Erin and Jane “Bombi” on May 19, 2001
Am thinking of Erin and her paternal grandmother, Lora “Jane” Goodman Wheeler, who would have been 113 today. Jane was born on July 19, 1904 and died on April 19, 2005, at age 100 years and 9 months, exactly. When she was a small child, Colleen couldn’t say “grandma”, so she said something like Bamba, then Bambi, then Bombi. So, the kids called their grandmother “Bombi”.
Have just had a text from Brandon asking if Bombi was born in 1904. Brandon said that he had been thinking of both Erin and Bombi today. And I had a phone call from Jane’s surviving daughter, Jan, who lives in Willetts, CA. I usually call Jan on July 19th, but this year Jan beat me to it.
Jane was a wonderful person, with a good sense of humor. She read ferociously until her eye sight failed, and then she listened to books-on-tape. She was a natural leader.
Jane and her husband Harvey and their 3 children Brandon Sr. and twin girls, Jan and Jo, moved to Sacramento from Philadelphia in 1946. They lived in the Tahoe Park area. Harvey worked as a surveyor. In fact, he was responsible for a street in the Tahoe Park area being named Brandon Way. They had a boat that Harvey loved to work on. In 1963, Harvey decided to become a commercial fisherman and they moved to Fort Bragg, CA on the coast. Jane at age almost 60 would go out on the boat with him and they would fish for salmon from about April to Oct., the salmon season, living on the boat.
When commercial fishing didn’t work out, Harvey, always a dreamer, decided to build a smoker and smoke purchased salmon. At first, they sold smoked salmon along the roadside. Then in 1968 they opened a delicatessen in Ft. Bragg which they had until Harvey’s death in 1978. Jane, then in her late 60s and 70s would boil 10 lbs of potatoes every morning and make potato salad for the deli as well as other salads. The deli was located at 136 Laurel Street just off of Main St, a block from the Skunk Depot. 4 times a year: Easter, June, Sept, and Christmas we would make the trip to Fort Bragg to visit for a weekend.
In Dec. of 1979, Jane moved back to Sacramento and lived at St. Francis Manor in Midtown. She really enjoyed those years making lots of friends with other congenial residents of the Manor. At first, husband Brandon would take his mother and her friend Gladys out for breakfast every Sunday. Then eventually I joined them and carried on the tradition after Brandon died in Dec.1995. Jane also survived the death of her daughter Jo from breast cancer in 1991.
Jane had relatively good health giving up smoking in 1992 when she had a slight stroke. She had smoked for 72 years! In 2003 I was flying to Oaxaca to study Spanish with my sister Patricia. Jane, not feeling well, waited until I was on the plane before she called 911! She didn’t want to interfere with my plans. After Jane was in the hospital for a few days, Colleen arranged for Jane to be dismissed to Asbury Park, conveniently located less than a mile from my house.
I could visit her everyday. And Jane cheerfully spent the last 2 years of her life there.
Erin would occasionally mention going to Asbury Park if she thought that she was causing us too much trouble.