Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vera Rozelva Bachman (Hastings) 1915 - 1998

Vera Bachman (Hastings)
Vera was born August 18, 1915, in Tetonia, Idaho, to Emuel Heninger Bachman and Esther Rozelva Coleman. Her father died when she was two years old and soon after, her mother took her and moved to the San Francisco area with a male friend, leaving her two brothers, Mel and Jesse with their grandfather Emuel. Except for a visit in 1922 back in Utah, she did not see her brothers again until they were all grown and married.

She described her childhood as flying on the coat tails of her mother who liked a good time. She once said that she raised her mother; it was not the other way around. This probably explains an early marriage to Carl Meyer that ended in divorce. Her second marriage was to Charles Goodnough in 1934 when she was nineteen. She had a serious car accident while married to him. She was pregnant at the time and lost the baby. She was not able to have children after that which may have contributed to the divorce later. In 1939, she married Gilbert Hastings. Gib had grown up in a mining town is Utah. His father worked at the Bingham copper pit. His parents had come from England. He was a Navy veteran and even to a young girl like me very handsome with his head of white wavy hair that he never lost. They were devoted to each other for the duration of their lives.

I was in grade school when we took a trip to California to see Aunt Vera and Uncle Gib, Grandma Ethel, Uncle Mel and Aunt Violet and their children Dick and Sis. I remembered Mel’s family from when we all lived in Washington during the war. Dick and Sis babysat Susan and I sometimes and liked to tease and tickle us. Uncle Mel played popular songs on the piano by ear and I used to beg him to play for me. He was the inspiration that made me start asking for lessons when I was about five.

We picked up Grandma and Ray, her husband, at the apartment building they managed and drove to the small duplex apartment in Montebello where Vera and Gib lived. A large black grand piano took up a good part of the small living room. Vera had learned to play. I don’t know if she took lessons or taught herself. She only played for me a couple of times but was enough to encourage me to want lessons even more. Mom would make me perform for her and once when I was bout 12 I played first Bach invention I had learned. It had been difficult and i was not yet sold on Bach so when Vera praised my playing and told Mom I should only be allowed to play Bach I was not happy about it.

She was reader. There were always piles of books there that she was working on. And she always had cats that would rub against us to be petted. I remember her cooking dinner a couple of times and the grownups having a drink or two that made them all lively and talkative, mostly about politics from a labor union point of view. Both Vera and Gib worked for U.S, Rubber, a major tire company at that time. Vera’s voice was husky and Gib’s animated as they talked of problems at work and their socialistic philosophy.

Usually while the grownups talked, Uncle Gib would see that we kids were getting bored. He would nod his head to Susan, Tina and I to follow him outside. There we played hide and seek, chase, and usually ended with us guessing what he had in his pocket--sometimes a fifty cent piece or even a silver dollar.

Niece Violet (Sis) remembers that when she was younger they used to bring Grandma and come to visit but as they grew older Vera and Gib’s life style could be described as “urban hermit.” They went to work and came home every day on the same schedule. On Saturdays they bought groceries, did errands and went to eat, always at the same restaurant, Frenchy’s. If we were visiting on a weekend they would invite us to eat out with them. They did not take vacations or travel. Mom tried for years to get them to come and see us in Vegas but they never would, not even after they retired. When Grandma Ethel became frail and senile they found a rest home nearby and went every day to help her eat and to care for her. Over time they added other residents to their care list and were valuable volunteers for the facility until Ethel died a few years later.

They continued to live their quiet lives until Gib became ill and died of heart complications. Vera was devastated at having to go on without him. When we were notified of her death we learned that it was from an advanced cancer. She had probably known she was ill but had made the choice not to seek treatment. We met her friends, the family that had also been their landlord when we went down for her service. They gave me an old suitcase that had a photo album, family papers and letters which I used to put this project together.

We learned that their rather considerable savings were to be divided among the nieces they had between them. We were surprised and blessed by this windfall.