Being Married and a Mom
We had four children,
three girls and then a son. We
were divorced when my son was 4 and my oldest daughter was 9.
This is my first house in San Jacinto, but Hemet was our
backyard! See the Volkswagen in the driveway.....long before safety concerns
and seatbelts were thought of, my son used to lay in the back window when we
went somewhere. A bigger car was purchased soon after this picture as
we outgrew this one.
I ended up raising my children by myself for almost 12 years before I met and married my sweetie, Raymond. They all ended up by being great kids in spite of the situation. None of them had to get married, never arrested for stealing or getting drunk; they all have wonderful work standards and integrity and honest as the day is long. I have always been proud of each of them for what and how they turned out as adults. We still have problems as in all families but we are all okay.
The kids learned how to do the laundry, make out a grocery list, clean the house to even defrosting the refrigerator and cooking. My son was mowing the lawn at 6 years of age with a power mower! None of them liked it, but later on they were glad that they learned how.
I started to work after the divorce, thanks to a dear friend, Millie, at the EOB (Economic Opportunity Board) in Riverside and stayed there for almost five years. The kids and I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1970 and it was my salvation. Since then only two of the kids have decided to stay in the church and the other two are wonderful Christians in their own faith.
My brother, offered to take us in, way down in Knoxville, TN. where he lived with his family, to help us get started over. I sold the house, sent the kids to my brother's by plane and when I had most everything sold and our personal things in storage I flew down to be with them. It was a funny feeling not to have a house nor a car key to my name!
We lasted only three weeks down there as nothing seemed to be working. Later on, I figured that we weren't really supposed to be there. I called my folks and they borrowed some money for me to buy a used car and I drove us all back. We had a lot of stuff for five people so we sent some on ahead on the greyhound bus and even had to make several other trips along the way to a bus station to send more as it was just too much for the car to handle.
I can't remember the make of the car, but I do remember that the exhaust pipe was hanging by a thread. It finally fell off somewhere out in the desert (there is that desert again hahaha) We just "happen" to be by a small gas pump run by an Indian man so he fixed it literally with baling wire to the frame of the car. From then on, we all had sore bottoms and our teeth vibrated if we held our mouths just right as the exhaust pipe vibrated constantly. When we sang songs, like we generally did while riding in the car, we didn't have to pretend to sing vibrato, it just came out that way!
It wasn't a bad trip though, as we got up early and stopped early and ate breakfast in our room before we left. We snacked until we stopped for the night. Then we went out and ate a decent meal. The kids got to swim as we made sure that the motel had a swimming pool. It was the least that I could do for them. I had never driven that far in my life, much less in an unknown car that sounded like it was going to fall apart any second, plus having four kids with me.
Living in My Folk's Place
Mum and Dad's home in Hemet. This was taken before
they had turned it into a restaurant.
We arrived at my folk's place in Hemet with 37 cents in my pocket! We surely were blessed to even have that as the money seemed to last and last when it shouldn't have.
I finally got the money for the house when escrow closed so I paid the folk's back and bought each of the kids a brand new bike! There wasn't much left over but enough to help get us by. Mum and Dad had gone back to MA to live for a while so that we would have a place to stay.
But during that time in the folks' place, I was on the TV program "Let's Make a Deal" and won an Amana Microwave oven, a Capehart Stereo and a Lady Elna Sewing machine.
I was dressed as
a chicken as the kids help me glue chicken feathers from a pillow on a gray
sweat suit. We had cut the legs off at the knees and put in elastic to
where they looked like the old fashioned knickers. I made a hood of sorts
for my head and used plastic work gloves for the "comb" on top and
then added a beak out of yellow poster board. I had on knee length socks
and orange swim fins on my feet. The kids even painted the toenails red on
them. hehee. I molted whenever I walked!! Millie and her husband, Neal, drove me to Los Angeles for the taping of the
show. Man, did they have feathers in their car and even found them months
and months after!
Have you ever tried to walk with those swim fins on your feet? It was soooooooo funny. I had to go up stairs sideways and when walking into the building at the program taping, two of their aids helped me walked sideways up them. I couldn't take them off as the socks I had on my feet made if almost impossible. We used baby powder to put them on. I was chosen to be in the second session of that day's taping and while waiting, the people who were to be contestants were talking about what they wanted to win. I jumped in (not literally, remember the flippers?) and said that I would be happy with whatever I was lucky enough to get as I had lost everything and didn't have much in the way of anything.
My words say it all! They bent back my beak so that
I wouldn't poke Monte Hall in the eye!
None of us knew who were actually going to be on the show but all of us were in that special section that they picked them from. To cut this story short, I was chosen and I couldn't have lost even if I had tried to the way they had it set up for me. I had my choice of either the box on the stand by me, or either of the two doors down on the stage. I chose one of the doors where the prizes that I won were. The other door was a motor boat and the box on the table was where I would have won both of the doors! I was one of the ones they asked if I wanted the big deal and I said no as who would have ever guessed that I would ever be able to have a microwave with my situation so I kept what I had. Good that I did too, as the door that I would have chosen was the big deal and it was a trip to England for two! I figured I got the best deal!
About a month after the prizes were delivered to my home, a representative from Amana showed up at my door to see if I liked my microwave. Boy, did I rant and rave over it and told him some of the things that I taught myself to do. The next thing I knew, I was working for Amana by doing in-store demonstrations and going to the people's homes who purchased them to teach them how. I was supposed to go clear down to Santa Ana for two weeks for classes to learn how to demonstrate but with my situation of being alone with the kids and no job, they sent me out cold turkey. What fun I had.
Wasn't this something!
During one particular store demo, I was asked by the store manager to show how to cook a turkey. I said, "no problem" hahahaha, I had never cooked one before but they didn't know that. The only thing though, was that they brought out one that was frozen solid. I had to defrost it!! I bluffed my way through it telling them to "follow" along in their books, so I just did what I read! They didn't know I never had cooked a turkey before, much less a frozen one. The directions were to keep turning it over and around and the one time that I did that I pretended to dance with the chicken by holding onto its wings.......out dropped the package of gizzard, heart and liver! We all had a good laugh on that one and this elderly man, hollered out, that my turkey just had a baby! I worked off and on for Amana for about 4 years and had a wonderful time.
We stayed almost a year in my parent's home and then I managed to buy my very own place. Four bedrooms and two baths! Man, did I feel rich!
This is our very own home in Hemet.
And that is the "white car"....
Bless the federal government's housing 235-I program for single moms! I had made connections while I worked for the Economic Opportunity Board (EOB) in Riverside and I never realized that one day they would be helping me. It only took $200 to get us in which was provided by a church friend and then we had an interest subsidy to help make the payments. I worked at various jobs to make money to support us as we never, ever went on welfare! We all were determined not to as we had known other families that were and we didn't want to live like they did.
Not one stick of furniture did we have; not a bed, table, nothing except for the prizes I had won. We used one of those styrofoam boxes for a refrigerator, an old door set upon cement blocks and a blanket over it for a couch and slept on the floor for almost 2 months. Slowly the furniture came, early Salvation Army rejects, but it was ours and very useable. We had our very own home that I had gotten on my own and we were so poor that we didn't even know it! Chris, the elderly man just next door to us, had recently lost his wife and graciously gave us a mirror for the wall. Today it hangs over the fireplace ever reminding me of how wonderful he was to all of us.
I was working as the office manager for a motor home manufacturing firm in San Jacinto when my son had a bad accident while a passenger on a mini bike. He was in the hospital for quite a while and between that and recuperating at home, he missed a lot of school. They had a tutor come in to help him stay on top of his studies. My mum was so great with him during that time as she always went to the hospital to feed him as it was really hard to do lying on your back. My son has some neat stories about his Grandma during that time that he relishes to this day.
I ended up by losing my job as I spent so much time with him. I washed peoples toilets, vacuumed their carpets, and just about anything else that I could to make money to pay the bills. That was the first time that I had to ask for help from my church or anyone.
Mum and Dad had come back to Hemet shortly after I moved into my own home and they missed MA so much that they sold their home and left for good in 1975. There I was alone, just me and the four kids.
During my single years, I was everything from a bookkeeper for a furniture firm near Riverside, to driving the Mobile Library for the School District. I was a secretary for the local radio station and even cut a few commercials for them. I worked as a bookkeeper for a watermelon brokerage, worked at "The Hemet News" as the assistant Church and Society Page editor and was in charge of the obituaries.
I also was the first woman Secretary-Manager for the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce along with being the first woman to ever drive a school bus for the San Jacinto School District.
But driving that mobile library bus was one of the best jobs I had and I was still employed there when I met Raymond. I loved being around kids and by that time, I learned to love to drive and bigger the vehicle the better!
During the different months, I would decorate the bus up to correspond with what was happening that particular time of year. The kids all loved it! One Halloween, I had made arrangements with my boss at the district office and also the different schools that I went to, to take the entire week of Halloween and make a spook house out of the bus. I had taken sheets and covered the books and then made zig zaggy rows with sheets and blankets, through the bus that the kids had to go through. They found oranges with a hole in it for an eye socket, cold slimy spaghetti for brains, well, you know how it goes! Everything was really dark and I had spooky music playing. It got so popular that the teachers brought whole classes through!
One day, years later, Raymond and I were out in the country and stopped at a home grown vegetable stand to pick up some produce. The boy manning the stand kept looking and looking at me and he finally asked if I had ever driven the mobile library. Can you believe that out of so many things that happen in school, that he remembered that one particular Halloween! Made my day!
One particular thing that I accomplished driving the mobile library, was getting the kids to really look for what they wanted. They would continually ask me where a certain book was. So, without them knowing, I started to hid different things in the books. A piece of gum, a dime, anything that I knew they might like and I would give them clues on where to find it. It was amazing to see how quick the kids learned how to look to find things and not have to ask me all of the time. It was a fun game and not only did it make my job easier, but hopefully, taught the kids to really look.
I really have to add just one more story about the bus! Honest! I was driving back down the San Jacinto Mts. after being up at the Idyllwild Elementary School and the road crew was working on the road. The road was barely big enough for two large vehicles to pass much less a mobile library having to go around cones and men working with equipment. On my side of the road going down was the DOWN side...I mean down....no guardrail....nothing but a dirt shoulder and good-bye world. The side they were on was an embankment. Those men just stood there with smirks on their faces while leaning on their shovels wondering what I was going to do. No way in the world was I going to have them help me and they sure weren't going to move one tiny bit. Heck, I didn't even hesitate one second, just geared that sucker down, put the outside of the tandems on that shoulder and went around them. I didn't even stop to think if the shoulder would hold me or not which was a stupid thing to do when I looked back on it, but I couldn't believe the applause I got from them as I waved good-bye after I got back on the road.
Along with being employed, I was involved with many different volunteer projects with one of the first taking around a petition for a tax issue that the county was facing. I was a member of the San Jacinto Jr. Woman's club where the club was awarded a State First place honor in their Community Service Program (I forgot the exact title) with my work on "Medic Alert"
I was a Girl Scout Troup Leader, for the Juniors for quite a few years and my son, was our mascot as he attended all of the meetings with me and his sisters. I had the opportunity of being one of the charter members of the "S.O.S." (Save Our Station) committee that eventually was able to purchase and renovate the old Santa Fe Railroad Station in Hemet. I even managed to have Bill Stulla, a TV personality in the 60's be there for the huge kick-off that we had for fund raising. For those of you who don't know of him, he played a "red light-green light" game with the kids to get them to drink their milk on a t.v. program.
Here are the words to Bill Stulla's theme song"
See her rollin'
down the track,
See her puffin' smoke so black---
Who's at the throttle? (Woo-Woo) that's Engineer Bill!
See those drivers whirlin' 'round ---
See that engine cover ground,
Who's at the throttle? (Woo-Woo) That's Engineer Bill!
round-house every day, he always get the right of way,
Folks all know the whistle's cry.
Means Engineer Bill is passing by.
See her steamin'
From the cab who's wavin' down,
Who's at the throttle? (Woo-W00) That's Engineer Bill!
(add midi with his music)
A fun thing also that I was able to be a part of, was being involved with the "Ramona Pageant"; first as a chorus member and then going on to playing Marda, the Ranch Cook, which was one of the big speaking parts. I also was able to play Aunt Ri, another speaking part. It was rather like "type casting" as the personalities of those two women was a lot like myself in some ways. Along with the Pageant, I played in some of the productions at the "Hillside Players" playhouse up by the Ramona bowl.
Here I am as "Aunt Ri" in the Ramona Pageant in Hemet, CA. It is an outdoor
amphitheater that seats 6,636 people under the blue sky!
This is me as Marda, the Ranch Cook,
waiting at the cast house for our line up call.
Being involved with a project of Hemet's huge 75th birthday party was a memorable opportunity along with a fund raiser the city did. I was also a member of the Hemet Soroptomist Club.
Helping my Dad with the July 4th fireworks and activities and his many parades that he was in charge of, plus an "All States Picnic" that became an annual event, was also lots of fun.
Between the scrapbooks my Dad had along with my own just covering the newspaper articles that appeared on our family, would take a while to read. I used to kid Bill Jennings, about keeping my life's journal for me through those articles. I first met Bill over the desk at The Hemet News and then later was working with him as he initiated the SOS committee, and he was involved in just about everything else within the community dealing with its history. He was a journalist through and through but yet so much a part of our valley and it's history. He went on to work for the Riverside Press/Enterprise daily newspaper. Not only did he write about the history of the town and it's people, but by doing so, he also was creating history in his own right with his personal involvements.