Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter, and...

To some, Easter is the rebirth of Christ. To some it is the rebirth of the Earth and renewal of the inhabitants of the Earth. Either way, I can't help but wonder what Easter (or any holiday for that matter) may have meant to my grandmother while she was locked up in the system. I personally like the idea of rebirth and change but could Lola ever have that? A depressed woman lost touch (possibly) with her family and basically had nothing. She spent the last 24 years of her life in the system. I wonder what hope she may have felt. I wonder just how many of her family members and friends (religious or not) ever bothered to pay her a visit. Was she someone that could handle a visit? I don't know and this is something I am now trying to find out.

From the records I now have, I know that her whereabouts do not jive with what I was told. My dad mentioned that the last time he saw her (at the urging of his first wife) she was at Norwalk State Hospital. Based on the timing of my dad's first marriage, Lola was not in Norwalk, but Camarillo. Why did my dad say she Norwalk? I don't know and now I cannot ask him. I know this was painful for him and, therefore, something he wouldn't speak much of. I also now know that depression is no big deal (unless you're living with it) yet in the 1930s was enough to change the course of one's life depending on one's ability to cope with the condition. In many cases, including Lola's, you could be locked up and untreated. Once released, it just possibly got worse and ruined relationships with family and friends (again, based on ability to cope) and that was during a time when these rather common conditions were not so common and rather unsavory, and a time when this was just rather shameful and not talked about.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Birthday So Far

Today was my birthday. It was very nice considering it fell on a full moon Monday and I worked all day. I went to the Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks concert at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday night (thanks Rach)! Sunday I won $20 on a $2 scratcher. Plus, today I had tons of well wishes on Facebook, phone calls, emails, got flowers, cards, nice gifts and topped it off with Dancing With The Stars.

Prior to that I did find my grandmother recently. This time last year I was thinking it would have been such a great birthday gift if someone found her and presented that to me for my birthday. But in the end, one year later (almost), I found her and that was a great gift. I also got copies of some great pictures of Red (my grandfather) as a young man and pictures of my dad as a young boy from a cousin of mine! Those pictures are so special and I need to scan these and send them to my big sister.

My mom is doing much better and will be moving in with me. I look forward to spending more time with her while we can. Ever since telling her this, she has just been so upbeat and chatty! I'm so happy that she's looking forward to this and won't be so lonely in her final years.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Got the Medical Records

They came this past Friday and I'm still taking it all in. A few things of note:

Lola had her first "attack" in January of 1930 and it was diagnosed as symptomatic depression. She was admitted to a facility that I still cannot find and then paroled to another mysterious facility and released.

Lola was admitted in 1936 (the second time) as Marie. According to records I have, she stated her name was Madeline and not Marie, yet the previous records indicated she was admitted as Lola L. Robinson.

The doctor that wrote the initial admittance certificate (or whatever it was truly called) in 1936, was the same doctor that delivered me 24 years later in the same city! How weird is that?

Lola died eight days before I was born and died at DeWitt State Hospital.

DeWitt attempted to contact family for permission to do an autopsy. They contacted "her mother". It wasn't really her mother, but her father's second wife and widow (George Cloos died in 1947). Grace, George's widow, didn't feel she had the authority to grant that and suggested DeWitt contact Lola's husband or son. This was the first I'd ever seen that anyone in the family knew of my dad. The hospital couldn't find either and went back to Grace for help. She suggested then that they contact Lola's brother and gave them contact information. He also suggested they contact Lola's husband or son (apparently no longer in touch and unaware of the fact that Red was dead and my dad nowhere to be found). When DeWitt responded that they couldn't find anyone to grant permission for an autopsy, Bill granted it.

Lola had one child deceased (Raymond), one child living (Robert) and one miscarriage.

After Lola's first "attack" in 1930, she was never the same (according to Red) and their marriage deteriorated and he left her in 1934.

Lola's religion was listed as Jewish and the records indicate that her mother was. My oh so scandalous great grandmother, Effie Beck, was apparently Jewish, according to these records (and is certainly deserving of a book about her life). I am completely fascinated by her.

This is but a small portion as there is much to digest and I haven't quite digested it all.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Found Lola

In my last post, I mentioned the death certificate I ordered for Marie Robinson. There were similarities that made me go ahead and order it. The last name, state of birth, year and month of birth and mother's maiden name. The one thing that didn't match was the first name. Well, the death certificate arrived on Tuesday and it is Lola! I couldn't believe it. Not only did the death certificate list Effie Beck as her mother, it listed George Cloos (born in Germany) as her father. It also listed Earl (Red, my grandfather) as her husband and listed marital status as separated.

I was and still am excited, shocked and sad all at the same time. She died and was buried under the name Marie, and I need to research that. I know where she is buried and now am ready to begin the next phase of my search - still so many questions.

She died in Auburn, California at DeWitt State Hospital. DeWitt closed in the early 1970s and through the State of California Department of Mental Health's website, I was able to find out where the records for DeWitt are maintained.

I called the Fairview Developmental Center (they maintain the records for DeWitt) on Wednesday. I gave the woman the info I had and she asked for my phone number and said she'd check the records. She called me back a few hours later - she found them!! She gave me a few little details and asked for my address so she could send me the records release form. She also told me what I would need to send back with the completed form (a copy of my birth certificate and a copy of my dad's to prove the relationship). Now I'm not sure yet what all I can expect to receive, and the form is a bit confusing, so I will have to call her tomorrow for some clarification.

So, Lola was in the state system as Marie. This might explain why Metropolitan State Hospital (where my dad said she was) claimed she wasn't at their facility. I plan to also contact them again and ask if they have records for Marie Robinson. Stay tuned as there will be more to come as this mystery unfolds.