Mondays with Melitas – December 3, 2012

OUR SUMMER GETAWAY                                   DECEMBER 3, 2012


My Aunt Mae loved to be on the go — several train trips toNew York, and the time we went on toDetroitto pick up the 1941 Cadillac.  We had to always have a nice car because there were all those road trips to Virginia City andReno, or toSan Francisco, or to Seattle and Vancouver. The boat trips toCatalina Islandshould also be mentioned.

This is about her wanting the families to spend time together, like in the old days when 2 or 3 of the Forster families would go camping up on the ranch, where the Dads would go off during the day to hunt dove or quail, the women sat around gossiping, and then preparing the meals, and the kids just ran around having the time of their lives. These vacations lasted till I was about 8 years old.  After that, I would be off with Aunt Mae, and Titán in the auto trips with my brother Buddy as the chauffeur — he was 18.

Besides, she loved big parties, and she always entertained on a grand scale.  She was probably missing the old camping get togethers, so we started driving up around LakeArrowheadand Big Bear to look for a place.  After several trips, she finally found the ideal spot.  It was a new development at the east end of BigBearLake.  It was called Peter Pan Woodland Club and had started up in 1932, now this was 1933. There was a Club House with dining facilities, tennis courts, and an 18-hole golf course. There were hundreds of vacant lots, and then there cabins that had been built throughout the area for the early buyers.  Aunt Mae finally found the lot she wanted — no other cabins nearby so the Forsters could let it all hang out, partying, playing softball, horseshoes, or whatever they were into that particular day.  Dad bought a lot just for investment and made some profit several years later.

The Peter Pan people had several models to choose from, and Aunt Mae chose one of the largest.  Only 2 bedrooms, one bath, but the other spaces were over-size. The cabin faced to the North, the living room and master bedroom on the right facing West. Along that side there was a huge open porch along the entire length.  Inside, the living room was quite spacious with huge stone fireplace, and there were 2 sofa-beds, a three-quarter bed with loads of pillows for seating and sleeping, several chairs.  Next, the kitchen was really large for a kitchen.

Room for a 6/8 place dining table.  Mom and Dad’s bedroom was on the other side of the kitchen, while the MBR for the Leader, Aunt Mae and her Follower, Titán was on the other corner of the cabin in back of the living room.

Outside the kitchen there was a screened porch running the length of the cabin’s east side.  Aunt Mae had vision.  She could visualize a 10/12 place narrow dining table just outside the kitchen door, and then to the rear, she could see a number of cots, make-shift beds for some of the sleeping beauties.  On the other side of the house where that long, long porch was, the guys would put up huge tarps to have a roof for the cots that were crammed in there.  So this cabin had sleep-over space for 20-24 getaway family members.  It wasn’t always just family.  Sometimes Viv and I could bring our school friends, maybe just gals, and sometimes we’d allow some fellas and they would bunk out on one of the porches.

When the big family crowd was there, there were always 2 cooks and sometimes 3, to feed the throng.  My Mom and my eldest sister, Beth — old faithfuls doing this, and sometimes Aunt Mae would have to pitch in.  Remember, Aunt Mae had all those servants to pitch in back inSan Juan Capistrano.  It’s a wonder she didn’t have a “casita” built for the two of them out back so they could have a “vacation” too.  Since there were no formal gardens for Kengo to tend, he would be able to help his wife, Kimi with the cooking.  At least it would’ve given Mom and Beth a vacation.

Mom always wore cotton house dresses, as did Beth, at their homes, but Aunt Mae had to come down to earth high on the mountain to wear, of all things, a cotton house dress (ugh!)  So she dressed the part, after all, and she would do a little cleaning with the broom, while giving out orders to the vacationers.  However, she would always arrive at the cabin dressed to the nines, in one of her every day silk gowns — a hat, of course.  And always leave in the silk.  After all, she would be returning to civilization.

We would have the big gang on the 3 summer holidays starting with Memorial Day, then Fourth of July, and finally Labor Day.  It’s just a good thing they are spaced at least a month or so apart.  When Labor Day was over, several of us would have to stay to secure the cabin for its winter time.  The pipes were drained, everything turned off, windows shuttered against the snow — all things of that nature — because no one in that Forster family would be going up to the cabin to frolic in the snow.  All hated that.  Mom and Aunt Mae had been born and raised inVirginia City,Nevada— so no snow ever again for them.  The others, raised around southernOrangeCountywere used to a warm climate, so why bother?  Well, it’s like my nephew, Bud’s first son Johnny, who went to the University of Notre Dame, and the minute he suffered frost bite, he high-tailed it out of there.

Years and years ago when my Dad was in his teens, he and his 3 brothers would go with the cowboys to drive their Dad’s cattle from southern O.C. toBigBearLakefor summer grazing.  They were on horseback all that way.  However, I have been told that one of my uncles spent most of the trek riding with cook on the chuck wagon.

And by now, you must know I have other tidbits to mention at another time.  After 3 weeks of “Mondays” spent at the Barefoot Bar, it was time to get out into the healthy open air. There was still beer being served, and other spirits as well.  For most of my years there, it was mainly cream soda. (Ugh!)  Maybe a beer once in awhile.






3 Comments to “Mondays with Melitas – December 3, 2012”

  1. Brings back memories when I was in junior high school and my physical education teacher took me and a few of my school friends up to her parents’ cabin. I loved the fresh air, open space, hikes and the water falls. I got to appreciate nature, but more importantly, I got to see how the middle class lived and it made me want to better my life and so I did . . . Thank you for your memories that allow me to remember mine!

  2. I didn’t know about the Big Bear house, or, if I did, I forgot. The tradition of huge Forster family gatherings has been around a long time. I miss those parties. Michael was talking about organizing one a while back but I guess that hasn’t materialized as yet. Would be fabulous!!
    Love you,

  3. As usual – SO entertaining – EVERY word matters…… I can picture exactly what was going on. You are a tresure. See you next week.

Leave a Reply

"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

Read More: Writing Teacher Reviews

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.

writing retreats for women

International Directory of Writing Workshops