Archive for the ‘Photos’ category

Will You Be Mine?

February 14, 2008

Olivia Scholz

by Olivia Scholz



For a child of the 1950’s Valentine’s Day was a big deal.  Cupid’s arrow found many a heart even in elementary school especially in 5th and 6th grade.


The teachers made it almost a major holiday. Many hours in art class were spent making fancy Valentine’s out of red construction paper, white lacy paper doilies, buttons, beads or feathers for family members and that special someone.  The teacher would also bring a big cardboard box to class that would be decorated by the students with red, pink, and white construction paper, lace doilies, crepe paper and hearts.  A big slot was cut in the top as this was to be our class “mailbox.”  


Mom and Dad helped us purchase a box of small valentines for all of our classmates and we would patiently sit writing each person’s name on the envelope being careful to pick out just the right one for each friend.  I especially liked the kind that came bound in a soft cover book that you had to punch out.  They were often fancier than the boxed ones.  


When the big day finally arrived we would take the cards to school and put them through the slot into the decorated “mailbox.”  After lunch the party would begin.  One lucky classmate would be chosen to be the mailman and would hand deliver each card to our waiting decorated paper bag.  The anticipation and excitement in the air was so thick it could almost be seen as well as felt.  I guess we didn’t worry so much about getting food poisoning or school liability insurance because parents brought in delicious, decorated home-made cupcakes, frosted cookie hearts, and home-made candy.  Talk about a sugar overload.  


Classes would pretty much be over for the day as we chattered while opening each card, pouring over the sentiment each one expressed.  It was a right of passage and I kept many of the cards over the years, still remembering with a warm heart the many friends of my grammar school years.  


The holiday is still celebrated and promoted by card shops, candy stores, florists, restaurants, jewelry stores and anyone else trying to sell you something.  Over the years Rod & I have always given each other beautiful cards, gone out to dinner or I have cooked something special, and I have received many beautiful bouquets of long-stemmed red roses.  It has always been special and romantic, but they must still compete with the memories of Valentine Days of my youth.  


There the memories will always be surrounded by lacy, home-made hearts!s  


Al Frew – Vagabond To Beach Bum

February 11, 2008


How do we know when we want to retire?  What do we want to do – a whole lot of things or little bits of nothing?  After all those years with the Red Cross and a 24/7 ‘life on the road’, it was bound to be a big change.  Yet – we are not always as ready for it as we think.  I considered my first attempt at retirement to be a ‘bust’.  Oh yes – like many people, I had all kinds of plans to set up my own consulting business.  But it turned out to be more complicated than expected.  So I ended up managing a ‘Super Cuts’ hair styling salon – what was I thinking?  Did I want to return to a 24/7 life again?

It took a while to realize it but one morning I woke up and decided it was time for a new chapter in my life.

Once that decision was made, so many things happened so quickly it was hard to keep up with everything.  The condo in San Mateo, California sold after only 4 days on the market and escrow closed 21 days later.  And it was a challenge to move after 20 years in one place but it is fun to ‘let things go’ and make a fresh start.

One of my dreams had been to travel to new places.  So the next 6 months was spent doing just that and loving every minute.  In addition to longer visits with family, there were explorations with long term friends in different parts of the country.  Even more important were overseas trips to Europe and the Far East.  It was wonderful to visit Abbey in Japan and not worry about time – you can see a lot more places when there is no time limit!  And it was possible – at last – to visit England and Scotland.  With my love of history, this was like a ‘dream come true’ – all those castles, museums, and historical places.  And the bonus was being able to look up my grandparent’s home in a village near Glasgow, Scotland!

Of course, no one can keep traveling forever – and it was time to find my new home in San Luis Obispo, California.  But there was no need to rush a decision; there was time to explore and decide the best place to live.  So the next 2 months were spent living in the village of Cayucos and exploring each of the 15 towns in the County.  Each of these communities has its own unique ‘personality’ and it was fun learning what each had to offer.  That process also helped me refine what features were most important to me.

This second attempt at retirement is proving far more successful.  It is refreshing to live in a condominium complex with lots of students/faculty from local colleges.  This area has an outstanding climate and has plenty of warm weather; how great it is to be no more than 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean!  It is a great place to live with plenty of friendly people and lots of cultural activities.  And it is even easier to travel to new places – the Amtrak Station is only 10 miles away – and you can go wherever you want.  Last summer included a 7000 mile trip around the United States by Amtrak – one of many adventures for this new chapter in my life.






Shirley Palmer – A New Motorhome

November 11, 2007

shirley-palmer.jpgIn 1986 the decision was made to upgrade from our truck and camper we’d been using since 1971 to a Motorhome. My Mother who had lived with us for eight years had passed away and our “nest” had been empty for several years, so now was the time for us to start enjoying our free time with a nice new Motorhome with all the conveniences – shower – large refrigerator & freezer, microwave, etc. plus the freedom of being able to walk around. We were done taking that camper off every time we returned home, as that was my vehicle to drive to work. We went down to the big Motorhome show in Long Beach and talked with a Komfort M/H representative and picked out exactly what we wanted – style, colors inside and out etc. We were told it would be made according to our specifications and delivered to the dealer we were dealing with in Orange County. We drove home on cloud 9 – just think – The Palmers – were going to be the proud owners of a 27 foot Komfort Motorhome. And best of all my days of having to crawl through that little window into the camper would be over!!!

Around July 1st we got the call to come & pick it up, but we had to stay for a one hour demonstration of how to work everything. I was working in Newhall at the time, which meant at least an hours drive down into Orange County. I told my girls I’d be gone about 3 hours (figuring 1 hour drive each way and 1 hour demonstration). My husband was in North Hollywood, so I had to stop and pick him up, so we’d only have 1 vehicle and he could drive the Motorhome back to our home.

Traffic was terrible, it took us at least an hour and a half to get there. When we arrived the demonstrator had left for lunch, so we had to wait on him. It was an extremely hot day, I was looking for anywhere to sit down that had an air-conditioner. Finally our demonstration began and he was going from one end of the coach to the other showing us this switch and that and how to work this and that – I was totally confused and getting hotter by the minute. I was fanning myself and finally I told them I was going to have to step outside and get some air – I couldn’t breathe I was so hot. Sweat was dripping off my bangs. It was then our demonstrator discovered that while showing how to turn the furnace on, it had remained on and we were not only getting the air-conditioning, but it was being offset by the heat coming out of the furnace. The demonstration lasted over 2 hours. I kept calling my office & checking in – finally I told them, “I don’t think I’m going to make it back, you guys lock the vaults and the office and go home!”

We started out up I-5 from Orange County and around L.A./USC’s County Hospital we came to a complete halt. It was literally stop and go for miles! Ofcourse it was a Friday, and what more did we expect – we had expected to be home by the time we finally left Orange County. Arriving home we parked the Motorhome in the street, came into the house to have something cool to drink and calm our very ragged nerves.

Finally – the big moment to bring the Big Rig into our back yard. The dealer had placed a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator for us to celebrate. Celebrations would come later when we were all parked in the back yard. At first my husband tried to back it in, but that didn’t work – he couldn’t see well enough, so he decided to drive it in, and then backing it out would be easier. We had a narrow route to negotiate, but he had measured and was certain there would be no problem. I was the director – pointing left, right, whatever – watching sides, top etc etc – and by this time it was dark. He was driving in when I yelled “Stop!” He rolled down his window and said “what’s the matter”?? I explained that the awning which was on the passenger’s side was stuck on the back porch roof.

My husband reminded me how much that awning had cost – $200. (which I was well aware of) and then he asked what my suggestion might be. If he backed up – or came forward the awning would tear. So I said to him, “I guess your only choice will be to get out and saw off that first portion of the back porch roof”!! Now tempers began to flare – he jumped out of the driver’s seat – came around & surveyed the situation and amongst many comments headed to the garage & got his saw, climbed up on the roof of the Motorhome and sawed off the first board of the roof, which was about 6” wide. He got back into the coach and slowly started up again & once again I yelled “STOP!!!!” Now what???? Well, my suggestion infuriated him – he needed to saw off one more board in order to get through. After at least 2 hours and with a much smaller back porch roof, the Motorhome was in our back yard. Needless to say we were in no mood for celebrating or champagne!!

Our next big exciting time was trying to get the Motorhome back out of the back yard. We found in the daylight that we had 2 inches to spare – give or take an inch on either side. We had a signal between us. It seems every time he backed it out, the driver’s side mirror would catch our neighbors bathroom screen and pull it out. So I would watch him going out – it was a struggle and when he caught the screen, I’d clap my hands and he’s stop, roll down his driver’s window – push the screen back into place and we’d be out!! The closeness to the neighbors was to negotiate around our smaller back porch roof! We did that maneuver for 7 years – before relocating to Los Osos. We got to be quite proficient at it, after years of practice.

We joined the Motorhome Club sponsored by the Dealer who had sold us all the Komforts – we were called the Komfort Kruisers. On our first outing with them we all sat around the campfire telling of our first night bringing our Motorhomes home. Nobody drank the champagne – except one woman from Sunland – they got stuck over a big ditch in the front of their home and were hung up – had to be towed off the next day. She took the champagne in and drank the whole bottle herself, while her husband slept outside in the Motorhome. It was fun listening and learning that we weren’t the only ones who had encountered an unforeseen problem. Everyone had some kind of problem, maybe not as dramatic as ours, but there were many! Sharing our first night experiences broughtus close together & we had a club that we enjoyed for 20 years. .

The only complaint I had was that on a rainy day – while either leaving for work or returning from work, getting in or out of our back door – all the rain went right down the back of my neck into my coat – that little short roof just didn’t make the grade in the rain.

And thus began our life with a Motorhome. In later years we decided we might want to trade in for a longer coach. We went over to Galpin Ford on Sepulveda and Roscoe Blvd. as they were selling coaches at that time. We were just looking, but got entangled with one of the famous “hot-shot” salesmen. He wanted us to sign on the dotted line right then. My husband said, “I tell you what – if you can get this coach in my back yard, you’ve got a deal” – boy the guy was elated!! I drove our car home and just watched.

First he tried to back it in – hit the neighbors bars around their gas meter and dented the rear end. Then he tried to drive it in – hit our back porch and put a big dent in the front end – finally he gave up and had to take the damaged coach back and explain to his boss. His comment – “Your driveway is impossible – too many hazards!” My husband just smiled – wish he could have seen it before we made the roof reduction!!

Grover Beach Life Story Class

October 26, 2007


Students Gather Around as Phyllis Sims, age 80, reads from her life story on Oct. 24, 2007, at the Grover Beach Community Center, San Luis Obispo County, California.  From left to right the students include Olivia Scholz, Jessie Stone, Cheryl Hagopian, Gary Simms, age 81,  Mary LeBlanc, Instructor Myla Collier, Sara Medzyk, Arnie Dowdy, Phyllis Simms,age 80, Susie Tacbas, and Chester Johnson, age 84.  Pictured is the Grover Beach class.  Classes are ongoing in several other locations as well. Student Kristi Gott took the photo.


Voices from the Past, Gifts for the Future

by Kristi Gott

Anthropologist and Instructor Myla Collier, Cuesta Community College Adult Emeritus, San Luis Obispo, California, teaches a Life Story Writing Class with the motto, “Voices from the Past, Gifts from the Future.”  Each week students enjoy sharing several pages from their pasts of adventure, drama, the sad times, the happy times and the funny events. 

The life stories represent a priceless treasure because these tales include details of a world that has disappeared forever.

Seniors are traditionally the storytellers in society who preserve the family history and pass down experiences and wisdom to the next generation. 

By writing a chronological narrative, starting with birth, the students create a timeline of their lives.  Myla provides Memory Joggers to help bring back experiences that took place 50, 70 or more years ago.  Students bring photos and family memorabilia to the class and these, too, help people to retrieve memories.

At my class in Grover Beach we have become almost like a family ourselves, as we share stories of growing up and the historical events we have experienced.  Phyllis Sims, 80, and husband Gary Sims, 81, are prolific life story writers and genealogists who keep the class entranced each week when they read their stories.   Life story writer Chester Johnson, 84, is a naturally skillful and talented storyteller, and his stories of growing up in Louisianna have many interesting facts about a time and place from the past.

People often say, “I wouldn’t know where to start” when thinking of writing a life story.  Linking the life experiences to the details of historical events, and proceeding chonologically, makes organizing the huge amount of data easier.  The Memory Joggers, which include questions such as “How did you feel about your first day of school?” make retrieving the memories easier.

A Seniors’ Life Story Writing Class provides an excellent opportunity for seniors to continue education, learn new skills, acquire a new hobby, and meet friends while preserving the family history in writing.  People agrees it’s good mental exercise, too. 

Everyone always has a wonderful time, new friends are made, and at the end of class the students leave smiling and laughing, until the next week rolls around.  Then the life story sagas continue, and students can find out “what happened next.”