Friday, February 27, 2015

Thankful Thursday - The Ranch

Today, I honor the ranch that has brought our family together over the last near 70 years and has given us grandkids, great grandkids and now great-great grandkids countless and unforgettable memories of hiking the beautiful hills, dunking our feet into the cool creek waters during the late Spring months, playing baseball on the property land, perusing the old chicken coops and barns, and many more wonderful memories- this was and still is - the Murphy Ranch in Brentwood, CA.

This beautiful land was inherited into our family when my Great Grandmother, Lydia Roehm, remarried in 1950 to William "Bill" Murphy, a few years after her first husband, George Roehm, had passed away in 1948. Bill had never married up until this point. My Grandmother has told me that Bill met Lydia at a dance hall in Oakland.

Bill Murphy was living with his mother in Oakland at the time of meeting Lydia. The Murphy's still owned their large family home in downtown Brentwood and also many acres of land on the outer skirts of Brentwood, which was being shared between Bill and his siblings. Bill owned the portion that had many of the almond trees, the barns and the creek running behind the nice little valley, with an old tannery building made of stone across the creek-  it once had a wood door and roof, which has since caved in and has now been overrun with cottontail bunnies.

Here is a little photographic tribute with narration:

The Murphy children, Arthur, Katie, William and Esther Murphy, circa 1900

Esther Murphy, circa 1903-04, age 8-9

Katie (age 13-14) and Esther Murphy, circa 1903-04

 Katie Murphy with possibly younger sister, Esther, circa 1898-1899 
Esther Murphy in front of Murpy Home, circa 1896-1897

Mrs. (Christiana Braun &) William Murphy, circa  mid-1880's, San Jose, CA.

Christiana Braun was from a well-to family from San Jose, CA. She graduated High School and also went to college - a rarity for women in her time. 


Here is Bill Murphy as a young boy, a teen and a little older as a young man, in the late 1890's through the early 1900s. (click on each picture to enlarge)

Bill Murphy as a teenager, about 14-15 years old, circa 1906-1907

Bill Murphy entered the fight in World War I, and fought for his country, as seen below.

My grandmother, mother, Aunt Penny, Uncle Terry (on horse), Aunt Diane and Grandfather, with my Grandma's youngest brother, Jimmy Roehm, on the Murphy Ranch almond tree orchard, circa 1955.

My Aunt Diane and Penny, uncle Terry, Bill and Lydia Murphy, Joyce Wolf with son and Jimmy Roehm, at Bill and Lydia's home on the Ranch, built in 1951 by my grandfather and my Grandma's brothers. This picture is from around 1959-1960.

A family gathering on the ranch, with hills in the background. My mother is the little girl next to her Aunt Doris who was in a wheelchair - Lydia is kneeling down to the right of Doris, and my Grandma and grandpa are next to Lydia, circa 1955-56.

Same family gathering, circa 1955-56 (Bill Murphy is man standing, back row, 4th from left)

Same family gathering, circa 1955-56 (Aunt Diane in front, pretending to a take a picture)

Murphy home being built, circa 1950-51 (It still stands today)

My cousin Ross Jr. (Izetta and Ross Sr's son), circa early 1958-59, age 15-16, standing on a foggy day in an almond orchard.

Althought not a photo of the ranch, this is a photo of Bill and Lydia together with my Aunts Diane and Penny, with a family member, circa 1956-57

Some years later, my grandfather Vibert, being caught on camera on a typical sunny day at the ranch, circa 1993.

My cousin Melissa with my grandparent's dog, Bozo, along the banks of Marsh Creek, circa 1993.

My cousin Tiffany poses for her mother on the ranch, near Marsh creek, on a lovely Spring or Fall day (our Summers never have grassy fields - by the time late May/early June arrive, our green fields have turned golden brown.

Aerial views of the ranch in the 1980's

Second part of the aerial view, 1980s

My Uncle using a very old tractor to till the land, circa 2014

Springtime at the ranch, circa 2013

Surprisingly, this is sometime in November, as California hadn't had hardly any rain in months, and the earth was very dry and parched, circa 2014.

 Such a difference - 1st barn photo was taken in October of 2014, and the 2nd barn photo was taken in April of 2014. California only really has two seasons - Hot and Dry and Wet and Green

And, taken from Marsh Creek, a view of the hills up against the creek and land, as driving into the driveway, the beauty never ceases to amaze me with each visit, circa 2014.

This land is truly a treasure and I will do everything I can to try and keep it in our family during my lifetime, maybe even getting to live out here and experience life on a ranch someday. Who knows! This is the one place I can still come back to and feel like time has stood still. I no longer have my childhood homes to return to, so to me, this is home - our one last surviving home in our whole family that remains a constant.

I feel so fortunate that we've inherited this land and each time I drive up to it, I feel luckier and luckier.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Workday Wednesday - Great Grandpa George Roehm, circa 1915-1916

Great Grandfather George Roehm was a carpenter. He built homes, barns, commercial buildings and various other things. He built the home that he and my Great Grandmother lived in and also in which my Grandma was born and raised in. Here he is, captured by his wife, Lydia, who was the photographer in the family.

Wedding Wednesday - Sandy (Sandra Herr) Russell

Sandy (Sandra) Herr was my Grandma's first cousin on her mother's side. Her father was Soloman Herr, which was my great grandmother Lydia's younger brothers.

This photo appears to have been taken in the mid-1960's.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Military Monday - Great Uncle Alwin

My great Uncle Alwin served in World War II from the beginning of the war until he was injured and sent home to recover at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco's Presidio (I believe this may have been in 1944). Some of these below photos are hard to tell where he was exactly. I believe he served mainly in Europe. My grandmother said he was considered a sniper and won an award for bravery, killing the enemy before they got to one of our people. 

I never knew Uncle Al, even though he was alive until I turned 4 years old (he passed on in 1986). He was the closest in age to my Grandmother, as they were only about 5 years apart. She speaks of him fondly whenever he is brought up. 

Let's honor his service, bravery and sacrifice for keeping Americans safe during war time.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Postcards - From Martha & Ed Werre, Long Beach, California 1949

Martha Werre was my great grandmother Lydia's younger sister. Martha was born in 1898; Lydia was born in 1896. Martha and Lydia seemed to have a close relationship and loved one another, based on letters and postcards. But, it seems no one really disliked Lydia. She had many people who adored her. 

This postcard was written in January of 1949. It appears Martha was visiting LA for some reason, but it may have been purely for leisure. Lydia was a widow at this time, as my great-grandfather passed away in October of 1948. Martha probably wanted to visit with her sister since she was now alone (my Grandmother, being the youngest, was married and living away from home). 

Those Places Thursday - My Childhood Home

I grew up in a very family friendly neighborhood throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. There were many kids on our block that were close to my brother and I's ages. Looking back, it was an idyllic time. We didn't have iPods, computers, cell phones, Playstations/X-boxes, Netflix streaming and instant TV (well, we had Pay-Per-View - but that was a rare treat as it was quite expensive!)

What we did have was a lot of fun with the neighborhood kids (and our cousins!) - lemonade stands, baseball, basketball, bike rides, swimming parties, games on Saturday mornings, fort building, camping out in the backyard, Saturday morning cartoons (stuff like Looney Tunes, Richie Rich, Pee Wee Herman, Fraggle Rock, etc.). I loved watching Johnny Carson late at night. And, then tune in on Friday's for Friday Night Videos then later TGIF- then Saturday's we had "227" and Saturday Night Live, followed with Showtime at the Apollo.

The neighborhood is only about 20 miles from where I live now and every once in awhile, we will drive by to see how our old house looks. It brings so many memories with each drive. I still envision our tall palm tree in our yard and then the day we had it torn down. I remember our yard being redone in the front. I recall the juniper shrubs that used to line our front window and when my brother and I would play catch in our yard, the ball would get stuck in those shrubs and they used to scratch up my hands and arms when I'd try to get the ball and then I'd start to itch.

The inside of the house I remember clearly - mostly colors were still indicative of the '70s, but was done in good taste. Our front entrance was tiled and we had veined mirrors in our entrance and our family room. We even had the cork pattern with mirrors - yeah, it was very 1970's, if I think about it! We had plush semi-shag carpet, but it was very nice - it didn't look cheap.

We had a lovely backyard with a pool which my dad and some of my uncles helped him install - an in-ground Dough boy pool in 1983, when I was one. This pool meant a lot to me! I think close to this time, we got a Smurf swing set. I loved that swing set. We really used it like crazy, and it was in shambles by the time we had our back yard redone in 1991 and had it removed - that was a sad day for me :(

This childhood home held many wonderful memories. It's been over 20 years now since we left it, but I have never forgotten those early formed memories that I still hold onto close to my heart.

Me in our backyard, on my brother's 10th birthday, 1989.

My 6th birthday at home with neighborhood and school friends, May 1988.

My Aunt on our couch (notice the cork and mirrored design - yikes!), circa 1992.

Me on Christmas Day, 1985, I was 3 1/2 years old.

In our wallpapered bathroom, I was about 7, circa 1989.

Selling Kool Aid and Balloons at a garage sale, circa 1986-87 - Melissa, Me and my brother

My brother and I, already taking control of the TV at age 1 1/2, circa 1983. 

My brother and I eating McDonald's chicken nuggets on our TV tray, circa 1986

Me playing in my kiddie pool, circa 1983-84.

Me posting after coming home from school (wearing my uniform), circa 1989.

Me pretending to vacuum our plush "shag" carpet, circa 1989

 My cousin Melissa and I in my kiddie pool, circa 1987

Our house just within months of it being purchased, circa 1979.