Thursday, May 7, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge: What I Remember – Part 3

For the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge.  From the website the challenge began in 2010 and the challenge was this:   Can you post every day except Sundays during the month of April?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

I never took the challenge, even though it looked interesting and I enjoyed reading many of the posts.  So this year I’m doing my own abbreviated challenge – What I Remember from A to Z.  And I won’t do it daily, or even complete it in April, but will condense it into several posts.  You can read Part 1 and 2 here and here.
S = Stubblefield Sisters

Often times when we’d stay with Grandma and Grandpa in Fresno, we’d visit with their next door neighbors, the Stubblefield sisters.  That’s all we knew about them – the Stubblefield sisters.  I do remember that at one point in Dad’s life, one of them was his elementary school teacher but since they were both teachers, I’m not sure which one was his.  I don’t know for sure but I think this may be them with my Grandmother (right).

My beautiful picture

I knew that neither had ever been married so I decided to research them a bit and see what I could find.

The oldest was Ethel Lacy Stubblefield, born 31 Oct 1897 in New York and died 4 Nov 1978 in San Francisco County.  Hmm, my grandmother didn’t die until 1982 so she would have known Ethel died but I don’t remember anyone ever speaking about it.  The younger sister was Gertrude Scott Stubblefield, born 2 Nov 1903 in Oklahoma and died 7 Nov 1996 in Santa Clara County.  Geez, that time period from October 31 to November 7 was quite a week in the Stubblefield’s lives!  They were what looks like the only children of James S. Stubblefield and Verna W. Lacy.

I’ve thought about these two sisters on so many occasions and always wondered what happened to them and why they never married.  And how sad it is now that they are pretty much lost to the world since there are probably not too many people out there looking for them.  Maybe someday someone will find my blog and realize that they were an important part of my grandparents’ lives and, thus, ours as well.

Ethel and Gertrude are buried together in Los Gatos Memorial Park which is, coincidentally, just a few short miles from where I grew up and my parents lived until their deaths.

photo from

T = TV

There is so much to say about TV and how far they’ve come in my lifetime (no comment about just how long that is).

My first memory of TV was black and white when the only way to turn it on/off or change the station was to – GASP! – get up off the couch and do the work for yourself.

Photo by smidge girl

Then color TVs made an appearance and life began to change.  My grandparents were the first in our family to buy a color TV and we always loved to be at their house on Sunday nights to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.  Not only was the show in color, but before the show started NBC showed the peacock IN COLOR which left us awestruck.  And then one of our neighbors got a color TV so we could go to their house and watch some of the few programs which were shown in color.

Some of my favorites:

3305829885_29e6109c33_o Carol Burnett
I Love Lucy
photo by
Carol Burnett Show
photo by The Bees Knees Daily

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photo by
Mr. Memphis1982
The Dick Van Dyke Show
photo by

U = Uncle Rob

Most people have lots of aunts and uncles but in my family, they were few and far between.  My mom had no siblings (unless you count the two half-siblings that she never met) so no aunts or uncles there.  And my dad just had one brother and, ultimately, his wife so all I had was one uncle and one aunt.

But what an uncle he was!  Uncle Rob (or Robo or Bobo) was quite a character and he and Dad were both so devoted to each other all through the years.  Uncle Rob was quite the jokester – he loved to tell corny jokes and I’m sure we heard the same ones over and over again.  But, sadly, now I can’t remember a single one of them.

I think this is my favorite childhood photo of Dad and Rob together – I came across it many, many years ago and have had it hanging on my wall all these years.

Rob & Gordon Levy 12_1930
Robert and Gordon Levy
December, 1930

Rob and Dad were both in the military – Rob was an officer.  We always laugh that there are so many pictures in our family of people shaking hands – this one doesn’t disappoint.

Robert and Gordon Levy
July 15, 1943

I can remember when I was pretty young that Rob had a brain tumor removed and while I don’t remember too many of the specifics, I do remember how worried and anxious Dad was for the surgery to be over and to learn that his brother was going to be around for many years to come.  Unfortunately, the surgery left Rob with some medical issues and he had difficulty walking from that point forward.

Rob came to Seattle in 1996 for a visit and we went to lunch (or was it dinner?) down the street from one of the most popular attractions, Pike Place Market.

Rob 1996
Robert Levy
September, 1996

After we finished our meal, we took a slow walk to cover the block or so to the Market.  For anyone who has been to the Market, you know what I’m talking about when I say there are always quite a few characters around – typically pretty harmless but a little unsettling when you’re taking that slow walk with a disabled person.  One very odd individual approached us, made some random comment, and it was at that moment that I thought to myself “how in the heck am I going to be able to protect my uncle?”.  Fortunately, the guy must have figured we were too easy of a target and not too challenging and left pretty quickly to go bother someone else and I realized it was time to get back to the car and get out of there!

V = Vacation

We were pretty fortunate that Mom & Dad took us on many vacations.  We went to Hawaii a couple of times and I remember on one trip our tour guide was Nelson Waikiki – what a character he was.  His favorite name for me was Miss Daybie

Since we lived only about 400 miles from Disneyland, we visited there a few times.  We would climb in the car and make the long drive, often times with a stop for Andersen’s Split Pea Soup in Buellton.  There were just a few “E” ticket rides in those days and I still remember some of the attractions that have long since been retired.

One of the most treasured trips was our visit to Washington D.C., New York City, and Williamsburg, Virginia.  I don’t remember too many specifics as far as traveling there but I do remember some of the sights.  At the time Norman Mineta was a U.S. Congressman serving San Jose so we were able to visit with him.  I also remember how hot it was when we were in NY and at one point we had to take salt pills so we wouldn’t get dehydrated.  One of the cousins I just re-found reminded me that we met them when we were there – they lived in San Francisco so I don’t know if it was planned or just coincidence that we were there at the same time.

And Las Vegas was a favorite.  My grandparents loved the city so several times Mom & Dad would travel with them and we were able to tag along.  I can remember standing outside the windows at the casinos looking inside while Mom & Dad were inside gambling.  And shows!  Grandma and Grandpa loved the shows so a few times we went along.  The most exciting show, and their favorite performer, was seeing Liberace.  Now I realize that probably doesn’t seem too exciting but on this occasion his opening act was a new singer and boy could she sing!  Just a newcomer that no one had ever heard of by the name of Barbra Streisand.

My beautiful picture
Gordon, Gerry, Sig, Loraine Levy

W = Wilt

We didn’t know too many of our grandparents’ siblings (family rifts will do that) but we did spend time with Grandma Loraine’s only sibling, Wilt Gunzendorfer.  I’m not sure I really understood how we were related until I was in my teens – do we ever really think about our grandparents having a little brother?

My beautiful picture
Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy and Wilton Gunzendorfer
c. 1980

During my childhood Wilt and his wife lived in Beverly Hills, I think either next door or around the corner from Jack Benny.  They also had a cute little bird (parakeet?) who would look into the stainless salt shaker and chatter away. 

X = Xanthic

I know you’ve been worried about how I would address a memory starting with an X.  Believe me, I was too.  But I was able to come up with the word Xanthic which means of or relating to yellow or yellowish color.  Yellow has always been my favorite color so I should probably just stop there.  But I do have another, albeit unpleasant, memory relating to yellow.

My grandmother, Clara, smoked quite heavily when we were kids.  I’m sure the endless hot summer days working with the eggs were boring so maybe that’s why she took up smoking.  But what I remember is that her fingers always had a yellow hue to them from the unfiltered cigarettes she, undoubtedly, smoked.  Of course in those days people didn’t have the knowledge and education that they have today so looking back, it didn’t seem too odd that she smoked.  In fact, Mom smoked in our early childhood, as well.  And somewhere along the line without any fanfare (at least that I can remember) they both quit and I never thought about it again.

Maybe not a great memory but at least we all learned a new word.


Dad was involved in so many service organizations but one that was very close to his heart was the YMCA.  One of the best parts about his participation in the organization, at least to me, was the wonderful times we spent at the YMCA Camp Campbell in Boulder Creek.

Camp Campbell offered family camps and we went for a week every summer and a weekend in the spring – what a blast!  There was so much to do – folk dancing, canoeing, hiking, swimming, horseshoes.  It was a time when kids could run off and be kids and parents could sit back in the mess hall and be adults.  Sure wouldn’t happen like that today.

I don’t remember too many specifics about events at camp but these photos have helped jog some memories about Crazy Hat Night.

Camp Campbell 1
What the heck?

Camp Campbell 2
Sisters – and funny hats!

While I have so many wonderful memories of camp, one not so wonderful memory has been with me all these years.  We were on one of our weekend trips and my friend, Linda Frye, and I were allowed to go on a hike with the big kids – we must have been about 7.  We followed along behind them and in an instant, we were alone.  Just two little girls in the woods not sure of how to get back to camp.  We wandered around for what seemed like days (it was probably about 2 hours) when we finally came to a road and started walking.  Fortunately it wasn’t too long before we came to a house, knocked on the door, and a couple of guys (men? teenagers? boys?) came to our rescue.  They drove us back to camp and the minute we drove up, the giant bell that signaled a meal started chiming as they were announcing to the rest of the camp that we were back!

Z = Zwieback Toast

I remember my kids loved these and would suck on them and gum them for hours.  They would get all mushy and before we knew it, they were covered in mush and needed a bath.  Do they even make this stuff anymore?

Thanks for following this journey with me of Things I Remember!

1 comment:

  1. I liked your piece about the Stubblefield sisters who were school teachers. I wonder what took them away from Fresno to the bay area? I gather they had no family so why did they leave Fresno in their sunset years? Retired teachers in their day had very little in the way of pensions.