January 2019 – It is a New Year, a New Life & a New House. We have moved into my old neighborhood. It is late & I am overindulging myself by celebrating the final class I have taken to sharpen my skills with a light meal at my favorite restaurant called Rivoli in North Berkeley. Delightful! A classic 3 star eatery holding fond memories of our 40th wedding anniversary & birthday celebrations hosted by family & friends. I have come full circle.
After a lifetime of traveling I find myself living just a few blocks from my old neighborhood. I have traveled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras & Nicaragua, England, France & Canada where I took the train from Montreal to Vancouver. I have moved with my family into an incredible house with a 3 bridge view of the San Francisco Bay. It brings back so many memories.
I grew up in Berkeley. My mother met my stepfather John in Santa Rosa on a blind date. As fate would have it she vowed to never remarry. Famous last words. When they first met my stepfather said they would be married in a year. Must have been love at first sight! They tied the knot in Kenwood, CA in the Community Church down by the creek.
I was the flower girl. Later there was a reception at Grandmother Nellie’s house which stands at the corner of Jessie & Clyde Streets. To this day I remember my Mother Madeleine’s wedding dress. It was a shimmery sky blue gray silk taffeta with a row of covered buttons from top to toe. But most of all I remember the radiant smile on her face. Pure joy & happiness.
My stepfather attended UC Berkeley on a GI scholarship after serving in the Navy during WW2. He majored in Public Health. He contracted TB during the war & was drawn to that field due to his personal experience. He traveled up and down California on business.
As he was recuperating we lived on Virginia Street just off Shattuck in a 2 story house with a large front yard & fish pond. I had my first bike there. My brother Eric had a turtle. Turtle was his first word. I went to Whittier Elementary School just across the street. See Spot Run was my first book.
“Whittier, one of the City’s original schools, was built as a six-room school house in 1892 with funds from the City’s first school bond. The original architect was A.H. Broad and first principal was Miss Juliet H. Lumbard. The original property was smaller than the present site.”
I used to visit a neighbor who had the most delightful cut out paper doll books. Each doll had a wardrobe of outfits with little rectangles you folded to hold the clothes onto the dolls. Fascinating! Working on those motor skills. I used to love to hear the sound of the train at night.
This house is gone, replaced by a stucco 2 story apartment building.
My elementary school is now an arts magnet school.
During the 4 years of study at UC Berkeley we lived on Rose Street in a lovely classic Victorian. I have fond memories of that beautiful house. Being a Victorian it had lots of rooms with very high ceilings and sliding wood doors separating each room. There was a very steep stairway up to the attic. The kitchen was at the back of the house near the attic stairs. Sadly the house is gone replaced with a 2 story apartment stucco building.
The original Peet’s Coffee (established 1966) is just a few blocks south in the Gourmet Ghetto along with The Cheese Board Collective, a worker owned co-op since 1971 & across the street is Chez-Panisse (established 1971) made famous by Alice Waters. A food paradise!
My mother had the most amazing Halloween party one year. It was such fun. We had scary noises, apple bobbing, cupcakes, hand puppets reflected on sheeting, ghosts hanging around, slimy grape eyeballs, etc.
My brother started a small fire during a science experiment in his bedroom. I had a musical rocker. Out of curiosity my brother disassembled it & could not get it put back together try as he might. He saved money from his paper route & bought me a lifesize doll.
My father sent the TV packing because we argued so much about which programs to watch. Now we have the cellphone problem. Hard to resolve that one.
We had a lovely Christmas tree. There was a woodcutter in the lot next door and he sold trees during the holidays. We used to visit Swedish family during Christmas & I got to eat the very plump raisins from the hot Glug, a powerful drink made with Aquavit.
My grandmother used to give me coffee with condensed milk. I never liked the lutefisk or the boiled potatoes filled with bacon & served with cream sauce. Mom used to make delicious apple fritters on a special griddle which covered two burners. One year Mom threw the Turkey out the kitchen window into the neighbors yard. We had dinner out that night. Our neighbor returned the turkey roaster the next day, no questions asked.
There was Live Oak Park up the street behind our house for after school play.
Live Oak Park is a public park and recreation area of the city of Berkeley, California, it lies in the center of several North Berkeley neighborhoods, 5.5 acres of nature juxtaposed with facilities that form the beating heart of the area. It’s a place where play areas, basketball and tennis courts, an indoor theater and the Berkeley Art Center share space with native oaks and California Bay Laurels, quiet shady picnic areas, a spacious grassy knoll and the lovely Codornices Creek, which flows through the park. Live Oak Park is one of Berkeley’s oldest and most naturalistic public parks.
We often went to Tilden Park for picnics & rides on the old hand carved Merry Go Round which still operates to this day. There were pony rides too!
Later during my high school years we moved to the Berkeley Hills just off the Arlington on the Kensington border. My father loved the incredible view of the SF Bay and the beautiful lights from the City. My parents were very happy in that house.
I graduated Berkeley High School in 1962. There were 800 people in my class alone.
In 1884, with a graduating class of four, Berkeley High became the first high school to be accredited by the University of California.
I attended San Francisco State College as an art major. I loved art. My first roommate lived in SF. One late night she invited me to a club to met Bob Dylan. I passed on that. I was more interested in a long term relationship & I found Jim! Or he found me. Oh well!
During that time I met a friend and we moved into a big Victorian in San Francisco. There I met Bob. We decided to leave Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement in the late 1960’s. It was a time of change and upheaval.
Driving across the USA we stopped in New Mexico to visit friends, then Colorado to visit Parlin (maybe the most isolated place in Colorado) and onto Lake George to see Jim & the Rolling OM Ranch. From there we traveled to Pittsburgh where we met Bob’s family. We had dinner with my parents in New York City at the Plaza Hotel who were there on business. Soon we traveled on to Europe.
Just by serendipity we ended up in New Paltz, NY where next we found ourselves at Woodstock, NY! We were advance crew and helped Wavy Gravy with the kitchen serving volunteers.
Contrary to popular belief I was not one of those infamous nude flower type girls. I was way too shy to frolic around wearing only flowers in my hair! I do love flowers, music & dancing.
Long story short I ended up in Colorado with Jim for 25 years. When the kids went to college we moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon for another 25 years. Thanks to the energy & vision of my late husband Jim, a master marketer, I continue to own & rent my beautiful house on Upper Klamath Lake which is a very popular birding hot spot, attracting a variety of film crews from around the world who come to document the amazing Western & Clark’s Grebes. In early springtime they fly into the basin to mate & breed before returning south to winter. The “Dancing Grebes” run across the water & are very photogenic. This year we are hosting a crew filming for “Amazing America”. Stay tuned!
Also in my travels I have sailed the full length of Upper Klamath Lake up & down at least 2 times on races with the Klamath Yacht Club. Each leg is 30 miles!
Grebes, food, bar sailing & sunset photos by Stephanie Carpenter