Thursday, April 28, 2016


Chet Danielson, was my boss and my pastor for three years in the late 1960s.  He was my boss first, choosing me to fill in as office secretary at The Salvation Army Corps in Ontario, California, and then bumping me up to what we casually called welfare worker when that position opened.  I just wanted to work there, and I really just did whatever needed doing.  In rank, he was a Captain, and with such a small office as we had, he most of the time answered to "Cap."  After about a year, my husband and I began attending the Ontario Corps, feeling that our ministry should be there, too.

I loved the "helping" part of my job, and Cap taught me a lot about christian compassion, warmth, caring, and he especially demonstrated in his own life what General Booth so had intended The Salvation Army to be.  I had lots of lines drawn in my own understanding of "church" and "christians" - and it was Chet who exemplified by his life, both business and spiritual, that drawing lines are NOT what Christianity was about.

My husband and I moved out of the area in 1971, and the Ontario part of my life was over.  I was pleased when in the 1990s, I got a call from his daughter Dawn asking if I would speak at his retirement celebration.  I had a lot to say about the ministry of Chet and his wife Vicki.  It was factual and it was personal, and I meant every word of it.  Chet, by then a Major, told me afterwords that he was dumbfounded that I remembered so much and especially had learned so much.  And I told him it was all true, no flattery involved.

Chet died in April of 2014.  But here I am, myself at 80, still remembering the times that Chet ministered to the south end of Ontario, California with love and compassion, and remembering specifically the little kids and their families who came to church on the bus that Chet drove, learned about Christ through his Sunday School classes, and taught them how to play musical instruments, supplying the horns, tambourines and music books so they could join the little Salvation Army Band that went out on Sunday afternoons to witness at John Galvin Park.  What lovely memories I have.

Chet's got stars in his Crown, for sure!


Friday, April 22, 2016


In February of 1987 my pal Jerry Russom died.  He was only 51, way too young for sure!  He was taken swiftly by a rare and terminal neurological disorder, leaving a wife, two teenage daughters, his folks, his sister Patsy and a passel of friends.

Until Jerry and I headed off to different colleges, we had shared three years of intensive work in our high school journalism department.  I had been in classes with him through junior high school but it wasn't until meeting again as sophomores at Long Beach Poly High in 1951 that our friendship really jelled.  In our senior year of Poly each of us held the position of Editor of the weekly school newspaper "High Life" for a semester.  The picture below is from our yearbook.

It is certainly true that one can have a "best friend" of the other sex, for Jerry and I were inseparable, especially the last two years.  Early on we had tried dating, and that just wasn't in the cards for us.  But truly, my joys of high school happened because Jerry and I were together constantly, both in school and after school.  In the summers, many evenings a bunch of our journalism classmates got together at my house in a backyard patio  my dad had built so his "girls" would have a safe place to hang out – and each night we tried to solve the problems, big and small, of our world.  Or we would go to Jerry's house where his mom and dad (and his little sister) always sat in with us while we laughed ourselves silly over all the nonsensical thing that teenagers think about. 

Jerry and I kept in touch throughout our lives, mainly with little notes now and then.  The last time I saw him was when I was in San Francisco in the mid-1980s.  I dropped by his public relations business  downtown.  We had a good chat about our lives and once again shared that special feeling of being pals forever.

Interestingly, several years later when word of his death came down to Long Beach, I received a couple of sympathy cards from old friends who remembered our friendship – and who knew I would feel his death very personally.  I did.

In my estimation, Jerry is definitely not an Immortal NOBODY, but I figure he would laugh like old times if he knew that I was putting him in that category here.   He doesn't need me for posthumous prestige, for sure.  He "made it" himself – but it makes me feel good to know he won't be forgotten.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


1828 - ?

Timothy was the second child and first son of Stephen & Hannorah Hurley Madden, who started their lives in the Parish of Kilbrogan, the town of Brandon, County Cork, Ireland.   Their tombstones in the Catholic Cemetery of Mendota, Illinois gave me the information of where they were born.  

Their first three children were born in Ireland - Julia in 1825, Timothy in 1828, and John in 1830.  Their last child, Ellen, was born in Fall River, Bristol County, Massachusetts in 1834.  Ellen was my great-great Grandmother.  

In the late 1850s the family moved to Mendota, LaSalle County, Illinois.  All can be accounted for on the censuses except for Timothy.  

While I was actively researching this family and nosing around Mendota by mail, one of my letters was passed on to a fellow named Peter Donohue, who was a descendant of the Peter Donohue who married Julia Madden.  This, of course, made me a distant relative of Pete himself, and he was a gold mine of information on the Maddens.  

In one of those all-too-rare surprises in genealogical research, in the 1960s he had received, and kept, a letter from another Madden researcher (Lucille Fulton York), who descended from Ellen Madden just as I did.  Ellen was her grandmother, and Lucille remembered a lot of what her grandmother had told her about the family.  Pete forwarded a copy of her letter to me, dated from 1967, and it was there that I discovered why Timothy was absent.  There were no details, but it simply said that Timothy went to California looking for gold and was never heard from again.

Timothy Madden was a very common Irish name, and in my research I found dozens of Timothy Maddens in California during the gold rush period.  I could not find the one to whom I was related, which is not at all surprising.  

It is for this reason that I have picked him to at least be acknowledged as part of a family by appearing here --- but without a date of death.