Friday, July 21, 2017

Howard Hupe

It was both a shock, and not a shock, to learn this morning that Howard Hupe, co-founder (with wife Germaine) of the Winters Community Theater had died.

Howard was not at the ticket table when we went to the last show, which was unusual.  Always the lifeblood of the theater he had been looking more and more frail whenever we went to a show. No longer able to direct, or perform, he was still able to participate by giving out tickets to the audience who came to see the show.

Howard was someone we kinda sorta knew for many years, since our early days in theater here in Davis, but I had no idea of his fantastic background until I interviewed him and wife Germaine for an article for The Davis Enterprise in 2008.  Here is an excerpt of that article:

Fortunately for the town of Winters, and the outlying communities, Howard Hupe, one of the founders of the Winters Community Theater, and a regular director there, decided against taking a 14 year old bride.

Hupe, a native of Pittsburgh, PA met Davis resident Germaine Walgenbach (whose father, Jake, the owner of Jake’s Plumbing since 1948 was a beloved town character) on a blind date. Howard was attending the Army Language School (now called the Defense Language Institute) in Monterey and Germaine was doing her first year of teaching in Pacific Grove They fell in love and became engaged. Hupe went off to Saudi Arabia, as the first American other than embassy personnel in that country.

He traveled around the country with an interpreter and, as Germaine recalls the story, happened to notice one day that the interpreter looked particularly happy. The interpreter replied that he had just returned from his second honeymoon.

Howard said "Oh, that's a lovely custom...we do that, too, in our country after several years, we take off with our wife" and the interpreter said "No--this is my new wife. She's 14 and my mother just arranged her and she's absolutely wonderful."

The interpreter then said that he would be very happy to have his mother arrange for a wife for Howard as well, but Howard explained that he had a fiancee back in the states.

"This guy said ‘do you have a picture of her?’ -- this 'old bat' of 22 -- me – so Howard hauled out a picture of me and he just shook his head and said, "tsk tsk...her father must have many sheep and goats!!"

Howard returned to the States, and married Germaine in Georgia, where he was sent to another special school. The two traveled extensively with the Army and lived for three years in Tehran, where Germain taught at the English language school, just before the fall of the Shah

Germaine recalls having to have armed guards traveling with them on school field trips and one particular occasion when the school bus was being bombarded with rocks. Everyone was lying on the floor to escape the bombardment and their son looked at his mother and said "Don’t ever tell me that Grandpa had to walk three miles to school when he was a kid."

In addition to giving the Hupes a unique world view, their Army experiences also gave them an introduction to theater. Germaine had been a drama major, but "Howard’s theatrical experiences had been limited to playing a tree in his fourth grade play."

When Howard retired, after 25 years in the military, they moved back to California, where Germaine’s roots were. Howard planned to go to graduate school to get a Masters Degree in counseling, and Germaine applied for a teaching position in 17 different locations. She was hired to teach English at Winters High School. 

Though they lived in Davis, the couple became quite active in the social life of Winters. A few years after the Hupes’ participation in the 1976 Centennial Festival in Winters, there was a movement to start a theater group. 

They sought permission from the city of Winters to use the community center, currently under construction, for performances, and it was granted. In fact, the very first production was a benefit for Yolo Family Service Agency, and Howard explains that "the kitchen floor was still unpaved. Just dirt. And there were no stalls in the bathroom, so it was a unique experience."

"By the time we put on our 25th play, which was something like 20 years ago, more than 600 people had participated," Germaine remembers. "Now we’ve done more than 100 productions and it must be up to about 1500, in terms of either acting or helping to build sets or being spear carriers or helping with costumes and this kind of thing, which is pretty amazing for a town that size."

"I adore Howard and Germaine," says Amy Vyvlecka. " I think what they’re doing is really wonderful. It gives people the opportunity to do really great plays. It gives people a chance to try out some of these roles. So many people have this opportunity to be part of this family they’ve created."

Gil Sebastian agrees. "Performing for Howard (who directed all of my 25 shows there) taught me some valuable life and work lessons, as well as theater etiquette. The confidence I gained, the ability to stay calm amid chaos, the ability to engage and hold an audience, the importance of humor, to respect others as you wish to be respected –– all have made me a better person, and I seriously owe all of that to Howard."

Howard’s decision to decline the opportunity of a 14 year old bride has had a tremendous impact on the town of Winters, and on all of Yolo County.

Howard made a huge impact on his community and he will be greatly missed.  

Debra LoGuercio DeAngelo, editor of the Winters Express adds "he truly helped shape the community. Besides theater, he served on the Chamber board for so many years and often was the powerhouse behind events when everyone else flaked. I know, because I was on the board with him.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


We don't have a lot of "normalcy" around here ... or at least around Atria ... these days.  It's like going  through Alice's rabbit hole when you are let into the memory unit and you never know what to expect.  If I'm lucky, she's in a good mood, which means that we pretty much stare at each other for an hour while she asks me if she lives there and who this or that person is in a picture she indicates...and whether or not her mother is still alive.

If it's like last week, she is in another zone entirely.  You can't convince her that she is not in a situation where everybody hates her because she's done something terrible, but doesn't know what she has done.  (And if I'm very unlucky, I'm to blame for all of her problems.)
If I'm very lucky, she's in a giddy, chatty mood where everything tickles her fancy and we spend a lot of time laughing.

What rarely happens is a "normal" day.  Days when I take her out to lunch are more or less normal, except for the endless questioning about where she is.  But she used to go out to lunch with friends frequently and it's always pleasant to go out to lunch with her.  I wish I could afford to take her out to lunch more often, because I really enjoy it, and she does  too.

Haircut days are also normal day.  She used to have her hair done once a week for years and was good friends with her hairdresser. Hannah.  I last took her to see Hannah a couple of years ago when she needed a permanent.  It cost so much money, I didn't take her back again, since Lucy, the beautician at Atria, does a fine job for much less money.
I'd been putting off making an appointment for her.  She's several weeks past when it should have been done. Her hair has been so long and stringy, hanging in her eyes, often looking fly-away and giving her that "Wicked Witch of the West" look.  I'd only put off making an appointment because either I didn't have my calendar, or it was Lucy's day off and I couldn't reach her.  But today, she finally had an appointment.
She was in good spirits when I got to Atria.  She was napping, but got up right away.  When she opened her eyes, her first word were "Well...I have a sister."  When I told her that no, she had a daughter she came more to life and sat up.

I told her we were going to get her hair done and there was no argument.  She just immediately put on her shoes and was ready to go.

It's always such fun watching her interacting with Lucy.  It's one of those "normal" times.  Other then telling Lucy that people always ask where she gets her hair done (she's thinking of when Hannah used to do it), they chatter away just like the old days.

And in the end, though she never thought she needed a haircut to begin with, she's delighted with how she looks.

We returned to her apartment and she sat down, dazed, and asked if this is where she was going to live from now on.

Normalcy was nice, while it lasted.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The First one is the Hardest

I went for several years with a stable list of Compassion sponsored children.  I knew that Shallon (Uganda), the oldest of the group, would probably be the first to age out of the program, but I was not prepared for the abrupt departure when family financial problems forced her to leave the program and open her own hair styling business.  I had written to her for several years and we had developed what seemed like a close relationship.  She called me "mother" and at one point told me that after her own mother died, she never thought she would find another mother.

Compassion does an incredible job.  They take care of thousands of kids all over the world and they deal with persnickety sponsors like me.  They help pregnant women have healthy pregnancies and healthy births.  When a child has a serious health problem, they raised the money to get them the care they need (I read recently about a young boy with a problem that could not be treated in his native African country and so Compassion funded his travel to India, where the problem was able to be treated and he returned home cured.)

They translate thousands of letters to and from sponsored children.  And with the advent of an e-mail program and translation software, it has reduced the time between letters significantly (it used to take about four months from when I sent a letter before the child I was sending it to received it and answered it...sometimes it took six months.  Now it can all be done in less than two months.

And so I hate to be critical, but I think the one area where they don't do a good job is with children who leave the program.  Some age out, others leave the program for one reason or another--they move to a new area where there is no Compassion program or their parents, for one reason or another decide to pull them out of the program.

Compassion does inform the sponsor that their child has left the program, but often I first find out when I go to write a letter and discover that the child is no longer on my list of kids to whom I can write.  When it is a child that I don't financially sponsor, but merely write to, I am not notified at all.

I think Fred was the first child I took on to write to, not to sponsor.  He's in the Philippines and when I first took him he was little.  I don't remember how little, but little.  While Compassion staff generally are the translators for the letters kids write, Fred's mother spoke English and so she wrote the letters herself and I loved receiving her letters and felt a friendship developing. 

When Fred got old enough to write his own letters, Compassion staff took over doing the translation and the personal aspect I had come to look forward to ended.  The letters were once more the standard "I am fine, how are you, please pray for me" kind of letters.  Now that he is older, his letters are becoming more personal.  But when his financial sponsor decided not to continue his sponsorship, he just disappeared off of my list and I had no notification, despite the fact that I had asked Compassion (in anticipation that this might happen) to let me know if he lost his sponsor because I would take over his sponsorship.  Thank goodness I was able to contact them in time to take him on as a sponsored child, because they had not read that note from me and I would have just lost him after many years of a close relationship.

I have now lost 14 children who have left the program for various reasons.  With the one that I sponsor, I have the opportunity to write a final letter and, if I want, to send a financial gift as a goodbye.  The problem with this is that there is no way to know if the letter and money are ever received.  I sent Shallon $100 to help her start her business and Compassion was only able to tell me that if they could not find her to give her the money, it would go into the general operating fund.  (I have not sent a goodbye gift since)

None of the children who have left the program have sent their own final letter.  With many of them it's not a big deal.  But for Anjali, my very first sponsored child (who was in India--and the government kicked all organizations like Compassion out of the country after a long time of fruitless negotiation).  I sent her a final letter, but have no idea if it was ever received.  That one hurts.  I wrote to her for 7 years and she was one of my better letter writers.  As she moves into young adulthood, I worry about her and wonder about her, and will never know what becomes of her.

Today it was Eunice from Tanzania.  I had only been her sponsor for a couple of years, and as she is not a prolific letter writer, I think I only had two or three letters from her, so while her sudden departure was jarring, it didn't pull at the heart strings like some of the others have.  I chose Eunice after another sponsor child left and I chose her because her middle name was "Gilbert."  I mean, is that ready made for me or what?

All I know is that she has aged out of the program.  What her plans are, I haven't the foggiest idea.  I did send her a goodbye letter, but it will never be acknowledged.

So this leaves me with a "free space" where I can add another child.  (Or I could not add another child and save the money!)  When a child leaves the program, Compassion automatically sends the information on a new child to you, to either accept or reject.  

They usually send the little, cute ones.  And all of them are adorable, but I prefer to sponsor one of the older kids.  For two reasons.  The young ones won't be able to really write a letter for several years and so for several years you get form letters that all say the same.  But the other reason is that the young ones ARE taken so much more frequently and I know it is difficult finding a sponsor for an older child.

With that in mind, I started looking for older kids.

But it seemed that every time I turned on the computer this picture popped up.  His name is Estiben and he's 3 years old and lives in Guatemala.  The first time I saw his picture I realized how adorable he was and I knew that someone would choose him immediately.

But a week and a half later, nobody had chosen him and I was starting to feel sad for him.  I even posted a link to his picture on the Compassion Facebook page, and people who went to check him out, said that he had already been sponsored.

But when I checked his page, he was not sponsored.  Then I saw that he was born on January 29, the birthday of our late son Paul.  I supposed it was a sign that he was meant to be my next sponsored child.

I know I am in for five years of so of form letters and I can't include him in the letters I write to the other kids because he's younger than Lacie and wouldn't understand if I talked about the family and what we are doing.  So it will be a new experience  I've never had a kid this young before.

But you have to admit, he is pretty cute!

I am not getting "as" emotionally involved with the kids any more.  I still write and I still love them, but that piece of my heart that I gave to Shallon and Anjali--and Fred--stays inside because I have learned that it can all end in an instant with no warning, no explanation, and no good bye.
Kind of like Peggy...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

She Doesn't Hate Me

Apparently my mother doesn't hate me any more.  This is nice to know.

I got to Atria around noon yesterday, thinking I'd sit at her table and have coffee while she ate lunch, but they told me she had gone back to bed, so I went to her apartment and told her I would take her out to lunch.  She smiled and was happy to see me, though said she hurt "everywhere," including down her legs and under her arm.

I got her up and we went out to the front of Atria.  It was a hot day -- mid 90s -- and I could only find a place to park a block away and didn't want to make her walk that far, so I parked her on a bench by the front door and let the woman at the desk know that I was going to get the car and that she should be aware of my mother in case she wandered off.

But she didn't.  She was still there when I drove up and we both enjoyed the air conditioning blowing in our faces.  

We drove to IHOP, which is very close to Kaiser.  The timing could not have been better.  Her appointment was at 1:50 and we finished lunch at 1:25.

She beamed when she looked around, said it was a nice restaurant and she had no been there before (we've eaten there several times).  It was good to see her smiling, after the horrible visit on Thursday.

Menus overwhelm her, so I usually give her a choice of two things.  This time it was easy because IHOP had its berry-themed menu and I gave her a choice of French toast with berries or crepes with berries.  We both agreed on the French toast.  When it came, she said it was enough for three meals, and I have to admit I can't believe she ate the whole thing!

Her appetite is never as small as she thinks and generally speaking, if you put something in front her she will eat it.

We were in plenty of time for her appointment.  She's not good at waiting because she can never remember where she is and why she's there, and once we are taken to the exam room she can't understand why it is taking so long for the doctor to arrive.

But while waiting, she rhapsodized over the beautiful leaves she could see out the window.  Never knew anybody who loved trees and leaves as much as she does!

The exam went well, again, though her blood pressure was low and she's lost 7 lbs this year so the doctor made some adjustments in her meds.  But she is given a clean bill of health until she is about to turn 99 (she turns 98 in a little over a month).

I can no longer drop her off at Atria and trust she will find her apartment on her own, so I walked her down to the memory unit (apparently I can ask for someone from the memory unit to come and get her, but that doesn't seem right).  I sat in her apartment for a bit, but we were both tired and I was either going to fall asleep in the chair or get up enough energy to get out of the chair and walk back down to the car.

I slept for over 2 hours after I got home.  These days probably take more out of me emotionally than physically, but I do come home absolutely drained.  Now I take a day off and then I take her to get her hair cut at the Atria beauty salon, which is going to be a lot less emotional than a doctor's appointment.

Monday, July 17, 2017

National Ice Cream Day

Well, I learned that today is National Ice Cream day.  I feel like we need to celebrate, especially since I missed National Donut Day.  (I wonder if there is a National Spinach Day, or National Kale day)
(lol ... I shoulda known....

I can't remember when ice cream wasn't a big part of my life.  I remember how excited my father was when Swenson's Ice Cream opened up two blocks from our house.

I was a kid and the place still looks the same today, though it is no longer owned by Earl Swenson and is now a franchise with stores all over the country and, I discovered, all over the world.  You can stand outside and look through the window to see them making ice cream, and the neon sign has said "see us freeze" ever since the shop was built. My father never went past the store without joking that he has never seen them actually freeze.

When the Piñata group was all young, we often made our own ice cream, the kids taking turns turning the crank, licking the paddle when the ice cream was ready to stand and still.  I still remember how delicious fresh peach ice cream was.  I still make ice cream occasionally, but now it's all done electronically, which is just as delicious, but somehow it seems like cheating.

I fondly remember one afternoon when Gilbert decided he needed to have an ice cream sundae and we drove a the way from San Francisco to Palo Alto (about 35 miles), because he remembered a good store there.

And then, of course, there was Mitchell's creamery where Benny had purple sweet potato ice cream a few months ago.

When my mother moved to Atria, she used to have a vanilla ice cream cone on a waffle cone after dinner every night.  It got to be almost a joke with her and the staff because they all knew Mildred had to have her ice cream cone.  It got to be too much for her and she would take her uneaten cone back to her room.  I remember when I counted twelve cones in her freezer.

A couple of years ago, Walt and I started having Haagen Dazs bars for dessert.  I really liked them, but they were too big for me.  I was tired before I finished (by "tired" I mean I had enough).  Then I discovered their mini bars.

We almost always have bars in the freezer and at night we sit and eat our snack size bars at night.  Polly used to go crazy, hoping for the end of my bar, like my mother's dog Maxie used to do, whining if she finished her ice cream and forgot to save some for him. But Polly seems to ignore us now, when we eat ice cream.

So tonight we will celebrate National Ice Cream day the way we celebrate every night.  We will have our mini bars and, as I do every night, I will drop some of the chocolate on my front where it will melt into my shirt.  The day I do not drop chocolate down my front is a red letter day.

Happy Ice Cream day, y'all!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Since this is the first Sunday Stealing that I've written myself, I decided to answer first so I can see if everything is working right!
First Job:
Like most people, my first job was babysitting for two kids who lived around the corner from us in San Francisco.

First Real Job:
I had an after-school job washing test tubes for a medical laboratory (considering that I spent 30 years in doctors' offices as medical transcriptionist, this was prophetic).  The first full-time job I had was as secretary for three professors in the Physics Department at U.C. Berkeley.  That's still my favorite job (I left it when our first child was born)

First Favorite Politician:
Adlai Stevenson.  I didn't really know why, but my parents were voting for him.  I was the only kid in my school who didn't wear an "I Like Ike" button.

First Car:
I've never had my own car.

First Record/CD:
I had lots of 78s and 45s, but the first album I remember buying, after my father went out and bought one of those brand new hi fi record players was the sound track to the movie Calamity Jane

First Sport Played:
I've never been a sports player, but I vaguely remember playing volleyball in high school.  I was terrible at it.

First Concert:
I went to see Judy Garland 3 times when she brought her Palace show through San Francisco in the 1950s.  In 1961, I saw her Carnegie Hall show and got to meet her when she checked into the Fairmont Hotel.

First Foreign Country Visited:
Walt and I went to Canada on our honeymoon.  A Big Deal for me and I thought that I'd probably never have the chance to visit another foreign country, but, in fact, I have now been to 25 different countries.

First Favorite TV Show:
That was so long ago (1953) that I can't remember, but I know as a family we watched Ed Sullivan every Sunday and as a kid I looked forward to the afternoon and watching Winky Dink and You.  When the Mickey Mouse Club started, we only had a b/w TV set and I remember we always looked at the opening of the NBC peacock and said "that must be beautiful in color."  (I didn't have a color TV until after Walt and I were married.)

First Favorite Actor:
Oddly enough Claude Rains.  I always had a father-figure thing when choosing favorite actors!

First Favorite Actress:
Judy Garland, of course.

First Girlfriend/Boyfriend:
I started dating Bill when I was 13 and we dated for 3 years until he went into the seminary.  He's still a Jesuit brother.

First Encounter with a Famous Person:
The aforementioned meeting Judy Garland.  I sat in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel for 2 days waiting for her to arrive.  As she was checking in, I went up to her, asked if I could take her photo and also got her autograph.  I was trembling the whole time.

First Brush With Death:
I think I nearly drowned in a lake one summer, but I was rescued by a lifeguard.  I was a little kid at the time.

First House/Condo Owned:
We bought our first house in 1968, when I was pregnant with Paul.  It was a wonderful house in Oakland and I still miss it (though it was much too small for a family of five kids)

First Film Seen:
I'm sure I must have seen films before, but the first one I remember was Showboat, which I saw with my grandmother.

First Favorite Recording Artist:
Judy Garland, of course.

First Favorite Radio Station:
We were addicted to KSFO in San Francisco, primarily Don Sherwood ("the world's greatest disc jockey).  Later I got hooked on KKHI, San Francisco's classical radio station.

First Book I Remember Reading:
Since my mother was a big reader, I'm sure I read lots of books before I was 10, but the first book that made an impact on me was "The Black Stallion," which my friend Stephen loaned me. I devoured all of Walter Farley's books after reading that one.

First Meme You Answered on Your Blog:
Good Lord, I haven't a clue.  I've been doing this for so long and have answered so many memes!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I Hate It... Hate It... Hate It

As much fun as my visit with my mother was on Tuesday was as bad as it was when I went to see her yesterday.  Thursday is the day Jeri wants to call her, and I've promised to be there by 3:30 on Thursday afternoons so make sure my mother is in her room and answering her telephone.

I got there at 3 and she was standing by the common room looking lost and when she saw me she muttered under her breath that she was so disgusted she could hardly speak.  I suggested we go to her room.

When we got to her room the door was locked and I told her to sit on the bench outside the door while I went to get someone to unlock it.  When I came back with an aide, she was walking down the hall and trying to get into someone else's room.

I brought her back to her room and she looked, as she usually does, confused and unsure where she was.

When we sat in our respective chairs, I asked what the problem was.  

It turns out she's disgusted and so sick she wants to throw up.  She's disgusted with how badly "the business" is being run.  How nothing is being done and how "the boss" (a man) doesn't care.  

She hates her room.  I pointed out that she had people to take care of her and she got extremely indignant.  Nobody helps her.  NOBODY had been to see her since she moved in.  And if she tries to talk to someone, they just turn their backs and walk away.  Or they laugh at her.

At one point she said that she was just going to leave and go find another place to live.  I asked her how she was gong to do that and she said she'd just go out and find a place.  I asked her where she was going to look and she said "in those places where you look." (thank God she is in a locked facility and I don't have to worry about her trying to leave)

I texted a note to Jeri that she was bad and that when she called she should be cheery.

In mid-tirade, my mother was so disgusted she said she couldn't stay there any longer and got up and stormed out of the room.  I brought her back and tried to talk to her a bit longer, hoping Jeri would call, but she did. not. want. to. be. there and stormed out again.   (I texted Jeri not to call.)

I followed her down the hall and saw that Jennifer, who is in charge of the memory care unit was in the hall and asked if we could have a meeting, thinking it would placate my mother to talk with "the boss."

We went into Jen's office and my mother was so furious she was unable to find words. When I pointed out that Jen was the boss there, she spat out "and who is YOUR boss?" (because obviously a woman couldn't be the boss) When we tried to get her to say one thing that was upsetting her, she tried to say that she didn't even have a desk, but couldn't find the word for "desk."  Jen asked if she would give her two days to try to make things better for her and suddenly she bent over, grabbed her stomach, and said she had to leave or she was going to "urp."

We returned to the room and I spent the next hour or so trying to calm her down, but she was shaking, she was so livid.  Somehow it became all my fault for not fixing things.  But she couldn't tell me what needed to be fixed.

She finally said she was just going to go to Washington and start her own company, but she couldn't say what kind of a business it was going to be or how she was going to get there.  Maybe she'd go to New York instead.

Every time she told me it was my fault for not fixing the business, I told her I didn't work for the business and that I worked for myself.  "Well, who do YOU answer to?" she asked, belligerently.  I told her I only had to answer to myself, but that never registered and she was still convinced that I worked for "the business."

When I finally told her I thought I should leave, she told me not to come back because if she saw me on her porch she would not answer the door.

I finally got up and delivered a message from her good friend Jeff, whom she knew from Hospice.  Jeff is dying of cancer and so she has not seen him, but I had just received a note asking me to give her a kiss on the forehead for him and tell her he loves her.  So even though she was so angry with me for not fixing "the business," I kissed her from Jeff and told her that he loves her.  She said she didn't remember him.  

I finally got up and told her I was leaving and she said that she had decided she would just disappear for a month, so not to come back.

The thing I hate most about this damn disease is that you never know who you are going to find when you arrive.  Will it be the good natured woman who loved life and loved where she lives, as was the woman I met on Tuesday, or the harridan who thinks everyone is incompetent and that she must leave and start her own company?

Lord help me, I don't know who I am going to find when I go to see her tomorrow.  I think I'll bring candy....