Under Angel Wings


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bruce's Centennial Celebration

A few weeks ago my family celebrated what would have been our dad's 100th birthday. He actually passed away in 2006, but our family loves history and loves to celebrate, so my sister, Jan, and I decided to have a party!

As the centerpiece of the event all of us cousins contributed family photos to an already organized slide show which had been prepared by our cousin, Ron, for my Aunt Dorothy's 90th birthday celebration 6 years ago.
I have selected a few favorites to share on my blog.

Dad was born in Point Richmond, California in 1909. At that time his father, Clarence, was editor of the Richmond Record newspaper and Superintendent of the Contra Costa County Hospital in Martinez. City life did not suit him well, though, and the doctor recommended that he return to a life of farming.

So Grandpa C.W. climbed on the train and traveled up the Sacramento Valley to look for good farm land. He saw the prime soil and plentiful water of the Feather River, and got off at Live Oak where he was taken around in a horse and buggy to see the Sunset Colony farms. He purchased land near the river and our family farm was born!

C.W. and Minnie's family was complete with the births of Bruce, Raymond (left) and daughter, Dorothy.

Aunt Dorothy and her husband, Ron, returned to live on the farm at Ronnie's retirement, and she continues to live there to this day, at the age of 96!

This is a family picture of, from left, Raymond, Bruce, Minnie and C.W. Dorothy took the photo.

When they purchased this home the ground all around was completely bare. C.W. and Minnie planted many trees over the years to create a garden showplace.

Dorothy and Ronny built a new home on the site in 1980, but all the trees remain.

Bruce and Raymond grew up hunting and fishing on the farm and in the river bottoms in order to put food on the table in the early years.

One year Grandminnie (what she wanted to be called instead of grandma) had to go to the Rideout Bank in Marysville and borrow $60 for sacks of beans and supplies to get them through the winter!

This is Bruce with his first deer at age 18. The vehicle is what was left of the Model T that dad's friend, Earl, had worked on. Daddy said it ran 25 mph at top speed!

After attending Yuba Junior College, Bruce was accepted to the first class of the California Nautical School, now the California Maritime Academy. As an important part of the curriculum extended cruises were taken by the cadets on the ship, the U.S.S. California State, including trips to South America in 1932 and around the globe in
1933. The trip in 1933 was the first time the California state flag circumnavigated the globe.

Bruce and his fellow cadets had many momentous experiences during the 'round the world cruise, including climbing the pyramids of Egypt, and having audiences with Mussolini and Italian King Victor Emanuel. In Rome they were privileged to have an audience with Pope Pius XI when they were allowed to kiss his ring and think of an object on their body to have blessed. Bruce could only think of a beer bottle opener resting uncomfortably in his dress uniform pocket which was thus blessed and became a treasured keepsake.

Bruce graduated as a Marine Engineer in 1933, and was Commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He sailed with the United Fruit Company on ships such as the S.S. Talamanca until 1938.

Raymond (left) and Bruce showing off their pheasant while home visiting the farm.

Bruce volunteered to sail with the Merchant Marine in 1943 until the end of the war. He had several close escapes while ferrying Marines and explosives across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. His ship was nearly hit by a kamikaze in the Battle of Okinawa, but the plane was shot down by the guns on board.

After the war Bruce returned to ranching with his father and brother. On Palm Sunday, 1947, he married Mary Higgins of Live Oak, both on left. Standing up with them were Anne Tomasavich and Raymond Jenkins.

Bruce and Mary on their honeymoon in San Diego at the home of Bruce's sister, Dorothy. They continued on down to San Felipe, Mexico for the rest of the trip.

In the 40's and the 50's Bruce, Raymond and Dorothy had several children to add to the next generation.

Sitting on the front steps of the old farmhouse are (from left):
Holly, Larry, my sister Jan, April, Ron, Rich, and Rob holding the baby Sylvia. I guess I wanted my mom!!

Jan and I amongst the prune blossoms.

Sylvia at my first job on the ranch~
picking up prunes! I'll bet it was not a very fast process at that age...:D

This is my favorite portrait of my family. It was taken on one of our Christmas trips down to San Marino to visit Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Ronny, and Rob, Ron and Rich.

Isn't this the quintessential American family from the 1950's? I still have my ballerina doll, just as beautiful as it was on that day...

Sylvia, Mary, Jan and Bruce

Bruce and Mary, on the advice of C.W. who said it would remain cooler during the summer heat waves, designed and built themselves an adobe brick home across the street from the old farm house.

In the back yard is a now 500 year old Blue oak tree, an anomaly in the area as they usually grow in the foothills, not in the valley. It has provided shade for our family for several generations, and before that for any number of Maidus and Spaniards.

Bruce and Mary on a summer's day during the early 1970's, in the back yard with my dog, Winnie.

Also, Mom and Dad at their surprise 25th wedding anniversary party in 1972.

Bruce holding his granddaughter, Olivia, in 1977, with an adoring grandmother looking on.

Bruce standing with Dorothy and Ronny under the Blue oak.

In 1979 Bruce celebrated his 70th birthday at a party at my home in Marysville. Bruce's family was now complete until the next generation came along!

Back row: Bob, Sylvia holding Grady Bruce, Dave
Middle row: Jan, Chris, Jim
Front row: Bruce, Olivia, Mary

Mary and Bruce under the Blue oak.

Bruce and Mary hold Elizabeth Marie, their first and only great-grandchild. Hopefully more will come!

Lizzie is our shining star of the next generation, and the future of our family farm.

John Nichols and his brother, Tom, grew up on the farm adjoining ours.

Their parents, Tom and Rosemary, were childhood friends of Bruce, Ray and Dorothy, and attended the same country school.

Here John talks to Bruce on a visit home.

This is mom and dad at Christmas time in 2005.
Daddy passed away in January of 2006, mom in September of the same year.

We will always miss them both greatly, but all we have to do is look around at their family and their farm and we can see their lives continuing on into the future.

We honor their lives of hard work and devotion to God, country, family, friends, and farm, and their marriage of 58 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the visit down the memory lane. I like you loved my mom so much and she is gone, too.

My parents were divorced...and my dad lives on in FL, he is now 85. My mom has been gone for 25 years.

It is nice to see the pictures and see the tree where I was just there.

Thanks for sending me this family history. It was great fun.

Love to you all, Cuz, Margaret, Bugsy's grandkid...by the way, like Minnie, she was a special grandma...:)