Archive for January 2011

Millie

January 23, 2011

Millie

I just realized that I never wrote an entry on Millie.  I know I’ve mentioned her many times but I
never devoted a whole entry to Millie, Edythe, Theresa or Ginny.  I need to do that and I’ll start with
Millie.

Sometimes I wake up thinking about Millie.  I was very close to her, in many ways I was closer to her than to Mom and Mom used to resent that.  It wasn’t anything I could help.  She was a wonderful person and a
genuinely nice person with never a bad word to be said about anyone.  She never judged anyone and accepted everyone as an individual deserving of respect and didn’t have any restrictions or conditions that people had to meet.  In that regard, she was the polar opposite of mother.  Mom pretty much hated everybody, or said she did anyway.  Not members of her family or any individual but the English, French, Germans, etc. were all equally deserving of her scorn.

Millie was 13 or 14 when I was born and we were living in a tent on Mill Street in Springfield while our house was being built.  Millie spent a lot of time taking care of me and I know she has always looked out for me.  By the time I have memories of my life, she was pretty well moved out.  One of my earliest memories is of Bob Moody coming over on Christmas and bringing a coloring book and box of crayons which Omie and I fought over.  I really don’t know who they were for but we both thought they were ours.  Bob was driving a big truck loaded with Christmas trees which he was taking down to California to make his fortune.  Millie said it turned into a disaster because he couldn’t find a market for them and they ended up a pile of pine needles.  I thought Bob was very cool.  He was Millie’s boyfriend and had left school to go to work in his step-fathers lumber mill in Eugene. He was something of a bad boy and got into a lot of trouble. Millie was still in school.  She was in the first class of the new Springfield Union High School and graduated in 1947.  Pete was a year behind her and when Millie graduated, Pete quit school and joined the Army.  Pete and Millie were always close and I know he loved her as much as I did.

Millie suffered a tubular pregnancy when she was 18 or 19 and had a hysterectomy.  That was a real tragedy because she would have been a wonderful mother.  After graduation she did some modeling locally and worked as an usherette at the Hieleg Theater on Willamette Street in Eugene.  I remember her in her red satin uniform with gold trim and I thought she was wonderful.  Then she worked as a retail clerk at different department stores and eventually got a job at a neon sign place as a bookkeeper by falsifying her application to say she had experience and training.  She didn’t and she spent her mevenings training herself to do the job.  She would work primarily as an accountant and bookkeeper the rest of her life.

Millie got a job at the new Bon Marche in Eugene when it opened and I think she worked there until she joined Bob, who had joined the Air Force and was stationed in Spokane at Fairchild AFB.  Millie worked at ‘The Crescent’ (I think it was) in Spokane and then they went to Madrid Spain for a few years.  They were both involved in a theater company there and Bob also had a band called ‘The Country Gentlemen’.  He couldn’t remember lyrics very well and Millie would have to sit a table near him and help him remember
the words.  They got parts as extras in a movie filmed in Madrid with Glen Ford and Debby Reynolds and I remember photos of the cast from that movie.  I think it was ‘It happened in Madrid’ where a bullfighter took a shine to Glen Ford’s wife, Debby Reynolds.  Glen Ford played an Air Force Staff Sergeant which is what Bob was at the time, sometime in the late 50’s.

Bob was not suited for the military and spent his time trying to emulate Sgt Bilko, Phil Silvers’ character from that time. Bob and Millie lived in a villa in Madrid and at a time when it was difficult to get water in the city, Bob arranged for an Air Force tanker truck to come to his villa and fill their swimming pool.  He also got a special dispensation to allow him to grow a beard, which in the military at that time was not allowed, because he had a part in a stage play that required a beard.  He finally got mad about something and told his Commanding Officer he was getting out.  That was a pretty bold statement but Bob was a Personnel Clerk at the time and found an obscure regulation that allowed him to do it.   I’ve often thought he would have been better off if he hadn’t done that.

When they came home, Bob went to work for his step-brother in Eugene who had a car lot in Eugene and Millie worked for awhile in the business office of the telephone company.  She eventually quit that job and went to work at ‘The Village Green’ as a cocktail waitress.  I thought that was a step down but she explained to me that she was making a lot more money and working shorter hours so it made sense for her.  Bob was a terrible car salesman because he was too honest so he went to work with Chet and Buck Brooks in their house-moving business and would eventually buy them out of the business.   Millie got a job as head of the Accounting Department at the new Country Squire resort north of Eugene.  It was in direct competition with ‘The Village Green’ and was a very classy place with a revolving piano bar and they booked a lot of top entertainers.

I’d like to digress for a minute here because while Millie was at the Country Squire, Patty and I were in Denver, CO and we came home for the holidays.  We surprised Millie at the Squire on New Year’s Eve and she was delighted to see us. We found her in the Piano Bar and she was taking care of business and making sure everything was running smoothly. She had rented a unit there for an all-night party and there must have been 20 people in her unit.  I especially remember Joy Mock who played the guitar and sang.  She was a pretty, bosomy woman and had to adjust the guitar to fit her, it was awesome!  Millie told Patty and I we had to stay awake all night but about 2:AM we didn’t see her around and we found her sound asleep on the bed in the other room.  The next morning we had a New Years breakfast and music festival and dance and the local radio station and TV station were there to cover it.  It may have been our best New Year’s party ever.

Millie worked there until it was sold to another owner then she and Bob sold the house-moving business and moved to Lapine, OR where they bought a junior department store. The Country Squire went steadily downhill and is no longer there.  Bob was instrumental in getting the Moose Lodge started in Lapine and spent a lot of time there.  Millie was pretty much stuck with taking care of the store and I was in the Air Force and then on my vineyards in California so I didn’t see much of them except on Christmas when we could get away to come home.  At this time, in the late 70’s, Patty’s folks were also living in Lapine not far from Millie and Bob.  That’s when everyone in Springfield retired and moved to Lapine or Bend.

Shortly after Patty and I sold our vineyards and moved to our hazelnut farm in Estacada, Millie and Bob sold their department store and moved to Newport.  Millie was suffering from emphysema and she
seemed to do better in the cool, moist air of the coast.  Bob started a foundation business there and
did OK.  They lived in an apartment not far from the beach and we visited them there when we could.  Eventually Bob rented a house in Waldport where he had room for his equipment he needed for his foundation business.  He also did a few house-moving jobs but never really got back into that business completely.
Millie was very ill and couldn’t do very much because of her emphysema.  They lived in that house for
a couple of years and then Bob found a house that the bank owned and wanted very much to get rid of.  It was built on fill and the foundation was failing.  Bob figured he was in a unique position to pick up the house near the golf course in Waldport at a very good price and then repair the foundation.  Patty and I helped with the down payment and I helped him get a loan from Rural Development for the foundation work.  Well, Bob found that he needed to dig down 15 to 20 feet and never did reach solid ground so he filled it with boulders and poured the foundation on that.  During this terrible construction mess, Millie was stuck in a recliner and sometimes even slept in it because she was so thin and weak and suffering from emphysema.  However, I don’t ever remember her complaining for herself and she continued to read and stay involved in current events.

Something that Millie did during this time that I never thought too much about at the time was, whenever Patty and I would bring Traci and Susan to visit, Millie would give them pieces of jewelry that she treasured.  I realized later that she was thinking about her time being short and she wanted to know that those things would go to them.  She also took out an insurance policy that would cover her burial expenses so Bob would have the money to do that.  At this time, Patty and I were living in Ashland and would come up when we could.  She was in the hospital frequently, either in Newport or off Highway 20 between Newport
and Corvallis.  One time I asked if I could get her anything and she asked for ‘I Told You So’ by Rush Limbaugh.  I asked why in the world would you want that?!  She said “know thine enemy”.  I’m sure that book got her blood boiling.

Millie and Edie were both very liberal and I would frequently argue politics with Millie.  I was Republican because of my military background and must have been insufferable because I thought I had all the answers.  But I never could stand Bush and so I voted for Dukakis in 1988 and when I told Millie what I had done she informed me that she had voted for Bush!  I was astonished and when I demanded to know why, she said that she thought the country was in big trouble and she didn’t want the Democrats in power when
it happened.  That was the same reason I voted for Dukakis!  We had a big laugh over that.

Millie should have been in the hospital when she died but she wanted to die on her own terms and so she asked to go home.  I’m sure she could have prolonged her life with proper care but she struggled every
day with just breathing and was ready to die.  I’ve always been proud of Millie, Edythe and Dolly since they did what they could for their family and died on their own terms and did it well.  I don’t know how Omie, Ginny and Pete handled it but I hope they did all right.

I started filling out my Advance Directive (living will) yesterday and I realized that my sisters and brother have had to come to grips with those same questions.  Theresa is the only sister that I have left, which is ironic because it was her ill health that caused mom and dad to pack everything and everybody and move to Oregon in 1932.  Theresa is in a very nice facility in Salem now because she has Alzheimer’s and needs constant attention.  I’d hoped to get her help with Chronospots but that’s not going to happen.

So anyway, the whole point of Chronospots is so this family’s history is not lost and its stars like Millie will hopefully live on in someone’s memory.  I don’t know who cares except me but maybe someday a grandchild or grand-niece or distant cousin will find these stories interesting.   I’ll try to do a better job of telling our
stories.  I wish dad had done this.

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