Linda Boudoures – October 8th, 2011

I met with Linda at her home on Tumbling McD Road, south of Philo near to the KZYX public radio building. After a brief ‘tour’ of the house, expertly built by husband Jim of Philo Saw Works ‘fame’, we sat down with a good cup of coffee and began our chat…
Linda was born in 1950 in Marion, Ohio to parents Philip Warden Kline Jr. and Elizabeth Preston. The Kline’s had come over from the Netherlands in 1701 and settled amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch community of Lancaster, PA. Later the family moved to Fairborn, PA, where Linda’s grandparents were born and raised. Her grandfather worked in Pittsburgh for National Cash Register and met her grandmother at a church picnic. Linda’s father was born in Pittsburgh in 1920 and when he was ten the family moved to Glen Falls in the state of New York, where he later attended the prestigious R.P.I. Engineering College, from where he graduated in 1942. At that point he joined the U.S. Navy as a navigator from 1943-45. In 1947 he met Elizabeth on a blind date in Dayton, Ohio.
The Preston’s came from England in 1910 and settled in Dayton, where Linda’s grandparents had eight children, her mother Elizabeth being born in 1920. After her father died when Elizabeth was just sixteen, she put herself through school in the evenings and worked as an executive secretary in the daytime. She married Linda’s father in 1949, and following Linda they had twin daughters, Ann and Bev, in 1953. “We are all close and the twins, who were born fourteen minutes apart, now live fourteen minutes’ drive apart!”
The family lived in Galion, Ohio, a town about the size of Cloverdale with a few thousand people, somewhat rural back then, where her father had a job with a power equipment company. “ My mother was a full-time Mom but also threw herself into our activities. She was the President of the Parents Teachers Association and the Brownie Pack Leader. I was a good student but very shy – hard to believe, I know. It is hard to explain but I was, yet I found myself driven to push myself forward. After I’d had my first tap dance lesson, the next day at school I was dancing in front of the class! I was shy but wanted to do that very much. I was social and had many friends but I was pretty quiet in the group and was not comfortable with people beyond my close friends… I was always outside playing – swimming, on my bicycle, skating. We lived on a cul-de-sac in a three-bedroom house with no fences between the houses on the street so we could just play all along the street behind the houses, which all had quite big yards back there. It was typical mid-America of the fifties; very ‘Leave it to Beaver’ – my Dad was called Ward too, thankfully my mother was not named June!”
In 1960, when Linda was ten years old her father took a job with Lockheed in the Santa Clara Valley of northern California and the family moved out West. “I was told that we were moving to a valley surrounded by wonderful mountains and the teacher took me around the school to say ‘goodbye’ to everyone which made me feel special. I was not upset to be moving and my parents certainly made it sound very exciting to be moving to California. We moved into a new house, again on a cul-de-sac – it was $20K for a three-bedroom. It was a safe neighborhood and I was soon bike riding and swimming with new friends who I had no problem in finding, one in particular, Peggy, who was and still is like a sister to me.”
Linda joined the girl scouts and was on the school swimming team, and then in 6th grade her ‘acting career’ began. “My classmates wrote plays and always cast me in lead roles. I was still shy in some ways but I really wanted to do it – it was great fun and wonderful that the teachers allowed us to do it. I also became the secretary on the student council… However, it was not until 1964, when I was in Junior High, that my life really began – I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show! Then they came to the U.S. and I went to see them at the Cow Palace, south of San Francisco, after writing off for tickets – $12.50 each. I was ‘scarred’ for life. I was the biggest Beatle fan and I loved Paul McCartney. I was luckier than most because I had a cousin in England, Susan Haynes, and I would write to her about them and she’d send me Beatle magazines. I joined the fan club and have kept everything I had from them very carefully. I saw them at fourteen and cried and then again at fifteen when I just screamed – I had matured! My Dad drove me to the concert and sat in the parking lot for the entire show. He also drove me to the mall when their records came out – I had to have them the first day. Then my Mom and I would sit and listen to try to figure out the lyrics. She was worried about me going to see their last concert – at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966 and I was not allowed to go. I have seen Paul McCartney three times now, once with my son Jack who I told I was taking to the dentist! He had a great time too. I still have all of the Beatle albums and my Beatle boots. I must have seen ‘the film ‘Hard Day’s Night about twenty times – I went everyday when it first came out, and ‘Help!’ about ten times – I even have copies of the scripts from the fan club. Yes, I was a major Beatlemaniac!”
Linda attended Fremont High School in Sunnyvale. She was a track team sprinter and also played basketball, which in those days was not taken very seriously. “They called it ‘powder puff’. I was a good student, enjoying P.E., English, and typing and shorthand – who knew how useful that would become! I was also involved in some comedy skits but did no real acting during those years – I was still a little shy… I did all my chores at home with my Dad. My sisters did theirs with Mom. I would help with the yard work and hang around with Dad. I always had a job to earn extra pocket money, starting a baby-sitting service when I was twelve – I had the neighborhood covered. Then at sixteen I worked for the Park and Recreation in Sunnyvale as a swimming pool attendant. I also sold Beatle bubble gum cards. I would buy a whole box, add those I needed to my collection, and then sell the rest to friends at school to cover my costs. ”
Six months before graduation, Linda’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and around that time her father was laid off at the age of forty-eight. “Everything changed. After graduation, I decided to stay at home and initially got a part-time job as a receptionist at a department store, while going to De Anza College. However, this changed when I found out I needed to work more and I became a part-time student and worked full-time at the store. My Mother passed on August 2nd, 1972… My Dad had taken a sales job with a plumbing and heating company and never did get back to engineering – my Mom said it was good for him to be out with people and to overcome his shyness. He was a wonderful handyman and mechanic, self-taught, and I don’t think we ever hired anyone to do any work for us… In 1973 he re-married, Sharon, and we three girls moved out to explore the world.”
Linda had been a P.E. major at college but never really used it. “I kept the secretarial job and lived in various places in the area between Los Gatos and Burlingame, on the Peninsular and south Bay. I had boyfriends and several close girlfriends, who I am still in touch with, and we loved going to live music concerts, hanging out on Santa Cruz beach, and particularly skiing. We’d mainly go to Sugar Bowl in the Lake Tahoe area and work checking tickets in the morning to get a full-day skiing pass. We’d be there most weekends, renting a cabin for the season.”
Linda led this lifestyle for four years until, in the fall of 1976, when she was twenty-six, she met Jim Boudoures through mutual friends. “He lived in Philo, California, a place I’d never heard of! We began a long distance relationship that went on for two years. The first time I came up here, in early 1977, I actually ended up in Alexander Valley! I finally found this road and thought ‘Where am I? I’d never been anywhere without streetlights!’ We split weekends between here and my place but over time I was coming here more and more. I was so amazed and impressed with Jim’s parents. I thought it was a very special family right from the start and I immediately thought the world would not be the same without these people. Jim’s father, Pete, passed away a year ago and I was right. He was the center of the family. In April 1978 Jim asked ‘when are you going to marry me?’! I said ‘You don’t say when, you ask ‘will you?’ He then asked ‘Will you?’ and I said ‘When?’… We were married a year later on April 7th, 1979.”
Jim took a trailer down to Sunnyvale and moved Linda up to the Valley and they lived on the Boudoures Ranch following a honeymoon in Hawaii. Jim was the owner of Philo Saw Works, a chain saw shop on the property that eventually expanded into a construction company. Linda was a homemaker for a year until doing some substitute teaching at the school and for the County at schools such as Bachman Hill and Clear Water. She was the secretary at Bachman Hill before becoming pregnant and having first child, Pete in 1984.
In 1980, Linda began to socialize more in the Valley and joined the Unity Club when such women as Madge Gibson, Virginias McConnell, Beth Tuttle, and Joan Bloyd were members and later she was invited to join the I.C.W. (Independent Career Women) by Eileen Pronsolino. “I told her I didn’t have a specific ‘career’ and she said that was o.k…. As a young mother I joined a group called ‘Gymboree’ in Ukiah where I met Marti Bradford, among others, at that playgroup for kids. Jack was born in 1986 and then Mollie in 1989… I was all about motherhood for many years and was Vice President of the P.T.A for six years when the kids were at the Elementary School. In the early nineties I even helped Tom Smith sign up kids for the soccer program he was starting and my kids all played for a time. I later taught P.E. at the high school for five years.”
“Then in 1994, Pete fell in love with basketball and I was instrumental in bringing Camp Coleman, a basketball course, to the Valley in 1996, which I continued to do for ten years – one of the things I am most proud of. I had been sent by Bill Dawson, who had started P.E. at the Elementary School, to a P.E. workshop at Cal Poly; Palmer Toohey came too. It was there that I approached the basketball coach, Samuel Coleman (later Kazembe Ajamu – his African name) about bringing his camp to the Valley. He agreed and he and his wife and daughter, plus the coaches, all stayed at our house. This 2-day camp for 6-18 year-olds took place every year in November just before basketball season and we’d get fifty to sixty kids attending. It was always a really fun weekend for the kids and also the coaches who stayed with us… Another very exciting thing for me was when Gail Meyer, Susan McClure and I started the A.V. Mother’s Comedy Troupe in 1990 and for ten years we appeared at the Valley’s annual Variety Show. That was so much fun. I finally got to perform – my dream had come true!”
In 1980, Linda started teaching aerobic classes at the old Grange building and conducted two a week for fifteen years. Then she took four years off until starting the ‘Young at Heart’ senior women’s stretching and strengthening exercise class that has been going since 1999 and still goes strong today. “We have performed at the Variety show and our group consists of women from their fifties to their nineties- Freda Fox is 93. Other core members are Jeannie Nickless, Sandra Nimmons, Donna Reilly, Gwen Smith, and Linda Brennan. The social part of our gatherings is as important as the exercise and we do a ‘walk talk’ around the Grange Hall in the middle of the session. The classes are one hour long and are every Tuesday and Thursday from 8.30am to 9.30am.”
Apart from that, Linda has now joined the Valley’s Senior Center Board – ‘they are my peeps!’ and keeps in touch with many of her old friends. “I have always made time to stay in touch with friends. Five of my girlfriends and I will be celebrating turning sixty by meeting in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks and sharing a suite at The Bellagio Hotel and Resort. I have known Janice since I was 10 years old and Cindy and I have been best friends since we were 13 years old. Vickie, Mary, and Cyndie have been my friends since high school. Six sixty year olds at the Bellagio – can you imagine?… Jim continues to own and run the business, thirty-five years now, and he employs around ten to twelve guys. He has also raised over $20K for the high school sports boosters…Oh, and I must mention our dog Gus who passed away this past week at fifteen. He was such a big part of our lives here. We got him for Mollie on her 8th birthday and he went to work with Jim every day. We all miss him so much.”
I asked Linda for a verbal image of her father. “Well, he is in his nineties, living in Oroville near Chico, CA. and has been with Sharon for thirty eight years now. When I think of him I would describe him as gentle, kind, quiet, friendly, responsible, proud, clever, funny and extremely handy – there is nothing he can’t build or fix. He is physically very well and has never been in a hospital”… And her mother? “I would say a very caring, smart, confident woman. A leader, artistic, fun, and attractive with an amazing sense of style – she made most of our clothes growing up. She was very involved in our lives and always there for us but allowed us a degree of freedom to make our own decisions.”
“I am very proud of my family. Jim’s family spent several summers on Lake Tahoe when he was growing up and when our kids were all under ten, we rented a house on the north shore of Lake Tahoe for two weeks during the summer. This began a family tradition that we enjoyed for seventeen years. Every year it was a different house and we invited family and friends to join us and have so many great memories. This is something we would like to continue and hope that our children and their children will do the same… Pete, now 27, returned to the Valley two years ago and is working with his dad and brother on the Philo Saw Works crew – they have been learning to build since they were kids. Pete is also now building his own home on our property and has been in a serious relationship with Megan Marie Oropeza for two years. He continues to play basketball on a recreation league team and travels to tournaments in California, Arizona, and Florida…”
“Jack (25) has returned to the Valley after attending S.F. State for five years. He and his girlfriend Mimi Mendoza are expecting a baby boy in January. Jim and I are looking forward to becoming grandparents and my Dad will be a great grandfather for the first time… Mollie (23) is studying kinesiology (the scientific study of human movement) and enjoying her job at Lululemon Athletica in San Jose’s Santana Row. She works out with a trainer and loves taking kick-boxing and cross-fit classes, and various forms of yoga… All three of the kids were fortunate to spend two weeks in Greece in 2010 and visited the town where their great grandparents were born. For the first time in their lives they didn’t have to explain how to pronounce ‘Boudoures’!”
‘I love the sense of community here in Anderson Valley. Everyone is looking out for each other and is prepared to take care of each other. I do think some of the small town gossip is a negative aspect of Valley life but it’s part of living in a close-knit community that is so great in so many ways.”
I asked Linda for her brief responses to various Valley talking points and issues… The wineries and their impact on the Valley? – “I like the fact that they provide so many jobs but wonder how they can continue to all be supported and these jobs maintained. There may be too many at this point but I do love the wines we have here – they are of a very high quality”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “Jim loves the Terry Gross interviews but I generally find myself listening to sports radio – KNBR from San Francisco”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I love the Valley People section”… The School System? – “My kids received a quality education and feel their teachers gave them that and great support to achieve it”…The Elder Home? – “I support the idea and hope some day it will be available to our seniors”… Changes in the Valley? – “Not all positive. There has been a big influx of people in recent years and tourist traffic seems to have really increased. However, we have to grow, it is the way it is. I am a positive person and look at it that way – as somebody once said, ‘The only thing constant in life is change’.”
To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a few questions to my guest. Some of these are from a questionnaire featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton” and some I came up with myself…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Seniors – for their wisdom and stories, and kids for their energy. I have a few B.F.F.’s (Best Friends Forever) who are kids – Marlen and Brianna Ferreyra and the Teague twins, Heather and Chelsea…”
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Racism or any kind of prejudice… Rude people. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are words that aren’t used enough these days.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “Children’s laughter; rain on the roof; The Beatles.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Sirens; gun shots; foul language.”
5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “Grilled salmon, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, asparagus, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and a glass of local pinot noir.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “Paul McCartney. And if a second person could be there it would be Oprah Winfrey, who loves Paul too. Maybe the basketball player Michael Jordan would be on my B-list.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “My Beatle collection; family photos; and my mother’s handkerchief collection.”
8. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “The film would have to be ‘Hard Day’s Night’; the song ‘In my Life’ by the Beatles; and a book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.”
9. What is your favorite hobby? – “I love taking photographs and making collages with them. I also love to look for furniture, china, and other treasures at flea markets or thrift stores. I prefer things that are made well and have a sense of history, rather than something new.”
10. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “A stand-up comedienne or actress. Perhaps even a private detective?”
11. What profession would you not like to do? – “A prison guard.”
12. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “At fourteen I went on a date to a teen club dance with Peter Louis Kaupert. He now lives in Santa Cruz and has twelve kids – I’m glad I never married him!!”
13. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I wished I had been more focused in school and college. I wish I had finished what I started sometimes.”
14. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. “Well the happiest time of my life was raising our kids – all the sports and activities. I miss those crazy, busy years… Beatlemania was ‘fab’ too of course – yeah yeah yeah!”
15. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “My sense of humor. Being a positive person in most situations.”
16. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “If he said ‘Oh, this is going to be fun’ that would be great.”

Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beverley Bennett – September 24th, 2011

I met Beverley at her home at the Philo Pottery Inn and we sat in the lovely garden with some ‘real’ tea and biscuits (cookies) as we began our chat…Beverley was born in 1951 in Calcutta, in the Indian state of Bengal, the only child of parents George Bennett and Bridget Osbourn, who always went by her middle name, Sheila. The Bennett’s were a British family of greengrocers (vegetables and fruit) who had lived in the English county of Kent – the ‘Garden on England’ – for many generations. Beverley’s grandfather, Sidney ‘Ginger’ Bennett (he had red hair), had joined the British Army in India in the 1920’s when the country was under British rule. He had retired to work on the Indian railroads as an engineer based in Calcutta where, after ‘Ginger’ married Adeline De Cruz, from a family of shopkeepers and bakers of Portuguese/English descent, Beverley’s father George was born.
As George was growing up, a girl of his age called Sheila Osbourn had become a neighborhood friend. The families were friends and they grew up playing with each other with Sheila later attending a girls’ school in the Himalayan Mountains near to George’s all-boys school. In his late teens, George asked Sheila out on a date. According to George, “She had many boyfriends and I thought I had no chance but she said ‘Yes’! Her mother, Biddie, did not approve of my drinking and I’d sometimes pick Sheila up when I was half drunk so eventually Sheila gave me an ultimatum to ‘smarten up.’ I said I’d try and gradually I changed. I stopped drinking, told my friends I was happier being like this, and became a good boy. From that day on Sheila and I were never separated. Our relationship was simple – very sweet; very, very loving, and it grew stronger every day.”
The Osbourn family were also British and grandfather John Osbourn left England and became a structural engineer in India, where among his projects was the Howrah Bridge in Calcutta – the busiest bridge in the world with more than half a million pedestrians crossing every day. He married Beverley’s grandmother when she was just fifteen. “He had money and my great grandmother encouraged my grandmother to marry him because of that. However, after two years and the birth of my mother, she left him because of the abuse that came as a result of his alcoholism. My grandmother had a good time before beginning back-to-back long-term relationships with very wealthy men. This allowed my mother to attend finishing school, have her clothes hand made, be driven by a chauffeur, and, because of the gentlemen’s wealth, have bodyguards.”
“Both the Bennett’s and Osbourn’s were families of the Raj with servants. With India changing so much after partition in 1947, and horrible scenes that followed, they all knew they would leave one day. To stay you would have to be Indian, follow the Hindu religion, wear saris, and adapt Indian customs. We were British, Catholic, and would never fit in.”
George moved out of his family home and lived with Sheila’s family – “where they could keep an eye on me.” They dated for a year or so before getting engaged, which was sealed with a kiss at the cinema, and then saved money for a year to buy a wedding ring. They were married in 1950 and moved into a rented one-bedroom apartment and Beverley was born a year later. “I grew up with my closest friends at school being Portuguese and Dutch Jews, who together with the Brits had been very influential in India to that point. My Dad was an engineer with an air-conditioning company and Mum worked as a telephone operator, although she really didn’t have to and played most of the time. She did attend secretarial school and shorthand and typing because she thought that was the independent thing to do. However, she knew her mother had plenty of money and privilege if times got hard… My paternal grandmother, Adeline, thought that the Osbourn’s were snobs and that their coloring was ‘too dark’ for us to be associated with. Conversely, Winnie, my maternal grandmother, thought the Bennett’s were socially beneath them and had no money. She really spoiled me and my mother and made sure I had the right nannies.”
Despite the available privileges, Beverley grew up in an average middle class apartment but when her grandmother wanted to see her she would be picked up in their own rickshaw or chauffeur driven car and taken to the movies, or to her Indian dance lessons, or to hang out at her grandmothers where there were many servants inside a large compound with many bodyguards. “Tailors and cobblers would come to the house and measure us for clothes and shoes, returning later the same day with the finished products – of a very high quality, I should add. My parents did have a nanny for me and also had a cook but it was not like my grandmother’s home. I attended a Catholic nursery school and was not a nice child, being thoroughly spoilt by my grandmother. I remember I got perfectly good nannies fired just because I could. My friends were mainly my cousins and any others that I had were picked for me.”
Beverley’s father’s family had left India before partition and by 1955 he father was been strongly encouraged to join them in London. “India had changed so much in those years. India wanted to be India with as little to remind them of colonial rule as possible. A form of racism against the former rulers was everywhere and my father would never be allowed to get a decent job. There was nothing for him in India anymore. He went to England and stayed with his parents in Edmonton, north London. My mother and I stayed for a few months as they kept refusing our passport application. Eventually my grandmother Winnie went to the passport office. She presented the official with a rolled up newspaper and suggested he read it. She had figured it out and had put a load of cash inside the paper. We got our passports… She was very, very upset at our departure – I was the apple of her eye, but staying was not an option… We could not take any money with us out of India, and my mother wore as much of her jewelry on her hands, feet and neck as she could… After making a few visits to Britain, Winnie did eventually come and live with us in London in 1968 – when her wealthy consorts died she had nothing. She even worked as a secretary for a time! She died in 1984…”
Meanwhile, Beverley was now in London, wandering “What did you do to me?” She and her parents lived in the attic at her father’s parent’s home along with various other aunts, uncles, and cousins. “It was damp and cold. I was told to no longer speak any of the languages I knew – Hindi, Urdu, Tamil – just English, and I had no nannies. I was very miserable. My mother literally couldn’t boil an egg – she had never had to cook. There was no chauffeur, just these big crowded red vehicles called buses! People did not know what to make of me and my mother and our dark skin. On top of all that my grandmother Adeline was an abusive tyrant to me. I hardly saw my grandfather although I do remember him rolling cigarettes with one hand, his very red hair, and him brewing his tea at night for drinking the next morning – it must have been like mud.”
Beverley’s father got a job in a factory while her mother became a secretary at the Norwegian Consulate. “I went to a local school, St Edmund’s Catholic, where I was the only ‘Wog’! – Western Oriental Gentleman was the normal explanation for this term – one that was very prevalent during the fifties, sixties, and seventies. It was a derogatory term for people from most of the British colonies. Later two cousins came over from India who were as dark as me so I was not the only one anymore. I was a very social child and made friends at school – including Rossina Rossi. Her family owned a café (diner) and she was my first crush when I was 11, or maybe it was the food at her parent’s café – it’s was all a bit of a blur at that age!”
In 1963, Beverley started at Sir Thomas More Grammar School, a mixed sex school that required a school uniform. “I was always getting into trouble by ‘fashionizing’ my uniform. I was pretty good at my studies but in my situation, further education was not an option – it was to be a job at 16 and marriage not long after. My first job was as an operator with the national telephone company, run by the Government Post Office Department. I worked in the seedy district of Soho, which was a big eye-opener at the time, with its adult clubs, cinemas, strippers, and prostitutes. My cousin Jackie, who is five years older than me, led my social life and she’d get me into pubs at 16 (the drinking age was, and is, 18 in the U.K.). They were not strict with I.D.’s and we’d also go to dances and a blues club called the Ferry Pub where I saw Elton John, Long John Baldry and others in their early days. I even saw The Dave Clark Five before they became big in England – one of them cleaned my Mum’s office!”
During these first few years in England, Beverley also traveled abroad with her cousin Jackie, mainly in Western Europe, but at 19 her mother told her that she had a friend in America whom she could stay with. “I didn’t care where I went as long as I had somewhere cheap to stay. I had not really thought about the States until my mother mentioned her friend, who lived in San Francisco. I did not know much about it when I arrived in the Haight Asbury district in 1971. The relics of the summer of love were still around – burned out hippies not knowing what to do. I stayed for three weeks and my Mum’s friend, Chita, said I was welcome to come back anytime. She even said I could work for her at the nanny service she did out of her house.”
“After I returned to London I realized that I wanted an adventure and to stay in the States for an extended time. My Dad couldn’t understand why and we argued a lot about it. But my mind was made up. The U.K. had changed and racism was on the rise with the arrival of many West Indians, Pakistanis and Indians in recent years. Two months later I was back in the U.S. to stay, living on Cole Street in S.F. – it all just fell into place, I was extremely lucky.”
Beverley moved into the house on Cole Street and started work. “From having had a nanny years before, I now became one! I found it very easy and there were two great things about living on Cole Street – Maude’s lesbian bar and Bradley’s Corner gay men’s bar. I was ‘out’ in the U.K to most people, but not my parents. The scenes I had already experienced were quite scary – ‘maybe I’m not gay’, I sometimes thought. Maude’s was one of the only two real lesbian bars in the City at the time – 1971; the other was Peg’s Place. I was into clothes and dressed quite differently to most people, certainly compared to most dykes with their plaid shirts and jeans. They did not like me in Maude’s because of this, and maybe my accent too, I don’t really know. Anyway, on only my third time there a woman chased me out with a pool cue in her hand. I ran over to Bradley’s where they bought me a drink and were very friendly. That became my bar of choice and they showed me the ropes and even found me women! I did go back to Maude’s a couple of times but they ignored me when I ordered drinks so that was that for the next few years.”
By the mid-70’s, after a few years of the dating game, Beverley started a serious relationship with Jean Bowker, a woman twenty years older who was a stewardess with Unite Airlines. They were together for a number of years. “I would still visit the U.K. once a year and my parents began to visit me in S.F. I had started studying psychology at City College, while continuing the nanny job, and I moved in with Jean at Page and Stanyon Streets. When we broke up I enjoyed a couple of years as a bachelorette when I was a very happy camper, always out in the ‘scene’, with many dates, before starting another serious relationship with Nancy Keller. I left the nanny job and worked for an answering service for various businesses in the Castro district… After Nancy and I broke up, I went back to the party lifestyle once more and really experienced life with a whole range of drugs, women, and a crazy social scene of clubs, music, and parties.”
Around 1983, Beverley was at Maude’s when she was offered a drink by a woman that she refused. The woman was quite upset at the snub and continued to pursue Beverley for the next year. “I don’t remember this but apparently I ignored her and then, a year later, this same woman ignored me at a club one night. I did not recognize her. She told me about the incident at Maude’s but I did not remember. Anyway she did not want to know me at that point but now I was interested and so I bribed her friend to get me her number. It was Monika Fuchs, a German woman, the original lipstick lesbian… She went to Germany for a trip the next day but I did not know this and called the number hundreds of times – I broke her answering machine. Eventually, after she returned, she agreed to meet me for coffee at Café Flore. She made me wait for forty minutes and then wanted champagne, not coffee. I did not have enough money on me so I suggested we went somewhere else – where I knew the bartender and would get the drinks free. We had a good time and Monika and I have not been apart since – that’s twenty seven years and counting…”

In 1983, after completing her associate arts degree at City College, Beverley went to S.F. State to get a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Psychology, during which time she supported herself with a job as a 411 operator with Pacific Bell telephone. She and Monika, who had been together since 1984, briefly lived together in a one bedroom apartment on Guerrero Street before moving to 15th and Castro, to the downstairs apartment in a huge Victorian house. “This was the mid-eighties and the A.I.D.S. epidemic was really starting to hit the City. We seemed to be always visiting friends in the hospital, going to a funeral, to the hospital again, a funeral, the hospital, a memorial, it went on and on… We lost many friends and walking around the Castro district you’d see so many people with sunken cheeks, grey-colored skin; twenty year olds in wheelchairs. You were not sure if you knew them or not. Often you did – they had changed so much, so quickly. It was devastating and every day, all day, it was the main topic of discussion. We couldn’t do it anymore and around 1989 decided to get away. Monika’s ex-husband, a gay guy, owned a resort on Key West with his lover, and we moved there to get away from all the sadness.”

Beverley got a job supervising the cleaning crews and maids at resort that had over two hundred rooms, and “worked my arse off… It was long hours during the tourist season then not much to do at the other times of the year. Monika was a bartender/hostess at a five-star restaurant… A couple of years later, just three months after Monika had visited her in Germany, her mother passed away and left her with some money. We had had it with Key West by that time and three years after leaving we moved back to San Francisco, buying a new car for the road trip. Key West did not offer much to us, other than steady work and lots of alcohol, and the fact that we lived in a house in Old Town. We had missed our friends and ‘family’ in S.F. – our home.”

In 1993, after briefly staying with a friend, they moved back into the house on 15th and Castro and it was a case of ‘did we actually ever leave?’ Beverley started a job for a non-profit – The Progress Foundation, which found temporary housing for the mentally ill. “They would need housing for sixty days before going to an independent living situation… By this time, the ‘cocktail’ to offset the A.I.D.S. virus had been found. “You would see people and say, ‘Oh my God, you’re still alive!’ People were still dying but less of them. We were able to buy a condo and moved out of the house. We also traveled a lot during that time – around California, to Europe, and Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and often to England and Germany of course. One of our things to do on our travels was to check out local real estate offices. We were on one of our trips, this time in the town of Mendocino, when we saw a Bed and Breakfast business available in Anderson Valley. We did not know where Philo was but decided to go by there on the way back to the City. It was closed but we looked around through the windows anyway. A week later Monika asked me what I thought. I had not really thought that much about it. I liked S.F. but I had to admit it I was growing out of it – I didn’t want to ‘play’ that much anymore. Anyway, a month later we met the owner, the recently widowed Jill Crane (now Derwinski) and made an offer that was accepted. I would run the Inn and Monika could continue her work from home as a travel agent. Our favorite thing to do was to have friends for dinner so this was something like that. Monika had always cooked and I did the grunt stuff – I loved it. Anyway, we had also just got Rupert, an Airedale/Border Collie mix, as we were leaving the City, so there was no turning back and we left and moved into the log cabin behind the Inn in the spring of 2001.”

Jill stayed for a short time to teach them the ropes. Beverley loved it and really enjoyed meeting the guests but, after a year, Monika lost her job and they decided she would run the Inn and Beverley would get a job elsewhere. “We kind of reversed roles. Monika flourished at the inn-keeping and I got a job with the County Mental Health Department. It all went well for a few years but we found the Inn to be very time-consuming and left us little time to ourselves for long periods but then nothing much to do at other times. It was not enjoyable anymore; we wanted to enjoy visiting friends and were unable to get away when we wanted. After five or six years I told Monika we had to stop – she agreed and we closed the Inn with great sorrow because we still enjoyed big parts of it. We moved into the main house and rented out the log cabin, where we’ve been very lucky with getting good tenants.”

Today, Beverley continues to work for the mental Health Department while Monika has worked at a few different wineries in the Valley such as Husch, Brutacao, Claudia Springs, and now Bink Winery in the Madrones complex just south of Philo. “I have been at my job for ten years now and really enjoy the actual job alot. I love working with the mentally ill and their families and seeing progress being made; I am very passionate about it. However, I do not like the department ‘politics’ and the effects that and the county government has had on our daily work. It seems as if we have less and less to offer – it’s getting very bad… My mother passed in 2006 and that was very, very hard on me and particularly my Dad. He wanted to stay in their house in London but just could not cope alone. He came to visit us here for two months but then went back. He was there for a year and not doing well. Eventually the family there said he had to move – he was living in one room and surviving on Chinese takeout food. He came to stay here with us in Philo and has been here for three-and-a-half years now… Socially, I like to hang out with friends here in the Valley and have dinner parties; I enjoy the Quiz at Lauren’s most weeks, go to Mosswood Market for my coffee and The Buckhorn for my beer, and we like to go for walks with Rupert and Karla, our German short-haired pointer/lab mix…”

I asked Beverley for a brief verbal image of her father. “A devoted and good husband. A polite Englishman”… And her mother? “A fabulous human being who, once people met her, they never forgot. She sparkled and glowed and was a great Mum.”

And her responses to various Valley talking points? The wineries and their impact? – “Well they are certainly good for jobs and they do make some great wines, but I think we have enough of them now”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I love it and read it every week. It is good to know what is going on and what the community is talking about. I like the Sheriff’s log, the local news, Valley People, and what is happening at Turkey Vulture’s Three-Dot Lounge”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I don’t listen a lot although it is often on at home as Monika listens. I do like Fred Wooley’s show on Sundays”… The school system? – “I know that some of my friends who are parents say it is horrible and others say it is marvelous. It’s probably somewhere in-between”… The marijuana issue? – “The whole issue is a huge pink elephant in the county, a serious problem. I see the effects in my work every day as it really impacts young people. We need to address this problem because, whatever you may hear, we are not doing so at the moment. Those for and against the legalization of marijuana all seem to be avoiding the big picture”…

The A.V. Elder Home? – “Nobody knows anything about what is going on there – that’s what I know!”… The Health Center? – “It’s marvelous that they got the grant money. However, there are some issues I have with the administration side there – some people never get their bills and others are not even billed in the first place”… Law and order in the Valley? – “Well we definitely need two sheriffs. We are isolated here and protection is needed. It seems that it’s just ‘politics’ that are the reason for this whole subject being up for so much debate”… Changes in the Valley? – “Well in my ten years I like what has happened. The small changes have been good for the community overall. Many of the people who have moved here are like Monika and me – they love it here and respect it. Also, these people are not running away from somewhere else as much as perhaps some of those who came forty years or so ago were; they are coming here more because they choose to and not so much because they really want to leave where they were.”

To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a few questions to my guest. Some of these are from a questionnaire featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton” and some I came up with myself. I posed these obvious and some not-so-obvious questions to Beverley and asked her to reply as spontaneously as possible…

1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “My family of Monika and our dogs and cats.”

2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Negative people.”

3. What sound or noise do you love? – “The birds in the trees through the sound of silence.”

4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “The revving up of motorcycles. I used to have a bike and there is no need to do that.”

5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “Chicken curry and biryani rice.”

6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “Gandhi… There were two sides to him – his famous side and the one that led him to sleep with many of his young female followers. I’d like to talk about them both with him.”

7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “My passport, some family photos, and my mother’s jewelry.”

8. What scares you? – “What we are doing to the planet…. And possible Republican Presidential nominee, Rick Perry!”

9. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “A book would be ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry about the changes in Indian society from independence in 1947 to the Emergency of the late seventies… A film would be ‘The Usual Suspects’ or ‘Fight Club’; and a song ‘Brown Sugar’ by The Rolling Stones.”

10. Do you subscribe to any publications or newspapers? – ‘Mother Jones’, ‘Dog Fancy’, and ‘The Sun’ – a magazine of short stories every month – Monika and I fight over who gets to read it first…”

11. What is your favorite hobby? – “Drinking beer and watching movies.”

12. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “A dancer on Broadway.”

13. What profession would you not like to do? – “Anything to do with bodily fluids.”

14. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “When I was eleven, Rossini Rossi came to my house and   we watched television and listened to records. She was the one that got away!”

15. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “No. Sure I was devastated when my mother passed away but I am who I am because of what has happened to me and I accept that.”

16. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. – “My school years at S.F. State were very memorable… Oh, and the trip to India with my Monika and my parents in the late nineties – that was very special.”

17. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “Having come from the beginning of my life to where I am now is something I am proud of – my journey so far…”

18. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “My ability to make friends and draw people in. Hopefully I have some of my mother’s qualities in that way.”

19. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Well it would be good if she said ‘Well done! I know you had lots of fun; let’s have some more’.”

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm  Comments (1)