We took two drives in two days, Mom, Dad, and me—I drove the faithful Suburban. The first day we drove into the hills, into the gated neighborhoods with the big houses, which grew bigger and fancier with altitude. Several houses were enormous, of the 20,000 square-foot variety, with turrets and weather vanes and wrought iron fences and security cameras. One resembled an English country mansion estate. We felt distinctly uncomfortable at the thought of all the money poured into these lavish houses. We are not wealthy people, and did not know how to relate to such wealth. The next day we drove across the valley to find Mom’s maternal grandparents’ house. We found it in a rundown part of town, with century-old match-box houses, tiny, unkempt, honest, 20 little houses crammed into a single mansion lot. I remember visiting great-grandpa James Evans—I was four. He scooped Neapolitan ice cream into cones from his top-loaded deep freeze. He walked stooped with age, humble but dignified, showing me his little cherry orchard with the concrete ditches ladling irrigation water to each dwarf tree. More than 50 years after that visit, I snapped a photo of his little old house. Around the corner was the Pleasant Green church where my grandfather Wallace first met my grandmother Dorothy. He was a guest minister, and she played the organ. After church, Wally asked Dorothy if he could drive her home, and she accepted. After he dropped her off, she got a ride back to the church so she could take her car home. I snapped a photo of the church, and we drove away from history and memory back into our comfortable present, far across the valley.
Above: the Church where Wally met Dorothy.
Monument to the Pleasant Green church.