Monday, April 26, 2010

As Andy would say, "Trampoyeen!"

OK, so I'm not all that techie and don't know how to actually put this video on the blog... so just click on the link.

Nothing is quite as good as Grandma & grand kids giggling!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Irene Teresa Brack Boylin

(I know this is long, but so many people have asked for it, I thought I would just put it here)

Irene Brack was born in 1921 in Hurley, Wisconsin, the 1st child of John and Mary Brack. Her mother had immigrated to the United States from Italy when she was 18, and had crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. Her father was a shoemaker and owned a general store and shoe repair business in town, and for a time, they lived in an apartment above the store. She had one sister, Dorie, and one brother, Mario. Irene lived in Hurley until she was 18 – surrounded by extended family and a large community of Italian immigrants. She had fond memories of family picnics at the lake, the men playing bocce ball, wonderful food, and lots of friends to play with. She attended Catholic school and remembers one nun in particular who had a little red curl that would creep out from under her habit. Before she saw that, she thought the nun’s had no hair.

After High School Irene got a job working as a nurse at a sanitarium and moved out of her parent’s home. A few years later, after the start of WWII, she decided to serve our country and see the world and she joined the SPARS, the women’s division of the US Coast Guard. The SPARS sent her “out into the world” (San Francisco, California) where she soon met a handsome Coast Guard sailor from Utah who literally swept her off her feet at a USO dance. As Irene told the story, Don escorted her home. She said, “As we were going down the hill, he said “I’ll throw you over my shoulder and run down the hill. I said, “You wouldn’t dare!” He threw me over his shoulder and ran all the way down that hill – it was one of the steepest in San Francisco. Then we went on the cable car and we began dancing on the cable car. Somehow or another, they used to have those fruit stands out in the front, and the next thing I knew I had a lemon in my hand. When we got to the barracks and Don went to kiss me goodnight I stuck the lemon right in front of him and he kissed the lemon instead of me.” After three months of courtship, they were married and when she called home to say she had married a Mormon, her family asked, “what’s a Mormon?”

When they had finished their service in the Coast Guard, Don and Irene Boylin moved to Southern California and promptly had 3 boys, Denny, Rick, and Bud. They lived in Oakland, South San Gabriel, East Los Angeles, Wrightwood, Victorville, and San Bernardino. In South San Gabriel they attended the Mission Park Ward. The Anderson’s and Wilmott’s attended there too, and Herb Anderson was a 6 year old in her class. After serving for a time as a Primary teacher, Irene finally joined the Church. She went on to serve in many callings including Librarian, Relief Society President, and Junior Sunday School Coordinator.

For those of you who don’t remember Junior Sunday School, here is how meetings went before the three hour “block.” First, Primary was in the afternoon on a weekday and the Youth Auxiliaries met on a weekday evening. On Sunday, the Priesthood would meet early in the morning and then would go back home to get the family for Sunday School. Then we would come back in the evening for Sacrament meeting. In Sunday School we would have an opening song and prayer, we would have the Sacrament; a couple of 2 ½ minute talks and song practice and then break for classes. The Primary aged children had their own Sunday School, with opening exercises, their own Sacrament (a few young men would be assigned to this coveted duty) and songs before they separated to their classes. The leader of this wonderful auxiliary was a sister, similar to a Primary president.

Sister Boylin was Junior Sunday School Coordinator in San Bernardino 2nd and 4th Wards for 15 years. She served countless children as the leader of their Sunday School, as well as supported and served many teachers through the years. The Waterman building in San Bernardino had a Jr. Sunday School room with child sized pews that made it easier to maintain order and reverence with all the children. Many times the Priesthood tried to remodel the room and take out the pews and use folding chairs… But Sister Boylin wouldn’t have it. As long as she remained, the pews remained and the children had their own little chapel for Sunday School.

Irene enjoyed being a homemaker and mother. While living in South San Gabriel, her oldest son, Denny, contracted osteomyelitis and was hospitalized in Los Angeles. Irene didn’t know how to drive at the time but learned quickly so she could get to the hospital to see her little boy. After several years (and after moving to Wrightwood) Don and Irene finally had the little girl they had hoped for, Diane. During their 3 years in Wrightwood they owned and operated the Laundromat. They were one of only 3 LDS families in town and the only one that was active in the church. They traveled each Sunday all the way to Victorville to attend worship services. Since some of the camps couldn’t pay their laundry bills, making ends meet in Wrightwood was difficult, so Don and Irene sold the business and moved to Victorville, where their last son, Keith, was born. They soon moved to San Bernardino, bought a new home, and lived there for 36 years.

While living in San Bernardino, the Ward they were attending was divided and she really didn’t feel that she fit in to the new Ward and didn’t have many friends. Her husband talked to the Bishop about it and the next thing she knew, she was called to be the Relief Society President. She would reminisce that back in those days the Relief Society earned their own budget, so they would put on an annual Bazaar. She and her sisters in Relief Society would work together all year on crafts to sell at the Bazaar and she learned to love the women in that Ward. When the Ward was divided again years later, she would really miss them.

When her children were young, she served often as a great taxi driver taking them to all their activities. She drove a variety of old vehicles including one with no windows and one with doors that had to be tied shut. But the kids got to all their activities.

After the kids were grown Don was in a motorcycle accident and received some money in a settlement. Irene was thrilled to get new cabinets in her kitchen and a new family room addition for family gatherings. They also bought a used motor home and took a vacation across the country. She was excited to travel and see the sights of the country and was only sad that they couldn’t see everything. She really wanted to see the Amish country but they were traveling with friends in another motor home and had to keep on schedule, so they didn’t have time to stop. She said she wanted to try their food, but I think she wanted to see how they did their crafts!

Irene’s husband, Don, passed away in 1981. Irene was shy and not out-going but her children were pleasantly surprised to see that she kept herself busy with Church and social activities. She even attended a few singles activities but later told me that there were too many single women for the few eligible men, but she wasn’t interested anyway. She had the love of her life and would wait to be with him again.

Irene became fast friends with Wilma Bomboy and went walking with her often. Wilma had lost her husband also and they would walk and talk and cheer each other up. Later, Wilma made a little homemade plaque for Irene with this poem on it that she had written:

You made the day brighter
For me, my friend,
Because of your cheery smile,
Because of the words you said to me
When you walked with me awhile.
So when the day is done, my friend,
I think of you the while,
Of the cheery things you said to me
And your warm and friendly smile.

In 1994 Irene moved back to Wrightwood because she wanted to live closer to her daughter, Diane. She moved into a little cabin 3 doors down from us and lived there for 5 years. She loved to sit at the window and watch the squirrels and birds and neighbors. She attended Church with us and came to love the ladies in the Wrightwood Ward, just as she had done in San Bernardino so many years before. Soon she began to need a little more care and moved into her daughter’s home. We settled her into an upstairs bedroom and she loved it there. She told me she felt like she had her own little place in the mountains. Our bedroom is downstairs, and as she became less mobile we offered to switch bedrooms with her but she would not have it… she liked her room and she was going to stay there. When the nurses started coming to care for her a year ago they suggested she move downstairs so they could serve her a little easier. But just like with the Junior Sunday School, Irene stood her ground. She had her room and nobody was going to change it.

Her joy during this period was when people would come by to visit. Many friends in the Wrightwood Ward would drop by to chat and see how she was doing. When we went out of town we never worried because we always had lots of volunteers to drop in and see how she was. Sometimes I think she liked for us to be gone because she got more visitors! She loved when the whole family came to visit. She usually didn’t like leaving her comfortable room, but when the family came, she would pull her oxygen tube all the way down the stairs and watch all the action. At Christmastime when we would squeeze 30 or so people into our little living room, she would just sit and watch and smile. She couldn’t hear well and wasn’t part of many conversations, but as she told me, she would sit until she had worn herself out watching.

Sister Boylin was named after her mother’s sister Irene, her Godmother Teresa, and her confirmation sponsor Angeline. I’m sure all of them, and all of us, are very proud of the wonderful life that Irene Teresa Angeline Brack Boylin lived.

Perhaps her granddaughter Elaine summed it up best, “ We will miss Grandma Boylin’s ability to make each person feel as if they were the very person she most wanted to see walk through her door.”

Irene was a true follower of Jesus Christ, doing good where ever she went. May we, in her honor, declare ourselves to be more fully deciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not in word only, but also in deed, as she did. May we stand by Jesus Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death. For surely, that is how he, and she, stood by us.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Acorn Trail

My nephew Dustin called last week and said he was going up the Acorn Trail on Saturday. I said, you'd better have ice axe and crampons! (I thought I was really warning him of something!) He said, yeah, I've got 'em... where do I park? So I told him, and then on Saturday morning I went out and thought I'd meet him on the trail for fun. But he was running a little late and after I went about a half mile up I had to turn around because I didn't have ice axe and crampons! It's still pretty deep up there. I finally saw him just as he was parking down below the "private road" sign and got to say hi and that I was jealous. He and a friend were planning on going up to Dawson to build an igloo and spend the night.
My first thought when seeing this track was Mountain Lion! It's a pretty big track. I was out in the morning when cougar like to eat breakfast, so I was a little nervous and considered turning back since I was solo. Then I noticed the toe nails (read = big dog). A cougar track is also a little wider at the top of the pad behind the toes. So, on I went.

Snow is patchy at the beginning but makes it hard to follow the trail if you don't know where it is.

The trail is pretty well covered from about a half mile up. There was no way to continue without crampons. I decided I need to add those to my equipment list. I don't know if one can be a "real" mountain man without them. In fact, I'm pretty sure. Craigslist, here I come.