On her father’s side, I have no record of her grandfather, Robert Airel. He had apparently lived in Texas, and married Elizabeth La Masters of Albuquerque – this is probably the French lineage that Beth described to us. Her grandmother, Elizabeth, had three sisters and also a brother named Dave. “They are all gone now,” her father said in a letter to me, but apparently there are a lot of relatives living in Albuquerque, NM. I’ve never looked them up.
On her mother’s side, her “Great Grandma Perkins” had travelled across country in a covered wagon, and must have settled in the south central Washington area early in the 20th century. Beth knew her well, and in fact, was married in Grandma Perkins’s wedding gown. She always talked lovingly about Grandma Perkins as having “come over in a covered wagon, and lived to see the space shuttle”. Great Grandma Perkins evoked good memories.
Her daughter Juanita was born in 1912. Juanita married a Delmont Orr, whom Beth said frequently talked about Bobby Orr, the Canadian hockey player who played for the Boston Bruins in the 1960’s and 70’s. There’s no way to tell if there was any relation, but Beth did have a strong handshake and very strong wrists, and she was very strong for a woman. I talked about “Bethany muscles” because she was so strong.
Beth grew up in Inyokern, CA, a small town east of Bakersfield, CA, and more than half way between Los Angeles and Death Valley. She had generally happy memories of those years in Inyokern, living with her mom and dad, and her little sister Teri. There was an open field nearby, and the girls learned to beware of scorpions and vinegaroons. “We’d take toilet paper rolls out to the field and catch them and shake them up”.
Even as a small girl, though, young Del Nita was being sexually fondled and molested by her grandfather, Delmont. Delmont and Juanita (“Del and Nita”) lived in Yakima, a town in south central Washington. I don’t know how George and Vickie met, nor how they got from Yakima to Sacramento to Inyokern. Beth hadn’t seen her father since she was 10 years old. I knew that her mom had gotten sick with MS, and shortly thereafter, her father dropped mother and daughters off in Yakima when she was 10 years old, and she never saw him again. The first years of our marriage, she always hoped that he was a rich artist and musician who would ride over the hill to rescue her.
That wasn’t the case. We met her father in 2000; I found him because of some bankruptcy proceedings that had been posted on the Internet. She was 30 years old when she saw him again for the first time in more than 20 years. I had written him some years later, after Beth got back from the military. She was diagnosed with PTSD, and she was in counseling for anger issues. Here’s his accounting of her family history (I’ve retained his spelling):
I am very sorry to hear that you and Beth are having marital problems. Although I’m not very surprised about the nature of it. – Beth comes from a very long line of angry women [emphasis in original]. Her great grandmother, who’s name I’ve forgotten, was very angry and domineering as was her grandmother and mother. There seems to be something hereditary about it. I believe that I’ve written you before about my eleven wasted years with her mother. – Strangely, they all chose mild mannered men for husbands and dominated them with anger. Beth’s grandfather, Delmount, (Del) was a very nice, mild mannered guy. He was an amateur artist and musician and we got along very well. Beth’s grandmother was angry, dominating, dissatisfied, and nagged poor old Del to death. He turned to liquor to dull the pain. He tried to escape from her several times, but she would run him down wherever he was and “sweet-talk” him to come back to her. Then the process would begain all over again. I’m sure that death was a relief for him.
There’s plenty more to say about this. Interestingly, George contrasted his experience with Delmont’s:
I was of a slightly different breed. – In 1969 at the age of about 37 years, I decided that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life like that. I came right out and told Vicky that I wanted a divorce. Boy! Did that ever set her off! She screamed and hollered for hours but I held my ground. – Then later she tried the same old trick her mother did. She told me she would change and would be sweet and loving. But after eleven years of living with her I knew better. – She would never change.
I’ve already mentioned that a formative incident in Beth’s early life was the time when she, Teri, and her mom were in a grocery store; her mom fell down and evacuated her bladder and bowels, and there was no one to help the small girls. Shortly thereafter, George said:
I made all the arrangements for her to keep the kids and move out to be with her parents in Washington state. I gave her the lions share of our savings ($6,000.00) and agreed to child support. I sold some real estate we owned and other community property and split the money with her. And of course, I paid for the lawyer and the divorce. And I bought her a car. (Which she wrecked).
Let me tell you, when all was said and done, I was so relieved and happy. I had no regrets at all. I figured I had saved my own life. In retrospect, I don’t think I realized how miserable I was while I was living with her.
Now this all may sound callous and selfish but self preservation is a basic human instinct.
Indeed, self-preservation is a basic human instinct.