The end of October is upon us and American Thanksgiving is just around the corner! The temperatures have not been a true indicator of the season, but we have added some Fall touches here and there throughout the house to give us that autumn time of year feeling!
It has been a very long time since I have added anything to this blog. Our construction team finished up the contracted projects, packed up their tools, and moved the trailer off of our driveway to their next client. We settled into the daily routine of life. Blog writing was overshadowed by other things; however, there are still many stories to write and pictures to share. So, let’s get to it!
I have been spending some time trying to uncover information on the families who have lived in this house over the last 100 years. I am not really sure what I will find, but I feel so fortunate to have been able to connect with Virginia who lived here with her parents and siblings in the 1930s. She lived her from 1936 to 1940 during the years she attended Fresno High School. After high school she went on to college and then to medical school where she completed her training to become a pediatrician. During her time away at college, she spent summers in this house. Although her father died in 1969, her mother remained in the house until 1971 when she moved to an assisted living facility in 1971. The house may have been empty but furnished until her death in 1977.
I had the privilege of spending part of an afternoon, way back in February, over a cup of tea, with both Virginia and her daughter Joan. Virginia is now in her 90s, but is full of life, and I think she enjoyed seeing the old house, and she shared some memories as she walked through the main floor. She told me that their family had added the pink pool bathroom off of the library as well as the pool. She remembered the beautiful fountain/pond outside the living room. She also remembered the GE icebox being in the back porch when they moved in (1936).
She shared that her mother always had the best of everything. In fact, Virginia commented that the kitchen sink had a garbage disposal before almost everyone else they knew. With the invention of this gadget in 1927 and patented in 1933, it would have been a cutting edge appliance when they lived in this house.
She had fond memories of grand dinner parties where the guests were entertained in the living room. The thick folding doors separating the living and dining rooms would remained closed until right before dinner was to be served. At that point the maid would open the doors with much fanfare to reveal an elaborately decorated table with a decadent meal waiting to be served to the guests.
She also provided some clarification regarding the connection to the author, John Steinbeck. According to Virginia, John’s older sister, Elizabeth, lived in the house before Virginia’s family lived here. It was during this time that Elizabeth’s young son, John drowned in a canal or irrigation ditch nearby. He was only 3 years old, and after this tragic event, Elizabeth had a hard time staying in this house. They moved out shortly after, and Virginia’s family moved in. Virginia did say that John Steinbeck would visit his sister in the house and continued to visit Virginia’s family. I like to think that maybe he found inspiration during his visits and spent some time writing in the backyard.
I will always cherish the time Virginia gave me that afternoon. She is a wonderful wealth of information, and I am glad I had the chance to hear about some of the history of the house first hand. I know this house has so many stories, and I would love to uncover more of them.