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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Friends are Forever

Today I attended a funeral. It was a time to mourn and show love and support to dear friends. It was pretty hard to go to. Gene was our home teacher. We will miss him so much. It was so hard to go to the funeral. But after going today, I realize that going to a funeral is IMPORTANT! No matter how hard, how difficult it is, I really needed to be there. And like the eulogist said, funerals are the most difficult things to go to but have great in blessings. Just hugging Lorraine, just showing them my heart was pretty big for me.

The last funeral I attended was my dad's funeral in 2005 and my aunt Lola's funeral in 2001, my beloved mother's funeral in 2001. They were so final. I think of them. They were the most special people in my life. I have the memories...

I sat there today at this funeral crying and could not stop. Reflecting..... Thoughts of my dear friends who have lost their children, spouses, relatives, parents and to those that almost lost their children. And thoughts about cancer...just how many friends of mine have had it, struggled through it, overcame it and those who lost battles to it. Funerals make you think about your present time and how much time you have left here on earth. How much time you have with your children, your loved ones...we just don't know when our time is up. Such RAW feelings to process.

So today is a hard day. Hard day to now work, take care of the family when I am such an emotional sap. But it made me realize the importance of time. The importance of spending time with family and friends. Taking pictures, videos, enjoying every second with everyone in your life. And appreciating it all..IMMENSELY. And in turn, today is a GOOD day! Because it is ONE more day I have with my family, friends, loved ones. And now I am off to enjoy them.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas is here


Rocky My Chessie

Here is a picture of my new "puppy". Rocky. Rocky is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He looks like a Chocolate Lab with curly hair on his back but he is a legitimate breed.
Color: Color of a hershey bar, like milk chocolate and silky soft.
His half brother Jake was in the Long Beach Dog Show two weeks ago.

Age: He is 16 months old and still chewing things.

Hobby: He likes to chew up sheets and baseboard.

Beautiful: He is very narcissistic as he stares out the window at himself a lot. He loves to ride in the car and go for walks to Starbucks about three times a week. I take him everywhere in the van. He loves it.

Birth: He was born on August 2, 2006. We got him the day after Thanksgiving in 2006 when he was a puppy at 40 lbs.

Weight: He now weighs 76.4 lbs. Just a little guy!

Christmas is in the Air ! ! ! !

It is getting chilly here in Southern California. You can see snow topped mountains in Big Bear and Mount Baldy from Buena Park. Cool!

I had a fun festive holiday weekend and now I am really in the Christmas mood! I love this time of year! I made some Christmas crafts, did some Christmas shopping and I went to a Christmas party with Carole and Mike Owens last week which by the way was amazing! Nothing gets me in the spirit of the holidays like some good Christmas music!

Last Thursday night. It was a fun night. We went to see 'The Forgotten Carols.' I love 'The Forgotten Carols,'

What a great way to get in the Christmas spirit!

And, with all of the chilly weather and snow in the mountains it really feels like CHRISTMAS!

Mom and Dad

February 7, 1942Mom and Dad: Love at First Sight!

“Wow mom that is quite a story! Just think you and dad are celebrationg fifty years of marriage. That’s a long time. How did you meet?”
“ That was the year of one snow fall after another. I remember it well. It seemed like it snowed and snowed and snowed. Aurora received more snow that year than in the forty previous years. December was cold. January was cold and in February there was a blizzard. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the day before we became engaged.”
Excitement and energy were bursting in the air at the Fermazin family home. Robert finally took the big step. Robert was engaged! They were sitting around the Philco console radio in Robert’s home when President Roosevelt addressed Congress that day, saying: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date that will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan ... Hostilities exist.” For Grace and Robert that was just like yesterday.
Mom remembered the flurry of excitement shopping for her diamond engagement ring that weekend, snow or no snow. There was snow, slush, and drifts piled high along the highways on the outskirts of down town, Aurora, in driveways, and backyards all over the city. The snowfall was constant from the end of October to March. Winters in Aurora were renowned for their wind and cold. However, this year was the snowiest December in the last forty years in the Chicago area. At five degrees below zero, the Fox River began to freeze over. The snow crunched under your feet and the wind blew through your hair causing you to shiver as you walked down Broadway. Store windows were aglow with Christmas lights and decorations lined the sidewalks. Holly and glittering silver and blue lights wound around the tall street lamps which illuminated the sidewalks with glowing warmth. The radios pounded out big band leader Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo withTex Beneke singing: “Pardon me, boy. Is that the Chattanooga choo choo...? So Chattanooga choo choo won’t you choo-choo me home
After a courtship of one month, with the uncertainties of the future, the Great Depression behind them, Robert and Grace became engaged. They met on a blind date arranged by Robert’s best friend, Walt Ahlgren and his fiancée, Dorothy. (unbeknownst to Robert, Grace and Dorothy were great friends) It was love at first sight. Robert and Grace came to know one another by enjoying many activities in a short time: movies, family get-togethers, parties with friends, and ice skating on Lake Mastodon at Phillip’s Park. Robert was the city champion ice skater for many years as a pre-teen and teenager so he enjoyed impressing Grace with figure eights, skating backwards, jumping and twisting on ice along with many other moves.
Robert Linden Fermazin was the middle child of a first generation German and Luxembourger family. At times you could hear German spoken in the home when the older generation wanted to talk privately and most assuredly hear Luxembourgish spoken by his mother, Mary, when talking to her sister, Lena. This was a loving home. They were a close knit family having weathered many uncertainties during the depression. Robert resembled his mother in looks and build. He was short at 5’7”, 160 pounds; black naturally curly hair and mischievous blue gray eyes, sometimes blue and sometimes granite gray depending on Robert’s temperament. For most of his twenty-six years, Robert was care-free and happy-go-lucky. Robert or Buddy as he was known to family and Fermy as he was fondly nicknamed by his friends was a known prankster and the life of the party. When Robert wasn’t partying his serious side held down a full time job at Thor Power Tool Company as a journey man machinist.
Robert wasn’t always so care free or well off. During the depression he ice skated three miles along the streets from 5th Avenue to Sacred Heart School and in the spring he roller skated. There were no buses in those days. As, Buddy got older he spent the summers working in the greenhouse during the day for a $1.00 a day. Once a year, Robert's duties included changing the mulch for the roses. He and the other guys used to go out in the surrounding countryside and bring fresh dirt back for replacement in the rose beds. Prior to going out for new dirt, they emptied the rose beds. One time Robert was given the job of "mulching" the rose beds. This job meant taking a big bag of steer manure around to all the roses and reaching in with your bare hand and pulling out a handful and placing it by each rose. Robert refused to do this job the next time, so he was given the permanent job of digging up fresh dirt and replacing the beds. After a long day at the nursery, he set pins at the bowling alley each evening.
On weekends he wasn't idle. He caddied across the street from home at the golf course. At the end of the week, he turned all the money over to Mary, who used it for necessities of life. Mary gave Robert a dollar on Friday night to go out on the town. That was when gasoline was 2 gallons for a quarter and (they thought that was EXPENSIVE!!) bread was 10 cents a loaf and milk 12 cents a quart.
For food in the depression, the family ate lots of carrots and home grown vegetables. Buddy and his dad used to go hunting for squirrel, pigeon, and rabbits and in the winter time they trapped and caught swamp rats (muskrat). Robert recalled his dad was famous for a bulls eye with each shot. He was so good Robert recalls he shot them in the head. Buddy remembers his first game rabbit. He shot the rabbit with a 410 shot gun 10 feet away and wouldn't you know it he blew it to smithereens. Too close.
Grace Worthing, on the other hand, was a shy, quiet, twenty-five year old orphan, having lost her mother at age twelve from a brain tumor and her father at age sixteen from cancer of the pancreas, lived in Aurora for about seven years before meeting Robert. Grace met Robert officially on a blind date, but she knew him from his reputation of motor cycle antics up and down Broadway on Saturday nights. She would not have chosen him on her own to date. Grace was 5’ tall, petite, weighing eighty-nine pounds, of Welsh descent, with medium length, dark brown-black hair, and gold green hazel eyes which turned green when the sun hit them. She hailed from the romantic area of Truro, Iowa and the covered bridges, later made famous by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Truro was a town of two hundred, nestled in southwestern Madison County Iowa. At age sixteen, she moved from Truro to a farm in the village of Birds Run, Ohio to live with her step-brother, Walter. This did not work out for personal reasons and Grace moved into the city to live with her cousin, Eppie, where she cooked, cleaned, and baby-sat for her room and board which prepared her for her future job as nanny and housekeeper. At age eighteen, she moved to Aurora to live with her half-sister, Blanche. By the time she met Robert, life had stabilized. She had a few close friends and one best friend, Marie Vaghey. Grace worked as a live-in nanny and housekeeper for a wealthy family in town.
Promptly the next day, after President Roosevelt’s speech, Robert and Grace became engaged, as life’s uncertainties, the war in the background, and the thought of the draft were now present. A paradigm shift occurred suddenly for them. Life changed for all the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Robert and Grace did not know what their world was going to bring. Christmas and the merriment of the season and their engagement excitement changed.
A major set back occurred in their plans. Grace was Baptist and Robert was Catholic. They went to the priest to make the wedding arrangements, but he insisted they attend marriage counseling first, Grace take instructions, and wait one year before marrying. He refused to marry them. Well, they didn’t let this stop their resolve. They were madly in love, they had also survived the Great Depression and determination was part of their make-up. Robert and Grace refused to wait. Thirty years ago, Robert’s parents encountered a similar situation. His father was Lutheran and his mother was Catholic.
Robert’s father solved the dilemma. He took them to meet with Pastor Miller at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The pastor agreed to marry them if they both attended St. Paul’s and pledged to raise their children in the Lutheran faith. They agreed. They set the wedding date.
Exactly, to the day, two months after the United States declared war on Japan, Robert and Grace were married. Mom remembered that as the day a late snowstorm moved into the area, about 4 AM dumping four inches of snow setting a record for the largest amount of snow recorded on that date with at least six inches more predicted for the weekend. The wedding went on as planned. They were married on a cold, cloudy day, the wind whistling in the air with a light flutter of snow blanketing the ground. Grace was bundled up in a brown fur coat, wrapped tightly around her thin frame to keep warm with Robert wearing a dark gray suit and hat with wool lined, black, ankle length overcoat covering his small frame for the trip to the church.

Addendum: One year later Robert and Grace were married by the Catholic Church. The priest relented after Grace completed instructions in the Catholic faith. They had their first daughter a year later in 1943 and she was raised Catholic. Grace attended the Catholic Church for many years with Robert and the children but did not convert until 1955. This union lasted fifty-nine years until Grace’s death in 2001.

My Dad

Robert was born in 1916

Robert grew up during the Great Depression. The crash came in 1929 when he was 13 years old. During the depression, the family pooled their resources. Grandpa worked in a machine shop one day a week, Grandma kept house and cooked and cleaned and raised the kids. Buddy or Robert went to school. In grade school he ice skated along the streets from 5th Avenue to Sacred Heart School and in the summer he roller skated to school. There were no buses in those days.

As Robert (Buddy)got older he worked the greenhouse in the day time for a $1.00 a day and set pins at the bowling alley in the evening. On weekends he wasn't idle. He caddied across the street from home at the golf course. Aunt Lola worked in the corset factory and made $ 15.00 a week during the depression.
Robert's duties included changing the mulch for the roses. He and the other guys used to go out in the country of the surrounding area and get fresh dirt to bring back to replace the rose beds. Prior to going out for new dirt they emptied the rose beds. This was done once a year. One time dad was given the job of "mulching" the rose beds. This job meant taking a big bag of steer manure around to all the roses and reaching in with your bare hand and pulling out a handful of manure and putting it by each rose. Robert refused to do this job so he was given the permanent job of going out and digging up fresh dirt and replacing the beds.

Besides working at the nursery Robert set bowling pins and picked up golf balls and caddied during the depression. His sister Aunt Lola worked at the corset factory for $ 15.00 a week. At the end of the week they both turned all the money over to Grandma who used it for necessities of life. Grandma gave Robert and Lola each a dollar on Friday night to go out on the town. That was when gasoline was 2 gallons for a quarter and they thought that was EXPENSIVE!! and bread was 10 cents a loaf and milk 12 cents a quart.
For food in the depression, the family ate lots of carrots and home grown vegetables. Grandpa and Buddy used to go hunting for squirrel, pigeon, and rabbits and in the winter time they trapped and caught swamp rats (muskrat). Grandpa shot them with his rifle. he was a dead eye and known for a bulls eye with each shot. He was so good he could hear them flies walking on the electric lines. Got em on the first shot. As for the rabbits he never missed. He shot them in the head. Buddy remembers his first game rabbit. He shot the rabbit with a 410 shot gun 10 feet away and wouldn't you know it he blew it to smithereens. Too close.

In 1933 Buddy bought his first car, a 1923 Model T. He saw it sitting idle and paid a whole $ 3.00 for it. Had to go on the weekend with grandpa to pick it up. They pumped up the tires and got it started for home. In those days cars had three pedals, one for forward, one for reverse, and one to stop. Sometimes when stopped you had to push all three pedals down.

Robert gets married in 1942
After Robert and Grace were first married they lived on 5th Avenue with Grandma and Grandpa. After this they moved to a house on Dearborn and Trask Avenue across from Gordon's Junk Yard. Rent for this place was $25.00 per month. They used a ton of coal a week just to heat the downstairs. Every time the trains went by the house shook and shook. The people who lived upstairs from them were Mr. & Mrs. Bob Stehly. These two couples became life long friends. Interestingly, the Stehly's were married same day same year as Grace and Robert.
In 1946 Robert and Grace moved to 251 Hillside Avenue, Aurora, Kane, Illinois where they purchased a house on the GI bill for $ 6200. After they purchased the house they had to wait for the hot water heater and the furnace and the paint because of WWII. The payments were $ 42.00 per month and taxes were $16.00 per year.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Mom Grace from Truro: Strength


Born in Truro, Madison, Iowa, Home of the Bridges of Madison County, to Charles Worthing and Nancy Ames Hanson on 9 February 1917.
The more I learned about my mother, Gracie and her world, the more I admire her. I grew up not knowing much about my mother's childhood as much as I should have. Now after mom’s death, I have put together stories she told us as we were growing up and this has helped me to understand and appreciate her more. I came to have a high regard for her fortitude, strengths in adversity, self awareness and genuine respect and love for other people. I marvel at her will to survive and thrive in the face of extreme circumstances. This seemed to be built into her genes. She follows a long line of Ames' and Worthing's who have this trait.

Nancy Ames, her mother grew up on a homestead in the freezing winters of Lake Koshkonong,Wisconsin, later living in Milton Junction, Wisconsin near Janesville. Nancy was one of 10 children who lost their mother in the winter of March 1893 at the age of 10 years old. No one should have to have endured this at age 10 ... starving, freezing cold, living on a lake in a one room cabin with no heat and very little clothing and very little food. The settlers of the 19th century had a deep-boned determination to carve out a life for themselves despite the challenges wrought by Mother Nature. We can learn lessons from their examples. They had dreams and overcame tremendous obstacles to achieve them. Nancy Ames’ dad, Ira Daniel Ames, fished for a living and really toiled to keep his family warm and fed but they just couldn't seem to make it. They must have been so poor. The winter of 1893 was particularly cold. On the morning of March 5, 1893 a blizzard hit them hard. Nancy’s mom, Cornelia Palon Ames, and her 2 month old infant died from probable starvation or froze to death. The house on Lake Koskonong, Wisconsin, that the family lived in was mostly cardboard material. In the aftermath of the event, the nine surviving Ames children were sent to an orphanage near Albion, Wisconsin. Ira was heart broken over the death of his wife and child and the children being taken to away.
He never really recovered. In 2 years, he too was dead. He died mainly of a broken heart on September 21, 1895.
As Nancy got older, she met Ludwig Hanson a Danish orphan. Ludwig's mother had died in New York City being hit by a streetcar. For some unknown reason Ludwig found himself in Janesville, Wisconsin later moving to Aurora. Nancy met and fell in love with Ludwig. They were married on March 16, 1904 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois.
Possibly Nancy was impressed with Ludwig's wealth and car. They made a handsome couple. As you can see in her wedding picture this is a beautiful haunting young lady. Ludwig and Nancy lived in Aurora and had a daughter Blanche born on April 7, 1908. Nancy and Ludwig circulated amongst the good life crowd in Aurora enjoying parties and festivities. One such activity was roller skating with a couple, Robert and Mary Linden Fermazin. Another good friend of this couple was the Jeffreys. We have their picture but not sure how they were acquainted. Things went along smoothly. They had a nice house and furnishings. However, Ludwig was insanely jealous of Nancy's good looks and personality. He was so jealous he used to beat her. Probably out of love but this is not the way to show a loving relationship. So they divorced and Nancy and Blanche lived alone. Nancy began work as a cook and maid. During this time she met Charles Charley Worthing from Cambridge Ohio. Mr. Worthing too was divorced. He had worked in Ohio in the steel mills and was quite wealthy when living in Ohio. We are not quite sure of the circumstances of his divorce. He left his wife Laura Mitchell Worthing with two houses and three children, Forest, Walter, and Kenneth. After his divorce from Laura, Charles settled in Truro, Madison, Iowa where part of his family was residing. He worked for his father Richard Seth at the Worthing Hotel in Winterset, worked for his cousin in the cigar factory and worked a little on the Worthing farm. Charles decided one day to take off for greener pastures and went to Illinois. He resided in Wheaton where he was able to obtain a job as chauffeur. Here he met the beautiful, haunting Nancy Ames Hanson whom he immediately fell in love with. Together they saved their wages. During their courtship they dated on days off. Movies, roller skating, rides in the lush green countryside around Wheaton and Carol Stream. Charles was getting home sick for his family and Nancy was getting annoyed with Ludwig's constant visits to try and win her back. So after some thought and permission, Nancy was able to take Blanche and move to Truro, Madison, Iowa with Charley. There they settled into this small house on Main Street. Here they raised Blanche and along came Gracie and her twin brother Charles Edward. Charles was still born and Gracie weighed in at 1.5 pounds. Since the doctor who delivered Gracie didn't expect her to live he did not file a birth certificate. Nancy placed Gracie in a shoe box and covered her with cotton and blankets and nursed her. She cuddled her and fed her and held her lovingly and praying the whole time to God to save her baby girl. God answered her prayers and Gracie started thriving and gaining weight. She made it! Gracie grew up very small and petite and lived a happy life in Truro, Madison County Iowa with her sister Blanche. Blanche was nine when Grace was born but loved her baby sister dearly. As Grace was growing up in Truro she loved Blanche and admired her big sister. She wanted to go everywhere with her and just be by her side.
In the years 1928-1932 Gracie experienced two great losses, the loss at age 12 of her beloved mother and at 16 the loss of her dad. Grace's mother died of a brain tumor. Both crises occurred to a young woman at the same time her half sister Blanche whom she'd grown up with was sent to Illinois to live with her father, Ludwig Hansen. I presume this makes one a stronger person. I cannot imagine losing a mother at age 12 and then losing your father and then your sister. How tragic.
Mom, Grace remembers growing up in Truro during the depression era. America battled the Great Depression and the whole world seemed to be changing. The economy struggled: the average weekly wage for a family being only $2.39. Wall Street floundered as banks closed across the country. People lost their homes, their farms and bankruptcy was prevalent. For families, every cent counted, and none could be spared on frivolous luxury of any kind. Grace would have been 12 years old in 1929 and 15 at the heart of the depression in 1932. Grace's mom had died in 1928. And, Blanche was now living in Illinois with Ludwig. Gracie was living with her dad, Charles Worthing who was ill during the Christmas season in 1932. Times were tough. They lived in town and Charley worked at the school as a custodian. Most of their other relatives lived on farms so in this way they were real fortunate as Gracie remembered trading eggs for pork chops and meat and milk. They never remembered going hungry but Christmas was approaching... The day after Thanksgiving, November 25, 1932 it was particularly cold. Dad and Gracie closed off extra rooms in the house so the house would stay warm this winter. Heat was at a premium. They closed off the front porch and the extra bedrooms. They were used to the cold. They closed off the big dining room, the library room and three of the bedrooms. They moved the dining table into the living room. Gracie's Dog slept in what he considered his boudoir, the closet. Dad got the bedroom and Gracie slept on the couch. They saved $ 6.00 a month on coal by doing this. Gracie and her dad needed every penny because of the Depression. Charley still had his job at the school but the hours got less and less each week. They were not as bad off as most. Charley never talked about money. His eyes just got dimmer and dimmer every evening at dinner when he returned from work. During this time, Gracie and Charley did not realize this would be his last Christmas. Cancer was taking over his body.
1932 was an odd Christmas, no doubt about it. Instead of sugar plums and stockings stuffed with goodies and stacks of presents under the tree---a Time of Bounty---this was a time of Dwindling. In spite of diminishing money, the light of day, and Charley's dwindling hours of work Grace knew the Worthings were tough. She knew that somehow, someway, there would be a Christmas. Not the same kind of Christmas past, but one to remember all the same.