Archive for August, 2014

Mondays with Melitas – August 25, 2014

MEMORY OF A PET                                                                           AUGUST 25, 2014


I never did have a dog of my very own until I was all grown up at 38 years old.

Son Gary had a little one, “Woofles,” when he was 4 years old, but she wasn’t mine, all mine. She was his, his, his! We were living at the south end of Laguna Beach on Victoria Dr. ‘way up above the ocean on the cliffs in a four-level home, if you can imagine that. Garage on street level, second level office and storage; third level huge living room across the front, then large dining room, den, humongous kitchen, and the service room, also oversize. Then the top floor (4th level) with 3 bedrooms, 3 baths. The ocean below, with waves crashing against the rocks, made nice night sounds.


About 8 years later we were then living in a duplex right smack dab on the beach, on Ocean Front in the area of the Coast Inn. The building was built from the street level, so garages were on that level along with a 2 bedroom apartment, which I rented to Marine Officers from the Base in El Toro. You had to go down one level for the large apartment. As you entered, there was a bedroom on the left, and you had to take a few steps down to get to it. On the entry level to your right was another bedroom, and across the hall and forward there was another bedroom with windows across the front looking out into the living room below, and to the ocean. Down more steps to the living room, dining area, and kitchen area— 2 stories high and wide open with 14 foot windows so you could get a real good glance of the ocean. The deck outside was patterned after a ship’s deck. It was quite smashing. Underneath the living room there was a space built with the flooring of huge planks set apart so that when there was really high tide the waves would come up under and had a place to release some of the force. Yes, it was smashing. We didn’t have Wuffles – she had gone to her eternal rest, and since Gary was now in high school, with football, and baseball, we just couldn’t take care of another little friend.


Leave it to me — I have been writing some more extraneous stuff. You all know how that goes — my mind keeps looking around inside my brain and starts remembering more than I bargained for, and it keeps egging me on to write it down — before I forget.


The main topic is now coming up. In case you have forgotten, the main subject is supposed to be about a pet. A friend of mine, Mickey, from the San Fernando Valley was coming down to visit me for a week. I used to keep a calendar just marking down week end visitors, or they might run into each other with their luggage at the front door. Then someone would have to flip a coin as to who would go to a motel.


When Mickey arrived, there in her arms was this adorable chocolate mini poodle puppy all full of vim and vigor, straining to get to me!. With that, Mickey puts the little tyke in my arms, and says “Here’s your present for today!” I called her ELOISE after Kay Thompson’s book, “Eloise,” about the little girl who lived at The Plaza, a hotel in New York City, and all about her hilarious escapades. She had the run of the place. Incidentally, Kay Thompson was a tremendously popular icon-type night club entertainer, who had 3 gorgeous guys backing her up, all in tuxedos, singing and dancing very elegant routines, mostly in New York nightclubs, but would be out on the road, where I caught her act in San Francisco.


There I go again — Memories just create more Memories for me and I can’t help myself. The story goes South.


I just knew I was going to have a fun, interesting life with my new BFF. I don’t know what she expected, but it couldn’t have been what it turned out to be. The home she came from — and incidentally, Mickey bred these little chocolate poodles as a business, so daily routines were much different than mine. I guess Eloise was quite confused with the life style. We didn’t get up too early — she was okay with that — but then I had to leave at 5 o’clock to be at whichever bar or restaurant I had at the time, and that meant I wouldn’t return home until late, usually after 2 am. We would play for a little while, and would have a little snack; then off to bed. Same routine the next day. She was settling in just fine and dandy. Our days were just great. We could romp around on the beach, play “go get the stick,” or take a walk down the beach and visit my bar, Los Ondas, or maybe we had to go shopping, or maybe go visit somebody. There were lots of things to do during the day, and she seemed to thrive on that lifestyle. We had each other all day long, then she could just sleep away in the dark night till I came home.

I’m going to close out this story for now. I have been trying to find pictures that I thought I could put my paws on in a flash. Where are they, when I need them? Have been trying to find them all day. Have to realize I have 4 or 5 bins of photos, and I don’t want to drive myself any crazier than I am right now.

Later, Gang



MELITAS FORSTER                                                           MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


Eloise & I on beach in front of our home. Bldg. in picture not ours -next door neighbor.

Eloise & I on beach in front of our home. Bldg. in picture not ours -next door neighbor.





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Mondays with Melitas – August 18, 2014

 Major General Joseph Fegan, wife on left, and THAT'S MY AUNT MAE on the  right

Major General Joseph Fegan, wife on left, and THAT’S MY AUNT MAE on the right

CAMP PENDLETON REVISITED                                                     AUGUST 18, 2014


When the Forster Family had their big Reunion in June of this year (2014,)

a tour of the Rancho Santa Margarita Ranch House was arranged, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that Don Juan, wife Doña Ysidora Pico Forster and their family had owned the Ranch and lived there a number of years after having to evacuate their previous home at the Mission (now Basilica) San Juan Capistrano.

From my earliest memories, I can recall going to visit the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores with Aunt Mae and Titán (my Uncle John Forster,) especially to see Jerome O’Neill. He was the son of one of the owners, Richard O’Neill, who had bought the Ranch along with Rancho Mission Viejo and Rancho Trabuco – those 2 in Orange County – and Titán loved to see him. They were great compadres. Mr. O’Neill, I remember, would be in a wheel chair behind the immense desk in one of two rooms that served as the Office. At the time, I did not know what his illness was. I was 8 years old when he died in 1926 of Parkinson’s disease. We continued to visit there with other members of his family. Their name was Baumgartner. O’Neill never married.

When I took the pictures at the Rancho in 1936, I also went through the entire home making the drawing of the rooms. It’s a good thing I did. The drawing and photos came in handy for me a few years later. Titán passed away in December of 1939, after a year-long struggle with cancer, and it was a sad, sad time around home. I was living with Aunt Mae full time by then, and in the two years following is when we were always on a Train to New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago –- she didn’t want to stay still one moment. Her way of getting through the grieving period, now that I look back.

All play and no work began to make me restless, so I announced that I should go back to college and get my degree in teaching — Phys. Ed., English, and History. I had more than 2 years of credits so it was off to UCLA, and it just so happens I had to come up with a term paper in English. What else was there for me to write about? First thing that popped into my head —- the Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. I had all the props, like a 40-volume set of Hubert Howe Bancroft’s History of the Western States and Mexico to delve through (in Aunt Mae’s possession,) and also those photos, plus many other sources for research;  I wrote up that paper, absolutely relished working on it with all the research it entailed, and I’ll have you know I snagged an “A” like it was nothing.

Early in 1941, rumors were being bandied about that the Government was interested in Rancho Santa Margarita as a Marine base for the duration of the war. It came to pass that they took over in 1942, and down the line found that it really fit the bill because of its vast size they could have an Air Base, more training facilities, etc. Instead of what first started — just leasing — the government bought the place!

Major General Joseph Fegan was the first commander of Camp Pendleton. He and his wife were ensconced in the Ranch House where he would do his commanding from, and then they had to put on a big, big Dedication Day. All the big guns in the Military were there; all the local, state, and government politicos, were on hand. Now get this! As representative of the Forster Family, My Aunt Mae was invited to attend the ceremonies, and yours truly had to have an invitation because she was Aunt Mae’s chauffeur. And it gets better!!! All those big names and stars on their uniforms, none of them were seated right next to the General with his wife on his right and MY AUNT MAE ON HIS LEFT. And you ask, “But where is Melitas?” Well, they farmed me out into the “unfamous” section – no dignitaries allowed.

I don’t remember what we were served for luncheon. It should’ve been some tasty, tender prime rib of beef seeing as how we were on the land where the cattle used to roam. The setting was sensational under all the trees near the Ranch House. We were served by military in regular server uniforms — black trousers, white shirt, black tie, and white jacket. How could I forget that day? No way, “Juan” oops, I mean José. Of course, the speeches went on and on, but it wasn’t all that bad. I was so caught up in the moment, I was in another world —

trying to hold on to the memory of the momentous and historic events of that day.

MELITAS FORSTER                                                           MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


Hand drawn map showing the vast, awesome area of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores,  Rancho Mission Viejo, and Rancho Trabuco

Hand drawn map showing the vast, awesome area of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, Rancho Mission Viejo, and Rancho Trabuco



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Only two retreats left for 2014:

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Mondays with Melitas – August 11, 2014

REUNION SUNDAY DAY 3                                                      AUGUST 11, 2014



We’re coming down to the finish line of the big FORSTER 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF DON JUAN FORSTER’S BIRTHDAY, and I may make this short because I am getting tired. Last week’s confusion with “Juan” nearly sent me over brink and into the canyon with all the crazies. I feel like I am not quite making the elevator get to the top.


After the night before at the wonderful party at El Adobe Restaurant, several of the 230, or so, revelers didn’t feel like making the trip down the Coast Hwy., a distance of about 30 miles, to the Main Gate for Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Their loss. Come hell or high water, I was not going to miss it because it had been several years since I had gone there with the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. They take a busload every year around Christmas time. I love to go because I have been visiting the Ranch over the past 90 years, at least. There are several stories I can regale you with later, but will try to keep this story on track — and you know how far afield I can go when I’m on a roll. (It’s no doubt due to the fact that when I start a sentence I may not remember where I was going with it.)


We carpooled as much as possible so it wouldn’t give the Marines a scare with a big bunch of autos approaching their stronghold, and the Warden and I joined in with niece Roberta because her auto can handle 7. Our friend Laura drove (good driver – I didn’t once put on the brakes,) Michael Forster (head honcho of the Reunion organizers,) in the front, then Alba and I with Little Josh sandwiched in between us, then Michelle (Josh’s mom) and Roberta.


To get through the Main Gate, all the drivers had to have driver’s license, current registration, and proof of insurance, as well as a copy of the letter from the Base. To be sure, I took my Passport, just in case. After being checked, and allowed to enter, it is quite a drive through the Base to reach the Ranch House. It is located on a big knoll, and now sitting with the Air Station quite close as you look from the Home out on the valley towards the ocean.


No cattle in sight, nor Vaqueros either for that matter — like in the days of the Dons before Alta California, a part of Mexico, was claimed by the US of A.


The Rancho Santa Margarita ranch house has been designated RANCH HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE.


We were divided into 3 or 4 groups to make it easier for the docents to do their thing. I first went to the south side main entrance because there was always a date in the cement just inside the walk-in gate which had the date – 1828 and an arrow pointing North. But this time I was shook up. No longer there. Instead someone did a mess of a job, and had changed the slab with what looked to be a Cattle Brand. Whatever it portrayed was a poor rendition, so there I was all upset right off the bat before I even get into the home. As we went in, though, I calmed down. (I thought you would want to know.) The adobe walls of this home are 3 and 4 feet thick. It was built to last, to say the least.


The Marine’s Museums and Archives section taking care of this place are doing a nice job with the interior. When the Military took over the Commanding General used it for his living quarters as well as Headquarters. Presidents visited, and military parties were given there so they added on a large room on the north side for these affairs. Very elegantly decorated with period furnishings of a bygone era, plush white carpeting, huge paintings. Very tasteful. The home is rectangular in shape with 20 rooms. In the center is a large open air patio, always with lush flowers and landscaping. My Great grandmother, Ysidora Melitas Pico’s quarters are roomy compared to others in the home, after all she was the hospitable Doña of the house.


Our group moseyed around throughout, ending up in the patio where we could catch up with more family talk, and learning more about where they have come from now. I am not going to get into it again about all those Juans, but let me tell you right now, I intend to do some more research with some of my cousins. I’ve also got to look into more goings on with my nieces and nephews. I don’t know what a lot of them have been up to.


Will close for now, but I imagine I will narrate stories that were awakened in the depths of my memory. It will be fun for me to put it all into words, and hope it will be enjoyable for my readers.


Hey, Readers, are you out there?



MELITAS FORSTER                                                   MONDAYS WITH MELITAS



Ranch house 1936 same day as Uncle Titan standing by the hugetallow

Ranch house 1936 same day as Uncle Titan standing by the hugetallow

Floor plan (if you want me to point out ROOMS let me know!

Great Grand Don Juan

Great Grand Don Juan

My uncle Titan standing by the hugetallow kettle 1936 (I took that picture)

My uncle Titan standing by the hugetallow kettle 1936 (I took that picture)


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Only two retreats left for this year…September 21-27 come stay, write and play in Palm Springs, California.  All inclusive retreat: $2,295.00  You will enjoy 3 wonderful meals each day while you stay in a beautiful luxury home right in the heart of Palm Springs.  Over 25 hours of writing workshop to motivate you as you explore your writing.

October 21-27 come write with us in beautiful Loreto located in Baja.  An easy two hour flight from LAX.  For only $1,895.00 you will be immersed in the beauty of writing along the Sea of Cortez and once you arrive all 3 meals are covered and excursions and of course 25 hours of writing workshop.  You will love your own private villa.

All prices for 2015 retreats are set at price of $2,795.00 so if you want to save some money come retreat with us in 2014!


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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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