Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the infinite, so long are you young. Samuel Ulman
Contents Foreword Introduction Lillian
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Additional Schematics Adam & Paloma Kevin & Andrew
Schematic- n. A structural or procedural diagram, especially of a mechanical system. The schematics in this book reflect the mechanical wooden toy (automaton) produced for each senior. Each automaton shows an animated portrayal of the senior’s legacy.
FOREWORD Seniors Squared is a collaborative project between High Tech High and the Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center. The project connects two groups that are often very isolated from each other ‐ senior citizens and high school seniors. We believe that students have a great deal to learn from our communities aging population and this project creates a conduit for learning and experience. Each Thursday, throughout the spring semester, students visited the Senior Wellness Center. In groups of three, the students partnered with a senior for the duration of the project. In addition to social activities and educational opportunities, students were responsible for the following: •
Interviewing and recording their senior’s oral history over the course of three weeks.
Producing and publishing a book of creative nonfiction that portrays their partner’s legacy (based on their interviews). Producing a mechanical wooden toy(automaton) that shows an animated portrayal of their partners legacy.
At the conclusion of the project, all books & toys were presented to the seniors for keeping, gifting to loved ones, or donating to a local charity. We would like to express our gratitude to Timothy J. Ruis for helping us get this project off the ground and for his continued support throughout the semester. Finally, thank you to the men and women who made this opportunity possible. Week after week, Art, Jerry, Richard, Lillian, Yolanda, Lonnie, Fred, Tom, Constance, Ruben, Queen, Lonnie, David and Clarice welcomed us with open arms and invited us into their lives. Our appreciation for each one of you cannot be be overstated. Skye Walden & Scott Swaaley
Introduction AT FIRST GLANCE, The Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center does not seem like the most inviting place. Sure, there’s a wide window, and self‐ opening doors, but it resembles many of the modern condos and office buildings in the adjacent downtown area of San Diego. But do not be fooled, it could not be a more welcoming Gary and Mary Senior environment. Upon walking in, one is Wellness Center greeted with enthusiastic waves and the bright smiles of strangers; this is not your average senior center. In 1970, the center opened as the Cedar Community Center. Originally, the location was used as a nutrition center funded by Catholic Charities. In 1983, it was renamed the Senior Community Centers of San Diego, serving hot lunches to seniors at affordable prices. In 2002, the center made an important leap with its transitional housing program, setting seniors up with affordable and safe housing, and by 2007, there were over 150 units of housing available to the seniors. In 2008, the Gary and Mary West foundation donated a generous gift of three million dollars. The center was then remodeled and opened in April of 2010 for all participating seniors to enjoy. Today the center is livelier than ever, offering a myriad of activities for the seniors to participate in‐ from knitting club to fitness classes, to movie nights. Health is a huge factor in the success of the center, offering “nurse case management; including assessments, education and referrals to community partners, mental health assessments and referrals in a partnership with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, and Social service case management and referrals to community partners”. It is clear that the people who run the center truly care about the people they serve. When our teachers, Scott and Skye, initially told me that we were going to ‘pitch’ our project idea to a group of 150 seniors, I was skeptical. However, once we pitched the project, some senior citizens were extremely interested, asking questions, starting conversations, making friends; while some were beyond skeptical, going out of their way to compare the project to a mental disability… Regardless, those who showed up to our first meeting were excited to be involved. On the day of our first meeting, it felt like 45 teenagers all on a blind date with the strangers who would become our new best friends for
the next three months—pretty awkward to say the least. Many of the seniors who had initially signed up did not show up, and a few new seniors came to volunteer for the project at the last minute. Our first moments in the center were chaotic. Immediately, the students had to ask their partners a list of icebreaker questions. While awkward at first, I noticed that something interesting happened. As I observed the students and their partners, many students ditched their icebreaker sheets. They began to develop a natural conversation with their senior, without the guiding questions. It was as if they were good friends who knew each other for years. By the end of the meeting, many of the groups were still talking with their partner. As the weeks progressed, these relationships evolved. After our first “get to know you” meeting, the students started to form bonds with the senior citizens and likewise. The common thread of adolescence, that both the students and seniors have experienced, become the glue in their relationships; our students soon began to realize that senior citizens were just like us at one time, and the senior‐to‐senior connection was not as far off as we had initially thought. This entire experience has been, for lack of a less cliché way to put it, eye opening for me. Experiences like these really make me realize that at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and that alone is a connection we can all share.
On the day of our first meeting, it felt like 45 teenagers all on a blind date
Foreword by Paloma Fernandez
LILLIAN In the beginning, in order to keep my salary down, they called me a book keeper! “WE MAY HAVE BEEN THE POOREST FAMILY… but in those days you didn’t know you were poor,” Lillian C. Davis proudly remarked when asked about the earliest memories of her childhood. “We enjoyed life.” Although she claims to have been a part of a family with “a lot of skeletons in the closest,” Davis remains resilient and proud of where she came from. Being the youngest in a household of seven children, and living in a small town in New Jersey, she says her parent’s struggled to support the entire family. When she was very young, she began working alongside her mother in order to help provide for her parents, brothers and sisters. Davis spent long days laboring with her mother, picking vegetables, selling produce door-to-door, and cleaning the houses of their Lillian Davis neighbors. Even though she spent a majority of her adolescence working, Davis was still able to become the second of her siblings to graduate from high school. “Education was most important to our parents, next to God.” At the age of seventeen, Davis and her mother decided to leave her father behind in New Jersey and move to San Diego where she would soon after earn her high school diploma. Though she asserted that her parents got along very well, her father, John Uslie, was very controlling of her mother, and seemed to have kept her sheltered from fulfilling her greatest potential. “My mom could not read or write English,” Davis explained. “She wanted to learn…but our own dad, and he kept this very quiet, he would not want my mother to read or write English and American because he was afraid of losing her!” Davis and her mother seemed resentful of Uslie, deciding to move across the country to start a fresh life. In June of 1959, Davis married her husband Lloyd, who had inspired her and her mother to move to California. They moved into a house in the well-populated San Diego neighborhood of Hillcrest. “We lived at 37-7-7 Seventh Avenue,” she clarified with a chuckle, which was right down the street
from her first paying job at the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. This was the beginning of a long and successful life of business ventures and careers that she would hold. Although she was great as what she did, on occasion, she received the brunt of bigotry towards women in a professional vocation. “In the beginning, in order to keep my salary down, they called me a book keeper!” she justified. Despite the prejudices, she remained tough, and continued working her way up to make a name for herself in the business world. In 1970, Davis and her husband decided to both switch careers and start their own trucking company. This was not the path Davis intended on following, as she was working towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant and had been planning to take the certification test very soon. However, she wanted to support her husband’s dream of starting Davis Freight Lines. She described this amendment to her career plans as being very biblical, affirming she was doing it for her husband’s happiness. “You want to do what pleases your husband,” Davis believed. She used her expertise to shape Davis Freight Lines into a Fortune-500 corporation. Its success was monumental, providing Davis and her husband with enough wealth and affluence to be generous with their earnings. Despite loving their life in California, they decided to move to Macon, Georgia in the late 1970s to be closer to her in-laws. The husband and wife were able to run the trucking company from the South, regardless of its being based in California. After living contently in Georgia for the next decade, Davis’ husband passed away in 1988. Three years later, she decided to enter a completely new profession, something she already knew very much about. As her father had been a real-estate broker for much of her life, she already knew the basics of advertising and selling property. Hired by Century 21 in Macon in 1991, Davis slowly began building a list of clientele. She found it difficult to persuade clients to trust her as a real estate agent, seeing that no one in the small town knew who she was. “It wasn’t like New Jersey, where everyone knew me,” she explained. Eventually, like every other job she had, her commitment made her extremely prosperous within the field. She had mastered yet another occupation, adding one more trade to her list of successes. Currently, Davis resides back in her favorite city of San Diego, where she stays active through participating in a variety of activities. She is a devoted member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church; attempting to spread the word of God to almost anyone she becomes acquainted with. Davis has also become an avid writer in her later years, writing poems about religion and world peace. Though she is not practicing at this time, she remains licensed as a real estate broker and likes to keep herself up to date on the latest details of the local housing market. Her love of business continues to thrive even long after she has stopped working, exhibiting her vast intelligence and sincere commitment to her previous careers, a legacy which she is honored to uphold.
Literary Journalism THE TOWN OF ALLENTOWN, New Jersey isn’t known by many. No great historical events took place there. Not one of its 931 citizens could describe the town as being famous or infamous for anything; but, in 1952 a tragedy took place in Allentown, New Jersey. Located Southeast of the New Jersey turnpike, Allentown is a sleepy, but self-sufficient little town on the American East Coast. William Longstreet, inventor of the arguably most unknown inventions and such as the cotton gin “breast The glass has always been half full roller” and the portable for Lillian, and she remains sawmill, was one of the most devoted to God and his hidden notable and unknowable messages. residents of the unknown town of Allentown. Locally, Allentown was actually slightly known for its well kept streets because its residents were industrious and exceptionally clean. At the end of one such well kept street, the sidewalk ended. A little ways off stood the house of a young Lillian Davis and her family. Step into a household of the 50’s, and the first thing of notice is the pristine condition in which the house is kept, much like Lillian’s own home. There is not one stain on the carpet, sofa, or perfectly coordinated window trimmings. There is not a crumb on the shiny and new kitchen cabinets and appliances. Everything is sanitary, dry and dusted, but homey and cozy at the same time. This is all in part of culture in the 1950s, or the “occupation housewife” era. This perfect house set-up required a television, new technology in the 1950s, where Lillian’s own family gathered to enjoy an evening of Howdy Doody and Disney. Enter the Davis household, and the same 1950’s style, which defined the era, is visible; however, you will find one old world comfort which hasn’t been cast aside yet. Accompanying the new television set is a large, “upright” piano. The Davis family received the piano from a neighbor who planned on getting rid of it, but Mama Davis (Mary-Kish Uslie) thought it would find a perfect place in the living room of a family whom none of its members could play. Lillian Davis sought to change that. Lillian Davis believed herself to be a musical prodigy. At the ripe young age of eight, Lililan had taught herself to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, evidence that she was on her way to becoming the next Mozart. Whenever she was not doing homework, or working with her mom, Lillian played the piano. Over and over, little Lillian would play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, delighting herself with the piano’s sweet melodies. Sweet melodies which she
believed her family cherished. Her melodies which she believed everyone enjoyed. To her knowledge, she wasn’t disturbing anyone, but then again no one thought much of the neighboring African-American families, living as second class citizens in America in the 1950s. The Davis household wasn’t the only house situated where the sidewalk ends. The Smiths, an African-American family, lived right behind them, and paper-thin walls did nothing to filter or block the sound of a very obnoxious “Mary Had a Little Lamb” at all hours during the day. The social climate during the 1950s was tense. The civil rights movement had just begun. The Jim Crow culture destroyed the dignity of all African-American people, and the nation had adopted the “separate but equal” ideology. Although, Lillian didn’t mean to annoy the neighbors, the Smith’s took offense either way. It had been around a year after the Davis family had owned the piano, and Lillian had grown quite fond of it. After returning home one day from school, the piano was gone! Her mother told her that the garbage man Mr. Smith had come in and chopped up the piano and hauled it off. To this day, Lillian describes the feeling of losing that piano as “absolute heartbreak” and to this day Lillian still wishes she could play piano. Lillian was not able to continue her dream of playing piano after hers’ had been destroyed. In school, there was not a single piano to play, or a single person to teach her, but Lillian took up clarinet and can still play very well to this day. A shroud of mystery still surrounds the reasons behind the destruction of the piano. Lillian does not recall or know to this day why. She doesn’t know if it was destroyed against her parents’ wishes or if they had organized it, all she knew was that someone had let the garbage man in and he chopped it up! Lillian believes the main reason behind the piano tragedy was jealousy for her parent’s property and her own “musical abilities”, and the terrible consequences of blind faith in the good of humanity. Lillian took away a biblical lesson from this sad ordeal in her life. God will teach her in mysterious ways, but the lessons that she learns will help her understand the Bible and God even further. The glass has always been half full for Lillian, and she remains devoted to God and his hidden messages. Perhaps the tragedy which occurred in the little town of Allentown, New Jersey wasn’t a tragedy, but a lesson in the grand scheme of an organized universe. I guess Allentown can be known for something, it managed to get itself on the map of the universe; and it makes for a pretty interesting cocktail party story and a unique tale in Lillian’s life overall. To this day, Lillian is still trying to pursue piano lessons, but they’ve managed to avoid her for her entire life. Perhaps God will bless her with the opportunity and communicate yet another message to Lillian - it would be the perfect gift after a life so well-lived, and still so full of life.
Reflection FROM THE MINUTE, we entered the motion sensored glass doors of the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center we were welcomed by Lillian Davis’ enthusiastic and loquacious personality. Kristin, Nora and I sat down in a rush, as she articulated her story of writing a poem, titled Endless Love, for the National Peace Poem competition. She ended up becoming a finalist and had her work published next to Bill Clinton’s, one of her greatest honors. Her tired hands were shaking with what seemed like excitement, as she She resembled Lucille Ball with folded each of us a book mark her bright red curls tucked up into containing her poem. She dictated her poem to us, a silk handkerchief. emphasizing how the poem resembles many parts of her life and marriage. Next thing I knew we were on to the next topic. Without hesitation she began reminiscing about the importance of education, growing up in New Jersey, and becoming one of the first women real estate agents in Macon, Georgia. We each listened attentively, scribbling down notes as fast as possible, so to not miss any of her great quotes. I noticed her gold wrist watch sitting on top of her shirt’s elastic wristband. The blouse was a floral print of deep purples and greens over a light tan background. She wore it during three of our meetings together, so I assumed it was one of her favorites. Her light grey wispy hair was pinned up into little curls at the top of her head. Although she said she was hoping to get another perm soon I thought that the look suited her perfectly. As she continued to ramble and meander through a vast array of thoughts, we were able to learn a lot about her morals and upbringing. She would be telling a multitude of stories at once and switch between them without warning, never losing breath. Before we knew it time was up and I had nearly four pages of notes about her quirky expressions. We hugged her goodbye and exchanged email addresses so to let her know when we would be meeting next. The following week, we sat cozily down at our same little table and explained that we wanted to interview her more about her childhood. This was the point when I could tell we all felt very comfortable around each other. She told us about working with her mother as a they cleaned local homes and churches, about befriending Lloyd Jimmy Davis who would later become her husband, and about her first trip to Disney Land that inspired her and her mother to move out to California. With each new word she kept strong eye contact, her fair skin and storytelling wrinkles made you feel as if you have known her all your life. She had hoped that we would be able to help her with
some trouble she had with her home and the bank, unfortunately we were never allotted enough time. Our next visit was a chance to get to know her on a more personal level. Each table was set up as a different art station. At ours we gathered around to paint scenes of the Jersey Shore boardwalks and lemon meringue pie that she had such fond memories of as a young girl. While we dipped in new colors and swirled our brushes she told us more about the friendship that built between her, her mother, and Lloyd. Once everyone had finished with their collages and drawings a few of the students and seniors shared with the group the art they had made and how their meetings went. Lillian was so appreciative of getting to create something with us, and we will be putting her painting in the final book to remember her by. At our final meeting Lillian surprised us with her new hairdo. She resembled Lucille Ball with her bright red curls tucked up into a silk handkerchief. This particular visit was designed for us to teach or share something with her. We decided on showing her the beginning steps to starting her own website/blog since she had been mentioning it for a while. We showed her how to get to the site and create her own account. She wanted her first post to be the Peace Poem she had written, so we typed it up and then published it. There are still a great amount of things we would need to show, but she has a wide range of writings and ideas on what she would like to post. For instance her good friend Tom Saiw, another senior at the center, is a retired surgeon and she would love to write about him and all of his accomplishments. She embraced each of us with a warm hug and thanked us graciously for helping her start her new blog. It had always been something she was interested in but never quite knew how to start it on her own. I went into this project with an open mind. After watching the film Young at Heart, I assumed we would have the chance to work with a senior that was just as vivacious and loving as the characters in the movie. Happily, I was correct. Overall , I have gained new insight during this entire project and have built a great relationship with Lillian and know my partners have as well. I think it was a unique and interesting way to approach this style of project and allow us to get to know someone we would normally never get the chance to meet.
Writing Profile by Nora Johnson Literary Journalism by Kristin Olson Reflection by Alison Conover
“There’s got to be something seriously wrong with a guy who climbs walls a night, right?”
”I MARRIED A WHORE!” Art Cook has no problem admitting this fact about his second wife, who he is still married to and hasn’t seen in six years. I must have heard this phrase uttered by him a dozen times over the four hours I’ve met with him. He is extremely open about his personal life and shares it with anyone who cares to listen. It seems that every one of his stories starts with the Art’s reaction when we brought him deviled words, “I met this girl.” For an eggs 80‐year‐old man he has no problem talking to teenagers about his sex life. This would turn off most people but his constant sexual innuendos are what make Art, Art. But anyone who knows Art knows that he has two loves in his life, the first being women, and the second being language. He loves to study new languages and speak them as well. Arthur E. Cook was born in 1932 in Chicago. His parents had an arranged marriage and Art barely knew his father. Art’s father was very a stranger person, who had some clear mental issues. “He had extreme dreams where he would climb the walls at night…there’s got to be something seriously wrong with a guy who climbs walls a night, right?” Art said about his father. Shortly after Art was born, his father left. Art claims this was blessing because he
would physically abuse his mother. As a teen women fascinated Art, and his life constantly revolved around them. After he graduated high school he went to a ballet school to win the heart of a girl. However, he had difficulty starting out dancing. He didn’t have the best partner to work with, “The first school I went to the girl was 500 pounds!” Art quickly left there and went on to another school for an additional woman. He was given a scholarship but had his dancing career cut short because of the war. Instead of becoming drafted, he enlisted into the Air Force. While he was overseas in Korea, one of his most memorable moments was when he was working a night shift there and was a fire in the Buddhist Temple that was on the base. He was covering a night shift for one of the watchmen. While he was on duty there was a fire in the temple. Since he was substituting last minute he never got a complete briefing on what to do, “The reason it burned to the ground was, the fella who I was substituting for never told me about the water pipes and he had the key, but he was too busy shacking it up with some bitch in Seoul.” He was on the verge of being court marshaled but was saved by a 1st Lieutenant who liked him. “But that’s life and you can never predict what happens to you.” Even after this incident, his abusive father, and being married multiple times, Art keeps a positive outlook on life. He never seems to have a frown on his face or even the slightest tone of sadness in his voice. When talking to him, he could tell a story that most people would have difficulty telling but he finds a way to take a positive message out of it. It’s this positive attitude that got him through difficult times during his service in the Air Force. After a year his time in Korea he was transferred to Tokyo, Japan. This was an upgrade because there was no war in Japan so he had a lot of down time. While there, he enrolled in a Japanese ballet school. “I danced on Japanese television many many times.” He was able to travel all around Japan performing shows. “It was a wonderful life.” After that he went to school to become a teacher but he realized his true passion were language studies. Art’s love for language started when he was studying Spanish in high school. Japanese is his favorite language he knows. Ever since he learned it he wanted to marry a Japanese woman so it would stay with him and his kids could learn it. “I prayed to god for five years for a Japanese wife.” However, when he found what he thought was the perfect woman he was sadly mistaken. He had four
children with his first wife, but in their thirteen years of marriage she never spoke a word of Japanese. “I married a lemon,” Art speaks candidly about his mistake. Nevertheless, his second wife was even more of a mistake. This wife is from Argentina and lives in Chicago. Art hasn't spoken to her for six years and doesn't want to start now. After being married for a year he realized that she was not his type of woman, “She would come to the breakfast table… and everyday she explained another man and another style of fornication.” Art would become extremely uncomfortable when she would talk like this. He hasn’t divorced this woman because when he dies, he doesn’t want his children to get his possessions. I believe that this move alone sums up who Arthur E. Cook is. Even though he absolutely hates this woman and thinks she is whoring around in Chicago he still would rather she collect his pension than have it go to waste. He is very much a giver and never asks for anything in return. Even now a days he constantly gets presents for people just because he can. Art’s heart is clearly too big for his body.
Literary Journalism Arthur E. Cook is a passionate man. His biggest passion in life? Probably not what one would expect. Art’s greatest passion in life is women. Every story Art has ever told me begins with, “well there was this one girl,” or “my first wife...” Art’s other passions in life have actually sprung from pursuing a girl that he was interested in. A story Art told me shortly after I had met him started just like that, “well there was this one girl, she was a dancer.” He smiled sheepishly as he began to tell the story. Art met a nice Italian girl, he kept her name secret, who was in a ballet school shortly after he had finished college. He joined a school in hopes to impress the girl with his knowledge and skills for a common interest. He began studying classical dance and ballet at a school run by a very large woman for his instructor. “I just don’t understand how such a young woman could let herself go like that! I mean how could she expect to teach ballet when she weighed close to 400 pounds.” Art expressed his frustration to his lady friend who suggested he join her school where two men served as instructors and would be able to teach Art the maneuvers that a male ballet dancer should be able to execute.
Ballet and classical music were thriving in “I mean how could she expect to teach the 1950’s so it is no ballet when she weighed close to 400 surprise that Art found pounds.” a girl who was an avid dancer. Many people consider the 50’s and 60’s to be “the golden years” of ballet because of the famous dancers and choreographers from that time period. The New York City ballet was home to performances choreographed by such greats as, Stravinsky and Balanchine. Art’s interest in this nice girl drove him to enroll in the same ballet school and begin studying ballet. Art certainly chose the right city to study ballet. Chicago is home to a rich culture of classical music, ballet and other musical theatre including a variety of prestigious opera houses. During his time as a dancer Art was taught a variety of dance moves and lifts that male dancers are expected to execute in performances. However, Art’s ballet career was cut short by the Korean War. Being a young man living in the United States in 1953 was difficult. The US was in the middle of the Korean War and a draft was happening. Young men from around the country were being plucked from their home and thrown into basic training and then off to the front lines. Rather than becoming drafted many men opted to enlist into the military so they had some control over their fate. This is the same path Art took. He enlisted in the Air Force to avoid going to Korea and fighting on the fronts. In total he spent five years with the Air Force. His first year was spent in the United States doing basic training in Wiskott Falls, Texas to become maintenance personnel. He jumped at the first chance he had to go to Japan because he had never been there before but has always been fascinated with their culture. While he was serving in Japan he was able to pursue his dancing career. Ballet in Japan was considerably younger compared to other countries. It had only been around for 40 years or so at that time. The first record of ballet in Japan was in 1912, however, it didn’t take root until after World War II. Eiryo Ashihara was a widely known critic in Japan who was famous for bringing western culture to Japan. He co‐founded the Tokyo Ballet Company. Japanese ballet was still in its infancy when Art came to Japan.
The difference between Japan and Korea was immediate to Art. Since there wasn’t a war going on in Japan he was able to go to school there and continue dancing. Art said that this was one of the best times in his life, “I stayed with the Japanese ballet company, performed with the Japanese ballet company, been on Japanese television many many times and it was a fabulous life.” While dancing he was able to meet many different Japanese people that he never would have imagined meeting. Every now and then world famous dancers would come to Japan and he would get the opportunity to meet them as well. It was those experiences that Art remembers so fondly.
Reflection MY FIRST FIVE MINUTES WITH ART were interesting to say the least. When we were first being paired up with our seniors I wasn’t assigned to Art until most people had already taken their seats with their senior. By the time I sat down at our table Art was already fully engulfed in a story about his first wife. “What do you call a used car if you buy it and then you always have problems with it?” Art asked enthusiastically. “A lemon,” we replied. “That’s what my first wife was,” He said and we all laughed. Art had broken the ice with the first sentence he said to me. After that I knew I was in for a good few weeks. Art had already exceeded my expectations in the first few minutes of knowing each other and he continued to do so for the remainder of our time together. As much as I tried not to I definitely had some pre‐conceived generalizations in my head about what kind of person I might meet at a senior center. I expected that my senior might not be “all there” or that he would only tell stories about the “good old days,” and that the other stories would be about subjects I had no knowledge of. Oddly enough Art embodies all of these stereotypes, but not at all in the negative way that I had anticipated them. On the first day that I met Art he was wearing a Navy blue hat that read, “insane” across the front. Throughout all of his stories he would pause to point at his cap and say, “well I guess you shouldn’t be surprised, because I’m insane right.” He would tell us about his kids who are insane as well, but why would I be surprised? Art is insane too, right? Art definitely doesn’t lack stories about the good old days, although I never once heard him use the term. He made all of his stories about old times and new times sound like one big adventure. It is as if his life, past and present, and future are and will be the good old days. And when Art told me a story about ballet or the opera it was never drab or boring, but instead peppered with wit and a dark sense of humor. Art and I even bonded over common interests that make up a very important
part of our lives. Art and I are both fascinated by language. I grew up in a multi‐ lingual family and speak three or four languages my self (depending on how you look at it). I am so fascinated by the way that different people speak and I definitely plan on being able to speak at least five languages fluently. Art shares my passion for language and has Art had already exceeded my expectations in the first few minutes of knowing each other and devoted much of his life to learning he continued to do so for the remainder of our languages or time together. studying them in various cultures. Art is fluent in at least four languages and has studied more than ten more. Even if Art doesn’t speak a language he has a very good understanding of the fundamentals of it or where the language is derived from. Art’s passion for linguistics has taken him around the world, from Japan to Israel and even influenced his first marriage. “ I prayed for five years for a Japanese wife,” Art told me, “ just so that I could continue to speak Japanese on a daily basis.” Art is sharp, witty, clever, sometimes dark, and always honest. Certainly not what I expected when I walked in to the senior center on the first day. what surprised me most about Art is his ability to remember finite details about his life, even events that happened sixty years ago. Every story Art tells has some little detail that makes it interesting or funny. I suppose that is what makes a great story teller and Art is definitely one of the best I have ever been around. I think of art as more of a buddy than a grandfather figure. Of course that doesn’t mean that I respect him any less, but simply that y demeanor with him is slightly different. I think that we have a mutual respect for the views each of us has and how the time period we grew up in has influenced who we are. What I like most about Art is that he is as eager to learn from me as I am from him. I certainly have learned a lot from Art and I know that he has done the same from me.
Profile by Jordan Hamway Literary Journalism by Dimitri Goulas Reflection by Jordan Hamway
JERRY I look at life everyday as a learning adventure, and I try to learn things everyday. “I LOOK AT LIFE EVERYDAY AS A LEARNING ADVENTURE, and I try to learn things everyday.” These words came out of Jerrys mouth as he talked to us about what makes him, HIM. He also told us how he likes to interact with people and meet new friends. Before coming to San Diego, he lived in Michigan with his family. At a young age a hobby of his was listening to the radio on an early winter morning. He liked to listen to RPN records, and started getting interested in the Beach Boys when he was 16. Throughout his childhood and his early teenage life his parents loved him; even though they were too busy at times with work. But the relationship that they had was strong, and they knew how to have fun around the house. One way that Jerry and his parents GERALD BRONKHORST entertained themselves was by playing card games with his family. One specific game that they played was called cribbage. One day he came home and tau ght his mom how to play cribbage, while his dad instead played 500 Rummy. He played with them until he was about 60, which is when both his parents went to a nursing home five or six years later. They would play card games almost everyday, and enjoyed gambling while playing 500 Rummy by putting a dollar in each. This made the game be more fun and competitive. Besides his relaxing life at home, Jerry was having a difficult time at school. Since he dropped out, he suffered a lot of criticism from his friends. He was really saddened and knew that his only chance to survive was to come up with a plan. His original plan was to join the army/military during the Vietnam War. He was sent to the recruitment center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and went through this physical test to see if the people there were eligible to join. Their first test was to do squats, and Jerry was having a difficult time doing them. He ended up being sent home and not being able to join. So his next plan was saving his money until he was 18 so that he could go to Milwaukee to get a job, and eventually becoming independent.
Jerry is a man who describes himself to be very adventurous. He was born in Michigan and grew up in Negaunee. Having jobs starting in 1995 such as being a handy man and a desk clerk, one of his favorite ones was working at railroads. He explains this job as interesting, but it took a lot of hard work. It had its ups and downs, but he learned a lot because it was educational. He worked at this railroad for about four years until he had to return home and look for different jobs around the area. Another job that he got was as being a car repair men, which he did for 5 years. Then he went to welding school and became a welder fabricator, where he worked for a company that welded cranes. He also worked as a welder for American motor’s corporation. In addition he worked as a sea man in the boats of Lake Michigan. He was also a driver for a fancy resort. Lastly before retiring, he was a handyman: painted, mowed lawns, doing leaf work in the fog, and other types of cleanup. He was even a grave digger back when he still lived at home with his parents. During this period of getting different jobs and earning his own money, he met his soon‐to‐be wife called Anna May in 1967, and then eventually got married with her after finding out she was pregnant in June, 1968. He felt that the right thing to do was to stay with her and help her raise the children, since they were his priority. Their first child called Jerald was born in Sept. 29, 1968, who was born in Milwaukee. Their second son was Joseph, and he was born in 1970 in Green Bay. The marriage of Jerry and Anna lasted for about 6 years before ending their relationship in January 1st, 1974. Jerry believes that they got married for the wrong reasons, and they lacked trust between each other. They ended up making the divorce final in 1976. His children also suffered some damage for not having their father around and being physically abused by their mother’s boyfriend. This made Jerry feel angry, frustrated, betrayed, and hurt. For this reason he stayed connected with the kids, but not with his wife because he didn’t want to deal with her anymore. This was one of the most difficult challenges that Jerry had to overcome. He wishes there was something he could have done to make the situation better between him and his wife, but there were none. She was too deceitful, so there was no solution. They weren’t able to relate or connect their values to each other. The divorce caused him to become a temporarily alcoholic for about 4 to 5 years. After Jerry retired in Michigan, he decided to stay there during the summer but then coming to San Diego for the winter ‐ since the coldness here doesn’t compare to the coldness in Michigan. Gerry hopes to soon move to California permanently and live in a mobile home so he could travel around California in ease. Since he has a love for traveling, he’s hoping to find a small place in California to live at, where it’s more appealing than living in Downtown, San Diego. Having a mobile home would make his adventure easier and more exciting, and he would be able to travel to several places around California.
Literary Journalism BETWEEN JERRY AND ANNA MAY, words were exchanged and they didn’t want to regret anything later on; but the fact that a baby was growing inside of her worried Jerry. Jerry had a lot of thoughts running through his mind and he wasn't sure what he should do. He didn't want to just stay with her to give the baby a name but because he knew that relationships should be taken seriously. Jerry saw that the relationship his parents had was something he would like to have one day, but he also knew that he had to take the responsibility and have this child. Responsibility was always something that Jerry stood by. He believed that taking control of your actions should always be your priority choice. Jerry of course stayed with Anna because that would be the responsible thing to do. In June 1, 1968 Jerry and Anna were pronounced husband and wife. Shortly after, Gerald Jr Bronkhorst was born in September. Jerry and Anna had no idea how to raise a child. Many lessons were learned throughout both of their lives, but they didn’t learn how to take care of their own. One night when Jerry heard Jr crying he went He didn’t want to just stay with her over to make sure he was to give the baby a name, but okay. The baby looked at him because he knew that relationships and stopped crying and then should be taken seriously. reached for Jerry’s hand. Jerry stuck out his index finger and watched his baby wrap his tiny hand around it. He felt so close to his child. He knew that this moment was special because it was a real eye opener. His child was depending on him to live and Jerry worked hard for him even if it meant staying in a bad relationship. Later on in 1970, they had another child named Joseph. After adding another baby to the family, their children became their priority because the relationship was falling apart. As they attempted to fix it Jerry knew that it wouldn’t work out. Realizing that they weren’t together for love, but for the kids. There was no trust in their relationship and therefore the relationship failed. They both thought they could work through it and stuck with the marriage for about six years. They figured out that the longer the time they were together the worse it had gotten. At the end of their marriage Jerry felt betrayed and didn’t trust her and then she moved on to get a divorce. The divorce wasn’t final until 1976 and Anna took the kids. Jerry felt anger because he knew that if there was no trust in a relationship that it would not work out. Later he found out that not only was he really hurt, but his kids were affected greatly by the separation. Anna had a boyfriend after Jerry moved out and he physically abused his boys while they were growing up. The boys didn’t have Jerry as their role model and were also constantly hurting. Jerry felt so much anger from this and fell into bad habits. He felt very confused and thought that drinking would help him cope with his feelings. After the divorce Jerry would call his kids to keep a close connection.
Jerry luckily after moving out still had a job. After work and in his free time he did was drink. Drinking a lot made Jerry realized that he wasn’t very good at it. Jerry knew that people drink to get their problems to go away, but he also knew that the next day their problems might be worse and he didn’t want that. Jerry wanted to be able to solve his own problems. He also didn’t have the capacity to drink a lot so he gave that up and decided to deal with matters in his own hands. Jerry knows that the divorce happened for a reason. He needed to deal with his problems on his own instead of drinking. Jerry’s divorce also helped him become the person he always wanted to be and changed his life. He feels that everything that happened to him was for a learning purpose and he got out everything he could from that experience. He also found out through this that he was not a drinker and could not handle a lot. Jerry knows that experiences like this can change someone’s life and he’s glad it changed his for the better.
Reflection JERRY AND I HAD TO BECOME INDEPENDENT AT AN EARLY AGE. He dropped out of school during 7th grade and was forced to find a job and show his parents that he was capable of doing things on his own. I grew up around adults my whole life. I didn’t spend my time watching Disney movies and throwing tea parties with my friends, I spent my time with the adults. This forced me to learn how to develop my own opinions at a very young age. Jerry always tells us Senior citizens are an invaluable to have a back up plan. One of resource in our community. the quotes he lives by is, “When confronted with challenge improvise, adapt, overcome.” I am always planning ahead, so to have an elder say that it will really benefit you in the long run to plan ahead really assured me I have been on the right path. I walked in to the senior center and was lead to a table all the way to the end of the room. I was the first person to meet my senior. I will admit I was al little intimidated. I just wanted this visit to be over already, so I could make my way over to my riding barn. I looked over to the table I was directed to and saw a man sitting there smiling. As Skye and Scott lead me over he was wearing a white shirt with brown suspenders, kakis and a black super bowl cap on his head. I reached my hand out to shake his, “I’m Madison,” I said as he told me his name. “Nice to meet you, I’m Jerry,” he introduced himself. As I
sat down there was a couple of awkward silences. I asked him where he was from and from there on the conversation did not stop. It surprised me that Jerry was very open and honest right away. He had no problem talking about really personal things, girls he meet, his wife, his divorce and his drinking problem. The one thing that I thought was interesting was that before admitting something happened in his life he would state facts about that topic. For example, before admitting he was an alcoholic he would state facts about alcoholism. Then I would have to ask the question, “Did you ever struggle with alcoholism?” Before this experience, I always thought that seniors didn’t know how to do anything or take care of themselves. I always thought I had to talk “down” to them. After this experience I learned that our elders can teach us things we could have never learned through the internet. Another stereotype that I had about seniors is that they are all just stubborn and mean. I came to realize that all the seniors there were really intrigued to engage with us. I think that seniors just get fussy with teenagers and our technology because they did not grow up with it. This project showed me that seniors have something to teach us and that we can actually learn from them. I am going to take this beyond the semester. Next time I have the opportunity to talk with my elders, I am going to embrace it with an open mind. Senior citizens are an invaluable resource in our community.
Reflection CONSIDERING THE USUAL STEREOTYPES ABOUT SENIOR CITIZENS, I’ve always thought that seniors were mean, grumpy, and lazy. I also know that there are others who are wise and talkative. During our first day at the Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center for Senior Citizens, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought the stereotypes would apply to my senior as well, which made me think that the visit would be boring and not exciting. As I walked inside the center, I told myself to be polite ‐ since I wasn’t sure if he was in a happy mood. But as I sat down and joined the conversation between Maddy and our senior, he gave me a smile and introduced himself as Gerry. Since it was the first day of meeting our seniors, I didn’t have questions
prepared for our encounter beforehand. Gerry’s positive attitude made our conversation continue to flow, which made me find out more and more about his life. One thing I liked about talking with him was how open he was in talking about his life. Right when our introduction and greetings were done, he told us that we could ask him any questions that we want. As we asked our questions and he answered, I realize how much Gerry liked to socialize with new people. One similarity that I found out between us was that we both appreciate every single day of our lives. We both like to live our lives as an adventure ‐ with a lot of excitement and traveling. He told us how he’s planning on getting a recreational vehicle so he can travel around California. Since retiring in Michigan, Gerry told us that he decided to live there during the summer, but then coming to San Diego for the winter ‐ since the coldness here doesn’t compare to the coldness in Michigan. We connected when I told him the stories of my traveling experiences to Mexico. He thought that it’s a beautiful thing having family in a different state. This way you’re able to share each other’s culture by having parties together and trying out different foods. I agree with him, because I always have a great time with my cousins, grandparents, and my aunts and uncles. I could tell that Gerry was very interested with my adventures by the questions that he asked me, and how he laughed when I said that my dad cooks better than my mom. What surprised me during my visit at the senior center was how positive Gerry is, even though he has gone through a lot of struggles in his life that involved his divorce and his drinking problem. I was also surprised about all the jobs that Gerry had throughout his life. Jobs from working in a railroad to a hotel dorm man. I was also surprised by how deep his motto was‐ to not fix a negative situation by adding more negativity to it, and to just walk away with a smile. After our last day at the senior center, I’m going to try and live by his words for the rest of my life.
Profile by Marco Cardenas Literary Journalism by Imelda Mena Reflection (One) by Madison Gerber Reflection (Two) by Marco Cardenas
RICHARD His ideas are out there, but only to show that he has thought through them thoroughly. “I HAVE A LOT TO BE THANKFUL FOR”, Richard told us each time we visited him at the Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center. Richard Filbin is an interesting character. When you first look at Richard, you can’t help but first notice him in his heavy looking, thick, wire framed, glasses and his worn out, faded, Las Vegas hat. Richard Filbin He is usually in an oversized buttoned down collared shirt and blue jeans or brown slacks. You can tell he is a tall guy, even when he is sitting. By the look of him, one can tell that this man has a lot to say. Richard gets right to business and doesn’t waste time being shy. With him, it’s not hard to keep a conversation going. Richard is a very open, honest and opinionated. When he starts talking, it’s not hard to figure that this man is very content with the life he has led. He starts off each conversation by talking about movies. They are one of the things in his life that have helped mold and shape him. The movies that connect the real world are the ones affect his views on things like authority and government, women and relationships, and even religion. When you’re talking to him, Richard eventually gets to talking about his family and what it was like growing up. When she was born, unlike most kids, Richard was happy to have a new sibling Richard grew up with a sister, Lunette, 5 years younger than himself. He was very protective of her and they were close. He stuck up for her, and even talked to the principal on occasion for Lunette because he cared about her and didn’t like her being in trouble. As he grew older he found different ways to make money. At around the age of ten he shoveled the snow off of driveways, collect cans from construction sites to recycle and take lunch to parking lot attendants (when they were still around). This is how a kid his age made money in Philadelphia.
He shoveled snow all day and by the end of it he made 100 dollars. This was probably one of his proud moments when he was a child. Making 100 dollars and coming home to a proud mother who made hot chocolate. On occasion he would even sometimes let Lunette come along to shovel driveways with him and give her a cut of the money they earned. Richard likes to know a little bit about everything. When he was growing up in Philadelphia he saw a lot of history around him. There were the steps Rocky Balboa climbed, a huge library, and museums down the street where he lived. The history around him, this sparked his interest in history. Being immersed in it as he was growing up made him love it. He eventually met his wife in his late twenties, and they moved to Florida. There he worked for parks and recreations in Florida. Richard and his wife soon opened a rest home for the less fortunate. After years of helping, feeding, and medicating the less fortunate the rest home was eventually shut down by the government. Florida became stricter with the laws and medication and it was hard for them to keep up. The state took taking back the people and placed them somewhere else. Richard said saying goodbye to them was the hardest thing because it was like the 50 or so people living in the home were a part of his family. He then found out his wife had cancer and about five years to live. She went though chemo and with each session she began to appear weaker and weaker. She lived a good four and a half years after she started chemo. After his wife’s death, he decided to move out to California. He said that he needed somewhere new. He needed to be somewhere him and his wife have never been. So, California was his answer. One movie that has had a big impact on his beliefs is a based on the book 1984. It is one of the things in his life that that stood out to him and actually changed his views on the government. He read the book in high school and ever since then he has never forgotten it. When the movie came out he went to go see it. He even has the first version and the remake on DVD. The thought of a dystopian, stuck with him through the years. This shaped his view on authority and he sees the government differently because of 1984. He is more skeptical about technology, laws, and regulations because of “Big Brother”. Richard never reiterates it enough, “You have to read and see the movie”. But 1984 was not the only movie that stuck with him. It may have shaped his views on authority and government, but many movies have impacted him in a big way. Leaving Las Vegas showed him morals. It showed him how to treat a relationship and women. Then there is the movie Ten Commandments which was one that affected his religious views. His taste in
movies highlights his curiosity about many different topics. His ideas are out there, but only to show that he has thought through them thoroughly. For example his big interest in Egyptian history and the pyramids and his theory on possible extra terrestrial help on the pyramids. Although this might seem outlandish, it was very well thought out. There were many things like this idea. Just like his life he has a wide interest in a lot of things. Today, he still likes to know about many things especially about events that occurred and impacted history. He has said on multiple occasions, “I have a mind of a 30 year old.” This definitely becomes more apparent the more you get to talk to him.
Literary Journalism THE BOOK, Nineteen Eighty Four, was written in 1948. The story parallels the corruption that can happen in “Freedom is the freedom to say the government. It has changed two plus two makes four.” the views on government and authority for many people. One person in particular is a man named Richard Filbin, an interesting guy with many opinions. He read the book in high school and ever since that experience, it has impacted him on the way he sees authority. It is one of the influences in his life that that stood out to him and changed his views on our own government because of its similarities to the government from the book. Freedom is something we all live with, but does it mean were really free? “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two makes four. If granted all else follows.” That is the way the government in the book was, and our government could easily become just like it. The ideal world where everyone follows the same rules and is punished greatly if a crime is committed. In Oceania, which is a society from the book, it is normal to have a government surveillance system. This is used to watch all its citizens. The surveillance is to keep the people in order. It wants to control the people so no one goes “bad” and starts committing crimes. If a crime is committed they are sentenced to room 101. Room 101 is known as the room where all your nightmares come true. It could be one thing for one person, and could be another thing for a different person. The one that oversees everyone in this “perfect” society is known as big brother. Winston Smith is one of many that have committed crimes in Oceania. He was interacting with another human and falling in love, which is a great crime. Oceania is a country that is currently at war with Eurasia and Eastasia. Oceania is considered one of the three intercontinental super‐states. Currently
in “England or Britain” know as Airstrip one. The leader Big Brother is a man that is displayed on each and every telescreen. These telescreens are placed everywhere where, from transportation to the where they live. These telescreens are always broadcasting showing a picture of a man’s face, know as Big Brother. This symbolizes that Big Brother is watching you. Big Brother is known as an authority figure, the leader. He has people that do his bidding that are in the Inner Party. They consist of only 2% of the population. There is another party that is called the Outer party. They are the less powerful Inner Party. The rest of the populations are called Proles that consist of 85% of the population. Richard found that Oceania is really relatable to our world. With all the technology, and laws advancing as much as it does; it is much easier to keep people in check. The advancing technology makes it so it is quite possible for surveillance to happen through things like our phones, or tvs, or even the internet. Richard knows this, and he is very aware. The ideal world, what does it really mean: Does it mean that watching everyone looking for the slightest thing out of the ordinary. It might be the ideal world for the one ruling the country/state but as for the others they are not even given the chance to think on their own. Winston saw this world was being corrupted by everyone one. This world had no freedom. He wrote in his notebook “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two makes four.” But there is no freedom in Oceania. When he convicted he kept insisting that 2+2=4. The higher authority wanted to prove him wrong. They tortured him and brainwashed him and wanted to show that they had power over him that they made him think that 2+2= 5. Overall he was stripped of all his dreams. He knows that government is not the perfect world but he has to live in it and play a role as a Prole until he can finally get his revenge for his family on the government. 1984, the book caused many of Richard’s ideals to change. When Richard first read this book in high school it caused him to think differently. He thought it was one of the best books he had ever read and the concepts in the book changed his life. The book presented him with the ideas of questioning authority and avoiding the flaw of blindly following a leader. It caused him to watch the two movies based on the book released in 1954 and 1984. His beliefs became stronger. He has passed it on to his family, and he still keeps up with the news. 1984 has been affecting his life since high school, and it still is. It’s a book he can never forget.
Reflection WALKING INTO the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center was nothing short of an entirely new experience for me. I had no idea what to expect the moment I walked through the automatic sliding doors of the senior center, and waiting outside on the sidewalk to be assigned to a senior was one of the most agonizing waits in my academic career. Many different questions swirled around in my head while out on the sidewalk; was I going to like my senior, would he or she be a man or a woman, what if we had nothing in common? As odd as it sounds, the entire experience seemed intimidating for me at the very start. Save for my father's mother who lives in I have never really been able to get Albuquerque, all my close to a senior citizen throughout grandparents are dead, which means I have never my life. really been able to get close to a senior citizen throughout my life. Because of my lack of interaction with senior citizens, I had many preconceived notions about these people before I had even met them. I figured that I would walk in, sit down with a senior, they would tell me their life story, and I would be bored to bits the entire time. I'd try and ask a simple question, but they would instead ramble on about something completely unrelated, thus leaving me back at square one. Fortunately for me, this was far from the truth. You can never really prepare yourself for the way senior citizens smell. I was greeted by this unique scent walking into the senior center for the very first time. It's not a scent that makes you cringe, but it's also not one that you want to bask in all day. It's simply just there. However, just the scent alone tells a story about the people who live there. I immediately recognize that despite their age, the seniors are filled to the brim with knowledge and insight, simply from experiencing this scent. I scan the room and see a whole variety of characters; a man with a full set of grey hair slicked all the way back wearing a canvas jacket, a women dressed in black tights and a workout windbreaker with vibrantly red lips, it's almost like walking into a high school classroom 40 years into the future. Every one of them has a different story to tell, and it is easy to see that they are all itching to finally tell someone from the looks on each of their faces. I find my two group members sitting at a table with a large man dressed in all denim. Wrinkles cover his face, but he is surprisingly clean shaven. His white hair is well kept underneath a black baseball cap with "Las
Vegas" embroidered on the front. He wears a wrinkled and faded denim shirt, with jeans to match. His nametag reads "Big Brother," my first giveaway that this individual was not my typical senior citizen. I learn that his name is Richard, and that his nametag is a reference to the book 1984. This fact alone was the very first thing that made me start to dismiss all the preconceived notions I had about senior citizens. I had previously believed that we would have nothing in common; between us was a 50 years difference, how could we possibly relate to each other in any way? I was baffled when I learned that he was a very big fan of a book I had read countless times during high school, perhaps there were more things that we had in common than I had previously thought. My grandmother living in Albuquerque was never really mentally sharp, at least in the encounters that I had with her. I guess this is where my assumption that senior citizens weren't the brightest people in the world originally came from. Thus it was a real shock to me when Richard began talking about conspiracy theories and analyzing 1984 in such great detail. I was not prepared for someone of that age to understand the complex metaphors presented in the book, let alone discuss them coherently with such detail. He related the concept of Big Brother to the world at large, making connections that I had made only in the confines of school literature circles. Richard really helped dismiss many of the stereotypes I held against this age group, and I attribute his willingness to work with us one of the major factors that really made this entire experience noteworthy. Going into the project, I won't be the first to admit that in all honesty, I was not excited to talk to senior citizens at all. I really did not want to waste my Thursday afternoons listening to some old geezer ramble on and on about the old days, and how the youth of today are not nearly as hard working as they were back in their days. But as I visited Richard more and more, I found myself not only dispelling this notion, but I was even beginning to like our Thursday afternoon chat sessions. He had so much to say; stories from working as a teen, the death of his wife from cancer, to the way that his life has constantly been shaped by the ideas presented in 1984. This entire experience has been, for lack of a less cliché way to put it, eye opening for me. Experiences like these really make me realize that at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and that alone is a connection we can all share. I hope that one day I will still be alive to dismiss any shortsighted preconceptions the younger generation has about senior citizens, as Richard as done for me.
Profile by Pauline Velas Literary Journalism by Willie Sampson Reflection by Gabe Armijo
YOLANDA And I’d do againliquor if they paid me threw in a …I used to itsneak across the double border.and It was legal… sandwich! until I got caught. YOLANDA BUTTERBAUGH: is sixty‐two years of age, born on December 27th, 1949, about five foot four inches, red hair and free of wrinkles. She’s a Mexican‐ American that has lived in Southern California for quite sometime. She was raised by her grandmother, taught her how to dance and sew. Yolanda’s daughter, Lupe, works with the Los Angeles Police Department. She was married twice, the last, which she kept, his last name and is currently off the dating market. She’s a very wise woman who has gone through so many obstacles in her life that are now memories to her. If you were to ask Yolanda Butterbaugh what her favorite hobbies are, you probably wouldn’t believe her. She is a very active and happy person who enjoys entertaining people by dressing up as a clown. She is also a face painter with plenty of interesting stories up her sleeve. She is a creative artist that enjoys painting or as she would say “ I love painting, I used to get in trouble because I drew everywhere and on everything. I would even draw out a menu every night that told everyone what the dinner was.” She is always looking for a way to show off her creativity to the world. Yolanda came to the United States with her Yolanda Butterbaugh aunt when she was only fourteen years old. Never met her biological father and had a rocky relationship with her stepfather. She had a few sisters but chose to leave them to come live with her aunt in Los Angeles but after living with her aunt for a while she knew things weren’t going great because they didn’t get along. Yolanda and her aunt had a serious argument leading her to pack her bags and hop on the next bus. While trying to figure out what her next steps were, bus number 30 got her to the west side of Los Angeles. There was her childhood friend that recognized her falling asleep on her seat. It took a few taps and shakes to wake her up from her nap after being on multiple buses all day. The friend took her home��and showed her family who she had found on the bus on her way home. The friend’s parents saw her carrying a few bags with clothes inside and asked if she was homeless. After Yolanda had explained the day she
had gone through the family invited her to stay at their home. The only problem was that they were in the middle of the Cuban Crisis and didn’t want her feeling uncomfortable staying in a house full of Cubans. She said she was more than grateful to be able to stay with them and didn’t care about all the negative things people were saying about Cubans. Not having any money to progress in her life she found that collecting used cans and taking them to recycle gave good money. She began to collect cans from different places, and even traded stuff for other peoples used cans. There was a doctor from Nicaragua who needed house keeping, so Yolanda took that offer and used it to her advantage. Until one day the doctor realized she was taking his cans and selling them himself. He informed her that she wasn’t going to sell his cans anymore. Taking the last of the doctor’s cans to the recycling center the workers knowing Yolanda very well also told her she was making too much money and costing them more than they should they put a stop to her recycling. After few months of living with the Cuban family for a while, she finally had enough money to move out with her Cuban friend. The man gave her the option to choose from a furnished or unfurnished house at great prices. Her friend automatically told Yolanda to choose the furnished home because they wouldn’t have to spend money on furniture, but after thinking about it she quickly declined and choose the unfurnished. The friend couldn’t wrap her head around why she told the man no on a perfect house that was already furnished. Yolanda being the smart woman she is knew that it would be way cheaper to get their own furniture from the local thrift store than money they didn’t have on brand furniture that they didn't need. She was only around the age of twenty‐two when she worked at a factory making parts for airplanes for two years. Yolanda had always been very petite, and the factory was filled with intimidating big men, which the manager feared would injure and not accept her as a fellow coworker. In order for them to like her she bribed them by making them food during her breaks. Yolanda had many jobs that ranged from working at a sewing company, to working at a bar, restaurants, entrepreneur, and factories. The job that she was most proud of was her own little newspaper stand that she started on her own in her later twenties. She gathered used newspaper and sold them for decent prices. She began to think of ways to sell more merchandise as she walked down to the nearest thrift store. She asked the storeowner if he had used magazines where he pointed at a big box stacked high with old used magazines. Yolanda quickly looked through the box and decided to take them all. Her theory was if she sold magazines like Playboy it would attract men so they’d come over to buy them since they were cheaper with her than at the stores. The magazine stand started to become very successful and her daughter recommended selling other things besides magazines but more like Mexican candy and bracelets. One day Yolanda hopped on the Gray‐hound bus and came down south, were
she would be buying her Mexican merchandise. She would say “Why pay in American dollars for Mexican stuff when I can go down to Tijuana and save my money.” When she returned back to L.A., her competitors began to ask if she would sell them some of her merchandise. Without a doubt she began to sell them merchandise a few times a week. She figured with the money she would make staying open all week she already made it buy selling the merchandise to her competitors for double the profit. By the late 1980’s the police started to become strict and required all sells to require a permit. A friend of Yolanda began to sell at her stand; they each had thought the other person had a permit. When a policeman came to ask to see the permit they both looked at each other waiting for one another to pull it out. Not having the permit lead to both Yolanda and the friend to sit in the back of the police car. As the friend began to make excuses, she told him not to say a word because there was no way she was going to go to jail. Before you knew it she had talked herself and the friend from getting in any legal trouble, of course they did lose some of the merchandise but that was beyond the point. Since she was all about making money, she began to close her stand on Thursdays and used that day to go down to Tijuana to start bringing in different types of merchandise such as bracelets, liquor, candy, etc. Yolanda would rent a locker and leave some of the merchandise in there a come back for it as soon as she would drop some of it back in the United States. This time around she was on her third round crossing the border. Little did she know there were cameras watching her every move. When she picked up another bottle of liquor and put in her bag. When she presented her passport to the immigration officer, he told her that they had been keeping an eye on her. In her mind she knew that both her and the immigration officer were on the same page, but decided not to do or say anything about the bottle of liquor on her purse unless he says something. He told her about the cameras and how they knew what she was doing. As she apologized for all the trouble she still attempted to bring the bottle to the other side. The immigration officer asked her to open her bag, saw the bottle and confiscated it. They warned her not to do it again or next time she would be in some serious trouble. Yolanda today laughs at some of the stories she tells because they were all so different but made her the women she is today. A loving mother, girlfriend and clown putting a smile on people’s faces. Today she works at Petco Park as a supervisor of concessions, she told us the reason she loves her job is because she gets to tell people what to do and they have to listen. She is living a very happy life hanging around town, and dressing up as her alter ego Yoly the Clown.
YOLANDA BUTTERBAUGH WAS IN HER TWENTIES and raising a daughter on her own in South Los Angeles in the 1980's. At the time South Los Angeles was being overrun with gang violence as the rivalry between the Bloods and the Crips was growing increasingly more intense. Employment rates were low and the demand for drugs, especially crack cocaine, was growing. Making a living in that area at that time was extremely difficult. Although she lived in many cities and held many ... I can fight for myself! jobs in her sixty‐two years of life, the one that stands out the most is when she owned and worked at a newspaper stand in South LA. She sold pre‐used newspapers and magazines and all sorts of little trinkets, such as bracelets, candy, and even alcohol. Business was difficult because very few people wanted to buy newspapers and magazines that had already been used, but Yolanda has always been clever and she soon came up with a way to buy merchandise for very cheap in Mexico, and sell it for more money in Los Angeles. She explains, "Why pay in American money for Mexican products when I can go get them myself?" so once a week she would take a Greyhound bus down to the Mexican border. She would then cross the border on foot and go buy her merchandise. She stored it in a locker at the bus station and then went back for more. After four trips back and forth, she then made another four trips back and forth across the border transferring the merchandise from the locker in Mexico to a locker on the other side of the border. She then took everything on the bus with her and head back to Los Angeles. This method worked so well for her that after seeing her success her competitors began paying her to buy merchandise for them from Mexico and soon her business was booming. She said, "I became an entrepreneur... I could sell like its no one's business. I can sell anything, just let me sell". But Yolanda's mind is always working on new ideas and soon she decided that in addition to buying her normal merchandise in Mexico, she would start buying liquor to sell at her stand in Mexico too. She knew it wasn’t exactly legal but, as she put it, "it's only illegal if you get caught". So one day she took the Greyhound bus down to the border just like she usually did, only this time it was alcohol she was buying instead of her normal merchandise. She forgot one important thing though: the surveillance cameras watching her every move. She didn't know that every time she put the bottles in the locker and then went back for more she was being watched. When she crossed the border she was stopped immediately. She was taken in for
questioning, but was shocked when she walked in and realized the person who would be questioning her was someone that she knew! She had worked with him at one of her many jobs. She tried to talk herself out of a tricky situation, but they had surveillance videos proving that she had been trying to take the liquor across the border. Fortunately it was the first time she had gotten in trouble for this and, because the man knew her, her let her off with a warning. That may have been Yolanda's first run‐in with the authorities but it definitely wasn't her last. When police began cracking down on the drugs and gangs in her area they also became stricter about the newspaper stand owners having permits. Because she didn't have one, she partnered up with a man who did. One day a police officer came around asking to see their permits. Yolanda looked at her partner, waiting for him to get the permit but soon realized that he had assumed that she had had a permit. As it turned out, neither of them had permits and before they knew it they were in the squad car on their way downtown. Yolanda knew that if she was given the chance she could talk herself, and her partner, out of this mess but she was worried that her partner would say something to get them in even more trouble. As they sat in the squad car she turned to him and said in a hushed threat, “Shut up or I'll kill you. Don't say anything; not even a peep”. She knew her rights and knew that anything they said can and will be used against them so she made sure they both stayed silent on their way to the station. When they officers asked if she needed an attorney she responded, “No, I can fight for myself”. Yolanda was right. Soon enough they were let go and were on their way; although, because they still didn't have a permit, they had to shut their newspaper stand down and move on to another job. Since then Yolanda has held a multitude of other jobs, but the newspaper stand was by far the most memorable.
Reflection THE FIRST DAY THAT WE VISITED THE SENIOR CENTER we met a really nice woman named Nayereh. She immigrated from Iran forty years ago, and had three children. We talked all about her life and planned to meet her at the same place and time the next week, but when we showed up at the center a week later Nayereh was nowhere to be found. We waited for about fifteen minutes when we realized that she wasn’t going to show up, so we were introduced to our new senior friend. That was when we met Yolanda. The first five or ten minutes with Yolanda were awkward; filled with uncomfortable glances around the room and lots of talking over each other. All of our prepared questions were tailored to Nayereh and her life so we really didn’t have any questions to ask. My mind went blank and all I could think to do was have her sign the release form, but that was finished quickly and soon we needed to start asking questions. I still couldn’t think of anything to say, so I
looked to my partners for help. It was clear that she was not originally from the United States, so logically the first question asked was about where she was from. Thaddeus asked her when she had moved to America and from the moment she corrected him saying, “this is all America; from the top of Canada to the tip of Chile,” and from then on there was never a lull in the conversation. Yolanda told us all about her life, from the day she left Mexico to the time she chased after the bus the week before, and everything in between. She cracked jokes, and told us about all the times she had sassed people in her life. She told us that her one regret in life was that when she moved from Iowa back to Los Angeles she had to take her daughter from a great school and enroll her in a school that wasn’t as challenging. She told us about her many jobs and laughed with us when she told us how when she was a magician’s assistant her clothes would sometimes get stuck on the inside of the box and she would have to take them off! When this project was first proposed I wasn’t very excited. I’ve never really spent After meeting Yolanda, I’ve realized time with a senior that isn’t that everyone has their own my grandparents, and even interesting stories to tell then I never really talk to my grandparents about their life. After meeting Yolanda, I’ve realized that everyone has their own interesting stories to tell, because each one of us grew up differently. Spending time with Yolanda has changed my perspective because I always thought that when you get to a certain age, your life gets boring and you’re not able to do as many things as before, but Yolanda showed me that that isn’t true. She told us that she really admires Betty White because she may be old, but she is still active and successful. Yolanda showed us that believing in yourself, at any age, means you can do anything you want. The biggest gift that Yolanda has given me, is that one can always be young at heart.
Profile by Nallely Lopez Literary Journalism by Lily Rhodes Reflection by Thaddeus Lewis
FRED Any political movement that allowed me, I got involved in.
I STOOD OUTSIDE AND LOOKED INTO THE SENIOR CENTER with intense focus, as if I were a kid looking into a fishbowl. I watched the people as they slowly moved about, making up my own life story for them in my mind. I anticipated who I was going to have the pleasure of interviewing and got a little bit more excited every second I got closer to meeting him or her. Finally I was called inside and greeted by what seemed like a middle aged, stylish, African American man with a warm smile and kind eyes. He wore tight black jeans with a tight grey sweater that hugged his still fit body. He had a groomed beard that attached to his mustache and short black hair with a few grey hairs that promised to soon take over. He wore a gold watch on his wrist, outside of his sweater, and a “Volunteer” name tag hung from his neck. He walked us to the long table and surprised me when he sat down across from us. He introduced himself as Freddie, but said he liked to be called Fred better. He left no time for small chat, and dove right into telling us abo ut his 65 year long past. Fred was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and was the oldest of five siblings. He only lived there for his first five years, but remembers it vividly, and enjoyed the time he spent there. His grandfather and his dad built the house he lived in on one of the many plots of land that his family owned. His family had lived in Louisiana for decades, and his grandmother was a direct decedent of slavery. He was in a rustic part of the country and remembers that most of the roads weren’t paved, some even just wood planks. As a kid he remembers going to his uncles’ restaurants, although he said he was “being generous by calling them restaurants [when] they were really Juke Joints,” which are establishments for music, dancing, gambling, and drinking. His uncles all owned several Juke Joints and Barbecue Houses. When Fred was five, his family decided to move to San Diego to pursue improved working opportunities. There his father ran his own house painting business, which Fred later pursued himself. When Fred moved to San Diego, he moved into a primarily black neighborhood in Point Loma. At the young age of eight, he began working. He
would sell newspapers on corners, shine shoes, and pick flowers from yards, arrange them into bouquets, and then sell them back to them. Fred attended Hoover High for high school. While in school he noticed racial segregation the most. He was told to “only be with his kind,” and usually did just that. There weren’t very many black students at his school, so him and his friends would take his 1966 Camaro out after to school to “chase down hunnies.” During school, he was a very dedicated student, and enjoyed running for his cross country team. His favorite teacher growing up was his seventh grade humanities teacher who acknowledged the fact that he wasn’t allowed to teach everything in class, but encouraged Fred to hold his head up and spend his time outside of school at the library learning things that weren’t allowed in the classroom due to racial discrimination. Fred was an African American boy growing up during a time of segregation. When we asked him what the difference was between the south and the west, we expected that the south would have had much worse discrimination than in the west, but he told us otherwise. He said that “People there (Louisiana) were just, they learned to get along because this is the way it was. You knew boundaries, so in a lot of sense it was better there (LA) than it was here (California). When we got here (CA), we were still isolated and segregated.” He explained that this was because “People came west from different parts of the country so they brought their own attitudes and behaviors with them.” In other words, Fred noticed the discrimination in San Diego more than he had in Baton Rouge, because people acted on their opinions more instead of just letting things be. As a young adult, he became involved in the marches and riots supporting equal rights, saying, “any political movement that allowed me, I got involved in.” The Watts Riot sticks in his memory the most. It was in 1962 and lasted for five days. People were in the streets, rioting, burning down there own businesses and their own homes. He told us, “You have to understand that people of color didn’t really stand a chance, especially with the law.” He said that this made them angry it made them “angry all the time...you’re always depressed, you’re always depressed so you’re always angry.” Fred told us that he was able to get through these hard times with the support and love of his family and mentors. Fred said that without his loving family, he would not have been able to deal with the hardships of being an African American man during this time. His family was his safe place, he especially looked up to his father. His father instilled morals of selflessness and kindness in him that he passed on to his children and now onto his grandchildren. Fred enjoyed spending time with his parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles when he was younger, and now enjoys spending time with his nine children and twenty grandchildren. He is currently raising his six year old grandson, Elijah, and enjoys watching him play basketball and hopes that one day he will grow up with the sense of morality that his father once taught him.
THE WOODEN BOATS SAT IN THE WATER at the starting line. On a clear spring day in 1960, the sun was shining and the wind was moderate. Over 500 young teens were congregated at the starting line in Mission Bay at the regatta, ready to set sail to their small wooden boats. The big moment that everyone had anticipated was coming nearer. Soon, if they were lucky and the wind treated them right, the boats would be gliding across the water. 14‐year‐ old Fred Davis had been anticipating this moment. Finally, it was time. The contestants let go of their boats ‐ the race had begun. Fred and his classmates had been building their boats for the regatta in wood shop class for weeks. In the 50s and 60s, activities such as model‐ making were popular. Building model boats and airplanes were popular pastimes for children and teens, typically boys, of that era. With girls, embroidery, sewing and knitting were popular hobbies. These hobbies were also carried out in school in classes such as home That ugly boat won the race! economics and woodshop. In Fred’s junior high class, the boat‐making was taken very seriously by all the students. As he recalls, Fred says that “peer pressure could be tough”, and there was pressure on everyone in the class to make their boat the best. Even weeks before they arrived at the race, it had already become a competition between classmates. Fred worked diligently alongside his peers, trying to make his boat both aesthetically pleasing and able to sail smoothly. As much as he tried, his boat somehow looked different than the rest. He wanted his boat to look unique and different, but the plan to make it look nice didn’t quite work out. As it turned out, Fred had the ugliest boat in the class. The boat was shaped differently than all the others in the class, and this is only where the problems began. In an attempt to make his boat as smooth and flawless as possible, Fred spent a large portion of his time sanding the wooden vessel. He sanded the boat so much that he could poke right through the wood in places with his finger. To fix the problem, he packed the holes with bonding putty, only making the boat uglier. This mishap didn’t bring down Fred’s confidence. He didn’t give up or doubt himself and continued to work ‐ even though the boat was still ugly. While everyone painted their boats a solid, shiny color, Fred decided to paint his boat red, white and blue. This meant an extra step of work: putting masking tape on the wood while painting so the colors would not bleed. This precaution failed, and the patriotic colors ran into each other. The other students in wood shop laughed and made fun of it constantly. Fred’s flawed boat had turned into the joke of the class. When his class arrived at the regatta, there seemed to be little hope
and encouragement in what Fred had built. “They were laughing at my boat”, he says, and the little oddly shaped vessel stood out with its unique design. While some might be discouraged in a situation like this, Fred still persevered. He knew that even though his boat looked a bit different, it could still succeed. He observed the weather ‐ the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. He tested the wind ‐ moderately windy, the perfect amount of breeze for the boats if they were launched at just the right moment. Fred spent the moments before the race polishing and waxing his boat with surfboard wax. Filled with anticipation of whether his boat could possibly prove everyone wrong, he approached the starting line with his vessel in hand. The moment he set his boat in the water, he knew he was ready. “I saw the wind, I felt the wind”, he says of that moment. He pulled the sails so they were tight and ready for smooth sailing. Nothing could be done once the boats set sail. Once they left the contestants’ hands, it was all up to the wind. When everyone finally let go, the boats all sailed along at a moderate pace, none too ahead of any other. All but Fred’s. He had strategically set his sails just right, so that the wind caught the sails and his little boat skidded across the water. While all the other boats sailed steadily and smoothly, Fred’s underdog boat sailed with force across the bay, winning the regatta by a longshot. Fred tells this story with pride, describing it as the best moment of his life. The San Diego Evening Tribune, which sponsored the regatta, featured a story and photograph about Fred’s triumph in the race. He says that even if something like that can happen just once, it’s enough and something that one will never forget. “That ugly boat won the race”, he recalls proudly, and speaks of the trophy he still has in storage. “I use that example in life”, he also says. The experience taught him the importance of perseverance and not giving up. His faith in himself allowed him to keep working even though the class made fun of him, and he has continued to keep this mentality throughout his entire life. He reflects on the story of the ugly boat that won the race and tells it with enthusiasm. The story of his 14‐year‐old self winning a race that nobody thought he could win certainly sticks with him and he says with a smile, “I got the last laugh”.
Memoir WE WERE WAITING ANXIOUSLY FOR OUR SENIORS to arrive; I was already hot from walking a couple blocks to the center in the blazing sun. The two doors to the senior center were open, allowing me to see all the way through to the dining hall at the end. The smell wafted out and mixed with the heat of the sun. Standing on the fake green grass outside of the pale orange Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center, I held my breath as I heard, "Quinn and Gala, your senior is here. This is Fred," with our teacher pointing to a surprisingly not too old looking African American man. His kind smile is the first thing that struck me. Most of the seniors that slowly walked past the center doorway did not have this same smile. I knew then that we were placed with a sophisticated senior, and my breathing settled back to normal. The room was already loud as students filled the room with their new senior partners, exchanging greetings and names. As Fred sat down, I noticed he had style. I had to take a second look; he was not wearing the "typical" old person clothes, with the checkered polyester high‐waisted pants and tucked in button down shirt. No, on our first visit with Fred, he I thanked him for his time and he wore a tight light grey said with a big, but serious, smile, sweater with tight faded “Anything for you, baby.” black jeans and shoes that matched his sweater. After seeing that my preconceived notions of the elderly were incorrect (i.e. he was not drooling or sickly looking), I decided to keep an open mind, maybe this would not be so bad. In our first visit, we asked general questions about him, like where he grew up and about his family. From the day we found out about this project and our senior partners, I had hoped that I would get someone with an interesting life, maybe in a war or just a shocking and interesting story to tell. The first meeting with Fred changed my mind entirely. Fred’s experiences were not what I expected, he was not in a war and did not have a big shocking story to tell us but as it turned out his life was even more interesting than those who were involved in something historical. Because I kept my mind open, his stories were better than what I expected. The hour and a half flew by like it had only been 30 minutes. The interview and awkwardness broke when he said that after school he would, "chase down the honeys." We all laughed together and from then on, he slowly started adding his sense of humor to his stories, which made them go from ordinary to extraordinary. For me, add good true humor to any story and I’ll enjoy listening to it for hours. As my mom says, "You have to have a sense of humor sometimes and be able to laugh at yourself." From then on, it was like talking to an old friend, even though I had just met him that day. I have to admit that saying “old people” sounds weird now. To me, “old people” were smelly, wore clothes that looked and smelled like old
tablecloths, and rambled on and on. After visiting, getting to know Fred, I never once saw another senior that fit that description. In our last “interview” visit, we walked into the senior center and it did not take long to spot Fred. He was standing in the room, with a kind smile and a wave, like when you spot that friend you meet for Coffee every Tuesday morning. We did not have very many questions left to ask Fred, so he went back to volunteering in the Senior Center. Ten minutes later, I thought of a few more questions to ask him and when I found him, he graciously stopped what he was doing to help me. It was the end of our conversation that made me smile though. I thanked him for his time and he said with a big, but serious, smile, “Anything for you, baby.”
Profile by Quinn Butterfield Literary Journalism by Simone Arasimowicz Reflection by Gala Sereno
LONNIE “We’re all in a hurry to go nowhere.”
LONNIE LINDSAY IS A QUIET, TIMID MAN. He stands tall with a cane in hand‐ a full head of salt and pepper hair underneath a baseball cap. Easygoing, friendly, and moderate. Those are the three words he uses to describe himself. Lonnie Lindsay in Florence A volunteer at the Cyber Café in the Senior Center in Downtown San Diego, Lonnie spends his days assisting the elderly with computers. Although he’s retired, Lonnie is committed to working at the Café. He admittedly enjoys volunteering and being around others. After spending three days with Lonnie, I’ve come to realize that he’s not the most opinionated person, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s perfectly content with living in the moment, and as he looks back on his life, he does not have any regrets on the choices he’s made. Lonnie was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He has two siblings, both of which he loves affectionately. When asked about his favorite childhood memory, Lonnie proceeded to tell how he broke his right arm while trying to sneak out of the house. “My mom caught me. I tried to turn and run, but I fell.” Although he did not say why this was his favorite childhood memory, it may be his favorite because it reveals his mischievous side. When Lonnie’s grandfather passed away, he moved to his grandfather’s farm. It is on this farm that he spent three years of his life. On the outskirts of the farm was a well for water and an outhouse. The two bedroom
home they stayed in was a bit small for the five person family. But Lonnie didn’t seem to mind. His time on the farm wasn’t the most exciting time of his life, but he did have plenty of time to explore. Lonnie and his brother and sister often played games outside, such as Cowboys and Indians. While Lonnie was a student at the University of Missouri, America was waging a war against communism in Vietnam. Little did Lonnie know that the war would completely change his life. “People did not think it was a war to fight.” Lonnie says. He and his peers anxiously stood by to see if they would get drafted into the army. “[The general opinion of the war was] not wanting to serve in it and not go to it and get killed.” The draft was lottery‐based according to birth dates. Lonnie wasn’t enthused to fight the war in Vietnam, and so he cleverly avoided the Army’s draft, “The day I was supposed to go into the Army was the day I signed my papers with the Navy.” Thus began his career in the United States Navy. Lonnie then came to San Diego for boot camp. While in boot camp, Lonnie’s perfectly synchronized marching gave him a spot in the six man flag team. Lonnie informed us, “That was probably the most interesting things that I did while I was in the Navy.” His flag team performed for a Padres game in Qualcomm stadium, where he was able to watch the entire game free of charge. Lonnie soon took a test in boot camp and scored in the top percentage. He was given a choice of which field to enter, and Lonnie chose personnel. After Lonnie retired, he stayed in San Diego to soak up the sun. He often goes on little “adventures”, catching a bus en route to an unknown location. Sightseeing seems to be a favorite hobby of his. Not only does he love sightseeing in San Diego, he loves sightseeing in Australia, Italy, and Hawaii. “I enjoy traveling. I had joined the Navy to see the world.” However, he’s not done traveling, as he hopes to someday visit Germany and go to the place in which his ancestors came from. Out of all the places Lonnie has gone, Australia is by far his favorite. The people are friendly, and they speak English. He admits that it’s hard for him to go to another country with a different language. He likes to know what’s going on around him. However, he greatly wishes to learn another language. He admires those who have learned multiple languages because he believes they have a great amount of patience and determination. When asked what his motto is, Lonnie replied, “Live life to the fullest.” He then proceeded to tell us that sometimes we will get into tough situations, but we can’t let that get us down. He also said that we all lose someone we love, but we can’t focus on their death. Rather, we must remember all the good times shared with that person. Lonnie claims to be Baptist, but he’s not extremely religious. He can’t decide on whether he believes in life after death. He’s had dreams of past loved ones who have died, but he points out it all might have simply been a dream. Lonnie’s perspective on life is simple: just try to enjoy what you have. I think people should really take on Lonnie’s simple principles. We all spend too much time living in a materialistic world that we
fail to enjoy the simple things our life has to offer. In the wise words of Lonnie, “We’re all in a hurry to go nowhere.”
Literary Journalism LONNIE LINDSAY IS A MAN OF MYSTERY. He does not talk much, and when he does we never learn the intimate details of his life. It was a struggle for us to drag the stories out of him, but eventually, after days of coaxing and prodding, we did. After our third day of talking to him, he visibly started to relax. Through his new serenity, we learned some novel things about Lonnie, and one of these tidbits of information on his life turned into the story below. Lonnie loves to go exploring. This was one of the first things he told us, on the very first day. It became clear to me that travelling and going places is an essential part of who Lonnie is. Living in San Diego, he often takes the bus and rides it to the last stop. Once there, he gets off and commences his expedition. The story told in the following paragraphs is one of his favorite memories from his travels vie public transportation, and one that we both found quite amusing. The day is bright He has, after all, defied gravity, and new, and Lonnie is age, and a trolley schedule to be ready for a new adventure. sitting in this exact spot, headed to Today, he is not sure yet who knows where. where his feet will take him, but these are the types of expeditions he loves most. He rolls out of bed, puts on his shoes, grabs his jacket, and walks out his front door. On the corner of the busy street, he rolls his eyes at the speeding cars. Where do they have to get to so fast that they would risk their lives, as well as the lives around them? People move too fast for absolutely nothing, he thinks to himself (the words are disconcerted in tone, bouncing around his old mind). He finds himself wishing again that he had the powers of Samantha from Bewitched. With just a twitch of the nose, he could send those cars flying back into their respective garages. Satisfying thoughts, to be thought again and again it seems. Arriving in Old Town, Lonnie walks at a leisurely pace to the bus and trolley station. This proves to be ill‐fated, because as he rounds the corner, and the bus station slides smoothly into view, he sees that the trolley he was meaning to catch is about to leave. Here, he must make a critical choice. He could run and strain his aging muscles, or he could give up and catch the next one. After seconds of tense deliberation and some rather severe inner conflict, Lonnie begins to run. His legs pump and his arms swing to the side, while his lungs work to keep speed with his moving body. Arriving in front of the trolley at last, Lonnie jumps on just in time and collapses into an aisle seat. Lonnie sits still for several seconds, attempting to regain composure of his beating heart. As his breathing slows, and his pulse dulls, he can feel a great
sense of triumph coursing through his invigorated veins. He has, after all, defied gravity, age, and a trolley schedule to be sitting in this exact spot, headed to who knows where. It is around this time that Lonnie straightens his back out of its hunched over recovery position, and notices something very curious indeed. The trolley car he is in is completely empty. The trolley’s doors have already closed and locked into their positions. Lonnie turns around and looks down the car, but sees not a soul. He jumps out of his chair, and runs to the doors. They will not open. Outside, a service man sees him on the trolley, and tries to pry the doors open as well. Both men realize it is too late when the trolley starts to inch forward slowly. As the vehicle picks up speed, heading south towards Mexico, Lonnie gives up. Evidently the service man has given him up for a goner too, as he is at that very moment gesticulating wildly in the air, pointing at something on the horizon. As the trolley accelerates, Lonnie decides to let fate take him where it will and settles in for the ride. What’s interesting about riding on a trolley alone is that you feel the isolation pressing on you like a thick gas. It fills you up, expands your brain cells, and invades your senses. Something about being utterly alone in a public place has always left me with an eerie sense, so I could immediately recognize the feelings that Lonnie described to me. To a regular pedestrian, this experience may have been odd. Maybe it would have scared them a bit, to not know their destination. To Lonnie however, it was just another day of the unknown. It was different, yes, but not upsetting to him at all, this little misunderstanding. In fact, it turns out sitting on a trolley all by yourself, headed to who knows where, is an excellent place to think. So think Lonnie does. As each new stop approaches, the trolley slows. Lonnie readies himself for departure each time, but the trolley never comes to a complete stop. It is almost as if it is teasing him, lurching as if to halt, and then keeping its doors clamped tightly shut. Lonnie travels through about eight stations, thinking about life all the while. Until suddenly, the train comes to a standstill. He rises from his throne in anticipation of finally being able to get off, but the doors still will not open. Outside the window, in the bright light of day, Lonnie sees that he is in a service yard for the trolleys of San Diego. Conveniently walking right by is yet another service man. Lonnie bangs on the window, and “scares the poor man half to death”. Oh, if looks could kill. After the service man figured out that he wasn’t being attacked by a demon, just Lonnie, he calmed down a bit and stopped his glaring. He pried the doors open, allowing Lonnie to step down (at last) from his deserted trolley car. Pointing him in the direction of the exit, the service man was not in the mood to talk. Lonnie had been attempting to tell him his grand story; all the background on why he had shown up on an “out of service” trolley. Taking the hint, Lonnie walks out of the service yard a free man, and takes a bus back to his apartment. A day to remember, to say the least.
Through all of this, Lonnie reveals himself to have a true adventurer’s soul. Living vicariously does not necessarily have to fit under a strict definition, and I believe that Lonnie truly enjoys going on his little expeditions. Some of them are planned, and a lot of them just seem to happen, like the trolley ride. Lonnie’s belief in accepting his fate and learning to live with it is exemplified by his willingness to let the trolley take him wherever it was going. This is a main character trait of Lonnie’s, and one that took several days of interviewing to uncover at that.
Reflection Grumpy, cranky, overly sweet, and extremely talkative ‐ before we went to the Gary and Mary West Senior Center, I already had initial thoughts. These thoughts were combinations of expectations and stereotypes. The expectation was that it was going to be awkward talking and trying to connect with the seniors. I also expected us to be individually paired with seniors, and the whole interview would feel strict and forced. The small amount��of volunteering seniors allowed They have lived their experiences, us to be in groups and so we and it defined their personalities. were able to work together and it also helped us bond easier. My original stereotypes of seniors were a little undefined, since I have not met many retired people. From past experiences with seniors, I thought that seniors were either extremely friendly and helpful or very cranky. These judgments were both proved and disapproved. Each senior couldn’t just be categorized as nice or rude; they were more complex than that. Coming into this project, I thought that it might become an awkward experience with the seniors; I thought the whole interview and bonding experience would be awkward. However, I was surprised how relaxed and well that this project was, even by the first day. When we arrived at the senior center, I didn’t know what to feel. I huddled around my friends, not knowing what to do. When we stepped inside, it smelled like what I expected a senior center to smell like ‐ cheap soap. I felt a weird coldness around me, separate from the air outside. When I walked further into the room of my classmates and strangers, I felt warmness. Every part of the senior center had a different feel to it, and I can say the same about each senior. Our senior partner, Lonnie, turned out to be the extremely friendly and helpful type of senior. Knowing that he volunteered at the computer room nearly every day was enough to consider him a helpful person to the community. He volunteers at the Cyber Cafe, which is where we interviewed him. Stepping into the Cyber Cafe made me understand what a senior center actually was ‐ a place where retirees can find comfort with other people. There
was a line of computers along the table and in circle tables, people occupying the computers and laptops, and a desk where Lonnie worked at. He greeted us and we went right into the interview after sitting down and explaining to him what we were doing. He was shy to tell us about himself at first, but we were more comfortable with each other with each visit. Soon, he was comfortable enough with us to paint with us while voluntarily telling him of his stories. He made an effort to continue the project with us, and throughout it, he was friendly. He also tried to give us advice, to which we were happy to hear. As well as meeting Lonnie, there were many other seniors that I saw. Someone proudly sang a treasured song to the whole room. Another person awkwardly started speaking to us, telling us that he was only talking to us to hear his own thoughts, and telling us that he was only speaking because that is what “old people do”. I also remember the woman who announced that the members of her group helped her use the Internet, and said that she had had bad experiences meeting men that she thought was her future love. These things were new and unexpected, and I did not know seniors were this open and spontaneous. As well as being open and spontaneous, they were very out of tune with our generation. Lonnie, our senior partner, wanted to learn how to use a cell phone and did not have one. Many of the other seniors wanted to learn how to use other sorts of technology like computers and the Internet, as listed on their interests on most of the sign up papers. Instead, they had different things growing up. Their experiences of drive‐in‐movies or being drafted into a war were things I had only heard about. Each senior was different, and maybe had even more complicated personalities than of people my age. They have lived their experiences, and it defined their personalities. This experience helped connect two very different generations together. The whole time at the senior center helped me further understand that I should add on as many experiences to my life because life is both too short and too continuous.
Profile by Christina Torres Literary Journalism by Emma Jackson Reflection by Maria Nguyen
THOMAS “I thought America was like heaven! The cities are so neat and clean! So neat and clean.” NOT MANY PEOPLE ARE FORTUNATE enough to travel to multiple places on Earth, and not everyone allows themselves the opportunity to obtain a successful career; however Thomas (Tian) Yau Siaw has accomplished both of these achievements. Thomas was born December of 1935 in Amoy China, and was also raised there.He attended school there just like his three older brothers at the time. While in school, Tom’s father Timothy Siaw was pushed to obtain a business degree. In 1941, Tim flew to the United States and attended Walla Walla college to receive a business/administration degree. Tom’s father also attended Columbia University from 1941 to 1944. Due to World War II, Tim was unable to return home, and with most men drafted into the war, females had to fill the jobs. Tom’s mother for example became a pastor of a church. She also taught bible study, and was prespitarian. Only after the war was he able to reunite with Tom and the rest of the family. When Tim returned, he taught school in Shanghai. Tom and his three brothers attended that school. During the 1940s, Communism began to change the Republic of China into its ideal ways: dictatorship. This became the Chinese Civil War. During this war, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese National Party (CNP) were in constant battle; each side gaining advantages over the other. In 1948, Communists had gained the upper hand and headed South into the Republic of China. “The school noticed what was happening. They charted a boat. A big boat‐‐everything went on the boat‐‐the faculty, the students, the equipments, the live stocks, the animals‐‐ everything! We went from Beijing and moved to Hong Kong.” It wasn’t until 1949 Tom’s family moved to the United States. After receiving several letters from his dad, Tom, who was only fourteen at the time,
was excited to live in the United States. “I thought America was like heaven! The cities are so neat and clean! So neat and clean.” They lived in China Town in San Francisco with his uncle and aunt who were both herbalists. After staying with his aunt and uncle for about four months, his family moved to Portland Oregon. “And that is where we set up the home. My dad was working, and so we started there. So we started the school, training, and everything.” In Oregon, Tom attended Portland Union Academy. It wasn’t until 1953 when Tom’s mother was pregnant with his sister. His family moved to San Francisco because his mother was pregnant and they wanted “to live in a better environment.” There he attended Balboa High School. In Tom’s high school years, his father bought him a violin which led to Tom’s interest in playing instruments. He is now able to play the guitar, piano, violin, and sing‐‐most of which was learned in high school. While in San Francisco, Tom had a few jobs as well. His first job was working in a nursery in China Town. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor, ever since I was a little kid.” This first job was his first step into his future career. But besides working in a nursery, he also worked as a drive‐in movie theatre, and worked in a shop his father owned. While in this high school, Tom studied zoology, increasing his interest in the medical field even further. After graduating Balboa High School in, he attended Walla Walla College. “My father would always talk about Walla Walla, Walla Walla College. At a young age, in my mind, the only university in the United States was Walla Walla.” In this college is where he began his premedical training, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1963. Shortly after graduating college, Thomas was drafted into the army. “[...] after graduated from college, I was drafted by the way into the U.S army. I spent two years in the army, most of the two years was served in Germany.” While in Germany, he served in the army hospitals. Upon returning from those two years, he wanted to take medicine. Being the popular subject that is, it was very difficult to get into medical school. “It is very difficult getting into medical school. It’s costly, for one thing, and also competition are very keen.” Because of this, Tom decided to go to seminary, which is an institution for educating students in the study of religion. This was done at Saint Andrews University in Michigan. He spent two years there and studied to be a minister. He also sang for a choir under C. Warren Becker who was a professor of organ and church. After two years in Michigan, he turned to San Fransisco. His friend told him that because of his college degree, he was able to go into teaching. “I taught high school for one year in Northern San Fransisco.” While teaching in San Fransisco, Tom’s younger brother, Kaleb, attended medical school in Guadalajara. Feeling inspired, Tom enrolled in the University Autonoma of Guadalajara School in 1967. There, he graduated with an M.D in 1972. After graduating, he received an internship in Saskatoon, Canada. He was there for one year, and he moved down to San Diego the following year. He worked as a doctor in Tijuana, Mexico for about twenty‐one years. In Tiajuana he worked in Gerson Clinic, which officially opened July 20, 1977, as one of the founders.
When speaking about the clinic, Tom made it very clear when he was speaking of the upmost importance through one of his quirks. He occasionally tapped two fingers on my wrist or arm to emphasize the highlights of the story. This was complimented by his enthusiastic tone. When continuing to mention the clinic, he mentioned one of the other founders, Charlotte Gerson Straus. “She was going around telling people ‘Cure the Incurable’. She gave lectures all over the place. She gave a lecture for over 2,000 people, so I was interested. I went there and listened to her speech. Afterwards, I approach her to bring her to Tiajuana. Because in the United States it’s not allowed, not permitted. And so I invited her—and that was in 1977, and Norman Fritz. With those two person, we started the Lacguardia.” After starting Lacguardia, Thomas went to China to visit his father for a month. To take his place was a man named Cirtus Hessei, and when Thomas was in China, they went to the owner of the property and took it away from him. “I lost power—control, and so they took over and I left it. And it amazes me that he never contacted me! By right he should contact me because I was the founder, the organizer, and the owner of the therapy!” The documented owner was then stripped of the property by someone else, but to this day it is not known that Thomas Siaw was the one that initiated Lacguardia. In 1994, he went to Giessen, Germany working at the University Giessen Hospital as an open heart surgeon. Fifteen years later, Tomas moved back to San Diego to enjoy the nice weather it has. Three years later, Thomas began visiting a senior center called the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center. While at this center, he has been interviewed by high school students, and thus Thomas Siaw’s life story begins.
Literary Journalism DR. THOMAS SIAW, was born into a very small village in South China, Yangshou. His father had already moved into the United states by the age of four, to develop a stable life enough to support his two children and wife. He lived with his grandparents and mother, along with his older sister Fumi. Although the majority of his family did not live very far from them, two homes filled with his relatives were on the same property, along with oxes, chickens, and small paddies where they grew rice. His childhood life in China was extremely secluded from all the influences of the surrounding world. He was born during the development into Communism, which was a struggle for many of the self sustained family’s like his own. The stress of the government pushed his family into expanding their land into a rice farm in order to support a village Dali which was stricken with hunger a common problem many people were faced with during the development of this communist nation. Along with this was the rise in health and population problems, both were being spread throughout China. The
population and economics was growing at a very young age Tom learned how important his health was, he has always kept himself in exceptional shape. When he was seven years old his aunt, Cuifen, caught a severe case of hiccups, that first started out “We were very lucky to have with cases that would last for days, gotten out. Very lucky.” and soon expanded into weeks. Her life finally ended when she had the worst relapse of all, this specific attack lasted for over two months, when her heart finally gave out from the stress it had placed on her body. Tom loved his aunt so much and felt helpless that he couldn’t help her with her illness. From this moment on he knew he wanted to help people who had horrible ailments, like his aunt’s. When he moved to San Fransisco at fourteen, he only had two main goals. Which was to graduate high school and go to Wala Wala College in Washington, where his father had attended. His second goal was something his parents had instilled in his mind since he was young, along with the rest of their children. They wanted their children to excell, and in their mind becoming a doctor was the only way, to reach the American dream. So immediately when they landed in America he did nothing but what was needed to achieve that, never drifting from the path of his goal even with all the changes the U.S. was going through. During the 1960’s a large movement was arising in San Francisco, a movement of Anti‐conformity and love. Although Tom did not associate himself with these people, the environmental differences were a great shock to him. Wala Wala college is where he majored in pre‐med, and minored in religious studies. For the rest of his life Tom did nothing but help and educate people to live their lives healthy and happy. Tom is one of the most intricate and amazing people I've ever had the chance to meet, the more he talks the more interesting you learn his life to be. There was no one point during his life where he wasn’t completely occupied with bettering the lives of others. He’s now 75 years old and volunteers at the community center in downtown San Diego, still helping others.
Reflection THE AIR WAS WARM, a slight discomfort occurred when entering the room, seeking my senior in a room full of unfamiliar faces. The walls of the room are painted white, the only colors were coming from the dark‐rimmed clock ticking on the far wall, and a black television hung on the right side of the room. In the far corner stands a black cupboard, and on top of it a white fan. The unfamiliar
setting worried me, and thoughts of a senior being uninterested in an interview were unsettling. I kept my composure, but nothing could get rid of the nervous feeling that spread through my body. As my partner and I stood near the door, I spotted an old man sitting at a table alone. His was head I saw a man with a whole tucked into his chin and eyes closed. tumor that covered his whole My teacher approaches him, bending chest. I wanted to help him. over slightly to get closer. “Hey Tom?” my teacher calls from across the table. The old man jerks his head back, eyes widened and he blinked repeatedly. Taking this as a sign of recognition, my teacher continues talking as my partner and I stand off to the side. “Here are the high school students that will be accompanying you today.” Tom’s eyes darted between my partner and I. He then turned his attention towards the teacher, nodding in approval. “Okay,” he finally said. The teacher directed my partner and I to our seats that sat opposite of Tom. Silence grew between us and the senior. I pulled my chair out slightly and squeezed into the little room I gave myself. My partner followed my example. Pulling out the seat as little as possible because the loud noise it made, I squeezed into it with my partner following in his own seat. Glancing back at my senior, he held his head down with his eyes closed again. The silence was becoming an awkward silence—it had to be broken. “Hello Tom,” I said. He opened his eyes and looked up. With his attention focused on me, I took advantage of the opportunity. “My name is Nathan,” I said. He drew his ear closer to me to imply he did not hear. I raised the sound of my voice saying, “I’m Nathan.” “Nathan, okay,” he replied. He looked at my partner waiting for his reply. “I’m Daniel,” my partner said. “Daniel, alright, nice to meet you two,” he shook our hands. Silence crept into the small talk we had. I felt chained to my chair at that point, unable to escape the awkwardness that lingered. Quick to fill the silence with words, I asked, “So what exactly is this place?” Surprised, he scoffed, “You don’t know what this place is?” Astonished by my question, he turned to someone on his left and tapped her shoulder still shocked. “They don’t know what this place is!” “We don’t, no,” I chuckled. My attempt to make humor of my ignorance did not work well. There was nothing I wanted to do more that moment than put my head down in shame. Somehow, I resisted the urge. The person whose attention he tried to get didn’t respond. This spared my partner
and I the embarrassment of being mocked. Turning his astonishment into humor, he responded, “This is where we get the free food!” His humor put my embarrassment at ease. At that moment, he pulled out a photograph of an ark. “This is a picture of Noah’s Ark!” He talked of the owners who created this ark currently reside in San Diego, and how he had met them a few times. I went along with it by being amused by this ark actually being a hotel. I was absolutely confused when he spoke of the ark as if it was the well known Noah’s Ark mentioned in Bibles. His tone when speaking about the ark was excited, which made it easier to talk to him. Asking small questions such as “Were you born in San Diego?” and “Do you like living here?” produced a more comfortable environment. The more questions we asked, the longer his answers were. Tom talking created a comfortable environment, which made establishing a rapport easy. The ‘ice’ teachers referred to in order to be comfortable with our seniors had finally broken. After an hour of conversing with Tom Siaw, the silence between questions and answers was no longer there. When asked if he had been to places other than his place of birth China, he touched on countries he has lived in throughout his life. His traveling experience fascinated me. When we was telling his anecdotes of travel, I found myself leaning forward, living in the stories of visiting Israel and living in Germany. When he was speaking, he made it clear when he was speaking of something important I should write it down with the greatest detail. And when he mentioned names of places or people, he was sure to spell them out. I followed his movements and incidences like a video camera capturing these events. The feeling of being submerged in his stories was as euphoric as reading an adventure novel. I wanted to hear it all. Waking me from the stories of Tom’s travels was the teacher’s signal to depart from the senior center. Excited for the actual interview with him the following week, I asked him for his phone number and e‐mail. In return he directed me to a YouTube page that contains information about him. He also told me he could be found on the Internet. Hoping this would be a way to contact him, I thanked him for his time. Upon exiting the building, I found it comforting to have Tom as my senior partner. His well‐rounded personality and multiple talents made it easier to connect with him. Just seven more days until I record the life of Dr. Thomas Yau Siaw.
Profile by Nathaniel Peterson Literary Journalism by Daniel Islas Reflection by Nathaniel Peterson
RUBEN His daily uniform consists of a Vietnam Veterans baseball cap and tie-dye shirt, a true testament to the man he was and who he is now FOR RUBEN BENAVIDES, timing was everything. It’s as though changes in his life have coincided with major events in American history, or vice versa, as Ruben likes to think. He was born on December 19, 1940, almost exactly a year before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The life of Ruben Benavides is the quintessential story of a man searching for the unattainable American dream. Ruben was born to a lower‐class family in Seguin, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. As the youngest son of eight children, his siblings were responsible for teaching him English. As a child, he used to dream of playing football as a Longhorn at the University of Texas, but his parents could not afford to send him Ruben Benavides, US Navy to college, and he claims that he “was not smart enough to get through it on his own.” Enlisting seemed like the only viable option. This lack of confidence in his own intelligence is likely due to his inability to attend school until the fourth grade. As a “tejano”, the term used to identify a Texan of Mexican heritage, Ruben was segregated from other students. At the time, some whites believed Hispanics to be “dirty” and many employers preferred an uneducated, and therefore inexpensive, labor pool. Ruben recalls playing in the African American baseball league with his brothers during his junior high years because he wasn’t allowed to join the white team. Ruben even tried to enroll at the African American high school when Hispanics were integrated to white schools because he believed so strongly that segregation was wrong and unjust. In 1954, when Ruben was fourteen, Brown v. Board of Education declared the unconstitutionality of the “separate but equal” doctrine in schools. This decision propelled a number of favorable verdicts for Mexican
Americans from Texas courts weakening racial separation. By Ruben’s senior year, his high school was fully integrated. With two older brothers in the Navy, Ruben left his small town and his family for San Diego in June of 1960, a year when United States involvement in Vietnam became aggressive. As a three inch gun shooter stationed in the South Sea of China, Ruben went on nine‐month deployments during his four years aboard the USS Helena and his two on the USS St. Paul. Ruben remembers returning to San Diego between deployments and being spit on by protesters of the war. He would respond by raising his hands in the air and shouting “I’m not in combat, I was just on a ship!” At the time, Ruben was truly unaware of the real implications of the United States’ presence in Vietnam during his service. He does admit to “doing the whole hippie, Don’t get married unless you really protester thing”, but that his wanna get married, but make sure motives were rooted in the family comes first partying and women. Today, he recognizes that we shouldn’t have been in Vietnam just as we shouldn’t be in Iraq. After six years of active duty, Ruben became a North Island maintenance mechanic in 1965, which he continued until his retirement in 1997. Ruben was married to his first wife in 1965, and they had a daughter just three years later. His marriage ended in divorce in 1972. Following his divorce, Ruben was living in National City and got caught up in “some bad shit.” At a time when San Diego was a true military town, Ruben served as the interpreter between the Mexican drug dealers and the Navy, English‐speaking customers. He acted as a drug mule, transporting marijuana from the Mexican‐ American border to San Diego soldiers and sailors. Ruben was married again in 1978 to his wife of over thirty years. This marriage too ended in divorce in 2009. Ruben advises: “Don’t get married unless you really wanna get married, but make sure family comes first.” Ruben returned to his hometown following his second divorce, but quickly grew tired of the Texas heat and way of life. He returned to San Diego where he has been living since. Today, Ruben is committed to maintaining an active lifestyle, and walks two miles a day, except on the weekends of course. His daily uniform consists of a Vietnam Veterans baseball cap and tie‐dye shirt, a true testament to the man he was and who he is now.
Literary Journalism WHEN LOOKING BACK at the wars that have taken place in American history, it is helpful to study the place in which the war took place, the nations involved, the dates, the number of deaths, and the social issues simultaneously occurring in the United States. Sometimes we learn about war through the eyes of a
soldier, a Naval officer, or a military doctor. It is rare however, that we hear a story like that of Ruben Benavides, an average, lower class, Tejano who enlisted in the military, completely oblivious to the foreign policy and political motives for the action being taken across the world in Vietnam. In 1958, with the United States in the midst of the Cold War, Ruben left his home in Seguin, Texas and moved to San Diego. He had just graduated high school as a giddy seventeen year old, ready to get out of the small town he’d lived in his entire life and see what the world had to offer. At the time, he had no political preference and didn’t fully understand the war. All he knew was that he didn’t have the grades or money to go to college, and that his two older brothers had enlisted in the military, so he felt that his only option was to follow in their footsteps. Ruben recalls his time in the Navy with a wide grin spread across his face, and a nostalgic sparkle in his eye. His first four years were spent on the USS Helena and last two on the USS Saint Paul. The ships patrolled the South China Sea, sailing up and down, a few hundred miles apart from other ships. He spent his days working hard: waking up at five in the morning to begin the day, going to “chow” every few hours, and cleaning and manning the different stations he was responsible for. The work was challenging and repetitive but it made Ruben feel like he had a purpose, and he enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. The work was split into different divisions on the ship, called rates. Ruben was the oldest rate so he manned the guns and took care of the whole ship. When working on a carrier ship, Ruben prepared the aircrafts to be sent out, and checked them when they returned to make sure everything was clean and working properly. At four in the afternoon, they “knocked off”, some men who lived with their wives would go home, others would stay aboard ship, and men like Ruben would go into town to have a drink or two. Ruben remembers these days as the time of his life. Despite the days filled with hard work, he was still able to spend nights partying with the other men, and sometimes women. Ruben felt a strong sense of camaraderie when in the Navy, like he truly belonged in the community of men aboard the ships. Coming from a close knit family, Ruben had an appreciation for living with a group of people whom he had close relationships with. But he grew up in a household of women, so it was great to finally be around men who he had much more in common with. He learned a great deal from his time with these men because they were all from different parts of the country, and all practiced different religions. In preparation for this diversity, Ruben’s boot camp urged him to visit Protestant churches, Catholic churches, Jewish temples, and Muslim mosques. He also learned about the culture of the different countries he visited when given free time off of the ship. The many places he visited consist of the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Korea, and many other places in Asia. When asked his strongest memory of the places he visited, Ruben mentions a story about a
woman in Japan. He was out late drinking after a long day aboard the ship. After many drinks he ended up sleeping with the grumpy men and women who walked extremely slowly and who had nothing interesting to say. Every stereotype of older people (balding hair, wrinkling skin, dentures), made me terrified of this project. When I approached the Gary and Mary West Senior Center one fateful Thursday afternoon, I feared the prospect of being paired with an old man or woman. However, my experience happened to be a little bit brighter than my original interpretation. At first, entering the center was horrifying. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my time talking to an ol person and be stuck in an awkward conversation with a complete stranger. I heard my name called, “Katie you’re with Ruben.” My first thought was negative. I was by myself, no one to help me in case things got awkward or we ran out of things to talk about, or in case my person was incredibly odd. I sat down and greeted my senior partner, Ruben, wearing a baseball cap and a bright tie dyed shirt. I sat down and we both gave each other an awkward smile followed by our eyes both wandering around the room. I figured it was best to start off by introducing myself, sharing exactly what …acted more as a friend rather I was doing there and why he was important for our than a stranger project. After the quick chat, awkwardness set upon the both of us. I had no questions to ask and I could tell from the start that he was a shy man. Suddenly, a glimpse of hope came when Sianni pulled out the chair next to me and sat down, whispering that she was joining my group. About two minutes later, Molly pulled out another chair and in a matter of five minutes, the project got a lot better. After Molly and Sianni became acquainted with Ruben, short conversation began and as much as we tried to start new conversations, nothing seemed to interest Ruben at the slightest. After a while of wandering eyes and sighs between us four, it seemed like a new man came out with the question about his baseball cap. “Vietnam Veteran” is what the baseball cap read, and as easy as that, Ruben gained a smile, a voice, and confidence in a matter of seconds. He explained to us about his time in the military aboard a Navy ship, his duties he fulfilled and his view on the war now. Finally, we were able to keep a conversation going and from that point on, we knew what our main focus of questions was going to be. Sparking interest in the military allowed him to settle in and become comfortable with us three, so every Thursday when we returned, he got that much more comfortable and acted more as a friend rather than a stranger. My favorite memory of Ruben was when he was explaining the fun he had on and off his Navy ship, the USS Helena. Right when he said “fun” I knew exactly what he was talking about. Though first hesitant to say it in front of us, not knowing if it was too inappropriate, he explained that with all the free time
there was aboard ship, he was able to keep himself entertained by things that weren't exactly allowed. Then, went on to when he had free time off the ship and how he exactly didn’t know his limit with these “fun” things. This happened to be one of the few stories that throughout the whole time telling, he worn a smile on his face as if the happiest man in the center. Though my perspective on seniors was harsh and stereotypical, in the end my experience happened to be a lot better than I predicted. Ruben happened to be intelligent, wise and funny and though my first thoughts of this place weren’t the brightest, in the end my experience turned out to be an unforgettable one.
Profile by Amalia Bersin Literary Journalism by Katie Chatfield Profile by Sianni Rosenstock
CONSTANCE Like I was telling you, [my story] is going to be different than most CONTSTANCE KING IS A WOMAN OF SIMPLE VALUES – be good to people, stay in school, money isn’t everything, and live each day the best you can. Yet, these simple values weave across a complex life story – one that depicts a woman’s struggle against the greatest force of all – life. Ironically, I can’t help but acknowledge now the only thing that remained constant in her life – her first name, but Constance she has remained. It is the only tangible thing left from her short years of childhood, to her decades spent taking care of the people who came and went in her life. Constance was born in Denver, Colorado, the first of four children to Hope and Daniel Smith. She proudly recites that she was born on August 4th, 1951, the same day as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and current president, Barack Obama. From the age of five, Constance assumed the role of caregiver to her family. She quickly realized that she was the only one she could depend on, while her parents were alcoholics and her siblings were in need of a maternal figure. The family never stayed in one place for long, though, traveling back and forth from Denver, Colorado, home to her mother’s family, and Long Beach, California, home to her father’s family. They often traveled without a final destination, making it impossible for Constance and her siblings to settle down. She uses a matter of fact tone when explaining how she went to twenty‐eight grade schools, and logically points out that this was the reason she could not make friends. Her siblings remained her only close friends throughout early childhood. As her family had no money to spare on toys or possessions, she fondly recalls exploring the outdoors, frequently alone, or followed by a short line of children. Constance was always the leader, with her siblings trailing behind her like ducklings. She says that nature became the love of her life. She liked to be alone a lot, and would frequently go out into the desert in Indio and listen to the animals, or watch the birds and the lizards. Constance’s trips to Colorado remains a true highlight of her life.
There, she was able to be a child again and experience as an outsider the taste of the vastly different lifestyle of her cousin, Christina, and her mother’s family. Constance could recall her introduction to classical music – the time when her aunt took her and her cousin to the symphony or the time when they let her sit in the front row at Christina’s music recital. Speaking of her cousin and Colorado brings warmth into Constance’s voice. It is a reminder of carefree frolicking and relatives who supported the family at significant times in Constance’s life. At the age of fourteen, Constance dropped out of high school and gave birth to her son Keith in 1966. Yet, this age is even less shocking than when she became a maternal figure to her siblings at the age of five. Constance was overjoyed to have her own child – she saw it as an opportunity to show her mother how one was supposed to raise their children. For a time, Constance continued to live with her family, until she was fifteen, at which time she married eighteen‐year‐old David Brown. Sadly, this would lend itself to future animosity between Constance and her siblings– who were put in a position without the shelter of a maternal figure in an unstable family. Constance feels they resented her for her decision to leave them in order to raise her own child in a more stable environment. Constance’s marriage to David Brown lasted for three years, during which time Constance now realizes that neither of them was grown up enough to be married. She does note that David Brown was willing to raise her son as his own, but he wasn’t ready to be a family man yet. She says now she understands that, though back then she couldn’t. So Constance, wanting to do what was best for her son, left the marriage. Later in life, when Keith begged her to give him a younger brother or sister, Constance points to the events of her first marriage to suggest why he remained an only child. Constance realizes with a chuckle that each of her three marriages lasted three years. At nineteen, she married Barry Patton, but eventually realized that their marriage was no good – Barry could not fill the role of a father figure to Keith, and Constance departed once more to raise her son alone again. When Keith was eight, Constance brought a new man into both of their lives – Charles Tribble. She hoped to satisfy her son’s need for a father figure in his life – a man to help Keith become a man. After a bit of prodding questions, I ask Constance why she did not marry Charles during their ten‐year relationship. She responds that he was already married. Charles worked as a Service Writer at a Chrysler Dealership. To Constance, she felt safe – the first two marriages had been detrimental choices, and this man was never going to ask her to marry him. But years later, Constance recalls him talking about divorcing his current wife, and marrying her. However, she had seen enough of marriage. Constance suspects that Charles Tribble had felt himself losing his grasp on her, and that’s what inspired the talk of marriage. For a couple of years, Constance wavered. That was until she received a call from Charles Tribble’s angry wife – and she realized that she was hurting another family, in
order to try to have something for her own. Under the influence of liquor, he could control her, make her do things she didn’t want to do during that time. Eventually she was able to wake her son in the middle of the night, and the two of them fled to Colorado. There, she felt free. When Keith turned eighteen, the United States Army called for troops during the First Persian Gulf War. Despite his mother’s dissuasion, Keith signed up, though he never fulfilled his dream of going to war. At age nineteen, Keith married a woman he had met in Colorado. She was from New Mexico, and a fire lights in Constance’s eyes when she recalls her daughter‐in‐law. From the moment that Keith’s wife laid eyes on Constance, she held a burning hatred for her mother‐in‐law. Eventually, the wife gave Constance she has remained. [Her Keith an ultimatum: continue to contact your name] is the only tangible thing left mother, and you will from her short years of childhood, to never see your kids again. her decades spent taking care of the Constance adamantly people who came and went in her life. states that she doesn’t blame her son for leaving her. She understands the way he felt about his own kids. But his departure from her life left her without her son and a best friend. Years went by in solitude, until 2001 when she met David King. She plays around with his name. . .David King. . . King David . . . and chuckles to herself. She describes him as a great big teddy bear when he was alive. She says she saw a lot of herself in him – of her own relationship with her son. He was close with his own son before he passed away from diabetes, and she supposed that she lived her life through those two. Constance’s mother had drunk herself to death at age thirty‐nine from cirrhosis of the liver, when Constance was nineteen. When Constance’s sister Deborah contracted pancreatic cancer, she requested Constance’s presence in Colorado, where Constance cared for her until her death. She says her father stopped drinking and smoking a week before he passed, during which time she also acted as caregiver to him. She still maintains contact with one cousin – Christina and her family. When asked about her life, she says she has no regrets – she only wished that her son was still in her life. After a breathless thank you for telling me her story, she says matter‐of‐factly, “Well, like I was telling you, mine is going to be different than most.”
Literary Journalism CONSTANCE KING WAS LIVING LIKE A HIPPIE BEFORE HIPPIE WAS EVEN A TERM. The west coast in the 1960’s was filled with love and music when the hippie subculture set in. Giant parks became home to thousands of
people living freely; strangers became friends, for there was a huge feeling of trust amongst them. Every child had a community of parents. A decade before women and men were expected to be prim, proper, and pedicured, hippies wore baggy clothes, grew their hair out, and went with the flow. They were nomadic, moving from place to place using the resources at hand to get by. When they felt like moving on, they did. When they wanted to go off on their own, they could. One of the biggest facets of Constance’s King’s life was traveling from place to place and never settling somewhere for too long. At the age of 15, Constance decided to try having the stereotypical home life with her first husband, David Brown. Three years her senior, Brown offered he a steady income for her and her infant son, but with this dependency came a feeling for Constance of walking through drying glue. She was used to living a life adapting to her environment, and then moving on when her parents Although she recognized that her son needed a stable home to develop, she felt as though nothing was helping cure her feeling of emptiness. In the summer of ‘69, Constance’s husband packed up his wife and her three year old son in their dusty brown Volkswagen bus, and drove from Riverside to Los Angeles for a free love concert. “Free love ‐ free music concerts. . .they called them love concerts ‐ you know, free love. There was a lot of that going on too.” For someone like “Free love - free music concerts… they Constance who when called them love concerts - you know, prompted about words free love. There was a lot of that going of wisdom says, “be good to people and be good to on too.” yourself,” the community she met while in Los Angeles seemed to welcome all of her beliefs. Constance describes huge parks, filled with people. Some in tents, some living out of VW buses like her own. Children running around, playing with each other, coming back to check in with a quick, ‘hi mommy’ or ‘be back before dark.’ Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic rock, embraced the sexual revolution, and some used drugs such as marijuana and LSD to explore altered states of consciousness. David Brown, a Christian man that Constance had met in church, had taken his family to a Free Love concert in Los Angeles to see a Christian group called Up With People. “yeah, it was concerts and a lot of, you know, that people get together and start jamming. . . And Up With People was a, was a Christian group that was really really big at that time.” Where they stayed overnight for the weekend was filled with small jam sessions breaking out whenever someone picked up a guitar. “Everyone either had a joint or a pipe,” Constance would recall, with a soft smile and a hearty chuckle. The rural areas in the desert of Arizona, and mountains of Colorado also bred a deep appreciation for animals and nature, qualities that hippies
valued deeply. Constance recognized that the animals lived there first, and that to live you must live amongst them. Because she never stayed in one place for too long, it was near impossible to make friends. The birds and lizards became her biggest fascination because they were everywhere she went. Constance credits her education to public libraries, where she learned to rely on for information about the animals she admired. She learned that Native Americans idolized animals and what they did for the land, and respected their beliefs. To this day she keeps up with Native American news and ideology because their deep rooted morals have to do with being a good person, and treating animals with the utmost respect. While the weekend spent in LA stands alone in Constance's experience with a large group of the stereotypical hippies, really she had been living like them all along. One of the most basic fundamentals Constance picked up from her parents was how to survive. How to live a mobile life, and never get too attached to one place. She respects people, even if they don’t share her beliefs, but has an uncanny way to always remember what she values in life.Constance is an genuine person who deserves the up‐most respect but would never ask for it. If you’re kind to her he’ll begin to trust you, but she would never demand it.
Memoir I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER CONSTANCE KING AND THE PHENOMENAL STORY SHE SHARED WITH US. Her life was far from easy and she never once gave up. She is someone to truly admire. She values treating people right, taking each day as it comes, and nature. Three things that people tend to lose touch with throughout their lives. During each conversation and visit with her, I was reminded to live in the moment and not let whatever little things I was worrying about at the time get the best of me. Because I am an extremely empathetic person, I feel for Constance. Her struggles, her lost relationships with her family and son, and her hardships were very eye opening for me and I could feel her pain. But through all that, Constance continues to smile and she is not only content with life, but with who she is as well and that is something I truly admire in an individual. Our first visit with Constance felt a bit awkward. I could tell immediately she was a very shy person and I found myself questioning whether or not she would ever feel comfortable with telling us her story. At first glance, I had no idea she was homeless or the hardships of her life she would soon share with us. We started with small talk but as the comfort levels rose, we heard more and more of Constance’s story and her outlooks on life, love, family, and everything in between. Our subsequent conversations with Constance were casual and light hearted, without awkward moments or pauses. The levels of each of our comfort were equal. Personally, I found the unplanned conversations with Constance way better than the planned
interviews. I think Constance did too. Although she is not person you would describe as an “open book”, I think she felt more comfortable and at ease when the conversation just flowed. Constance told us multiple times that “you never know what tomorrow will bring.” I think the events that happened in her life had pretty much forced her to live her life with the constant reminder that you never know what will happen. She doesn’t plan what will be happening later in the day, tomorrow, or next week. She lives in the moment and accepts whatever it is that is around her. This experience was by far much more enjoyable and eye opening then I could have ever expected. I am extremely glad my group and I were assigned to do our project on Constance’s life. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason and I think we were put with Constance King for some reason that perhaps I will never know. There are people like Constance in the Maybe the reason was to world to teach us lessons that inspire show me that the ourselves to look within and question situations in my own life could be so much worse, or own way of living and thinking. or to live in the moment, or to appreciate the world around me and all the things and relationships I have Ultimately, I recognized the importance of cherishing my own life and upbringing. I have so much love and respect for Constance. Her attitude and outlook on life are those that many people will never have because so many of us are so concerned about what will happen and not about what is happening now; we live our lives constantly looking ahead. Constance is an incredible person and she has a beautiful soul. I wish I could do something to help her out financially or to make her life just a little bit easier. But maybe if Constance’s life was easier, she wouldn’t be half as incredible as she is today. There are people like Constance in the world to teach us lessons that inspire ourselves to look within and question or own way of living and thinking. Some learn a great deal from these people, while others are completely blind to all the knowledge people like Constance can provide us with. I’ve learned a great deal from Constance from the short time I’ve spent with her. I hope the rest of her life is long, happy, safe, fulfilled, and filled with love.
Profile by Nina Wren Literary Journalism by Talen Mumford Memoir by Jordin Yasmine B.
CLARICE I decided to be a human being again
BAMBI, CORNSTARCH, AND SPRING FLOWER are just some of the many names Clarice Cook‐Thoren chooses to go by, an ex‐hippie you can’t help but wish was your grandma or cool aunt or hell, even your sister. When Clarice talks, there is a sound of pride in her voice and a sense of accomplishment with her life that can only be achieved after experiencing and surviving so many challenges. Clarice describes her childhood as perfect and even compares her parents to the Cleavers. She began to grow great wanderlust however, and by the time she was 18 she decided to move to San Francisco. San Francisco in the 60’s was anything Clarice Cook‐ Thoren but ordinary and that’s what made it so special for Clarice. She considered herself a hippie and even went to pot festivals in Palm Springs and Newport Beach. Although Clarice tried to always have fun and live life to the fullest, she admits there were some darker times. Somewhere in the midst of the excitement of San Francisco, she got caught up with drugs and was sent to prison at the age 18. She was addicted to heroin at a very young age and it soon became all she wanted to do. However, throughout Clarice’s life, she has always kept a positive attitude and said that no matter what, there’s always someone worse off than you. This, in a way, is what helped her make it through her two years in prison. Once released, friends who hadn’t known about her arrest said they weren’t even able to tell something was wrong, because her attitude always remained optimistic. She loves her ability to just enjoy the humor in things and says there’s something funny about everything. She finds it hilarious that while in prison, her boyfriend moved to Alaska to be a fireman. While her life became more out of control and her morals changed, one thing didn’t: her love for music and making people happy. Her eyes light up when she talks about the time she took her friend who was dying of AIDS at the time to his first and last concert, Elton John and Billy Joel. A feeling of excitement is present in her voice as she explains hanging out with Jimi Hendrix
outside his show and not even realizing it. While her passion for music grew, the rest of her life crumbled around her. In and out of jail and sentenced to prison twice where she was charged again for starting a riot, Clarice began to see her life deteriorating in front of her. Her heroin use became constant and now she looks back and remembers thinking, “When I was using, I didn’t think I would live past thirty.” However, her life took a turn for the better when she had, as she likes to call it, an epiphany. She recalls, “I was with a group of friends and they were all getting high and I realized, I don’t even like you. I don’t like these people. Why am I here?” From that point on, she decided to get clean and get her life back on track. She didn’t know exactly where she was headed but she knew where she would end up if she continued the dangerous road that she was on and she definitely did not want to end up there. When describing the moment she decided to quit doing drugs and regain control of life, she says, “I decided to be a human being again.” She explains that is was at that point that she decided to feel emotions beyond only wanting to get high and being high. She wanted to love and be loved. She didn’t exactly know how to be the person she wanted to be but she knew how to stop being the person she didn’t. While Clarice dealt with the hardships in her life, she always kept a positive attitude. She was, and still is, a firm believer in happiness and finding it, even when it feels lost. She likes to say “No matter what, there is always someone worse off than you.” This has been the mantra keeping her sane and helping her stay grounded during hard times. Those words kept Clarice’s spirits She recalls deciding to buy forty up while in prison, when she felt like she had nothing else more goldfish to put in the fish to live for. That little saying is bowl, previously only containing what keeps her lively today one, and pretending to be clueless at 62. when they asked her about it. While talking with Clarice, she tends to laugh a lot, a raspy, uninhibited laugh that seems to carry throughout an entire building. Looking back on funny memories or thinking about the kind of trouble she used to get into, she remembers being a prankster back in the day. She tells us a story about the time she house sat for a friend and played practical jokes on them while they were gone. One day at thrift store she even decided to start a used trophy collection, claiming they were actually hers to all of her friends. This collection included trophies for soccer, baseball, swimming, rowing, bowling, surfing, and basically any other activity that you could be rewarded a trophy for. Besides numerous trophies, Clarice had numerous jobs as well, many of which she was hired as one of the first women for that company. She has
worked every angle of construction, whether it be building staircases, putting in tile, or shaping cabinets. She has worked at Coca‐Cola as a lab technician as well as a counselor for juvenile delinquents. However, the hardest job Clarice has ever done was framing garage doors. This was a job that many believed she wouldn't be able to do, seeing as most men quit because it was too strenuous. Clarice told herself she could do it and with that attitude she took the job and stuck with it. That is, until she got bored and wanted to do something else. Hearing her talk about her past so openly is inspiring. She has been clean for over thirty years and the person she used to be is merely that, a distant memory of a woman she no longer chooses to be. She laughs, telling us she loves who she is now and is living more fearlessly than she was when she was eighteen. She waves a bandaged finger in the air, telling us how she had to use panty liner as a bandage because her friends didn’t have an actual one. And the flower tattoo on her hand, the one she gave herself with India ink and a sewing needle her first time in prison, well, that only brings another smile.
Literary Journalism TAKE ONE LOOK AT CLARICE COOK‐THOREN and you can tell she is not your average senior citizen. She shows off her eccentric style by wearing multiple hoops in her ears, sunglasses, trendy outfits, and gives herself a different name everyday, including Bambi, Cornstarch, and Crisco. She lives by the saying “you can do anything you want if you really set your mind to it” and is thrilled to say at the age of 62 she feels more alive than ever. Her best advice is to live your life to the fullest and to have a finished bucket list, instead of an incomplete one. She has lived her life to the fullest and doesn’t regret a thing. Throughout Clarice’s life, she tried many different jobs including counseling juvenile delinquents, construction, and even working as a lab technician for Coca‐Cola. The toughest job she ever had was framing garage doors in her In 1990, it was estimated that only mid thirties. Clarice was one of 4% of construction workers were few women to work in construction. In 1990, it was female estimated that only 4% of construction workers were female. She applied knowing that she would be working hard all day, lifting hundreds of pounds. Her boss told her she would not be able to do it and that he had men quit the job because it was too difficult. Hearing she wouldn’t be able to do it didn’t discourage her, rather challenged her to prove everyone, including her boss wrong. Clarice’s first day at the construction site was grueling, and she immediately started to regret taking the job. She felt pain in muscles in her
body she didn’t even know she had. However, she wouldn’t let her boss win so she kept with it. “I told myself that if I was gonna quit, it wouldn’t be because the job was too hard,” Clarice states. Everyday before work, Clarice ate a nice, fulfilling breakfast to get her fueled and ready for the day. At work she snacked throughout the day and kept snickers bars in her nail bag. While lifting the garage doors, there was only a tiny ledge to hold on to, so she was basically only carrying 200 pound doors with her finger tips and one other man helping her. At times, the wind blew so hard that it knocked the door right out of her hands because she wasn’t able to have a strong enough grasp. Needless to say, she had a lot of difficulty with this job and certainly worked up an appetite by lunch time. She says that every single day after work she bought a box of cookies and would eat the entire thing. “I was 5’6” and barely 120 pounds and I could not gain weight,” she says. Slowly but surely, Clarice proved to everyone that no task was too difficult for her and surprised her boss just like she said she would. Although she’s gotten into some trouble when she was younger, she was resilient and still fulfilled her dreams. After going to prison twice and kicking her heroin habit on her own, Clarice had two kids, hung out with Jimi Hendrix unknowingly, and taught many to just be able to laugh at themselves. She says that depression is common sometimes but in the end, there’s always someone worse off. Every little mistake makes you who you are and has made Clarice into the admirable woman she is today.
Reflection VISITING THE SENIOR CENTER the first time was not something I was looking forward to. I was very skeptical about this whole project idea and couldn’t get these negative stereotypes out of my head. When most kids hear that they will be working with senior citizens, they automatically assume they’re going to be old, or rather ancient, grumpy, mean, and well, pretty smelly as well. I know this because this is exactly what my naïve seventeen year old self thought. My anxiety only got worse as meeting our senior citizen got closer but my predictions couldn’t be more wrong. As soon as I laid eyes on my senior partner I felt a bit of relief. Clarice was wearing a bright purple leather jacket, sunglasses, lots of bangles on each wrist, as well as hoop earrings. I could tell that this stereotype I had created was going to be proven wrong. After sitting down with Clarice for the first time, she told us that she wanted her name to be Bambi that day. Cornstarch, Springflower, and Crisco would soon be added to her list of nicknames. Clarice is very eccentric and enthusiastic about life. She shared stories of being a hippie in San Francisco in the 60’s and unknowingly hanging out with Jimi Hendrix. I found out that we both shared a love for concerts and spontaneity. Somewhere in the midst of all her adventures, she went to prison twice for crimes relating to her heroin
addiction. No matter what trouble Clarice got into, she always tried to be optimistic. She says that it’s fine to be depressed every once in a while but you shouldn’t dwell on it because that will always make things worse. She says that no matter what, there’s always someone worse off than you and that’s gotten her through a lot of tough times. Hearing how easily she was able to overcome her life problems gives me home and inspiration to make it through my own. You cannot help but admire them knowing where she came from. How does someone from such a dark and troubled past come out so positive? And that is where I think Clarice shines brightest. She hasn’t let life make her bitter and that is what I admire most about her. Needless to say, Clarice quickly proved that she was anything but boring. After meeting Clarice, I actually found myself looking forward to meeting with her every week. The stories she told were all so exciting and out of the ordinary. I went home Thursday eager to tell my dad about the new things I learned about my partner and couldn’t wait for more. It was so interesting to hear stories about prison and drug addiction from someone who actually experienced it. She seems so normal and happy so it’s crazy to think about how much she’s been through in her life. Clarice’s love for life is surprisingly really admirable even after all of the hardships she’s been through. Most people her age seem so depressed and tired and bored. She is the complete opposite. Clarice is so happy and says she feels more alive than ever. She really is an inspirational person and I never would have thought that my senior partner would have such an impact on me. One moment with my partner that really touched me was when we began to feel a connection. She told Chandler and I that she loves us and wants to keep seeing us when our project is over. I was thrilled and couldn’t be happier because she’s such an amazing person that it would be hard to just say goodbye to her forever when our project ends. One of the days, each group was supposed to make some kind of art to keep ourselves busy. We didn’t need that though because Clarice always has an interesting story to tell. At the end of the day, there were people sharing the art they made. Clarice stood up and said to everyone, “I just wanted to say that I’ve made two really great friends from this.” I wanted to cry it was so sweet. I really do love her and I never thought that I would get so much out of this project. I’m surprised at what a great group I was assigned. I definitely thought this project was going to be terrible, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Profile By Chandler LaFee Literary Journalism (One) By Nikki Hummel Reflection By Nikki Hummel
QUEEN Whether you know it or not I actually chose you guys.
FOR QUEEN JOHNSON Going into this project, I was interested but wanted to know if we could pick our seniors. It turns out that my senior picked me, Stazi, and Karen. An admirer of cultures, Queen Johnson, 73, was born and raised in the same city where Martin Luther King was imprisoned for protesting racial inequality, Birmingham, Alabama. Due to a lack of jobs in the south, Queen’s parents worked in Chicago while she resided with her Grandmother in Birmingham. Every summer Queen would visit her family in Chicago and then return to Birmingham for the school year. Growing up in Birmingham, Queen acknowledged the racial prejudice, but didn’t let it affect her. Once Queen graduated high school, she immediately packed up and left her hometown of Birmingham with her sight set on Columbia University in New York. Her path quickly shifted though, when Queen met her first husband, unnamed. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last, and once they were divorced, she was back on her career track. Queen Johnson The 1940s and 50s (Queen’s “TeenageTwenties”) a lot of historically black icons, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, had not yet begun their war against racism. I knew racism was a big deal during Queen’s time, but I didn’t want to make that what the entire meeting was about. I did ask some questions about the racism differences between the South and the North. When asked, “If Chicago’s racism was as harsh as Birmingham’s” she responded,” No, but in Chicago and in other states in the North, the racism wasn’t as open as it was in the South. People were racist; they just wouldn’t say anything to your face. “I remember applying to get into these nice apartments. I made enough and fit all the requirements, but they claimed there were no more apartments open. My friend went to apply
to those apartments and the apartment complex’s story changed; suddenly, they had apartments to offer her,” Queen said. While racism against African-Americans was intense during this time, Queen didn’t take this opportunity to educate herself and then use that education for all towards another race. Queen took the opportunity as a chance to indulge in other fascinating cultures. In fact, Queen is an avid culture lover and loves seeing new things and experiencing new ways of life. She initially asked us if any of us had been outside the United States. Stazi and Karen have both been to Europe while I have not travelled anywhere outside of North America. “Everyone should travel, see the world, and indulge in other cultures. I enjoy seeing people of different races, gender, and age being friends and being happy. Do not let your race ever define you; let your culture define you,” Queen Johnson said. Queen had always been eager to try something new, and see new things. That’s when Queen decided to travel to Europe. Queen recalls becoming intrigued by the arts and theatre after she saw the play Kismet. The play Kismet is based on a four Middle Eastern beggars where the fourth takes a trip to Mecca. After seeing this play, Queen was ready to travel the world and explore new things. Her trip in Europe involved a stop in London, and a stop in France. Later in life, Queen also lived in Puerto Rico until her knee prevented her from full self dependence. She decided to move San Diego, a much warmer climate than New York, because of her knee problems. Getting around in New York would have been more difficult. She felt her time was up in that country and if she needed a family member they wouldn’t be able to reach her as easily as in the States. Her life has been a ride, and she still has a ride left to go. Queen enjoys volunteering with the elderly and is currently helping put on an Elderly beauty pageant. Today, Queen can be found volunteering at Gary and Mary West Senior center. Queen loves getting involved and helping with anything she can at the senior center. Queen has no kids or spouse, but has a lot of godchildren and old students that still check in with her. Queen still loves to travel but due to her knee, she resides in San Diego; a city in which the weather is never too harsh for her to handle. Queen is a strong woman, and she has taught me that the knowledge you learn one day could help you another day. You will never know when you can apply your knowledge, and Queen has taught me that even something as simple as meeting her could change my life.
Literary Journalism I-F…..T-H-I-N-K…..C-O-U-L-D…..W-A-N-T….What do all these word have in common? These words are not positive words or words of encouragement. Instead, they are words of hesitation and uncertainty. However, it is difficult for a person to completely refrain from those words because they are a part of the average, everyday language. One person in particular stands out for not saying these certain words. Her name is Queen Johnson. Ms. Queen Johnson, born in Birmingham, Alabama, lived a very eventful and exciting life. When speaking to Queen and learning about her adventurous life, it is easy to notice that she speaks a lot differently than most people. She uses a very specific diction and replaces many average words with words that portray a much more energetic and positive vibe. For example, when Throughout her life and most people speak about their struggles living as an AfricanAmerican woman during times future, they would use a of harsh racial segregation, she template such as “In ten years, I has allowed herself to keep a want to be __________” or “I strong smile on her face. hope to become a ________ in my future.” Queen, however, would not be so doubtful of herself and would change those templates to “In ten years, I envision myself ________” or “I can see myself becoming ______ in my future”. It is very inspiring to sit in front of a woman who has trained herself to never say doubting words. It comes naturally to her to spell out words like, “I-F and T-H-I-N-K” out when she is in need of explaining her habits and beliefs. Queen has experienced a lot in her life, including World War II, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and many other infamous events that we read in textbooks these days. Through such tumultuous times, however, Queen has survived to tell a great story, and despite her struggles, she continues to stay strong mentally, which in turn allows her to keep strong physically. Your culture defines you. Queen Johnson, is an avid lover of cultures and says it is not the color of your skin that defines you, but your culture. After growing up in 1940’s-1950’s racial prejudice America, Queen Johnson realized the importance of skin color. The importance of skin color in her case is being aware of the hate you could face for being born a certain tone. However, ultimately skin color is not important, and
what really is important, is culture. The more cultures you expose yourself too and familiarize with, the more educated you become about the world as a whole. Nobody forces a culture upon you, and if a household does force one upon you, it’s ultimately your decision to actually believe in that culture. Queen’s culture is what defines her, and she uses culture as her canvas to help paint a portrait of understanding. Understanding culture can make you eternally young. Even though Queen is significantly older than us, she keeps an open mind and is willing to accept our opinions. Queen is informed on a lot of issues that involve culture and history. An example would be how African culture was taken away from their people. After Africans were imported from Africa to the United States, the United States made sure to banish their forms of worship. The United States labeled all African religions “demonic” and the practices, whether they are voodoo or dance, has since received negative views. I thought this was interesting because before Queen told me this everyone I know view voodoo as a negative, demonic religion. This lesson taught me to be more open minded, and while I do not have to agree with a religion, I need to keep an open mind. After Queen explained this, it made sense why we automatically see voodoo as a demonic worship and do not understand the deeper meaning. To understand the present, you need to know the past, and to understand who you are, you need to know your culture. Queen understands this and helps stress the importance of culture and selfidentity to everyone. Queen has stated she has multiple personalities and doesn’t try to differentiate the personalities, whichever one comes out, comes out. Everyone is special and their personality contributes to the world. Do not try and restrict your personality and be someone else. Be who you want to be.
Reflection NORMALLY ONE MIGHT THINK seniors are slow, they smell bad, they’re boring, or they don’t have anything useful to say. These are the existing stereotypes, but what is the truth? I can tell you that these don’t apply to the senior I met. Her name is Queen Johnson and she works at the Gary and Mary Senior Wellness Center in Downtown, San Diego. She’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. She has more to share than one might imagine. She turned my world upside down. I had just met Queen, she was completely new to me, but on February 23rd, 2012, she read right through me. She started telling my group what she thought about us, and to my surprise, she started with me. She said, “Karen, go to Boston.” Why did she say this? All I thought was, is that really the right thing to do? She then said, “Yes, it is.” Then I told her that I worried my family would be left behind. Would they be ready? She said, “Everything is ready. All you have to do is step through the open door.” “It’s been given to you. You have a choice, but this is your life.” She saw I was timid. “Fear is not an option. You’ve done too much to give in. Now it’s time you fight your own battles and prove yourself.” With that, I opened up. At first, I was given the impression that I would sit through the storyline of this lady. Instead she gave me her story, made eye contact, asked me questions, was kind and informative, but most importantly had my complete attention. In return, I was engaged in her story. Queen’s life is an all-open spirit. She didn’t believe in any exact religion rather in life itself and the balance of people. She traveled for pleasure and learned the Spanish culture in Puerto Rico. Queen spent eleven years in Puerto Rico after turning 50 years old. Not knowing exactly where she would live, Queen took a step forward into an open adventure. At the time, 1968- Puerto Rico was campaigning to be the fifty-first state in the Union. During her time in Puerto Rico, she learned Lengua Franca, a trading language unique to every country. Queen tells that in Puerto Rico she found the beauty of it. She says, “Their culture is rich in land, people, and food.” Queen lives everyday praying to return and visit her friends in Puerto Rico. Having connections everywhere, she admires the warmth of South America and longs to see that place before she passes on.
She shared with us that Puerto Rico knows about the Zantista religion. Adapted from the Catholic religion, the difference is the Zantista saints only recognize one saint the same with the Catholic people that is Saint Barbara. The Zantista religion came over from the slave ships and also brought the voodoo branch. She tells us that voodoo didn’t used to be negative. It was just a way to get the attention of Saint Barbara. This shows that Queen is open to any spirituality; she doesn’t care what your background is as long as you find peace where you come from. We shared a lot of things in common from caring for others to our views on some political issues; the most important similarity was balance. We believe that balance in the world is necessary; it would make it so everyone is equal. She explained the theory of reciprocity is the reciprocal value where “nobody gets robbed.” I think this to be true. Personally a world with no grudges and complaints; I don’t see anything wrong with this path and for everyone to take it would enhance. After this meeting, I hope to meet Queen at a special level. She won’t just be my friend, but someone I can ask questions and get a thoughtful answer from. Queen is like a guide in my life. She is someone I can ask for advice. I hope to grow with Queen in a positive way and continue to be her friend. I really want her to know that she is inspirational and because of her, she has helped my decisions in life. Now I know that I have to be positive and give life 100%, finish everything I have started, and follow what makes me the happiest.
Profile by Deandre Matthews II Literary Journalism by Anastasia Ovanessoff Reflection by Karen Tinoco
David The best day of my life is when I divorced my first ex-wife.
As David sits back in his chair in the senior retirement home, you can tell he is a man that has lived life to the fullest. David is 60 years old and has been living in San Diego for the majority of his life. Having been ranked the best golf player in San Diego at one time, marrying multiple wives over the duration of his life, travelling to distant localities, making a lot of money and losing it all gambling, he has experienced the best and the worst. He’s been at the top and he’s been at the bottom. He has taken advantage of excellent opportunities, and made horrible mistakes. These experiences shaped the man he is today. The man sitting back in the red cushioned chair eagerly awaiting to unleash his stories on whoever is willing to listen. As we sit down to begin the interview he immediately asks us how old we are, to which I reply in a rather confused manner, “we are seniors in high school, we’re both 17.” With an excited tone he quickly replies; “I remember when I was a senior in high school” he has an empty stare as though he is reliving these times as he is talking to us. “Back then was a good time” he explains as he reminisces about that era and time, talking about the music, the movements, the experimentation. David grew up in a time where there was a lot of experimentation, everything was changing. People were “We were still figuring out who we were as I’m sure you guys are too” Be careful he says, “these years will shape your entire life.” When David was a senior in high school he participated in a program called workers compensation where he went to school part time, and had a job part time. He worked at a grocery store as a cashier. He made 15 cents an hour which was just over minimum wage at the time. After high school David started doing construction and supporting himself. Shortly after moving out of his parents house he moved to San Diego for the weather and location. Here he was able to make a healthy sum of money doing construction. He looked back on these years as the “Golden Years” in his life. With his new found wealth he moved to Oceanside in a
residential area which had a golf course, which enabled him to develop his golfing and cooking skills. Eventually he started competing in golf tournaments and was at one point considered the top golfer in San Diego. In this time David started dabbling in the culinary acts, cooking gourmet meals for his friends and family, at this point he invested 50,000 on a restaurant in, the payoff being part ownership and free meals. While in Oceanside he met Penny, the two hit it off and soon after she moved in with David. Marriage was inevitable for the two, blinded by love. As a sort of celebration David bought himself a black suburban that Trevor Hoffman (the pitcher for the San Diego Padres) had previously owned. But this was no ordinary suburban, it was deluxe, with multiple tvâ€™s on the rear of the seat. Unfortunately the golden years did not last forever. David found himself gambling away money and making bad investments. David found himself broke once again, to add insult to the relationship between him and his wife had been getting rocky and he came home one day to find her gone. She left with the suburban and all of her belongings. This was the end of their marriage. At this point David knew he had to start over, he sold his house in Oceanside, moved closer to the border in a locality of San Diego. He became the caregiver for an elderly man who was suffering from cancer. He pulled his life together, learning from his mistakes. He married his second wife and had a period of happiness. Unfortunately the relationship did not work out and the two separated. After this event he continued to make the most out of his life, travelling down to Mexico weekly and golfing, he still repeats this routine (minus the golfing due to a torn shoulder blade). After talking to David, you canâ€™t help but have respect for him. He has done so much in his life and can offer insight and advice to nearly anyone.
Literary Journalism The year was 1972, the longest year the Earth has ever known. 1972 was a monumental year in world history, it was the time of Watergate scandal, the signing of the first SALT treaty, easing tensions between the Soviet Union and the U.S0., and the year that the last U.S. ground troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. While all of those events were important, they paled in comparison to Dave’s experiences. During this time Dave began what would become a life long love affair with cooking, spawned from his desire to be able to feed himself. Just two years prior Dave had graduated from high school and now he was a free man out on his own and ready to face the world. He began to cook for himself out of necessity. When questioned about his cooking Dave’s voice would become more excited and he would grow more animated. It was immediately obvious how important cooking was to him. Dave told us that he enjoyed cooking Mexican food nowadays. His favorite dishes are enchiladas and chili rellano. Chili rellano is a dish that originated in Puebla, Mexico. It is made with roasted poblana pepper stuffed with melted cheese and or minced meats. Mexican food is not the only type of food David enjoys cooking. Years ago when he was at a restaurant in Memphis he ordered dry ribs. Dry ribs are a specialty of Memphis. They are cooked used a dry rib instead of being marinated in a sauce. Occasionally a sauce will be used as dip on the side. Dry ribs being ribs cooked without a sauce. They left an impression on him and he thought to himself “I bet I can make them better.” At this time he was the president of the home owner’s association for his house in Palm Springs. The association hosted an event for all of its over one hundred members. Dave was responsible for cooking because he had left a lasting impression after he cooked for the last event. He agreed to make ribs as long as he did not have to make the rest of the meal. The cooking preparation took him a few days and by the end of the event there were no ribs were left over. While telling us about this experience Dave really got into the conversation. I could tell that he was very proud that all of the ribs he made we eaten. Throughout his life cooking has been one of the things that has remained constant for Dave. He went through two divorces, lost vision in his eye and he can no longer play golf, but he can still cook.
They left an impression on him and he thought to himself “I bet I can make them better.”
Reflection When I first heard we were going to be doing a project with senior citizens, I was not excited. This is because I don't like most old people. I always get mad when I get stuck behind an old person that goes below the speed limit when driving. I thought the senior that I would be working with would be the stereotypical cranky old man. I thought he would always have a negative attitude, and not have anything in common with me. I thought he would have a horrible memory and have trouble remembering my name. I also thought that all these old people would be sick and dying. This is because the only senior center I had been to in the past was for assisted living, but the Gary and Mary West Senior Center was much different. When I first met David, I didn't know what to expect. From what I could see, he looked like a tourist. He was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and some khaki shorts. He had a tattoo on his arm but I couldn't tell what it was of. He seemed very kind, and was eager to share his life story with us. After getting to know David, I began to notice our similarities. We both love Mexican food. I love eating it and David loves cooking it. He named half a dozen of his favorite recipes during our meeting together. We also both like pork ribs. Well made pork ribs are my favorite food, and David has his own unique recipe for pork ribs. We also both have been injured playing sports. David boasted about playing golf all day long back in his prime. It wasn't until he tore his rotator cuffs that he stopped playing golf. This is similar to when I broke my collarbone playing rugby. We both got hurt doing something we love.