Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Barbara's Adult Years

At a dance, Barbara met Elvira; who assisted her in getting the position of credit reporter clerk with the Credit Bureau of the Greater East Bay. She worked there for eleven years.

In 1955 she met Leonard "Lenny" Frietas at the Sands Ballroom. He was a fantastic dancer. They went fishing around Mare Island near Vallejo where she hooked into a 25 pound striped bass. They went claming at Bodega Bay and Bolinas Bay. Lenny's mother made delicious Clam Chowder. Lenny, his dad and Barbara went fishing at the cement ship located at Seacliff Park south of Santa Cruz. They went to the end of the ship and fished until the sharks came in and scared the fish away. She hooked into a skate, which looks like a small bat and had a hard time bringing it in from the bottom. After landing it, she released it.

Before entering Seacliff Park, there was a restaurant; where the woman who owned it served the most delicious Swedish Pancakes. She put Loganberry's and powdered sugar on them. Lenny and Barbara would add Maple or Loganberry syrup.

Lenny and Barbara went to Marin County, where he taught Barbara how to select edible mushrooms from pastures and trees. They gathered watercress and mustard greens. They took them home to Lenny's mother, who cooked the mustard greens with onion and bacon. She also made Portuguese Sweet Bread, which Mrs. Freitas made without a recipe. Barbara stood next to her to witness the measurements so that she could share the recipe with her family. They received some of this WONDERFUL bread at Easter time.

Lenny's brother was brilliant, but ended up in the Napa mental institution. Lenny was afraid if he had children, they would turn out like his brother. Barbara loved Lenny and hoped he would some day propose marriage to her. After five years this didn't occur and she broke up with him.

Frank Feola, who worked close by, began dating Barbara. In 1960 they married. After they moved to Fremont, the family had Easter dinner at their home. Frank was excellent at cooking Italian food. The family enjoyed several meals he cooked.

In 1963 Frank and Barbara took an East Coast trip. On their return trip home they planned to visit Aunt Nell. Frank and Carmen built a well next Aunt Nell's porch.

They stopped at the Royal Gorge on their way. The Vintage Car Club was there. They walked out to the middle of the bridge and looked over the side to see the bottom.

After six years of marriage, Barbara announced to her family that she was getting a divorce. The family was shocked and wanted to know why. She explained that Frank was an alcoholic and had beaten her.

As a credit reporter clerk she came in contact with the investigators from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. Through her contact with them, she was hired by Frank Coakley to work in the Subversive/Intelligence Unit. After 5 years the unit was transferred to the Alameda Sheriff's Department, where Barbara was later promoted to a Sheriff's Aide. She worked in the Central Identification Bureau photo laboratory developing and printing color, and black and white films of crime scenes. Due to her proficiency, some of the officers asked specifically for her to process their film. She was told that her supervisor, Tony, NEVER gave a perfect evaluation. She received two perfect evaluations from him.

She worked as a Reserve Deputy at Santa Rita Jail in the woman's facility from 1972 into 1977. Some of her responsibilities on jail property were to ride patrol, strip search female prisoners, and search for contraband. On Sundays, she and her friend Natalie worked at the entrance searching the visitors' cars for contraband. It was amazing where they tried to hide it. When it was found, they were arrested. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, she was called to assist a male officer with transporting female prisoners from the substation to the Santa Rita Jail.

Barbara rose to the rank of Lieutenant, having the full respect of the male officers. Many times they would ask for she or Natalie to ride patrol with them.

She attended the Bay Area dances five to six times a week.

The Sheriff was Barbara's boss and was running for re-election. While Barbara campaigned for him, she met Edie, who became a long time trusted and loyal friend. After Edie married, she and her husband moved to Idaho.

Barbara went to visit her and met Joseph Stamm, who she married in the fall of 1977.

She worked as an insurance investigator for Equifax Service, then as a Title Search Clerk for Safeco Title. The clerk of the court couldn't solicit her to work in the office, but mentioned there was an opening. Barbara later worked for him as supervisor first in the Child Support Division, then was promoted to supervisor of the court's clerk office.

Joe Stamm's alcoholism was a problem for Barbara and after he slept with another woman, bringing disease home to her, she divorced him in 1982. She returned to California early in 1983.

Finding employment was difficult. She was told she was over-qualified wherever she went. She went into the Hayward welfare office, dressed like she was looking for a job, and applied for Food Stamps. The clerk offered her money as well, telling her how to fill out the forms and what to tell the social worker.

The next month she was hired by a photo developing company in Hayward. She returned to the welfare office to return unneeded food stamps. She laughed when she was told they couldn't take them back because it would fowl up their bookkeeping.

An investigator Barbara knew from the Alameda County District Attorney's Office was now the District Attorney for Placer County. She was hired in September as administrator of the Child Support Division.

She participated in the Auburn parade September, 8, 1985; portraying Mae West.

Barbara bought a mobile home in Newcastle.

She retired in July 1994.

She won a cruise to Nassau and Bermuda. She flew from Sacramento Monday, November 22, 1993, arriving at Fort Lauderdale, where she stayed in a motel. The next day she met her friend Pearl and they stayed Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sheridan Yankee Trader, which was at the beach.

The trip was started Thursday evening after listening to a 90 minute presentation about vacation shares in Florida. They got sick when they had a ROUGH crossing of the gulf stream. They saw flying fish and beautiful scenery. They arrived in Port Lucaya Bay about 10 A.M. Friday morning and took the city tour. Barbara took a submarine tour to the reef, where she saw beautiful fish before returning to the ship. That night they set sail for Nassau, where they took the city tour Saturday. That night they sailed back to Florida. She spent the next day walking the beach and shopping. She returned home the next day.

Barbara took another cruise to the Bahamas with Muriel, formerly her secretary. In a letter to Kathleen dated April 24, 1995 she wrote:

"I had a wonderful time on my cruise with Muriel, the Southern Caribbean was most beautiful, the activity aboard ship was never ending from morning to night. The entertainment aboard the ship was out of this world. There was not one show that we were disappointed.

I took 6 rolls of photos of ship board functions and of the tours I took. I have a photo of a baby Iguana that was along side the road when we stopped to view the landscape and ocean.

We flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico; boarded the ship,
sailed to the first island Barbados. It was a beautiful island. Had a great tour, saw several plantation where they grow their main food of yams and their main crops of cotton and sugar cane.

We then went to Mayreau, San Martin/San Maartin, Martinique, and St Thomas. St Thomas was another island I really enjoyed. Had a wonderful tour on this island as well. We docked back at Puerto Rico and flew home on March 4."

She was upset when she went to a botanical garden on one island. The tags for the flowers were in French. She went to the office and asked for a list of flowers in English. They didn't have one. She told the man they advertised to get THE ALL AMERICAN DOLLAR and questioned why they didn't tag their flowers in English.

She keeps in touch with the step-children she gained when married to Joseph Stamm. She visited with the family of RoseMae in Wyoming. In 1998 they took Barbara to Yellowstone Park, a melodrama at the local college and to White Sulphur Springs to attend the 50th Wedding Anniversary of RoseMae's step-sister. Barbara felt "at home with them".

Due to smoking, bronchial infections and pneumonia she has emphyzema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. She is now on oxygen 24 hours a day. She states:

"If you read this and you smoke, please think seriously about quitting. I have always hated preaching from others who don't smoke, but I know first hand the damage it can do. My activities are now limited."

In July 2009 Barbara was hospitalized for pneumonia. A test showed she had spots on her liver and kidney. She had some follow-up tests October 17, 2009. She received the results of those tests early in the week. She was scheduled to see a cancer specialist the following Monday.

However, the morning of Friday October 23, 2009 she was not able to verbally respond to a friend who came in to put on her pressure socks. The ambulance was called and she was taken to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital where it was found her heart was in atrial fibrillation. Her heart was stabilized. After her new cancer tests were faxed to the hospital and more were conducted, her options were presented to her. She chose to let contributory cancer symptoms progress, which would ultimately result in loss of life coming sooner, but she would have a better quality of life.

In the evening of October 26th she was transported to Siena Care Center near the hospital, where she would be given medication to keep her out of pain, until she passed from this life.

She admired the wall border at the ceiling level. She liked to watch the birds eating from the feeders outside the window. She liked the peacefulness of the garden with the waterfall. She joked with her visitors.

The morning of October 28th she was tired and didn't have the strength to eat her breakfast. She did not want assistance to do so.

That evening, while her niece Kathleen was holding her left hand, softly humming and then singing, Barbara took her last breath.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only had the privilege of knowing BJ for the past 9 months. I was drawn to her from the first time we met. I am so glad to read her life story. I am not surprised that she lived a full and exciting life.Thank you for posting it and letting me get to know her life as she lived in her early years. My husband and I will miss her very much. She was truly a wonderful person and I grew to love her dearly. Janece Nelson

8:01 PM  

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