From the Fortress of Solitude
It's a quiet Sunday on the hillside. Bright skies will bring warmer temperatures and the first hint of summer's heat arrives at the end of this week.
The school year is over. It's sobering to think of the number of years I've spent in school. I started Kindergarten in September 1963. That means I've spent 45 years of my life in some form of school from elementary to junior and senior high to university right into teaching (minus two years of missionary service). The rhythm of the school year is firmly rooted into my psyche. There is a beginning to every year and an end. It is my cycle of life - always beginning and always ending. At the end students leave and at the beginning students arrive. The realization of this cycle strikes unexpectedly at the start of the school year when one of your new boys or girls walks up to you and says, "You were my mom's teacher!"
That's when you ask for a chair and a cold glass of water.
Today for our virtual family gathering I'd like to show you several pictures of Grandma Violet and her family. Each picture reminds me of how lucky we are to have what we have. Each picture shows how quickly life passes, which is a reminder to us all to enjoy every moment we have with friends and loved ones.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Grandma Violet taken in 1933. She is fifteen years old . So many of Grandma's physical traits can be seen in the faces of her descendants. Think of everyone you know in the extended family that resembles her in some way.
Walter and Violet's wedding picture taken on June 12, 1938 in Pomona, California. Walter was 26 years old. Violet was 20. This marriage was lucky to have happened at all. Walter was schedule to travel to South America to work, but discovered the ship was gone when he arrived in San Diego. With no plans, Walter headed north for Montana with plans to make a quick stop in LA to visit his friend Walter, Violet's brother. And as they say, the rest is history and here we all are.
A young couple enjoying an afternoon together. I'm guessing this was taken in California around the time of their wedding.
The young Mattson family sat for their first family portrait in Belle Fourche in 1939. My mother Luella, was their fist child born on January 14, 1939. This was originally a black and white picture until Violet colored it by hand, something she enjoyed doing as a hobby. This picture was taken at the start of World War II, shortly after Germany's invasion of Poland.
Luella is older now. This picture was taken around 1942.
And another picture of Violet in her fairly skimpy summer wear! This was taken on the Montana ranch. It must have been a good day to catch a bit of sun. Nice pose Grandma. I'm wondering if you were going for the "Calendar Girl" look common from the magazines of the day. This is the kind of picture I think Grandpa would have carried around in his wallet and produced with pride whenever the boys would get together for a drink and someone would ask to see a picture of his wife.
"Wow, what a looker!" I'm sure he heard many times.
Luella's school pictures. First or second grade I think. The picture on the right is my favorite. It gives mom that dignified, well refined appearance befitting a Montana princess.
OK, compare the earlier picture of Luella with this one above. What happened to the well bred Montana Princess? I'm guessing the reality of ranch life got the best of her. Luella is standing on the left with her younger sister Linda. Can you see and hear them running and jumping across those dusty Montana fields in the heat of the summer's day. It must have been a magical place to grow up.
The Mattson children on what appears to be an early version of a 4 wheeler. From left to right we have Linda, John, Marvin and Luella in the driver's seat.
Another shot of the Mattson children on the ranch. The seasons changed and now its the dead of winter. This is their detached garage. You can see the car behind that towering snow drift. I'm thinking that digging the car out of the garage was the plan, right after the picture was taken of course.
Two pictures of Luella taken in 1950. She's only 11 years old. Mom always said she was the tallest in her class. Kind of strange to think of mom on a horse, isn't it?
Grandma Violet in September 1960 sitting in her brother's living room in San Bernardino, CA. The bird belong to her brother Walter. She was vising from South Dakota. She was visiting when Diane had surgery to remove a ruptured kidney.
Grandma is older now. In this photograph we see her with her mother Vesta and brother, Walter. On her right is Diane's Uncle Forrest. Violet and her mother are holding hands. It's a touching reminder of the loving bond shared between a mother and her only daughter. The photo was taken in the Mondier home in Riverside, CA. It was taken following the funeral of Grandma Vesta's 3rd husband, Jim Logan on May 4, 1968.
Grandma spent much of her last years living alone in a trailer park in Rapid City. She visited us often at 2214 38th Street and we included her in our family activities. Grandpa Walter died some years earlier leaving Grandma little money except a small pension from social security. She watched her money closely and had Uncle John there to help whenever she got into a pinch.
The trailer was a good place for her. It was affordable and she didn't have stairs to navigate. This picture shows her in her trailer's kitchen. She was a great cook. Her fried chicken and gravy was to die for.
I was happy when she was accepted into an assisted living apartment building closer to our home on Jackson Blvd. She had others her age to associate with and there were care givers in the facility that came whenever she pushed the "Call" button near her front door. She still had her independence and car so she could visited her family and friends.
Grandma died shortly after the above photo was taken. She'd returned from buying groceries at Safeway and put the unemptied bags on the kitchen counter to sit down in her chair for a moment to "catch her breath" as she always said. That's where they found her the next morning, grocery bags still full on the counter.