on the road side of the fence.  As our car got nearer the horse began running in the same direction as our car.  When we got right up next to the horse the horse kept running forward in the direction of our car but sidestepped right out into the street and into the path of our car.  The car was going faster than the horse.  Larry stepped on the brakes but we ran into the rear end of the horse.  The horse kind of sat on the hood of our car, looked puzzled, and took off running again down the street.
We got out and looked at the car.  There was a dent on the hood, there were skid marks on the road, and there was a pile of horse “droppings” at the end of the skid marks.
Larry felt bad.  He drove up the nearest driveway to ask to use the phone and report to the police that there was a horse loose and we’d just hit it.  When the owner of the home came to the door Larry explained we’d run into a horse and would like to use his phone to report it.  The man simply replied, “It’s not my horse so you can’t use my phone.” 
By then, the horse was trotting down the road.  We continued our drive through the country until it was time for the movie.  I still think of the odd statement given by the neighbor who wouldn’t let us use his phone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Entry 68: 1965 Our Second Date

My second date with Larry was the next weekend.  I hadn’t mentioned to Larry we were building a new house.  When he pulled into the driveway to get me there was a huge hole where our giant almond tree had been, a pile of  dirt and 2 x 4’s where our house had been, and our house was on stilts out by the road.  I don’t know what his first thoughts were when he saw all the changes but he kindly made his way through the mess to our door.  We had a good laugh at the way everything looked.  
We went to see Billy Graham who was speaking at the fairgrounds in Turlock.  I had seen Billy Graham on television and was delighted to now see him in person.  As always the sermon was good, the music was wonderful, and many people went forward when the invitation was given. 
It was nice to sit through the service with someone I knew believed everything Pastor Graham was saying, who bowed his head during prayer, and who was touched as we witnessed people accepting Christ as their Savior.  I felt as if I’d known Larry for a long time.
We went to Latifs for a “6 x 6” hamburger and a shake again.  We sat in the same booth we had used the week before, way in the back, by the stairs.  When we had finished eating neither of us wanted to leave.  Larry was playing with the salt shaker.  He took the lid off and gently placed it back on the shaker without screwing it on tight.  He looked at me to get a reaction.  I told him he was going to ruin some persons dinner.  I expected him to tighten the lid on right away but he just left it sitting there.  I think he was waiting to see if I’d fix it.  I honestly can’t remember if either of fixed it or not.  I sure hope we did!
Later that night he proposed.   I was shocked!  It was only our second date!    I told him, “No, you can’t ask me that!”  I thought I was all grown up, like all teenagers do, but I had enough sense to know I shouldn’t be accepting a proposal yet.  On the other hand, when Doug asked me out for the following weekend I declined the invitation.  I never dated anyone again except Larry.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Entry 67: 1965 My First Date With Larry

           I guess Larry thought what Ron said was funny.  I didn’t realize it then but Larry had wanted to ask me out since our youth group had visited his church to play volleyball.  It seems funny after all these years but I can write down that on Monday around 7 in the evening on January 18th Larry called me and asked me to go out with him the following Friday.  I accept the invitation and began to worry about how to call him back and cancel our date if mom and dad wouldn’t let me go. 
Mom was on the phone again with Liane asking if Larry was a nice boy.  Thank goodness Liane liked Larry.  She gave mom a good report and the rest is history.
Larry and I went out on Friday.  The next night I went out with Doug,  Paul, and Linda.  It was a date to a movie we’d been looking forward to for the whole week.  Sunday I went to Larry’s church in Turlock with a friend.  Larry was there of course.  I felt like a princess with two boys wanting to date me.  I really liked Doug.  We were becoming good friends.  His dad was a lawyer I think and I don’t know what his mom did.  He was not like anyone I’d ever known from Hughson.  This whole dating thing was fun.  Getting to go places with people my age, with friends who owned cars, bowling or to movies we chose.  It all felt very grown up.
As much as I liked going out with the gang from Ceres, I never did again.  I’m glad I realized Larry was a better pick for me.  He went to a church like mine but in a different town and his family lived and worked on their farm like my family did. When we talked it was as if we’d known one another forever. 
At some point during the evening Larry told me what Ron had said about me.  We both laughed.  I think Larry thought it was funny but I might have laughed because it made me nervous.  I did laugh out loud when Larry told me Ron was his cousin.
A funny thing about our first date was that between the time Larry asked me out and the time we went out the following Friday I went from having hair down my back to having a very short hair style.  The first instant Larry looked at me it was obvious he noticed.  He didn’t complain about it that night but he started complaining about it after a few dates.  I let it grow out again.


We went to a basketball game at Turlock High.  After the game we, like everyone from the game, headed toward Main Street.  We drove up Main Street and out Lander for a few blocks just to the old Penguin Ice Cream Drive In, turned and headed back toward the high school again.  Now it seems silly but there were lots of kids doing it and it was kind of fun.  We were “Dragging Main.” 
I felt so good that night.  Larry treated me like a prize and I loved it!  When we neared the corner of what is now Golden State and Main Larry asked me if I wanted to go to Latifs for a snack or if I wanted to stop at the Caroline Hotel.  I could feel my heart stop beating!   

I was not familiar with Turlock although I had been to Latifs a few times with my family.  The Caroline Hotel was just across the street from Latifs.  I didn’t realize there was a coffee shop on the bottom floor of the Hotel.  Larry was simply asking if I wanted to eat at Latifs or in the Caroline Hotel coffee shop.  When I realized what he meant I was greatly relieved.  We had a good laugh when I told him my mom made me bring a dime, which was in my shoe, in case I needed to call home.  It had run through my mind that a hotel would have a pay phone and I was about to use that dime to call for rescue.  To my delight, Larry remained a true gentleman.

Larry gave me my first kiss as we turned onto Sante Fe from Geer Road.  It was just a quick little kiss.  It was perfect!  The whole night had been perfect.  In those days girls didn’t call boys and I was sure hoping he would call again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Entry 66: 1965 My First Single Date

        We were fifteen and sophomores in High School.  While there were a few “couples” most of my friends began dating in groups.  My friend, Linda Hampton, had moved to Ceres.  She lived on a street where two of the Ceres High boys lived.  Linda and I and those two boys double-dated several times.  We mostly went to movies and the A&W drive in for treats.  
        Linda dated Paul Caruso and I dated Doug Heim.  Paul and Doug were good friends.  We had a lot of fun together.  Unfortunately the only thing I remember about those dates is Doug had a little “gizmo” on his dashboard shaped like a torpedo that would automatically dim his headlights if there was an oncoming car with lights on after dark. 
       I had several girlfriends who attended the Turlock First Baptist Church.  Sometimes one of my friends, Jean Leach, would come pick me up and take me to the BYF meetings on Sunday nights.  I played the organ at my church in Hughson so I never got to miss Sunday morning service.
        BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) was fun.  One of the leaders was Wally Sanford.  He was a good Bible teacher and a great youth leader.  He could take a joke when the kids played them on him and he could joke well too.  The Turlock church had Turlock kids so BYF turned out to be a place to meet new kids my age.  
       The first week of January a boy named Ron Chandler asked me on a date.  Mom was good friends with Liane Beauchamp.  Liane went to First Baptist in Turlock.  I didn’t know it but mom called Liane to check up on Ron to see if he was a “nice” boy.  Liane gave him the okay.  We went bowling at Divine Gardens in Turlock the following Friday night.  This was my first time on a date that wasn’t a double-date.  I was more than a little excited and more than a little nervous!

          I learned a lot that night.  The first thing I learned was boys don’t like their dates to win at bowling!  I won the first game.  I was having fun but a friend of Ron’s who was bowling a couple lanes away made a comment when he saw the scores and I could tell from Ron’s reply he was less than impressed.  Being the dutiful date I let him win the next two games.  Bowling is certainly a game I couldn’t fake being good at but I could easily make sure I didn’t hit too many pins!

       After bowling we went to the old Turlock A&W Drive In.  I remember Ron ordering a Root Beer for me.  Then he rattled off something like a Root Beer add vanilla, add cream, double scoop of chocolate float.  He looked at me when he was ordering and I’m sure it was to see if I was impressed.  I wasn’t.  It sounded ridiculous and looked even worse when it arrived!
          When we got back to my house I expected Ron to turn the car off and walk me to the door like Doug had always done.  He didn’t.  He turned the car off and we sat in the drive-way for about half an hour.  I didn’t know him so I didn’t know what to talk about and he didn’t know me so he didn’t know what to talk about.  After what I thought was an uncomfortable amount of time he got out his door, went to my side of the car, and opened the door for me.  
The step up to our back door was about fourteen inches high.  It was a slab of cement probably about 5 foot across.  I was close to the door and Ron was close to the edge of the step.  I felt uncomfortable.  Ron moved close to me for a kiss, I gently placed my hands on his chest, gave a gentle push, and down he went.  He fell off the step and landed on his butt on the sidewalk! 
I think we were both embarrassed.  Ron was embarrassed because I’d refused to kiss him and he’d fallen.  I was embarrassed he thought he should get a kiss!  He stood up red faced and said, “I can’t believe I am going to have to tell everyone I didn’t even get a kiss.”  I had the screen door opened so I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and pulled it shut.  I thanked him for the fun time we’d had.  I didn’t think he would call again and I hoped he wouldn’t.
The next time Larry saw Ron he asked how our date went and Ron told Larry I was a cold fish!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Entry 65: 1964 Donkey Basketball

I was thrilled to be in high school.  It seemed my friends and I were so grown up.  I thought having a locker was great, although I was always afraid I’d forget my combination which, by the way, was 31-3-36.  I was afraid then I couldn’t remember it and now I can’t forget it!  
My freshman year our varsity basketball team split into two groups and played a game on donkeys.  They did it in the gym, on that precious gym floor we all had to take our shoes off to walk across.  I couldn’t believe donkeys were going to be allowed on that floor!
During the game one of the boys fell off his donkey and began having a seizure on the gym floor.  Whispers quickly went threw the crowd letting us know the boy had epilepsy.  The attending doctor and a coach stayed by him until we was able to walk to the bleachers, everyone in the crowd clapped, and the game continued. 
The seizure would have probably happened anyway but that was the end of the Donkey Basketball games at Hughson.  I thought that was too bad.  The boy who had the seizure was embarrassed it had happened but even more embarrassed the games would not be allowed again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Entry 64: 1964 Miss Pretzel of the Parsonage

My brother Phillip with Miss Pretzel

Pastor Hull and his wife gave me a little Dachshund.  I don’t remember just why they were giving her away or even if she was theirs.  Her official name was “Miss Pretzel of the Parsonage.”  Because of her name she must have belonged to Pastor Hull or another Pastor friend of his.  I do know when she laid down and curled up she took the shape of a pretzel so her name fit her well.
“Pretzel” was registered and able to have puppies so mom took her to a family in Denair and left her there all night to “get married.”  She was so cute when she started getting fat with puppies until the day I noticed her tummy had gotten so big and was hanging so low that her nipples were actually dragging on the ground when she walked.  When I showed dad I thought he’d cry.   
When mom decided the time was getting close for the puppies she asked dad to make a nice soft bed in the outside garage.  A few days later dad woke me up early in the morning  excited to say Pretzel was having her babies but she was having a problem. 
I ran outside with dad where we found Pretzel squatting half way between our back door and the garage.  She held that position for a moment then ran for the house, leaving behind a brand new puppy lying on the cold ground.  Dad scooped it up, tore an opening in the sack, and began to massage the puppy.  Right away the puppy began to squirm and make little noises.
Dad handed the puppy to me and headed for Pretzels bed in the garage.  When he came back to me he was holding a cold stiff little body.  He said Pretzel cleaned the sack off and just left the puppy.  Dad ran into the kitchen and grabbed a dish towel, held it next to the furnace in the living room to warm, then wrapped the puppy in the cloth and started rubbing and rubbing.   
Mom had joined the excitement and given me a shoe box lined with cloth to put the puppies in.  After what seemed forever, but was probably only 2-3 minutes, the puppy dad was holding began to make some little whimpering sounds.  Dad face beamed.  He kept rubbing and the puppy continued to get louder and louder.  We put both puppies in the shoe box.  I sat by the furnace holding them to keep them warm.  Pretzel didn’t want anything to do with her puppies.
Dad said if I wanted to I could stay home from school to help with the puppies.  He said it was “a matter of life and death.”  Boy oh boy, did I ever feel important.  I really felt like I was needed for the day.  Pretzel just lay on the kitchen floor for the next hour or so till the milkman came in.  He delivered milk twice a week.  He would knock on the back door and if someone was in the kitchen, he’d step in to put the milk on the counter.
Pretzel never liked the milkman.  That morning was no different.  She got up and ran around the kitchen table barking and raising a fuss.  As soon as he left she laid in her little bed (dad had brought in from the garage) and had another puppy.  Once the puppy was out she got up, laid somewhere else, and watched dad clean it up and put it in the shoe box with the others.  About every 45 minutes for the next couple of hours she’d do the same thing.  After having a puppy she would leave and let dad clean it.  She’d keep her eye on the shoebox and on dad.

I lined up the puppies in the shoebox in the order they had been born.  The first one was the biggest.  Each new puppy was a little smaller than the one before.  By the time we got the last puppy, the sixth one, our shoebox was full of fat, wiggly, noisy puppies.  When the puppies were all cleaned up dad put them gently into Pretzels bed.  Pretzel went over to the bed and got in like she’d been in total charge of the whole ordeal.  Believe it or not she took perfectly good care of the puppies after that.  We left these puppies at Lyngs Pet Shop in Modesto.  One of the puppies was bought by a Spanish fellow who was playing at Modesto Junior College Concert.  That puppy went to Madrid to live.           

The next year we had Pretzel bred again.  She was hit by a car about two weeks before she was to deliver.  She didn’t do much after that but eat and rest.  She had five puppies in this litter.  She had dad clean each puppy just as she had with her first litter before she was interested in the puppies.
  We were all afraid having the puppies would kill her but she made it through the process.  After they were born she seemed to have very little energy.  She was just able to eat, feed, and clean her babies.  As the weeks went by we could see her becoming less active.  I guess something inside her must have been hurt when she was run over.
Pretzel had weaned her first litter at 7 weeks.  She weaned this litter at 5-6 weeks.  We had homes lined up for each of them and allowed the puppies to leave.  Pretzel died two days later.  My dad insisted she was a good mom and lived long enough to be sure her puppies could survive without her.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Entry 63: 1963 Learning to Drive with Dad

During these years dad I would go to choir practice at church every Wednesday night.  On the way home dad would have me sit right next to him.  He would work the gas and break but I got to steer the car.  Oh what fun that was!  It gave me a thrill to turn the car from one road to another. 
Dad would speed up at the turn to the railroad crossing.  He’d ask if there was a train coming as he stepped on the brakes just as the car was directly over the tracks.  That was before there were arms and alarms at the crossing where 7th street crosses Sante Fe.  The only way to know if a train was coming was to look and see.   He thought it was funny but a couple of times it really scared me. 
We would laugh real hard together.  He always made me promise not to tell mom he’d let me “drive” the car.  I don’t really think she would have cared.

We’d finish off our “choir” nights by racing into the house and watching Bonanza with mom and the boys.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Entry 62: 1963 Camping Tuolumne Meadows

      Pam Aldrich invited me to go camping with her family at Tuolumne Meadows.  Along with me her brother and sister each took a friend.  Pam’s parents were very relaxed campers.  I don’t remember going on any hikes we just stayed around camp but there was plenty to do.  We fished, swam in the river, took walks to a nearby supply store, and played with one another.  
         I shouldn’t say we swam in the river because each night the river would swell with what snow melt happened the day before.  It was really cold!  When we would wade in it only took a short while for our legs to begin aching they were so cold. 

          When we came back to camp one afternoon after playing at the river we found Mrs. Aldrich making jello.  She had mixed it and put it in a Tupperware bowl.  She had gently but firmly put it between to big rocks in the little creek running next to our campsite. At first I thought she was crazy but by dinner time the jello had completely set. I’m not kidding when I say that water was cold! 

            Tuolumne Meadows is part of Yosemite.  It is the top part!  The view is nothing like in the valley.  There are no huge mountains to look at as we were close to the top of any mountains around.  It was certainly just a beautiful but totally different.

        We all went fishing several times during the week.  I remember one particular day I wasn’t catching any fish at all.  I was tired of trying.  I found a quiet little spot where the river was hardly moving.  I found a comfortable rock to sit on and put my line down in a quiet little pool littered with leaves and little branches.  I wanted to just sit and pass some time, I was ready to back to camp but didn’t want to say so.  Just as I sat down I felt my pole give a tug.  It seems some poor fish was hiding and resting in the same place I chose.  He turned out to be my best catch of the whole week measuring about twelve inches. 
        I took my fish to Mr. Aldrich.  He made a big deal about it.  Maybe he knew I was tired and he wanted me to feel good.  It worked!  I felt proud.  When we had dinner he pointed out to everyone my fish was sticking over both sides of my plate.  

        That night when Pam, her sister, her sister’s friend, and I were in our tent for the night the boys decided to scare us.  At our campfire that night they kept saying they saw a bear in the shadows but we never saw it.  Once we were in our sleeping bags and the tent was zipped shut they started breaking twigs, grunting, and trying to make scary shadows on the tent wall.
         The trouble was they were probably about eleven years old and when they hugged one another to make a big bear shadow they would giggle!  Their growling was hilarious.  All of us in the tent were poking one another to keep from laughing out loud.  When one of the boys saw a shadow in the trees he said, “Hey, you guys I think I really do see a bear!”          
         We couldn’t stand it any longer.  Pam unzipped the tent and we all ran at the boys screaming there was a bear in the woods.  Those little boys raced to their tent, didn’t make a noise the rest of the evening, and never mentioned what they’d done when daylight came the next morning.  None of us mentioned it either realizing it was a great joke but the boys hadn’t been old enough, or brave enough, to carry it out.  We didn’t want to make them feel silly but for the rest of the week when they weren’t around we were merciless in things we said about them!
        It was another wonderful week of a wonderful summer!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Book Entry 61: 1963 Hiking Half Dome

Three weeks later it was time for the next irrigation.  Dad took us to Yosemite again.  He stayed the first night with us.  While we were sitting around the camp that first day we started talking about the different mountains we could see he had climbed. 
Dad had his binoculars focused on Half Dome.  He was watching three hikers slowly making their way up the face.  It was a slow process with lots of switching back and forth on the trail.  The hikers were all wearing red and yellow which made it easy to follow them with the binoculars.
Dad reminded mom that he had hiked the back way to the top of Half Dome four separate times.  He had also hiked the front of Glacier point twice but never the front of Half Dome.  Mom made a comment about taking me and Bernie on a hike while he was back in the valley later that week.  He laughed at mom and warned her not to pick a big one.  He said she’d better take a “lady” trail to the bottom of Bridal Veil because she would never make it on an all day hike.
Dad left for home before we got up the next morning.  Mom felt challenged and a little mad at dad for what he had told her.  We spent the whole day making plans to hike the back of Half Dome the next day.  We planned what to wear, what we would eat, and what we would pack.  We decided on shorts, tennis shoes, and sweat shirts to wear.  Food items were included, which when eaten would leave nothing to continue carrying, a camera and toilet paper. 
We were up at five the next morning and out of camp by 5:30.  This was before the handy little fanny packs were available and none of us had a backpack.  Mom had each of us tie an extra sweat shirt around our waist in a lop-sided fashion so one arm was very long.  We stuffed canteens, food, camera, and toilet paper into the arm and tied it.  We each centered the swinging arm to one side so it wouldn’t keep hitting us as we hiked. 
We made our way past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.  Part of the time we stuck to the horse trail which was easier and part of the time we took shortcuts climbing hand over hand in the rocks.  Several times we discovered we weren’t even on the hiking trail.  When we stopped for lunch we ate with our bare feet in a creek.

We got to the last section of the hike, where you hold cables, at about 1:00.  It was very scary to all three of us.  One slip could have been serious but we held on tight, encouraged one another, and all made it to the top!
 Looking over the edge took my breath away.  It was so far down to the floor of the valley!  We sat just looking up and down the valley.  We located several of the waterfalls, Camp Curry, the grocery store, the stables, and two of the camp ground areas.
   I was sitting on top of the world!  I was enjoying the view one minute and the next minute realized verbally, “Oh no, now we need to walk all the way back!”  Mom and Bernie both laughed.  Mom checked her watch.  It was 1:30.  We all quit laughing, gathered our belongings, and started back down the cable line.

The hike back to the valley floor used a different set of muscles than we had used hiking upward.  We stopped to soak our feet and rest several times.  We stayed on the horse trail more on the way back too.  My calves were aching, my feet were sore, my heels had blisters, and when we stopped walking my legs would shake.  
We passed Nevada Falls at 4:00.  We passed the Vernal Falls Bridge at 5:30.  We made it to Happy Isles right at 6:00.  We got back to camp at 7:30, exhausted.  We sat at camp very quiet for a few minutes.  Mom fixed melons and sandwiches for us to eat.  We gathered at the table and started chattering about the day.  The three of us were so proud of ourselves for what we had accomplished.  
It took the whole day for that hike.  It left us with blisters that lasted for the rest of the trip.  It was worth every step up, every step down, and every blister!  
Bernie and I were very proud of ourselves but I think mom was even more proud of herself.  She had accomplished something dad didn’t feel she could do and she had proven him wrong.  When she kissed me goodnight she was grinning from ear to ear.  “I can’t wait for dad to get back so I can tell him what we did.”   
Two days later dad was back.  He told mom how the farm was doing and asked how we’d been.  She winked at me and Bernie.  She told him the weather had been beautiful, we’d seen fourteen deer, and then added, “Oh, and the girls and I hiked to the top of Half Dome the other day.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Entry 60: 1963 River Camping in Yosemite

  Me, Ellen, Bernie

          The week after our trip to the lake dad drove mom and Phillip and me to Yosemite.  I got to take Bernie Janzen and Ellen Schauer too.  Dad left us there for ten days and went back to the valley to take care of the peaches.  
         Bernie, Ellen, and I would take long walks exploring Yosemite, spend hours talking and giggling in the tent, and hike up river over and over again to float back down to our camp on air mattresses. At times, and in certain places, the river was rough but the route we were using was slow and gentle.  There was an occasional dip we didn't expect or a branch reaching out from shore to snag us but we traveled the same route so many times we had it memorized and were confident of our safety.

On one of our trips downstream Bernie and I got separated from Ellen.  When we got back to camp Ellen wasn’t there.  We searched and searched.  We called her name over and over as we ran along the river’s edge in the direction she should have been.  We decided we’d better not tell my mom until we found Ellen, hopefully she’d be so glad she was alright she couldn’t be mad at us.  We continued searching.
I panicked.  I started thinking of how I would tell my mom that Ellen had drowned.  I knew she wasn’t a good swimmer.  Mom had told me to keep an eye on Ellen so I knew her drowning was going to be my fault!  I jumped to the conclusion that she must be tangled up under water somewhere dead!  I remember the hot feeling of panic as it filled by stomach and exploded onto my face.  At first we hunted and called quietly but the more scared we got the louder we got.  Pretty soon everyone heard us screaming.  Folks came from all the campsites to help us look.   Bernie and I were both crying.   We just wanted to find Ellen. 
After what seemed like a very long time we decided, with the help of a nice lady who’d been searching with us, we needed to tell mom what had happened.   As we got close to our camp we saw Ellen sitting by the campfire talking with mom.  I was relieved and mad at the same time.  

          We could hear Ellen telling mom how she had made her way down the river but passed our camp and had to walk back.  She’d gotten out fine, and was sitting with mom laughing and making Smores over the fire.  Mom and Ellen were wondering where Bernie and I were!  They didn’t know we’d been frantically looking for her.  They didn’t know we’d been scared to tears.  They were sitting there laughing and relaxing and having an afternoon snack! 
Bernie and I quietly left without being seen and went back to the nice lady who’d been helping us search.  We explained to her what had happened and thanked her for helping us.  The rest of the trip I was afraid she’d come to our camp and tell mom what had happened.  She didn’t and the summer continued being one of the best I ever had.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Entry 59: 1963 The Firefall at Yosemite

The evenings at Yosemite held a special magic.  The different colors that would show on the mountains throughout the valley as the sun began to set were so beautiful..  Every evening there was a program at Camp Curry.  Ellen, Bernie, and I left camp before everyone else.  We were going to meet up at the program but we wanted to go into the little shop at Camp Curry first.  We looked at the postcards, the figurines, and all the fun stuff to buy for souvenirs.  The only thing we bought was a little card of safety pins.  I paid for the pins and handed them to Bernie, over her shoulder from the back, and she slipped the little bag into her purse.  We kept looking around for a few minutes then we left.  
We were outside of the store, walking towards the center where we were to meet mom and dad to watch the program and the Firefalls when we noticed a man who had been in the store following us.  When we walked faster he walked faster.  There were people all around, we were not afraid of the man, we just wanted away from him.  He yelled for us to stop.  When we didn’t he began running towards us.  We stopped in the middle of a crowd of people and waited for him to catch up to us.  All the people near us stopped too.  They were curious, as were we, as to what this fellow was up to.
It turns out he thought we were had been shop-lifting.  He said he saw us sneak something out of the store.  He accused us of stealing!  We were all shocked and curious as to what this fellow thought he’d seen.  He continued to say he saw me hand something to Bernie who then hid it in her purse.  He asked if he could look in her purse.
We knew we hadn’t done anything wrong.  We were just thirteen though so he scared us.  We all looked at one another and Bernie told him to go ahead and look.  His face turned a beet red when he pulled out the tiny bag holding the safety pins and the receipt.  He apologized to us and told us he thought we had stolen them.  He could see he had scared us and began telling us of all the shoplifting that goes on in the little gift shop. 
He headed back to the store and we started again toward the activity center when we noticed mom and dad standing in the middle of the crowd.  They had seen the whole thing.  We ran to them.  We were all giggling and laughing and trying to tell them everything the man had said.  Dad was mad.  He said he was going into the store and give that fellow a “talking to” for accusing us.  
We all told dad we didn’t care about what the man had said.  We convinced him we just had time to buy some of the wonderful Sidewalk Sundae ice cream bars from the store and get a seat before the program began.  The seats were carved logs.  They weren't very comfortable but the program wasn't very long so it worked. 

The nightly program always ended the same way.  Someone would tell of a love that could not be between two Indians from different tribes.  The man supposedly lived with his tribe at the top of glacier point and the woman lived in the valley.  The fellow on stage would sing the “Indian Love Call.”  At the end of the song he would point to the top of Glacier point, tell the audience to be very quiet, and yell “Is the fire ready?”  I could never believe it but after a few seconds we would hear a reply from the top of the mountain, “The fire is ready.”  Then the fellow on the stage would yell again, “Let the fire fall.”

We’d all hold our breath, wait, and look up at the tip of the mountain.  In a few seconds a small red spot would appear.  Slowly it would grow into a long trail of red hot coals tumbling over the edge and down the face of the mountain making a “Firefall.”  Yosemite has many waterfalls.  They are beautiful and awe inspiring but there was something magical about that Firefall.  It lasted about a minute before it would begin to fade away.  It could be seen from anywhere in the whole valley.   
 One year dad drove us all up to the top of Glacier Point.  We each got a hot dog and a hot chocolate and walked the trail up to the point where the fellow pushed the embers over.  It was fun, we got to hear “the yell” and see the Firefall from the top instead of the bottom.  

The fellow had a huge pile of burning embers which he pushed over with a big flat snow shovel.  It was more exciting from the top of the mountain but it was definitely more beautiful from the foot of the mountain.  They stopped doing it many years ago.   I heard someone thought it was going to deface the mountain but it was so beautiful!  I wish I could see it again.  I wish my kids could see it.    


Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Entry 58: 1963 Skiing at Don Pedro Lake

The summer after 8th grade graduation was great.  I spent a week with Linda Hampton and her family at Don Pedro Lake and learned to ski.  I caught on fast and did very well.  In fact, one of the first times I got up I stayed up for more than ten minutes.  Linda’s dad began zigzagging and going in circles and loops trying to make me fall.  I don’t know if I was really too good to fall or too scared.  

 Finally I let go of the ropes and began to sink.  I was way out in the middle of the lake.  I wasn’t scared because I had a life jacket on and I knew how to swim.  What scared me was I sank down just about to my chest when my feet felt something.  It must have been the top of a mountain at the bottom of the lake.  It scared me so much I drew my knees up to my chest and treaded water with my arms so I wouldn’t have to put my feet down and touch whatever it was beneath me.

  When the boat circled around and came back to pick me up everyone wanted to know why I looked so scared.  When I told them what I’d felt they laughed and didn’t believe me.  Mr. Hampton jumped into the lake to find out what my feet had landed on but the boat had moved and he didn’t feel anything.  I don’t know if they ever believed me or not.  I was so relieved to be back in the boat I didn’t care.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Entry 57: 1963 Healing Warts

          It was the beginning of summer.   I had acquired a nice little patch of warts on my right knee.  Grandma was at our house visiting when she noticed my warts.  She told me to get an onion from the garden.  I did.  She cut the onion in half and rubbed it on my knee.  Next she went into the field, turned around facing us, and threw the onion over her shoulder.  On her way back to us she said in a loud voice, “Nobody get that onion or find where it landed.  It will only take away the warts if no one sees the onion again!  They should be gone by Christmas!”  Grandma said it with such authority I almost believed her.  I was ready for my warts to disappear.
       Summer went by quickly.  I kept a close eye on my knee waiting for the warts to disappear but instead they multiplied so badly our doctor had to put some type of drops on them.  I remember the drops burned and for days my knee itched terribly.  
         We were visiting grandma one day after the warts started drying and peeling off.  She took great interest in my knee.  I remember sitting next to her on the couch.  My leg was in her lap and she was rubbing her hands on my knees.  Her hands were smooth on the top but her finger tips and palms were rough from work.  It felt good when she started rubbing my knee.  
           After a bit I noticed my knee began to tingle and then it began to burn.  When I complained to grandma she said it was probably the onion she had rubbed on her hands and into my knee as we sat there.  She was a wonderful, loving, tricky, and stubborn lady!  She had sneaked a second dose of onion onto my warts!
           By trick or doctor, by onion or medicine, Grandma turned out to be right.  The warts were all gone by Christmas!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Book Entry 56: 1963 Butchering Chickens

             We used to have a "dressing day" for chickens every summer. We would prepare about three hundred chickens for the coming winter.   I'm not sure why it's called dressing a chicken when you strip it of its feathers, gut it, and package it.  It would make more sense to call it an "undressing." 
             Dad would gently hold each chicken by the neck at the chopping block.  He'd tell each one if they'd do their part and hold still he would do his part and make the end for them come quick.  Next dad's face would stiffen and with the loud thud of the axe hitting the chopping block through the chicken's neck, off would come it's head.  
            Next, dad tossed the chickens, one by one, to the grass patch by Grandma.  He'd kill about five at a time giving everyone else a chance to keep up with their jobs.  I think people who have never lived on a farm or raised their own food might have a hard time realizing just how hard it is to kill the farm animals.  Many times I got "the speech" about how we gave them the best life they could possibly have and now it was their time to serve us  by being our food.  Many a time during a chicken harvest day or when the butcher would visit I would catch dad with red eyes or salt streaks on his cheeks.  
        Grandma’s job was to dunk the chickens in boiling water and pluck out their  feathers.  The boiling water made the skin loose and the feathers easier to pull.   Dad stepped in at that point and held the chicken over a wood fire to singe any remaining feathers.  Next mom gutted the chickens. 

        When grandma would get ahead a little she’d come into the kitchen where she and mom would rinse the finished chickens and put them into freezer bags.  

I remember the flopping chickens, the smell of the gut buckets, the closed blue eyelids of the dead chicken heads.  I also remember how proud mom and dad were when we drove the pickup full of prepared chickens to the Hughson freezer where we rented a locker.  I remember how dad stacked the bags in the locker in neat rows to take advantage of space.

The butcher would always come to the truck to help dad unload and carry in the boxes.  He always told dad our chickens looked better than any others when they arrived.  I remember him saying our bags were clean and not sticky, our chickens were whole and unbruised, and inside the bags was free of blood puddles. 
We had to walk through the cooling  room to get to the lockers.  The cooling room had cows and pigs hanging waiting to be processed. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Entry 55: 1963 Dad and the Shoe Shopping Trip

I don’t remember how my dad got the job of taking me on a shopping trip for shoes but he did.  I don’t think I ever went clothes shopping with him other than this one time.  Mom must have been busy with other things and this was an emergency.  Yes, I’m going with the idea it was an “emergency shoe shopping trip.”
  I don’t think the shoes were for anything special but mom had told dad specifically not to get pointed toes because they would be uncomfortable.  When I was trying on shoes I couldn’t decide between several pairs.  I remember asking dad which pair he liked.  A huge grin crept across his face.  He bought me three pairs!  Two pairs had pointed toes!  
I remember hiding in the next room listening to mom try to be mad at dad about buying the shoes.  I got to keep all three pairs!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Entry 54: 1963 The Typewriter

When I was in eighth grade my dad took me to Richard and Chambers in Turlock and bought me a typewriter.  It was an Olympia typewriter.  When we were ready to pay for the typewriter the clerk started selling dad things to use with it.  She must have known how proud dad was to buy the typewriter for me.  
The clerk brought out different types of paper.  Dad picked a package of regular paper and a package of “onion” paper.  The “onion” type paper was supposed to be for special reports.  It felt rough.  I remember smelling it to see if it really smelled like onions.  It didn’t.
Next the clerk showed us several erasers, different types of liquid white-out, and brushes.  Dad picked an eraser shaped like a pen with a brush at one end and an eraser at the other.  Once a word had been erased I was to immediately brush any remaining traces of rubber away.  The last things dad chose were a packet of carbon paper and extra ribbons for the typewriter.  I was set!  
My typewriter looked just like the one pictured here.  I remember pretending my school work was a secretarial job.  I felt important having a typewriter.  The fact that I would hunt and peck my way through anything by teaching myself to type didn’t seem to matter.  I remember the first report I handed in typed.  My teacher, Mr. Carr, was a saint.  He bragged about it but I remember many corrections and smudges on that report.
We didn’t have a lot of “extras” but dad was determined I would have a typewriter.  It was a big deal.  That was one time I was as up-to-date as anyone in my class.