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The Personal Histories

of

Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride

 
 

THE SECOND SOJOURN IN CALIFORNIA

 

After I began serving in the Senate, we kept the store in Thatcher for six months before selling it. The sessions consumed only a part of the year. While we still owned it, I returned to help Jo with the store. The truth is, we didn't sell the place until Jo became tired of running it.

 

Shortly after my eight-year stint in Phoenix, we sold our Thatcher home and properties in early 1969 and moved ourselves and all belongings to an apartment in Pasadena. We were there for only a few months, just until we found the house we wanted to buy, a stucco three bedroom home with a sunken living room, on Villa Street, near the corner of Villa and Altadena Drive. While living there, we put in a swimming pool and made some nice improvements on the house and the grounds.

 

In the neighboring city of San Marino in 1972, we found a beautiful property we wanted and figured a good investment. We rented the house on Villa and moved to the new home on the corner of San Pasqual and California. In 1976 a Realtor approached us about our house, promising we could receive double the price we'd paid for it if willing to sell. It smelled like a bargain to us; we sold it for not quite, but nearly double what we'd paid. We moved back to our house on Villa Street, where we lived until May 1985.

 

We had recently sold the San Pasquel house. We had retired officially and Dal had taken over the proprietorship of the Log Factory. This left us foot-loose-and-fancy-free, so to speak. The Villa House, including that headache of a swimming pool were in top shape. I basked in the comfort and satisfaction of a mortgage-free home, the closeness of the L.D.S. chapel, and the good relationship we enjoyed with the bishopric, and  finally with Dick Summerhays, plus shopping conveniences and each others love and trust. For what more could one ask? I prayed that nothing would occur to disturb the tranquility of our existence, except of course, the Rose Parade and the hoards of relatives and friends it brought to our house on New Year’s Day.

 

In the midst of all this peace and quiet announcement came in the form of a debilitating question. It came one evening while I sat reading about the importance of keeping a comfortable home life. “Don’t you think the time has come for you to keep your promise about taking me back to Newport Beach and Balboa?” she asked.  “You remember what you said when we left there forty years ago.” …just a question, yes, but charged with determination and demand. I immediately grasped it’s full meaning and realized the futility of objection or any kind of argument. Not that I had any objections to living in Newport Beach. Recollections of the two years we spent there during the war, raising our kids on sand and salt air while I held down a good job with Douglas Aircraft, and the whole experience was brand new. It had lingered with me these many years. 

 

(Jo’s dad had passed away not too long before we came to Newport Beach on the first occasion. Jo insisted that her mother and Jean come live with us and enjoy the clement weather. To accommodate this situation we rented a large two story house down the peninsula on the corner of 7th street and Balboa Blvd.

 

Nettie was a great sport. She swam with us often, either in the ocean just one block south of our house, or one block north in the bay. Many times in the mornings and evenings she would walk the beach down to the Balboa pier and back. She always returned with wet skirts from challenging the unpredictable breakers to, “Catch me if you can.” Jean attended junior high school in Balboa where she made many new friends and celebrated her 14th birthday.)

 

Jo had seen an advertisement for the sale of mobile home properties in Newport Beach with back-bay frontage.

We went to evaluate it. Well after we looked around, we found the bayside frontage we wanted in the adult-retirement community of De Anza Bayside Village. Yes, Jo loved the place. 

 

I did have one final objection that I felt duty bound to mention. We would be leaving a debt-free situation and begin immediately to cough up $750 a month, the Senior Park fee for the privilege of living on the waterfront.  The amount was really no problem at that time, but it did take that much away from the inheritance we planned for our children. I know too, that though grandly inviting, the route to a more utopian life could be strewn with hazards and pitfalls. But at its best life is just a visit, so we bought it.

 

In May of 1986 we forsook stable old Pasadena and purchased place # 7 at Bayside Village Senior Park, the cutest little two-bedroom, half mobile home that almost stuck out over the water of Newport Bay. We were a few blocks from the ocean but that didn’t matter to the old duffer I had become. I’d lost my sexy figure, and Jo said that at her age she wouldn’t be caught dead in a bathing suit again, although she is still an eyeful.  Anyway, she loves to be near the water and the cool breezes, sit on the deck or in the bay window and watch the activity around the marina and clubhouse. Such a paradise of a place to live, a year-around vacation life!

 

We only kept # 7 six or eight months. The opportunity arose to purchase number 22, a dozen or so places down the waterfront and for a price amounting to half of what we had paid for # 7. I figured it a profitable investment for I knew it had the same market value as the house we were selling. We made the move for that purpose (to sell it) for we had our eye on # 31, a larger place, with what we, and many in the park, considered the perfect locations. It had just become available. So in 1987 we were able to make the deal we had maneuvered for, and here we have stayed put.

 

Linda and Mac and their family, which numbered many at the time, helped us move.  But, within months with their help again we moved down the bay front several houses to another nicer place. Why shouldn't we? I'd paid $40,000 for the first and sold for $55,000. Before the year of 1986 closed, we moved again. And, poor Mac, Linda and family were all there again with pickup, strong arms and backs. And should anyone ask why: We'd paid $30,000 for the second property and sold for $45,000. We paid 55,000 for the nicest frontage location of the Village further on down the bay and moved into it. We could sell it for $100,000 today (June 1994). Linda and Mac's family number but three now, only one at home, but we know they've lived in fear of every phone call for over seven years, since our last move in 1986.

 

At the far north end of the Village, in the direction we've been moving, are the garages. "It won't be long before the McBrides move into one of the garages, "has been the whispered joke of the community.” We were still thinking, looking and waiting, though, in spite of the undercurrent of whispers.

 

When we first moved to Bayside Village, our location address was space # 7. We moved to # 22 and then to # 31.This property was the only one in the Village with a front lawn (maintained by the community, but only accessible to us). Just the other side of the lawn was the gated beautifully landscaped swimming pool, which sits behind the Club House. We had immediate access to the boat slips too. Our place had two large bay-windows that gave us a panoramic view out over the marina, the bay, the island in the bay's middle, and on across, we could see the lengths of beautiful cliffs crowned with trees and greenery.

           

We watched the multitude of sea birds whose species change with the seasons, and we enjoyed identifying

Them through binoculars. The climate was so moderate: seldom a day too cold, too hot or too windy. The

variety of plants grown in the community seemed numberless, and their fragrance accented by the salt air, we

enjoyed constantly. I guessed that here we would remain as long as we could survive.

 

Although the monthly fee had more than doubled during our 10-year tenure in a park that residents said hadn’t   yet been discovered, tucked away as it is from the noise and hurly-burly of the every-day world. The thrill of the waterfront with it’s many local and exotic sea birds, fishing boats, cooling breezes and the activity of the marina, no longer holds the same fascination for me, but Jo never ceased to express the anticipation of the new day and the enjoyment that it brought to her just to be part of it all. I think she would still savor every moment.

 

In 1986 Bruce and Velda, having sold their business in Northridge, purchased a beautiful house one street back from the waterfront.  It was good to have them close by. We had truly missed the frequent get-togethers we were used to while in Pasadena. We did many fun things together, and they soon, as had we, established themselves in the wealthy Corona Del Mar ward. From the beginning, even before the Church adopted the policy, and because of the over generosity of many, we had no ward budget to pay. Bruce and Velda stayed three years. Then without much warning or fanfare, they up and moved to Tucson, Arizona, back close to their original roots, leaving us sad, holding down the fort by ourselves.

 

We had thought that we might live out the rest of our years on the bay front just 15 yards from our bay window. We enjoyed that unique space at that special retirement community, Bayside Village, for 12 and a-half years. We loved everything about it “except,” the ludicrous high rent—1749.97 per month, a 47% increase in one year—they slapped on us, for the space our home occupied. Along with our age and Sally’s and Hersch’s coaxing, the insult of the 47% broke the camels back. We sold out at a break-even price, though a poor one, we were anxious and moved to Mesa Arizona, August 15, 1997. Fortunately for us, it was at the time Sally and Hersch sold in Chandler moving to Mesa, a 12-minute drive from the home we purchased. 

 

What a job! It nearly killed us both! But for the unbelievable help of friends and family at both ends, departure and arrival, we’d never have made it. We’d surely have perished at one end or the other or in between. Mac and his two oldest boys, Dal and Mike, helped us pack and load up a huge trailer. Mac’s car was loaded in  too. Dale Norris—Debi’s half-brother who had lived with Mac and Linda off and on, thought of him and his wife as their own son and daughter. Dale, in the business of moving, arranged the availability of the moving van at a tremendously discounted price, a great savings to us. It was past mid-afternoon when the truck finally departed.

 

Mac, Jo and I left Newport Beach in our loaded car. We picked up Linda and their gear in Corona and continued on to Mesa. We arose early in the morning arriving at our new and empty home to be met by a “small army,” that most say, and we’ll have to admit, were of our doing. Six adult men, four adult women,  one 8 months pregnant and a dozen kids big and smart enough to take orders and run and carry, were there waiting for the opening of the truck’s trailer, ready to jump to the task of moving. The van driver said that never in his seven years of moving people had he ever seen such a display of family cooperation. In short order the huge trailer was emptied of Mac’s car and of every other piece, big and little. He said that the savings for him of 2 whole hours (equating to substantial unexpected earnings), enabled him to be off and on his way back home in unprecedented time. He reported to his boss, Dale, the near miracle that had occurred. What a marvelous extended family we have! 

 

Here we are three weeks later still unpacking boxes, slowly settling in. It seems we go to bed too tired to ever get up in the morning. But we love our new place; we’re happy to be back in Arizona, and can’t believe how great these families have been to help, even though each live very, busy, involved lives.

 

Saundra (Sally’s daughter), Doug and children came the other day, cleaned up the yards, hauled away our hundred, empty boxes and trash. Greg came back evening after evening to lend his expertise and wisdom—we haven’t had to leave the house. Sally and Hersch have done our shopping, car repairs and kept us in hardware for picture hanging and electrical work etc., etc. Besides that, they have had us over for, and taken us out for dinner constantly. Now, Sally, in her endless thoughtfulness comes by everyday. 

 

After all the legal fuddle it took to finally get away from the cutthroat landlords in Newport Beach (a good two years), it’s to long a story to write down. We feel free again; and though we left many good friends there, both in the ward and at the retirement park, we look forward to making new friends and living among the Arizona one-third of our, now, very large family. (Still can’t believe we’re the fault for all of them!)

 

After the help’s departure, time has seemed to catch up to us at a fast pace, bringing to mind the poetic statement, “Time has a habit of changing the scene and the years do take their toll.” We are not anxious for the day when that “toll” will necessitate our leaving “paradise,” being close to those we love and who want us near on our final leg of a fantastic journey. Since necessity is the mother of something, we probably won’t mind that last move, which incidentally would be the 20th during our life together. This has all happened since in 1934, we settled into one bedroom with a hot-plate and a bath to share, as we waited, counting the days and hours for Mac to be born. (Note: Of the nineteen places in which we have lived we owned 11 of them.)

 

We’re enjoying the wildlife that so freely inhabits our backyard, scampering about. The quail are the fattest and most mouthwatering of the many birds we see—and entertain and feed. Only one roadrunner has shown up so far, but he was a beauty—the Arizona State Bird. The cottontail and jackrabbits have found many of the plants that Jo and I brought with us—Jo’s worried about their survival, for they seem infatuated with this new diet. We feed a variety of small song birds and humming birds, and there are three species of doves happy for the bird seed scattered on the ground, the ubiquitous mourning doves, the larger, seasonal white wings and the petite turtle (Inca) dove. Woodpeckers, blackbirds, starlings frequent the neighborhood, as does the largest and most beautiful specie of wren, the cactus wren. The neighbor, two houses up the block, hosted a vixen gray fox as she raised her kits. Coyotes pass through and we know that raccoons, skunks and weasels are about. (The expansive retirement community of small homes was not built with confining fences or walls for the backyards. The property lines are completely open—only demarcations of rock, low hedges and a variety of plants—leave  open spaciousness for the wildlife to move about at their every whim.)

 

Upon first arriving here, we talked off-and-on with Leonard. At the time he was 92. When I mentioned it he said, “And I’ll have you know, I am closer to 93 than I am 92.” Now (February of 1999), Leonard is 94, and says he is going to live until the new century. (And, guess what? I turned 90 the December 28, 1998, looks like I’ll make it till the turn of the century too. Hope Leonard is not too chagrined. )

 

Sally’s and Hersch’s family continues to shower us with attention and invitation. We aren’t left out of anything. So many parties and family get-togethers! We love the house that Sally and Mac picked out for us, and after nearly two years we will feel greatly accomplished when we get entirely unpacked—including all of Jo’s 60 plants in place and the pictures hung. 

 

Even though it has been a little slower (due to our advanced age, I’m sure) acceptance by our new ward has been gratifying. Along with being a home teacher, I’m the second counselor in the Sunday School—with my right index finger horizontally in position, I lightly thrust it forward pushing the buzzer, signaling the end of Sunday School class. (It seems some things that appear to be quite simple, unbeknownst to most, demand a great deal of expertise.)

 

August of 1998, we celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary. We hadn’t really realize how much time had sneaked on by us until we looked around Sally’s living room; all the adults of the family had gathered, and we were surprised at how old everybody looked. They insisted I recite a couple of my famous readings—don’t remember which ones. The photo with the little article in the Arizona Republic were proper and caused several phone calls from around the State, yea, mostly Jo’s friends wanting to know how she had managed to do it.       Now-and-again a person does have the right to revel in their own accomplishments. We’re sure all our blessing may not be realized; but certainly we have a few extra coming through the family we have caused.

 

Well, life with its intricacies is still parading along and events are occurring though the future may look dim:

 

            The sky ahead is growing dark,

            The journey’s almost done.

            How faint the mark I’ve left to show,

            The trail I have begun.

            Gray do the winds run through the glade,

            Unnoticed is my course,

            But birds still sing and their songs don’t fade,

            As I contemplate the source.

            And I’ll worry not about the trail

            or just how far it runs.

            For God gave me fine marks to leave:

            Daughters and noble sons --

The last great extravaganza, to date (February of 1999), to occupy time and attention is the marriage of Hersch’s second boy, Steven. It was a marriage of a handsome pair both of fine parentage, with all the extras and niceties, all in good taste and planning. It seems to be a union looked down upon from on High and pre-ordained for a happy and fulfilling future. A multitude there was! Celebrating and wishing the newlyweds well, at the beautiful reception.

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