In those days once I heard the word Paradise it meant one thing much totally different to me than it did to most people. It meant that previous house on Sunset Approach beneath the deep oak timber, with the dogwoods blooming beneath and the ground thick with poison oak. It meant Whiskey Flats on a scorching summer time day and the serpentine rocks. It meant the place the place we lived as soon as with the O’Rourkes. It meant the Polivkas and their house. It meant sitting down within the Polivkas home and listening Jaro converse together with his thick Czech accent and his sluggish, deliberate speech. It additionally meant seeing Betty and her newest art tasks.

They lived about an hour and a half away and my mother and father still owned that home on Sundown Means which they rented out. I feel it was Betty that obtained my mom so serious about artwork. My mom was what I contemplate to be everlasting beginner when it came to art. Not essentially a nasty thing however definitely not a approach to impress others. All the time the scholar and never the instructor. And Betty was her instructor if anybody was. I’m unsure how much of the attraction that surrounded their house in Paradise was attributable to Betty and how much to Jaro. When my mother and father went to go to their buddies they took me and my little brother Andrew along with them…I often hated visiting their associates. There was the long conversations which didn’t embrace us. They seemed to go on perpetually while me and Andrew tried to not be bored. It was worse if there have been youngsters our age; all the time that awkwardness being thrown together, regardless that by the top of the go to we have been often having enjoyable.

However going to the Polivka’s house was one thing I appeared forward to. It was like getting into a unique reality, a type of mysterious realm which hinted at some sort of esoteric information. There was a lot to take a look at and explore. Most of my mother and father’ associates homes have been very ordered and boring for probably the most half. But the Polivka’s house had a very organic and chaotic high quality to it. As though it was one thing that had grown up out of the earth after which furnished via inspiration. It additionally had a huge yard surrounding which provided infinite prospects for exploration.

They did have youngsters however they have been so much older, they have been really adults to us. This was one of the things that was so distinctive concerning the Polivka’s. Their youngsters weren’t governed by the same algorithm as other households. Their youngsters did not have the traditional oppositional relationship with their mother and father that the majority youngsters have whilst adults. They have been quite completely satisfied sitting down and having an clever dialog with their mother and father, with different adults within the room. There was additionally the unstated assumption that Andrew and I have been a part of this principally adult conversation. Once we spoke we have been listened to and questions have been asked of us at occasions. We weren’t condescended to, ignored and shunted off into another room as we often have been.

We would go away from Truthful Oaks within the morning, my mother and father all the time acquired an early begin. Then we might make our ritual cease at the Dairy Queen in Marysville for an ice cream. Once we drove into Paradise I might attempt to select sights I still remembered from once I lived there as a five yr previous: my previous kindergarten, the home where the O’Rourkes lived, the Shell Station with the massive Inexperienced Stamps signal. That Shell Station was throughout the road from where my mother was parked on a small incline, leaving my little brother and I alone within the automotive very briefly. My little brother launched the parking brake and we rolled back into some type of wall .

Often we might stop by the home on Sundown Approach before going to the Polivka’s. That home was underneath a thick cover of tall oaks, dogwoods and various timber. Once we turned off the primary street and drove downhill on a mud street crammed with potholes. It was the upper end of a deep darkish ravine, thick with timber. There have been a lot of roughly constructed homes down this street, spaced a long way apart. Mrs. Jones, my first babysitter lived down this street. My mother advised us that her grandson was killed by a white shark when he was swimming off of Stinson’s Seashore. Andrew and I even discovered an article about it in a e-book we owned. Her son was on the seashore together with his girlfriend when he decided to take a swim out beyond the breakers. His girlfriend was on the seashore while he was in the water swimming, when she noticed that he was hit by the shark. Ignoring the danger she swum out and pulled him again to shore. He was bleeding profusely and didn’t survive for long. The girlfriend acquired an honorary medal of bravery from President Kennedy.

This was how I remembered the story, but after talking with Peter just lately, he remembered it barely in another way. He remembered that it was the seashore close to the Golden Gate Bridge and he didn’t keep in mind the girlfriend swimming out to aim a rescue. Also it will have been earlier than Kennedy was president so he wouldn’t have given her a medal. So I tried to discover a document of it on the web and positive enough Peter was right, it was Baker Seashore close to the Golden Gate not Stinson’s Seashore which is far additional north. Here’s a hyperlink to a information article from the time Might seventh 1959. The girlfriend did receive some type of medal from President Kennedy a couple of years later, however they have been swimming together when the assault happened.

My mom all the time warned Andrew and me never to say this incident in front of Mrs. Jones…we never did.

Mrs. Jone’s home had two handmade cement posts out front with dozens of beautiful marbles set into the cement. My eyes have been all the time drawn to these marbles, they appeared like such an embarrassment of riches. Also she had an extended wraparound display porch, that was dingy and uninviting, although she stored a set of oddities again there. One among these oddities was numerous giant paper hornets’ nests, which I wasn’t positive had been utterly deserted. One other factor I keep in mind about that home, was watching “Yellow Submarine” on her smallish colour TV. I keep in mind discovering it chaotic and slightly disturbing.

House on Sunset Approach “Before”. Circa 1954.

Home on Sundown Approach “After” (My Dad’s Harley within the Foreground) circa 1954.

I didn’t realize it on the time however our house on Sundown Means was truly the first home Jaro and Betty lived in whereas in Paradise. The 2 couples had met a number of years before. My Dad and Jaro both worked at the Board of Reclamation in Chico however they each lived in Paradise, a short commute. My Dad would have been about 26 and Jaro a number of years older. Betty and Jaro would have already had three youngsters by that time. The 2 men obtained alongside together fairly properly, as did Betty and my mother. My mom and Betty used to go “Whiskey Flats” together, a small swimming hole on a branch of the Feather River. They might drive their youngsters down a quite treacherous street to the river. It’s where I discovered to swim, in addition to my two older siblings.

It turned out Jaro had constructed an addition to the home on Sunset Means. Development was not his career (he was a mathematician) so it had it’s deficiencies, I only discovered that from my Dad a lot later. Constructing codes on rural roads in Paradise in these days have been probably very frivolously enforced. I all the time thought it was sort of a comfortable house. It had an enormous yard however it was mostly on a slope and coated in poison oak. I was very allergic to poison oak so I caught to the properly carved paths. At the prime edge of the property there was a shed my dad referred to as the “goat house” and a cherry tree that really acquired enough solar at that end of the property to supply some cherries. In fact the driveway was filth and it continued on for a distance previous the house. It had develop into overgrown in the direction of its end but there was an interesting rusted body of some previous automotive back in there. It was one of the previous boat-type automobiles from the 1950’s or perhaps even 40’s. It was the abandoned venture of some previous renter. The home itself was of very pragmatic unadorned design. Just a sort of get it completed type of job, but I do keep in mind the fireside being very good, I feel it was finished off with round river rocks. This house was in all probability not one thing Jaro would have bragged about, but I feel it suited its propose of holding the roof over the top of a very younger family just superb.

Once we approached the Polivka’s home we drove up an extended dusty driveway with Star- thistle on each side. There have been no other houses in sight by the point we parked in entrance of their house. On the best aspect was a big picket constructing which would have been a storage crammed with automobiles and various vehicular playthings if it had been in Truthful Oaks, however right here it was an artwork studio. This was a very intriguing concept. The Art Studio was constructed of a rough unfinished wooden development. However the primary home was brief and strong wanting, it’s colour was reddish orange just like the soil surrounding it. Should you appeared intently you can see it was put along with giant bricks fitted collectively snugly with a matching colored mortar. It was an adobe house constructed with bricks comprised of the encompassing soil. It had been constructed by the Polivka’s themselves, after they returned from a while in Mexico. Jaro had common a mould, then mixing the mud in a big cement mixer and brick by brick they forged the soil into blocks letting them dry within the scorching Foothill Sun. While they have been constructing the home the household of six, two mother and father and four youngsters, principally camped out on the location. On the time this won’t have been that uncommon, my mother and father wouldn’t have thought twice about it. The truth is once I was an toddler my mother and father camped out on a website close to Frenchman Dam in northeastern California, while my Dad labored as an engineer during its development. That they had three youngsters on the time, including me.

The tent the Polivka’s lived in had been my grandfather’s. He and my Dad lived in it whereas my grandfather labored as a street surveyor. He lived in Alameda through the winter and traveled around California through the summer time. My Dad typically accompanied him. In line with my Dad he remembers the tent as being very soiled, I’m unsure if he meant it was dirty earlier than the mud brick constructing challenge of afterwards. Camping out in Paradise had the added danger of rattlesnakes. I keep in mind tales of snakes killed on the Sundown Approach property, because that was what everybody would do back then in the event that they spotted a rattlesnake close to the place they lived and youngsters played. There was a spot within the street in entrance of Mrs. Jones home the place my older brother fell whereas driving his bike not far from an enormous rattlesnake. Peter advised me that they killed thirteen rattlesnakes while they have been building their adobe house. Lots of them have been infants which could be just as deadly as full grown snakes. Once they dug the bottom for a foundation, they came across several Native American (in fact they referred to as them “Indian” then) artifacts, which I feel I keep in mind seeing round their home. There was additionally a spring nearby which was very useful and perhaps the rationale why there was an Indian encampment in that spot.

I’m unsure how lengthy their house constructing challenge took however it was nicely thought out. Jaro had usual diagrams displaying every room within the deliberate home, not precisely architectural renderings but very nicely accomplished. The top product was a house that seemed to rise up out of the bottom, welcoming you in. I’m unsure how a lot Jaro was influenced by early California Mission design nevertheless it was remarkably comparable in really feel. The colour of the adobe combined with using giant beams of wooden made for a really earthy aura. I used to be taken back in time to that earthy aura the final time I visited the Carmel Mission.

The Front Door

The Front Door

Once we approached the home you have been greeted by a really giant extensive entrance door, that was clearly customary by hand. I recall it being a cut up door where the top half could possibly be opened individually from the bottom half. It was a powerful thing, standing on the prime of a few cement steps with metallic knocker in its middle. Embedded in the steps have been round river rocks, original in a specific sample. I assumed it was some type of stick figure. It was clearly the entrance door and clearly the door we have been purported to knock on as guests, however it was somewhat intimidating. Nonetheless, I appreciated to be the one who used the metallic door knocker. I appreciated the texture of it in my hand, it was a very clean heavy metallic ball held by a metallic hand, type of a subconscious inducement to make use of it to knock with. It’s sound was not as satisfying as its feel and appearance, it made a type of uninteresting clanking metallic sound.

It was often Jaro who got here to the door, so that you had to be affected person. Jaro was a tall, giant man with an expressionless face and white hair. He was all the time sporting his retro glasses. He had a overseas air about him, even past his accent and a distant stare in his eyes. His skin was shade darker than my dad’s, who all the time acquired a very good tan. He didn’t hassle with well mannered cheerfulness when greeting us. But by some means by way of his far-off stare you would inform he was glad to see my mother and father nonetheless. Although he was in all probability much less enthused about us youngsters. Betty was often busy working, she and my mother had that in widespread, being all the time busy. Although Betty was a bit calmer than my mom. My mom was all the time one to reply the telephone after the first ring and quick to reply the front door bell. Whenever you walked into their home, you first walked by way of a brief hallway. On the suitable aspect of the wall hung a collection of colour pictures. They have been photographs of things which weren’t necessarily regarded as lovely and even vital. Nor have been they family portraits, they have been pictures of ignored gadgets one may see on a stroll by way of an previous deserted farm, a rusty door hinge or a weathered, lichen coated piece of wood. The pictures have been framed in a shiny silver metallic frame, this presentation and the subject would have been very leading edge in the sixties or even early seventies. I feel it was Jaro who was behind these photographs.

Jaro Polivka circa 1973

Jaro Polivka circa 1973

As you walked into the primary front room there was a scent that welcomed you. It was a barely musty odor with a touch of acrid, like a fantastic wine. If I have been to breathe a little bit of that air at this time I might be overwhelmed with a way of calm, easy-going earthiness. My greatest guess is that it was a mix of uncooked fabrics, wood, and the Paradise filth. There was hardly a bit of plastic or factory-made scented goods in that house. In the primary front room it was clear that the fireside was an essential fixture, it occupied probably the most outstanding place. It had a high raised fireside and I appear to recollect a forged iron pot hanging down from a sequence which could have been used for cooking at occasions. Nevertheless our visits to the Polivikas have been often in the course of the summer time months so I don’t recall seeing the fireside in motion. The fireside was on the East dealing with wall between the kitchen table where there have been plenty of windows and the lounge which was dark but inviting. There were no huge straightforward chairs or over stuffed couches on this house. Every chair or bench had its personal distinctive character, its wooden grain displaying its colour and texture and the material including shade, consolation and design. The padding might have been a bit deficient but the ingenuity was in surplus. All the furnishing have been coloured in earth tones shades of brown, yellow or pink. Apparently this was all handmade furnishings which that they had bought in Mexico, and them stored in storage until their constructing was full. On a shelf opposite the fireside was a set of pottery Betty had made. One item stands out in my reminiscence; it was in the shape of a over-sized salt shaker. On it’s aspect was written in the clay in small sort, “for a California Barbecue” then in larger sort “O-Reagan-O”.

Sometimes if we stayed into the night time, Jaro may pull out his projection display along together with his reel to reel projector or a slide-show. On one occasion Betty showed us a movie of the way to make RAKU pottery. I discovered it fascinating enough to remember some particulars in any case these years. The method was just like the methods the very earliest peoples made pottery. After shaping your container and letting it dry, principally you dug a hole in the ground and constructed a fireplace proper on prime of it. Letting the coals be the kiln and letting a few of it get blackened in a very nice uneven means.

The modernity of the projector might be imagined as incongruent with the handmade furnishing: however no, here it was an ideal fit, a much less passive answer to a TV. There was a small TV hidden away in a small darkish corner of the living room and this did look like a nasty match, a type of hidden vice. On one go to Betty truly turned it on and watched a present with us. It was PBS, a collection of European animation shorts with a sound monitor however no words. They have been in all probability Japanese European, perhaps even from behind the Iron Curtain, that they had a haunting defeated quality to them. It was an extended ways from the Gumby type clay animation I used to be used to. They have been shifting in their own mournful approach; as art may be at occasions and accompanied by discordant music.

Jaro had his own movies he appreciated to point out on his reel to reel projector. There was a selfmade movie he confirmed us as soon as. The Polivika youngsters have been in it, though they have been much youthful, around high school age. It also featured a stuffed owl as part of the storyline. The stuffed owl I acknowledged from their house, they stored it in their attic room. I also recognized various the scenes as happening outdoors their home. Probably the storyline was a take-off on the Maltese Falcon, it’s a bit fuzzy in my reminiscence, but I was very impressed that Jaro might make a film. I assumed it was something outdoors the realm of anyone but an entire crew of execs. His talent at innovation and invention, alongside was the very fact he might discuss six totally different languages made me consider him with a type of awe.

Betty I additionally admired, however I saw her as more of a kindred spirit. When she spoke to me I imagined that she considered me as a younger version of herself. She additionally had purple hair and freckled skin. I by no means thought a lot of it as a child, but as I’ve aged I’ve gotten the sense that redheads are wired a bit of in a different way. There is a bit more uneasiness, a bit of more vulnerability and problem in fitting in. Perhaps that is the place the bully/comedian/geek stereotypes come from, that is the redheads’ means of making an attempt to fit in. She match none of those stereotypes. Betty was apparently of comparable genetic makeup as my mother and myself, though my mother had darker hair she additionally had very reasonable skin. There were clearly some robust Celtic genes in her not so distant past, perhaps Scotch, Irish or Welsh. My mother’s mother and father have been each Scottish. She additionally appeared to share with my mom a sort of uncowed high quality, a stoic sort of willpower. She had enough confidence, to take up any number of life paths that went towards the grain of recent society. She wasn’t chatty or confrontational, however she wasn’t going to let imagined judgments of others intrude together with her doing what she beloved to do. My mother should have seen her as a mentor or a fellow traveler; typically at little of each in all probability. They have been both ladies who took on the normal feminine roles simply before those traditions started to vary, they every had four youngsters and served the central position in raising these youngsters. However their roles in their respective households have been anything however subservient. It all the time appeared that my mother was behind a lot of the major selections in our family. I all the time assumed it was the identical for the Polivkas, but now I’m not so positive. Jaro won’t have been as prepared to let go of the reins as my father was. The thought of constructing your personal house on a bit of undeveloped property, sort of a homestead, appears more appealing to a man’s creativeness, than a lady’s. But then Betty had some very distinctive approaches to how she went about dwelling her life.

Betty Polivka circa 1973

Betty Polivka circa 1973

My dad, Betty and I have been having a conversation, at one point when the subject of exercise got here up. She stated she performed golf for train. She went up to the native public golf course and performed about nine holes of golf. The strolling round was her exercise. My Dad appeared stunned and amused because he hadn’t take her for the golfer sort. My dad who knew solely just a little about golf asked her what sort of golf equipment she used. She explained that she solely used one club. This appeared odd even to me. Then he asked her what sort of a club she used, and she or he didn’t even know the identify of the type of club she was using. After a bit of excellent natured confusion about what sort of club she was utilizing, she went to a nearby room and introduced “the club” to point out us…. It was a putter. I saw my Dad smile broadly imagining how she managed to play 9 holes of golf on a real golf course utilizing only a putter. Rolling the ball across the grass ten yards for each stroke. She should have gotten a justifiable share of resentful stares from the other golfers. I feel she talked about she all the time went when it was the least crowded and needed to let the other golfers play by means of ceaselessly.

(About this small reminiscence. Peter advised me solely just lately that he is in possession of Betty’s “set of golf clubs”. So he wonders about that reminiscence, was she messing with us? I couldn’t say, however it was a clear memory for me. Probably she was simply getting started and was learning to play? Or perhaps she had an entire set but simply loved using the one club for simplicities’ sake? )

Two of Betty's mugs.

Two of Betty’s mugs.

The inside view of Betty's mugs.

The inside view of Betty’s mugs.

In her artwork studio she had a potter’s wheel where she made quite a lot of clay objects which she had fired in a kiln some place else. The design which drew my attention was a collection of mugs. They have been giant, properly constructed with a hefty deal with. The interior was finished with a thick, mild coloured glaze and the exterior she left was a unfinished mild coloured clay. Every mug had a special face on the aspect opposite the handle. Each face was an exaggerated statement of some unique character. She confirmed us a few dozen accomplished mugs in her artwork studio in the future and she or he gave a pair to my mom (my mother may need paid for them, she was an art patron when she might afford it). I needed to make mugs identical to she had finished. My mom purchased me a potter’s wheel and I made some concerted attempts. However I discovered that it took lots of follow, greater than I had endurance for as a kid, I quickly lost interest. However principally I keep in mind her artwork as being watercolor landscapes. They have been neither sensible nor impressionistic, they straddled the border between. A very basic watercolor type, but very private at the similar time. It introduced you the sensation of the place by way of her eyes. There was a lightness to them, brilliant with out being too glad.

My Dad and Myself and the Polivka's Adobe

My Dad and Myself and the Polivka’s Adobe

My mother used to have considered one of her work hanging in our home. Together with these of some of her different pals who have been additionally artists. I all the time thought of Betty’s portray as the type of measuring tape of what other artists must be making an attempt for. After spending untold hours viewing art and speaking with artists, I understand that was a reasonably naïve outlook. Every artist has their own story they are telling with their art, there isn’t a one “right” means of doing art. Just because the is nobody “right” way of living one’s life. Although behind my mind I nonetheless consider Betty as the quintessential artist.

Each time I see a Catalpa tree with it’s lengthy seed pods I am transported to the again porch of that adobe home. That they had one rising beside the porch. A hammock was stretched between the Catalpa and a second giant tree. I spent a couple of hours of a summer time’s day trip on the again porch in that hammock. A giant space of the back yard had been cleared of the manzanita, star-thistle and the other crops which tended to grow in open areas. It should have been maintained to a point because there were no tall weeds nevertheless it was definitely not one of many closely irrigated lush green lawns of Truthful Oaks. There have been a few peahens that wandered freely within the close by woods that have been additionally a part of their giant property. They have been the closest issues to pets Jaro and Betty owned. I solely as soon as caught a quick glimpse of them someday as they disappeared into the woods. Betty stated they roosted excessive in some very tall timber at night time to stay protected from roaming predators.

On a couple events I took brief hike on one of many trails that led into the woods. It was an orange barked forest thick with manzanita with its limbs reaching off in all directions. Jaro took my Dad, Andrew and myself on a much longer hike to the sting of their property. It should have taken us a few half an hour to get there. In fact we have been slowed by the woods which turned very heavy at some factors. Jaro needed to point out my Dad some ingenious technique he had rigged up for hauling firewood out of some low mendacity portion of his property. He needed to drag it up a really steep slope which my Dad discovered very fascinating, being an engineer. It was on this hike that Andrew had a plan to collect a small bundle of bay leafs. He thought he may be capable of promote them at the small Natural Foods store in Truthful Oaks. The powerful scent of the Bay Leafs gave both him and me headaches on the automotive experience back residence.

Jaro had his own art that he created, I assume it was more of a craft than art due to its performance. He would take the trunks of the manzanita timber that have been concerning the width of a giant arm, then he would minimize them in about 6 inch sections. After drilling about ten holes in each of them downwards from the highest they made wonderful pencil holders. We had a number of of these pencil holders in our household. I liked to rub the aspect of them and really feel the graceful manzanita wooden. I don’t assume Jaro even wanted to sand them, the tree was simply naturally clean after the bark peeled off.

Jaro's manzanita Pencil Holder

Jaro’s Mazanita Pencil Holder

There was a small attic room up a set of very steep stairs. I’ve a foggy memory of spending a night in that room with Andrew once we have been very younger. The walls have been the steep pitch of the roof line meeting at the prime of the ceiling. I don’t keep in mind noticing this steep pitch from outdoors the home or even with the ability to see the roof at all. But from the inside I recall the shingles have been nailed on directly to the roofing slates. The walls of this room have been adorned with three or four African masks that seemed to have an eerie lifetime of their own. Oddly I wasn’t afraid of the masks but additionally they stored the stuffed owl in that attic which had been a really giant and very actual owl. Apparently it had been taxidermied by a pal and given to them as a present, or an unwanted trinket. It wasn’t so dangerous within the daylight however in the dead of night attic at night time it was a frightful factor.

The kitchen was properly positioned just some steps from the eating room. When getting into the home from the back door which was additionally an additional extensive door identical to the entrance door, the dining room was in your right and the kitchen in your left. It was a large roomy kitchen. It had a pleasant homey feel to it. The cabinets might have been painted, in the event that they have been they have been one of many few issues in that home that was painted. There should have been a refrigerator but I doubt there was a dishwasher, I keep in mind seeing dishes drying on a rack on the counter. I solely walked via it as soon as or perhaps twice. It was the domain of mothers who have been in movement. Not a spot for teenagers lingering or sluggish shifting adults. However my mother spent plenty of time with Betty within the kitchen, it had plenty of room for both of them.

There was a dessert Betty made for us on one go to. She provided it to Andrew and me however we looked at it suspiciously. We considered Betty as a healthy prepare dinner, the type that used entire food elements with no mixes or packaged gadgets. To us this meant something wholesome disguised as a dessert. Her cooking expertise advanced before the health meals revolution which began in the late 60’s and in 70’s actually took off. They appeared to be based mostly more on real primary strong cooking traditions that went again millennia. In fact this type of meals was far more wholesome than Andrew and I might cope with. So when she provided us this dessert cooked in a metallic sheet cake pan, we might clearly see there have been walnuts in it, this made us hesitate. General it had a buttery candy odor and there appeared to be a layer of something like frosting on it. She had made us an apple cobbler an a previous visit which we have been conversant in, and it was scrumptious. So we gave this new factor a attempt… and it was the rich and sweet in just the fitting mixture. It still holds a spot in my reminiscence as one the most effective thing I’ve ever eaten. In all probability too candy and rich for my grownup palate however it modified my thoughts about “healthy” meals.

Of the 4 Polivka youngsters, the three oldest have been seldom seen round the home. That they had gone off on their life journeys whether it was, to school on the East Coast or an Ashram in Berkeley I wasn’t very clear. But I do keep in mind my mom speaking about how the Polivka boys have been trying to avoid being drafted and shipped off to Vietnam. Avoiding the draft was all the time a serious matter of conversation each time my mother was around draft age younger males. I feel she was making an attempt to dig up concepts for me when my time got here. John talked in size about his research and efforts toward attaining conscientious objector status. I keep in mind the gist of the conservation being that regardless of how strongly a person felt that killing another human was mistaken regardless of the cause, that a conscientious objector status was very troublesome to determine. It could possibly be claimed if one belonged to an organized spiritual sect with a historical past of such perception. And it sounded as if one had to show they belonged to stated religion for an extended time period, being a current convert wouldn’t do. My mother talked about that he was ultimately rejected from going to warfare because he was outspoken about his pacifists beliefs and the army didn’t want somebody like that mixing with the opposite draftees. In all probability he needed to do some various civilian service. I’m unsure how accurate my mom’s take on this was as a result of she didn’t all the time have the endurance to take the time to rigorously perceive issues of this nature. However being drafted to struggle a warfare towards my will was very a lot on my thoughts as nicely.

Ann was the oldest, then it was Peter, then John and eventually Elizabeth who still lived on a small cottage outdoors of the primary adobe. Elizabeth being the youngest is the one I saw probably the most of. Peter and John happened to be visiting sometimes. I was struck by how much their manner of speech was just like Jaro’s, very deliberate and reservedly well mannered. Jaro nevertheless was filled with a dry humor that was delivered with a straight face, which could possibly be relatively scathing. Neither Peter nor John seemed to have picked up his scathing demeanor or his accent. I don’t recall ever seeing Ann on the adobe in Paradise. At first I was anxious about Elizabeth, nervous that this was someone I would have to relate to on the level of a peer or as an adult that may ask a collection of uncomfortable questions. Once I was at residence I might all the time cover in my closet, or my room once I was older, but at their house I had no escape. Nevertheless I quickly discovered I had nothing to worry with Elizabeth. Where Peter and John had taken after Jaro, Elizabeth had taken after Betty, she was friendly without passing judgment or asking too many questions. Her manner of speech was very buoyant, in truth I discovered myself hoping she would make a uncommon appearance in the primary house. I assume I had a teenage crush, she was quite lovely with straight dark hair and lightweight brown skin. On my last teenage visits to the Polivka’s I introduced a pal together with me. He was a childhood good friend with whom I was beginning to sense a drifting aside. He appeared to be shifting within the course of most male youngsters I knew; consuming and talking crudely about women. I used to be drifting toward being a loner, discovering fewer and fewer pals I might relate to. On that go to, Elizabeth made an appearance in the primary house in a light-weight summery gown, it was a scorching day. I very a lot observed her on that day, coming in from the again door with the sunshine streaming in behind her lighting up her pores and skin. She had such beautiful skin, a type of honey colored brown. Then greeting us with a large smile. However on the drive back residence with my pal in the automotive, he commented that he didn’t like the truth that she didn’t shave beneath her arms. I didn’t say so but I was offended by his comment, it was as if we had seen an exquisite sunset together and afterward he had remarked that the sky was too orange. To this present day I can see her strolling in the back door with the light streaming in from behind and the smile on her face; it is a type of small treasures I hold in my reminiscence.

I recall on one in every of my last visits to their Adobe in Paradise. I used to be a young grownup and I accompanied my mother and father. I walked into their home noticing that it was identical to I remembered it, very little had modified. The same knocker still hung on their door. The same pictures still hung on the wall in the hallway. The Oh-Reagan-Oh shaker nonetheless sat on the shelf. And the same odor nonetheless clung in the air which sent me again to my childhood reminiscences. I hiked somewhat ways it the manzanita forest and checked out a half-built pond on the aspect of the yard. It was a years previous challenge that Peter or John started however by no means finished. I tried to marinate myself in reminiscences.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than Mom and Betty determined they want to go somewhere to perform a little sketching. It was decided we might all go right down to “Whiskey Flats”, the swimming hole the place collectively they took their youngsters, so a few years in the past. To those two it should have had extra significance than I noticed on the time. To get there, it was a single lane street with a steep drop off on the edges, with the wreckage of previous automobiles at sure places once you appeared down the steep cliff.

My Mom painting at Van Norden Lake July 3rd 1994 by Betty Polivka

My Mother portray at Van Norden Lake July 3rd 1994 by Betty Polivka

The previous rusted automobiles where nonetheless there once we passed the steep cliff I remembered, as was the large green wall of Serpentine rock which overhung the street near that very same place. However the swimming gap had modified quite a bit. It was full of individuals on this warm weekend. However it was a unique type of crowd then it was many years in the past. There were small dredging rigs on the river with engines operating constantly. There were some families, however they appeared to be dwelling in campers at the swimming hole. There were nude couples sunning themselves. We didn’t feel snug in this scene. But undaunted, Betty and my Mother found a personal place downriver from the previous swimming gap. They broke out the pad of paper and pencils and commenced sketching. My dad sat on a rock together with his shirt off, sunning himself. Betty complimented him on his physique and commenced to sketch him. I explored down river, stumbling on a nude sunbathing couple and a small dredge puttering away. Once we returned to the Adobe afterward, we all felt an air of disappointment about how Whiskey Flats had modified. It was as though we had misplaced one thing. It was my dad who commented that it’s a shame that nothing ever stays the identical.

A watercolor by Betty 2001 near the entrance to the woods.

A watercolor by Betty 2001 near the entrance to the woods.

Throughout the years my mom and Betty would keep up a correspondence. My mother and father continued to go to Jaro and Betty in Paradise. Typically my mother and Betty would get together for painting periods, one time they met in Cornwall and spent some time collectively, portray scenes of skies, water and land. Betty was older than my mother by about ten years and she or he handed about ten years sooner. Friendships can last all through the years, when there is a mutual unstated magnetism. Their friendship lasted until the top. The magnetism that tied them collectively was artwork, my mother endlessly the beginner and Betty endlessly the instructor. They have been a great pair.

Publish Script:

In January or February of 2017 Peter and John Polivka paid us a go to in Santa Cruz. We had lunch on the wharf, my dad, my brother, myself and the Polivka brothers. I’ve all the time thought that they had a passion for each my dad and my mom and it felt just like the timing of the go to was necessary, to John especially. During lunch he advised us that he was battling pancreatic cancer however that the prognosis appeared good. He had undergone the prescribed remedies had there were no signs of most cancers.

I hadn’t recognized or perhaps I forgot that John was an early alum at UC Santa Cruz. He spoke with us a bit about his reminiscences of Santa Cruz back within the early seventies. How many issues had modified and the way much had stayed the same. I later guessed that one of many major points of interest of Santa Cruz for him was being close to the water and its access to crusing.  Boating was one of the foremost undercurrents of his life. For most of his later life he lived on a houseboat in Sausalito.

Several months after their go to to Santa Cruz I heard that John’s cancer had returned and it was now terminal with little probability of his recuperate. He died soon afterward. I used to be glad he was capable of see Santa Cruz and my dad one last time.

The Polivka youngsters held a service for John on the previous adobe house in Paradise that the family constructed together. I attended that service with my Dad and discovered some issues about John and the Polivkas I hadn’t know earlier than. John had a fantastic love for ships and crusing. He had additionally never married and I might tell from his youthful photographs that he was especially handsome. I keep in mind my mother and father speaking about how he went from girl-friend to girl-friend with out ever sticking with one. They have been all very nice individuals, in John’s view and in accordance with his friends and family. My mother and father I consider, thought that not settling down with one individual was a supply of unhappiness for him, however I’m guessing it was not.

After John’s service I acquired an e-mail from Peter which I feel adds to the story. Jack is my Dad’s identify.

“It was nice to see you and impressive that Jack made the journey.  My mother and father had a romantic notion about adobe.  It’s undoubtedly nice to take a look at.  In fact once you set a course, purchase the property and start digging you’ve obtained to maintain going even when the challenge loses its novelty and it’s just work – sort of like backpacking with 50 lbs for a few weeks.  What we see now took years to arrive at.  I keep in mind constructing the rear deck and roof once I was 16 – Jaro was off in Africa with the UN, I feel. I keep in mind Jack coming over at some point to go to and we talked concerning the deck format, amongst other things.  I was simply setting the concrete piers for the deck posts.  (Jack gave me some recommendation that day that caught with me:  do together with your life what you take pleasure in doing. Great recommendation).

John did the inside cedar v-groove paneling on the outside adobe partitions to cover them up when he was in his center teenagers as properly.  All of us pitched in for the concrete drive on the front of the home – apart from Jaro who was off to Princeton for some coursework in larger math.  I feel he needed to stroll the halls that Einstein (his hero) walked years earlier than.

It’s stored us busy, the properties and belongings (three generations value).  There’s a deep sense of loss, first John, then the family house.  However those with expertise tell us time is a superb healer and I might agree.”


I want to say that Peter Polivka wrote the above comment before the Campfire burned almost each constructing in Paradise. When he speaks of the “deep sense of loss, first John, then the family house” he means the fact that John owned the adobe home and the other siblings needed to promote it after his dying.

I began writing down these private reminiscences of Paradise around about 2010. I added the above postscript in mid-2018. The Campfire burned down a lot of the buildings in Paradise in the direction of the top of that yr, including the Adobe and our previous home on Sunset Means, now referred to as Quail Approach. It’s exhausting say much about my emotions surrounding this. How do I really feel about dropping something, that was lost to me many years in the past anyway? I find it greatest to remember those whose loss is recent and those whose lives are upended. Though I can’t help however feel a personal unhappiness when taking a look at these image.

Paradise Adobe after the Campfire

Paradise Adobe after the Campfire

The House on Sunset Way after the Campfire

The House on Sunset Approach after the Campfire

Well-known Potatoes

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