Sunday, April 18, 2010


When I was growing up we had a friend of the family, she was this strong, determined, opinionated woman. Sometimes she terrified me and others she just seemed a bit odd. Her son and my oldest uncle became friends in school and as it sometimes happens their mothers bonded. Please not the description I used for Vivian is accurate for my grandma, not that I would ever have called her odd. They were both tough old birds, in a by gone time they would have been referred to as touch broads and it would have been a compliment. My mom swears the only reason they remained such good friends is because Vivian was the only person who didn't take any crap from my grandma.

Vivian was also on the outskirts of my life when I was a child, she owned a flower ranch right next to a cemetery and when we could or needed to we were allowed to work there on weekends for cash. When I was very little (like so young I don't remember) we actually lived on the ranch. Not that it was really a flower ranch but that is what we called it. I remember as a very young child going over to the cemetery to place flowers on the graves for people as that was a service that was offered to regular clients. I also remembered getting really huffy because my brother was allowed to stand on the street corner and sell flowers and I wasn't (that is where the good tip money was) but as an adult I realize that was never going to happen, hello 10, 11 year old girl standing on a corner unsupervised leaning into strangers cars? Even in those days of semi innocence that was not done.

Vivian and her husband also owned property in Wrightwood (a nearby community in the mountains) which we were allowed to use occasionally. So we got some snow time in. No I always called her Vivian but he was Mr. , I suppose looking back that should have told me something. But as a child he always seemed to be in the background and she was larger than life. He passed away either late in my childhood or my early teens and she moved on to Hemit, where I discovered the Ramona Pageant. What a fantastic event! Their grandchildren were two of my closest childhood friends and to this day I am one of the few who is allowed to refer to the grandson by his nickname, well last we spoke at least.

The thing about Vivian was she was this amazing woman, I believe she was a teacher but I am not sure. What I do know is I wish I had known more then because I never knew her at all. It turns out that when most of the world was ignoring Hitler and then slowly started to fight, They were one of those families crossing Europe and delivering those under persecution into safety. I just heard this story in passing a few years after she died and I have regretted ever since then not knowing before. The stories we lost about these amazing people of course to them they were just doing what was right, which of course makes them even more amazing. These two people he was rather quiet and assuming (although later I was told he ran the roust) and she was this strong dominate woman (amazing what a child sees isn't it?). Yet they made such life altering changes for so very many people, they actually changed lives. They made a difference and I wish I had the chance to sit down with them and hear their stories.

I suppose that is one of the reasons for this blog, as we loose our elders we loose generations of oral history. We as a society are no longer an oral one, we are hardly a written one as we tend to need media to tell our stories now. That is ok but we also need to make sure our past is not lost. I suppose I need to keep haranguing my family for their stories, I have mentioned a few times that I would like to have our oral history preserved but have never actually done anything about it. Guess it is time.

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