On The Road

I  always associate being on the road with escape, with going some distance or journeying to an unusual destination.  I don’t think of going to a local place as being on the road.

Adam – a memory

My memories of Adam remain strong even now, for he brought the war into our family. As I recall, Adam came to us when he was thirteen, from a displaced persons’ camp in Europe, to our large extended family in a central California valley town. We were four families, living less than a mile apart—three older cousins, seven cousins all about the same age—and then Adam. The war with Germany had just ended and the horrors of the concentration camps were just being unveiled; those places that had names which sounded so harsh and strange: Buchenwald, Auschwitz. It was from one such camp that Adam emerged a survivor.

Puppy Love

You know how they say that some people start to look like their dogs, or maybe it’s vice versa, that the dogs look like their owners? There was once a whole advertising campaign for dog food, I think, showing dogs and their owners almost looking like twins. You know what I mean; the tall, thin woman with lanky long hair and her afghan hound, the small woman with short blond, curly hair, lots of jewelry, and her blond toy poodle with its rhinestone collar and maybe a fur coat, Winston Churchill and a bull dog. I think you get the idea.

Mother Tongue

Growing up, I heard a lot of Spanish spoken. My mother, the oldest of seven children moved from Quito, Ecuador to Los Angeles when she was almost fifteen. My grandmother, who until very recently I had never appreciated for the brave woman she was, came by boat to the United States with her seven children, one niece, two maids, and speaking no English. My grandfather remained in Quito to work, coming to Los Angeles twice a year to visit his family. This always struck me as a rather unconventional arrangement, but apparently it worked for them as they were married until they died, a year apart, in their eighties. At the time the family moved from Ecuador it was customary if one could afford it, to send your children to the United States or England for high school. With seven children to educate, my grandfather thought it was a better idea to move the family to the United States so all the children could learn English. The plan was to follow that move with a move to France so they could learn French as well, but World War II intervened and they never made it across the Atlantic.

Wigged Out

Seated backstage with 5 other 10- year old classmates, each of our faces had been whitewashed by Mrs. Sato, our Japanese dance instructor as she prepared us for our recital. I could feel the wet sponge as it covered my cheeks, forehead, chin and my neck. Although none of our families relocated by the US government during WWII was allowed personal cameras, shortwave radios or teaching a Japanese language class, cultural endeavors such as flower arrangements or teaching Japanese odori (formal dance) was permitted.

Made To Order

Both of my brothers and I were born in the midst of the Great Depression (between 1931 and 1936).  My father had worked as the foreman of a maintenance crew for the Union Pacific Railroad Company and they provided company housing located in Nacin, an isolated rural area in eastern Oregon, miles apart from friends and neighbors. Our playground was the wind swept dusty backyard dotted with scrub tumbleweeds or the nearby swift flowing Deschutes River where we would wade along its banks. By the time my older brother was 5, he’d wandered over the surrounding hills, often accompanied by the family goat. Rather than the dangers from traffic or crime associated with the cities, the perils he faced were prodding and disturbing; a sleeping rattler or nearly losing his footing at the edge of a ravine.

Nobody Knows Me

It was the story stored in her soul that only she and her beloved husband Ray were allowed to see. She ultimately gave me a glimpse, but only when it was too late.

Walking Up Hill

The first day I walked into my Physics I A class at UCLA I knew I was in trouble. In the class of more than 100 students I saw only two other women. Everyone I talked to seemed eager, confident. Most had already taken a physics class in high school. Many were planning to be engineers.