AMMA’S LIFE JOURNEY
January 15, 1999 -- My Birthday Party at David’s and Rosie’s Lovely Home
Now I am here 90 years old -- what has my journey of life been? My family has wanted me to write something about my past. After my parents died in the early ’30’s, I wished that I had asked them about their past.
When you are young, you don’t think about that -- so here I’ve written some highlights to share with you.
As I was thinking, it occurred to me that the number “9” appeared to be significant -- I was born 1909, I came to California in 1929, my husband Ronald died May 9th and my room number is 109, and now it is 1999.
I was born in a log house in Manitoba Canada. It was so cold that the bed linen froze to the wall, my Mother told me. 1903 my parents immigrated from Iceland with 5 children: 2 boys - 3 girls - one is my sister Thora here now 102 years. They home steaded in a farming community 12 miles from Lundar town and not too far from Lake Manitoba where they could fish. My Dad’s sister and family had come a few years before and helped my parents get started with mixed farming -- it was a period of hardship for a while getting settled, but later things got better and 3 more children were added now 4 girls and 4 boys, now 3 of us are left.
Mother was a busy lady. She baked bread in a wood stove, sewed clothes, knitted from the wool of the sheep -- socks, mitts and even long johns. She taught us sisters all facets of homemaking and how to knit and sew for the cold winters.
Sadly, we all had a limited education as finances were not available to send us away to school. My Dad was a carpenter and cabinet maker, so after a few years, with the help of sons and neighbors, a new frame house was built. All of us children had farm chores to do according to age -- I had to milk 1 cow before walking 3 miles to school and when the weather was bad and Mother didn’t let us go to school, I cried. We all helped with the gardening and during haying season.
Mother was a Lutheran and Dad a Unitarian. When I was small, they had church services in our home and when they sang hymns, I cried, it must have been too somber!
At the age of 13 I was confirmed in Icelandic in a Lutheran Church 3 miles from home and I have remained faithful, now over 50 years in 1st Lutheran in Glendale.
We left the farm in 1927. Mother and Dad moved to town. At the age of 16, I went to work as a house maid in a grain growing district and after 6 months I left and went to Winnipeg to learn hairdressing. In 1929 my sister Thora and I came to L.A. to visit our sister Kristine who had lived here with her husband for 5 years. We intended to return to Canada, but got work and stayed on.
I got my California license and worked in a beauty shop for 35 cents an hour. Later I got part-time work in a restaurant where I met Ronald my husband. I used to take the street car to work, but one night it was raining and Ron took me home in an old Maxwell car, I was so grateful I kissed him on the cheek!! That did it!!
Ron came from Nebraska, had been working in different coffee shops and I told him I couldn’t marry him til he had a secure job. So he rented a small lunch counter and we were married in 1933. He earned enough to prepay the house we were renting - a small rear house that cost $15 a month. We furnished it with second-hand furniture that cost $75. Then the big earthquake hit and we watched the front house lose its chimney.
However the counter failed -- it was depression time. Then he found a job as manager in a hamburger counter where he fried hamburgers in the front window where passers-by could watch. That was right in downtown L.A. at Broadway and 42nd street. There he made enough money to prepay the Doctor bill of $75.00 as I was expecting our first child - our daughter Gloria, who had curly dark hair and weighed 10 lb. Two years later, son Kenneth came, not quite that big -- then some tough years followed until ’43 we acquired the Martha Washington Restaurant without any down payment -- these were the war years, then our “bonus” baby-boy David was born. So now we were blessed with three beautiful children and business was good and now we were finally secure financially.
We sold the restaurant after 15 years of hard work -- soon Ron got a job with the IRS. It was ’58 when we drove to Annapolis to attend Kenneth’s graduation from the Naval Academy. We also enjoyed seeing Gloria graduate from Redlands University and David from Cal State L.A. So I’m proud of them and 7 grandchildren and extended family. And grateful to God for 58 years together with Ron.
I feel blessed in many ways and each day is a gift from God to be treasured from here on and at the present I am satisfied and happy among many friends at Windsor Manor.
So here I am by the grace of God and I am very thankful to HIM.
IN THE 12 1/2 YEARS SINCE SHE WROTE THIS, AMMA BECAME A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER 9 TIMES OVER. THE TENTH BABY IS DUE IN FEBRUARY AND WE ASSUME THAT THE BABY WILL ARRIVE WITH ANGEL KISSES FROM BOTH GREAT-GRANDMAS.