New Life in California
by Barbara S. Thompson
Our house in Los Angeles was much smaller than this large one in Swarthmore. Stan
and I would consult, both by phone on Sunday nights, and by letter about what to
bring, and what to leave. Just at the end I felt I had made a mistake in shipping
our furniture by rail, through a mover we had known for some time.
Then there was the matter of a car. I had some money from a down payment on the house.
Stan wrote that a car was a necessity in Los Angeles, but still very expensive; perhaps
we could get along for a time without one. I started to look for cars, and was astonished
to find that the black market was very much still in operation. One bitter cold winter
day I took Bruce with me, and we made a choice among the few which seemed to be honest
buys. A Plymouth, at the same place where I had sold our car two years before, was
the logical choice; not too high in price. But it had no heater, and heaters could
not then be bought. We planned a 3000 mile trip in the middle of winter, with three
small children. So we decided on the car with the heater, which happened to be a
black Packard, which I drove around the block. The salesman from whom we bought it
also took us out to lunch at a small restaurant nearby; I suddenly realized that
Bruce's sleeves were ragged - he had on a well-worn sweater. In any case we bought
it. I was appalled in one moment by the price, and in the next moment exhilarated
by the notion of having a car, and especially one which I was convinced Stan would
Then right afterwards I had a letter from him answering one of mine in which I had
listed the possibilities I had found; the Packard "would be his last choice."
This was something of a blow. I suppose I knew underneath that he would not be averse
to owning a Packard, once the adjustment to the price had been made.
The moving men came, and packed up our possessions, on the Thursday before we were
to leave; on Friday they came again. I had saved out what we would need on our trip
and put it in the attic. A number of things, a crib, some other things, I left in
Betty's charge, to give to Stan's family when they came to see Evie.
Stan came in on Sunday morning. We all drove to Paoli to meet him, early. He had
warned me to be careful with our little boys, near that track at the Paoli station.
And so I tried to be. The train, monstrous in the narrow gorge, pulled in; Stan soon
came down the steps. The moment of reunion; the surge of feeling. The two older boys
greeting him with possessive abandon. Stevie pulling back in my arms, grave, judging
Then home over the long winding Pennsylvania roads. He returned to a house empty
and echoing. This was the end of our life in this house; the conclusion of our time,
which had begun with entering the house empty and echoing.
During the period Stan had been gone (six or seven weeks) we had written many a letter.
Our relationship had moved into another level. In being united again, we found the
new level exhilarating, and, inevitably, hard to maintain. When obstacles intruded,
we had still primarily old ways of dealing with them. The changes which had taken
place, while real in a sense, did not yet go deep enough. I had so much invested
in my old way. It seemed to me that life could be maintained, or met, or carried
on, only with the aid of energies which had become thoroughly egocentric, yet were
all I had.
Our last meal, on Monday night, after Stan had had the car worked on all day (and
here I had thought I was acquiring a car which was in excellent shape) we had with
The next morning we started off. Betty and the children waved us on our way. Much
was left behind. It took so long, it seemed to me, to find people, activities one
could participate in, a way one might continue to go. I was still preoccupied with
roots. I thought of living as something which involved time and a gradual forcing
down of portions of oneself to draw nourishment. To start all over again? The laboriousness
of establishing roots again. (The finality with which I viewed life!)
The boys were not particularly well. Each of them had had a cold, and the symptoms
persisted. I had thought we might stay an extra day or so in Chicago, to give us
a chance to recuperate, and after all we had not seen my family for over a year,
or at least not Mother (I was still under the impression that I "should"
spend time with my family). But there were reports of severe weather on the way.
My father urged us not to wait. Prudently we packed up, and departed after one day.
The one day in Chicago was Christmas, a day late. The family waited for us; the boys
had their gifts, without realizing that Christmas had waited for them. A pleasant
Then south on 66. We raced the storms most of the way west. At first there was rain,
and a discouragingly long day, scarcely reaching St. Louis. Stan felt it would take
us inordinately long to reach Los Angeles. But soon we began to travel faster, on
straighter roads. The cold caught up with us in western Oklahoma, and across the
Texas panhandle. Seventeen. With our small, slightly ailing sons, we could be thankful
for the heater.
In Norman we stopped at the Tappans to see Mary and her family. A gifted, energetic
family, not cut off from their vitality. Her husband seemed young and vigorous, and
a little like my vital cousins at Kingfisher.
Then on. Cold, and winds sweeping across the plains. Light snow flurries. Behind
us came a snow-laden storm, which descended upon the country and held it captive
for weeks. Fortunately we crossed the plains a day or two ahead of its fury.
In New Mexico we had one unforgettable glimpse of a mountain framed in lesser mountains.
Snow high, and dark, dark evergreens on its great flanks. The sunlight must have
been touching it, for it was bathed in splendor. Only one view of it, unexpectedly;
then it was forever gone.
We tried to stay as far south as we could. Sightseeing was rather purposeless, not
only because Stan was in a hurry to return, but because the boys, except for Bruce,
were not yet of an age to remember much of what they had seen. There was one low
mountain range which we had to cross, and there we found an icy road for a time.
Safely descended, we came to Tucson.
Tucson, with palms - palms! - and green plants amidst the desert, and a wind blowing
- but not cold. We were safely there, over the last hazards, into the desert warmth.
This strange southwest. We stood beside the car, where Stan was having gas put in
at a filling station, and reveled in the unfamiliar warmth and the sight of palms
Leaving Arizona at Yuma, at nightfall, we ran into the phenomenon of California customs
officers; they insisted we unload all our luggage (and the trunk was packed) while
they examined it. For what? Stan, in an unenthusiastic mood, unpacked. Finally and
at last, he was told that he might reload.
We drove on into California, over the Colorado River, in the darkness. Our expectation
had been to find a motel in the settlement beyond, but there was nothing there. The
first town was many miles away. Had we realized, we might have stayed in Yuma. As
it was we drove on for hours. Once we stopped, I believe it was at a filling station,
where the drifting sand had half-covered the road. Just beyond the highway, in the
darkness, were great sand dunes. It seemed a pity that the boys should miss them.
What could we do?
There were, I believe, two towns along the way, at each of which we had hopes of
finding a place to sleep. There was not a single vacancy. El Centro was the last,
before we approached interesting country, the Salton Sea, the mountains to the west.
Stan suggested driving straight through. It would have been a wise plan. But stubbornly
I insisted that I wanted to see my new home as we approached it. I drove for a time,
while he slept, and the boys slept on blankets in the rear. After a bit I would stop,
and we all slept until the car got cold (it was cold in the desert) and I woke, to
drive on. Finally dawn began, a faint touch of color to the rugged peaks on our left
began to tint corals and rose in the Santa Rosa Mountains. We drove out eastward
a ways, still involved in my insatiable desire to see the countryside, to have a
view of the Joshua Tree Monument, but nothing but steep, barren hillsides were visible,
so we turned back, and headed at last, directly, purposefully, toward Los Angeles.
(Life would have been served more fully, had I accepted the inevitability of what
happened; night time, and no motel; the mountains could have waited; we would even
have had an excuse to make a trip. I was caught in a fear of missing something irretrievable.)
The approach to the city seemed to me to be down a long slope, lined with shops carrying
a wondrous array of fresh produce. Stan stopped, to show me, and we bought fruit
and shining vegetables, to bring to our new home. Oranges. Grapefruit.
Finally we crossed the city (a long distance across that busy city) and came to the
portion where we were to live. Loyola Village. Somehow I got turned around in my
directions as we left the main road, Lincoln, and it seemed to me I had some trouble
thereafter in distinguishing directions immediately.
Our house was green. Color of growth. One of the larger pleasant houses, it was all
on a level, with three bedrooms, one of which was somewhat inside as there was a
back porch which Stan subsequently closed in with large panes of glass for a playroom.
A two-car garage. Everything new. No trees. No bushes, except for a lemon bush which
Stan had planted (Stevie subsequently pulled off each lemon bud as it appeared, squatting
down to pluck it carefully with his small fingers).
The house was empty, except for the two cots Stan had bought, and placed close together
in the innermost bedroom (I wonder why he chose that one; was it because it was next
to the kitchen?) The Richards across the street had lent him a breakfast set, and
there was a curving cream-colored bench in the kitchen. We could at least sit down.
Others offered to lend us dishes, but we had brought enough, plastic ware it was,
to last until the furniture came.
The day we finally reached Los Angeles was New Year's Day, 1947, Michael's birthday.
The Richards across the street gave him half a cake, chocolate, with chocolate frosting.
Celebration this first day in our new home.
That night we slept in our new house. Neighbors lent us mattresses for two of our
boys, in their corner room. Stevie we fixed up with various odds and ends of blankets
on our floor, near us. And we slept as we had seldom slept before, on our hard pair
On one side of our house was a half-finished house; on the other an empty lot. Beyond
the lot the Nichols lived; Pat came over to greet us. I remarked on the wind blowing,
and she said it blew every day, from eleven on, from the ocean. Her husband was an
aviator. She was young and blond and well set up, with the promise of too much weight
later on. One small son then, Scott.
After lunch Stan drove us up the ocean front. Storm clouds hung above the water,
the bluffs at Santa Monica. Pelicans lining the old pier. Waves hurling themselves
at the shore. A spectacular afternoon; dark purple and grey in the sky, the green
of pines in the park at Santa Monica, sand-colored bluffs, geraniums in bloom, scarlet
and pink, the endless water, steel-grey, fringed with white foam.
This was to be our home. The beach nearest us, below Playa del Rey, was for the time
being closed to swimming because of pollution. Surrounding our house were others
similar, and still more with slight differences, most of them a little smaller. All
stucco, one story, in beige and white and cream and buff and green. Beyond our settlement
of houses were the remnants of once vast bean fields. Sandy soil, as we found when
we began to garden. And every afternoon, the wind.
The back yard was still an uneven stretch of sandy soil. We waited for a while before
improving it, until Mr. Jollie, the development's manager, instigator, operator,
sent two or three more loads of dirt our way. I was disappointed to find that we
had a flight of five steps in back, and that our porch was about the same height.
Later on with the added fill, we made the porch only a step above the dirt, and built
a small patio off the side door which Stan made in closing in the porch. The back
steps had to remain the same, as they led directly down to the driveway.
The work of improving the grounds was a fascinating task. To me always more creative,
more challenging than trying to improve an interior. Had I more faith in my materials?
Or did the principle of growth encourage me? To change an interior was to work with,
in a sense, static materials; to work outdoors, was to have living, enlarging things
to use. Always the promise. Finality was not there. The potential. Next spring, next
summer, next fall, the effect would be different, enhanced, improved.
I studied manuals with persistence, and Sunset, and the garden supplements of the
Los Angeles Sunday papers. We visited the endlessly intriguing great nurseries, under
their areas of lath. We bought hopefully, too ambitiously; fruit trees for Stan,
shrubs to achieve various effects for me. Wherever we could have foliage and fruit
as well, we chose the fruiting plant; guavas along the side of the house.
The neighbors began to share with us, calla lilies especially from the thin little
lady in the rear; I spent contented hours later on digging up and rearranging those
most prolific, most satisfying of plants. Most of the gardens nearby were new, and
it would be a year or so before there would be spare plants to be given away. But
the houses on the street behind us were considerably older, and the yards were well
There began the inevitable process of disenchantment. At first I believed in the
promise of this new place. Another image. California. The ease with which a garden
could be brought into being. The simplicity of keeping house in a one-story house.
The sunshine. The newness.
But then. The small bits and fragments with which I began to torment myself. Our
house, for instance, it seemed now to be the height of folly to have paid so much
for a house. And there were other drawbacks. Our neighbors, many of them, had smaller
yards to care for. Their houses, while not so large, were also less expensive. We
had for a long while no immediate neighbors, and this too I presently translated
into a drawback. The living room should have been on the rear; here we were having
the opportunity of living in a new house, and it had an old-fashioned arrangement.
Perhaps we should have been wiser to have settled in Pacific Palisades?
Discontent seemed to be my portion; I was, I suppose, searching always for perfection.
We should achieve by diligence, persistence, knowledge of possibilities the optimum
within our resources. The optimum. If one has the very best as one's aim, then nothing
else is acceptable. And since perfection is probably impossible, I doomed myself
Once again I was confused by the idea that there was only one best. The multitudes
of possible ways for a situation to develop were outside my demands; I wanted the
best. I was determined, in a curious, unconscious sense, to refuse to see life as
it was, with many and many a possibility. There should be a way, the way. It was
up to us to find this, and to follow it. We had failed when we did not. Haunted by
failure, drawn on by a notion cut off from reality, I was trapped in a dilemma of
my own making.
Beneath this quest for perfection, ill founded as it was, lay a certain impulse toward
intuitive perception of the future. I was, in a way, dissatisfied with present circumstances
because I could sense that there was more to be made of a situation than I had made.
Tormented by this awareness, and yet unable often to make my intuition come true,
be translated into actuality, I was restless under the burden of irreconcilable present
When we first arrived in Los Angeles, I had high hopes of finding a group once more,
in which one could reach deeper and more significant levels than one could in the
casual, customary encounters. Presently I called Peggy, Mollie's daughter, and received
a lukewarm reception. Nothing more. After a time Stan and I attended some lectures
at the huge Congregational Church, where Dr. Kunkel was speaking. While I took notes,
I don't believe it was at that time very meaningful to me. He looked small, his accent
was something of a mild barrier combined with his slight voice; the light from the
overhead chandelier shone on his baldish head. There was rather a large audience,
and one night I recognized an acquaintance from Swarthmore, Marie Enlen; I remembered
her name during that week, and the next meeting I summoned up my courage to reintroduce
myself to her. Through her we met the Hixsons, and one night Dr. Kunkel and his daughter,
a dark, rather shadowy young woman.
During that summer Mollie was in Pasadena visiting Peggy, and called us. She asked
us over for dinner, and we left the children with Jean Richards, and went. A good
time at dinner in a patio garden with Mollie, and later on during the week a series
of three meetings with the group. She asked me to the first; but after the first,
Dot [Chivens] asked me to come again, and so did the others; from then on I was a
member. For a number of years we met together, somewhat to Stan's dismay; he felt,
and probably wisely, that it was a risk to drive so far, late at night; we did not
seem able to break up at a regular hour.
I gained much; reassurance, a sense of growth and continuity; considerable stimulus.
Looking back, it seems to me we did not discipline ourselves sufficiently, and work
on something unifying. Yet I was thankful for the opportunity to share with the others;
the feminine inner turning of Marion and Peggy, the more direct coming to grips with
the world of Ruth and Pauline and Dot. It was good belonging to a tight knit group.
With its purposes and goals of searching beneath the surface, it was welcome change
from the superficialities of much of my daily living.
By the time we moved to Whittier, in 1949, I had begun to feel with Stan that more
should happen within the group to justify those hours of reaching and returning.
That summer, it must have been 1950, Stan and I met a number of times with the group;
once at a dinner at the Chivenses when Mollie gave a talk which spoke of affinity,
communication, and reality.
Much construction was going on in our development. Bruce spent hours watching the
workmen. He was a tall five years old, and a number of workmen would ask him why
he was not in school. School was something of a problem; the nearest one was some
distance away, and when Bruce did go to it, in the first grade, he went for only
half a day, and by bus. The smaller boys ran out to watch for him, and see him leave,
at eleven each morning. By second grade a school had been built on the hill not far
from us, of temporary structures; bleak barrack-type buildings. Only his very first
teacher was memorable; a tiny dark-haired sweet-voiced girl with a Russian name.
With other teachers he began to be ignored; he was too quiet to catch their attention;
not yet much of a student; slow in reading; slow in other subjects. I began to wonder
if school was to be a series of vague defeats for him.
Michael had high hopes of school, and expected more, surely, than could possibly
be realized. He had played on the equipment in the playground, and evidently thought
that school was one long procession of pleasurable events. Yet with his vivacity
and exuberance, I had no doubts that school would be turned into an interesting,
stimulating experience for him. (No defeats! how unrealistic I was).
Stevie began to grow brown, and a little more substantial. There were numerous days
to play outdoors. While he took his time about talking, he began to reach out into
experience. His silken blond hair turned up in back, and I let it stay long, longer
than I should, had I felt that perhaps there was to be another baby to follow this.
We got a small female dog from the pound, part Cocker, young and friendly. Stevie
enjoyed her, as did the others. In the sandy stage of our back yard, Cindy dug busily,
and no sooner fixed a fine hole, when Stevie settled down into it. Cindy thereupon
sniffed in puzzlement about him, searching for her hole.
Later on, when perhaps only ten months old, she had a family of puppies. Bruce came
charging in, to announce that she had "hundreds of puppies." We all hurried
out to the garage to see what had happened during the night, and found ten puppies,
of assorted colors and combinations, in her box. She had an air of considerable pride
and pleasure about the whole affair. And such an appetite.
Stan's work kept him remote from us, not only because we never entered the building
where he spent his days, but because the subject was beyond my capacity for understanding.
He was still working on his doctorate, and spent what time was salvaged from projects
about the house on his thesis. At least for one year he took courses at night at
USC. Again, time away, occupied with other claims on his attention. I should have
minded less (after all I liked the idea of his following other pursuits than those
I could share, they were interests I respected) had he been able to give me more
sense of his real participation. Could he have sounded more enthusiastic, or if being
enthusiastic over engineering courses sounds a little too much to expect, at least
driving toward a goal, I should have been quite reconciled. I wanted to be involved
in large purposes, actual struggles toward coveted goals. He seemed to want me to
leave his efforts alone. Was it because I changed them, corrupted them in a sense?
made it appear that he was after more than he was willing to acknowledge? Perhaps
he felt a caution, a humility in face of this drive he found within himself. If he
should fail? Had he better equipment for understanding failure than I? Did I put
an intolerable burden of "success" on him?
The end of the doctorate road came that June. Before that, Stan flew east once, on
a trip which included a trip to Swarthmore, and his orals at the University of Pennsylvania.
He sent me a wire, signed "Doc," so I knew he had passed, and he was almost
ready to receive his degree. Wonderful knowledge. In June of 1949, a proxy walked
in the procession for him (for $20) and accepted his diploma.
That year there occurred an interesting development in the neighborhood, in the way
of a community organization. We all attended a meeting, held at the small church
which the Lutheran group had erected, and learned what Stan had already gathered
from the literature, that controlling votes were to be held by those who paid the
largest sums in as members. Stan got up and made a speech, mentioning the undemocratic
set-up of the organization, and speaking of the dangers in an oligarchy. I was impressed,
and others as well. Marilyn spoke of it later, sure that many people didn't even
know what he was talking about with his impressive vocabulary. The result was that
the clause endowing certain members with controlling votes was removed. The organization
could become a truly neighborhood affair; whether it would was another question.
Shortly afterwards I joined the Loyola Village Women's Club. I was pleased on being
a member of such a group, not having expected to be asked in a conventional location.
Beno's mother had asked me to go, but forgot about the meeting the night it came;
I went anyway, and was mildly embarrassed when there was no one for whom I was a
"guest;" Mrs. Swanson, the Lutheran minister's wife, said I should be her
guest. But I was obviously rather odd to have arrived under such curious circumstances.
Later on there were meetings in various homes, much companionship of a sort, casual,
somewhat purposeless. I invited a number of my neighbors to go with me, who subsequently
joined. Yet none of these activities, pleasant as they were in a way, had much meaning
Then there was the matter of the church. Shortly after we arrived, we learned of
a Lutheran church which was just getting under way; for the time being it was meeting
in the garage of the minister. The boys were invited to go to the Sunday School,
and it seemed like a pleasant idea. Stan took them a number of times, and Mr. Swanson
the brisk young organizer and minister (this was a "mission," we learned)
who had been an advertising artist, drew pictures on a large blackboard with skill
and effectiveness. I joined the church in the first real organization, largely because
I had never joined a church, and wished to do so, unobtrusively and easily. Stan
stayed aloof, and presently we realized the material was too orthodox for us to wish
our children to be exposed longer. We withdrew them. During the first few months
I joined the Dorcas Society, primarily because Marilyn invited me, and it was another
bond in the community.
Once Mr. Swanson visited us, perhaps it was that second spring, to urge us to return
to his fold; I had not been "active" for a time, and he wanted to check,
for their church felt that only active members should be retained on their lists.
Presently he grew quite excited; Stan and he carried on a discussion, which for Stan
was without heat though much interest; Mr. Swanson grew thoroughly agitated. I tried
to mollify him and soothe the situation, by serving coffee. Mother happened to be
visiting us, and heard the conversation through the heater (a fine means to pass
conversations from the living room through into the bedroom portion of the house).
She found him quite startling. At one point he said, in connection with some question
of ours about the books of Dr. Kunkel that he would not give such books to his congregation;
they were not ready for them; it was like giving rattlesnakes to children to play.
Finally he asked us if we even had a bible in the house. We reassured him on this
point, and also that some of our dearest friends were ministers and missionaries.
Stan's point I believe was that he was interested and open-minded and would be glad
to discuss material with him. His attitude, as far as I understood, it was that it
was imperative that we accept and believe, unquestioningly. Apparently it troubled
him to have lost us. Later on he moved to San Anselmo, and the last we heard of him
he had returned to advertising, and given up the ministry.
So for a long time we had no church or meeting. There was a Quaker Meeting beginning
in Santa Monica, but it was too far to reach, and in the middle of Sunday afternoon,
and altogether somewhat complicated to try to make a part of our lives.
Bruce had more than one good friend; usually one at a time. Danny lasted for a time;
later they all went to Alaska. Later on there was Dickie, who was small and alert
with the longest eyelashes I could remember. Once he and Bruce disappeared, our last
Thanksgiving there, and explored the hills and banks not far from our development,
finding arrow heads and a piece of pottery; the latter Bruce still has; the former
he allowed Dickie to throw off the embankment. He and Bruce put on a circus once,
for which they sold tickets, and enlisted Michael's aid (he put on a comic show with
his doctor's kit, forever patching up the contesting fighters - I believe most of
the show was fabulous fighting between cowboys and Indians). We gave out popcorn
at such a rate that all the profits were soon eaten up. One little girl brought a
We were throughout this time restless, searching for something better, more durable
in a sense than what we had. What we really wished was some strength, some core of
purpose. We were drifting, unwilling to come to terms with life, unable to face and
grapple with the perhaps insoluble problems of existence. What we longed for may
well have been a reason for being. But we searched in the wrong places, in the wrong
ways. It was easier to experiment with the idea of new spots to live in; building
a house near the ocean, or on a hillside amidst the chaparral, or in an orange grove.
These were concrete projects, possibilities which Stan could bring about with his
own plans, his own hands. I was less eager, for I sensed some of my limitations,
yet I encouraged his dissatisfaction with things as they were, for I too could visualize
better, more productive living in another setting. Again intuitive perception, but
not backed up by sensation, my own hands. And it was easier to escape into dreaming
that it was to make more of the setting in which we happened to live.
Yet the long drive to Downey was wearing [North American had moved our operation
to Downey], and it seemed as though we should consider moving to the east side of
Los Angeles. From living in a development, without relation to anything in particular,
it seemed as though it would be pleasant to move to a town. We chose Whittier as
a town of stability, tradition (midwest as it turned out), a life of its own.
Our second Christmas there, my father came out from Chicago to spend the vacation
with us. Once we drove over to Whittier to look at the situation; I remember we invited
him, and he declined; I suppose now that he was reluctant to have us move; he enjoyed
our pleasant one-story house. We explored a bit, and found nothing exciting, but
still felt we would choose Whittier; what other town had its look of a community?
At last in May we put the house on the market. Nothing at all happened. It was a
number of months before finally, recognizing how close to school time it was getting,
we lowered our price and in August the house was sold to a family with four small
We had a week in which to find new housing, and to move. Whittier had few houses
for sale which were in any sense an improvement over what we had. Moreover Stan had
for a long time wanted to build; here was our opportunity if we could only rent for
a year. I placed ads in the Whittier paper for a house to rent.
Just in time (two days or so before we had to move) we found a rental. It was a small,
stuffy, two-bedroom house on a middle-aged street in Whittier. Stan joined me and
we looked at it together. For $100. This seemed to me high, but the best we could
That night another opportunity presented itself, and this too I felt later on I had
muffed. We had looked not only at houses, since rentals had not been apparent before,
but at a few lots. We had seen one that day, or I had, on the east side of Whittier,
a flat lot with high old orange trees; there was much cordiality on the part of the
owner, a young woman, who even felt that should we be unable to find anything to
live in, perhaps we could manage someway, using their facilities, to build, and live
in a tent meanwhile among the trees. The situation had begun to look rather desperate
for housing; this encouragement made the prospect much brighter.
It would be nice to have our lot all ready and waiting (what if it should be sold
by the time we got moved to Whittier). In this moment of indecision, I wondered aloud
if we should go ahead and make a payment on the lot. Stan asked, "Do you want
This was not the time yet for a decision on a lot for the building of a house. Yet
I responded favorably; another indecision would be settled. It made our list of tasks
complete. There was satisfaction in getting things done in a sweeping fashion.
Presently a reaction set in. As time went on, I began to realize that this lot had
some disadvantages. Yet rather than face them realistically, I pushed the subject
away as best I could. To decide that we should change at this point became increasingly
The situation in moving to Whittier was to be different again, from what had gone
before. It was the new beginning. In the few days that we had, all the details were
managed, of finding a house, of arranging the moving, of actually moving from Los
Angeles to Whittier. The next day I returned, leaving the boys again with Kay Malmstrom,
and scrubbed and cleaned. It was a more energetic day than I had planned, and on
the way home I could feel my heart palpitating; a curious sensation; perhaps I had
worked too fast, trying to finish before the heavy cross-town traffic started, and
Whittier of course, where we lived, was a quiet, dull place. The first few weeks
or at least days, I was sustained by the feeling of accomplishment. We made a trip
back to the house on 83rd Street, to move some plants, and heeled them in at our
lot. The lot itself at first was a joy to visit. Stan was to make his dream of building
a house come true. We could see advantages in the lot; the big trees; the proximity
to the East Whittier School (this would mean that the boys would have another school
change next year, but that could not be helped), the partial country-ness of the
area, still largely orange groves (had we been realistic, we would have realized
that in only a short time, the last orange groves would be divided up into home sites).
Through an artist friend of Stan's who worked at North American, we met a young architect,
who showed us a house he had done, considerably more elaborate than we wished, and
after some consideration, we decided to let him design a house for us. It was to
be extremely economical; like some of the reasonable houses shown in Architectural
Forum. (The economy was a mirage of course; instead of being our least expensive
house so far, it was our most). Things moved ahead in an exciting way.
The plans for the new house came along; after a time the architect had a plan ready;
it emphasized triangles, largely because the house was to be turned on its lot to
take advantage of the sun (as well as to have protection at the appropriate times
of day and of seasons). Triangles were not at all my idea of interiors, and I wished
momentarily that we had not embarked on any such scheme, to build a house. Eventually
of course the design came more what we wanted, while not, supposedly, sacrificing
One more element of the house. I was still obsessed with the need for perfection.
The house we would build should reach perfection. The design (and whatever agonies
over matters of detail - what if something I decided upon was "wrong,"
less than perfect?) and the location and the setting, all should be perfect. The
fact that I did not know what constituted perfection for me, or just how I wished
to live made it difficult. Our architect found it bewildering too; when he planned
our study, part of the living area which stretched across the south glass side of
the house, I wanted ample closet space, but I was uncomfortable to tell him that
I wanted it to house my paraphernalia for writing; after all if you make room for
writing, you "should have something to show for it," and mine was invisible.
He suggested we "throw things away;" one should not keep all those oddments
that most of us store in attics; this was to be a house without an attic.
Stan, when the architect's plans were ready, got bids on the construction. One night
a builder in Whittier came out, and they worked over his bid, at the dining room
table which Stan had made before we left 83rd Street, while I got dinner. I was not
far away, and dinner could have waited. Yet I did not somehow want to join in the
discussion; the contractor's bid was too high, it seemed to me; instead of taking
part, finding out what he was doing, what the possibilities were, I remained busy
with my pots and pans. Stan decided to give him the job, and I was appalled at the
cost ahead. What had happened to our economical plan? I forget now what the arrangement
was, but it seems to me it guaranteed him a certain amount which was far higher than
I had, unrealistically, expected.
And so at last the house was begun, once we had the loan, and various contractors
lined up (plumbing and electrical as well as the builder); Stan was sub-contracting
some of it. This was in February, months later than he had wanted to get under way;
sooner than I wanted (the whole prospect of a house was too much for me; I could
not see how I had once been enthusiastic over the idea. Was it because I wanted Stan
to have his heart's desire? yet when it came to putting it into reality, I was overcome
by the multitude of difficulties, the need for practicality, for a capacity for getting
The house absorbed his energies from thereon. It seemed to me strange that he should
insist on going to see how work had progressed every day. I was content to wait a
while, and be surprised. The fact that the workmen made errors was something I had
not counted on. Soon after we had begun the house, and when Stan was away on a trip,
I found that the plumbers were digging a trench off in the wrong direction entirely.
That I could see, by reading the blueprints myself. I had been under an impression
that workmen were experts with their own materials and in their own fields.
At Easter time we decided to tear ourselves away from the house for a few days, and
took a vacation to Death Valley. It should have been a fascinating trip (we took
along scraps of wood from the construction to make fires at our camp) and was, although
shorter than we had expected, for a storm hit the Valley and winds blew, sifting
sand into everything, including our lunch. Stan, in erecting our tent for the night,
had the experience of its blowing down upon him; the pegs could not hold it in the
sandy soil against the wind. We drove westward, and came home along the east side
of the Sierras; snow swirled in the high places, and it was chill in the valley;
we could not try sleeping out, but stayed in a cabin below the mountains.
Once, perhaps it was in April, I went for a weekend at The Pines. For me a welcome
respite from the concentrated life at home. I returned with more awareness, able
to see and appreciate more what was occurring.
I reached too a limit of another kind, and decided I should do something directly
about my inner disquiet. I made an appointment with Dr, Kunkel, and had a curious
impression; considerable relief in having accepted the fact that something could
be done, instead of feeling that I "should be able to handle" whatever
dismay I might experience. I had three appointments, and then we moved to our house,
and I did not attempt to manage anymore. The cost troubled me as well, and Stan's
disapproval (he probably thought I should be accepting what life had happened to
give me, and translating it into productive living; this standing on the edge of
real participation in life doubtless had been going on too long; he chose to enter
more fully, and I should, by this time, be able to as well).
We ate many suppers over a fire in the backyard before we moved from 414 S. Washington.
One day Michael made himself a car out of scraps of wood from the house.
The first of May, despite the fact that much needed to be done, we moved into the
house. Stan had been working on the house since its beginning. I had helped here
and there, particularly on the roof, where we nailed one night till after dark. Bruce
assisted too, somewhat; the other boys merely enjoyed all the pleasures of construction.
They rode madly around on the cement floor, when it was first laid. And built in
the pile of sand. And climbed around and about on the lumber piles and especially
in the house structure. We had expected the orange trees to be sources of enjoyment
for them too, but we soon found, in climbing them to get ripe oranges, that they
were covered with a black smut which rubbed off on hands and legs and clothes. Only
the avocado trees were really satisfactory to climb, and each of ours was only partially
on our land; we shared them both with our neighbors. But beneath the trees they made
passageways in the black mud while we were irrigating; later these dried hard, and
split. Directly underneath the soil was friable, but just outside the ring of branches
the ground was baked hard.
Stan had asked Jim Malone, who was thinking of working for North American, to stay
with us when he and his new wife Ruth arrived. When they did, he was in the east
on a trip. Ruth was his second wife; we had all known Vivien in Swarthmore days;
he and Vivien had been members of the class with Mollie. We were not surprised that
they had got a divorce; Vivien had been in a sense uninvolved for a long time. We
hoped only that both would be happier alone; now Jim was married again.
Ruth and Jim joined our household, and even helped some on the new house. Our quarters
were small, but they were for a time content to be with friends, however crowded.
They even stayed on until we moved, and Jim helped Stan with the moving, so that
we managed it all ourselves finally. (A horrible day in some ways; one collects and
keeps too much; we had stored and forgotten things in the storage building in back;
Stan was exasperated when finally odds and ends that had to be moved, or abandoned,
came to light; he blamed me - and rightly, for I should be able to organize and discard
things, but usually postpone it, or delay because I see potentials in materials and
hesitate to throw them away; there have been days in our marriage when apparently
worthless objects have been most useful).
Ruth was a discovery to me. Her approach to life was entirely different; forthright
and direct; she was short and round and full of ardor for living; sudden laughter;
and yet in spite of this she had as her deepest interest her writing; she had worked
as a newspaper reporter for some time, and hoped some day to finish a novel for Doubleday.
At the same time she had shortcomings, which I gradually began to recognize, and
in a way accept.
They remained with us for several weeks. It was curious to have a woman around, available;
such a vital, enthusiastic woman. No air of criticism, or hesitation in accepting
me, or elements of our life. She thought she was pregnant again, and having lost
each pregnancy so far, early, she went to bed. After a number of days she was up
again, and disappointed that once again a child was not to be theirs. At least not
The boys warmed to them. So much laughter and enthusiasm in the house. Ruth teased
Jim, and the boys, in a way they all relished.
The Malones found an apartment in Long Beach, with a tiny view of the ocean. I felt
a loss when they moved away. We visited them at least once, and went swimming at
the beach down below the high banks. Cold, as is the Pacific Ocean. Ruth's schedule
of work when she was actually working amazed me; at other times she was indolent,
relaxed, devoted to creature comforts (a welcome change from my puritanical experience,
emphasized, for me, by Stan's urgency to work, to get things done, when many a time
I felt like idleness. His was less puritanical duty toward working as it was pleasure
in the work; I could not distinguish between them then. His industry made me feel
ashamed of my own desire for freedom. Was he fearful that I would be as opposed to
all sorts of labor as was my sister Constance?)
The Quakers held their annual conference on world affairs in Whittier in June - a
regional meeting, which had an interesting array of speakers, including Ted Paullin
whom we had known in Swarthmore. I wrote to him, inviting him and his family to stay
with us. Ellen and the children accepted, while Ted stayed in one of the college
dormitories to be closer to the hub of activity.
Ruth took care of publicity for the meeting, and presently worked full time for the
Friends' Service Committee in Pasadena. We went to an AAUW meeting with her, to which
she had been invited by a member of the committee for the Whittier conference (she
had volunteered her services). This was the first I knew of the AAUW (in some ways
I remained extraordinarily unaware of what was going on in the world); I had seen
notices in the paper about its activities, but it did not occur to me I might join.
Part of this was a kind of diffidence on moving to an established town. And part
of it was due perhaps to Stan's disapproval (often fancied, rather than actually
existing) for external preoccupations. I suppose he feared I might get too distracted
from family responsibilities, and as it was I did only passably well in what I needed
to do. Part of his feeling may have been due to his own reluctance (of an introvert)
from getting too involved in "things." He resisted our taking part in the
Friends Church, and I took the children to Sunday School despite the atmosphere of
non-enthusiasm; once when the assistant minister called, I did not invite him in,
feeling confused, and that Stan would be home any minute (I don't know quite why
I was so uncordial; I wasn't much drawn to him as a person; did I fear that if Stan
met him he might decide that this church too was too orthodox for us to go to? and
then what kind of religious experience, with others, would there be for the boys?)
During the Conference, the Malones had rooms at one of the dormitories. Ellen and
the two little Paullin girls stayed with us. Sometimes they all attended meetings,
including evening meetings; Ellen had scissors and paper and pencils in her bag for
them. Infinite patience and appreciation. She too was something new for me, stimulus
and a departure from any recognized ways of looking at things. One night we had a
party at our house, with the Malones and the Paullins and the Bruffs (we knew them
from a discussion group which Stan and I had begun to attend growing out of the Church
adult class) for Ellen's birthday. Sincerity and excitement and devotion to something
beyond themselves. We met the Milton Mayer too; he was enjoyable in an iconoclastic
way; Ellen and I took part in a Great Books type discussion of the Declaration of
Independence. (Karen, seven, was disturbed at Milton's abrupt treatment of her mother).
The conference was stirring. A speaker from Africa, most articulate. Some from India.
A smooth, overly confident young man from Yugoslavia turned up one day for a discussion
on the campus.
Ellen opened up new vistas to me, of confidence in a process of growth, of belief
in her children, in faith that good could be brought into an often unwelcoming world.
She managed the mechanics of their life, the moving, the getting to places, calmly
and with unobtrusive skill. She brought a smiling look into my kitchen each morning,
and enthusiasm into every encounter. She championed unpopular causes because she
believed deeply in them herself.
When they left I felt curiously bereft. This was another kind of world into which
I had moved for a while. It was as though a stretching of potentials had occurred.
A reaching into something larger than I had known.
The summer progressed. We were busy with swimming lessons at the high school for
the boys. Each morning I took them over, and remained with them. I believe it took
quite a long time, each boy being in a different age group. Stevie was too young,
as I remember, to take part. But he went with us, and we sat in the bleachers and
watched. Occasionally we came by bus when Stan had the car. Then a long trip home,
or so it seemed, and by the time I arrived, I was not in any mood to start work on
There was, for me, primarily painting to be done. Once in a while I did a little,
but most of the time it seemed too great an effort, in the hot weather, to organize
myself to paint. Some of the woodwork I did get painted, but the bathrooms, with
their high walls, in the center, the core of the house, seemed more than I could
undertake. At least I didn't, and a year later, when we were on the verge of putting
our house up for sale, before moving to Oak Ridge, we had painters come in and finish
During the summer, Stan borrowed a spray gun, and sprayed paint on the ceilings,
and on the walls that surrounded our patio, and on the exterior of the house.
At the end of the summer we took a vacation. We planned to take both weeks at once,
but as it happened, we returned after one. We drove to Sequoia, leaving shortly after
midnight, and arriving in time for breakfast. The boys were enchanted with the idea
of awakening in the foothills, and eating breakfast in the mountains. Our camp was
along the Tokopa River; the sound of the stream all night (as well as smoke blown
back into our faces by the breeze off the water - the fireplace was surely turned
wrong). Stan and I were so weary that first night that the hardness of the ground
was no deterrent for sleep. After that the mountain air and daily exertions were
sufficient to insure sleep. We climbed more than one peak; not high in themselves,
but a long climb for us. Bruce left his canteen on top of Little Baldy, where we
had sat, on the smooth rock summit, studying the contour map and trying to identify
various points with the aid of binoculars. Stan and Bruce climbed it again to bring
down the canteen. The younger boys were across the road, in a mountain meadow, a
doe and her two fawns not far off; as fair a picture as I had ever seen. Then as
I approached, I realized that Stevie was in tears; he had eaten apple butter on a
sandwich, and some of it was still on his hands and face, attracting a bee (he knew
the peril in which he was placed when a bee came near - since that almost disastrous
occasion in early May).
Another day we spent climbing along a trail that led high and far back into the mountains,
to one highland lake after another. To elevations of 10,000 feet and more. Sometimes
the trail led along the edge of a cliff; no fence, only a sheer drop (the cliffs
of this intrusive rock are often undercut.) The boys were more aware of the danger
than I had realized they might be; calmly cautious.
In one of the icy, glacier-fed lakes the boys actually went swimming. Only Bruce
could swim a stroke or two, and we watched them closely, Stan stripped down to his
shorts so he could go to the rescue if anyone got beyond a safe depth. But they merely
had a fine exploratory time, reaching a little island, splashing in the emerald green
water. Above, the serrated cliffs, streaked with snow, and from each long snow bank
a stream of water moved down the face of the rock. The cliffs - pale grey, down lower,
some trees, dark shadowy green; above, the intensely cerulean blue of the sky. High
That was the day we were caught in a downpour before we finally reached the end of
the trail, and our car, parked in a meadow. Thoughts of supper encouraged us (the
utter physical weariness after hiking all day). But when we reached camp, it was
to find that the deer had eaten the entire contents of a package of hot dog buns
which I had left on our table. (Butter, milk, hot dogs, we kept under a tub, weighted
down by rocks, in the stream below our camp). I had not expected deer to gnaw through
We drove to Kings Canyon, and found it exciting, stimulating in a strange way (its
tremendous bare rock walls, the churning river fighting its way through its twisting
course in the bottom of the canyon). We stayed overnight, despite having brought
almost no camping equipment; Stan and I slept between the two blankets we had brought,
with Stevie in with us to keep him warm; the other two boys slept in the car, each
with a towel over him; we froze much of the night, and woke often, to watch the stars
overhead, and listen to the clatter, at one point during the night, of the bears
overturning garbage pails down the winding road. The next day we explored up the
river a ways, into a broad, open, lush valley, with the characteristic tall cliffs
rising on each side, a glaciated valley.
When we had been there a week, and reluctantly given up the idea of hiking back into
the roadless country served only by trails, we felt that more exploration would be
somewhat repetitious And home we went, content, replete. I imagine part of it was
our restlessness, perhaps an inability to stay, and merely live each day. Not yet
for us the contemplative week or so (or more) of vacationing which other people seemed
to welcome. I am not sure of course what it was that Stan might have found lacking;
I think what I dreaded was the descent of one of his moods, when he in a sense left
me, and I was not prepared to handle the details of vacation life without the reality
of his presence.
That fall the boys started in the East Whittier School. Bruce, fortunately, was in
the class of a charming, young, sweet teacher who began to bring him out, to help
him, to try to understand him. Presently he was beginning to get hold of a number
of tasks which had hitherto troubled and baffled him. In spelling he moved from the
lowest category into the highest, slowly, but steadily.
Michael fared less well; he had for a time an energetic and appreciative teacher,
but presently he was put in another group whose teacher was of the old school; precise,
methodical, insistent on measurable progress. He had found Jimmy at that time, a
new boy on our Davista Drive; they became close friends for the rest of our stay
Somewhat daringly I took on a Cub Scout den for Bruce. The younger boys came to meetings,
and often participated in projects. Bruce enjoyed it, and made some gestures toward
finding his capabilities, and finally had one congenial friend, James, who entered
school late and who joined our den.
We had acquired a playhouse for the boys (from an ad in the paper), and it became
the center of much of their activities in the corner of the lot. Stan erected a basketball
goal, which Bruce used a great deal then. And he hung a swing in one of the orange
trees, which twisted, but was greatly used; I brought home an old tire from a garage,
and that too was used as a swing.
The year, our last in California, unfolded. Stevie had found friends, a boy on one
side of us, Gary, and a girl on the other, Toni. He had started kindergarten, and
while he was quiet and more observing than participating, he was interested in this
In May he had had a bee sting; we had paid no more than the usual attention, comforting
him, putting soda on the spot of the sting I had pulled out). A couple of hours later
we found him broken out in large red welts, when he was taking his bath. We called
the doctor, who recommended a prescription, and Stan went off to get it. While he
was gone, Stevie woke, or half woke, then collapsed in my arms. Terrified I took
him to the hospital, Jim driving (fortunately he was there). At the hospital we found
that there was no doctor there; ours came after a time. Stevie opened his eyes then,
and took us all in; the little room where he lay on a high table, the nurse, the
doctor, Stan who had joined me. His face was no longer ashen, nor his arms and legs
Bees thereafter were a constant peril. With our orange trees, so often in bloom (both
valencias and navels), we could hear bees buzzing around the fragrant blossoms much
of the time. We had to impress it upon him (only four then) that on no account must
he touch a bee. We carried an antihistamine with us at all times, to give him the
moment he should be stung again.
He had been our difficult baby; unable to hold food down in those early months; apparently
ill at ease with us; fussy; crying for long periods when nothing I did seemed to
soothe him. Our first step was to move him from a room of his own into ours; Stan
remembers Mollie as urging us to try this, so he must have been two or three months
old before we moved his crib. Stevie remained thin until he was almost a year old;
then he began to fill out, showing the dimples of other babies in his elbows and
on his hands.
When he was about a year old, Edith took the older boys out to Rocky Point to be
with her before we should leave for California; it must have been in late August.
The effect of their absence on Stevie was quite startling; he stopped laughing, and
our house was like a tomb for the two days of the weekend. He crawled about, as though
searching, and puzzled by their absence. Stan and I tried to induce him to smile
and laugh for us, in his high chair, at the table with us both. Not a bit of it.
Only when his brothers returned did he take up his life as it had been.
Our move to California had effected the biggest change of all in Stevie. The freedom,
the openness of life there, had worked its beneficial effects on him. Yet when a
photographer took pictures of all of them, when he was about 19 or 20 months old,
I was not at all sure he would not burst into tears, and be impossible to work with.
He did, and picture taking almost came to a standstill. He was a determined little
boy. In the morning he fussed over what he should wear. I forget why the arguments
were so protracted, but I recall that Vivien (when she and Jim visited us, probably
in 1948 when he was 2-1/2) felt that perhaps he should not be given so much choice.
Yet with such a child, discipline was extremely difficult (it still is). He resisted
with such intensity that if one became really severe, the first thing one found was
that he had been really deeply upset. With Bruce, with Michael, I could recognize
signs, and realize to some degree at least how each felt. With Stevie, it often seemed
as though I had before me a stone wall. Yet he was extremely vulnerable, beneath
He withheld much of himself, except when life obviously mistreated him, whereupon
he shrieked at the top of his lungs. I could be quite distraught with his crying;
was it some sense of abandonment to which I responded? Once at the doctor's office
in Swarthmore, when he burst into protests (it was his first visit, so he must have
been only a month old), I remember the doctor remarked that he did not know which
was more upset, him, or his mother. (This remark of course irritated me, as I disliked
the implication of being carried away by emotions).
On the way to California, he was not well (nor were the others, really) and I had
to hold him all the way. (I must have ignored the other two).
Sometimes I felt a wall between him and me. I had not found the quick response from
him that I had from the others, the warm acceptance. And with my self-doubts, my
sense of being unworthy of the love of another, I was not sure about him. Once in
our kitchen on 83rd Street, an incident occurred which suddenly resolved my insecurities
about how he felt toward us. Stan had returned late, and we had had spam, which the
boys especially enjoyed. When Stan did arrive, we told him there was no more for
him. Stevie believed us, and leaned over from his high chair, and put his arm around
Stan's neck, and comfortingly told him he would give him some of his. (He was two
perhaps, just managing words).
One could recognize, I suppose, how much he wanted to love his world by the affection
he lavished on our pets; on dogs; later on, on our kittens. Sometimes I wonder if
he has not been the most sensitive of all the boys to my own insecurities and hesitancies;
if perhaps he did not protest, in his first months, against this unwillingness on
my part to take full part in the lovingness of the world.
The year on Davista Drive was one of small events. I found with my Den, our Sunday
School (Stan and I also went to a discussion group which met occasionally), AAUW
(which I had at last discovered and in which I found most congenial acquaintances),
a writing group (the first time I had written, or indeed shown any work to anyone
in many years; it was a large group, led by a retired high school teacher, Miss Funk;
I was eager at last to write again, and usually had something ready for the meetings,
although my critical faculty worked overtime); errands for the house, keeping the
house and the garden and trying to help with projects absorbed my days. Sometime
during the year Mollie came, and we had a meeting in Pasadena at the Chivens' home
with husbands too, and a meeting of our smaller group, at Ruth's house. Stan and
I met with Mollie one evening at Peggy's; I remember being somewhat surprised when
Stan observed that he could not count on me getting errands for the house done, and
I felt defensive; it was as though I needed time for writing, and the endless needs
of the house.....perhaps it was that I felt that I was being sucked in, and had to
struggle to find time for something of my own. I could not see then that I was defeating
myself; when I delayed doing things for the house, I was really undermining our relationship;
Stan felt betrayed by my apparent lack of eagerness to rush out for paint and supplies
at a moment's notice - very likely he might feel my writing was becoming an enemy
(as I had felt the house was mine). Again it seemed as though I had missed the essence
of what was happening.
Why was it so difficult for me to see jobs and errands and various toutine tasks
as only a part of a larger whole? Did I fear, as I had as a child, that should I
give a small amount of myself to something, I should immediately be called on to
give all of myself? I had then a feeling that someone might demand my entire being,
and I needed all my strength to resist. Almost as though annihilation awaited me,
unless I hung on to what I had with all my energies.
Now this is both unrealistic as a view, and somewhat detrimental to the forming of
a sound, vital relationship. Was I afraid that Stan too would demand everything of
me? Yet marriage is a giving, a surrendering of separate values. Being a relationship
and not a thing, one surely cannot apportion and choose; this I will share and this
I will withhold. Perhaps one has to have sufficient faith in the marriage itself
that its aliveness will solve many of the problems; where indeed each partner should
be alone, should seek a path of exploration by himself, should in solitude assimilate
an experience. And where the giving can be with abandonment, nothing held back, a
reckless involvement in sharing.
That Christmas my father came out to see us. We met him at the station, and stopped
at Sears on the way home; he bought the boys all large cowboy hats in different colors.
That afternoon we disconered that Stevie complained that his legs hurt; we found
they were covered with large dark spots, like bruises. Stan took him over to the
doctor's, and I heard nothing more from him for hours.
Finally at two he called. He had had to take him down to the contagious hospital
- our doctor thought he had meningitis. And for an hour or two he was kept waiting
with cases coming in which really were meningitis. Eventually a spinal test was made,
and he was negative. He was kept in the hospital, and presently Stan came home, early
Dr. West told us, after he had seen him the next day, that he believed he had infectious
purpura. We visited him in the hospital. It was the infectious ward, and while he
was isolated from other cases, we passed an iron lung in the hall, and felt a sense
of struggle and danger; disease here was a formidable opponent.
Stevie stood in a crib, in a small room; we could see him before we entered; there
were glass windows opening onto the hall. There was a second bed in the room, with
an older boy. Stevie's face was drawn; he acknowledged our presence without exuberance.
We had brought him toys. He looked at them. My impulse was to gather him into my
arms. But we were supposed to come quietly and leave quietly. There was a kind of
betrayal in the room; parents had no right to leave their small son in this bleak
hospital room. While we were there, a nurse came in and gave him a shot; he accepted
it without real protest, but the tears gathered in his eyes.
After a short time we were told we must go. We assured him we would return tomorrow.
He watched us go, a forlorn little figure in his hospital pajamas, imprisoned in
He remained five days in the hospital. Dr. West told us we could get him on Thursday.
The infection had subsided considerably. We went to claim him, wondering what our
bill might be. This however was a hospital for contagious cases, and we found that
we were not charged at all. Strange discovery.
Stevie was on the mend. He went outside before we meant him to, to see Gary and show
him his new goldfish. (Recently he told me that he spilled the goldfish out on the
ground, and quickly rescued it, and did not tell me about it).
We counted 16 marks of shots in Stevie's rear. Battle wounds of his miraculous recovery.
We were fortunate to have our son.
Sometime during the year - in February - Stan came home with the announcement that
he had quit his job. It was not entirely unexpected. I had seen it coming for some
time; his area of talent and contribution was being gradually taken away from him.
Why? it seemed to me short-sighted of Chauncey Starr to act in this way. He was bound
to lose as effective an engineer as could be discovered anywhere. One with both practical
grasp and intuitive vision. What was needed in the atomic energy field. Two years
ago Stan had almost left, but had been persuaded (C.S. can be extremely convincing)
to remain, on the promise of an expanding program. In some ways the program had indeed
expanded, yet here C.S. was for some curious reason contracting it, making Stan's
area of function more and more limited. Bill Parrish had lost patience some months
earlier, and had left. He was in Aerophysics [also at North American], and Stan too
could move there easily, but it was not to be for long; work there was not what he
wished to do for more than a few months.
Once again then, a new frontier. This time there was no immediate economic concern.
Stan merely transferred from one section of North American to another. But his dissatisfaction
continued to grow. It could be only a matter of time now. He talked of setting up
a consulting business in his little office, in the ell angle off the garage. Was
I discouraging? I had no idea of the possibilities, and I was, not unnaturally (with
my background), fearful of the failures; or of failure. Not for me moving out into
such a position of uncertainty. Our house had absorbed all our assets. We had little
enough with which to sustain such a venture for the preliminary first months - supposing
it went well thereafter. I suppose too I had my father's deep distrust of the future.
Lack of confidence in my own capacity )and thus Stan's too; at least I felt no strong
belief in opportunities for consulting in Southern California).
His chance to set up his own business came and went. Perhaps it was as well. He may
not have been ready for it any more than I was. My distrust of such an act of faith
(in the future, in himself) might well have spoiled it for him.
For some time I had somewhat expected Stan to find a period in Oak Ridge useful.
Much was going on there; I had only reflected impressions. He had much to contribute
to the atomic energy field in a practical way. It seemed unlikely that he should
go on much longer outside the field.
To leave our house was a harder decision for him than for me. Yet a house is surely
not an end in itself, particularly not for a man; it is a means, a realization of
a way of living - or part of it.
Oak Ridge had become a reality for us then. We had our house definitely for sale.
A month or two of waiting. I found waiting for a buyer not at all enjoyable; being,
in a sense, on display, evaluated. Our taste in houses up for decision. One of the
agents, a delicate young man, said one wasn't interested in pleasing many prospective
buyers; all we needed was one.
My father came out with Janet in late July or early August. Once my father decided,
while the delicate young agent was showing the house to prospective buyers, that
he was not talking up the good points enough, and proceeded to take a hand himself.
Afterwards the agent returned, and extremely politely indicated that as agents they
preferred to do the showing themselves. My father was silent, and I felt protective;
at the time a little nonplussed by his taking over (it was our house, indeed our
agent); now I could not bear to feel that he was diminished (an old, old feeling;
however resentful I might be toward him, it was worse when he might be defenseless).
When he went back east, he was still "not sure we could sell our house;"
pessimism again. It was not surprising I felt miserable during a house-for-sale spell.
Perhaps no one would ever want our house? reject it? and us?
In coming west, he and Janet drove the Fredericks' convertible to Albuquerque, met
Henry there (he flew out to save time on his vacation) and drove madly to Grand Canyon,
there to meet his parents and sit on a hotel terrace to look at the Canyon, or preferably
at people. My father had suggested we meet him there, and as Stan was not taking
a regular vacation that year, but only a couple of long weekends (I wonder why),
we decided we could manage such a trip, adding some other sights, and making a loop
home. It took us quite a while to reach the canyon, as we drove through Oak Creek
Canyon where we stopped for a swim (and asked directions of a familiar looking couple
in a camp who turned out to be the Episcopal minister and his wife from Whittier).
We started late the afternoon before, hoping to miss the desert heat, although we
had started a little too soon, descending into Indio into more and more intense heat.
Sometime later, we slept beside the road, the stars unbelievably brilliant in that
high sky; desert all around us. It took us all day the next day to get to Grand Canyon.
Not only did we stop at Oak Creek Canyon, but we visited some cave dwellings in the
grey cliffs of a canyon not too far from Prescott I believe. And later on we stopped
at an extinct volcano, a high burnt-out red cone. Nearby among the cinder and lava
turmoil, twisted and black, was a cave in which frost hung all year.
So finally we reached Grand Canyon. A thunderstorm as we arrived made a place of
shadows and unexpected light upon the turrets and cliffs of the Canyon. Unbelievably
exciting. We drove on, along the road leading through forests; it was night by now,
and we met occasional deer, to the boys delight.
I think it was nine when we arrived at Bright Angel Hotel. Our relatives had registered,
but no one was there. We waited; we left a note that we would be back, and explored
a little along the rim; I knocked at my father's door and had no answer. Finally
we decided that they had all gone for a drive, and went down to the campground for
The next morning I woke early, and decided to revisit the hotel. It was six I believe;
not early for my father, who was indeed awake, and shaving, when I knocked at his
door. I had my hair in a kerchief; he said "yes?" taking me for a maid
or some other strange female. Then great rejoicing; apparently our failure to appear
the night before had plunged him into deep gloom. He was cheered immediately, and
planned to collect the others, and take them to breakfast in the hotel dining room.
(He still had not looked in his box for my note). Janet walked down with us to the
campground, where Stan was still asleep, Bruce just waking, on blankets on the ground;
the other two waking in the car.
In the hotel we had breakfast amidst the enthusiasm of the Fredericks. Later on we
drove along the rim road, stopping for views now and then. The Fredericks were ardent
viewers, and my father delighted in pointing out sights (I had not realized how much
he adored an admiring audience while he emitted geological lore, gleaned from the
guidebooks. Mrs. F. apparently encouraged him, and appeared to be an attentive listener;
they rode in the back on the subsequent trip north to Zion and Bryce).
At noon Stan felt we should go on. While Dad had lunch with us in the grill (hamburgers,
I'm sure), we told him our plans about leaving for Oak Ridge at the end of the summer.
He was shocked; we had been a convenient reason for making California trips; unknown
to us, he and Mother had been talking about retiring here, not too far from us.
We went on. (Later I learned from Janet that he was hurt that we did not invite him
to go with us; I thought he would enjoy the leisurely trip with the Fredericks, all
planned, far more than our whirlwind dash. Yet here was a thoughtless oversight;
"reason" sound perhaps; feelings awry. Not the first time. Nor of course
the last. Perhaps too I felt our simple style of living and camping could not attract
a person with the opportunity of another way, the F's, of seeing this spectacular
country. False humility again. Possibly a deprecation of our way, which again was
not the "perfect" way, but another way. (Why was I so scornful of my own
Our trip was rapid. Around the Grand Canyon, and north. Indians along that barren
land. A trading post; once we saw an Indian imprisoned behind bars in a truck. Into
forests again, and on into Utah. Sleeping that night on a side road (in the sandy
tracks). Great red rock cliffs above us when we woke in the morning (and all night,
those fathomless reaches of the sky, star studded).
Bryce Canyon after a long drive through high, often wooded land, sometimes meadows;
sawmills; and numerous sad little spectacles of rabbits on the road, struck by speeding
Bryce Canyon in its shades of reds and pinks and buffs and grey and white. I had
not expected to come out above, and look down upon it. High towers and etched walls
and fretted turrets. A jumble of warm-toned, wind-carved rock. Along the edge, tiny
chipmunks darting and appearing, only to disappear (one caught one's breath for fear
they had tumbled over the cliff, yet immediately they were back).
And on. Stan had, I see now, an unenviable lot on many of our trips; he was the one
usually to hurry us on. It seems difficult to understand why we had such a brief
trip, when we surely could have taken two weeks vacation. Probably it was for financial
reasons; the house had taken all we had; the new job at Oak Ridge, unlike his other
jobs, had not been an improvement for pay, but something of a loss. (This too my
father inquired about, and was dismayed to think Stan had accepted anything for less
than he had been getting. One's reasons for such an act can be sound; I am sure Stan's
were; this was a new possibility, and a direction in which he wished to go. Had we
waited some months, would something else have appeared, which would have been more
promising, perhaps even more "permanent?" I have no idea; I feel as though
we had to go the way we went).
In the afternoon we reached Zion. No longer cut and chiseled fretwork of rock. But
immense, monumental mountain forms of rock, swept bare and smooth with wind and water.
The most startling part comes first, before one is ready; the road leads among the
rock masses, a tunnel, sudden glimpses outside of great mountain forms. Then into
the valley, with a serene stream wandering down its level floor. And on every side,
sheer walls. The boys climbed on some rocks, one big boulder I remember near where
we were parked. And waded in the stream. Water "wept" down the face of
a dark rock cliff above us. The boys saw a snake in the water, swimming with its
head above, a red stripe, it seems to me, along its back. Not poisonous, we had read.
And then westward. Across the great stretches of desert. We had wanted to reach Boulder
Dam by late afternoon, and before the tours might have stopped for the day (we had
to drive home that night). Presently it became a race; distances were greater than
we had realized; the desert moved by disappointingly slowly; we could see the rough
bare forbidding ranges on the horizon. Hot. Bruce dropped his hat out of the car.
Stan sent him back for it; he was barefoot, and when he reached the car again, tears
were streaming from his face, and his soles were blistered. Once we passed a family
whose trailer, piled high with household goods, had tipped over beside the road.
The family were gathering about it, straightening furniture; but the trailer looked
Finally through Boulder City (trying to estimate distances and not watch the clock
too closely). Last trip at 5:30, we learned at a filling station. We had only a few
minutes. Stan drove fast.
My memories of the approach include swinging around the curves, past rocky abuttments,
tires protesting. I was not quite sure that we could meet the let-down which would
follow if we missed the tour. Stan was putting every resource at our disposal, to
meet this challenge.
And finally the dam below, and the blue-green water, and the barren rocky slopes
rising from the lake surface. Stan swung over near the entrance, left us there, and
parked the car. We were in time. The last trip through the dam was about to start.
We had a brief wait, in the high, high temperature on the surface; then soon down
in an elevator, into cool and stimulating lower regions. The size of the installations
is unbelievable; and the amount of power; one feels the throbbing constantly. Stan
and I had gone through the dam years before, alone. Now we had our three alert, aware
boys with us.
After the tour, we returned to the surface. Not much difference in the desert temperature.
We had a picnic in a shaded small park in Boulder City.
Then homeward. First to Las Vegas, around nine or so. Gayly lit up; a gawdy town.
Across the Mojave as night settled down. The road was heavily traveled, hour after
hour. For a while I was driving, and realized that I was maintaining a higher speed
than I liked. A long way through the night. After a while we stopped and drove off
the road, stretching out on the ground for a short period of sleeping. Every now
and then we were awakened by a loud clanging and crashing nearby, and found that
we had inadvertently stopped close to the main rail line toward Los Angeles.
After a couple of hours or so, we drove on, over the pass, and down into the long
level valley land. Home at last, through the sleeping city. The boys slept most of
the night in the back of the car, Bruce usually on the seat, the other two on blankets
on the floor.
Later on, perhaps at the end of the week, the Fredericks arrived with my father,
and had supper with us. Some discussion of quitting a job to set up in business of
one's own; the F. parents protested, warned, spoke of dire results; pull of the past.
All three vociferous, full of various enthusiasms, alert interest, polite curiosity.
Janet surrounded by people with elderly point of view.
My father stayed some time with us, two or three weeks. Much of the time we got on
well enough, and he stirred up excitement among the boys, chasing them about the
house. Two things he said stay with me; one when we were returning from some sort
of drive across town, I forget where (perhaps the museum), and the boys were hungry;
he was convinced I did not feed them enough.
This comment startled me; could it be that I did not put sufficient food out for
them? It seemed to me that they ate up to their desire. He went on to say that he
had told Marjorie the same thing in connection with Timmy, and since she had acted
on his counsel, Timmy had gained a great deal of weight.
The other thing was that he was concerned that when Stan left for Oak Ridge, and
while I waited till the house was sold and affairs here settled, I might not be able
"to manage the boys." This amused me, and Stan too, when I mentioned it
to him. There were obviously varying interpretations of "manage."
Later we made a trip to Yosemite, another long weekend. Driving north at night, sleeping
in a vinyard for the remainder of the night (my father insisted he had not slept;
yet at the same time, "it was surprising that no cars passed;" we were
silent, for both Stan and I had been repeatedly awakened by the sweep of headlights
as a car passed or turned at a crossroads some distance away). The boys slept in
the car, and Stan and I on the ground, my father, at first a little dubiously, also
on the ground on blankets.
We had lunch on the cliffs above the valley. Yellow jackets buzzing around, making
it miserable for Steve. We looked down upon the valley floor, far below, and across,
more excitingly, to the mountains across and beyond; Half Dome, and beyond it, more
mountains, and rivers flashing white, a waterfall which seemed to be a solid pale
ribbon until we looked at it through the glasses when its quality as moving water
could be discerned. Wondrous high country; masses of rounded grey rock; dark forests;
occasional glint of water.
We camped in the valley, amidst the crowds. That night my father and I attended the
camp meeting, with its movies and program led by a naturalist, and the firefall from
far above. Stan had decided sleep was what he especially needed; the boys too had
stayed in our tent, although they were disinclined to forgive me when they knew later
that two of us had gone to the camp meeting.
The next day we explored somewhat, hiking a ways up the rushing stream at the head
of the valley, visiting the museum, listening to a naturalist, watching an Indian
dance (Chief Lenni, it seems to me; a heavy set, grave man. California Indians seemed
to have slim pickings, and to have developed little in outstanding characteristics
of their culture). Bruce was intrigued by a relief map of the Yosemite area in the
The old familiar unease began to creep in, when Stan found a trip going not to his
liking, and withdrew to a greater or less degree. It was difficult to know what to
do when this started. Was I to change? to give up immediate plans? to suggest going
on? The effect of his mood was somewhat paralytic. I would be unable to reach him,
to find out what it was he felt we should be doing differently. He merely disengaged
himself from our petty ways; and as these ways were frequently the boys preferances,
and especially Bruce's, as he grew older and more alert and more evaluative of what
he saw, it seemed to me that I would be caught between two sets of demands.
Now the presence of my father increased the pressure. However potentially it could
relieve it as well, as later on, when we were at Big Sur grove along the Pacific,
and my father forgot himself (his usual company manners) and in great indignation
when I started to drive along a road (he felt we should go another way) he reached
over and jammed his foot on the brake, only it turned out to be the gas, and I had
to push on the brake with all my strength to keep us from hurtling forward. An outbreak
of power tactics. Indicative that I had not been allowed to grow up; my apparent
considerate treatment from him was a concession to convention, not his inner conviction.
Stan happened not to be in the car at that moment, but was walking along the bridge
behind with one of the boys. After that Stan sat between us, should I (rarely) be
In thinking over that situation, I imagine I had been somewhat irritatingly superior
just before; I had examined the small map we had been given, and felt I knew which
road to follow to see the big trees; my father took longer, and was angry when I
made such a quick, and he felt inaccurate decision. I was driving, and I could take
the matter into my own hands. No wonder he was outraged. His should be the authority.
His daughter should do as she was told. I didn't, and he tried to stop the car forcibly.
Afterward I was somewhat shaken, for I was not yet ready to say to him calmly and
with authority, no. I was not, I could see, free. [Michael reports a trip across
the country when Barbara was driving and Michael was acting as map reader and route
planner. His grandfather grabbed the map from him at a point of decision as to the
route to be taken, and proceeded to direct the party a hundred miles out of their
way, Michael, being small, had no recourse.]
Stan's presence maintained peace, and apparent harmony. Yet just beneath the surface
this old insistence on power and control waited, ready to burst forth disconcertingly,
and indeed dangerously, at any moment.
While I had Stan's authority beside me, he was not going to make any power gesture.
Yet where was my own, that I should be able to handle future situations?
In cases where there was the possibility of conflict between my father and me, Stan
responded with an awareness which was alive. But where my father and I were aligned
in interests (both wanting to go for instance to the camp meeting) he felt perhaps
threatened. Anyway the withdrawing mood descended.
Bruce reminds me that we stayed the second night, for he made up for the oversight
the night before, and all of the boys watched the firefall. Like a water cascade
So it was early the next morning that we must have left. We drove out of the Park
by way of the east pass [Tioga] (which Stan and I had so long ago entered at night,
missing the entire approach). It looked not at all as I had expected; masses of rocks
in ramparts of red or buff; the sun beating down; at one point we found remnants
of snow, and climbed up the slope, not there too steep, to slither and slide in it,
and throw snowballs. A long way, along the edge of the steep canyon splitting the
mountains from their height down to the desert on the east side.
Then northward. It was Stan's trip again; he had thought of going to Tahoe for a
long time I suppose. The mood was lifted. We traveled through arid, desert country
for mile after mile. Past the dried Owen Lake (once full of water flowing down from
the mountain streams). Past salt flats.
Finally into higher land, grazing land, wide and level. And over a barrier of mountains,
on a dusty steep road. Somewhere along it we freshened up, with new shirts and jeans
for the boys. At Zephyr Point we found the Steins' summer home without too much inquiry,
with a view of the long, woods encircled Lake Tahoe stretching out before. The Steins
however were gone, to Los Angeles we heard from a neighbor.
We drove around the southern portion of the lake, with its unsurpassed views, of
rocks lifting from the water, hills crowned with pines, and everywhere the intensity
of the blue water beneath the sky; white clouds in swirled masses over the distant
mountains. The only campground was full; we had instead supper along the beach. The
sand here was astonishingly coarse and each grain large and bright colored. The boys
rescued a water-worn little wooden boat from the edge of the water, and brought it
with them. As the sun sank lower, it began to grow cool.
Southward. In Nevada, just before one entered California, a thriving settlement of
gambling establishments lined the highway.
So that the boys should know what a gambling place looked like, I walked into one
of them; and was met, as I had expected, by a polite gentleman who informed me minors
were not allosed. So they walked out again. My father and Stan and I wandered about
a little. Tense concentration on faces. Emphasis. One wonders what urge toward life
this attempts to answer.
The ride through the mountains leading south and a little east became wilder, more
primitive. We slept finally, in a camp along the hillside, in the forest. Dark when
we arrived; to discover where we might be was one of the joys of awakening in the
freshness of the early morning. A rock nearby had looked like a bear the night before.
There was another camper nearby. My father visited with him, and presently came back
with a gift of a couple of small fried trout which the camper had taken from the
mountain river that morning. We all had a bite.
Down through the Calaveras country. Dryer. No longer shaded forests, but out into
open country, oaks growing in the toast-colored hillsides. Heat increasing. Crossing
the wide California valley toward San Francisco. Rolling hills for a time, wheat.
Later the Central Valley. And finally, through grape vinyards, along the edge of
the Monterey Peninsula.
We drove through Monterey without lingering much. Again the Pacific. Pines, twisted
and stunted on the cliffs, outlined against the water. Through Carmel and its quiet,
studiedly casual streets. To the south the long winding road, increasingly wild,
brilliant flowers in the intricate array of shrubs on the bank to our left; on our
right the land dropped away, sometimes in precipitous cliffs, to the ocean, which
beat and churned and dashed against the rocks.
Somewhere along the way we saw the Pacific redwoods at Big Sur. A place of quiet.
And before that, early in the day, while still on the far side of the state, we had
come to the Calaveras redwood grove, this time of the really big trees, gigantea,
among which we walked, and looked up and up into the feathery branches overhead.
Homeward through the night. Stan had agreed he would be back at work the next morning.
My father tried to stay awake to keep Stan awake; Dad often nodded. I made little
attempt. We drove through Santa Barbara. And Oxnard. And through the San Fernando
Valley. And finally to Whittier. I think we arrived about four; perhaps five. All
of us went to bed for a while; when Stan got up to go to work, for one of the few
times in our married life I stayed in bed.
I have wondered sometimes why the values of my father were of such exceptional and
durable strength in my life. Was it perhaps because he represented not only authority
as a father, but complete and final Authority? His views became mine, and as they
were pronouncements about the world as it is (or should be), and sprang from Divine
Authority, I could not regard them lightly withour danger of utter condemnation.
Where does a child find sufficient faith to begin the process of changing his childhood
set of beliefs? If the beliefs are in themselves without faith, in the future, in
the essential goodness of the world, it may be that it is a most difficult matter
to change; to discard what has come to be inappropriate, to find one's own philosophy
of living. Particularly if there is, as well, condemnation in the thought of change.
If the beliefs include a static basis, change becomes "impossible;" how
can one change something which "should" be stationary, unmoveable?
The end of the summer came. The house was not sold, after long discussions with the
new buyers, who wavered, and who proposed and counterproposed. We were interested
in how the real estate agents discussed the matter with first the buyers, and then
us, and how diligently and patiently they worked to bring the problem to an acceptable
solution. Finally we took a second mortgage which we were not anxious to do.
When it was at last settled, I felt triumphant and relieved. There was a little feeling
too, that see, we did sell it (my father had said "if you can sell it").
Stan left for Oak Ridge. We were to follow whenever he had a house for us. It was
almost September, and school would be starting soon there; not so soon in Whittier.
We all went to the library and brought home books, and I settled down to read in
the barwa chair under the patio orange tree.
Then a moving company called, and announced they were coming the next day to pack
us up. I was appalled; already? Things I had not finished. I put them off till Friday,
when Stan would be back.
In June of that summer, Stan called me one day; he had been looking at cars; he had,
he said, found a two-door Packard, grey, in good condition, and could get a substantial
turn-in value on our current car. I was against it, as I was by habit, for I could
not see how we could manage a car as well as the expenses on the house, and ordinary
costs of living. But he persuaded me, as he always has on cars (and everything else
he really feels we should have) and I agreed. But I said that I should now have a
fund, monthly, of $25, to put in the bank, for myself; my own; no questions asked.
Somewhat to my surprise he said yes - I really should not have been surprised at
all. So by the end of the summer I had $ 75, and out of that I paid for pictures
of the house.
The fund has fluctuated since; from time to time we have borrowed from it; usually
when we have moved. Eventually it gets repaid. I have tended to consider it only
another reserve. This year - I plan to use it, or part of it for my interests. Perhaps.
Curiously it takes a certain amount of courage for me to use it up, or even the smallest
portion. Am I again afraid that the future will be dark? No more periods in which
I can be confident that the fund will continue not so much to grow (its purpose is
not supposed to be merely another savings account) as to be replenished? Something
really my own? Yet if I do begin to build something professional of my own, should
I be cautious in a way which surely reflects my old fear that should I squander something
now, I shall never, "never'" have another chance?
That night I remained up late - there was a fire burning in our triangular, corner
fireplace. Outside a moon shown from high above the orange trees. The light flickered
on the glass. To be awake so late and to be alone - a deep pleasure to be there,
tempered by the knowledge that it was for so short a time.
Once the Howtons and Mollie had driven over to see the house; earlier that summer.
Mollie had spoken of the reversal of our customary view of a house; instead of closing
us in from the outdoors, this house opened up to the world outside. Still it was
a small, protected world on which it opened; an extension of the living space we
used; the patio, the yard, surrounded by a tall fence.
That was the last night with all as it had been; the house the way we had meant it
to look; arranged and polished as we wished it to be. Stan arrived by plane from
Tennessee, at two or so in the morning. We sat on the couch in the living room and
let the effect of night and the burning fire settle into us. Our nearly two years
of planning, building, and finally living in this house.
The next day Stan must have gone to look into the plant for a time, for I remember
he was gone when the photographer came. About nine the Mayflower truck came, and
the men spent all day packing things up. Sometimes they packed what I had put out
carefully for us to take in the car with us. It was a confused day. The house lost
its semblance of being our own.
Finally that Saturday the last of the furniture and possessions had been removed.
The house was empty; a shell; flies buzzed throughout it since the doors had been
open all day. Bill Bollay stopped in; he had just left North American. Stan and he
following different directions.
Finally everything was finished at the house. We had given the keys to the Cunninghams,
who had dropped in to see us before we left. Our last act was to spray the insects
buzzing about in the house with a bomb, and close up the house. Plants in bloom or
in green foliage. The orange trees erect and flourishing. The house - long and glass-enclosed
and brown, with its butterfly roof, its look of belonging to the earth and the particular
spot in which it found itself. I had, I felt, failed the house. But it need not have
been so. It might be that some day I might be able to grow sufficiently, so that
another such house would be different.
The last night in California we spent with the Malones. They had helped us move into
the new house; now they were waiting with dinner, beds, companionship, as we moved
We slept in various ways in the Malones' house; on our cots; the boys on the floor.
Bruce woke early in the morning; was it four? We had not been sleeping too soundly,
so we got up, and prepared to leave. Ruth and Jim awoke and made coffee; they had
some with us, thoroughly sleepy. We said goodbye in the cool dark early morning in
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