Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Mother for Christmas

My other computer is down, I am transcribing from a laptop today. From this laptop I cannot access the photos I have found and scanned of Jennifer. Please check back in a week and there will be photos attached to this post. I'm sorry, but my computer has been down for a week and I've decided that "the show must go on".

Jennifer's mom visits for Christmas in 1982. Jennifer's mom and dad were quite amicable. It did not seem odd to Jennifer that her mom came out to visit and slept on the sofa. I find this pretty incredible! But her mother was not interested in rekindling romance. This was a marriage that was truly over. Jennifer loved having her parents together, even if it was just in the geographical sense. She did hope for romance between them, but they never gave her a reason to hope for that.

December 15, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Mom's plane was delayed and it will be here at 5:30. Right now it is 6:00 so mom will be here soon. Dad is going to pick her up. I'll write more when she gets here. Oh, I finished my homework. My mom's here. She looks so pretty. We showed her around and went to JoJo's for dinner. I am so glad to see my mom. I really love her. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. Mom loves Chipper."


December 16, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today Mom met Lara. I have no homework, Mom and Daniel went on Daniel's trail but it was too dark. We had chicken dumplings for dinner. Today we all went to a court of honor and Daniel got a merit badge or something. February 5, 1983 Daniel will get his Eagle award, I think he deserves it. Randy was at the meeting, what luck, he talked to me too. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer's brother made a walking trail in Foster City for his Eagle scout project through the Boy Scouts of America. The trail was a self-guided nature trail through the Belmont Slough Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was founded around 1976 in Foster City. Daniel also created pamphlets which described the local plants and wildlife.

They took Jen's mom to Squaw Valley for Christmas. She does not ski, so Jennifer's not sure why they did this. It must have been awkward enough for Jennifer's mom and dad to stay in the same house--now they were off to stay in the same hotel room!

December 19, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today we started driving to Squaw Valley to ski. It took 4-5 hours. We got here around 5pm. Me and Daniel went out and built snow caves. In some parts, the snow is ten feet deep. Tomorrow we will ski. The lodge has been around since WWII. But our room is like a hotel room. The TV has cable and Showtime. Well, I have to go. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Did everything begin after WWII--the suburbs, Eichler homes, latchkey kids, the Cold War and now, Squaw Valley? Life was quite different for post WWII children than it was for their parents.

December 20, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today it was too snowy and windy so we could not ski. We bought Clue and played it a lot. Well I have to go now because it's late. Well bye, Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

This was an El Nino year. Lake Tahoe experienced record snowfalls in 82/83. At neighboring Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, a devastating, soft-slab avalanche killed seven people and caused 1.6 million dollars in damage in March of 1982. One woman survived a 5 day burial under the snow. A dog survived a one day burial.

December 21, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today we went skiing for about half an hour but we had to stop because it was so bad. Tonight the power went out and we had flash lights. Mommy told a ghost story that was really good. It was very cold. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

This was a miserable trip. The power and the heat were off for over 24 hours in the middle of a winter storm! That TV with the cable and the Showtime was no good to them now. There was no hot water and no lights and the lifts weren't turning either. Even experienced latchkey kids, Jen and Dan, had a hard time staying entertained. They wore all their snow gear in the hotel room and slept in it too.

December 22, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today the heat was still off and all the power. We could not even eat. Our car was buried under 10 feet of snow, it took a long time to shovel off the snow. On the way back our car stalled and a sheriff pushed us to a gas station. Well we got going again. We have to stay in Reno for the night. Mommy and Daddy played the slot machines. mom won $28.00 and gave me and Daniel each $7.00. The food is expensive. Reno is a fun place. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

All the restaurants were also closed down at Squaw Valley. Jennifer remembers the resort grilling some meat on the outdoor barbecues for the stranded guests. Otherwise, the resort could do little for them.

December 24, 1982

Dear Ophelia,

"Today we had a big Christmas Eve dinner. We got to open one present. I opened a book called, Ghosts I Have Been. Well I have to go because its late. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."


December 25, 1982 Christmas Day

Dear Ophelia,

"Today we opened our presents after a good breakfast. I got a necklace and earrings that match, a night gown, a bar of silver, Coleco Vision Smurf video game, a patch from Carol that says Hunter Jumper with a picture of a horse jumping on it. I got a Smurf figure and a stuffed dog from Becky. That's about it except what I got from my friends. For Christmas dinner we had pepper steak. Well I have to go, Merry Christmas Ophelia. Your merry friend, Jennifer. P.S. Today I had my lesson. Mom came."

Jennifer wrote a lot about food when her mom was there. Her dad did not cook. Jennifer lived on TV dinners, snacks, fruit and fast food. She appreciated home cooked meals twice a year when she saw her mom. It was a great Christmas, even with the storm, because they were all together!

What was your favorite family meal as a kid?

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