On the Road to California Again

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Humboldt Bay at Sunset

 

Last week didn’t turn out quite as expected, especially for my dad. He fell and broke his leg above the knee. It was a bad break, requiring surgery and an extended stay in a care home after the hospital. He has survived heart surgery and a broken hip in recent years, and he will survive this, but for a person one month shy of 95, this is not good. My brother rushed over from his mountaintop home near Yosemite while I hit the road from Oregon. I didn’t know how long I would be gone or how well Dad would recover, but when these things happen, you do the best you can to tie up loose ends and go.

Winter lasting forever up here, the Siskyous were still loaded with snow, so I took the coast route down. After nine days, I returned up I-5. It’s an all-too-familiar 1,400-mile round trip commute. But I took pictures of some things I thought it would be fun to share here.

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This homemade camper at a coastal rest stop caught my fancy.

 

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I saw the peanut mobile way back near San Jose and was amazed when it pulled up at the Black Bear restaurant in Willows where I stopped for lunch.

 

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Dinner on my last night on the road was big enough for three dinners.
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Poor George’s in Yreka, where I had the massive pancakes, ham and eggs, is an old-time diner.

 

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I don’t do a lot of selfies but here I am on the coast highway.

Dad seeming relatively stable, I came home to get back to work, Annie, and taking care of my own house, but I will be going back soon, I’m sure. It’s not easy having your heart torn between two states. Meanwhile, please keep my father, Ed Fagalde, in your prayers.

 

 

All contents copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2017

 

Dad’s 90th: A Party to Remember

When my brother and his wife drove Dad to lunch in San Jose on Sunday, he suspected a few people were gathering to celebrate his upcoming birthday, but he had no idea so many people would be there, or that I’d be walking out of the restaurant to greet him. After all, I live in Oregon and I was just there a few weeks ago. He’s a hard man to surprise, but we did it.

It was a hot sunny day as we gathered at Antonella’s Italian restaurant kitty corner from the Rosicrucian Museum. They had opened the restaurant just for us. We partied in a beautiful room decorated with murals of the Italian countryside. The tables were set with white cloths and stemmed cobalt blue glasses. Pictures of Dad from boyhood to now decorated the walls and tables. A chocolate cake decorated with tractors and a frosting orchard sat next to a little red barn with replicas of the horses Bud and Daisy that Dad grew up with.
People piled in from all over to honor Clarence “Ed” Fagalde. Nearly everyone was a cousin in some way, descended from the Fagalde or the Souza side of the family. So many people who had not seen each other for years. Our voices roared above the sound of the fans striving vainly to push out the heat. Everyone is older now. The kids are grown. “You look like your mother,” one of my cousins shouted when he saw me. I know. I do. That’s okay. She was a beautiful person.
How do you capture the feeling of that afternoon in words? So many hugs, so many laughs, so many smiles. Too much food. So much happiness. In a world where nothing is ever perfect, Sunday afternoon came as close as life ever does. It was the kind of party that will be remembered in the list of big parties–my parents’ 50th anniversary party, Grandpa’s 90th birthday party, the memorial for Uncle Don and Aunt Gen, my 50th birthday party in the cafeteria at my old elementary school… It was the kind of day that just filled me up, and I believe it did the same for my father.
He didn’t know he was going to have a house guest Sunday night, but he welcomed me back into my old room. In the evening, we sat in the kitchen eating leftover lasagna and pie, and we talked for hours. In the morning over coffee and tea, we talked some more. I am so blessed to have a father who is so strong, smart, handsome and interesting, even at 90.Our family history goes back to the pioneers of Santa Clara County, and Dad is a fountain of stories about the old days.
My brother Mike, his wife Sharon and I started tossing around ideas for Dad’s birthday when I was in California in early March. Sharon and my niece Susie did the invitations, posters and pictures, and baked cookie keepsakes for the guests to take home while I supplied a guest list and old photos—and myself. But a lot of the credit goes to my Aunt Suzanne, the only one who lived close enough to organize the setting and the food. I am grateful to everyone who helped or just showed up from all over California. I got the prize for greatest distance traveled. My cousin Jenny and her crew came in second, flying in from San Diego for the day.
I drove to Portland on Saturday afternoon, got up at 3 a.m. to fly south Sunday morning and was back in Portland by 5:00 Monday evening. It was raining. Last night, Dad and I were back to talking on the phone, both amazed that it all actually happened.
Today, May 1, is my father’s actual birthday. He was planning to go to the grocery store, do some laundry and maybe take himself out to dinner. That makes me sad, but I’m so glad he’s able to do those things, and I think we should keep celebrating life every day. We are so blessed. 
The photo, taken by Aunt Suzanne, shows Dad, my cousin Tom Sandkhule and me. 

California trip renews old memories

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I have just returned from a trip to San Jose, California to visit my father. It was a journey through two lifetimes of memories, mine and my dad’s. Now that I’m home, I’m still trying to believe that my long-awaited trip has come and gone.
My father, Ed Fagalde, is 89. I just turned 60. We are both widowed. We both order senior meals now, and we had a fun conversation comparing our prescriptions. We are lucky that Dad is still able to live on his own and doesn’t seem nearly as old as he is. Wherever we go, memories of our spouses go with us. I can see Mom in her chair by the window, hear Fred laughing at a joke.
Dad is a storyteller. Boy, does he like to talk about the good old days. We both grew up in San Jose. Dad grew up on the Dorrance Ranch, where his father was foreman. They raised prunes, cherries and other crops. Driving down Curtner Avenue between Monterey Highway and Meridian Road, he noted that we were in the middle of the ranch, which extended for hundreds of acres. He pointed to trees that were there long before the area became a suburban housing tract.
Everyplace we went, I had my own memories to match my father’s. “We had a big well here,” he said as we crossed the intersection near St. Christopher’s Church. I went to church here the first couple years Fred and I were married. He wired that building over there when he worked for Sure Electric. I interviewed the people who worked there for the San Jose Sun.
We drove through Saratoga, where I was editor of the Saratoga News, and Los Gatos, where I wrote for the Weekly-Times, had cheeseburgers and fries at a Burger Pit just like the one we went to almost every weekend when I was a kid, then headed east to Almaden, which brought back memories of my days writing for the South Valley Times. Dad’s memories went back much farther.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, San Jose had two working quicksilver (mercury) mines, the Almaden and Guadalupe mines. Dad’s grandfather and father worked at the Guadalupe mine, and his mother taught at the school there. Both mines are long closed now. In fact, the Guadalupe mine site is a landfill site now. As the road narrowed, we drove through miles of oak trees along Los Alamitos Creek, past the houses of the wealthy and the eccentric, past a dam and a county park with trails leading to the mining sites. Dad recalled riding that steep road on bicycles with his cousin Irene. Going up was tough, but going down was really exciting. He pointed to where there used to be a dance hall, a picnic area, a swimming pool. He told how his grandfather, who was more comfortable with horses than cars, took driving lessons from a local guy in exchange for breaking two horses.
These days, the road leads to a big white building that has been a dance hall, a bar, a theater, and a restaurant. I did a story there, too, can’t remember which paper it was for. Now it’s a museum.
The sign said the museum was closed, but there were cars in the parking lot, and Dad insisted we knock on the door. Surely they’d just send us away, I thought, but no. When Dad shared some of his history, Ranger Mary Berger let us in for a private tour of rooms decorated to look like 1850s parlors and other rooms full of information about the old days of Almaden. She described a busy schedule of activities we might enjoy. Meanwhile, Dad told her a few things she didn’t know about Almaden.
It was the highlight of a week full of memories. We visited my brother at his hilltop estate near Yosemite, talking, eating and watching basketball on TV as the rain cascaded down outside. I had lunch at an ultra-modern restaurant in Newark with my stepdaughter and dinner with my aunt at La Paloma in Santa Clara.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye, warmed by memories made new by sharing them. 
For more information about the Almaden Quicksilver County Park and Mining Museum, visit www. parkhere.org and click on “History Here.”