Join me if you dare!

I am like a Janus face. On this page, I turn away the countenance of the historical novelist and expose the strange egocentric creature I call 'me.' It was time to separate the co-joined. I discovered that those who visited my blog for a glimpse of the personal Linda Root did not wish an encounter with the novelist, and the visitors who came hoping for a look at the First Marie or with intent to scale the wall of the abbey Saint Pierre les Dames for a glimpse of the Hidden Princess in my Midwife's Secret trilogy did not want to read about my childhood in Cleveland during WWII.

In a sense, what appears on this page will be a historical novel in the making--a collage of autobiographical pieces embellished with a sprinkle of whimsy, a touch of soul-searching and occasional doses of pain. We all see ourselves as through a mirror, a slightly different view that what outsiders see. I once was quoted as saying that 'too much introspection is not good for anyone.' Apparently I've changed my mind.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Doctor? Why not?

I have been revisiting an ongoing argument as to whether holders of a J.D.degree are entitled to call themselves 'Doctors.' Since the formal title of the degree is Juris Doctor, the argument seems inane. I never called myself Doctor Root when I was practicing or when traveling within the United States, simply because there is a prevailing attitude among professionals, lawyers included, that 'only arrogant assholes' use the title. Then I reviewed the argument propounded by the arrogant asshole who opposed it, and pitted it against the expositions of the California lawyer who pushed its use --the inimitable San Francisco personal injury lawyer Melvin Belli.  Both arguments serve their own constituency. The American Bar Association takes the position it is up to the individual lawyer to decide whether to use the title,  My husband convinced me to use it when I traveled in Europe outside theU.K. He also had a J.D., and he was known as Doctor Root in his scientific workplace.  
 The crux of the argument against calling the J.D. degree a doctorate implies there is no academic component to enduring three years in law school and is insulting to anyone who ever took and passed the California Bar Exam.  I grant that some academic regimens are tougher than others, but whoever said the academics of becoming a medical practitioner require the brain of a Stephen Hawking?  And then, we get to Chiropractors,  Optometrists, and Dentists.  None of those jobs require dissertations.  Neither does the M.D. degree.  There goes the argument that lawyers cannot be doctors because they did not undergo the formalities required of a Ph.D.  Neither did Doctor Michael de Bankey.
I am not prepared to say my several friends who hold the Ph.D. degree are my intellectual superiors, or that their education was more rigorous than mine.  Oh, yes they survived the horrors of the dreaded dissertation, but I had the California Bar Exam, which has been called the toughest professional qualifying exam in the world. And until you pass it, you cannot call yourself a lawyer, let alone a doctor.
So, let them call me an arrogant asshole if that makes them feel better. I am ticketed on my upcoming flight to Europe as Doctor Linda Root.  At least I am not wearing my tee shirt that says, Never Underestimate an Old Woman with a Law Degree.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lessons in Navigating the Quagmires of Widowhood: Lesson #1: Learn to Scream.

For those who have followed my quest to recover the money in my piddly joint savings account, I have solved the issue of why B of A has not lifted it, so here's the scoop:

Banks do not routinely freeze joint bank accounts when a spouse dies. The exception is when death occurs after social security benefits for the month have been paid. As noted in my blog, social security benefits are paid in advance. Therefore, SSA seeks a refund of the unused portion(which, of course, assumes the benefits are used for daily sustenance, and for purchases or to pay bills). Thus, my dear departed Chris owes social security a refund of more than half of his benefit. I suspect they will deduct any remaining balance owed, which in my case will be about $50, from the $250 survivor's benefit. So, it's not Bank of America's fault for placing the hold. However, B of A has not trained its personnel to be able to explain this to the survivor, or to understand how this works. I would not have wasted my time. The same holds true as to the SSA. I had to go to the SSA site and research the issue myself. I should have done so in the beginning. ADVICE: I advise my married friends to have social security benefits direct deposited into separate bank accounts.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Beware the phrase ' Sorry for Your Loss' When offered by an agent of government or corporate America it may mean, 'Your Loss is Our Gain.' Advice from Linda Root

I could blame the bad experiences I am having as I navigate the early weeks of widowhood on my advanced age, but the truth is, I have been a widow before, and while it is worse when you are older, it is because we who are over fifty remember when humans seemed to be more honest than they are today.  I call that era 'BPC,' the age Before Political Correctness  Whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, independent or needful, expect to end your days in silent screams.  It is not paranoia if you think you are being treated poorly. It is not you or me who has changed.  We are living in an insensitive, greedy and impersonal profit -driven corporate America, which has trained its agents and employees to be insensitive, greedy, unkind, insincere and in many cases, ill-informed bordering on stupid. 'Sorry for Your Loss' is the litany.  When you hear it, do not be fooled. The underlying truth is, you are about to get a karate kick on the side of the head, and you probably will not see it coming.
Although I am not a novice to the widow's role, here are now new twists I did not encounter the first time when I was 40, or if I did, they have taken on a new slant.
1.  When I was 40, there was no traditional canned phrase in approaching someone who had lost a spouse.  At least in my little corner of America, "I am sorry for your loss,' what not a compulsory recitation.  People did not express themselves by reading cue cards.  The absence of canned dialogue forced us to be sincere or keep our mouths shut.  Frankly, I liked it better.  The truth is, people who do not know me personally and never met my husband cannot possibly be sorry for my loss.  It is sort of like telling a patient leaving a chemotherapy session to 'Have a Nice Day.'  So, for you who are new to the widow or widowers' gig,  suck it up, because you are going  to run into a stadium full of strangers who have no idea who you are or what you are but are 'so sorry for your loss.'
ADVICE: Do not engage them.  If you respond,  you will convince them that you're the one who is the asshole.
2.  If you expect to be busy handling the details of your beloved's demise, you may be in for a surprise. Much of what I had to do for myself when I was 40 is being done for me, and without my knowledge. The negative part of the new formula for handling death has a downside.  Being busy doing mundane things at a time of great sorrow was therapeutic. Now in California, the coroner's office does it.  The upside is you won't' have to worry about asking the bank to do a reverse deposit of a Social Security check.  You will never get it in the first place. However, you like will get a letter from the #SSA stating you may be eligible for a $250 death benefit, but giving notice that you have to come to a Social Security Administration office to claim it.  I received the letter three days after my husband died had no idea how the SSA knew my husband was dead.   It is a polite way of letting the survivor know that unless they come in to claim the benefit and apply for a portion of the deceased's benefit if they qualify, they have seen the last of SSA benefits.  To bottom line to the unanointed:  Social Security is paid in arrears. Entitlement ends with death.  There is no period of adjustment.
ADVICE: Keep a stash.  Read on and see why this is important.
3. Having been down the pipe before, I realized my household income would be reduced by several hundred dollars without warning, although my expenses would not appreciably decrease. .  So I did the smart thing and logged on to the Bank of America online site to transfer funds to checking from my/our savings.
Or so I thought.  Nine days after my husband's death, the bank froze our pitifully small joint savings account. Did they bother notifying me of this?  Hell, no.  They just took it.  Now, as I stated above,  I am a lawyer, and California is a community property state.  All of the funds are legally mine, half by claim-of-right and the other half, by survivorship.  It is now 13 days since they froze the account, and after a chat session, and hours spent at their flawed appointment web page, I made two trips to the bank, the first to make and appointment when I could make one online, and the  second with two forms of photo id, my ATM card and death certificates. They took  my documents, thanked me for coming in, but they still have not released the money.  And here's the caveat.  Check with your bank for its policy.  There is nothing I know of in the law that allows a third-party taking of the property of another.  At present, I have 95.01 in reachable liquid assets, and it is two weeks until I have any revenue coming my way.  I am living on credit cards until January 26th.  And of course, I am paying interest to Bank of America for denying me the use of my own money.
ADVICE:  Fill a coffee can with money and bury it under a pile of chicken droppings in your compost pile.
4.  Remember that people, in general, are scared silly of death. They do not want to acknowledge its existence, and they do not wish to hear about it.  Of course, you will receive condolences from friends in Social Media, and I  found them to be heartfelt and heartwarming.  But as for neighbors, if you want to watch someone break the land speed record walking back and forth to the mailbox or recovering the trash cans, just let the word get out that the person who shared your life and your house is dead.  And as for being included in social functions or dinners out, forget it. The exception in my case has been my daughter-in-law's siblings and aunt and uncle.  If it weren't for my son-in-law, I could live in my pajamas.  Another exception is my friend Barbara, who is also a recent widow. Together we must be anathema. But do we sit in a dark corner of an empty restaurant and cry in our guacamole?  Not at all, but would it matter if we did?
ADVICE: Although the means of getting dead can be contagious; Death is not a communicable disease. Be fearless.  Wear yellow.  See a movie.  Seek out a restaurant your loved one did not like and order food with lots of garlic. If you think eating alone is too pathetic, take a cell phone and pretend you are texting.  You'll fit right in.
5. The time to deal with insurance companies is now, not after death.  You can waste days trying to access a live person as opposed to a Farsi-speaking robot when all you need are forms.  Keep a file that documents all of your premiums are up to date, and whatever you do, 1)get a hard copy of the policy itself if your group will let you have one, and a statement of the policy and group numbers.  Get them to send you documentation of your designated beneficiaries.  My husband and had each other as our beneficiary, and had listed the same secondary beneficiaries.  But those files were destroyed in a garage fire in 2008, and we did not reorder copies of the designation. If the plan administrator does not have them, proceeds will be paid into an estate, which would require a probate, as well as delays and expenditures I cannot afford. Having a hard copy of the designation of beneficiary is especially important with group policies, because sometimes the carrier changes, as happened in our case.
ADVICE:  Check your insurance policies and make sure the administrator of your plan has a current copy of your election of beneficiaries.  And have them mail a conformed copy to you.
6. Above all, a wise person whose name I do not recall recently remarked that mourning is different from grieving. As I reflect upon that bit of wisdom, I see the distinction. Mourning is external.  Grief is not. Grief is necessary, and usually, it is a good thing, but it sometimes materializes in insidious ways. Making financial decisions and daily living choices are difficult even when Grief is behaving itself.
ADVICE:  A time of profound loss is a poor time for making decisions.  Ask others for their good counsel and don't be afraid to delegate what you can't postpone.
As for me,  this is not a time for me to put on a Kevlar vest and do battle with corporate giants, nor is it time to suffer the incompetence and insensitivity of ill-trained employees who go about their day reading a script from cue cards.  Dealing with them is hardest for people like me, who in my professional life as a prosecutor was considered a dragon slayer.  I have little patience for bullshit, even if it is a part of the litany of political correctness in the workplace.  My husband was the philosopher, and I was the warrior. But he is not here to tell me to stay calm. The best way of handling the silence of his  counsel is to conjure up his image and imagine his words. In a way, he was refreshingly naive. If you were to ask Chris Root how he was feeling, he would tell you.  If  I had died, he would have thanked anyone who said they were sorry for his loss and thought they were sincere.  I, one the other hand, simply want to do some therapeutic grieving on my schedule and in my unique way, without having to deal with the insincerity of strangers whose lines are scripted by an overlord with an agenda.
 Friends, those of the flesh and those I met in cyberspace, can express their sorrow for my loss and truly mean it, and from them, it is a treasured blessing.  But, if you do not know me and never met Chris Root, don't tell me you are sorry for my loss.  You have no frigging idea who I am or who he was. If you really want to make a friend  of a stranger, why not try 'Let's split this pit and get a cup of Joe, or if you're up to it, lift a pint of Guinness, and you can tell me about the time your husband hurled the frozen turkey on your sister's front lawn, or why the clerk at the marriage license window remarked about the two of you being a perfect ten.' I realize in today's world that degree of customer service would get a person canned. In most cases where a death is at issue, a bit of personal interest is appreciated if it is not feigned. To those of us who are  Children of the Happy Days, canned dialogue is best left sealed inside the can.  For those who have not the courage to be original or silent and insist on the mandated script,  the loss is theirs, not mine.  Today at the grocery store, I encountered a colleague from my days as a prosecutor.  He asked me what I was going to keep busy. I said I was shopping for my husband's wake. 'It sounds like a time to rely on faith and family,'he replied.  He did not say he was sorry for my loss.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The new American Disease

It's been a year, but I am back.

There was an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times reporting a new study indicating white Americans without higher educations, especially males, in the age group 34-40 were dying off at a disproportionate rate while the rest of the population was enjoying extended life expectancies.  I read the piece expecting to learn some new disturbing statistics on the rise of prostate cancer deaths or deaths attributed to obesity from eating too much fast food, but that was not what I found. The article somewhat speculatively pointed an accusing finger at drugs, alcohol, and suicide.  It appears the trend is a relatively new phenomenon.  In essence,  white males about to enter their middle years are dying of unhappiness.  And that, my friends, is a profoundly sad event.
I asked myself in the wee small hours of the morning: what is it that drugs and alcohol purport to do, at least in the beginning?  They distort reality and dull pain. Drug use, including alcohol, is not the cause, but the cure that failed.  The generalization I dare to make from this is white American males without college educations are no longer upwardly mobile, and it is killing them.  Despair is a very personal things, but sociological factors aggravate the situation.  One is the global economy.  Consider what it was that kept the dream alive for men in their middle years in times past --and it was the accessibility of jobs in the trades.  One did not need a college degree to be the superintendent of an assembly line in an automobile assembly plant.  He needed a skill set and a work ethic.  Those jobs went overseas.  When the American economy was expanding,  the building trades provided opportunities to many.  I knew more than one or two roofers who got up before dawn, roofed houses until three in the afternoon and were home at five after enjoying a beer or two and camaraderie with their fellows on the construction crew.  Many of them were having a lot more fun and earning a better living than their high school teacher next-door neighbor.  Those were the Happy Days, and they are gone.  While the message of this century need not be a dirge, it does require some reframing of the American Dream.  In my eighth decade, it is presumptuous of me to propound solutions to a problem  I shall not be around to solve, but it is one facing the survivors of a dying breed, and our leadership is not addressing it.  If you wonder why that is, ask yourself if we are not choosing our leaders from the private social club which caused it.
And that's the view on November 4, 2015, in my little corner of the world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

AND THEN CAME ELVIS, A MEMOIR OF COMING OF AGE IN THE 50'S- PART 2 OF WAY TOO MANY



First Stop, Indianapolis - Last Stop, the House by the Water Tower.


Before we left Cleveland, my principal at Euclid Park gave me a journal so I could record our journey. I had a little green drawstring purse in which I kept a pencil, the journal and a wallet of folding money from babysitting. I was three weeks short of twelve. My friends on Hillsboro Road gave me a going away party.  They thought I was going to Texas.  So did I.


There were some interesting preludes to our exodus. The first was the misconception that we were going to Texas.  My father had a job offer from a Hughes Tool subsidiary in Brownsville.  For Texas,  I was willing to leave the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Browns, Euclid Beach and the Cleveland Public Library behind. I had read some wonderful young adult adventure books about Davie Crockett and Jim Bowie and the birth of the Lone Star State. I was willing to let Steven Austin join Governor Frank Lausche on my favorite governor's  list.  Then my mother read something about the climate on the Rio Grande and bugs, and Texas was erased from the map. Except no one told me and I  kept right on reading.  In March there were some telephone calls of a secret nature between my grandfather Henry Clay Patterson and his brother Guy.  Every family seems to have at least one rich uncle and he was ours.  He was also the favorite character from my rather somber childhood, a rotund jolly man with an Irish face and an Irish name and a history as a bootlegger, which is where the money came from.  Then one day a letter came from Aunt Edna Patterson (not the one who was my father's sister, but the one who was married to Uncle Guy and who made me wash my hands every time I sneezed).  I do not remember the letter but I remember the little black and white photograph that was enclosed.  For a long time I had it in an album until at age  fifty I was secure enough to ditch the things I hated.  If you are curious as to what it portrayed, Google Map 425 H Avenue in Coronado California.  Google Maps will not let you make copies of the street views or I would post it here.  It is now a two story house and probably markets for close to a million dollars even in the slump, but in 1951 it was what I considered a crackerbox and it definitely was not in Texas. Texas had Cowboys and Indians and Mexicans with Sombreros.  H Avenue in Coronado had naval aviators.  And thus, we were  destined to be the only non-military family living on Commander Row. To get me into the Chrysler, my Uncle Guy promised me a piano would be waiting for me when we arrived, and my father swore we could stop at Carlsbad Caverns on the way. One of the promises was kept.  The other was  not. If in doubt, always trust the bootlegger. They made their fortunes delivering on their promises.

Mark Hans V, Wikimedia Public Domain



There is a reason why  a photo of the rear end of the 1947 Chrysler Windsor appears to the left and it has to do with my mother.  Until the decision was made, largely by her, that we were going to Coronado where 'her side of the family' had migrated, I had never realized how much she disliked her life in Cleveland and how badly she wished to leave it behind.  As soon as the house on Hillsboro Road went up for sale, she began selling everything we owned. She even convinced Grandpa to sell his stash of home-brewed Elderberry wine to the antique dealer who bought most everything else.  What we were taking with us to the new house in Coronado was what she could fit into a single barrel (her everyday dishes and some stemware wedding presents) and what would fit in the trunk of our Chrysler Windsor sedan.  If I had found a photo with the trunk (aka boot) open, you would see how dismal leaving Cleveland had been. Each of use got to pack one small suitcase with our best clothes, a few personal items, and that was it. Everything that reminded my mother of her mother, my redoubtable Grandma Julia, ended up sold or trashed.  And that brings me to the fascinating side story of the wooden breakfast tray that now is stored in an outbuilding of a house we own in Joshua Tree.  It is a better tale than Indianapolis, which was only significant in that it was my first visit to a restaurant when I was allowed to order what I wanted--a roasted half-chicken with mashed potatoes without my mother's trademark lumps.  We also slept in a motel room with plaid blankets on the beds.  I recorded all of this in my little green journal, right down to the $14 it cost the five of us for our meals while we were there.

And now, to the story of the tray:


To understand the tray, you have to know a little bit about my maternal grandparents.  I have a picture of them holding me outside of our house at 144th Street and Euclid, before we moved to Colonial Heights, and before Grandma Julia had her second stroke.  She had been ill most of her life but the stroke she had in 1941 left her paralyzed on one side of her body and bed bound. Somewhere along the line, Grandpa had made her a tray and carved her initials in it -JMP- for Julia Mahalia Patterson. When I was a child I carried many meals to her, since she was bitter and frequently contentious and on one of her bad days, I was the only one with the courage to approach her.  Toting her breakfast was one of my duties, and another was retrieving her wedding pictures and a few snapshots of my grandfather in his top hat from the Saint Patrick's Day parade after  she pitched them out of the window.  She was not too paralyzed to manage to lift the window and she made me open and close it regularly to keep the sash from from sticking.   In late 1948 my grandmother died.  My Aunt Edna Patterson suffered from pleurisy that winter and my mother gave her the tray, which was the only thing that saved it from the purge when we moved to Coronado.  There was not a single item of my grandmother's that was spared except a little Sacred Heart pin cushion I kept out of sight in a cookie tin, and a few photos that my father insisted be kept for my sister and me, so we would know who our ancestors were when we grew older. My mother had no idea that the hated JMP tray had already made it to Coronado California and was stored in a garage near the water tower on C Street.  I do not believe she saw it in 1973 when Aunt Edna died.  For reasons that would require an entire post, my Aunt Edna Patterson left all of her personal property to my father, who had lived next door to the Patterson when he was a little boy and had been her deceased only child Pat's  lifelong friend.  My father selected a few items to keep and sold the surplus at a garage sale, apparently including the tray.  I remember the sale because it was the occasion of my first date with my husband Chris Root, and we went to Coronado to pick up my ten year old son John who was helping his Poppa with the sale.


The story fast-forwards to 1987 or 88. At the time we were living in Joshua Tree, California, with sons Michael and Russ.  My son John had died in 1980 of congenital heart disease and his sister Jolie was married and also living in Joshua Tree. My husband's mother Roberta had recently become a widow and was living in Alpine and I was a prosecutor in the Morongo Basin satellite court in Joshua Tree, which did not try felonies until 1990.  I was in pre-trial motions in Barstow when the clerk in Rufus Yent's court handed the telephone to the judge. Sharon was rolling her eyes and Rufus Yent was laughing when he motioned me to sidebar. "There's an older lady on the telephone who says she's your mother-in-law and she has an emergency. She wants to know if you think 78's too old to get married and if it's o.k. with you, are you available on Saturday. Apparently no one is answering the phone at your house in Joshua Tree."   No surprise there: my husband never answered the phone when I was not home and the caller i.d. identified his mother.  Thus,  Roberta Root, age 78 married her 83 year old neighbor Troy Gough, a retired WWII Navy CPO who had been captain of the now-defunct Coronado Ferry.    Before he died in the late 1990's he sent his mahogany furniture to me because Roberta hated it. He also sent some items she was planning to throw in the trash.  Among them was a tray with carved initials that were not Troy's.  It took me a while to recognize it as possibly the tray I had not seen since I was twelve. I asked him about it the last time I saw him before his death. Troy, God love him, spent his off time from the Ferry Company going to garage sales. He had bought it at a sale in Coronado for his late wife Grace who was bed-ridden. And thus, while the tray had not made into the trunk of the Chrysler, it made it to my house in Joshua Tree. And there is indeed a morale here.  Sometimes our past follows us whether we want it to or not.


I remember writing every penny spent in my little book, including the traffic fine my father had to pay at our next destination --Coffeyville,  Kansas.  There is a line written about the Scottish Borders by Sir Walter Scot that goes 'every valley has its battle and every stream its song'.  If Scot had lived in Kansas in the 50's the lines would have read, 'behind every billboard there's a copper and every giant oak, a stop sign.'  Most people call them speed traps and this one was so egregious  that it provoked my sense of fundamental fairness. It also demonstrated to me that when issues of write and wrong occurred, my moral compass was with my grandfather,


I have no idea if the pair of con-artists we encountered in Coffeyville were endorsed by the townsfolk  or acting on their own ingenuity, but there had to be at least some collusion by public officials, since the stop sign we encountered was completely obscured from view by a very large tree.  In my mind's eye, it is a thick mature oak tree, but it might have been a willow.  The point is the same:with the stop sign placed as it was, it was not visible, and it was on the main drag through town, the route used by travelers.  At the far corner across the intersection a preteen boy sat on a bicycle, and he was the spotter.  The officer he worked with was parked about a third of he way up the block on the intersecting street in front of a coffee shop or bakery.  We did not see the stop sign or hear the boy whistle for the cop, but he did shout rudely at my father, ordering him to stop the car. "You're in big trouble now, Mister," he announced with the aura of a Herman Goebbels at a train station. He stood beside the policeman as he wrote the ticket, his hands on his hips and a snotty grin pasted across his face.  According to the policeman, we had two choices--wait until Monday and appear before the  traffic judge, which he explained would not do us any good because he had a witness, or we could pay the $20 ticket and drop the money or check in the mail box.  He showed us where the nearest letter drop was and where there was a drugstore in case my mother needed to buy an envelope or stamp. To him, it was a business enterprise.  To my grandfather, it was an outrage.  He wanted to go back to the motel in the town we had just left and book in for another two nights just to fight the ticket. Because my parents had committed  to arrive at Aunt Peg's house  in Enid on Sunday, my mother wrote the check, but my father regretted acquiescing and talked about it for years. It was the only ticket my father received in seventy years of driving.  And there is, of course, a moral to this story: there are small  injustices that do not seem worth fighting at the time, but giving in is often more expensive in the long run. If truth be told, I have a very low opinion of rural Southern Kansas. I just Googled 'Coffeyville, Ka'  and 'corruption' for the heck of it, and guess what?  As a former major crimes prosecutor, I am pleased to read that the issue is being addressed. Sixty three years late is better than not at all. Frankly, though, I'll take my chances in the land of Oz.   



Next stop:  Enid,  Oklahoma.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

And then came Elvis..a Reflection on coming of Age in the 50's

It was April 1951 when we piled into our green 1947 Chrysler Windsor --Dad, Mom, Grandpa, my baby sister Terry Lee and I, and we headed for California.  I remember the seating arrangement. it was the era of the bench seat.  The three adults sat in front and Terry and I sat in the back seat except on occasions when mother wanted to nap. It might have been yesterday. And now, I am the only one left to laugh about it.  At the time I was not laughing, since I was the only one who did not want to leave Cleveland, and not just the only occupant of the car--from the opinions expressed by our well-wishing neighbors in Colonial  Heights, I was the only person on the planet who did not want to leave Cleveland for Coronado, California.
Photo by Janee, Wikimedea Commons

This is not a photo of our car, but it is very like it--the same green which my mother hated.  Ours was a special edition model called the Highlander, which meant that the seats were upholstered in plaid.  And like most everything else about the trip to California, the car came with a story. It was not supposed to be a Chrysler at all.  It was supposed to be a two-toned Plymouth two-door in black and chartreuse.  My Dad and I spent hours looking at the brochures.  But we were told not to set our hearts on any single make or model, because it was 1947--and we were going to be getting one of the first shipments of Chrysler products available for sale in Cleveland since the beginning of World War II.  All because of what my Dad did on the night Nancy Munson's house caught fire. 

My baby sister was born on March 1, 1946.  I was almost seven. My father had four siblings, and the younger two were my  aunts Edna Mary and Ruth, who my dad had helped raised after Grandpa Fetterly ran off with a dark haired neihgbor woman named Nora. My mother had been an only child and we was afraid of children.  Dad was the one who moved into the little front room we called the sun room where the crib was.  And from there, he saw the flamed coming from the roof of a house on Haverhill.   He wasted no time pulling on his pants and heading up the hill, and he helped the Munson family get themselves and some of their treasures out of the house.  Mister Munson was the general manager of the Chrysler dealership, and  he promised my father on the night of the fire that if my father wanted a car, he would made sure he would get the first one available.  Only someone who lived through the war years would appreciate how many people were fighting for the right to buy a car.  When the call came, my mother thought we should wait for something cheaper, and Grandpa, her Dad, asked her if she had lost her mind. The next day my father had someone drive him into the city and he came home with the car.  Neighbors were waiting at the curb for a chance to touch it.  It was the most exciting event to occur on our street since our neighbor's nephew Joey Maxim won the title and was still a topic of awe  until the summer of 1948 when it was knocked off the awe list when the  Indians won the series and the Fetterlys got a television set.  The same group of people who had been at the curb when the car came home crowded into our living room to watch WEWS on a screen the size of the display on an oscilloscope.

Tune in tomorrow or the next day for our exciting escape from Cleveland.  In the meantime I will try to figure out why Blogspot will not let me get rid of the photo of my childhood hero Lou Boudreau in a Boston Red Sox uniform, when I wanted him as an Indian.  He did, however, end his career with the Sox.  One thing few people knew about player-manager Boudreau was that he played in the World Series while injured, and insiders said he put a fifty-cent piece under his belt to deal with a hernea so he would not have to take himself out of the line-up.  I know all kinds of little bits of baseball trivia from my childhood in Cleveland, which is the real reason why I did not want to move to California.  I did a little research and discovered that all San Diego had was a Class A team called the Padres that played in a miserable excuse for a ball park called Lane Field.  I wanted to stay in Cleveland and live with my elementary school principal Miss Ruth Krumhansl, who was my mother's childhood friend from Empire Junior High School, but the family forced me into the car.  First stop, Indianapolis,  Indiana

I am like a Janus face.  On this page, I turn away the countenance of the historical novelist and expose the face of the strange egocentric creature I call 'me.'  It was time to separate the co-joined.  I discovered that those who visited my blog for a glimpse of the person did not wish an encounter with the novelist, and the visitors who came for a look at  the First Marie or with intent to scale the wall of the abbey Saint Pierre les Dames for a glimpse of  the Hidden Princess in my l Midwife's Secret trilogy did not want to read about my childhood in Cleveland during WWII.

In a sense, what appears on this page will be a historical novel in the making--my autobiography embellished with a sprinkly of whimsy, a touch of soul-searching and occasional pain.  We all view ourselves as through a mirror, a slightly different view that what outsiders see.  Come along with me.  I once was quoted as saying that 'too much introspection is not good for anyone.' I've changed my mind.