A History of my Family of Origin and my Big Sister Janice Knowlton's Struggles
Always my doting big sister~
Give Sorrow Words, A Memoir
Your Little Sister, "Bambi"
Give Sorrow Words. The grief that does not speak, Whispers the o'er fraught heart, And bids it break.
- William Shakespeare
It's funny the way some things spoken during times of crisis stick in one's head. The words heads up is stuck forever in my mind with an unhappy context ever since Janice's best friend spoke them to my brother Garry when she contacted him to say that Janice had died. I can never hear anyone speak those words even after all this time without being reminded.
''The following paragraph is taken from my letter to a friend who also lost her sister to suicide. I will call her Marcie.
My sister Janice's death was determined to be suicide by overdose in 2004. My sister suffered with severe highs and lows since childhood. I found help through books and a couple of sites namely Helping Shoulders set up by Mandy, and The Suicide Discussion Board set up by Michelle Linn Gust. These sites were set up by women who each individually lost a sister to suicide. I'm so sorry about your loss Marcie.''
From My Journal, August 23, 2010 ~
I haven't gotten far enough with my memoir about losing my late sister Janice to suicide and some of what led up to it in our childhood in our family of origin. Typing and printing and revising each page became such a daunting task that I decided to quit all of that and just put it on here.
Snow White in Manhattan
Janice's friend Shirley Hyatt, wrote a poignantly moving memoir about Janice as did Janice's former boyfriend and long-time friend Lloyd Battista. To them and several others many thanks for sharing parts of Janice's life that I was not aware of.
A paragraph from Shirley's 2004 memoir reads;"What Jan did was bless us with her many talents, including an extraordinary wit and a crystal clear, heavenly soprano voice. If you live in Southern California she may have knocked your socks off with her zany impression of a Broadway hit that did not originally involve swinging a rubber chicken by it's leg. Then, as easily, she would wring your heart with the aria from Madame Butterfly followed by a piece from Evita."
Shirley further went into the background of how and where they met;"It was 1960, late spring when Jan and I met. We had each recently moved to New York City, into a YWCA on the upper east side known as the Studio Club." She went on to describe Janice's physical attribuutes; "I was struck by her beautiful coloring. I remember thinking that her dark hair, fair skin and eyes gave her an almost Snow White quality...years later when Jan was a secretary at Disneyland she was featured on giant billboards giggling like a little girl while held lovingly in the arms of a character advertising 'Bear Country."
Shirley and Janice's timeline and other details differ a bit but the essence of what they experienced together is still there. According to Jan's book Shirley and Janice met for the first time at the Studio Club in the New York City YWCA in 1959 rather than in 1960 and the death of our father and younger brother took place some time after she and Shirley were no longer living there.
It was named The Studio Club because it catered to young women striving to carve out a career in show business. The Studio Club inhabitents regularly put on recitals for all who would attend. Shirley was really only there to be near her boyfriend rather than to further her interest in violin playing and Janice had come east by car with her voice coach and good friend Mary Codd. Mary had taken over coaching Jan after her husband Arthur, Jan's original voice coach had did. Mary, who had been left widowed with children to support, took a job at the Massachusetts Summer Theater in Framingham and Jan had ended her engagement with a young man.
Shirley reminisced about the day Janice told her of our father's and brother's deaths one Saturday in early in October of 1962. Shirley related that she and Janice were waiting in a dinner line somewhere (maybe at a local cafeteria) when Jan told her rather matter-of-factly but with one eye blinking uncontrollably - a nervous tic Jan had all her life - that they had died in a head-on car crash on a highway in Oklahoma the night before on their way to California from Massachusetts.
Another time Shirley tells of knocking on Janice's door in the Ladies Christian Union - a womens' rooming house where they moved after being given 'the boot' from the YWCA for not having reserved rooms before 'just showing up' and seeing that Jan had bruising around her eyes and a bandaged nose. Janice passed it off as a minor car accident but later confessed she'd had a 'nose job.
A Beautiful Dreamer
In 1950 Janice sang a song written by Stephen Foster in 1826 called Beautiful Dreamer onstage at Briscoe Jr. High's Briscoe Fun Night shortly after she moved out of our apartment above our paternal grandparents house and after Mama and the rest of us moved to the basement apartment near downtown Beverly, Massachusetts. That was the first time I ever heard Janice "really" sing and I was just stunned by it.
When Janice moved out she was thirteen and I was eight and a half so I have the early memories of us living in the same household and then she was with my father and stepmother and my grandparents back and forth and then out on her own for good after high school and living far from me. I wish I'd been older when she fought with our mother for permission to go live with our father and his new wife. I wish I'd begged our mother not to let her go. Maybe I did, I hope I did but I don't remember it. I remember whenever Janice visited up over the years of my childhood how I would beg and plead with her to move back home. I was told decades later by my brother that our mother and Janice had a big blowout with Janice ''going ballistic'' in her insistence that she wanted to move in with Daddy and Kathleen. I don't remember it. Maybe it happened when I was out of the house somewhere or maybe it was too painful to remember it if I did witness it.
I feel stuck. What do I fill the empty pages with ? We were so close - I thought- and then she was gone from our home too soon. She was the big sister in Junior high school by then and I was still in elementary school. She never knew I hero-worshiped her even as I resented her bossy big sister ways.
Janice was the golden child of our family, the one who was going to be a big opera star with the Metropolitan Opera in New York or, barring that maybe a famous star on Broadway. After she died I tried in every possible way to touch her, to correspond with her, to communicate with her, to feel her still in my life. The last pictures of her were taken the week before she died by her close friend *Jean Bergman in Jean's son, Frankie's back yard. In these Jan is holding a frog. It was a whirleygig that Janice bought for Frankie but it would be a long time before I would know that. I only knew that these were the last pictures taken of Jan and oddly enough I began to notice and collect toy frogs and other frog items on my daily walks, along the sidewalks, in the grassy areas behind the apartments of the complex where I lived, in trash barrels by the curb waiting for pickup. Surprisingly most of them were new. Two years after Janice died so did my brother Garry and his sybols would be dolphins but with Janice it was the frogs.
A few months after Janice died I began sponsoring a little girl named Janice in the phillipines through an international child aid program. I'd written and asked to sponsor a girl named Janice after my late sister but went on to explain that if there were none I would be happy to sponsor any other girl or boy. As I edit this today on December 23, 2012, my sponsor girl, Janice has recently turned 14 and is already in high school.
Two months before Janice died my friends *Joanne and *Tom Young across the street from me attended funerals for two male members of an organization they belong to. The men died about a week apart. I remember being told by Joanne that each man in separate coincidences had committed suicide. I looked at their death notices and saw that each man had died ''suddenly" and began looking for that wording in every other death notice in the local paper after that. Little did I dream that soon I would write my sister's death notice and word it in just that way.
In late February of 2004 I was shopping in a neighborhood Mom and Pop store and remembered buying Janice a Christmas pin that read ''Season's Greetings'' there only weeks before. I thought of Janice having celebrated her 67th birthday the month before and ruminated on how she might feel about growing older because she had always been beautiful, vivacious and desirable; attributes important in show business and in one's personal life or at least they had been in her's. As soon as that thought entered my mind I felt a sudden wave of grief and loss. I think it was precognition. My first thought was to run over to my niece's house and ask to borrow her phone to call Janice and warn her because I had no long distance service and had only the most basic local. I had no premonition of how or why Janice would die, only that she would and it would be soon. I shook off that feeling and told myself it was only my imagination running wild.
I got myself together emotionally telling myself I was being foolish, telling myself Janice was so into taking care of her health (which was true) that of course she wasn't going to die soon, that was an utterly preposterous feeling. I'd not spoken directly with Janice in almost two and a half years although we'd exchanged Christmas cards a lttle over two months before, breaking my icy rebuffs of her attempts over that time to speak with me by phone and by letter. I was not at that time online, only going online, ironically, after I was given Janice's computer in the spring of 2005 after my niece Liz had had it between the time Janice died and then.
I'd sent Janice two birthday cards for her birthday which fell on January 8th and she'd belatedly, sometime in February sent me a thank you note dated January 16th and written on note paper resembling one of the cards I'd sent her which in turn resembled fabric she'd given me during our 1999 visit with bucolic views of green grass, trees and flowers. Jan had said she later thought that the choice of fabric, which she'd bought to make curtains with had been part of her unconscious memory brought forth in a deram of a cemetary, possibly the lovely garden style cemetary where our two little sisters were buried in Westminster, California in 1946.
Return to college delayed
I had wanted to return to college after an absence of several years ( I had attended sporadically since my early thirties, dropping out whenever a bout of clinical depression came around rendering me helpless to do much of anything besides dragging myself around thinking of ways to kill myself and fearing God's punishment if I did ) in September of 2004, six months after Janice died but delayed it until the following spring semester in January 2005. I had meant to take color slides of samples of my various artwork for a portfolio but the effort involved in doing so was just too much for me to contemplate so soon after her death. By the spring semester I still hadn't gotten myself together enough to do so so when I did re-enter college in January 2005 I entered as an undeclared major.
When Janice died I'd been working up to having our previous close relationship bacbk but felt that because I'd shut her out of my life for so long I couldn't barge back in and have everything be the same so I was working up to it and ran out of time. The anger I'd felt about other events in my past had spilled over...
MOVE TO BACK SECTION OF BOOK AND ADD A SECTION BEFORE THIS LISTING REFERENCES FOR HELP AND INFORMATION FOR SUICIDE ; ALSO SEPARATE REFERENCES RE; SUICIDE BOOKS FROM THE ONES FOR BOOKS ON REPRESSED MEMORY;
Recommended Reading / my references / research
Books / articles about Loss of a sibling or close individual to suicide
The Tender Land by Kathleen Finneran Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, NY, 2005
Do They Have Bad Days In Heaven ? by Michelle Linn Gust, 2001, Bolton Press, Atlanta, GA
beautifully written and compassionate
When this author's sister died the author was in her late teens or early twenties and in college and her sister was just two weeks short of turning
Healing After The Suicide Of A Loved One* by Ann Smolin and John Guinin, Fireside, Simon & Schuster, 1993
(On Tuesday December 11, 2012 my copy of 'Healing' came in the mail and I found that the author had used the same poem titled "Richard Cory" as I did in this manuscript).
No Time To Say Goodbye by Carla Fine Doubleday, 1997
An Empty Chair; Living In The Wake Of A Sibling Suicide by Sara Swan Miller Writers Club Press, 2000
My Sister's Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky Atria Books, 2011
(I found this book to be especially moving)
The Forgotten Mourners; Sibling Survivors Of Suicide by John's Sister Outskirt Press, Inc., 2012
What Remains, A Memoir Of Fate, Friendship And Love by Carole Radziwill, Scribner, 2005
Books / articles about the Black Dahlia murder / Elizabeth Short
Daddy Was The Black Dahlia Killer by Janice Knowlton with Michael Newton, Pocket Books, 1995
(I had requested to be called Florence in the book rather than by another name which I felt came to too close to my real giiven name but probably due to my messy handwriting Florence was misinterpretated as Prudence.
on pg. 362 in the notes Michael Newton states that in writing to him I said that I remembered my comment to Janice that "linked our father to the Black Dahlia murder as a joke'' but he opined that my statement was untrue because I'd written her around that same time that I was wondering if our father had commited the murder.
What happened was that I ran the idea of the possibility that our father killed Elizabeth Short by Janice in the form of a joke because I didn't want to cause her to suddenly pounce on the idea and confabulate it into a false memory and in writing him about it later I deliberately didn't make myself clear.
I was hesitant about telling him I had experienced Janice's mixing up of her memories coming back from the pastwith what she'd picked up from various sources about others personal trauma experiences and softened what I really wanted to tell him for fear of being disowned by Janice.
There would come I time when I would eventually stop all contact with Janice almost up until the time she died but for now, I was terrified that she'd disown me and afraid cross her. I adored my big sister.
Janice didn't want me to tell Mike my doubts about the reality of her memories - like a memory of our maternal grandfather molesting her in a bathtub that didn't yet exist inside of a bathroom that didn't yet exist. When Janice was small our grandparents had only a bathroom without a bathtub. It was an antique house with a tiny so-called bathroom containing only a pull chain toilet and a tiny sink.
The bathroom Janice thought she remembered was installed in the house inside of a large walk-through closet by a family who owned the house many years after our grandparents died and they were good enough to allow Janice and me to come inside and look around in December1988 our mother's last winter before she died.
I told Mike about the confabulated bathroom memory close to the book publication deadline and he then asked if I had any more surprises up my sleeve before the book was due out or words to that effect. My take on that was that he had turned somewhat hostile towards me for bringing up something he didn't want to hear.
He reported my comment about the bathroom memory to Janice who in turn became very angry with me and threatened - as she was wont to do -to disown me. In those days I lived in fear of Janice disowning me. I had asked Mike from the time he first wrote to me introducing himself to help find the truth because I felt it would help Janice in the long run. Out of 61 reader reviews on one popular online book site most are not good and the average number of stars (on a scale of 1 to 5) comes to only 2.
By 1989 knew Janice believed our father murdered some women because she said memories were first popping up in her dreams and then hitting her soon after as though she were experiencing them in the moment but at the same time I had already become aware that she brought others' experiences into her memory recall as though these experiences had happened to her. I was trying to be cautious while trying to find out if any of her dreams-turned memories bore any resemblance to the Black Dahlia murder because of my own suspicions about him.
My cautiously worded make believe joke that was worded, 'You may as well blame him for the Black Dahlia too!' started her obsessing on the idea so it was my fault that she went down that road. She phoned me five days after I ran my "joke" by her and was off and running asking me why I'd made that joking remark. It was then when I told her (while groaning inwardly) about the physical resemblance between my friend whom our father had flirted with and Elizabeth Short's picture on the book cover. Then I wrote her further about my worries about our father. I never gave permission to Janice to share my letters to her with Michael Newton.
In a later book Mike included the Black Dahlia murder as unsolved even though he had done the majority of the writing of Daddy Was The Black Dahlia and had contacted Janice about writing it after seeing her on a talk show discussing the case and what she believed were her recovered memories of witnessing the murder at the hands of our father in our garage. Did he ever believe her or did he only pretend to?)
Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel Arcade New Edition, 2003
(I can certainly understand why Steve Hodel suspected his father had killed Elizabeth Short after seeing the so-familiar looking photo in his late father's little photo album and finding out his father had been a suspect. In several photos familiar to the American consciousness Elizabeth Short, another attractive brunette was pictured wearing a similar flower in her hair. I think that like me, Steve Hodel had the "heebie jeebies" about his father because of how he was when Steve was a child and his father's proximity to the areas in Los Angeles and Hollywood where the Black Dahlia roamed.)
Childhood Shadows by Mary Pacios Author house, 1999
The Curse of the Black Dahlia by Jacque Daniel Digital Data Works, 2004
The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, The Mogul And The Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles by Donald Wolfe Regan Books, 2005
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy Mysterious Press, 1987
(This book was given to me in early 1989 and it was the first time I'd ever seen a photo of the Black Dahlia or read about her although since around the age of 10 or 12 I'd on rare occasons heard the Black Dahlia murder mentioned and thought it sounded mysterious but had no idea where or when it happened. I did hear of it in 1987 on television when the novel came out as well but never had enough curiosity to check further into it until I was given it along with several other books.)
My Dark Places by James Ellroy Vintage Books, 1998
(Janice Knowlton / The Black Dahlia Lady is mentioned briefly in several places as having phoned Mr. Ellroy.)
Dishing Hollywood: The Real Scoop On Tinsletown's Most Notorious Scandals by Laurie Jacobson Cumberland Press, 2003
( chapter on the Black Dahlia contributed by Janice Knowlton)
Books / Articles about repressed memory / depression, anxiety, etc
Compelled: A Memoir of OCD, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder And Faith by Tim Blue Amazon Kindle Book, (Year)
(Locations, 206-10 "after my own bout with suicidal thoughts, I will never again offer the common refrain regarding suicide-that it's SELFISH...Suicide is despair in action-true despair personified. No one who has some hope left kills himself.")
Mom's Crazy: Her Bipolar Memoir by Jo Carroll Lewald Amazon Kindle, 2012
Searching For Memory: The Brain, The Mind And The Past by Daniel L. Schacter Basic Books, 1996
The Seven Sins Of Memory: How The Brain Forgets And Remembers by Daniel L. Schacter Houghton / Mifflin, 2001
The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories And Allegations Of Sexual Abuse by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham St. Martin's Griffin Edition, 1996
Lost Daughters: Recovered Memory Therapy And The People It Hurts by Reindeer Van Til Wm B. Eedermans Publishing Co, 1997
My Lie, A True Story Of False Memory by Meredith Maran Jossey Bass, 2010
Once Upon A Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder And The law by Harry McLean (about Eileen Franklin Lipsker and her repressed memories) Island Books, 1994
Books / articles directly connected to Janice's confabulated memories
My Father's House: A Memoir Of Incest And Of Healing by Sylvia Fraser Collins Paperback, Toronto, 1987
( Janice told me of memories that too exactly matched Sylvia's to have not been unconsciously taken to be her own.)
And The Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson W.W. Norton and Company, 1976
(Janice had memories exactly matching memories of incest and sexual abuse by our father and sexual abuse by our father's friend "Buck" as were told about in this book. Buck was a real person written of in this book.)
The Courage To Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis Harper, 1994
Janice contributed 9 to this
Poems for The Healing Journey collected by Lana Bateman founder of Phillipine Ministries Barbour & Company, 1992
Books / articles connected with Janice's history
Road Crashes Fatal For 12 Tulsa Daily Sun, Oct 6, 1962
(This article stated that my brother and father burned to death but the coroner reports listed both deaths as skull fractures. They were killed instantly.)
Author 'Convinced' she knows who killed Lynn teen in 1941 by Debra Glidden Lynn Daily Item, March 5, 2005
(Joan Pinkham, book author, who has done massive research on the murder of Frances Cochran interviewed Janice a number of times.)
News Obituary of Janice Knowlton titled; Janice Knowlton, who asserted her father was the Black Dahlia Killer by Dennis McLellan Los Angeles Times December 20, 2004
Shortly after Janice died I came across this poem...
Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him. He was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked; But still he fluttered pulses when he said, "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich, much richer than a king- And admirably schooled in every grace: In fine, We thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked and waited for the light, And went without the meat and ate the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.
- Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1897
I first became aware of this poem not long after Janice died. Janice, like Richard Cory was a person who radiated star quality and attracted admirers throughout her lifetime. She truly "glittered when she walked."
Janice was much more that that, she was someone who reached out to others in need personally, like cleaning, cooking and running errands for a disabled neighbor, feeding stray cats and being involved in the spay strays program and singing at events for Childrens Hospital in Orange County, California. She reached out to a 22 year old young woman on trial for killing her infant son while suffering from post partum psychosis, contributing a thousand dollars to her defense fund that she could ill afford and accompanying her to and from court out of compassion.
In all too many cases by people who never met the real Janice she was called a kook and worse by readers of her book. By writing this memoir I want others to know the real Janice and I want to reach out to others who have lost a beloved sibling to suicide just as others like Kathleen Finneran, Michelle Linn Gust and others have done.
My first memories begin in California in 1945. This is one of them
Daddy ordered us kids into the lineup, " Line up in front of the stove!" he ordered. Scared and trembling we lined up in order of our ages. Garry first, then came Janice, Mem and me. I began to cry when it came my turn to be grilled as to did I or didn't I stir his nails around in his toolbox.
"Shut up and stop sniviling or I'll give you something to cry about!" he shouted, shaking his fist in front of my face. Later on when I was old enough to know about the holocaust and find out about how the detainees were treated I thought of my father. He didn't kill us but I always feared he would. I compared him in a poem I wrote years later to a rooster pecking at the hens and little chicks to show them who was boss.
The above memory was of an incident that took place in our kitchen on Texas Street in Westminster, California. My first memories begin there. The stove in question was a white one with black trim and was one of those long legged little ones popular in the 1920's, with a high back and a shelf up above. The oven was on the right and the four gas burners were on the left.
At a happier time my father bragged about how much better a job he could do when cooking pancakes than my mother and at that time he laughed along with us when his pancakes burned. He was up and down with his moods. Years later l bought a miniature replica of that stove when l built a dollhouse replica of that house in 1993.
I was about to turn four when we moved to our little four room house in Orange County from Lynn, Massachusetts. Too many of my early memories are of my father brutalizing my mother, my siblings and me. Many years later I wrote a poem titled " After The Rooster Was Gone" that expressed how I felt after my parents separated the year after that incident.
A bit of my poem was printed in my sister Janice's and Michael Newton's book titled, Daddy Was The Black Dahlia Killer by Simon & Schuster in 1995. I wrote about how estactic we kids felt after the rooster, our dad, was gone, how we played in the now empty chicken coop, made noise, made miniature car tracks in the back yard with our brother Garry's little matchbox size cars ( a memory of Daddy stopping us from doing so because it messed up the neatly raked dirt ) laughed out loud and picked peaches off the peach tree without fear of being hit ( a memory of being told to pick a peach and being yelled at for taking a bite out of it because I hadn't heard him say it was for after supper instead of right away ( because he didn't say it. He just assumed we knew what he meant ). I couldn't even explain to him that I'd misunderstood because he would thought I was complaining and would have slapped me.
To this day, I most often don't explain a misunderstanding or protest even when it would benefit me because of my early training. When I do it's usually in writing after I've had time for the panic feeling to abate and have had time to collect my thoughts.
After The Rooster was Gone (circa, 1947)
We played In the henhouse After the rooster Was gone.
The dogs No longer whimpered After the rooster Was gone.
We became rowdy In our ecstasy.
We blew tin horns And beat On pots And pans, After the rooster Was gone.
We wept In relief.
We rode on tricycles To the farthest stretches Our imaginations Could reach,
After the rooster Was gone.
- Copyright, Beverly Fournier, 1990
1950, When Janice Left
When I was eight Janice went to live with Daddy and our stepmother. She and Mama had a big row because Janice wanted to live with them and Mama eventually gave in. I wish I'd been old enough to understand what was happening and why and intervened.
I didn't know until many years later that Janice left because she thought our mother didn't love her. Janice from then on, bounced back and forth between our father and our paternal grandparents homes but refused to come back to live with us.
Postscript (Circa, 1958-1959)
I had My childhood. Where was Jan? After the rooster Was gone.
First marriage, George and Marjorie Knowlton, 1933 - 1947
Second marriage, George and Kathleen Knowlton, 1951 - 1962
Knowlton children and birth dates in order;
Garry, March 1935
Janice, January 1937
* Madeyn, September 1939
Beverly, May 1941
Marjorie Jr. September 1943 - died May 1946 pneumonia
Sandra, September 1945 - died May 1946 pneumonia
Stepchildren and children of George by second marriage
*Dianna Finn, stepchild born 1939 (lived with grandmother)
*JoHanna Conlon, stepchild born May 1941
*Melanie Knowlton, born November 1952
Kevin Knowlton, born January 1959 - died October 1962
(car accident but very ill with leukemia at time of death)
* fictituous names
I wish to thank Ann Rule a true crime writer who befriended me and encouraged me to write my memoir. Ann Rule is the author of an impressicve thirty books.
My big sister's name was Janice Gail Knowlton. She lived in Anaheim, California. She was a singer, artist, poet, writer and publicist, but for the last few months of her life she was fighting a battle with clinical depression and panic disorder. Janice died on March 5, 2004 and the coroner's office declared her death a suicide. No one close to her believed it, not even her psychiatrist.
Janice had always been a fighter and had been through many bouts with depression before. In 1990 Janice claimed to have remembered seeing our father murder Elizabeth Short in our garage in Westminster, California and she wrote a book about it. Fourteen years later Janice died still believing that "Daddy was the Black Dahlia killer."
~ Lee Trainor's Memories ~
In 2009 * Lee Trainor a man my age emailed me and told me of a memory he had as a child of five that appears to back up Janice's report of her memory of our father killing Elizabeth Short in our detached garage in Westminster. He first began emailing me in 2008 but I feared he was a scandal sheet press reporter digging up a story about my late sister.
After months of pussyfooting around on both our parts he sent me a picture of himself as a taller than average five year old looking like and dressed like my big brother Garry. He included a hand-drawn map of what appears to be our property in westminster as it appeared before the house next door was built soon after the murder and decades before our original house and garage were torn down and others and the new fire station built. Lee's map doesn't match our property exactly but it comes close.
Our yard had a gate in the chicken-wire-like fencing to the left of the front of the garage and off of the driveway opening onto a cement walkway. This walkway led to the screened-in porch off of the kitchen. Our all-on-one-floor house was turned sideways so that what should have been the front door (living room end) was farthest from the driveway and garage looking out on our vegetable garden, a chicken coop and a goat house with a corraled-in area for the goats.
Somehow I used to be able to get out of our fenced in yard a different way than via the front gate and cut through the back yards heading to my friend Lupe's house so possibly there was an opening behind our garage before a new house was built on the empty lot to the right (beside ours if one stands facing our lot).
I see the house I remember being built, on google earth. It's painted green and is fenced-in around the front and sides by a chain link fence. The poplar trees I remember are behind that house. I suspect the fire station may have taken some of our land as well as their's by eminant domain because the line of Poplars is no longer in their back yard but instead is enclosed within fire station property. Illinois Street no longer runs through to Westminster Boulevard but instead is a dead end street.
Lee remembers being in the passenger seat of his father's car when he was five and being driven to a house where his father got out and told Lee to stay in the car. Lee grew tired of waiting and he remembers entering the yard from a back gate which he believes was between the garage and the house. He remembers seeing a girl crouched down in the yard and seeing a trench dug in the yard. He heard a young woman's muffled voice screaming inside the garage. He said to the girl that he was going to look in the garage window but the girl told him not to and then his father came out.
Lee said he carried this memory since that time in his childhood and that he became quiet and something of an introvert. He speculated that he did see something he shouldn't have in that garage but repressed it and that his father gave him a warning that frightened him.
Donald (Gibby) Gibson's memories in a phone call
Did Gibby confuse the name "George Hodel" with the name "George Knowlton? Shortly before my sister and Mike Newton's book came out in 1995 but too late to be included in the book, a man in his senior years named Donald "Gibby" Gibson contacted my sister by phone telling her he had been employed by the sheriffs department in LA shortly after the Black Dahlia murder, became interested in the case, and had seen our father's name in the case file. He said that he thought our father was the top suspect in a conspiracy involving several people.
After so many decades had passed I tend to wonder it Gibby mis-remembered our father's name in the Sheriffs Black Dahlia file and it was really George Hodel's name he saw. Couldn't the Hodel and Knowlton surnames have been confused in his memory? If our father's name was in the file wouldn't someone else working in the sheriff's Department have remembered?
Later on, in 1999 during a visit to California I heard my sister's taped recording of this call. It was a rather long conversation covering many subjects including Gibby's teenage years as a midget racecar driver. Gibby said he was told not to try to investigate that case. I think he said during their rather long conversation that he was only employed by the sheriffs office for three years before changing jobs and had joined in late 1948 or early 1949 two years after the murder.
Another senior age man who contacted Janice was Thad Stephan who introduced himself as a former police detective involved with the Black Dahlia case. Thad claimed he had ben present at the autopsy and that he had taken notes which he copied and sent to Janice. He told her that some of the things she said she witnessed as far as the locations of some of the wounds on the body and some other things matched up with his notes. He asked Janice not to reveal his name. Thad Stephan died sometime betwen 1997 and 2001.
"My uncle was the top detective in all blood cases in L.A."
In 1991 Janice was a guest on the Larry King show along with Terence Keane, director of a Veterans Program in Massachusetts for those suffering from PTSD. There was a problem with the telephone connections during the show but despite that there was one particularly interesting caller named, da da dada etc. (look at the DvD) who claimed that his uncle whom he was named for was the chief detective for all blood cases in the Los Angeles Police Department at the time of the Black Dahlia murder.
*Harmon (? Harmon ?) and (? ? harmon) was one of the names ( each man having three names) and Janice, and later, Mike Newton were unable to track down the caller or find out any information on his uncle or on him. The Black Dahlia's niece Valerie Reynolds had left a written piece for Larry King to read out loud during she show but he flubbed up a few words making it sound like the police department in Los Angeles was going far to protect the killer and his family rather than to .... (look at dvd) This took place before Janice said she remembered that Elizabeth Short and our father had been involved together in child pornography and worse. I was dismayed that Janice came out with this unintended (because she believed it) cruelty about Elizabeth Short causing more unnecessary heartache for the family.
Janice's review of her book
On the customer reviews page of Amazon Books online site my sister Jan wrote that Michael Newton was the person who wrote Daddy Was the Black Dahlia even though the front and inside information state that the book is by Janice Knowlton with Michael Newton. I contributed several hundred pages of family background to the book which, along with Janice's has a definite masculine twist to it (in my opinion) as summarized throughout the book by Mr. Newton.
In her Amazon review Janice also brings up the information about the phone conversation between Donald (Gibby) Gibson and herself.
I believe my father was indeed capable of murder and, in fact, he did murder or kill "in self defense" one, if not two men. My grandfather George Franklyn Knowlton told Janice in January 1971 right after our grandmother's death about a time when my father killed another man.
The sheriff in the town where it happened contacted my grandfather and told him my father, a teenager at the time, had killed another young man in self defense. I don't know where this happened or anything more about it that was told to me at the time except that the sheriff didn't charge my father and my grandfather drove to where it was and brought my father home.
This incident happened during a period of time when my father was hitchhiking around the country working here and there in the depression years. He was a teenager and had quit high school.
Years later my stepmother told of a time when our father got into a fight at work and killed another man with a pickaxe. I don't know if this was the same incident my grandfather spoke of or another one entirely but I believe that what Janice said was told to her by my grandfather was something he really told her, and not a false memory, because January of 1971 was more than seventeen years before Jan began telling of her recovering memories the majority of which l had reason to doubt the validity of.
Jan remembered when she found some old letters in our paternal grandparents attic written by my father to them in those years that my grandmother made her promise not to ever tell anyone about. She said that no one must know any of the places where my father went in those years.
Lynn Highlands, The Frances Cochran Murder, July1941
When I was two months old and my family was living in Claremont, NH a 19 year old woman who lived in the vicinity of Lynn Highlands, a section of Lynn Massachusetts that our family would move to in the late summer or early fall of 1943, was murdered after she was seen getting into a car with a man who physically resembled my father. The car her drove matched one he drove with wooden spoke wheels.
Although we were living in New Hampshire at the time of the murder my parents had family and friends living in Lynn Highlands and would visit them from time to time so it's not out of the sphere of believability that my father could have been the man who picked her up at the botton of the hill when she got off the bus and started the long walk up the hill. The witness said she seemed to know him and described him as having a swarthy complexion and dark, slicked back hair like my father. Both Frances Cochran and Elizabeth Short lived in close proximity to and / or frequented areas where my father hung out namely Long Beach, California and Lynn Highlands.
Surrounded by Orange Groves ~
We moved to Westminster, California ( originally begun as a religious community in the 1900's ) a dozen years before it would be incorporated as a city in 1957. It was a sleepy little place surrounded by orange groves when we lived there. Nearby was another, much smaller unincorporated few square blocks called Midway City.
Westminster Memorial Park where our baby sisters were buried after they died in 1946 is partially located inside the bounds of Midway City. When Westminster decided to incorporate, the inhabitants of Midway City refused to join and it continues on as an unincorporated area still taking up only a precious few blocks.
~ The Fourth Child ~
I was born at Claremont General Hospital in New Hampshire on Thursday, May 8, 1941 at 7:55 P. M. according to the information on my original birth certificate. I was my parents fourth child and third daughter. My brother told me I was born when our family lived on 40-A River Street but said that was only one of three addresses we lived at in the year and a half we were there.
The Sugar River ran behind out house. There was a road behind our house that ran down to a lower level by the river's edge. I used to have a recurring dream of living by the water and the water flooding the area up to our back porch. A second variation of the dream had us living in a house on the beach that was up on stilts. we had to rush to safety because water was flooding in and over the beach and we were afraid it would rise high enough to enter our house. we were hurrying to escape. Later on, Janice found out that once while we were living there the Sugar River overflowed and the water did come up to our back door after flooding the road and homes below us.
The Fifth & sixth Children ~
I remember nothing about Midgie's birth and nothing about her existence until we were living in California after I was four years old. I think she was born while we were living on Butler Street in Salem or after we moved to Lynn. It was most likely after we moved to Lynn because sometimes our mother would say she was born in Lynn and correct herself saying she was born in Salem. Records show it was Salem Hospital.
My only real memories of Midgie involve a time when she was sitting on the living room carpet tearing up magazines and I worried that our father might suddenlycome home and beat her for it. I told my mother who reassured me that he wouldn't because Midgie was "just a baby"
The other memory was of the three of us younger kids, Mem, Midgie and me taking turns having our pictures taken on a pony when the pony and picture man came by our house. Garry and Janice must have been in old enough to be in school and to have school pictures done. Our parents didn't own a camera. Sandra was almost a newborn and my parents figured they would have her picture taken when she was old enough to sit up and whenever the traveling "non-pony" man came by but she died before that could happen.
They had only two professionally taken photos of Sandra from the funeral home. Years later after my mother died when I became more introspective and curious about my family history I had an artist friend do a pastel of Sandra but more recently I did a sketch. In both portraits her eyes are open and she has a little smile on her face.
A the time Midgie died - and Midgie was first to die - the only photo they had of her was as an infant and since she was 2 1/2 when she died they had two professionally taken photos done of her. They hadn't bought the pny photos taken the previous September because money was tight as always and the didn't know whether or not the pony man would still have the negatives. He did, and they then bought the photos of Mem, me and Midgie and had a photographer take pictures of the four of us remaining kids in our living room. I think they were running scared of anything else happening to any of the rest of us.
Our parents weren't far off in their reasoning because many years later our father and his second wife, Kay, would be heartbroken when their son, my youngest brother, Kevin, would come down Acute Mylogenous Leukemia the most deadly form of leukemia known which was then considered to be terminal and Kevin was expected to die from it soon when he died in a highway accident along with our father instead.
I wish my early memories weren't so scarce because the only real memory I have of Sandra is the one of her after she had just arrived home from the hospital shortly after birth. I don't remember interacting with either one of them although I was told I did. I think most people remember more than I do of their early years.
Cousin *Bud's memories
Bud Barton a cousin of mine who grew up in Beverly but is ten years older than me visited me the day of my mother's funeral. He didn't attend the funeral by dropped by my house later that day in July 1989. In 2001 he wrote the following to me in a letter dated May 26, "I was fourteen when my father ands I were at you folks place in Westminster, California and most of what happened I can remember. Your dad (to be continued)
Saying goodbye to Garry
The beginning of this was written before we rushed to North Carolina to visit my brother Garry before he died. Interestingly enough we stayed in a rented townhouse condominium on Topsail Island called The Summerwinds. It was beachfront property and was up on stilts as were all of the other dwellings on that very long island made up of three small cities. The one we stayed in was called Surf City. This setting too resembled my dreams. Perhaps, after all, one was an unrecalled memory of the past... and the other... a premonition?
About a year later I looked up Surf City and discovered that the city seal has two dolphins on it. The day before we drove to North Carolina to visit my brother for the last time I found a dolphin on an elastic band in my parking lot and used it as a page holder for a book I was reading. The condominium we stayed in at Surf City had a bedroom with twin beds that my sister Marilyn and I used. It was decorated in dolphins - dolphin lamps, bedding, curtains, pictures and knickknacks.
Later on sometime after Garry died I told my brother's wife Erika about the dolphins and she told me Garry had liked to sit on the beach and watch them in the surf. It was one of the last things he was able to do before he was finally housebound.
~ Claremont or Newport NH to Salem, MA ~
I think we were probably still living in Newport, NH when my big brother Garry started first grade. I had been born at Claremont General Hospital while we were living at 40-A River Street in Newport (with the Sugar River right behind our house) just four months before Garry started first grade.
I only discovered on January 4th of this year (2013) that the address where we lived when I was born has been wrong all these years. ur home on my original birth certificate states that our address was at 40-A River Street, Claremont but Claremont only has a River Road and there is no river running behind that address. Old photos bear witness to our address having been in Newport and so does google earth. So does the fact that Garry couldn't get a copy of his school record from Claremont. Now we know why.
Garry told me we lived at three different addresses in what he thought was Claremont and moved from Claremont to 20 Tremont Street in Salem, Massachusetts near Mack Park sometime in 1942. That was another address I may have remembered in a dream years later. I sketched the cellar in my dream and found out from a woman living next to where our home had been before it burned down in 1965 that the cellar had been exactly as in my dream. By this time the house had been gone for many years but the woman, who owned the house directly behind it was still there to describe the place. She pointed to her flower garden in the center of her big front lawn and told me the back door of our house had been right there.
I looked up all the addresses our mother and father had lived at during their fourteen year marriage. There were fourteen listed in city directories but we lived at others for only months in between that don't show up in records. I know there were at least 16 and they only owned the last residence we lived in. It was a four room house on Texas Street in Westminster, California at 7322 First Street not far from Westminster Memorial Park where our two little sisters were buried the year after we moved there.
~ Parents' Birthplace & Early Days ~
Our parents were born and raised in Beverly, Massachusetts and married on September 24, 1933 in Plaistow N.H. They kept their marriage a secret for six months because they couldn't afford to rent an apartment. That, according to my mother. A few years ago I was told by my aunt Betty that my father's mother never wanted my parents to marry. My grandmother was very fond of my mother and warned her not to marry my father because of his bad temper.
I found out years later from an article in the newly revived Beverly Citizen newspaper that my father and four friends were arrested in 1934 for housebreaks, automobile break-ins and face-to-face armed robberies. I remembered that my aunt Norma, my father's sister, had once mentioned something about my father and some of his friends having been caught stealing, but I had never realized the seriousness of what they had done.
These were crimes which covered several months. I wondered if that had been my father's way of trying to raise money to begin a home for himself and for my mother. I don't even know whether or not my mother ever found out. If she did I believe my father would have lied and made it all sound more innocent than it was, throwing the blame on his friends and making it look as if he had innocently been present along with the guilty parties when they were caught.
My father's sister did know about my father's exploits and mentioned it to me one time many decades later but by that time her memory had faded and it was explained as just one incident or at least that was how I perceived it. My mother was in love and would have believed whatever my farher said.
~ Not A Little Dear ~
The movie Bambi came out just before or after I was born and I ended up with the nickname Bambi. This was either because of my big eyes and skinny legs or because I was NOT a little dear depending on who you believed, my father or my mother.
Bambi remained my nickname until I was about six and a half and a big girl, probably a 5th or 6th grader, at the Ryal Side School ( later renamed the winifred p. upton School after the ancient lady who had first become principal of the school at only twenty two when the school first opened in the 1920's) teased me about my nickname at recess. I demanded of my family that NO ONE ever call me by that nickname again.
l think Garry attended second grade in Salem, Massachusetts while we were living at 20 Tremont st. I don't know which school he went to. He probably attended with Janice who would have been starting first grade the year after him. She just made it into school the year after Garry who was almost two years older because the cut off date happened to be on her birthday which fell on January eighth. In the 1990's this would be changed so that children would have to be of age by September first.
By 1943 we were living on 49 Butler street, still in Salem. My sisters Janice and Madalyn remembered sliding in the winter on this street which is on Gallows Hill, the area where thirteen women were hanged for witchcraft.
Mama and Daddy's first apartment was on Cabot street Beverly at number rear 156 1/2. It was behind a shoe store where Marilyn and I in later years would look at our skeletal feet through a foot xray machine before these were outlawed. We must have xrayed our feet hundreds of times while stopping in on the way back and forth between our maternal grandparents home on 30 Bartlett street and ours. Janice was born nearly two years after Garry and after they'd moved to 20 Blaine Avenue.
Garry was born at Salem Hospital and Janice was born at Beverly Hospital. Marilyn and Midgie were born at Salem Hospital. No one ever explained to me why these four who were born in the same state and general area along with Janice, were born at Salem Hospital by the same doctor but Janice wasn't born there as well. Why I've wondered were only the first, third and fifth born in the same hospital.
I was born out of state due to necessity as was Sandra but Janice wasn't. Maybe my mother went into labor too quickly and too late to make the trip to Salem Hospital, just over the bridge, in time for Doctor Cunney to deliver Janice.
My father was working at Ripley Brass Company in New Hampshire when I was born. He was a moulder in several factories that made cast iron items but also worked as a milkman in Lynn and in California. I first found that out from reading a newspaper article about our old house in Lynn Highlands in 1992.
~ Recovered Memories...Or Not ~
By 1988 or 89 Janice believed she had a recovered childhood memory of our father running a man over with his car one winter day when we were living tin Lynn Highlands, a section of Lynn, Massachusetts near High Rock Tower, the highest hill in Lynn, and burying him in the cellar of a three decker where we lived on the second floor. Hence, the Lynn Item article many decades later. However, years later in the late 1980's or early 1990's the police there didn't take her seriously and the owner, the niece of the original owner refused to have the cellar dug up on the basis of a recovered memory. The cellar, according to Janice had been composed of dirt when we lived there between 1943 and 1945 but had since been cemented over.
I had my doubts about the reality of Janice's memories but there was a lot in the news at the time about the phenomenen of repressed memory. In the late part of 1989 (SEE MY OLD NOTES TO CHECK ACTUAL DATES) or early part of 1990 my neighbor *Betty gave me a stack of paperback books and one of theres was James Ellroy's novel, The Black Dahlia. On the cover was a picture of Elizabeth Short and seeing it was something of a jolt to me bbecause she looked a lot like my friend *Mariel, a friend dating back to our elementary school years who my father had made a kind-of pass at during a rare visit to our home (after 6 years or so) when we were teenagers.
Many or most of my parents chosen apartments over the years of their marriage were on the second floor. Because I'm imaginative, I can't help thinking that this was appropriate for my Dad who had once been arrested for being a second story or B & E man. I think it would be closer to the truth to assume that most landlords in those days owned the homes that they rented apartments out of and most of them preferred to keep the first floor apartments for themselves and for their own families.
My sister Madelyn would have started first grade at the Highlands School in September of 1945 if we hadn't moved to Westminster, California that spring. Instead, she started at the 17th and Hoover Streets Elementary School that fall with me following the year after. This was the same school that in 1947 became famous for becoming integrated due to a Latino family suing the city so that their little girl could attend with her white-in-appearance cousin.
In every article I've ever read about Mendez vs Westminster our school has been described as the ''whites only'' school with another, much smaller and shabbier school available for non white children. I attended with children with both Latino and non Latino surnames and didn't notice what strange things were going on in the world of adults. I only found out about this landmark case in 2006. This happened eight years before Brown vs The Board of Education, a much more famous case. A postage stamp honoring the Westminster event was issued in 2007.
The Westminster address is the first home I remember. Madelyn, a year and a half older than me remembers this as her first home as well. When I questioned her remark about this having been the first home she remembered yet some of her memories had taken place before our move to California as confirmed by our older brother and sister she explained that she'd believed that all of her memories from Lynn Highlands and Salem were events that took place in Westminster. Shouldn't she have remembered the move to California happening when she was over five and a half years old? It was a rather large event for a child, moving all the way across the country by car.
What was wrong with us that so many of our childhood memories were blotted out. I blame it on my father's wild temper. Some memories are just to hard to bear remembering so we blotted out many of the good ones along with the bad. Many years later Janice would tell us that her therapist had explained to her that she had sub personalities of varied ages and genders which allowed her to cope.
In June 2005 nine months after janice died her best friend Janie Bergen and I discussed the coincidence that both of our families had lived in Lynn but the two had never met until they were both living in California in the early fifties and on the same street where our father lived with Kay, Janice, one of our stepsisters and, later, our half sister and brother. This address was in Garden grove where they finally settled until the dearhs of our father and half brother in a car accident.
Our father owned five single family homes on the street where they lived that he had bought and rented out. the extra income helped because at some point in the mid fifties he broke his back and it never healed right so he and was unable to work. He kept house and watched the little ones while out stepmother worked at an aircraft factory.
~ Lynn Highlands before we moved ~
My side of the conversation in a 2006 email to Janie Berman goes like this; " Although I don't have memories of living there (in Lynn) Madelyn lived on Adams Street in the mid 1970's and we went and looked at our old house a three decker with a bay window in front on each floor and porches in front as well. We lived on the second floor.
My brother Garry was in "Babes In Toyland at the school across the street once. Our mother had a news photo and they wrote Gerry Knowlton by mistake instead of Garry.
When we were living there and I had the backs of my legs run over by a car backing out of our yard but no broken bones presumably because of a very muddy yard with winter snow melting with the spring thaw It wasn't in the newspaper that I could find when I looked in microfilm at the Lynn Library decades later. My mother had such a terrible memory that she couldn't remember if I'd even been taken to the hospital or if the doctor had come to our house.
My sister Marjorie Jr. ( Midgie ) was born at Salem Hospital soon after we moved to lynn. She was only about a year and a half old when we made the cross country trip by car to California. My mother was halfway through her pregnancy with sandra. My father didn't make life with him very easy with his frequent loss of employment resulting in so many frequent moves.
~ A Failure To Bond ~
My mother sadly, never bonded as closely to Janice as she had to Garry. This is borne out by early photos that picture Daddy always holding Janice and Mama always holding Garry. Janice eventually asked Daddy why Mama didn't love her on her last visit with him before he died in a car accident. His answer to her was that Mama did love her but that Mama had been in the hospital far longer after giving birth to her than with the rest of us and Janice had bonded to Daddy because Janice came home a lot sooner than Mama did.
I'm afraid though in my experience with Mama that she always did have her favorites among the children and grandchildren and would at times be downright mean to her non favorites while coddling her favorites. That's sad but true.
I always thought Mama was perfect because she said so and others did too. It came as a shock to me to finally recognize that she was not and that to me was the same thing as desecrating a sacred cow. It still hurts. I'm afraid I was NOT one of her favorites and neither were any of my children. I know that if she could come back and do it all over again she'd do it right next time though. She never meant it to be the way it was. That's what I believe.
Our sister Sandra was born at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange California on September 6, 1945 and she weighed six pounds and two ounces. Fifty eight years later to the day I would become the grandmother of Hailie and she would weigh six pounds and two ounces.
Little Sandra only got to live a little over eight months before she died the following may. I remember very little about her. I remember a day some time after the babies died that my mother had us kids with her downtown in Westminster one day when she was shopping. My mother paused to gaze into a store window. It was a second hand store. There was a realistic size rubber doll in the winddow.
My mother gazed at it with a sad look of longing. She asked us didn't we agree that the doll looked just like Sandra. We agreed. We didn't care whether the doll looked like Sandra or not. We just wanted our mother to be happy and if buying that doll would bring her a little bit of happiness then we wanted that for her. Even now after all these years I wish I could hug my mother and tell her it's allright. Maybe it is. They're together now aren't they?
I was the only one of us four bigger kids to go to kindergarten while we were in California because the public schools in New England didn't have kindergarten classes before the 1960's. My mother told me that she and my father felt that sending me to kindergarten would help me overcome my shyness. It didn't.
I believe this was an all day kindergarten class because my sisters and I began and ended school together at the same times every day. I don't remember my brother walking back and forth to school with us in all the time we went there. He was most likely already in Junior high or walked to school with his friends.
We lived too close to the school to need to take the school bus but once I jumped onto a school bus to go home when I didn't see my sisters right away. Fortunately for me and probably for the bus driver as well, my sisters peeked into the bus when they couldn't find me and there I was right in the front seat. I had assumed that the bus driver would know where I lived even though I didn't even know the name of our street.
I remember being so shy in kindergarten that when I colored a mimeographed picture of an apple dark red and the teacher said to color it over to make it lighter I didn't know what she meant. I couldn't see how coloring over the same picture I'd already colored could make it lighter but was afraid to ask. Even at that young age I was afraid to question any adult for fear of being yelled at and hit. My Dad taught me well not to question adults.
I figured out as I grew older and thought back on it that she must have meant that I should take a new paper with the mimeographed apple print on it and color the new one lighter. Because another teacher had come in to talk to her right after she'd spoken to me she never noticed that I carried the same paper back to my seat without taking a new sheet to work on. I thought mine looked best the way I'd done it anyway because I'd colored it a deep red to resemble a real red delicious apple.
There was only one time when I misbehaved in Kindergarten and this was when Mem said I could spend the day in her class with her. I always believed everything that bigger kids and adults told me so I kicked up a fuss when her teacher disallowed me from going into her classroom. I was already of the mindset to spend the whole day with my sister and I refused to go back to my class and put up a fuss. I was dragged kicking and screaming back to my own. That was a humiliating experience that stung for a long time.
I wish one of the teachers or the principal had been diplomatic enough to escort me and my sister to my class and then had sent my sister back to her class instead of arguing with a five year old who just didn't understand.
I have a crazy memory of us kids snake dancing our way around the flagpole in the schoolyard of that school. We were singing "Oh the monkey wrapped his tail around the flagpole to see his asshole the dirty version. I wasn't allowed to use bad language though so I substituted the word dagpole for the other word.
~ The sixth child ~
My littlest sister Sandra was born four months after we moved to California at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. I remember the day Mama and the baby came home. My father was sitting in a chair next to his and my mother's bed where she was lying with the baby. My father invited us to approach the bed to see our new baby sister up close. My siblings did but I stayed in the living room by the couch on the far wall.
The living room and my parents room were next to each other with a double doorway in between. Their bedroom furniture was squeezed into a dining alcove off of the living room. I was already - by the age of four and a half - wary of my father's quick temper. I knew he could give permission for something but then change his mind and hit us for doing the very thing he'd just given us permission to do. I wasn't going to take the chance that if I approached the bed, as I longed to do, that he would lash out and slap me.
~ Dying Too Soon ~
I have no memory of the six of us kids coming down with first measles then pneumonia. My memories were sparse at that age anyway and maybe I was too sick through all of it to remember. I don't remember being sick at all but only remember that Reverend W. A Havermale came to our house and baptized me. His hand written signature on my baptizm record and my two little sister's death records is scribbled, so I don't know what his first name really was.
I slept in a crib until I was six and a half years old, because there just no more room in that tiny girls room to squeeze in another bed. I shared the room with my bigger sisters Marilyn and Janice who shared a double bed. I remember standing up in the foot of the crib where I had a clear view of Reverend Havermale walking from me to the front windowl area of the kitchen mumbling a bunch of - what sounded to me- like mumbo jumbo.
I didn't know how to react so I squeezed out a laugh and was immediately shushed up by my mother. By this time, our two little sisters were already dead. Midgie died at home but I don't know which one of my parents discovered she had died or whether both parents sat up with her and witnessed her death. I don't know why she wasn't in a hospital.
My mother said later that the hospitals were overcrowded because of the measles epidemic being so virulent that year. My mother said it was because of the servicemen still coming back from the war zones and bringing it home with them.
Years later my sister Janice found out from a relative that Sandra who died nine days after Midgie and in a hospital had experienced a seizure before she died. When as an adult I later asked my mother about the little ones deaths I was told that Sandra's veins had collapsed making it impossible to ger an IV into her.
My mother also told me that when we school age children first began coming down with measles my parents were told to bring all of us who hadn't yet become ill to the clinic for gamma globulin shots to lighten the measles when the rest of us came down with them.
My father didn't want to spend any of the money he was saving towards his annual deer hunting trip on on shots so we never got them. Midgie was born a blue baby so having any illness was especially dangerous for her. Recently I found out that blue baby research was originally done at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where my granddaughter Dot is now a law student.
My sister Madelyn has always had a couple of unhappy memories connected with this time. One is that she awoke the morning of Midgie's death sensed something not right about Midgie and asked our father if Midgie was sleeping. Our father yelled at her and made her go outdoors. The other is that our father used to tell a story about how whenever any childhood illness came by Marilyn would be the first one to get it and pass it on to the others.
Madelyn had been first to come down with measles. Therefore after she always blamed herself for the deaths of our two little sisters. The death of Midgie came on the day after the first year anniversary of my father's youngest brother Clifton in World War Two. I was to discover that fact decades later when helping Janice do research for her book.
~ Call me Cliff ~
Our father's youngest brother who we knew as uncle Babe died in Okinawa on May 14, 1945 after a sniper shot him between the eyes. His two buddies came to see my grandparents later, to tell them that Cliff had been assisting an injured serviceman at the time it happened. Clifton Knowlton was a pharmacists Mate in the Navy, which means he was a medic. I don't remember him.
Uncle Cliff was a five by seven inch black and white high school photograph perched on top of our bookcase in the living room. Before entering the service he was on a basketball team in his home town called the Cardinals and he had planned to study medicine under the G.I. bill when he finished his time in the Navy.
Uncle Cliff died on May 14, 1945 but his parents weren't notified until his mother's birthday on June second. I don't know if servicemen came to the house or if it was a telegram delivery. When I was looking for our family history in voting records and old high school yearbooks in the late eighties or early nineties, I saw the words, "call me Cliff" beside our uncle's photo in his 1939 high school yearbook. I've called him that and thought of him as that ever since.
Years later I would discover that my sister Midgie died at home from pneumonia nearly a year to the day later on May 16, 1946, with Sandra dying nine days later . Then, the following year, my father ran away with my future stepmother Kay, on May 15, 1947. These were things I discovered when I looked up our family history in 1989 or 1990 for Janice. These were things the grownups in our family never talked about.
When you're a little kid and even when you're grown it is a long time before you realize that your parents were not just your parents. They were frail human beings with a life outside of just being your parents. They had their own hopes and dreams, joys and disappointments and tragedies too.
Janice was born in January 1937 while our parents were living on 20 Blaine Avenue in beverly. Garry was born while they were living at 156 1/2 Cabot street Beverly in a house behind the satellite post office. It was reached from a side street around the corner. A shoe store next to it on the Cabot Street side had an x ray machine customer's used to see the bones of their feet. Foot xray machines in shoe stores were eventually outlawed but well well before then my sister Marilyn and went in there every time we passed by and x rayed our our feet.
Madelyn was born when our family lived on 38 Bartlett Street a few doors down from my mother's parents Annie and Kenneth Hatch. I think the reason we moved to New Hampshire and I was born there was because someone got our father a job at Ripley Brass Company across the river in Vermont.
Sometime before or after we lived in New Hampshire he worked at another cast iron company on a little dead end street named Tulip Street off of Canal Street in Salem. The building is still there and even though another type of business was in there by the time I knew about it the old name was still on the building when I found it in 1992. It was painted over some years after that. It's a cement block building next to long grass and a swamp that surrounds a pond and they remind me of something I saw in a dream in the early 90's when I was trying to remember my early past because of Janice's so called emerging repressed memories. I saw a similar building near a swamplike area about ten years later in a nearby town called (appropriately enough) Swampscott. Both buildings and grassy swamplike areas resemble the photographs of the area where the body of Elizabeth Short was found.
The place I saw in Swampscott that looked like the place in my dream was a city garage next to a playground. The place is partly up on posts with no cellar, and when it is rainy it has water under it because of a swampy pond area out there. I had dreamed our Dad had our family living in a place that looked just like that city barn so was impressed and curious when my daughter Bev Jr. and I would go there with her little brother Chris, and her two young sons in the early 1990's. I walked all around it the building and told her about my dream and now that I think about it the Leonard Iron Foundry was next to a large building like Swampscott's city barn. For years up until the year 2000, weekend flea markets were held inside.
~ Don't tell them it was us ~
My mother told me our family lived in Hamilton, Masschusetts before Marilyn and I were born. This very well may have been South Hamilton, because my father's younger cousin Buzzy, in his early 70's still lives there with his wife Sandra. I think he's my grandmother Glady's Barton Knowlton's brother's son's son, or her younger brother's son.
I get confused because my grandmother's father, Harry Grey Barton, was married twice and had children the same general ages as her own children. Her mom, Ida Mae, died the year before my grandma was married. She Gladys, was only seventeen years old when she married and Grandpa was twenty one.
My mother told me not to tell anyone in Hamilton - where my friend Dinsi's family moved when we were teenagers - that we were the same family. She felt disgraced because one day my father's hound dogs got loose and ran in front of a steam roller barking. She had to run out and drag them back into the yard with God and everyone looking on and laughing. To make matters even more humiliating for my mother, these dogs didn't even run in front of the steam roller in a regular normal way, they ran backwards facing it and the driver and barking furiously all the while.
~ Forgetting ~
My mother had cloudy memories about her years with my father. Sometimes though, she would remember things that happened as with the memory about the hounds chasing the steamroller. My mother had a chronic problem with iron deficiency anemia almost all of her life. This contributes to memory loss and confusion, because it cuts down on the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. She remembered little things here and there.
She didn't remember any of our birth weights or times of day we were born, but she remembered that I'd had my legs run over by a car in Lynn Highlands before we moved to California. She just couldn't remember when it happened, so that given that we lived there from the time I was two and a half, to just under four, it could have been at any of those ages or any age in between. I think it was just before we moved to California, because in the winter the ground was usually hard and there was usually ice and snow.
My legs were apparently run over at the back of the knees, or they would have broken. The ground had to have been soft in our yard where a neighbor was backing up his car when I fell or maybe threw myself down in a tantrum as my sister Madelyn has said she remembers. If the ground had been hard my legs wouldn;'thave sunk into the mud as I've been told they probably did. Also, I probably wouldn't have been allowed outside to play at a younger age.
~ A miniature Adult ~
Our mother was a child raised as a miniature adult in her family. She was the oldest sister in a family of parents and four girls. Her mother, although she would live into her late eighties, was timid and , presumably sickly. My mother looked after her little sisters and her mother. She was the one to take her mother's place when her father went to his childhood town many miles away to visit sick and dying older reaatives.
She was the one who attended funerals. She was raised in the victorian style to be stolid and polite. She never felt free to show her emotions as her younger sisters did. From the time she was a little girl in school she behaved like a little grown up. Her teacher asked the students as a group what they woold do if they were given money to go to the store for their mother - my sister''s co-writer, Mike, described the chapter in their book about my mother's background as 'New England Gothic' - my mother said she would keep checking her little purse to be sure that the money was still there. The teacher said wryly; " I know you would Margie." I remember my mother always being like that, always too serious, always worried.
~ A fun loving Rascal ~
My father was a fun-loving rascal. He wanted a virtuous girl for a wife and my mother was attracted to his free and fun loving ways. He was the person she wanted to be. The joy wouldn't last long. When it turned out that she was ill with nausea throughout her first pregnancy with my brother Garry he said words to the effect that he was unlucky to have married a woman who was always sick.
He showed no sympathy but only disgust. My mother told me this hurt her so much that the made herself cold and unfeeling to avoid being hurt by him again. She told me she was a person whose feelings ran deep and so she could be deeply hurt. I remember that she could only display affection towards infants and pets.
I, like Janice, missed our mother's affection but it was even harder on Janice than on the rest of us. I never knew just how hard until I read her heartbreaking letter to our mother written when she was a young adult in her early twenties. Janice believed that our mother didn't love her at all. I can't quote it here because it was so painful to read that I threw it away.
~ The First Title Chosen ~
The first title I chose for this book was, Busted, A Wound In The Heart because after my sister died some of her belongings were sent home to Massachusetts from California by freight. They were packed into cardboard boxes. A little teapot I'd bought her for the Christmas of 1988 was "busted."
Another reason I chose the title was because I had made myself believe that Janice died from a heart attack. It was to be many weeks before we found out the actual cause because it took almost two months for the coroner's toxicology report to come back to them and then to be forwarded to us care of our step sister in California.
Our step sister was away from her home a lot working so only checked in for her mail about every week or so. I was in deep denial because the coroner had already told us that she had found no illness or foul play but said we would have to wait for her final report.
~ Just Plain Busted ~
I painted a series of water-color paintings of the teapot to record my feelings about my sister's death after her belongings came by UPS, and before we were sent the coroner's report. The report arrived before Mother's Day at my niece *Jodie's address near Mothers' Day.
My niece waited until she could tell her mother the results in person, but before that would happen, one of my sister's son't phoned my sister and blurted out that the coroder's decision was, suicide. It happened to be Mothers'Day when he phoned her.
My niece and I went up to New Hampshire in her car to see my sister. As soon as we arrived my sister asked her, "Did you tell her?" Jodie said she hadn't she'd waited so that her mother could tell me. I was dumbfounded and as soon as my sister told me, I said I didn't believe it. It was so unlike Janice to just give up.
The little desk shaped, broken teapot became a metaphor for me. On each painting I added a broken heart and the word, "busted" representing Janice's imagined death from heart disease and my broken heart. Later, of course, it would come to represent my broken heart only.
One of my paintings was of the police tape across the doorway of Jan's apartment. Another was of her and her cat Suki returning to gaze at the facade of their apartment building, but they are ghosts. Suki doesn't seem to be aware of this as she stares longingly into the lobby at the elevator doors that lead upstairs to their apartment. Janice gently chides her that they no longer live there.
Janice's mini recorder held some bits of "junk" that had fallen into it. A tiny heart shaped sticker and a tiny safety pin were among these. I wrote about this.
My sister's heart was busted. I found the evidence inside her Mini cassette recorder, One pink heart sticker, One mini size safety pin with The tip broken off And Busted.
Beverly Knowlton Fournier 4-26-04
~ Leslie, SSC Librarian ~
As soon as I saw the coroner's report I went to the library at Salem State College where I was to have become a student that coming fall. With the help of a librarian named Leslie, ( who physically resembles Author, Leslie Rule ), was a huge help to me sitting with me and looking up the medications that Janice took before she died. The medical names were long and hard to pronounce. They were listed in large tomes that weighed considerably in more ways than one.
~ Grieving through art ~
I worked through my grief by finding out as much as I could about Janice's sudden death from the coroner and the police, her most recent emails stored in her computer and through painting, writing and drawing.
~ Excerpts From My Journal ~
Jan 10, 2005, 4:43 PM, Re; Alma D., Janice's close friend. The journal articles are to be read as they stand because they were not written formally.
I got a note from Alma w/2 articles w/photos in them of Jan from the LA Times & I wrote a note w/out indicating I'd cotten the articles & note & I said I & C.J. had been sick & were better & I said was mailing the singing video & I included two 8'' x 11'' photo copies of two of her cute publicity photos & said would find and mail poems and photos later. *She...
* I apparently was interrupted before finishing the thought.
July 9. 2006 ~
My brother Garry died from pulmonary fibrosis in the night between July six and seven 2006.
Today is July 9th and is the 17th anniversary of our mother's death. I sent a prayer to the wall in Jerusalem VIA email on the night of July 6th and lit a candle online at the Church of the Nativity on line in Bethlehem. I prayed for a reprieve so Garry could live longer. A tremendous feeling of peace came over me, and I now believe that was when he passed.
Funny but I also heard something lightweight and metallic fall in that time frame somewhere and if Garry knocked something over I have yet to find out what it was. Maybe he was saying "Fool, you are praying for the impossible-It's just my time on earth has come to a close."
Today is July 31, 2005. It is the last day of the last month my brother lived on earth.
Today is August 1, 2006. Sometime within the past week I became aware that my washer was no longer jumping or " walking " out of place when it spun. I hadn't noticed that it was now level even though to the best of my knowledge no one had leveled it ( I even asked ) The reason turned out to be why I heard something lightweight and metallic hit the floor somewhere in the house the night my brother died. There are metal cookie cutters hanging from clips on a plastic chain on my window curtains. Somehow-some way, one fell from the opposite side of the washer and landed under the back corner of the washer. It leveled the washer~
~ From Garry's New Website ~
Welcome to Garry Knowlton's site. Life is a wonderful gift, full of precious memories that should never be forgotten. Now these memories can be shared so that you too can enjoy them forever. I started to put up this site late yesterday afternoon, but someone needed to go on line, so I waited.
I wanted to put up a website about my big brother before he died because I didn't want to wait till he died and then put up a memorial.. Garry died last night and I decided to go ahead and put up this celebration of his life. I love you bro.
From My Journal ~
July 12, 2006; I missed Garry's wake and funeral. My cat Shilah had to have emergency surgery for a burst tumor. Then, the vet found her blood count too low, at 13, when it should be about 24, so surgery was delayed from the 10th to the 11th, to give shilah a blood transfusion because she had injested a metal object that was putting too much zinc into her system.
The object turned out to be the back of my watch that my husband bought for me in 1963. A dainty watch with two diamond chips. The watch was in a junk drawer in the kitchen that was overstuffed.
Awhile back I had sometimes set one of the three cat food dishes under that drawer area. The time that the vet called yesterday to tell me that both surgeries went well, we were in the middle of a gigantic and sudden thunderstorm that came out of nowhere.
The thunderstorm left us with water up to our front porch steps and filling the college lot behind our house and part of our back yard. So that was what was happening here on the day of Garry's funeral in North Carolina.
~ Finding Family Records ~
In the early 1990's Janice asked me if I would help her out by looking up old family records dating back through the years of our parent's marriage. I found them in the Beverly and Salem, Massachusetts libraries in voting records.
In 1987 Janice believed that she was beginning to recover traumatic, repressed childhood memories. This was a side effect of her surgery in late 1986 for a total hysterectomy. She did allright after her surgery for a while but then her hormone replacement medication was switched from a regular to a generic brand.
The new generic hormone was not really as potent or the same as the brand name she'd been taking. It added to her chronic bipolar condition causing Janice untold grief for the remainder of her life. She had periods of high manic activity followed by periods of deep depression causing her to be unable to do much more than drag herself around her apartment.
Janice's terrible symptoms were accompanied by by severe panic attacks. Jan had always experienced these symptoms, years before they were correctly diagnosed but they became much more pronounced and debilitating after her surgery and with the switch in hormone replacement meds.
Over the years - and especially after the surgery and the failure of the second hormone replacement medication - she tried several different therapists and psychiatrists, seeking help before she settled with a therapist she finally felt comfortable with. This was Jim Frey, who would remain her therapist for the remaining thirteen years of her life and her recovered memories would range from incest to murder to cult involvement to child porn ring activities.
~ A sad and Lonely year ~ For My parents
My mother and father individually and as a couple lived a secret life that I never knew about after my two little sisters died and that I only found out about in bits and pieces well after I had grown up and by that, partially I mean that my parents suffered terribly but kept their grief, for the most part, from their children. I never saw either one of my parents weep over the losses of their two babies. The other part was that they were individuals who kept their hopes and disappointments to themselves.
I was rold that my mother would go out in the yard alone sometimes during the day to hang laundry and cry. My father worked in the vegetable garden and flower beds under a spotlight into the wee hours of the morning, presumably to cry as well.
Maybe the ghost I saw in the bedroom I shared with my sisters was my mother watching my father out of the window as she crept silently around our darkened house when she too was unable to sleep.
~ Running Away ~
My parent's marriage - already on shaky ground - didn't survive the trauma. My father ran away on May 15, 1947 the day between the second anniversary of his youngest brother's death and the day before the 1st anniversary of Midgie's death. My future stepmother went with him. I think she feared he would kill himself and she was in love with him against her better judgement.
He was a moody guy from childhood on and I believe he suffered from Bipolar Disorder, the same disorder that his sister was diagnosed with many years into the future. There was always something N.Q.R. (not quite right) that ran in the Barton side of the family that was spoken of only in whispers.They were gone for about six weeks.
One time when they were still away my future stepmother's husband Pete came beating on our kitchen door. My mother rounded us kids up and herded us into the bathroom in the back of the house to hide from "uncle" Pete. The bathroom had a high window right over the bathtub that was much too high for anyone to see inside of. She climbed into the bathtub, herding us along with her and waited until Pete finished rounding the house knocking on doors and peeking in windows before we came out. Pete was drunk and he was crying.
~ Welfare and The Police Station ~
At some point during this period we ran out of food from the garden and we owed the milkman. My mother presumably must have had to have, ashamedly, gone to the welfare for help and been told by welfare that she had to report my father missing to the police before they would help because I remember a day when my mother had to walk to the police station with us in tow.
On that day I remember I wasn't feeling well so I rode in the baby buggy. The reason I remember this day is because when we got there I saw a man in a cage. To a little kid seeing something like that leaves an impression. I'd seen animals in cages at the zoo sometime or another but never a man. This scared me very much.
After my mother died I found her personal and legal papers from that era in two old purses. I saw the list of creditors she paid after my father sold the house to her for a dollar in 1947. She paid off the welfare Department, the funeral director, the price of the memorial stones, the milkman, the divorce lawyer and the salesman who came around the neighborhood and sold her two pairs of overalls, one pair for Marilyn and and one pair for me. The overalls cost a dollar and a half apiece.
My parents were divorced at the old Orange County courthouse that is occassionally seen in movies made for the theaters and for television today. My mother got an interlocutory decree for cruelty and irreconcilable differences. Interlocutary meant that my parents could reconcile any time before the year was up and have the divorce called off. Before 1947 was over my mother was to reconcile with my father for what I believe was only about three weeks, and only out of desperation to keep all four of us, her remaining kids together with her. It was a rough and sometimes violent three weeks spent of a farm in No. Charlestown, NH during one of the coldest ans snowiest winter on record.
Before my parents were to reconcile though, my father drove us all back to Massachusetts. My future stepmother drove one packed car pulling a trailer and my father drove another. My mother couldn't drive, or rather she could but she couldn't steer properly. My mother had been almost a full five months pregnant and holding her two year old on her lap when we drove out to California in late April 1946. Her beloved little tan dog, Boo Boo had wandered away at a rest stop going there and my parents couldn't find her. She'd been my mother's dog ever since my father gave her to my mother when they were dating Now, she was leaving her babies behind.
If we stopped by Westminster Memorial Park to say goodbye to the babies I don't remember it. I never saw my sisters' graves - that I remember - until August 1999 and I was surprised that their stones appeared to be almost like new after 53 years and at how beautiful they were, with a pair of baby booties engraved on each one. They were side by side under shade trees.
I only remember stopping by the La Brea Tar Pits and my father allowing us kids to stand repeatedly on a small tar pit that looked solid and was in the shape of a medium sized puddle. It would slowly sink lower and lower, when we would scream and jump off.
The tar pits of today look nothing like that. Now they're all fenced in and and surrounded by commercial buildings that grew up around them. My memory of them had them way out in a vast open area with nothing around but the great outdoors. When I looked online to try to find out if there were any photographs of the way they looked in 1947 all I could find was a black and white photograph taken decades before that. It does look like what I remember. I'm the only one of my siblings to remember that experience.
Janice, after hearing me tell what I remembered decades later said she did remember this as well but I feel it was a false memory because she said it was a repressed memory that came back and embellished it with a scary ''memory'' of how our father behaved. After Janice had her terror "memories" decades later she speculated that maybe Daddy was in a frame of mind to hope we kids would "accidentally" sink to our deaths. but I think this was in reaction to my information that our father had scoffed at our mothers expressed worry that we might
~ Broke and in a Broken family ~
We, my mother, my siblings and I, were broke and in a broken family. We were "different" and by that I mean that For the era and the community we were living in we were considered different from the norm. In our parents small, straight - laced home town on the coastline of Massachusetts most families were intact - which meant at that time that a family unit consisted of a father, a mother and one or more children - and starting to prosper financially after World War Two.
In California before we moved east we kids had been blissfully ignorant of our poverty which was now compounded by the divorce and everyone we'd known out there had been in the same financial boat. Indeed, after our father left it was a happier boat to be in. My mother had received many letters from her mother begging her to return to the east coast to live. She said we could stay with her and our grandfather until my mother got back on her feet.
My grandmother made promises she must have meant at the time. My little grandma, Annie, said in her letters that she and my grandfather would welcome my mother and all of us kids into their home and help us out until my mother could find work and a place to live.
My mother must have been homesick in California because she ignored the tiny little voice that must have been running through her head telling her that her mother was not dependable. Once we got to Massachusetts my mother was only allowed to bring Marilyn and me, the two youngest, to live with her at her parents home. Garry and Janice had to stay with our aunt Norma and our uncle Neil.
We only lived divided up in this way for six weeks before my mother in desperation went back with my father after my grandfather suggested placing us children in foster care. After that we moved with our parents to North Charlestown, New Hampshire. We went to the oldest school there, Farwell School. This school has two rooms and still exists as an historical landmark.
I thought it was strange to have to walk down a road to wait for the school bus that had with snow plowed to the side that was much higher than even my big brother's height at thirteen. Not many weeks before then we'd been living in sunny southern California. I didn't remember snow even though I must have played in it before turning four when we were uprooted from Lynn to California.
My mother and father didn't get along any better in North Charlestown than they had in California. I think my mother, having tasted freedom for a time, was more willing to fight back when my father mistreated any of us or her and I remember a big physical fight with pots and pans and other objects flying through the air in the kitchen. After that my we packed up and my father deposited my mother and all of us kids on his parents doorstep back in Beverly.
I remember our family packing up and moving to our paternal grandparents hose from Charlestown, NH sometime just before or just after the Christmas of 1947. Our grandparents had bought new doll carriages for Marilyn and me. They resembled the real ones of the day with grey painted wooden bodies and grey canvas-like sun bonnets and 'boots'f or the feet of the doll to fit into when the carriages were arranged into a position for the dolls to sit.
Not long before we left Charlestown, Janice and I had had a screaming and yelling argument because, Janice, knowing that our grandparents had bought the doll carriages, asked me to give my new-to-me second hand tin doll stroller to a neighbor girl without telling me why. I refused and only gave in after I couldn't take hearing her yell any more.
We used two bedrooms in the finished section of our grandparents attic. Our brother had the front bedroom with the dormer window all to himself while we three girls and our mother had to share the other.
Our uncle and his wife and baby girl were at that time, living in our grandparents second floor apartment and at some point they moved into a new home our uncle had bought or built in the neighborhood. Then, we moved into the apartment and I didn't know this until many decades later, but my sister Marilyn and I shared our father's childhood bedroom. My sister by my father's second marriage told me that she slept in that room following our grandmothers deat in 1971 and that she's seen the ghosts of our father and our baby brother Kevin in the doorway.
Garry had a room to himself and Janice and our mother shared a room. I remember that our uncle and his family's apartment had a different layout than ours and that was because while we were sleeping in the attic, our grandparents were in the process of adding a new kitchen on inside of a storage room at the back of the house. They did the same with the upstairs apartment so that when the apartment became ours, we lost one front room and gained a new kitchen. In fact, I think while it was being finished we still used the old kitchen as both a living room and kitchen combined because I remember the breakfast table being in that room st first. Later, I have a memory of eating meals in the new kitchen and a day when I leaned my forearm on a bee or wasp that had sneaked in through a hole in the screen.
I started first grade (again for the fourth time that school year at the original Ryal Side School in January and was hopelessly behind. Everything the teacher talked about flew over my head. I may as well have been attending school in a foreign country where everyone spoke a different language. My sister Marilyn must have been experiencing the same thing because she too, was kept back a year. Garry and Janice just about squeaked through by the skin of their teeth with low but passing grades.
We walked the seven or eight blocks back and forth to school four times a day because in those days kids went home for lunch during the hour and a half break in elementary school. Garry wasn't with us. He was already in junior high. It was just us three girls and our cousins Brenda amd Neil. Neil always made remarks like; 'Detour dog manure when seeing that in the snow and Brenda acted like a miniature Aunt Norma her mom, by lecturing the rest of us on our apparrel, - was it neat, did we have our mittens on and what have you. My favorite fantasy was that a manhole cover would be left off and she would fall through to China and never come back. I still love Brenda dearly in spite of it all.
One morning, when we were still eating breakfast in the living room slash dining room area before my grandparents turned the unheated back room into a kitchen my sister Marilyn had unbeknownst to us, mixed salt with the sugar in the sugar bowl to get back at Janice for some bad behavior on her part. Janice insisted that the salt taste was caused by morning mouth after just having awakened. Depite Janice's lofty protests I dumped my cereal out and dumped out the sugar bowl and refilled it to prove to Janice and our mom that real sugar didn't taste like salt in the morning.
Shortly after we moved in with our grandparents my sister Marilyn and I met a girl her age named Rusty. I don't remember how we met but was told years later when I asked Rusty - who by that time had changed her nickname to Tini - that my sister Marilyn was bullying me in the front yard so Rusty jumped over the hedge and demanded that Marilyn leave me alone. they argued and then became friends. After that, Rusty began coming to our house. I remember her coming to our upstairs apartment so we must have moved there from the attic sometime between January and when school got out in June.
My grandparents and my mother didn't approve of us hanging out with Rusty. Rusty liked to get into trouble and her mother was a pretty and sexy looking woman who didn't dress like my mother, my grandmother or any of my aunts. She dressed like a teenager in shorts or jeans and wore her long hair down on her shoulders. She was said to be a little wild when her husband was at sea with the Merchant marines, which was most of the time. I thought she was exotic and beautiful though.
Rusty and I played odd make believe games like making mermaids out of our small plastic dolls using socks for the fishtail part of the mermaid. We'd go from yard to yard in the neighborhood wherever the tenants owned a birdbath and that would be our mermaids swimming hole. We'd move on to the next yard as soon as we were discovered and got yelled at.
I think it must have been when we were living in Ryal Side that we began going to the movies downtown once in a while with Garry and Janice looking after Marilyn and me. I think the second movie I saw at a real movie theater (we'd seen free open-air movies at Sigler Park in Westminster, but I was little and usually fell asleep on the blanket) after first seeing 'Fantasia' when we were still in California was 'The Prince and the Pauper' when I was probably seven. It didn't make any sense to me. I was too young yet to follow the story line. I guess I was probably about eight when we saw 'The Boy With the Green Hair' a story about a boy whose hair is turned green by the ghosts of children who had been killed in a war. The green hair was a reminder that war is bad for children. I still wasn't old enough to really understand it but I liked it anyway because of the fascination of seeing a boy with green hair. Those are the only three movies I remember seeing before Janice left home and we moved to the basement apartment on Elliott Street just before I turned nine.
~ The Polio Scare ~
There was a big girl in my grandparents neighborhood in her early teens who was wearing crutches and using braces because she'd had polio. Polio was something everyone feared and going to beaches, movies or anywhere else people congregated was considered dangerous. There was a woman named Gert who for decades, sat in a wheelchair on the corner of Knowlton and Dane streets close to the downtown area near where we moved from our grandparents' house and she greeted everyone walking by. She died around 1995 but was a young adult when Madelyn and I and our friends passed by enroute to Dane Street beach in the summertime. We never knew why she was in a wheelchair, just that she was friendly and we always looked forward to seeing her. At some point after she died in the eighties or nineties someone put up a sign that read 'Gert's corner' and eventually it disappeared.
On those treks to the beach we often took a shortcut through Central Cemetary where Lucy Larcom the poet and many of our other ancestors are buried. We liked to read the names on the funny old skinny stones and imagine that zombies were coming out of the big family vaults to chase us. Then we'd veer back onto Dane Street and always pop the light purple but still unopened flowers in front of a certain house, until the woman who lived there would come out onto the porch to yell at us.
Janice & Mama
I remember Janice being there for a period of time when we lived with and then upstairs from our grandparents. There was a lot of conflict when Janice was with us because she tried to play the little mother bossing us younger girls, telling us to hang up our coats and pick up our toys and many fights would break out between us because of it. Janice was sometimes sweet and diplomatic when trying to get Marilyn and me to tow the line, but more often she did it in a bossy and angry way. That was the reason for the salt in the sugar bowl incident. Another time while we were still in California, Marilyn broke Janice's balloon with a pin after I begged her not to.
My mother would tell Janice to leave us little kids alone but sometimes Janice got unfair treatment too. On the other hand, Janice could be a meanie. She was the one who tricked me into believing no one would eat my cupcakes after showing me a 'safe' place to keep them on a shelf inside the kitchen cabinet, then telling me they had evaporated wrappings and all. These were the same brand that are still around today and come by twos in a clear wrapping in yellow or chocolate with a white fluffy filling.
I thnk the daily bickering among us girls and our mother sticking up for us little kids led to Janice's moving out to our father and stepmother's house. I wonder about what our collective childhoods would have been like if our mother hadn't given in to Janice's demands and allowed her to move out. I think things would have been less peaceful but I also think that our lives may have been better because I used to listen to Janice and take her advice when she wasn't yelling but was explaining instead. Without Janice, I really didn't have anyone to take an interest in me and guide me and Marilyn didn't either and we made some not - so - good choices that would affect us for the rest of our lives.
Probably only a few months after Janice moved out we moved to another neighborhood across from an emementary school in the downtown or older section of beverly. I was going on nine and because I was older the years living there are more clear to me than the earlier years of my childhood. Life at home was more calm and peaceful without the fights between Janice and my mother and Janice and Marilyn.
The best years of my childhood - aside from missing Jan - were between the spring of 1950 and the spring of 1954 when we lived in a spacious basement apartment. I disliked the idea of living in a basement apartment because I disliked anything I considered inferior or common - an awareness brought on by living in our paternal grandparents house where a white linen tablecloth and meals in the dining room with a properly set table were the norm. Other than that I was happy there without interferance by my paternal grandparrents and their adult children who were always quick to criticize our mother and us kids.
Hiding Information / Fudging the truth? ~
Janice asked Joan, her best friend, to have her cat, Suki, euthanized for her because, as she told Joan, she thought she would have to be hospitalized for depression. I just found out today, on July 31, 2007, about that when Joan and I were emailing about a photo of the cat. Unknown to Joan, because I found the emails stored in Jan's computer later.
Janice emailed two friends, one who lived in Oregon and another who lived in Orange County, California, about her cat Suki, who Jance said would have to be euthanized for chronic kidney infections. Janice, however never told Joan about the cat having chronic kidney infections. According to Joan, the only reason Janice had decided to have the cat euthanized was because the cat wouldn't be able to survive, in Janice's opinion if Janice had to be hospitalized for a long time for depression.
Hearing these differing explanations reinforced my sickening conviction that Janice had planned her suicide and carried it out. In a memoir left in her manuscript section in her computer Janice wrote about her little rented house on Tedmar Street in Anaheim where she lived for awhile before moving to the garden apartment on S. West Street. She wrote;
"Why did I name it that? The white victorian house I was drawn to reside in when I first saw it in June, 1987." Janice wrote that she felt she was attracted to the house because it resembled homes in New England that she remembered and that our family had lived in. She went on to say that she had a name for the next place she moved to, the garden apartment on 208 S. West Street in Anaheim;
" I wake today, January 1, 2000, in a new century, living in Reality Cottage, the apartment I moved to when I had to move out of Renaissance House. The place I've made my real home, where I have continued to remember and become conscious. The place I've moved into more and more, driving the ghosts of my abusers out." Reality Cottage was the apartment that Janice lived in from 1888 or 89 until 2001 1hen she moved to Fountain Glen formerly known as "The Fountains" in 2001.
Janice continued on to say that she'd had amnesia about what our father did to her and that this amnesia left her defenseless against any new attacks of violence that her perpetrated against her because she would forget each attack right after it happened. She wrote that she was having what she hoped were the final memories about being in his home with him alone in or around the first of January 1959, the same month that our half brother Kevin was born.
She wrote about believing that our father sexually abused her while the Rose Parade was on television, because she has never been able to watch the parade clear through to the end without blanking out. She thought she remembered that our stepmother had, around that time, separated from our father and that he wanted Janice to move in and keep house for him. She wrote more about Reality Cottage; " Now I feel I understand why my precious home, reality cottage, felt so threatened by such a message invading my spiritual, physical, material home. " Janice goes on to discuss this subject further.
Some of Janice's experience were happy ones, especially before she began believing she'd been a victim of incest. This is one;
Janice once asked her friend *Janie Bergman to come with her to a big, fancy, celebrity party where she was asked by the hostess to sing at her charitible event.
There was a problem in that neither had a decent car to arrive in with proper dignity. Janice solved the problem by telling one of the valets hired to park guests cars that her dusty, dented a bit and filled with a hodge podge of litter was one being used in a movie in the process of being filmed in an unfinished scene. She admonished the valet not to touch a thing on it, even to dust the exterior as it was needed back at the set in the same condition as it was in when it left.
From My Journal
Today is October 20, 2009. Big Paul was crossing in front of a wide alleyway on Derby Street near Congress Street and Hawthorne Blvd last Thursday morning shortly before nine AM when his scooter he was riding (on the sidewalk) was hit by a van coming out. He was just coming onto the open area, just past Brown's Hardware Store when he spotted the van about fifteen feet in and moving towards the street. He thought the van driver saw him on the sidewalk and he continued on his way. The van hit his scooter when it was probably about six feet out from the edge of Brown's. The scooter tipped over throwing him out. There was a crunching noise.
Two people and Big Paul pulled the scooter out from under the front of the van. He rode it into Brother's restaurant at the other edge of the gap and then the EMT's and the police came. The EMT woman asked him if his lips are always blue. She noticed his heart was in arrythmia. He had phoned Joey who had a bad cell phone connection, and then Chris and they showed up after the police had left but while the EMT's were still there and Joey told the EMT's to take his father to the hospital. He was in for about two and a half days.
His heart is still in arrythmia. He might eventually have a little thing like a pacemaker put in to make his heart beat normally. Right now he is on medicine to get some medical issues stabilized. We're all worried.
From my email to Janice's, and now my, friend as well, Jeanne ~
June 2, 2006
Some of my kids don't believe in God. cont...
From my journal
July 7, 2006
Garry died during the night (CONT.)
July 2, 2006
visited Garry & Erika
June 30, 2006
slept at J. & D's to leave for N.C. to l visit Garry in NC
June 29, 2006
phone call that we need to go ASAP to see Garry before he dies
From my journal
Today is September 13, 2006, a Wednesday, but it feels like a Tuesday because I have no class on Monday but I have one a day from Tuesday to Friday. I just came from Professor Fallon's class in Theater History II. He was talking about the Romantics that were so much like the Hippies of the sixties. He was delighted that I out of all the class, GOT what he was talking about. I think he's probably in his mid forties, and he read about the Romantics of 1870, and compared them to the Hippies.
Just recently between late August and September 10th, two unexpected and sad things happened. Steve Irwin the Crocodile man, age 44 was stabbed in the heart by a stingray and died. Then on my son Joey's 44th birthday, Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby girl, but three days later, she awoke to see her 20 year old son, asleep in a hospital chair in her room. She couldn't wake him up because, unbelievably, he had died. Sad things like this happen to non famous people every day but in most cases we don't know the people involved.
A few months after Janice died I began sponsoring a little girl in Manilla named Janice through Child Fund International, when it was still titled, Christian Childrens Fund.
From my journal
Today is August 31, 2009 and my youngest son, chris's 25th birthday. I love him dearly.
On Saturday our beloved Senator '' Uncle Teddy'' Kennedy was laid to rest. He was our senator for forty eight years. Ordinary people were standing out on the Rte. 128 highway here in the rain holding flags and umbrellas with tears and raindrops running down their faces watching the funeral procession drive by on the way to the airport to take the senator first to Washington and then on to Arlington Virginia.
Oct. 18, 2009
My husband' was hit by a van while riding on his battery operated wheeled sidewalk vehicle Thursday morning. The EMT and Er doctor noticed his heart was in fibrillation. He has cardiovascular trouble and COPD so needs to use a medication like coumedan now to prevent clotting. He has a spot on one lung. cancer? bleeding? He has been losing weight since last year without trying to. The driver who hit his motorized scooter and caused him to fall off of it was driving out of a three vans -wide space between two buildings and was facing out not backing out. The driver should have seen the scooter with it's orange flag on a five foot high pole.
Nov. 7, 2009
Joey Jr. my grandson was born last night at 6:53 PM Janice would have loved him. So would Garry.
September 5, 2010
On February 10, I slipped on an icy sidewalk and fractured my right wrist badly. I had to take an emergency leave of absence from college and I stayed with my son Joe and his family sharing a room with baby Joey Jr. for a few weeks. I fell in love with the little tyke.
Now it's September and I'm finally back at school. In the interim my college has become a university.
From my Journal
My cousin *Berta read what I wrote about her bossy ways she had sometimes as a child and commented about it hereon my website, making me laugh. She is such a sweet, funny person and calls herself the grumpy old lady.
From my Journal
I have been taking art classes part time in the day division of a local university majoring in art - mainly the hands-on courses like drawing, painting, collage, illustration and relief printing which will be my final art class there. One can only take advantage of so many school loans, grants and scholarships for so many credits before they have to graduate - if they are ready - or leave. I have to leave and begin repaying my loans, which won't be a problem because I can budget them.
The thing that saddens me is that the university became my home-away-from-home and my salvation after Janice died. In my first semester I wrote a play about losing her in Introduction to Theater Arts.
The second recent event that feels like a little death for me is that about the time I began classes at the university in 2005, I discovered a site of an author I admired. People posting on the author's guestbook befriended me but eventually there was a disagreement between two of my friends from there that was blown out of proportion.
I inadvertantly and peripherally got caught in the middle when one of the two assumed I'd been told some gossip - as she put it - by the other about her. Not a very happy situation as I no longer felt comfortable on that guestbook with the atmosphere changed.
A saving grace is that almost all of the friends I made on the author's guestbook I still have. It is an honor to be considered a friend by them and by the author.
From my Journal, December 18 2010
A Fallen Hero ~ James Ayube II
He was a student at Gables pre-school with my son, Chris even though they attended different schools after that so my son doesn't remember him. He was called James or Jamie interchangeably in those days.
Jamie grew up to be a kind and humane soul who joined the Army but became a medic because he didn't want to kill anyone.
Jamie and another soldier were killed in Afghanistan on December 8, 2010 by a suicide bomber wearing an IED.
From my Journal, August 11, 2010 and Sunday January 2, 2011
I have many of theses journals and not enough room so I am going to look through them and summarize them into this notebook ~
The journals that I have cover the past two to three years except for a handful of old ones that I kept. I threw away most that I ever started because both husband number one and husband number two would read them and make fun of me.
I attended Salem State College-Salem State University part time days from January 2005 to December 2010. I had been a student there in 1976, 77,78,79 and 1980 but most semesters I dropped out because I had bouts of depression.
I majored in art and had a dilemma in that I cannot do math well enough to pass it and graduate with the degree but nevertheless I learned a lot in the art classes. I took three drawing classes, beginners, figure and advanced. I took water color painting, abstract, regular and landscape painting and I took illustration and relief printing classes. All my professors were great.
This will be the first time in six years - except for the spring semester one year ago when I broke my wrist and had to take a leave of absense - that I haven't been in school and not attending classes is going to leave a void in my life.
I had meant to begin classes in September of 2004 but Janice died that spring so I never got my art portfolio together in time to be considered for the art major program so I waited and started in the spring of 2006 but as a non declared major. Then, I got side-tracked and entered the theater major program because Janice had been in the theater in summer stock and at Disneyland and other places and I wanted to feel close to her by gaining some understanding of what her world had been like.
One of my first teacher's that first semester back was Barbara Tierney. I may have wriiten about her somewhere else in here but she taught a mentoring class I signed up for. Barbara was my advisor as well as my teacher. She was great. The second semester I took her mentoring practicum class as well.
My other class was with Peter Zacari, an actor who taught Introduction to theater and he had everyone write a short play only ten pages long called a ten minute play. I got some of my feelings out about losing Jan with the writing of that play. I have the pages posted in the photo section of this site and maybe elsewhere. I haven't posted on here in so long that I've forgotten.
The Author's Guestbook, Jan 8, 2011
The time I spent reading and posting on the author's guest book was a help to me before the trouble. I met others on there and we shared our joys and sorrows. Janice had recently died and I was still grief stricken.
January 8, 2011, from my journal
My sister Janice's birthday today
I found the house that Janice called Reality Cottage on google earth and took a picture of it and put it in the photo section on here. It's a Victorian style house and was white but is now a pretty shade of light blue. If you are reading this you can find it by going to 120 E. Broadway, Anaheim, CA on google earth. you'll find yourself looking at a mortuary when you go to street level.
The little house is on the corner of another street to the left that runs off of E. Broadway. The mortuary is on the next corner to the right. Both the side of the house and the other entrance to the mortuary face each other on that side street. Janice used to do publicity for the mortuary owner when she was living in the blue house and engaged in her public relations work.
From my journal, Dec. 20, 2011 ~
The internet is at times a troublesome place to wander around in because you never know when you will venture onto a chat site where there are a precious few who are only there to make trouble. In spite of encountering some of these I have met and formed friendships with some wonderful individuals who enrich the lives of everyone around them.
From My Journal, March 29, 2012
Had a scare recently about my health, stepped on a spike, went to the ER for a T shot and my BP was dangerously high just as it was a little over two years ago on another visit to the ER. Has it been that high all this time? I bought a wrist cuff to take it and after a week and a half on a strict high BP diet it is now normal. Meanwhile I have an appointment with my new doctor on May 10th (earliest I could get).
From My Journal, July 16, 2012
I wish I could write like Ann Rule who encourages me to write a book or to turn this memoir that is so far unfinished into one. She accomplishes so much by just writing so much a day. She has two books published yearly.
Ann's very first book was called, "The Stranger Beside Me." The book was about a serial murderer named Ted Bundy who she actually knew from a volunteer position she held at a mental health clinic along with him and some others. The two happened to be paired up late at night about once a week working the phones helping depressed individuals.
Ann owned a dog who loved everybody but this dog growled each time Ted left his desk and leaned over Ann's desk to talk. Ann is a pretty savvy gal having been a police officer early in her twenties and having taken many classes in criminal studies which earned her a degree.
She'd come from a family with several members in law enforcement and had been writing true crime stories for detective magazines for a few years and her friends in law enforcement respected her for her integrity.
At a certain point her personal and career lives converged when she was asked by a publisher to write a book about the as yet unsolved murders in the Seattle area of several young female college students and she and Ted had already met and become friends. She had been introduced to his fiance, "Liz" a young woman she described later in her book as winsome.
I wonder about the odds of such a coincidence happening in real life but coincidences do happen and did in some cases concerning my father and murders of young women that took place near places my family lived or visited regularly. I studied these hoping to find that there was nothing to connect my father but all too often the descriptions of the suspects in sketches or in spoken descriptions were too much like those of him.
Journal Oct 30 12
Just went through Hurricane Sandy Sun. night through Monday. Today is Tuesday. It did the most damage in NY, (Manhattan, lower), NJ and some areas of Long Island, NY Journal Nov. 7, 2012
President Obama re-elected. I always fear voting because of my fear of authority figures (because of my father I have PTSD) and always have to force myself to do it. I was about to take a walk but turned back and went to the school and voted.
Pam G., the woman who was working at Family Planning in Beverly when I went for a pregnancy test was a volunteer at the polling place and she was the one who did a test showing that I was pregnant with my son, Chris in December 1983 or January 1984. She seems ''out of it'' somewhat now and is helped by the use of a walker. She was signing people out.
From my Journal, Nov. 28, 2012
Taking Ann's advice and writing a bit each day on here. I feel like the "typo queen" (since when is "John" spelled "Jahn").
Journal, Dec. 2, 2012
Writing seriously every day on my memoir. Ordered a lot of books for reference plus using a few I already own. These cover repressed memory, false memory. emotional trauma, how the brain works, Black Dahlia books and books Janice ''adopted memories from / confabulated, unconsciously."
Journal, Dec. 13, 2012 " I just discovered after reading from "The Black Dahlia In Hollywood. Website" that Elizabeth Short stayed at the Washington Hotel which was renamed the Atwater Hotel at some point on Linden Ave, In Long Beach in August 2006 and frequented Sheldon's, a cafe on the same street. This street is 15 blocks north of my aunt and uncle's cousin's apt. on E. Ocean Boulevard where one of their two children - a son now in his 80's who never married - still resides. This is yet another coincidence that puts me in dismay that places my father in close proximity to a soon-to-be- murdered-woman as with Frances Cochran of Lynn, Massachusetts.
I found a 1996 letter from Janice while looking through some boxes of papers. It is dated April 22, 1996. In it Janice states that she and I were taken by our father to Hollywood by our father when I was around four and she was around nine. She goes on to state that after we got to our destination we were photographed for child pornographic purposes. She further states that she feels I repressed the memories but resented her over the years for not protecting me because I saw her as a mother, her being so much older to my mind. Our other sister a year and a half older than me doesn't appear in this recalled memory.
I've never feared my father in that way but only feared that he would hit me whenever he became angry and began yelling. It is interesting nevertheless that three years after Janice sent me this letter she drove us around Hollywood and vicinity sightseeing and through a neighborhood of lovely large homes in Hollywood that I found breathtakingly beautful. After a few minutes of this though, I began to feel sickened at the sight of them just as I'd felt sickened at the sight of the knotty pine walls I had been painting into a replica dollhouse of our house in Westminster that I'd been working on. I had read the description of the interior of the house on my mother's copy of the sale agreement for the house as having been all knotty pine inside rather than only in the living room and dining areas as pictured in family photos.
In July 1989 after my mother died I was visited by an older cousin whom I'll call *Buddy Benson. Buddy stopped by my house to express his condolences. He reminisced about a visit to our home in Westminster he had taken with his father and this seemed to have taken place over winter vacation in 1945. He remembered that my father had undressed "the two youngest children both girls" and allowed them to run around undressed. He said that this upset my mother because she felt that it was immodest. He had the feeling that my father did this just to upset my mother.
I at first thought that Buddy meant Midgie and Sandra but later realized that Sandra never lived long enough to walk let alone run and that the "two youngest" had to have been Midgie and me. I would have been a bit older than 4 1/2 by winter vacation and Midgie would have been about 2 1/2 and because I was always a modest child as far back as I could remember I must have repressed any memory of my father doing such a thing. It has always seemed not normal to me for my father to have done that. It creeps me out thinking about it. If Jaice had come up with that memory I would have attributed it to Janice's false memories but Buddy had no reason to come up with a story like that unless it was true. He hadn't seen Janice in many years since she was in high school in Beverly, Massachusetts in the mid 1950's.
My father lived in California for a period of some months before he returned to Lynn, massachusetts and brought the rest of us out there. He was helped to find work by one of his uncles on his father's side or one of his married-into-the family uncles like his cousin *Roy's father - married to our grandfather's sister - in Long Beach. Our father may or may not have been staying with Roy's family in Long beach in the late winter and early spring while starting his new job as a milkman and putting down payments on a house and furniture. Roy's father was ''well off'' as described by my mother and other family members so was well fixed towards helping my father out. My father may have met Elizabeth Short while living in or visiting in Long Beach. My mother told me he frequented bars over the fourteen years of theit marriage and ran around on her with other women.
I have spotty memories of the times there, especially before the age of six. I don't remember who cared for us when my mother was in St. Joseph's hospital in Santa Ana having my sister, Sandra. Daddy must have had to work unless he was allowed time off.
From My Journal, April 15, 2013
Two IED's went off near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, A little boy and two young women were killed, many others were injured, losing limbs and hit by shrapnel.
Frm My Journal, Sept. 16, 2013
My sister marilyn begins day care for individuals with dementia today. She and I are the last two remaining children of our parents' marriage. My sister was diagnosed last year sometime. Her diagnosis as to what type of dementia isn't yet final but she is on a drug used for Alzheimers patients. She sees a specialist again soon and maybe more will be known then. Her condition came upon her so quickly and has progressed so quickly, in less than two years, that it is startling. There hasen't been much time for the rest of us to adjust to it, let alone her. On the day of her son-in-law Gary's M.'s funeral, she told me she'd rather die than be as she is. She had been trying to tell me that her 2nd and 4th eldest children / sons look a lot alike but was unable to bring forth their names. My niece, Julie, (Gary's widow), the one she moved in with last year, told me that her mother's condition has gotten quite a bit worse since the funeral in July. My sister is clinically depressed and that only adds to her misery. I feel so bad for her and along with that I fear I will also develop dementia because we are sisters and are less than two years apart in age.
If it hadn't been Garry's window, I don't think I would have been quite as afraid of fessing up about it. Garry had a slap first and ask questions later attitude. I was slapped in the face by him at least three times that I can remember during my childhood. If he had slapped my arm instead I wouldn't have minded as much by far.
Face slapping was too reminiscent of my father's abuse not only because of the physical pain but somehow a slap in the face is demeaning. He never did it to his children because he had matured enough to know there was something wrong about it.
A big rock placed right in the center of a basement den - style teenage boys bedroom covers a multitude of sins. At least it did in my case. Garry never suspected that Tommy Page a neighbor boy and I had caused his top opening hinged window to break upon Tommy's third entrance into the room. This turned out different than the time I lit a match to see how the colors in the dark after waiting until all including me had gone to bed.
And then there was the match lighting. I wanted to see the colors that were displayed when a match was lit. I don't know why I didn't just ask my mother to allow me to light one with the lights out in the first place but I guess I didn't think lighting one match and putting it out in a glass of water would be a problem.
I brought the matches and the glass of water to my room after everyone had gone to bed but my room had no door. As luck would have it as soon as I struck the match, Garry opened his bedroom door to go into the bathroom. Garry was able to see the flare of the match. Slap!
When Garry was young he used to slap our faces first just like our father did and ask questions later. That was the only thing I didn't like about Garry. I hated being slapped in the face. My mother only slapped me twice, but never in the face.
There was too much space between our ages for us to ever get to know each other as individuals and to just talk about whatever was going on and reason it out. l always listened to those who took the time to explain things reasonably to me or to ask why l had done something they didn't understand.
My childhood was always avoiding trying to explain the whys of anything to avoid being slapped or yelled at. Later we became friends but he lived far away by then and wasn't much for writing or even later when he was so ill emailing.
He was always busy until he was forced to slow down and then time ran out. I really wanted to talk with him more about many things, like childhood memories. After he died his wife told me that she had always had to be the disciplinarian because he couldn't bring himself to punish their children.
I can only surmise from this that he grew up and became a kinder, gentler and more humane person who regretted the times he reacted as our Dad had when he was young.
Catching hell in the Catholic Church ~
This was another time when Dinsi wanted to do something nutty and like a stooge I went along with it. I was like Beaver from the TV show getting into trouble with Whitey or one of his other mischief making friends. If Dinzi only didn't insist on always sitting in the front row we'd have been allright.
She was fooling around waving a handkerchief back and forth and giggling. The priest told us to go into his office after mass was over. We should have run off then but we were more afraid of the pastor than we had been of the cop in the bottle stealing incident.
We got a big bawling out. Lucky for us we weren't Catholics. We only had to say the Our Father without the Rosary or any of the other Catholic prayers.
Sailor suits and Billy ~
Dinsi and I met Billy at the Ware Theater not long before her daughter Cindy was born. It was a warm raining off and on day in late August or early September. Billy was a handsome 19 year old with blue eyes, curly light brown hair and a turned up nose. He looked something like Kevin Bacon only shorter. We were each about the same height.
Billy came over to me in the lobby and started to flirt wanting to know my name. Dinsi looked torn between agony and the green eyes of jealousy. Billy barely acknowledged her when we introduced ourselves.
We went back to our seats after the break and then when the movies were over - double feature - Dinsi wanted to run away towards my house. I knew she wanted to keep me and Billy away from each other. I was interested in Billy, but not seriously because I was only fifteen and I knew my mother would never let me date him.
About two months after Cindy was born, late in September of 1956, Billy and Dinsi hooked up and were a couple for at least part of 1956 and 1957. He happened to rent a room at her neighbor Helen Rusts apartment. Dinsi's mother and father had rented in the same building and after a while Dinsi had her own apartment there too.
I met Helen only twice that I can remember. The first time she made fun of me when Dinsi was teaching me how to dance because I danced like a dork before that word was coined. The other was after Dinsi and I bought our white buck shoes. They ran out of my size so I bought the next size up. My legs were skinny and the big shoes only exaggerated that fact. Helen made sure I was kept aware of my too-big shoes because we went over her house so that Dinsi could see Billy who was boarding there.
Helen was probably in her early thirties when we knew her. Helen wasn't pretty. She was unattractive. Her figure wasn't good either. Maybe she was jealous of me. I don't know. She wasn't someone who would make fun in a way that you knew she wasn't joking to be friendly but joking in a way that you knew she really meant it.
I don't know what ever happened to her over the years. I remember her only because of her cruelty.
A valentine's Day dance at Memorial Jr. high School and Maryanne smoking reefers
I always looked up to Mem and Dinsi because they were two years ahead of me in school and I thought they were cool, but Dinsi always looked up to Maryanne a girl theid age who ran with the wild reefer smoking crowd and hung arount the Beverly Ice Cream Parlor commonly known as The Greeks on Cabot street.
I was about thirteen when Dinsi and I went to the Valentine's Day dance at Memorial Jr High. We never danced, just spent time looking around and taking pictures with Dinsi's Brownie camera. We went into the girls restroom and while we were there she took one of Maryanne standinfg inside of a stall with a tough look on her face and a reefer hanging out of her mouth.
Marianne was like the leader of the Pink Ladies from the television series, Happy Days. Compared to Maryanne we were wimps. Even Dinsi with her I'm so tough act seemed wimpy when standing next to Maryanne. That was why Dinsi always looked up to her.
"Now is the season of Ed Wood"
This was just one of the many coincidences or small world moments that have plagued me over the years in my lifetime as things like this plague us all.
My boyfriend and and I had broken up because of his drinking, but we had remained friends. We hadn't seen each other much since my son and I had moved into the same building as my separated husband.
I had no way to call anymore so Eddie couldn't call me to have me know when to go down and open the door for him and for his kids, Debbie, Amy and Missy to visit us.
I wish we had stayed closer because of the kids. By the time my son and I moved out it was late in 1994, and I didn't know how to find Eddie because he had moved too.
I last saw Eddie late in December 1994, and I think that angels must have arranged for that last meeting. I had lost my purse - but really it had been stolen we later found out.
I never got it back but the fact that it was missing and that a stranger had called my husband at the old address I still had in my purse where I'd moved from, the fact that the stranger said he'd drop the purse off at the police station, the fact that I went there, the fact that Eddie also went there to renew his handgun license, all combined to afford me one last time to see Ed.
We were supposed to get together with the kids at my daughter Debbie's house later on that day, but Ed never showed up. There never was another chance to see Ed alive.
Strange, I thought, as I opened the Saturday weekend reader that came with the Salem News on April 8, 1995. The headline of the article read; "NOW IS THE SEASON OF ED WOOD."
That other Ed was a movie writer, director and actor who was known in my childhood and I had never heard of him. I only thought " Strange, this looks like an obituary for my Eddie."
On Monday the obituary for my Eddie appeared in the same newspaper. He had died at his home on that same Saturday April 8, 1995.