REUNION DAY 2 CONTINUING AUGUST 5, 2014
Last week is where I told you about the Family’s takeover of the San Juan Capistrano Mission for several hours, and we still had 2 more places to go. Uncle
Frank and Aunt Ada’s huge home is located next door east of the Best Western Hotel on the Ortega Hwy. Our Family people were invited to sightsee the home from 2 PM to 3 PM. It had fallen into disrepair over the years until an interior decorator bought it and redid the inside but left the exterior in its 1910 Mission Revival Architecture motif, popular in the early 1900’s. I really didn’t care for the interior renovation. It did not have the warmth of the old place with the old style furnishings which were so comfortable, dark woods, a built-in china cabinet in the large dining room, just to give you an idea. Please don’t rip all that old warmth out, and put in cold, cold colors, and big pillows — not for me anyway.
This is the home where we would go every year for Christmas Eve dinner, and right after dinner Uncle Frank would disappear (if you were paying attention,) and we kids would be fooling around playing and waiting for Santa to make an early appearance. I was the leader of all the kids. Viv (my sister) and I were first cousins of their parents, so I was bound to be lording it over them when they were only second cousins. You may recall one of my past stories was about Christmas, and how I gathered these kids together Pancho, Margarita, Carlos, Barbara, Muggsy to name a few, and include Viv (because she was a believer in Santa.) The announcement I made, LOUD and clear: “Hey, Gang, there is NO Santa Claus. Uncle Frank is playing Santa. Can’t you tell?” As he came down the stairs with a huge bag of presents on his back, tears and yelling had pursued my revealing words from the cousins. Uncle Frank was a very small man, about 5 feet tall – real little – so they had to use a whole bunch of pillows to fatten him up. Funny sight! The tears dried up, and the yelling subsided as they were handed out a whole bunch of presents. With that part of the evening over with, the little kids had to get to bed, and the rest of us would leave to get ready for midnight Mass, and then the next day was spent having an early Christmas Day dinner at Aunt Mae and Titán’s beautiful Spanish Mediterranean home (built in 1925-26) high on the hill just south of town.
I certainly do wander far afield at times. Now back to the Reunion. When we left the Mission, I had already decided I would not visit the Forster home, now designated the Forster Mansion next door. I wasn’t that interested, and it would be a good time to rest before the assault by our group on the El Adobe Restaurant from 5:30 to 11:30. So I just rested. I didn’t want to get to the El Adobe for this huge dinner party, then have to leave early because my tank was on empty. Those in my immediate family know I have always been the last one to leave a party, so I wouldn’t want them to see me pull a disappearing act. Too much out of character. My Warden (Alba) and Marshall, my nephew had planned to walk next door to see the Mansion, but they decided to rest also.
So it was time to gather ourselves together for the evening, and what costume was I prepared to wear? A few of you may have figured it out. But of course, it would be my ensemble that I was dolled up in for the day I was the Grand Marshal of the Swallows Day Parade in San Juan Capistrano on March 19, 2009. One of the highlights of my entire life. Alba wore a Western get-up, while Marshall just wore some clothes.
When we arrived at El Adobe and entered through the colorful patio, you just knew it would be a festive evening. Mariachis were playing, and their music was bound to put everyone in a jovial mood. Sipping on cocktails may have helped also. The huge dining room was pretty packed with everyone finding a table and place to sit, then wander around to talk to everyone they could. What a great time! Promptly at 7 o’clock, dinner was being served so everyone had to scurry back to their table. The buzz- buzz settled down for awhile, and we had some nice Forsters to give us some more insight about our family. Michael gave us his where for, Pat gave us his 2-cents worth, Juan (who isn’t sure which generation he’s in) gave us maybe his 3-cents worth. Now there a bunch of Juans in the family, and it took me into my 96th year to be so confused like I have never been in all those previous years.
One thing that has me confused is the hearing aids I wear. I figure I only hear half the conversation, so just imagine what I’m missing out on. However, I have to admit that sometimes they are a blessing in disguise. They had a video of my second cousin, Tony Forster, son of Tom Forster, son of Uncle Frank and Aunt Ada, previously mentioned in regard to the Mansion. (I was so confused right there and spelled it Manson.) Anyway, Tony was off in Washington, DC getting some kind of an award — remember I don’t hear too well especially in a high-ceiling room with all the people — and I couldn’t catch the drift — so I will have to play the DVD we were each given, listen to it in the quiet of my living room. Then, and only then, will I reveal what it was all about. And if there is anyone out there who would like to be here for the showing, please don’t hesitate to ask. We can set up a nice little – or grande party. Another chance to toast Don Juan, who married Ysidora Melitas Pico. (So far with this family, I think I can boast about the only one named after her.) I am still dizzy with all those “Juans.” A real fine Tequila, such as Don Julio 1942 would be in my salted glass on the rocks squeeze of lime, that is if my niece Roberta and Laura were thinking kindly of me. Incidentally, those two had a bottle of that 1942 stuff stashed in the kitchen of the Alice Forster-Leck house Friday evening to keep me going. I am not one in this day and age to imbibe in more than one beer, and carbonated beverages are death warmed over for one’s body.
The evening came to a close at 11:30, as planned, because coming up on Sunday everyone would have to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to get down to Camp Pendleton where the Military would allow us a peek at the Ranch House of the Rancho Santa Margarita where Don Juan and his wife, Ysidora Melitas Pico lived after President Lincoln threw them out of the San Juan Capistrano Mission.
The third day – Sunday — of the Reunion will bring up another story, and you know how that will run. Military Time! To the minute/second.
Which is not exactly what the Forster Family is noted for. I don’t know how Tony Forster made it through West Point. Maybe he was the one anomaly, but I doubt it. God rest his soul, and all the other Forsters who have gone on to another place.
MELITAS FORSTER A TUESDAY WITH MELITAS
Below is the Forster Mansion then and now…