Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Bit from the Older Woman of the Gang

Reading Laura Spinella's post about her mother made me realize once again, how much older I am than all the other members of this Stiletto Gang.

As I wrote in the comment to Laura's post, I know her mother still feels young inside no matter how many years she's been on this planet, I know I sure do.

I was born at the tail end of the Depression and when I was a kid heard a lot of tales from my older family members about how hard it was--but they always laughed while they were telling about cooking cabbages that had fallen off a truck, and eating rabbit my dad shot in the backyard. (They lived in South Pasadena, not in the country somewhere.) For awhile, dad didn't have a job and we lived in a house that belonged to my grandparents and I guess we were poor though I certainly didn't ever feel like we were. We were rich in family.

The top photo is when I was the flower girl in my auntie's wedding--and she made the dress.

Digressing a bit, the only store bought dresses I had when I was in grammar school my grandmother bought me, mom made the rest. And yes, we wore dresses to school, and in Junior High and High School, sweaters and skirts or skirts and blouses. Mom bought what she thought I needed, with babysitting money I bought what I "had" to have.

I planned to go to college, I certainly had the grades for it, but I fell in love. See that cute sailor, that's about how he looked when I met him on a blind date. Wasn't love at first sight, but it didn't take but a few dates to know we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

And here we are on our wedding day. I traveled clear across the country by train with my mom and she and Hap's dad were our only witnesses. We lived in Norfolk VA for awhile, then I went back to Cambridge MD where I had my first child. It wasn't long before we headed back to Los Angeles because Hap was going over seas.

Over the years we had five children, our oldest boy died of cancer a few years ago. This photo was taken last year at one of our granddaughter's weddings.

Hap did lots of traveling during his 20 years in the Navy, I stayed home and raised the kids, mainly in Oxnard CA. I was PTA president four years in a row, and had a Camp Fire Girl group for 10 years. I had a lot of jobs to help make ends meet: telephone operator, teacher in a a preschool for developmentally disabled kids, managed to get my AA in Early Childhood Development, taught in day care centers for disadvantaged kids, and all the time I was writing. Hubby finally retired from the Navy.

We moved and took over a licensed 6-bed  facility for developmentally disabled women. My first book was published in 1981. Besides everything I did for my ladies including the required paperwork, I wrote nearly every day and got published again--and again. I went to some mystery writing conferences and then hubby and I went together to mystery conventions all over the country. After 22 years we retired from the residential care business, but we're still going here and there. I must confess, I can't get nearly as much done in a day as I used to, nor can my hubby--but inside I feel as young as I ever did.

This year we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary on a cruise to Mexico.

And my mother said it wouldn't last.



  1. Don't know why this took so long to post, but here it is now.


  2. What a fantastic story. Marilyn, you're definitely younger than all of us in spirit!


  3. Congratulations, Marilyn! You and Hap look so in love but as I always say, marriage isn't that hard when you marry the right person, something you obviously did. All the best for many more happy years together. Maggiexo

  4. Oooo, I love this! Not enough "older" women on the blogs sharing their stories! My mother grew up about that same time in L.A., too. In fact, I grew up listening to her fascinating stories about her sisters, sailors, The Pike and other fun stuff. It caught my imagination and so I wrote "Letters on Balboa Island" set in the 1950s about sailors, The Pike, romance, and Balboa Island. :)

  5. PS - Happy Anniversary - what a fabulous love story!

  6. Marilyn, you and Hap were an adorable couple back then and you're as adorable today! What great pictures! Thanks for sharing. I'm with Maggie: when you find the right person, marriage isn't hard at all. :-)

  7. First off, thanks everyone for commenting. I have to confess to you all, especially Maggie and Susan, we had our ups and downs, just like everyone else. It wasn't easy having a husband who was gone as much as mine was in the early years. I finally had to let me know he might be the Chief in the Navy but I was the Admiral at home.

    Evelyn, some days I feel like a kid, others I feel older--but never as old as I am.

    Thank you, Susan, and I'm so glad you found your perfect guy.

    And Kathy, where in L. A. did your mother grow up? All the most popular girls always went to Balboa Island during Easter vacation. Mom wouldn't let me do that. Certainly did go to the Pike.



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