In these days once I heard the phrase Paradise it meant one thing much totally different to me than it did to most individuals. It meant that previous house on Sunset Means beneath the deep oak timber, with the dogwoods blooming underneath 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 where we lived as soon as with the O’Rourkes. It meant the Polivkas and their home. It meant sitting down in the Polivkas home and listening Jaro converse together with his thick Czech accent and his sluggish, deliberate speech. It also meant seeing Betty and her newest artwork tasks.

They lived about an hour and a half away and my mother and father nonetheless owned that home on Sundown Means which they rented out. I feel it was Betty that obtained my mom so desirous about art. My mom was what I think about to be permanent newbie when it got here to art. Not necessarily a nasty factor however definitely not a strategy to impress others. All the time the scholar and never the instructor. And Betty was her instructor if anybody was. I’m unsure how a lot of the attraction that surrounded their house in Paradise was attributable to Betty and how a lot to Jaro. When my mother and father went to visit their associates they took me and my little brother Andrew along with them…I often hated visiting their associates. There was the lengthy conversations which did not embrace us. They seemed to go on eternally whereas me and Andrew tried not to be bored. It was worse if there have been youngsters our age; all the time that awkwardness being thrown together, although by the top of the go to we have been often having fun.

However going to the Polivka’s home was something I seemed ahead to. It was like getting into a special actuality, a sort of mysterious realm which hinted at some sort of esoteric information. There was so much to take a look at and explore. Most of my mother and father’ pals houses have been very ordered and boring for probably the most half. However the Polivka’s house had a very natural and chaotic quality to it. As if it was one thing that had grown up out of the earth after which furnished by way of 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 many things that was so unique concerning the Polivka’s. Their youngsters were not ruled by the identical set of rules as different families. Their youngsters didn’t 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 in the room. There was also the unstated assumption that Andrew and I have been part of this principally grownup dialog. Once we spoke we have been listened to and questions have been requested of us at occasions. We weren’t condescended to, ignored and shunted off into some other room as we often have been.

We would go away from Truthful Oaks in 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 nonetheless remembered from once I lived there as a five yr previous: my previous kindergarten, the house the place the O’Rourkes lived, the Shell Station with the massive Inexperienced Stamps signal. That Shell Station was across the road from where my mom 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 again into some type of wall .

Often we might cease by the home on Sunset Method earlier than going to the Polivka’s. That house was underneath a thick canopy 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 dark ravine, thick with timber. There were a variety of roughly built houses down this street, spaced a long way aside. Mrs. Jones, my first babysitter lived down this street. My mom 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 determined to take a swim out past the breakers. His girlfriend was on the seashore whereas he was within the water swimming, when she noticed that he was hit by the shark. Ignoring the hazard 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, however after talking with Peter lately, he remembered it slightly in another way. He remembered that it was the seashore near the Golden Gate Bridge and he didn’t keep in mind the girlfriend swimming out to aim a rescue. Also it might have been earlier than Kennedy was president so he wouldn’t have given her a medal. So I tried to discover a report of it on the internet and positive enough Peter was proper, it was Baker Seashore near 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 obtain some type of medal from President Kennedy a number of years later, however they have been swimming together when the attack happened.

My mother all the time warned Andrew and me by no means to say this incident in entrance of Mrs. Jones…we never did.

Mrs. Jone’s house 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 those marbles, they appeared like such an embarrassment of riches. Additionally she had an extended wraparound display porch, that was dingy and uninviting, although she stored a set of oddities back there. Considered one of these oddities was a lot of giant paper hornets’ nests, which I wasn’t positive had been utterly abandoned. One other thing I keep in mind about that house, was watching “Yellow Submarine” on her smallish colour TV. I keep in mind discovering it chaotic and slightly disturbing.

Home on Sunset Means “Before”. Circa 1954.

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

I didn’t realize it at the time however our house on Sunset Means was truly the first home Jaro and Betty lived in whereas in Paradise. The 2 couples had met a number of years earlier than. My Dad and Jaro both labored 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 point. The 2 males received alongside together fairly properly, as did Betty and my mom. My mother and Betty used to go “Whiskey Flats” collectively, a small swimming hole on a branch of the Feather River. They might drive their youngsters down a relatively treacherous street to the river. It’s the place I discovered to swim, as well as my two older siblings.

It turned out Jaro had constructed an addition to the home on Sunset Approach. Development was not his career (he was a mathematician) so it had it’s deficiencies, I only discovered that from my Dad much later. Constructing codes on rural roads in Paradise in those days have been more than likely very flippantly enforced. I all the time thought it was type of a comfortable home. It had a huge 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 nicely carved paths. At the prime fringe of the property there was a shed my dad referred to as the “goat house” and a cherry tree that really obtained sufficient solar at that finish of the property to supply some cherries. In fact the driveway was dust and it continued on for a distance previous the house. It had turn into overgrown in the direction of its end but there was a captivating rusted body of some previous automotive again in there. It was one of the previous boat-type automobiles from the 1950’s or perhaps even 40’s. It was the abandoned challenge of some previous renter. The home itself was of very pragmatic unadorned design. Only a sort of get it achieved kind of job, however I do keep in mind the fireside being very good, I feel it was completed off with round river rocks. This home was in all probability not one thing Jaro would have bragged about, but I feel it suited its propose of protecting the roof over the top of a very young family just fantastic.

Once we approached the Polivka’s home we drove up an extended dusty driveway with Star- thistle on each side. There were no other houses in sight by the time we parked in front of their home. On the fitting 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 here it was an art studio. This was a very intriguing concept. The Artwork Studio was constructed of a rough unfinished wood development. However the primary home was brief and strong wanting, it’s shade was reddish orange just like the soil surrounding it. In the event you appeared intently you would see it was put together with giant bricks fitted collectively snugly with an identical colored mortar. It was an adobe home built with bricks made out of the encompassing soil. It had been constructed by the Polivka’s themselves, after they returned from some time in Mexico. Jaro had customary 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. Whereas they have been constructing the house the household of six, two mother and father and four youngsters, principally camped out on the location. At the time this won’t have been that unusual, my mother and father wouldn’t have thought twice about it. In truth once I was an toddler my mother and father camped out on a website near Frenchman Dam in northeastern California, while my Dad labored as an engineer during its development. That they had three youngsters on the time, together with 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 round California in the course of the summer time. My Dad typically accompanied him. Based on my Dad he remembers the tent as being very soiled, I’m unsure if he meant it was soiled before the mud brick building challenge of afterwards. Tenting out in Paradise had the added hazard of rattlesnakes. I keep in mind tales of snakes killed on the Sunset Method property, as a result of that was what everybody would do back then in the event that they spotted a rattlesnake close to where they lived and youngsters played. There was a spot in the street in entrance of Mrs. Jones home the place my older brother fell whereas driving his bike not removed from an enormous rattlesnake. Peter advised me that they killed 13 rattlesnakes while they have been constructing their adobe home. Lots of them have been babies which may be just as lethal as full grown snakes. Once they dug the bottom for a basis, they came throughout a number of Native American (in fact they referred to as them “Indian” then) artifacts, which I feel I keep in mind seeing round their house. There was additionally a spring nearby which was very helpful and perhaps the rationale why there was an Indian encampment in that spot.

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

The Front Door

The Entrance Door

Once we approached the home you have been greeted by a really giant large entrance door, that was clearly common by hand. I recall it being a cut up door the place the highest half might be opened separately from the bottom half. It was a powerful factor, standing at the prime of a couple of cement steps with metallic knocker in its middle. Embedded within the steps have been round river rocks, usual in a specific pattern. I assumed it was some sort of stick figure. It was clearly the entrance door and clearly the door we have been presupposed to knock on as guests, however it was slightly intimidating. Still, I appreciated to be the one who used the metallic door knocker. I favored the texture of it in my hand, it was a really 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 really feel and appearance, it made a sort of uninteresting clanking metallic sound.

It was often Jaro who got here to the door, so that you needed 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 polite cheerfulness when greeting us. But someway by means of his far-off stare you might 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. Though 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 house, you first walked by means of a short hallway. On the best aspect of the wall hung a collection of colour pictures. They have been photographs of items which weren’t essentially regarded as lovely and even vital. Nor have been they family portraits, they have been photographs of missed gadgets one may see on a stroll by means of an previous abandoned farm, a rusty door hinge or a weathered, lichen coated piece of wooden. The pictures have been framed in a shiny silver metallic frame, this presentation and the topic would have been very leading edge within the sixties or even early seventies. I feel it was Jaro who was behind those 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 slightly musty odor with a hint of acrid, like a nice wine. If I have been to breathe a little bit of that air as we speak I might be overwhelmed with a sense of calm, easy-going earthiness. My greatest guess is that it was a mix of raw fabrics, wood, and the Paradise filth. There was hardly a bit of plastic or factory-made scented items 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 seem to remember a cast 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 through the summer time months so I don’t recall seeing the fireside in action. The fireside was on the East dealing with wall between the kitchen table where there were plenty of home windows and the lounge which was darkish but inviting. There have been no huge straightforward chairs or over stuffed couches on this house. Each chair or bench had its personal distinctive character, its wooden grain displaying its colour and texture and the fabric including shade, consolation and design. The padding might have been a bit poor however the ingenuity was in surplus. All the furnishing have been colored in earth tones shades of brown, yellow or pink. Apparently this was all handmade furniture which that they had bought in Mexico, and them stored in storage until their building was complete. On a shelf reverse the fireside was a set of pottery Betty had made. One merchandise stands out in my memory; it was in the form of a over-sized salt shaker. On it’s aspect was written within the clay in small sort, “for a California Barbecue” then in bigger sort “O-Reagan-O”.

Sometimes if we stayed into the night time, Jaro may pull out his projection display alongside together with his reel to reel projector or a slide-show. On one event Betty showed us a film of the way to make RAKU pottery. I discovered it fascinating sufficient to remember some details in any case these years. The process was just like the ways 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 some of it get blackened in a really good uneven means.

The modernity of the projector might be imagined as incongruent with the handmade furnishing: however no, right here it was a perfect match, a less passive answer to a TV. There was a small TV hidden away in a small dark corner of the lounge and this did appear to be 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 but no phrases. 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 fashion clay animation I used to be used to. They have been shifting in their very own mournful approach; as artwork may be at occasions and accompanied by discordant music.

Jaro had his personal movies he appreciated to point out on his reel to reel projector. There was a do-it-yourself film he confirmed us once. The Polivika youngsters have been in it, although they have been much youthful, round high school age. It additionally featured a stuffed owl as part of the storyline. The stuffed owl I recognized from their home, they stored it in their attic room. I additionally recognized various the scenes as happening outdoors their house. Probably the storyline was a take-off on the Maltese Falcon, it is a bit fuzzy in my reminiscence, but I used to be very impressed that Jaro might make a film. I assumed it was something outdoors the realm of anyone however 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, but I saw her as extra of a kindred spirit. When she spoke to me I imagined that she considered me as a youthful model of herself. She also had purple hair and freckled pores and skin. I by no means thought much of it as a child, however as I’ve aged I’ve gotten the sense that redheads are wired slightly in a different way. There is a bit more uneasiness, just a little more vulnerability and problem in fitting in. Perhaps that’s where the bully/comedian/geek stereotypes come from, that is the redheads’ approach of making an attempt to fit in. She fit none of those stereotypes. Betty was apparently of similar genetic make-up as my mother and myself, although my mother had darker hair she also had very reasonable pores and skin. There have been clearly some robust Celtic genes in her not so distant past, perhaps Scotch, Irish or Welsh. My mom’s mother and father have been each Scottish. She also seemed to share with my mom a sort of uncowed quality, a stoic type of willpower. She had enough confidence, to take up any variety of life paths that went towards the grain of recent society. She wasn’t chatty or confrontational, but she wasn’t going to let imagined judgments of others intrude together with her doing what she beloved to do. My mom should have seen her as a mentor or a fellow traveler; typically at little of each in all probability. They have been each ladies who took on the normal feminine roles just before these traditions began to vary, they each had four youngsters and served the central position in raising those youngsters. But their roles in their respective families have been anything but subservient. It all the time seemed that my mom was behind a lot of the major selections in our household. 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 building your personal residence on a bit of undeveloped property, sort of a homestead, seems more interesting to a man’s imagination, than a lady’s. However 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 level when the topic of train came up. She stated she played golf for train. She went as much as the local public golf course and performed about nine holes of golf. The walking around was her train. My Dad appeared stunned and amused as a result of he hadn’t take her for the golfer sort. My dad who knew only a bit of about golf asked her what kind of clubs she used. She defined that she solely used one membership. 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 utilizing. After a bit of excellent natured confusion about what sort of membership she was utilizing, she went to a close-by room and brought “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 using solely a putter. Rolling the ball throughout the grass ten yards for each stroke. She should have gotten a justifiable share of resentful stares from the opposite golfers. I feel she talked about she all the time went when it was the least crowded and had to let the other golfers play by means of steadily.

(About this small memory. Peter informed me only 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 just getting began and was learning to play? Or perhaps she had an entire set however just enjoyed utilizing the one membership for simplicities’ sake? )

Two of Betty's mugs.

Two of Betty’s mugs.

The inside view of Betty's mugs.

The within view of Betty’s mugs.

In her art studio she had a potter’s wheel the place she made quite a lot of clay objects which she had fired in a kiln some other place. The design which drew my attention was a collection of mugs. They have been giant, nicely constructed with a hefty deal with. The inside was finished with a thick, mild colored glaze and the exterior she left was a unfinished mild coloured clay. Each mug had a special face on the aspect opposite the handle. Each face was an exaggerated statement of some unique character. She showed us a few dozen completed mugs in her artwork studio at some point and she or he gave a couple to my mother (my mom may need paid for them, she was an artwork patron when she might afford it). I needed to make mugs identical to she had finished. My mom bought me a potter’s wheel and I made some concerted makes an attempt. However I found that it took a number of apply, more than I had endurance for as a kid, I quickly lost curiosity. But principally I keep in mind her artwork as being watercolor landscapes. They have been neither real looking nor impressionistic, they straddled the border between. A very basic watercolor fashion, however very private at the similar time. It brought you the sensation of the place by way of her eyes. There was a lightness to them, vibrant with out being too joyful.

My Dad and Myself and the Polivka's Adobe

My Dad and Myself and the Polivka’s Adobe

My mom used to have certainly one of her work hanging in our house. Together with those of some of her different associates who have been additionally artists. I all the time thought of Betty’s portray as the type of measuring tape of what other artists ought to 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’re telling with their art, there isn’t any one “right” means of doing artwork. Just because the is no one “right” way of life one’s life. Although behind my thoughts I still think of Betty because the quintessential artist.

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

On a pair occasions I took brief hike on one of the trails that led into the woods. It was an orange barked forest thick with manzanita with its limbs reaching off in all instructions. Jaro took my Dad, Andrew and myself on a for 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 points. Jaro needed to point out my Dad some ingenious technique he had rigged up for hauling firewood out of some low lying portion of his property. He needed to drag it up a very steep slope which my Dad found 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 sell them at the small Pure Meals store in Truthful Oaks. The highly effective scent of the Bay Leafs gave both him and me complications on the automotive experience again residence.

Jaro had his personal artwork that he created, I assume it was more of a craft than artwork due to its functionality. 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 every of them downwards from the top they made wonderful pencil holders. We had a number of of those pencil holders in our household. I beloved to rub the aspect of them and really feel the graceful manzanita wood. I don’t assume Jaro even needed to sand them, the tree was just 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 have a foggy reminiscence of spending a night in that room with Andrew once we have been very young. 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. However from the inside I recall the shingles have been nailed on on to the roofing slates. The walls of this room have been adorned with three or 4 African masks that seemed to have an eerie life of their very own. Oddly I wasn’t afraid of the masks however additionally they stored the stuffed owl in that attic which had been a really giant and really real owl. Apparently it had been taxidermied by a good friend and given to them as a gift, or an undesirable trinket. It wasn’t so dangerous in the daylight but at the hours of darkness attic at night time it was a frightful thing.

The kitchen was nicely placed just some steps from the dining room. When getting into the home from the again door which was additionally an additional vast door identical to the entrance door, the eating room was on your right and the kitchen on your left. It was a wide roomy kitchen. It had a nice homey feel to it. The cupboards might have been painted, if they have been they have been one of the few things in that house 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 only walked by way of it as soon as or perhaps twice. It was the area of mothers who have been in movement. Not a place for teenagers lingering or sluggish shifting adults. But my mom spent a number 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 visit. She provided it to Andrew and me however we checked out it suspiciously. We considered Betty as a wholesome prepare dinner, the type that used entire food elements with no mixes or packaged gadgets. To us this meant one thing wholesome disguised as a dessert. Her cooking expertise advanced before the well being food revolution which started within the late 60’s and in 70’s really took off. They appeared to be based mostly more on actual primary strong cooking traditions that went again millennia. In fact this type of food was far more healthful 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 sweet odor and there appeared to be a layer of one thing like frosting on it. She had made us an apple cobbler an a previous go to which we have been accustomed to, and it was scrumptious. So we gave this new thing a attempt… and it was the rich and sweet in simply the correct combination. It still holds a spot in my reminiscence as one the perfect factor I’ve ever eaten. In all probability too sweet and rich for my adult palate however it changed my thoughts about “healthy” foods.

Of the 4 Polivka youngsters, the three oldest have been seldom seen around the house. 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 mother 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 dialog each time my mother was round draft age younger males. I feel she was making an attempt to dig up ideas for me when my time came. John talked in length about his analysis and efforts toward attaining conscientious objector standing. I keep in mind the gist of the conservation being that regardless of how strongly a person felt that killing one other human was mistaken whatever the purpose, that a conscientious objector standing was very troublesome to determine. It could possibly be claimed if one belonged to an organized spiritual sect with a history of such belief. And it sounded as though one needed to present they belonged to stated religion for an extended time period, being a current convert wouldn’t do. My mother mentioned that he was ultimately rejected from going to struggle 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 mother’s take on this was because she didn’t all the time have the endurance to take the time to rigorously understand things of this nature. But being drafted to struggle a warfare towards my will was very much on my thoughts as properly.

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 used to be struck by how much their manner of speech was just like Jaro’s, very deliberate and reservedly polite. Jaro nevertheless was filled with a dry humor that was delivered with a straight face, which could possibly be somewhat scathing. Neither Peter nor John appeared to have picked up his scathing demeanor or his accent. I don’t recall ever seeing Ann at the adobe in Paradise. At first I was anxious about Elizabeth, frightened that this was somebody I must relate to on the level of a peer or as an adult that might ask a collection of uncomfortable questions. Once I was at house 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. The place Peter and John had taken after Jaro, Elizabeth had taken after Betty, she was pleasant without passing judgment or asking too many questions. Her method of speech was very buoyant, in truth I discovered myself hoping she would make a uncommon appearance in the primary home. I assume I had a teenage crush, she was quite lovely with straight darkish hair and lightweight brown pores and skin. On my last teenage visits to the Polivka’s I introduced a good friend along with me. He was a childhood pal with whom I was beginning to sense a drifting apart. He appeared to be shifting in the path of most male youngsters I knew; consuming and talking crudely about women. I was drifting toward being a loner, finding fewer and fewer buddies 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 back door with the sunshine streaming in behind her lighting up her pores and skin. She had such beautiful skin, a sort of honey coloured brown. Then greeting us with a wide smile. But on the drive back residence with my good friend within the automotive, he commented that he didn’t like the fact that she didn’t shave beneath her arms. I didn’t say so but I used to be offended by his comment, it was as though we had seen a phenomenal sunset collectively and afterward he had remarked that the sky was too orange. To today I can see her strolling in the again door with the light streaming in from behind and the smile on her face; it’s a type of small treasures I hold in my memory.

I recall on considered one of my final visits to their Adobe in Paradise. I was a younger grownup and I accompanied my mother and father. I walked into their house noticing that it was identical to I remembered it, very little had modified. The same knocker still hung on their door. The same photographs nonetheless hung on the wall within the hallway. The Oh-Reagan-Oh shaker still sat on the shelf. And the same odor nonetheless clung in the air which sent me back to my childhood reminiscences. I hiked slightly ways it the manzanita forest and checked out a half-built pond on the aspect of the yard. It was a years previous undertaking that Peter or John began but by no means finished. I attempted to marinate myself in reminiscences.

It wasn’t long earlier than Mom and Betty determined they want to go someplace to perform a little sketching. It was decided we might all go right down to “Whiskey Flats”, the swimming hole where 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 seemed down the steep cliff.

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

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

The previous rusted automobiles the place still there once we passed the steep cliff I remembered, as was the large green wall of Serpentine rock which overhung the street close to that same place. However the swimming hole had modified fairly a bit. It was full of people on this warm weekend. Nevertheless it was a special sort 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, but they appeared to be dwelling in campers at the swimming gap. There have been nude couples sunning themselves. We did not really feel snug in this scene. But undaunted, Betty and my Mother found a personal place downriver from the previous swimming hole. 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 lost 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 close to the doorway 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 collectively for painting periods, one time they met in Cornwall and spent some time collectively, painting scenes of skies, water and land. Betty was older than my mother by about ten years and she or he passed about ten years sooner. Friendships can final throughout the years, when there’s a mutual unstated magnetism. Their friendship lasted until the top. The magnetism that tied them collectively was artwork, my mother ceaselessly the newbie and Betty endlessly the instructor. They have been a superb 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 like the timing of the go to was necessary, to John particularly. Throughout lunch he informed us that he was battling pancreatic cancer however that the prognosis seemed 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 again within the early seventies. How many issues had modified and the way a lot had stayed the identical. I later guessed that one of many major points of interest of Santa Cruz for him was being close to the water and its entry to crusing.  Boating was one of many most important 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 get well. He died soon afterward. I used to be glad he was capable of see Santa Cruz and my dad one final time.

The Polivka youngsters held a service for John on the previous adobe home in Paradise that the household built together. I attended that service with my Dad and discovered some things about John and the Polivkas I hadn’t know before. John had an amazing love for ships and crusing. He had additionally by no means married and I might inform from his youthful pictures that he was particularly good-looking. I keep in mind my mother and father speaking about how he went from girl-friend to girl-friend without ever sticking with one. They have been all very good individuals, in John’s view and based on his friends and family. My mother and father I consider, thought that not settling down with one individual was a source 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 great to see you and impressive that Jack made the trip.  My mother and father had a romantic notion about adobe.  It’s undoubtedly good to take a look at.  In fact once you set a course, purchase the property and begin digging you’ve acquired to keep going even when the undertaking loses its novelty and it’s simply work – type of like backpacking with 50 lbs for a few weeks.  What we see now took years to reach at.  I keep in mind building 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 in the future to go to and we talked concerning the deck format, among other things.  I was simply setting the concrete piers for the deck posts.  (Jack gave me some advice that day that caught with me:  do together with your life what you take pleasure in doing. Nice recommendation).

John did the interior cedar v-groove paneling on the outside adobe walls to cowl them up when he was in his middle teenagers as properly.  All of us pitched in for the concrete drive on the entrance of the home – apart from Jaro who was off to Princeton for some coursework in larger math.  I feel he needed to walk the halls that Einstein (his hero) walked years before.

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


I want to say that Peter Polivka wrote the above remark 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 truth that John owned the adobe house and the opposite siblings needed to sell it after his dying.

I began writing down these personal 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, together with the Adobe and our previous home on Sunset Method, now referred to as Quail Approach. It’s arduous say a lot about my feelings surrounding this. How do I really feel about dropping one thing, that was misplaced to me a few years in the past anyway? I find it greatest to remember those whose loss is recent and those whose lives are upended. Although I can’t assist however feel a private 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 Sundown Approach after the Campfire

Famous Potatoes

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