Patricia – I was born in 1943, during World War II, the second of six children. My father was soon drafted and transferred to Alabama for basic training. From Alabama, we headed to Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, where my father was to join a troopship for the invasion of Japan. But he missed the boat because of car trouble, so we went to California where he had officer training. Young officers had short lives span. As troops landed on the beaches, the Japanese aimed for the soldiers with a star on their helmets. But the A-bomb ended the war and we settled in Tacoma, where I grew up in a large Catholic family. I was a good student, but the nuns encouraged all the girls to enter the convent, which my sister did, but I had no desire to
My parents had a large house with the largest yard in the neighborhood, and my father put up play equipment. There were always lots of friends to play with. My father bought me a pony, which made me the envy of the neighborhood.
I met my ex-husband, Peter, a student from Hong Kong, at Seattle University, where I studied chemistry. This was during the Vietnam War when every young man was trying to avoid the draft, so we got married. Since he was Chinese the wedding was a big draw at my parents’ church. Then, we headed by train to Michigan State University where Peter earned his PhD.
When Peter finished his PhD, the war was still going on, so he did post-doc work at NYU, and I got a job with the Coca Cola Co. in Manhattan. I hated living in the Bronx, so when Coke decided to move the lab to their headquarters in Atlanta and offered me a very good package to move, I jumped at the offer and moved down South. A Coke executive thought it was a hardship for me to be down in Atlanta by myself, so without talking to me, he offered Peter a job at Coke in Atlanta. My two sons were born just two years apart in Atlanta, and then we were sent to Cambridge, England, when Joseph was just an infant. Peter worked on translating old Chinese texts for a Chinese expert at Cambridge University for a year paid for by Coke. This largesse by Coke helped establish connections for Coke to re-enter the China market. Peter was then transferred to Hong Kong, and my sons grew up there. And it was here that I taught them both reading and math before they entered school. And in Hong Kong, I enrolled them in a private school with multiage classrooms where they both did very well, as well as in Atlanta to which we moved when they were in 3rd and 5th grades. It was in Hong Kong that I first experienced Australian racism.
It was Coca Cola’s policy to send American employees back to the U.S. once a year. We would exchange the tickets home for tickets going to some part of the world we had never seen. I particularly remember the biking tour in Germany. We lived in Hong Kong for seven years, before returning to Atlanta.
When my sons went off to college, I became interested in co-housing (I was involved with five co-housing communities), and I worked with a developer to get Eastlake Commons built. The community was a project of a group of Quakers and became a vibrant community with many children. I was one of the first members, so I was involved in drawing up the original documents, and I met each member as they arrived. I had good friends at Eastlake, and I lived there for about 25 years.
It was during this time that Peter offered to send my older son, David, and me to Australia to visit Joseph my younger son, who was doing a summer program on the Great Barrier Reef. David and I went out in a glass bottom boat, and I got very seasick, but David enjoyed the trip. There is nothing worse than sea sickness. As we traveled in Australia, I again experienced Australian racism as I felt their disapproval when I explained David was my son, not just a friend.
My sons did not want to live in Atlanta and moved to the Bay Area. They told me about Phoenix Commons. At that time there were only six other members. I decided to move here to be closer to my sons, their wives, and my three grandchildren. I enjoy many things about co-housing, especially the community meals we share together and being social with other members. My dog, Dizzy, enjoys watching (and sometimes barking) at the other dogs that walk along the Bay Trail invading HIS territory.