Saturday, March 21, 2009

Where I Come From

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "I come from..." Follow link to participating blogs for some fascinating entries.


Having been born in 1921, I come from the first quarter of the twentieth century, when our family car was a Model T that Daddy had to crank to get started. The place that I was born was the Alta Bates Sanitarium in Berkeley, California, then a single building, now a gigantic hospital complex that occupies several blocks. Fortunately the family into which I was born offered all the love and security that anyone could ask.

Allen Sterling holding Allen Sterling Jr.
Pearl Sterling and Phyllis (me)

It was only much later that Berkeley became known as Bezerkeley, although there was enough bizarre behavior even then to merit the name - for instance, the Boyntons, who lived in a replica of a Greek temple without walls except for sheets hung to hide their more intimate activities. Every morning Mr. Boynton would leave in his business suit, fedora on his head, briefcase in hand, and take the #7 streetcar down the hill to his business day while his wife wore her toga and his children carried bag lunches of nuts and dates to school, where they purportedly exchanged them for roast beef sandwiches.

In my public primary school the girls were taught scarf dances on the lawn with filmy lengths of pastel voile held at the corners by four girls. I still remember the tickling of grass on my bare feet.

What does this have to do with where I come from mentally or psychologically? Otto and I have lived in many countries, but since 1947, when Otto accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley has been home base (although a little bit of our hearts are always in Brazil).

We have lived through the movements that have swept Berkeley through the decades, from the decorous ‘50s through the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s, and have lent our whole-hearted support to many of them, joining in protesting the Vietnam war, housing hippies and manning switchboards to acquire needed services for them - even doing some dumpster-diving to procure soup ingredients for feeding the hungry on weekends when other food services were not available.

We were already pacifists, but much of the idealism of the sixties rubbed off on us. In the ‘70s and ‘80s Berkeley tried to pick up the pieces for the Vietnam veterans who became the new street people, injured in mind or body, addicted to drugs or alcohol to kill the pain.

Where does this leave me? I really couldn’t say. In front of the computer, I guess, picking and choosing a few words to describe 87 years of living. And still in love with “Bezerkeley.”

27 comments:

jinksy said...

No wonder you have such an interesting blog, with a lifetime of such memories! x

Linda Jacobs said...

So entertaining as always! Have you written an autobiography, yet?

Maggie May said...

I think you could easily put all your memoirs in a book!
Loved your little dress with the frills!

anthonynorth said...

Some excellent, honest memories there.

A Girl Named Me said...

I love reading your words. Thank you for them. And..for what it's worth, I think your memoir would be delicious.

xoxo
AGirlNamedMe

Winifred said...

I love reading your blogs. Your memoirs would be fascinating.

Life with Kaishon said...

I loved this. Every word. I love your beautiful, colorful life. I will forever be thankful that I stumbled upon your blog one day and you won me over! You are a blessing for sure!

Tumblewords: said...

You've been on an interesting journey and tell your stories with great style. Thank you for letting me tag along...

Leslie said...

I loved reading "Where I come from"...87 I can only wish to be some day God willing. Your life sounds so full of joy and I love that.
Nice memories and sweet words.
~Leslie

2cats said...

Granny,
I love to read your contributions to Sunday Scribblers. I love your contribution to this world that we live in. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Giggles said...

You are a definite woman of substance, no doubt about that!! Always a pleasure, thank you!

Hugs Giggles

Rinkly Rimes said...

What a great life!

linda may said...

I love your stories Granny. And you were born the same year as my Mum. So many changes have happened in the world since 1921.

Jay said...

I'd say it leaves you a very interesting and compassionate woman, who has seen a lot of life.

I love this bit -

"and his children carried bag lunches of nuts and dates to school, where they purportedly exchanged them for roast beef sandwiches."

I can SO see that happening! LOL!

Tanya Gwen Minnick said...

yes, sounds like a long, and wonderful life, how does one pick what to say? I suppose the stories that are closest to us.. great post.

keith hillman said...

Yet another fascinating glimpse into the life our favourite Granny!
Looks like you'll have to start on your autobiography!

danni said...

i learn so much from your posts as you cast us back in time - i can't imagine how it would feel having lived 80+ years of history ---!!!

Marianne said...

Bezerkeley was very fortunate to have you and Otto!
XOXOX

sarala said...

I went to college at Stanford and commuted to Bezerkely to visit a boyfriend there. I remember People's Park and great bookstores. That would have been around 1980-1982. Of course, back then I was all about "Beat Cal."
You have had such a memorable life. I hope I will do so well when I am your age!

Tammy said...

I have not heard it called Bezerkeley in awhile.lol It was an interesting time that changed the world. Out of its turmoil came two people who have given back in spades. Here's to you and Otto! Cheers

Lucy said...

Granny...have I told u I think You are a true treasure? I Do!
Your stories are always so enjoyable and well written! I can just see u and Otto in those turbulent 60's! Groovy Granny!! THAT is my new (affectionate) name for u!
xox

Fledgling Poet said...

I enjoy your stories and memories tremendously...please don't ever stop sharing them! Thanks for another wonderful post.

Rob Kistner said...

Phyllis - This was an excellent read... heartwarming and fascinating. You are quite remarkable, and in my opinion, one of your greatest traits is that you've never lost your sense of wonder... ;)

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Great memories, wonderful post!

tricia stirling said...

this is wonderful. i agree with everyone else who is saying this would make a beautiful book!

Beth said...

Your wonderful posts would inspire many if you choose to put them into a book, complete with photos! Thank you for continuing to write from the heart.

ChefDruck said...

I would love to hear more about Bezerkeley... I've never heard it as referred to like that.