Meeting Daddy

I was never an orphan, not even a half-orphan, but until I was five, I remember only Mommy and a photograph she called Daddy. That silver-framed photograph sat on a nightstand in the bedroom I shared with my older sister, Eleanor, in a small, stucco-clad bungalow on...

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Living with the Colonel

Right after he came home, Daddy had to go into an Army hospital across the bay in San Francisco for a bunch of tests to make sure he was healthy, both in his body and in his head. “Debriefing,” Mommy called it, the same procedures every returning prisoner of war had...

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Spaulding Avenue Brat

Though I was only five and a half, now that I had a bike, I enjoyed increased respect among the kids on Spaulding Avenue. The older girls like Eleanor played jump rope or hopscotch or jacks on our concrete front walk or our front porch, both painted a deep red and...

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Cynthia Ellerby

Cynthia Ellerby, who had tormented me for sucking my thumb at the child-care center, was now in my kindergarten class at Washington Elementary. Although we were both a year older, she hadn’t changed one bit. As soon as she saw me on the playground on our first day,...

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Meeting the Kinfolk

Sometimes Eleanor and I got to spend a day or two with Grammy. Although Grammy Buffum was the only grandparent we knew, she more than made up for the other three. She lived in a second floor apartment across the street from Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland, and she...

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Meeting More Kinfolk

The next time we spent the night with Grammy, Eleanor and I begged for more stories, which made Grammy very happy. As we gathered around the treasure trunk, she brought out a fringed scarf—a babushka, she called it—that had belonged to her own mother, Anna Elisabeth...

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On the Road (Part 1)

Even after their long honeymoon trip to Mexico and Central America, Daddy wasn’t satisfied to stay at home on weekends. I guess he was restless or bored because he was always planning and scheming to try something new or go somewhere he’d never been before or revisit...

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On The Road (2)

For our next trip several weekends later, Daddy wanted to visit his Uncle Lock and Aunt Dink on their farm. He hadn't seen them since Christmas of 1940, just before he left for the Philippines. Uncle Lock had worked for an insurance company in Fresno all his life, but...

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On The Road (3)

Our Woodlake trip satisfied Daddy for a couple of months, but then he started to get restless again. "Antsy," Mommy called it. He bought a book about camping, and in the evenings he pored over it, underlining things and making pencil notes in the margins. He drew...

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On The Road (4)

At the end of July, the Bradleys invited us to spend a weekend at their family cabin up at Russian River. Daddy was thrilled to have another short vacation on the agenda, and the rest of us were excited too. Even Rusty was invited. I didn't like the drive up to...

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Arthur

We no sooner arrived home from the trip to Russian River than Daddy got busy planning another, more ambitious camping trip, this time all the way to Canada. Because Mommy had the baby in her tummy, she didn’t feel like going, so Daddy asked Grammy to go along instead...

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Canada (Part 1)

The rest of my first grade year passed quickly, and at the end of it I got straight S’s on my report card, meaning I did okay in all my subjects. Mrs. O’Connor wrote in her notes that “Patricia is a very good student, but she lacks self-control, particularly with...

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Canada (Part 2)

The next morning we broke camp early, had a quick breakfast, and pulled onto the highway before eight. Daddy glanced up at the overcast sky but said nothing. He drove north until we came to the Oregon-Washington border and then headed northeast through Washington...

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Canada (Part 3)

Pend Oreille turned out to be a very pretty lake. However, the locals said the fishing was terrible after the big storm, so Daddy changed his mind and pushed on north into British Columbia, to a little village on the western shore of Kootenai Lake. When he stopped at...

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Canada (Part 4)

After stopping a night or two at several smaller lakes, we headed for downtown Vancouver. Again, Mommy was embarrassed as Daddy pulled in to the loading zone right in front of the Hudson Bay Company. Passersby on the street kept their faces pointed forward but...

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The First Good-bye

We never did return to hike Crater Lake. Shortly after we got back from Canada, Daddy came home one day from work with a big smile on his face and announced: “Guess what? We’re going to Berlin!” “Fishing?” “No, Trish, not fishing. We’re going to Berlin to live. Just...

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42 Im Dol Strasse (Part 1)

The drive from the railroad station was a shocker. Block after block of bombed-out buildings. Streets swept clean, but piles of rubble towering everywhere. In between, tall jagged walls with gaping holes where windows should have been. Skeleton structures silhouetted...

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42 Im Dol Strasse (Part 2)

The following Monday morning an Army bus picked Eleanor and me up right outside our front gate and took us to our new school, the Thomas A. Roberts School on Im Gehege Strasse. Before the war it had been a German girls’ school, but now it served 107 American kids...

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42 Im Dol Strasse (Part 3)

In March, Daddy unexpectedly got new orders transferring him from Berlin to the Free Territory of Trieste, situated between Italy and Yugoslavia, where he would become part of another joint occupation force—British and American—charged with administering that defeated...

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Trieste (Part 1)

As we approached the city from the north, to our right stretched the Gulf of Trieste, blue and serene as far as the eye could see, while on our left bare limestone hills rose to meet an azure sky. The people of Trieste considered them mountains. We were from...

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Trieste (Part 2)

Our new housing development, Cologna Verniellis, was perched a couple of miles up on the barren karst mountain that rose abruptly from the outskirts of the city. A dozen duplexes had been constructed, stair-stepping down the hill, with labor provided by local Italian...

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Trieste (Part 3)

I was the water baby of the family, and by now a pretty good swimmer. It wasn’t long before I discovered that by walking five or six blocks from the tram terminus at Piazza Oberdan, I could catch a free Army bus out to Miramare castle. The main castle was off limits...

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