Life Is  

A Journal Of  MY LIFE  Experiences  By Judith Rivers-Moore

Perspective On Learning To Appreciate Life


While parents or guidance counselors, ministers and teachers often believe they are the main teachers in life I have to admit there are millions of things we gain respect of, and gain information from. Nature is one of our best teachers. My granddaughter and I were watching an ant trail outdoors one day and I spoke about how I hated to have ants in my house. I shared with her the fact … that through the years I had gained a great deal of respect for their work habits and persistence. I shared that everything in nature plus various people have something to teach us if you just take a few minutes to observe and understand their qualities, or lack thereof.  It is important to understand how we feel about something, think it through and put it in our memory, heart, or gut. These lessons can be what we want to do as life choices … or what we never want to do.


Being raised on a farm, one understands each growing thing has a season. Our season as humans is short too. Each day we have the rocks and boulders of life to navigate our roots through. We thirst for the water of our spirits to be met, and the nourishment of knowledge, hopes and passionate dreams that will mix to create our personal human flavor. All this with the reality that we too will be plucked away in the future leaving a void in the earth’s rows.  If we have truly LIVED our lives, we leave our spirit with loved ones plus the fond memories of our times together. We treasure the savory flavors that enriched our lives and other’s lives. Most people question; should we each try to leave a legacy, a notable deed, money, a history of greatness, or an enrichment of sorts ... or is It up to us individually to bring our best flavor to whatever we do, and realize in our existence that we touch others. My mother once said, “If we would take responsibility for just the people’s feet near ours, the world would be a better place. My take included the community in which I lived.


My father often said, Judith, just be yourself, but I did not find “the self” for many years. There have been many years of my life, that I did not bring to.. nor live my best self. I was existing, being the good wife, echoing my husband’s rules and not living up to my individual affirmations. I was coasting, trying to fix with love a very angry man and hiding behind a bad marriage depending on his affirmations and the church’s for my existence………... when deep in my heart I THOUGHT  I could not be who I really am and claim my real self.  


After getting those boulders, rocks and cluttered thinking out of my life, all things changed and my roots are stronger and my hunger and thirst are fulfilled with me being me for the few years I have left. I must remember daily tho that my better self is not, and probably never will be perfect.

If we are facing reality, our every day is a story of narrow escapes from tragic life changing events than can be experienced, or a narrowly missed by timing. Most of us will never acknowledge these situations as a choice, chance, right decision or our guardian angel or parental lecture imposed on our willpower to make our own choices. I implore you to not wait till you are in your 50’s, 60’s or 70’s to appreciate your daily survival in life. We learn from choices good or bad. It is that we appreciate and fully live the minutes, days, weeks and years we are given. Sadly, I learned this when I was 16, yet the lessons did not jell for many years.


At 16 my friend Carol and I stood in front of our Baptist church waiting for a friend to return with a car he had just purchased. A 1938 convertible with no safety conveniences such as seat belts. The kids that just had a ride got out of the car and two of our closest friends got in the front seat. Patty and Norma slid in quickly and Carol and I were about to sit down in the back seat when two guys sat right under us. We did not want to sit on their laps, so we got out. The car took off and we waited for our turn again.  The car did not come back, so Carol eventually took me home and called me an hour or so later saying our friends were in a horrific car crash. Patty and one of the guys died and the others had very bad injuries. It was a tragic week filled with funerals and months of hospital visits. Carol and I for years wondered why we were spared? What great things were we to do? Through the years some friends said, “It was just not out time.” others said, “It was God’s hand stopping us”. Carol and I seemed to think we just did not want to sit on those boys laps. Our simple life saving choice at that time.


Another life changing moment came when I was driving the L.A. freeways at approximately 60 or 65 mph with no cars in front of me. A voice said let up on the gas pedal, and demanded “NOW” ! I did let up on my gas. No one else was in the car, yet in a second the semi truck on my right lost a mud flap that skittered across my windshield. If I had not let up on the gas, that 100y pound wonder would have come directly through my front windshield and killed me. It was a choice to listen to this inner voice (or my Guardian Angel speaking to me.).  Daily, each of us encounters actions by ourselves and others that make a difference as to whether we go on living or dying. How fortunate we are if there is someone or something, God or our guardian angels playing interference for us.


As a child, I had time to hear my own thoughts and speak to God whenever I wanted to - not just in church but in the natural world of our acerage. I could wonder about things, smell the earth, look at the sky as it changed. Sitting on my apple tree swing I often watched the sunset as it seasonally changed. Often singing to my dog on top of his doghouse, and out picking vegetables, fruits and gathering eggs as part of my chores. My mind could question and reflect on things. Thereau I was not, but thinking about things was a gift this natural world could give me and I also learned there is comfort to being alone with my thoughts.. 


Today I see parents hauling children from one lesson to another, where teachers tell them constantly what to think and learn to do….to gain perfection….to reach for goals - then turn to screens at home for entertainment of the mind. Burn out and isolationism is an early childhood concern. Yes they are learning, but is there time to really think, view nature, feel the air, smell the earth, touch the grass and flowers and most of all, think their thoughts. One has to think; what are we taking from them and why can’t a child be a child that learns about his or her inner voice, and understands their intuition on making choices. In our world, we seek human rights, yet the children’s rights to be a child can easily be neglected.


My father loved the say, “Too soon old and too late smart.” Ahhh the wisdom.

My husband’s favorite saying is, “Life is not measured by the breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.”

My favorite saying is part of a song ...

“Brush yourself off, take a deep breath, and start all over again.” This is when we are truly aware and alive with the courage to live on. 

My Father - A Glimps Of The Mystery Man

 As many of us look back at our grandparents and parents we must understand where they came from. Many were immigrants having to become citizens and speak a new language. Most endured World War I, the flu epidemic, friends and family member’s contracting TB that separated them from their loved ones, and  the experience of a long lasting financial depression, plus World War II, and most prevailed and moved on with their lives. After going through all those woes, you would think they would complain more, but rarely a complaint was heard and they moved on to better days in spite of their pains and recollections. People were much more private years ago than today... We have much to learn from that generation. 


Being raised on a farm, one understands each growing thing has a season. Our season as humans is short too. We have the rocks and boulders of life to navigate our roots through, a thirst for the water of our souls to be met, and the nourishment of knowledge, hopes and passionate dreams that equal our human flavor. All this with the reality that we too will be plucked away in the future leaving a void in the earth’s rows. If we have truly LIVED our lives, we leave our spirit, fond memories and savory flavors that enriched lives. It is up to us individually to bring our best flavor to whatever we do, and the other lives that we touch


The Mystery Man My father rarely talked about his life until he was in his seventies. I did know he did not have to go off to the World War II. He was too old to join, plus he had a wife and family. But rarely did he make any statements. Because he spoke so little of his younger life, I thought he may of worked for the mafia. As a silly child I built a mystery around his youth. He married my mother and adopted my brother when he was 36, so this meant many years had passed in Chicago before his ink making company ( Intag ) transferred him to Springfield, Ohio. . 


I observed as a child he would go to a book to learn how to do something and then go do it. He loved to read novels and magazines. He also loved to sing as he worked. You could hear his voice penetrate the sound of the tractor motor as he sang religious hymns. As I got older, I noticed he held a full time job and still came home to work on the 7 acer farm. No complaining, just went to work on what needed to be done. I also realized how much he hated certain things. He would point to the photos in LIFE Magazine showing the deaths of children, the war photos and cruelties imposed on people throughout the world. I believed finally that he was a pacifist, believing in equal rights, the unions for better wages and he loved political discussions. 


My dad was born in November 18th, 1906 and raised in Chicago, Illinois by two Dutch Immigrants that met and married in the Dutch Reformation Church as young people in South Chicago. Peter Doornbos married Alice Van der Berg and they had 6 children. He grew up on a leased green garden farm that fed Chicagoans. They would drive the wagon in to market once a week filled with veggies, eggs and chicken. They would then go dig out the manure from the city out houses and haul it to a dump not far from their home. Filthy, Dirty work that put money into the family. There were 8 in the family and younger ones all slept in the same bed. His usual attire was hand-me downs from older brothers and he wore wooden shoes in the fields. Born in 1906, he knew poverty, and only told a few stories of a very sad and hungry childhood - whereby the market would get the food they raised and they went hungry living on soups. He would say occasionally, “My father never knew how to make money.” This was something he became more interested in. In his older years he began to share stories of his youth. 


 I will share a few. The FLU Epidemic of 1918 He stated there was a huge flu epidemic. People were dying by the thousands. At twelve, he was the only one in his family that became ill, so to protect the rest of the family he was sent to a “pest house” to get well or die. He was 12 years old and experienced the horror of seeing people die around him every day he was there. His SCHOOLING When he finished grade school, (which was free in America at that time), he wanted to go on to high school. Yet in that time (era), you had to pay for high school. His mother was so upset that they could not afford for him to go, for she knew how intelligent he was. He held jobs both on the farm and then in the factories. He decided at an early age to not let it stop him. He became a self-taught student spending hours studying, chemistry, higher math, sciences and making things. He had a great selection of books and enjoyed reading about how things work, social issues and famous world leaders. 


There was always a Popular Mechanics magazine coming to the house. The unions were forming in the Chicago area, with a great deal of violence. He lost several friends to that violence, and to those that got involved in the mafia. As a young boy and young man, his salaries always went to the household, so he could not build wealth as a young man. His mother passed away when he was in his twenties. Eventually when his dad went into a senior care home, he and his brothers and sisters paid monthly from their earnings to keep him cared for. A friend taught him how to sail on the Great Lake off Chicago’s shoreline and he loved it. He hated dancing, enjoyed a cold beer now and then, but no hard stuff until he moved to Los Angeles. - then rarely. He loved good cooking, hated soups or mixed up things and had a sweet tooth. When he married my mother Lenora, he said he was in Nirvana with what she would prepare for him. A meat and potatoes man!  


Dad was a very kind person, he hated the mistreatment of others and was not a prejudice person.  He was political and we could enjoy long discussions from different view points.  He appreciated the fact that he had lived during the time of the first air flight to seeing us walk on the moon.

In his later years he came to live near us in Santa Rosa until he passed.  I never felt I did enough for my father.  One time when Lynn was three he said he would take her to the beach while I did some work around the house.  They were walking in the sand on a lonely beach and he put a butterscotch into his mouth.  Lynn quickly begged for one and he gave it to her.  She began chocking. With no one around to help, he grabbed her by the ankels and held her upside down, hitting her on her back until she dropped the butterscotch.   He came home and furiously relayed the story, adding he never wanted to babysit again....his heart could not take it!!


My father often said, Judith, just be yourself, but I did not find “the self” for many years. There have been many years of my life, that I did not bring to.. nor live my best, I was existing, not living. I was coasting, hiding, reacting and looking for affirmation from a hurtful first husband, when deep in my heart I THOUGHT I could not be who I really was. After getting those boulders, rocks and clutter out of my life, all things changed and my roots are stronger and my hunger and thirst are fulfilled.

She's Little But Mighty

Reaching back into my cloud of memories, I have found the six year old year is to be one of my memorable childhood years. I did not go to kindergarten. That summer we had just moved to a 7 acre run down farm in Springfield, Ohio from a delightful modern bungalow with indoor plumbing to a rat infested mess that locked up my families time and commitment to one thing … Remodeling & Getting Rid Of The Rats!!! My mother did not drive, so for her to take me to kindergarten she and I would have had to ride the nearby city bus to and from - spending much needed time away from the remodeling. This was an easy decision considering the many thousands of decisions that had to be made that year. Being a self entertainer early in life, I discovered an elderly bedridden fireman down the street (Dad Pit) who I could draw pictures for and be rewarded by Mom Pit with cookies and milk. They adored my blonde pigtails and I loved the fireman stories and hugs they shared.


My next precious time quest came happily as my neighbor with two high school girls gave birth to a delightful baby boy. The mother promptly broke her ankle and I went to the rescue calling in the back door, “Its Judy” can I do anything for you.” Velma, the mother would yell back, “The door is open, Please come in.” Well I was six and certainly learned to change and feed a baby at an early age. There was much to do until her girls got home. I managed to get her laundry up from the basement and fold it. Even do go-for errands for her as she needed and take care of Billy while she napped. 


I never forgot how great Billy Dale’s smiles were and my name was the first word he spoke (Juey). Even as I began walking up to my first grade class with my older brother, I would hurry home to be Billy Dales’ playmate. We are still phone friends today. ( We never talk about my changing his diapers.) After 5 pm each day and weekends I belonged to my parents. From learning to set rat traps, chase them from the kitchen with a broom … to going to the dirt floor barn and holding the water hose in a hole to have mom hit them on the head with a shovel as they popped out of the holes ... was all part of the “rat pack scene”. Sounds gruesome for a six year old, but necessary. My parents thought nothing of handing my brother and I bare edged razors to peel back the seven layers of wallpaper that we could reach after they steamed the wall. They handed me sandpaper and I sat for one or two hours trying to sand out the spitoon stains in corners. Consequently all our corners went downhill. 


 My father taught me the names of tools, so he and my brother did not have to stop and get them. My father was educated with “Popular Mechanic’s Magazines, but he put electricity, water pipes, a bathroom, a cement foundation and electricity in the house, barn and chicken houses plus a new furnace as our house and property became a nice home to live in, and my mother raised thousand of chickens for market. Yet, as I recall, there was still time to sit on my apple tree swing, singing and enjoying the views over the back acers of our neighbors as the sun set. I now have a large painting similar to that view

What & Who Encouraged Me To Read

How could I not learn to read at an early age???. My dad always had his nose in a book or newspaper or magazine. His favorites were Popular Mechanics, history and gardening magazines. My mother read a great deal about chickens and she would start a novel and I would find it all over the house as she would lay it down, wherever she stopped to work. Sometimes in the kitchen, the bathroom and oddly at the back door in her indoor shoes as she changed into a her outdoor shoes. Obviously she was a snatch reader!! 


 There were publication everywhere! At the breakfast table, the lunch table, the footstool and by the radio plus my brother’s exciting and ever changing stack of comic books. My mother was too busy with raising chickens to take me the mile and back to kindergarten. It was the reading drills I began at home from my older brother’s willingness to teach that gave me an early start We had early reading books everywhere, The Boxcar Twins, Sally Lost Her Shoe, Uncle Wiggley, and the 10 Encyclopedia Fairy Trails bound books which a host of wonderful stories for children. 


 By 2nd grade I was checking Hedi out of the school library. I had to stand up to the librarian for Hedi. She said in a too loud voice for the library room. Judy that book is too old for your class reading level. I just looked at her and smiled as I opened the book to the 5th or 6th page and began reading the lines to her. Never mind, she said as she stamped the card in the book jacket. I brought it back in a week and checked out Tom Sawyer. She smiled and stamped it right away

Life Is  -Billy Dale

By Judith Rivers-Moore


2515 Sunset Avenue in Springfield Ohio is where our family is moving to Judy.  My six year old brain did not register the work load or loneliness that I could experience with that move. There was nothing but work in every direction. So I learned the names of tools to fetch for my parents. How to help my mother clear rats in the barn. Drag boards with nails to the wood pile and how to garden very quickly. Weeding became my speciality.

Being six, I was not allowed to cross the street without my mother, father or brother with me. So it was my nature to expand my investigations and friendships up and down the street on my side. There were no children anywhere, just older people. The sidewalks stopped but there was a path down the street that led to Mom and Dad Pitt. He was a bedridden fire fighter. That friendship led to storytelling, art sharing, cookies, cake & milk. A once a week adventure. It was also something I could tell my parents about at the dinner table.  My age and skills led to my loneliness. My mother said “Judy Go Play, Read A Book”. There was little I could do to help at home until Billy Dale, was born next door.


The family next door across the hedge had two teenage daughters, Wid, Velma and soon to be Billy Dale. I was allowed to see Bill once when he was brand new, but then was told not to pester the family. So getting to know them did not happen until one fateful day when Velma broke her leg and had to get around on crutches.  Velma must have talked with my mother about some help while her daughters were in high school. I was encouraged to go and help with the baby Bill. It was the greatest thing that could have happened to a six year old girl. He was around a months old and I was shown once what was needed, and from then on, it was taken care of. From diapers to bottle feeding. Getting the laundry out of the basement lines or hanging them outside on sunny days for Velma. Folding diapers, Getting things (fetching items) for Velma. As time went by I gave Bill is first solids, rubbed his gums as he cut a tooth, rocked him in the rocking chair, sang to him and told him my favorite fairy tales. As times went by I taught him is number, colors and natural items. His sisters would come home and I would leave as they took over.


He took his first step to me around a year. His mother was out of the cast, but welcomed my services with her baby boy happily. After I started school in the first grade, I would run home to be with Billy Dale. We would play games, watch Captain Kangaroo on television and eat soda crackers. His lincoln logs were our forts, houses and castles. He never played with dolls but we had two plastic figures (a rabbit and squirrel) that became every personality we could imagine.


His father operated a green nursery in the back property, so he would order sand every spring. (Wid was like my dad, he worked a full time job and did the other work in the evening and on the weekends.) The sand pile was a joy to Bill and I, we had tunnels, houses, eventually mud pies as the pile would dwindle into Wid’s hot house plantings.


My parents and my brother were very busy on our property. Buildings were torn down, foundations in other, electricity run, water pipes brought into the house, wall paper stripped, floors sanded, fresh paint put on and the production of thousands of laying hens or fryers were raised yearly. The gardens grew to feed many with asparagus, tomatoes, corn, strawberries and our own food cupboard with canning and freezing. There was always work.

I too had many chores to complete every day at my home, yet found time to play with Billy Dale until I was around eleven and started forming many friendships with girls my age. Our time became less and less. He really missed me as I began JR. High. He would write notes and leave them in a cigar box on my front porch.


Bill’s mother drove, so he could go to kindergarten. I was denied kindergarten because my mother did not drive ... and they had just moved into this mountain of work at 2515 Sunset Avenue. Truly that was never missed because of my time helping with Billy Dale.  Bill is a friend to this day. He has visited here twice and I have seen he and his family when in Ohio. We never discuss my changing his diapers.

Life IS - School Daze

Ms. Messcar… 

I was eager to go to school as a child, yet my mother was so involved with getting her huge chicken operation going, she decided to not put me in kindergarten. There were several good reasons besides the chickens. The Kenwood grade school kindergarten let out at noon. She did not drive, and the school was an over a mile and a half walk. My brother could not walk me home on lunch hour. When I did begin school, I was able to walk with my older brother to and from school for those first years. He really did not like his duty, but knew the wrath of both parents if he did not fulfill his obligation every day. Fortunately we were both very healthy kids and got there on a regular daily basis in spite of rain or snow. I often wonder how some educators get their positions. My first grade teacher was a beautiful, wonderful singing, and creative joy for my first grade class. But for some reason she was working under one of the most domineering ugly principals the world could produce. I often equated Ms. Masscar in my young mind with the Natzi Germans I saw in the LIFE magazine photos and heard recordings of on the radio. She was always at the front door as we arrived to evaluate our tardiness and suitable clothing. She would line us up in the hallways everyday before dismissal. We stood two by two, wondering what edict would come out of her mouth. She had short curly hair, was plump and always had a frown on her face. Daily she stood in the center hall where we planned to move through the front escape doors listening to the wrath she would spout. Her voice moved from a low gutteral sound to a booming cannon sound, always made louder with the high ceilings of the school, She took her three foot wooden paddle and pushed it up in the air. Sometimes, the paddle would slap her hand or a large bang would echo as she hit the concrete floor to emphasise her important words. Her fear striking words daily were... Remember children, if you are late for school, this is what you will get. If you disobey your teachers, this is what you will get. No student in this school will get away with bad behaviour, or this is what you will get. Her paddle loomed over her head. If there was a play coming up or a festival announcement, we always got the statement, you will have good behaviour or we will never do it…. Again!!!

My brother and I both hated her, but we behaved except for one time. My brother Don was a sixth grader and in the school play. This was in the forties and they were enacting a music black-face negro play. The kids all had black face on and my brother was to be sitting on the front edge of the stage. This happened to be where Ms. Messcar stood below the stage to “control the kids with body language”. The two boys on the front of the stage were to pretend they were chomping on apples. My brother asked my mother for two large garlic bulbs and large onions to hide them. As the play progressed Ms. Messcar took her position standing in front of the boys sitting on the stage. Don chomped on the garlic and blew the smell toward the principal. She would turn occasionally and look at them, they kept their attention toward the actors and whenever they could blow their breath, they did. …. She never budged, I could not help from laughing…. They had told me what they were planning, and it was a pure and simple act of revenge before they got out of the school. My JR High School Schaffer was filled with really great teachers. My favorite was Ms. Goodrich, a history teacher that was shorter than me at twelve. She was so much fun and the kids loved her. I ended up in the Princlple’s office 3 time in the two years I was there. Ms Goodrich had not entered the room yet and a boy for weeks kept kicking my feet and legs with his. It hurt, and this day I had had enough. I stood up and slapped him so hard he fell out of his seat as Ms. Goodrich entered the room. Well, she said, I guess it’s time to go to the office and straighten this out. Needless to say with my black and blue ankles and feet to show the principal, the kid did not have a leg to stand on. The second time I had a locker next to a guy who was a lover of bugs. In those days the lockers were cross vented. He had decided to leave a cocoon of sorts in his locker and I opened my door to thousand of Praying Mantis hopping on me. Screaming I went to the principal’s office nearby and reported him. I do love nature, but this was tooo much!. It did take several days to get all the bugs out and I would not go back to my locker until they said it was all clear. He probably grew up to be a great biologist. The third time, I was really in trouble and they called my parents. Of course my mother could not come, it was a two mile walk and dad was at his job. They did meet with the principal in the evening with me. I had explained to the principal, but that was not good enough. Boys in the 8th grade can really be obnoxious. We had a three level school. So we were always climbing stairs from one class to the next. This one boy would position himself behind me all the time on the stairs and flip my fanny with his fingers. Not a bad hurt, but a nuisance. At first I asked him nicely to stop, then I began moving across the stairwell, which caused stair monitor whistles to go off. Several times I would turn around and say, “You better stop doing this or you are going to find yourself at the

bottom of the stairs.” So one day, I had warned him three times of a possible stairwell flying session, and I did it…. He fell down through several kids and wouldn’t you know, he broke his arm in the fall. Boy did he cry like a baby, I probably ruined his baseball career ... who knows? But my parents had to pay for the medical attention for his arm, and they of course upheld my decision to take action, but the medical bill was paid from my garden and chicken work earnings. Well Worth it !! With moving to Whittier in the LA area at 9th grade I entered a 4 year high school with over 3,000 kids. If that was not intimidating enough, my brother was a Senior there. It was a mile down and up the hill to the school. So I usually got in 2 miles a day. Being a teen, trying to fit in and not make mistakes, I changed my wardrobe (with much begging to my mother and a confirming talk with our new neighbor about how important it was for a teenager’s look at school). Most important to not look like a girl from Ohio. I began wearing a little makeup, full skirts with petticoats, and flat shoes instead of oxfords. I purchased things slowly with my allowance. I was still lonely while my brother was becoming king of the campus. I ate lunch alone, walked to classes alone. There seemed no one that year who wanted to befriend me, until ACE. He was a big guy with broad shoulders, large farm boy biceps, big smile, and likely a 17 year old freshman. He was in several of my classes and usually towered over the teacher. Ace always wore his jeans at half mast (the look of the 50’s). His white, white tee shirts always had the one sleeve carrying a pack of cigarettes rolled inside. He looked a lot like my Aunt Mildred’s boys. Mmmm, I loved my cousins. My nose came to the middle of his chest. He ran with a bunch of kids that met just off the campus in a small building after school. I never went there, but walked by on my way to and from school. Some of the kids had motorcycles, leather jackets, and were considered the bad boys and girls of the school. True, I was into dangerous areas considering I had been a goody two shoes girl, it was an odd fit. One day Ace asked me to go out with him on a date. I said I was still fourteen and he would have to ask my mother and father. He asked if he could walk me home to meet my mom and ask. I guess it was worth the mile up the hill and back to him. We entered by way of the back gate. My mother was doing laundry in the garage and was very cordial to him as she said, “Nice to meet you Ace”, and smiled. She listened attentively to his request for me to go on a date. She stated simply, Judith Anne is only fourteen and her dad and I have decided sixteen is soon enough to date. Ace parted after a glass of lemonade. I figured my mom would say no. One thing I learned years before was never to beg for a different answer. No meant No. There was no negotiation.

The next morning I was getting ready for school and found my mother already dressed for going out. She usually did not dress till 9 or so. But that day, she walked out the gate with me and clear down to the high school. Kissed her goodbye and thought she was heading on into town. Instead she said, I will meet you here in front of the school auditorium promptly after the school bell rings Judith Anne. Needless to say, she walked me to and from school the rest of the school year. She lost a few pounds in the deal. I still saw Ace in the classroom. We both talked and said he should try to find a more available date, and he did. The next autumn in my Sophomore Class I saw a girl in the row ahead and to the right that looked just like I did in my Freshman year. Straight skirt, peter pan collar blouse and of course white bucks. At class break I walked up and introduced myself, I’m Judy and I was from Ohio, where are you from. I gave her my phone number and said, let’s eat lunch together. Carol, her younger sisters and family from Pennsylvania were the beginning of a fun friendship that has lasted to this 77th year. JC was strictly night classes because I landed a job right away after high school. I graduated Friday night and went to work full time in an office job on Monday. I was taking Spanish, plus twelve other units to be ready to be a Airline Stewardess. Boy am I glad that did not come true. As a married woman later, I did take night classes at the local Santa Rosa JC. It was hard to stay in school with a husband that complained repeatedly that my classes were interfering with his coaching and teaching schedule. There were many times, I gave in to his whining and complaining about taking care of our children at night. After awhile, I argued, I had helped by working to keep his Master’s Degree going. When I went back full time after my divorce, there were units I completed because I fought to stay in class that counted toward my graduation at Santa Rosa JC. 

What's A Brother To Do

I am certain my parents offered my brother instructions on how to deal with his sister at various stages of our lives. There were many memories of times we worked together, played tricks on one another and times he came to my rescue in bad situations. Even tho there were often 4 years between us, there were times we totally enjoyed, totally hated one another, and times I ached for my brother’s hurts. As adults we were totally different people anchored in memories. A stand out memory of Don and I were the fights we would have in the back seat of the car over who’s side of the car we were infringing on. One time my parents pulled the car over and said, “Get Out Of The Car !” We were on a main highway and they drove off - leaving us with one another. Guess they called that “tough love” in those days. I looked at Don, he immediately said in his wisdom, “Quit crying. Don’t worry, they will be back.” When they did arrive, they said you cannot ride in this car if you continue to argue. We did simmer down for awhile. 


 One of our continuing happy memories came from the day our parents took us to a farm home and we could each pick out a puppy. The beautiful Dalmatian puppies we chose were, a female Mickey for Don and a male Skippy for me. We adored and cared for, played with, taught tricks to, and I sang to my dog constantly. We enjoyed them, even tho they were not allowed in the house. (Mother’s Rule) To this day, I cannot fanthom how they endured the cold winter nights in their dog house barrels. My sweet dog died by someone’s cruel deed, (which is another story), but Don had to give his sweet Mickey away when we left Ohio. 


Our parents worked very hard, and we both learned to work beside them.  I am certain Don was given more duties than I, but we did help a great deal. They tore down buildings, put foundations under others. There were chickens, chickens, manure and more manure, vegetables planted and harvested, cold days outside and sweaty days too, We tore 5 layers of wallpaper off the house at 2515 Sunset Ave., Springfield, Ohio. The rewards were fantastic berry and cherry pies, fresh veggies and fruits and mother’s excellent cooking, canning, and jam making.  We had an outhouse, so a bathroom went in, the pump went away from the kitchen sink and running water plus electricity went in. My parents took us to their favorite backroom restaurant for Saturday night sandwiches and we would then walk across the street to purchase our favorite comic books and my parents favorites to read when we got home.. 


 We delighted in playing tricks on one another.We both learned to drive the tractor, just so we could dump the loose cobb from the baby chicks every season. One day, we had emptied the chick’s house of cobb and manure. It was stacked high on the trailer to pull out to the back six acres and spread. Don jumped on the seat and said he would drive. I jumped in the back with the pitch fork to plunk down into the soft cobb. That was all I had to hang on with….so what does he do??? Start the tractor in 3rd gear with a jolt I was face down in the mess. You could hear his laughter all the way out to the field. Winter’s were not too extreme in our area, yet we did have ice, snow and sometimes we were snowed in for a few days. Don and I took turns gathering the eggs when mother raised hens. The path to the barn would sometimes freeze over and it was hard to navigate. Carrying a large egg basket from the barn to the house was risky business. It was dusk and I had snuck out to the building near the path….yet I was hidden from view. It was getting dark and Don came along with about 50 eggs in the basket. I jumped out and yelled BOOO!! Eggs went everywhere as Don went down. Of course the price of the eggs came out of my allowance, not his….but it was worth it. 


 Don and I both loved Mr. Crosslin’s pond, just a few pastures over wire fences. We would take our sleds, check the ice to make certain it was hard all the way across. We would trudge up the snowy hill in back of the pond looking forward to the gleeful ride on our red flyers down that hill and clear across the pond. We equally loved the nearby Indian Mound for a long sled ride. I was not allowed to go to that spot until I was a fifth grader. It was wooded and much more dangerous a ride. During the winters, the train and village Don created on a flat board came out on his bedroom floor. He and his buddies would play for hours with the train. He built houses, water silos and tunnels. Summers were spent on bicycles riding everywhere with Mickey on a leash and and a gang of friends. Don was always careful to carry water and check his dog’s paws when he got home. 


Our mother loved Canasta (a card game). We would find a spare minute to enjoy her attention at a good game. Our parents had friends, (Glady & Chet) who had a summer cottage on Indian Lake. We would drive the 2 hours and sleep on the floor with six other kids as our parents played poker all night. We all learned to play poker too. Our parents appreciated our help on the farm and would show it by taking us to Cincinnati once a year to the zoo, olympic sized swimming pool and at night we would enter a wonderful theme park with gardens and roller coasters we could not get enough of. Mom’s relatives were always eating dinner at our house, or we were visiting theirs. We often went to Chicago to visit with aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Both grandmothers had passed away before we were born, but both grandfathers were seen in their homes mostly. Two big trips were to visit Aunt Nellie, mother’s oldest sister. First she was in Washington DC and they moved to Cape Canaveral for his work. They lived in Orlando and would write about snakes and wildlife everywhere as the housing area was being developed. 


 Don was seventeen when we moved to Whittier in Southern California. He was very sad leaving Ohio in his senior year. He really missed his friends and those he made in his senior year, were on a different path. One of the first things our parents took us too was a 4th of July fireworks display in a major stadium. Los Angeles was beginning to exhibit racial issues. Leaving the stadium Don and I were walking ahead of our parents and he had the car keys. All of a sudden we were being pushed and shoved by black kids, they were calling us names, throwing paper cups, etc. and we began moving faster down the slope to the car on the street. Don shouted to me. “Keep hold of my hand and do not look back for any reason.” We both ran and managed to get to the car. The police moved in on the crowd and they dispersed. We had come from Ohio, were raised and played with kids just like these and saw them come to our home to buy chickens and vegetables. It did not make sense to us. Our parents were astonished at what they saw and praised Don many times for taking charge of me.


When my high school friend was killed, we got the call at 11:30 pm. I was so distressed, I started walking down the hill to get to her home. Don came running after me and kept talking me through it. He had just been through this with his girlfriend who had lost her brother to a cycle accident. He knew what to say. Don had to take charge of his sister many different times. 


 When I was learning to drive, mother demanded he take me in his car and teach me how to drive the stick shift. (which is what we learned on in the schools in the fifties.) We lived on a hill in Whittier, so this was probably one of the worst things my mother could have asked her son to do for his sister. I ground those gears so many times as he would cringe in the passenger seat, but I finally got it all down. You would think if I could drive a tractor, I could drive that old car, but it did take learning. As I began dating, I understood nothing about boys, their feelings, nor what a girl could do to a guy. I went out with an acquaintance of Dons from high school. Don was out of school, but somehow he had a conversation with him, and later my brother explained that to much kissing could lead to problems with a guy. He then told me the facts of life - which my mother nor father never did.


College was offered to Don. My parents had saved the money and he turned it down, rebel in many ways, he got jobs with construction and then with the telephone company. All of a sudden we were saying goodbye to him as he left for Marine Corps boot camp. My father would say, “He loved my brother - long before he fell in love with Lenora.” I just thought it was something he said. In Ohio, they would go on long walks with one another. I found my dad giving Don a great deal of space and time to be a boy. Something my Dad never had the luxury of. After Don went to boot camp, I knew he was coming for a visit. I came home from high school and walked through the front door. There was Don laying across my dad’s lap in his Marine Corps uniform, and my mother beaming over the two. Don was saying, “Dad I really missed you!” 


 Looking back I did appreciate having my brother in my life, and whenever I saw him, I always told him I loved him. Something he could not express to me in words, yet his former actions proved much love and protection was there.   

Paper Paper - Get Your Paper

Most young people today would not understand what is meant by a “Paper Route”, yet it was a part of my growing up. My brother Don took on a paper route in our neighborhood when he was around 10 and I was 7. This meant five evenings a week he had to bring papers to each customer for several miles around. No matter what the weather was, rain or shine, heat or sleet, there were no excuses for not delivering those papers. The papers needed to be on the front porch by 6: PM. He and his bike would do most of the delivering. Don would peddle back and forth from side to side of the streets, being careful to not be hit by traffic and coming back home for more papers to pack in his bike satchels. Don had to collect money and keep records for the papers delivered, and if one of the neighboring route delivery boys was ill or gone on vacation he helped divide and deliver that route. It was my job to help fold all the papers. He would give me a small amount of money for my help, but he came to depend on my involvement. This all worked well except we hated getting up around 5: AM to fold the Sunday paper and deliver it before we went to church. We had a system, and it usually worked well with the exception of snowy and icy days.

How the newspapers were delivered to us. Except For Our Own... each newspaper was folded for throwing. Bikes don’t work well in the snow, so we would pack our Red Flyer sleds with large boxes of papers tied on securely. I would take one side of the street and he would take the other. Boots, leggings, scarfs and red runny noses were all part of the experience. As I kid, I adored my brother, he was my hero in many ways. What we both learned: 

● To persevere in spite of the elements. 

● To get through the tough stuff for the reward that equaled a paycheck. 

● We had to come to grips with your employer;s clock. 

● Most of all he had to keep his bike in tip top repair. 

● All useful things to learn and sadly some never had that opportunity. 

 This job was in addition to our parents DO list on the chicken farm. We certainly did learn to be responsible and work !! 

My Heroine

My Teacher & My Heroine

No matter what the age, we are teachers to one another. My neighbor Mr Hawk enjoyed taking my brother and I up to the Lutheran Church for Sunday School. My greatest gift from that church was the fact his granddaughter Judy Ricketts would walk back home to her grandpas and we would play together on Sunday afternoons.


We would visit with her bedridden grandma Mary for awhile, ask if she needed anything and then go out and sit on the two person swing hung on a tall hickory tree. I loved to sing, and through my friendship, Judy Ricketts taught me many of the lessons her mother had paid for throughout the week.


From elocution to tap dancing and the voice lessons, Judy and I would sing, dance and perform for one another and then go in and sing and perform for Mom and Dad Hawk.  We wrote little plays, did dance routines and happily learned to harmonize with one another.

My mother was appalled, no daughter of hers was ever going to perform, and I knew that, yet the lessons were wonderful and I looked forward to our time together. Even tho mother felt that way, she would allow me to go to Judy Rickett’s recitals.


By 11 and 12, we would go on the city bus to the downtown movies, buy the magazines with music words in them and come home singing. The bus driver must have thought we were crazy. I was so thankful Judy Ricketts mother thought her daughter was another Shirley Temple. Judy was a great teacher and friend.

School Days Episodes 

My brother and I both hated the principal, but we behaved except for one time in our Kenwood grade school. My brother Don was a sixth grader and in the school play. This was in the forties and they were enacting a music black-face negro play. The kids all had black face on and my brother was to be sitting on the front edge of the stage. This happened to be where Ms. Messcar stood below the stage to “control the kids with body language”. The two boys on the front of the stage were to pretend they were chomping on apples. My brother asked my mother for two large garlic bulbs and large onions and hide them in their shirts. As the play progressed Ms. Messcar took her position at the stage front by standing just in front of the boys sitting on the stage. Don chomped on the garlic and blew the smell toward the principal. She would turn occasionally and look at them, they kept their attention toward the actors and whenever they could blow their breath, they did. …. She never budged, I could not help from laughing…. They had told me what they were planning, and it was a pure and simple act of revenge before they got out of the school. 


 My JR High School Schaffer was filled with really great teachers. My favorite was Ms. Goodrich, a history teacher that was shorter than me at twelve. She was so much fun and the kids loved her. I ended up in the Principal’s office 3 time in the two years I was there. Ms Goodrich had not entered the room yet and a boy for weeks kept kicking my feet and legs with his. It hurt, and this day I had had enough. I stood up and slapped him so hard he fell out of his seat as Ms. Goodrich entered the room. Well, she said, I guess it’s time to go to the office and straighten this out. Needless to say with my black and blue ankles and feet to show the principal, the kid did not have a leg to stand on. 


 The second time I had a locker next to a guy who was a lover of bugs. In those days the lockers were cross vented. He had decided to leave a cocoon of sorts in his locker and I opened my door to thousand of Praying Mantis hopping on me. Screaming I went to the principal’s office nearby and reported him. I do love nature, but this was tooo much!. It did take several days to get all the bugs out and I would not go back to my locker until they said it was all clear. He probably grew up to be a great biologist. The third time, I was really in trouble and they called my parents. Of course my mother could not come, it was a two mile walk and dad was at his job. They did meet with the principal in the evening with me. I had explained to the principal, but that was not good enough. Boys in the 8th grade can really be obnoxious. We had a three level school. So we were always climbing stairs from one class to the next. This one boy would position himself behind me all the time on the stairs and flip my fanny with his fingers. Not a bad hurt, but a nuisance. At first I asked him nicely to stop, then I began moving across the stairwell, which caused stair monitor whistles to go off. Several times I would turn around and say, “You better stop doing this or you are going to find yourself at the bottom of the stairs.” So one day, I had warned him three times of a possible stairwell flying session, and I did it…. He fell down through several kids and wouldn’t you know, he broke his arm in the fall. Boy did he cry like a baby, I probably ruined his baseball career ... who knows? But my parents had to pay for the medical attention for his arm, and they of course upheld my decision to take action, but the medical bill was paid from my garden and chicken work earnings. Well Worth it !! 


In Hopes Of A First Date

 With moving to Whittier in the LA area at 9th grade I entered a 4 year high school with over 3,000 kids. If that was not intimidating enough, my brother was a Senior there. It was a mile down and up the hill to the school. So I usually got in 2 miles a day. Being a teen, trying to fit in and not make mistakes, I changed my wardrobe (with much begging to my mother and a confirming talk with our new neighbor about how important it was for a teenager’s look at school). Most important to not look like a girl from Ohio. I began wearing a little makeup, full skirts with petticoats, and flat shoes instead of oxfords. I purchased things slowly with my allowance. I was still lonely while my brother was becoming king of the campus. I ate lunch alone, walked to classes alone. There seemed no one that year who wanted to befriend me, until ACE. He was a big guy with broad shoulders, large farm boy biceps, big smile, and likely a 17 year old freshman. He was in several of my classes and usually towered over the teacher. Ace always wore his jeans at half mast (the look of the 50’s). His white, white tee shirts always had the one sleeve carrying a pack of cigarettes rolled inside. He looked a lot like my Aunt Mildred’s boys. Mmmm, I loved my cousins. 


My nose came to the middle of his chest. He ran with a bunch of kids that met just off the campus in a small building after school. I never went there, but walked by on my way to and from school. Some of the kids had motorcycles, leather jackets, and were considered the bad boys and girls of the school. True, I was into dangerous areas considering I had been a goody two shoes girl, it was an odd fit. One day Ace asked me to go out with him on a date. I said I was still fourteen and he would have to ask my mother and father. He asked if he could walk me home to meet my mom and ask. I guess it was worth the mile up the hill and back to him. We entered by way of the back gate. My mother was doing laundry in the garage and was very cordial to him as she said, “Nice to meet you Ace”, and smiled. She listened attentively to his request for me to go on a date. She stated simply, Judith Anne is only fourteen and her dad and I have decided sixteen is soon enough to date. Ace parted after a glass of lemonade. I figured my mom would say no. One thing I learned years before was never to beg for a different answer. No meant No. There was no negotiation.


The next morning I was getting ready for school and found my mother already dressed for going out. She usually did not dress till 9 or so. But that day, she walked out the gate with me and clear down to the high school. Kissed her goodbye and thought she was heading on into town. Instead she said, I will meet you here in front of the school auditorium promptly after the school bell rings Judith Anne. Needless to say, she walked me to and from school the rest of the school year. She lost a few pounds in the deal. I still saw Ace in the classroom. We both talked and said he should try to find a more available date, and he did. 


The next autumn in my Sophomore Class I saw a girl in the row ahead and to the right that looked just like I did in my Freshman year. Straight skirt, peter pan collar blouse and of course white bucks. At class break I walked up and introduced myself, I’m Judy and I was from Ohio, where are you from. I gave her my phone number and said, let’s eat lunch together. Carol, her younger sisters and family from Pennsylvania were the beginning of a fun friendship that has lasted to this 77th year. JC was strictly night classes because I landed a job right away after high school. I graduated Friday night and went to work full time in an office job on Monday. I was taking Spanish, plus twelve other units to be ready to be a Airline Stewardess. Boy am I glad that did not come true. As a married woman later, I did take night classes at the local Santa Rosa JC. It was hard to stay in school with a husband that complained repeatedly that my classes were interfering with his coaching and teaching schedule. There were many times, I gave in to his whining and complaining about taking care of our children at night. After awhile, I argued, I had helped by working to keep his Master’s Degree going. When I went back full time after my divorce, there were units I completed because I fought to stay in class that counted toward my graduation at Santa Rosa JC.