Sunday, July 30, 2023

Today Would Have Been My Mother's 104th Birthday

 July 30, 1919 was a really special day - that is the day Betty Virginia Carringer was born in San Diego, California.  Her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents experienced it, and her future husband, children and grandchildren really appreciate it.

Today is the 104th anniversary of her birth.  I wish that we had all of the family here to have a party, sing happy birthday, and help her blow out 104 candles.  Betty died 4 January 2002, so it's been 21 years since she passed away, but the memories are still fresh, and the tears still come when I think of her.  I enjoy remembering.  I am blessed.

So I am reduced to displaying some photos and sharing some memories.  I made a short slide show of her life, and here are some of them.

An early baby photo:
Betty with her proud parents (she was the only child):

Betty with her proud grandparents (she was the only grandchild):

Betty with her mother and maternal grandmother:

With her father riding an elephant at the zoo:

Holding the ball at her school:

With her mother as a 9 year old:

Before her Junior High graduation:

Before her San Diego High School graduation:

Her San Diego High School yearbook photo:

Her 1942 wedding to Frederick W. Seaver:

On their honeymoon at Dana Point:

Baby Randy is born in Chula Vista in 1943:

Celebrating Christmas in 1954 at the Chamberlains:

The only swimsuit photo - now there are three boys:

Randy's Junior High graduation:

1972 Christmas at the Seavers on 30th Street:

The Fred and Betty Seaver family at Scott's wedding in 1976:

Randy's family with Betty in 1985:

Granddaughter Tami's junior high graduation:

Betty and her boys at granddaughter Tami's wedding:

Betty at granddaughter Lori's wedding in the Santa Cruz mountains:

Betty and her boys out to dinner in 2000:

The gravestone in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma:

I wrote this in 2008 in How did mom get so smart?:

All through my school years, I knew that my mother, Betty Virginia (Carringer) Seaver, was a really smart person. She was educated, and even I could tell.  She seemed to know what I was doing, what I was studying, who I was playing or hanging with, what my interests were, all without asking a single question. If I was having trouble with homework, she would say "just ask if you need any help." It was like she "had eyes in the back of her head." Did she have spies at school? A pipeline to the teacher(s)? Did she talk to my friends' mothers all the time? Or was it just life experience, and her background as a student and as a teacher? I think it was the latter.

I was the first child of three boys (Randy, Stanley, Scott), but she was an only child of only children. She always said that she was really lucky, that she was protected, nurtured and spoiled as a child, that she was an excellent student all through her school years. Mom attended Brooklyn Elementary School at 30th and Ash Streets in San Diego, then Woodrow Wilson Junior High on El Cajon Blvd, San Diego High School at Russ Blvd and 12th Avenue near downtown San Diego (graduating in 1936), and finally San Diego State College (graduating with a BS in Art in 1940). She was the first of her direct family line to even attend college, let alone graduate. Her parents had a high school education, and her grandparents probably no more than a 9th grade education (although I don't know) - actually that might be better than a high school education now - see here!

After college graduation, Mom received a contract from the San Diego School District to teach Art at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. This had a wonderful consequence, as I discussed in "The Wedding I Really Appreciate." She also taught Art and English at Memorial Junior High and Pacific Beach Junior High during World War II.  She married my father, Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983) on 12 July 1942 in San Diego.  

In our home at 2119 30th Street, we had a bookcase filled with the World Book encyclopedia, travel books, and adventure novels from the 1900 to 1950 time frame. We subscribed to the San Diego Union newspaper, and received the Saturday Evening PostLife and Look magazines in the mail. These provided a wealth of learning opportunities for current affairs, geography, economics, etc. for the whole family. We discussed current affairs and had competitive games at the dinner table (and everywhere else, it seemed).

My mother was a very creative person. She majored in Art, and painted watercolors in the 1940's (to escape from little boys?), made pottery in the 1950's, and created copper enamel scenes, ornaments and jewelry in the 1960's to 1980's (to escape from big boys?). One of her social activities was to go to the Enamel Artists Guild meetings in Balboa Park regularly, and to contribute to art shows at local galleries.

Looking back over my life experiences with Mom, the qualities that stand out to me are patience and grace. Nothing seemed to faze her. Somehow she raised three active, educated, happy boys and she seemed to do it without yelling, beating or bribing. She was competitive without being aggressive or mean. She laughed easily.  She enjoyed a glass of sherry in the afternoon.  Shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other chores seemed to be automatic.

Here is a picture of our family in 1976 - the occasion is my brother Scott's wedding - he was the youngest and last to marry. Mom's work raising three boys is done now, and she obviously enjoys the moment here. I'm the balding one on the left (age 32), my brother Stan is the curly head guy on the right (age 29), and Scott is the hippie looking guy in the middle (age 20). Mom and Dad have aged gracefully (Dad was 64, Mom was 56).

In her later years, Mom really enjoyed reading historical, political, mystery and crime fiction books, and had her own little lending library at her home (I was one of her best customers!). She added to it every month, but re-read many of them over time. She kept her mind active until she died - she loved to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on TV, and we often conversed about current affairs, politics, and sports.

However, she didn't want to talk much about boring old Family History. She would identify photos and tell me stories about people, but she didn't really care to know a lot about those old dead people that she didn't know, notwithstanding the The Ancestry of Betty Virginia Carringer book I gave her in 1994 for her 75th birthday.

I've always figured that I'm a chip off this wonderful genetic block - I tell myself that I'm happy, creative, witty, educated, intelligent, curious, reflective, patient (yeah, right!), lifelong reader, etc. - just like Mom. I guess I got the genealogy gene from Dad. It's not a bad combination, and I'm really proud of - and thankful for - Mom's accomplishments in life.

I wrote about my memories of my mother, including my eulogy at her memorial service, in Sentimental Sunday -- Mother Memories in 2010.


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Linda Stufflebean said...

A beautiful tribute to your mom, Randy.

Marian B. Wood said...

Your mom would be so pleased that you are keeping alive her memory and her wisdom and her love of family.