Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fearless Females / Sentimental Sunday: My Mother's Best Friend

Thanks again to Lisa Alzo The Accidental Genealogist for the great writing prompts for Women's History Month!

In the early 1930's my mother, my grandparents and my uncle moved into an old house in San Francisco that had been converted into two flats.  My grandparents & their two children occupied the upstairs flat;  the downstairs flat was occupied by a divorcee, Verneta Forth and her two children, a son Courtney Forth, and a daughter Virginia Forth.

I don't know how or why my mother & Virginia became acquainted, beyond the fact that my mother was likely tap-dancing upstairs and making a racket!  Little would they know that their meeting would turn into a friendship that would last more that 60 years.

In personality, my mother Alice and her friend Virginia were complete opposites:  My mother was painfully shy, awkward & underconfident; Virginia was bold, sociable,  and very talkative.  My mother loved to dance, but probably lacked the confidence to get up on stage. Virginia loved to dance, also,  and pretty soon they were attending dance classes together, and then started teaming up to perform!
Alice age 12  on left, Virginia age 10 on right. Taken about 1933.

It likely didn't take long for Alice and Virginia to become the best of friends.  And their mothers, Verneta Forth and my grandmother Ruby, also became the best of friends, and stayed close for over 20 years.  Both girls used to joke that they had two mothers!

This was Alice & Virginia's favorite photo, taken by my uncle Ted, at a beach south of San Francisco (not sure exactly where). Alice age 15 or 16, Virginia age 13 or 14.  Two California girls!

The photo below was taken at the same place, same trip: Virginia's mother Verneta Forth, unknown woman, my Grandmother Ruby (drinking beer? Grandma I'm shocked!! :- ) and an unknown man.

My mother Alice was two years older than Virginia, and they both attended Polytechnic High School in San Francisco.  While they were not in the same classes at school, they did continue dance classes together, and later both joined the Junior Game Patrol. 

Junior Game Patrol, San Francisco CA: my mother on bottom left age 17,  and Virginia sitting on the horse, age 15.  Others unknown. The couple on right were likely the Patrol leaders/chaperones.  Not sure exactly what the club did, or what it's purpose was??

In 1941 Virginia Forth  married  Robert Gilliland.  My grandmother Ruby hosted the wedding and reception in their upstairs flat--no easy feat, considering it was not a particularly  large flat!

Virginia's wedding, about 1941. Virginia Forth in center, the bride; my mother Alice standing directly behind her; Virginia's groom Bob Gilliland to her right, her mother Verneta Forth to her left, and my Grandmother Ruby to her left. My Grandfather was likely hiding somewhere at this point. He didn't appreciate crowds, and this was probably overwhelming to him!

Alice and Virginia kept in close contact all through the WWII years, and visited often. Their mothers were still neighbors in San Francisco until about 1952. After my mother married, Virginia came to Washington state to visit.  In fact, I remember her visiting a couple of times during my childhood.

My mother Alice, father Bill Huber and Virginia about 1950 or 1951 Maple Valley, Washington.

When my mother retired in 1980, she contacted Virginia to see if they might meet up for a visit.  Apparently Virginia had just divorced (she was married several times, but never had any children of her own), and when they got together, the two of them decided it might be fun to live together for a while. My mother was moving to property on Whidbey Island, so Virginia joined her there.   My husband & I  called them the "Golden Girls", and I used to joke that I also had "two mothers". They had A LOT of fun together, travelled a bit, and went to church functions together.  They lived together for over ten years, until Virginia got married--again!-- at age 72.  But they still remained close friends even after Virginia's late life marriage, even after my mother moved to be closer to us (she passed away in 2004).

Virginia died Oct 2002.  She was more than a best friend to my mother--she was like a sister to her.  Their friendship had its ups and downs, as all friendships do, but it is remarkable that they stayed so close for so long.

Have a great day!



Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

I have a best friend like that too, and I hope we have many, many years of being girlfriends just like them! I'm participating in Sentimental Sunday too. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a great story that brought tears to my eyes. Love and friendship never cease to amaze me.

Greta Koehl said...

A wonderful story - I love to hear about lifelong friends.