The Armstrong Archives (108): Moving to California?

Armstrong Archives 1982 [On top of this years’ letters is a note from my mom, which reads: “How well have you used your life? Good memories must balance bad moments. Bad moments pass. ~Helen Hoover Santmyer” I think 1982 was one of the hardest years of my life, and my mother doubtless understood that. After all, she and my dad had lived through the depression, World War II, and had had four kids all before I was even born!]

Saturday, January 2, 1982 Hi!  Alan worked all night last night, so he’s already in bed, and I’m on my way. It’s only 9:00 pm, but we’re getting up at 5:30 am. for our flight. Have a good week! We’ll give Lynn a kiss from you and bring a little sunshine home from Florida to enclose in the next letter!

Monday, January 18, 1982 I just finished typing a letter to Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park, California, where we will be going—if you’re still up to watching the kids—on February 3rd. Some of my best friends from Bob Jones went to church there, so we thought maybe would could hit a Wednesday night prayer meeting and look around some. Yesterday I was so sick with the flu and a sinus headache (of all things; I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those before) that with that on top of nausea [I was newly pregnant with Kathy Kris] I didn’t go to church. After I got the house cleaned up and lunch ready, I read all about California, Michigan, Los Angeles, etc. in your World Book Encyclopedias. They gave such glowing reports of California that for the first time I began to get seriously interested in it as a possibility. We talked to Ann and Ralph, and they said they want to live on the West Coast for the rest of their lives if Ralph can possibly find work there. Wolle and Nana have always been interested in CA, and Rob, Jan, and Terry are immoveable. I think they’ll live and die there! We talked to Lynn when we were in Florida. She would prefer Michigan to California, but she says she thinks family is more important than place. [Amen to that!] I think Alan is basically down to either the Soo or California, and obviously—to be near family. Dad told us last time we were home to count on him being in the Soo for “at least 1-5 more years;” then, are you thinking of relocating? It is only about 350 miles from Canoga Park to Rob’s house in Cupertino. Northern California has bad allergens for Alan, but by Alan’s medical books, southern California (as long as you stay out of the smog regions) is fairly similar to Arizona in the grasses and weeds, and he thinks he should feel pretty well there. Did you know that there are fewer people per square mile in California than in Michigan? The average temperature in Los Angeles is 55° in January and 73° in July; that’s even more temperate than Florida. You can grow almost everything; it’s the #1 agricultural producer; you probably wouldn’t have to worry much about starving or freezing. Can you tell I’m trying to convince you too? Can you still come on the first or second and stay until the ninth? We’ll call next weekend and see how things are going. THANKS! Please pray for us to have wisdom.

[Here is a very unusual treat! A letter from Grandma to Grandpa while she was baby sitting!]

Thursday, February 4, 1982  Dear Grandpa,

How is everything in the Soo? Have you had any more snow? We had another good one yesterday, but it’s sunny and nice today. Aaron and Mike with Mark G.Aaron did a lot of shoveling yesterday and had a bad cough and sore throat last night. I didn’t take him to school today—maybe tomorrow.

Aaron wants me to tell you that he helped a man shovel his car out and the man gave him a dollar. Aaron thought maybe it was play money but was very proud and excited when he found it was real. He said, “This is very important, Grandma! I’m trying to save for skis. When I get half enough Mom will put in the rest.”

We’re all a bit shop worn today. For some reason Michael got up at three o’clock am. and thought it was morning. He woke up Jon and Aaron. The lights on the snow did make it about as bright as day. By the time I got all of them back to sleep it was nearly four o’clock.

Michael just brought me some sort of puller he made out of tinker toys. He said it was for you. He also wants to know when you are coming to see him.

When I couldn’t open Aaron’s medicine last night in the night we both wished we had you with your screwdriver. I never did get it open either. I’ll get some man to open it after work—Linda’s husband probably. [Linda and Mel Greishaber lived just a couple of doors down and were wonderful, helpful friends. They offered to do anything Mom needed.] I don’t want to break it off.

Alan called last night. They made it okay before the worst weather struck. It was 72° in Malibu where they were. Kathy was resting.

Enjoy your vacation.

Love, Mom, Aaron, Michael, and Jon

[For Valentine’s Day 1982: A picture of a puppy and a kitten]
Happy Valentine’s Day!  Well, Alan and I are still marveling over what a competent mother we have! The house was so clean, the laundry done, the boys as happy as larks, the WHOLE of Hannah’s Sod House recorded, and all the household’s little routines happily preserved. I really don’t know how you do it! No wonder you miss her so much, Dad; she can just about do everything!

We’re back on Eastern Time, and I’m starting to feel a little less nauseated and more energetic every day. Last night I helped one of the Palestinian girls for an hour with American history. She’s in 11th grade and has only been in the U.S. since last summer. She can’t spell words as simple as “but,” but she can understand much of her text if I read aloud to her. She needs a lot more than I can give right now…like a full-fledged tutor. The needs of life are endless!

Michael and Jon are running circles around the rocking horse, eating apples, and “walking” their alligators. Jon still sleeps with the new mustang you gave him. Alan told me, “There are five interesting-looking jobs in Florida,” as he walked out the door this morning. At least by July we’ll have to have decided something!

Love, Us


[As beautiful an area as Agoura Hills, CA is (known as “The Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains”), Alan was quite certain it wouldn’t be a good choice. I was so enamored by the gorgeous vistas of the Pacific Ocean and rolling hills that it was harder for me to give up the idea, although I have not regretted our choice over the years, since visual beauty is not as important as the spiritual characteristics of a location (or a person). While touring around the area, I saw a little rundown sheep ranch by the side of the road. “That’s the kind of place I’d like!” I said, imagining that such a humble abode wouldn’t cost much. The physician touring us said, “Well, that dirty little piece of property would probably cost you around a quarter of a million.” (For reference, Alan was making $17,500 per year as a resident.) Later at a meeting with several doctors, I asked what the greatest challenge was for a doctor practicing in the area. Without batting an eye, one doctor responded, “Making enough money.” I didn’t want to live in an area that was so materialistic. Looking on Wikipedia just now, I notice a long list of well-known people (e.g.: Mel Gibson) listed as residents.]


Please share your thoughts too!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s