June Newsletter – Happy Father’s Day

June marks the end of the school year for our children and grandchildren, the beginning of Summer, vacations and road-trips, home improvement projects to start, gardens to tend and another opportunity presents itself to honor a male ancestor or family member; our father’s, grandfather’s, etc.

No one was more special to me than my own father, because, you see, I was born sixty-two years ago on that day.  Now it is a rare occasion that the two days coincide.  There were few opportunities for my father and I to celebrate together when he was alive, we made the most of those days.  He died in 1984 and since then Father’s Day and my birthday are full of bitter-sweet memories.  He will not be here to mark another mile-stone in my life.  In a few months I will receive my first Social Security check.

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MY DAD

Let me tell you about the person who meant the most to me, my father.

Edmund H. Cheesman, was fifty years old when I was born and my mother was forty-six.  They thought they had raised their family and were looking forward to expanding their careers, and taking care of each other.  My father sold real-estate and insurance, and my mother rented houses to famous people in Hollywood, California.

She had been ill for several months, sometimes to point of being bed-ridden for days.  My sister had graduated from high school and was working; my brother about to graduate.  Concern was on everyone’s mind about my mother’s failing health.  One day a physician friend came to visit her, and pronounced her pregnant.  I’m sure this news was both comforting and alarming to her.  She was 46 years old; too old to raise another child.  She would have to stay at home just when she was beginning to have a life she enjoyed!  How could she look after a child and her age-ed mother?  Would the child be healthy?  After all she had been living on canned peaches and watermelon for months; the only things she could keep down.  (I love watermelon and canned peaches.)  Would the child be mentally handicapped?  She had heard about women who had children late in their child-bearing years and what kind of children were delivered to the older parents.

But it was too late to do what she had done before.  She was in her second trimester.  My sister stayed home to help.  The age-ed grandmother, who by now was totally senile, was put into a “home,” as they were called in those days.  Outside help was arranged and my birth was awaited.

I don’t remember much about that day, but I’m sure there was a great sigh of relief when all my fingers and toes were counted.  I was in a real hurry to be born, because I broke my mother’s tail bone and I obtained some damage to an upper eye lid; tore the muscle.  I was a normal healthy female child.  My mother named me Victoria, because I was to her, victorious!  She spent the rest of her life trying to make me over into the perfect child; braces on my legs, because I was pigeoned-toed, repair surgery on my eye-lid, braces on my teeth, etc.

Vicki age 9 months and Ed.

Few pictures were taken of me, but my brother had been given a movie camera and they took some home movies.  Watching them once in awhile all throughout my life has helped me retain some of my earliest memories.  A few years ago I took a trip back to Hollywood, and one of those flashes came back to me.  I was holding my father’s hand and we were walking down Hollywood Boulevard; my gait unsteady because of the braces, often used by children afflicted with polio, and I was crying because those things made my legs hurt.  When we got home, my father took the braces and threw them away.  If I grew up walking funny, he didn’t care, but he was not going to have me be in pain.  My legs grew stronger and my feet straightened out.

By the time I was two, my grandmother and my mother’s sister had died and my father felt there was no reason to stay in Hollywood to raise another child.  My parents traveled to western Nevada, to a little town of Gardnerville in the valley below Lake Tahoe.  They bought a small ranch and set about the business of “ranching.”  We had cattle, sheep, chickens, a horse and a dog.  My sister would come periodically.  My brother would bring his high-school friends to help with the haying.  I have some movies of this time also; but they stopped about the second year we where there.

My mother was not happy living so far away from her friends in Los Angles and would often go back to attend to the small rental and import business she kept going.  These times with just my Dad are my best memories, and our bond sealed.  I used to curl up in his lap after lunch for our naps together.  It was his bed I would crawl into when I had a bad dream.  (After I was born, my parents had separate rooms.)  He was the one who fixed me breakfast in the morning.  He was the one who put me in charge of feeding the chickens and gathering eggs.

Ed at the Ranch.

My mother had never cut my hair and would braid it in two pig-tails every morning.  My father hated the endless brushing and braiding when she was gone.  When I was about 4, my mother went back to Los Angeles for awhile and my father decided that his time with my hair problems were over, so he took me into town to the local barbershop.  I came home sporting a new “bowl” haircut.  That’s exactly how the barber cut it.  He put a bowl on my head and trimmed the hair to the edges.  My mother was livid!

When I was about 5, plans were made to take me to Los Angeles to have my drooping eye-lid operated on.  It was winter and going down highway 395 in those days was treturous.  It was a small two-lane highway and sometimes not plowed or sanded in winter.  My father hit black-ice and my mother went through the windshield, cutting her face from ear to ear.  My father was hit in the back of the head with a small suitcase full of Little Golden Books, I was taking to the hospital.  I was thrown to the floor from the back seat.  My father got snow and put it in a little pillow case and held it on my mother’s face until help arrived.  Several surgeries later my mother was able to come home to Nevada.  My eye surgery was put off for another time.

When I was about 6 or 7, her mother’s house in Hollywood, she rented, burned due to a careless tenants unattended cigarette.  A few things were rescued and put in an unattached garage.  I remember how they all smelled of smoke when my Dad opened the door.  Since my mother no longer had a place to stay in Hollywood when she wanted to go back, trips ceased.  We would drive down a few times a year to visit my father’s two sister’s and their families.

My parents were avid gamblers and spent hours at the once famous Harold’s Club in Reno.   I would be at the “picture show,” the casino maintained for children of their patrons, often until midnight.   When it would close my Dad would come to get me and take me to my sister’s home in Reno.

My brother had been drafted into the Korean Conflict and when he came home, he didn’t want to stay on the ranch to help out.  My father was getting too old to handle the work-load himself and the decision was made to sell the property and move to Reno, where my brother could attend the University.  My parents found a small two-bedroom house and remodeled it to add on another bedroom and garage.  My brother stayed one semester and moved back to Los Angeles.

Brand new 24ft. Airstream trailer.

First trip to Mexico leaving Jan. 4, 1957.

With nothing to occupy them, other than gambling, my parents decided to join the Wally Byam Caravan and bought an airstream trailer.  For two years we traveled 6 months of the year.  I spent the winters of third and fourth grade doing my studies in the back seat of my Dad’s car.  The first year we went with the Caravan to Mexico.  The second year with the Caravan to the Southern United States and Cuba.  (I remember standing on the balcony of our hotel over-looking the plaza, listening to Fidel Castro speak to the crowd.)  And the summers reading in that backseat while we traveled all through Canada.  From then on it was too difficult for me to be gone from school for that length of time and we traveled only in the summer.  Each year about mid-May, I would pack up my room and mother the rest of the nick-knacks and valuables, lock them in her bedroom and rent the house out for the summer.  We were on the road before I would get my report card.

Ed, Vicki and Aileen

Old “739” with all the places we used to go painted on the side.

My father was the driver as my mother didn’t and he loved it; seeing new things, meeting new people.  We didn’t go with the Caravan anymore  and after a few years we had a particular route established stopping at friends along the way.  He taught me how to fish.  We collected Irish Porcelain together.  This went on every year but one until I graduated from high school.  One summer my father had cataract surgery and couldn’t drive the whole summer.  I met lots of boys along the way and my father was taking a back-seat.  I didn’t realize until many years later, how this had broken his heart.  When I married they made one trip without me and never went again.

I didn’t live in Reno for a few years after I was married, but when we moved home with one son, he became, next to me and my mother, the most important person in my Dad’s life.  Two sons later and my father was a happy baby-sitter and caretaker when he could be.  He developed a duodenal aneurysm, and chose no surgery to repair it.

Dad and Nikki 1977.

When I got married I left my dog with my Dad, who became my father’s best friend.  Nikki and Dad grew older together.  He had to be put to sleep a few months before my father died.  A big part of my father’s life was gone and he gave up.  He sustained a heart-attack about 5 moths later and passed away because the aneurysm burst.  I was not at the hospital at the time, but had spoken with him a few hours earlier.  He died knowing how much I loved him.

I miss him every day, but most of all on my birthday, because I was his Father’s Day present and he my Birthday present.

Vicki and her Daddy on her 5th birthday.

June 20, 1953.

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Last month, several of our members, sent stories and information to be posted.  I am very grateful to Raymond Ware, Joe Ware, Cleo Holden, Wendell Ware, Susan Eaton, John Stein and Judy Harris.

I am hoping you will choose this month to write something about yourself and send to post.  Some of our members are writing bio’s of themselves.  Be sure to look for them.

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My desk is piled high with more stories to write and acorns to gather.  I would love to have suggestions.  You will notice we have added a Discussion Forum and pictures from the Gallery rotate at the top of the Home Page.  If you linger a bit, you will hear the music.  I am working on that to rotate also.

Have a wonderful and safe Summer.

Vicki


Comments

June Newsletter – Happy Father’s Day — 2 Comments

  1. Vicki – What a loving and beautiful tribute this is to your dad. I can just feel him smiling down on you and bursting with pride over all the work you do with the family genealogy. His memory will forever be kept alive through your work.
    Happy, Happy “early” birthday, my dear. You are a blessing to so many.
    Judy Ware

  2. Vicki, This is truly a remarkable story and tribute to your father and mother. The tradgedies and highlights of your everyday life is both heart warming and saddening, but with a happy ending of your success of marriage, family and writing.

    May I be one of the first to wish you a very Happy Birthday. May the memories of times, places and people of your life always be fresh in your mind. God Bless,

    Wayne Ware
    Cedar Falls, IA

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