My friend? No, a friend to everybody, Carol Flemming, held a bash at her house for her 75th birthday party. “My kids insisted on this party,” she told me. I totally understand that. The “kids” think you are on your last legs and counting when you reach 75.
I met Carol when I wrote features for the Calaveras Enterprise. It was 1982 and I featured her costume business, a unique and wonderfully creative business that is still going. Marti Oaks, right, with her son, worked for Carol and at one time lived in my Murphys house.
Pat Patterson, right, also worked costume design. It was fun catching up with old friends.
I also got to meet Carol’s daughter, Liz, whom I’d never met before, along with her daughter, whose name I didn’t get.
Carol’s son Beau barbecued chicken and tri-tip. He, like his mom is a good cook. I’d met him when Carol had a restaurant in Arnold, the Froggy Diner. There is always cooking or a side business in Carol’s life.There were her friends and neighbors of all ages. Names seem to float out of my brain. This woman, like me, is finding acreage hard to keep up and looking to downsize. I hear that more and more from people I know.
Dale said she didn’t take good pictures, but I do. I thought her laugh made her beautiful. It turned out, she knows my brother Clark.
I finally got this little girl to smile for my picture. But she kept a protective closeness to her parents.
My brother Clark was once a neighbor of Carol’s in Burson. This man remembered he and Clark fixing a bridge that went out, before CalTrans was even called.
This woman too, talked to me at length of all the favors that Clark does for the neighbors. He helped with projects after her husband died, making her ever grateful.
This couple also know Clark and talked about him and the neighborhood, and things they’ve done together.
Another daughter, Mona and another grand daughter, I’d never met.
And, Carol’s daughter China Rose with her two girls. She also has two sons. I hadn’t seen China in over 17 years.
The baby was determined to sleep, but China wanted her to stay awake for the long ride back to Santa Cruz. I remember those days.
Carol joined the kids in the pool for a cooling dunk. I love it when you get to enjoy your own party.
This smart woman is a former daughter-in-law-still friends of the family. She gave me good advice about AirBnB…ideas have been floating through my brain all day.
The woman in red, Cindy, I think, is an artist. I always complain I never have time to paint or create. Her very good advice, “Make it your priority, first thing in the morning. Everything else can wait.”
A birthday surprise for Carol, her brother Willie flew in from Hawaii.
I tried to get a picture of everyone. And, I missed Phil, her husband, who was busy, busy, busy, tending the bar and keeping people happy. There is a pattern, here.
Kids, babies, teens, middle agers, old folks…
You know what was different about this party? I saw no one with their head down, texting and playing with their phone or messages or…whatever they do. That, my friends, is what was special about this birthday party. A rarity. And great fun.