We moved to the Florida Keys in June, 1969; we left in January, 1975. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. We had two deaths: Jesse's father and my brother. We had five grandchildren, James Herman Simpson, Samantha Janet McFall, Michael Jones Bush, Janet M. Osborne and Sandy Jane Osborne. Also we had two weddings, Sandy married Daniel Herman Hines in our home and Karen married Danny Osborne in Miami. I made five trips back to New England. When Grandpa Gardner died, again when my brother died. Then June had her bad accident and had Michael prematurely. When Sandy Simpson had her kidney operation, I went to Massachusetts and took care of James, and the last trip Jesse and I took to bring his mother down with us after she had several strokes. We love the big city life, and we visited New England for the sixth time when we took our camping vacation in 1977. When we arrived in Marathon, we rented an apartment at Treva's Apartment house. It was there that we met Philip and Doris Horton and their children, Tom and Christine. We lived at Treva's for a while and then rented a hotel on Key Colony Beach while our house was being built. We had been in Marathon only a few days when the Sheriff came to our door. He had an urgent call from June requesting us to get in touch with her immediately. Grandpa had died. We left the kids in Mrs. Treva's care and flew up to the funeral. We spent all winter before we went to the Keys designing our house. It was a great house, at least I thought so. We had a big living room, a family room, a good size kitchen which had a seven burner stove top, a combination laundry and pantry. There was a bedroom for Jesse and me, one for my mother. another for Karen and still another for the boys. There was also a three room apartment. which was to be for Jesse's mother and father. In all there were four bathrooms. Jesse appreciated this aspect for as he said he had a wife, a mother-in-law, five daughters and only one bathroom for a good many years. We had a boat slip, and the house was on a canal. The contractor promised us that the house would be finished by Christmas. It wasn't. June and her family came for Christmas and the contractor did rent a house for them on Key Colony Beach. Richard, Diane, their kids. Aunt Maggie and Uncle Richards were also there. Christine and Guy Atkinson, who had spent many Christmas and Thanksgivings with us in Oxford, also came that first Christmas.
Florida Time For Christmas
Early December 24 we received word that my brother died. The day after Christmas I flew to Miami to get a plane to Hartford, but the Hartford Airport was closed due to a snow storm so I returned home. I left a couple of days later. Bob's funeral had already taken place, but I spent a few days with Mary. We went to church Christmas Eve to a candlelight service. It was the first candlelight service I ever attended where the congregation marched out into the night with the candles lit. It was warm outside, which was so different from Connecticut's Christmas Eve weather. Shortly after Christmas we were able to move into the house. We bought a little boat and had a fine time fishing and boating in general. After a while we purchased a 35 foot sport fisherman. It was a great boat; we took several trips into Florida Bay and over to the Everglades. We would anchor near the shore and spend the night on the boat. I remember one trip when Frank and I took the little boat onto shore; we beached the boat and took a walk up the shoreline. When we came back and approached the boat two eagles started shrieking at us. We had beached the boat under a tree in which they had their nest. We were not about to fight with the eagles. The water was murky and we both knew there were sharks in the water for we had caught one the night before. However, Frankie said he would go out into the water and circle around to the boat. I was to keep the eagles' attention. He managed to get to the boat and push it out into the water and I met him. I told him that he was very brave. He said he wasn't brave for he was afraid, and then I told him that was being brave. We also took the boat out into the Ocean and went shelling. We found many beautiful shells: conchs, horse conchs. helmets, king helmets, cowries and just loads of little lovely shells and starfish. Jesse made a dive platform for the boat, and we would spend the whole day out in the water. While we were there, Allan had a little sail boat. He often took the boat out into the Ocean. However, getting back to our canal he had to go into Vaca Cut where there the current was so strong it was not always possible to sail back, so he took a little CB radio and would call us when he was ready to return. Jesse would go out and tow him home. We all enjoyed the boating and the fishing. I enjoyed fishing there, for we always caught fish and they were big enough to fillet. Within a year of the time we moved there my mother left us and went to live in the Masonic Home in Wallingford, Connecticut. She just didn't care for the Keys and knew no one there.
How I kept Myself Busy
I joined the Hospital Auxiliary and was instructed in bed care for patients. This was a thirty five bed hospital. During the "season" it was usually filled to over capacity but "off season" sometimes there would only be six or seven patients. I learned to take vital signs, bathe a patient and make a bed with the patient in it. I truly enjoyed the work. I still have my pin for over 700 hours of work. Not many hospitals have volunteers doing actual nursing work, but like everything else in the Keys at that time, it was different. In November, 1969, Denise had her third child, Samantha. In August, 1970, June, who was pregnant with Michael, was in a bad automobile accident. I went up to visit with her. Michael was born shortly after the accident. She had a serious time, but fortunately she became well and the baby did fine.
In October, 1970, Mavis had James. Frankie joined the Cub Scouts, and Jesse became a Cub Scout leader. Each night when I said prayers with the children I read them a Bible story. When Frank was little we had a ten volume set of Bible stories. We had just finished reading about Moses when there was some sort of a survey made in the Marathon School System to see how many children knew about the Bible. The representative asked Frank if he knew who Moses was. Frank started telling him about the baby Moses. The fellow said "that is enough". Frankie said "there is more" and continued. After a while the fellow said "that is enough". Frankie said "there is more" and continued telling about Moses. The representative told the teacher that Frank knew more about Moses than he did. My mother and Jesse's mother planned a trip to the Bahamas while still in Oxford. When Grandma Gardner came down in the Fall of '69 my mother decided that she did not want to go. Jesse told his mother to come back in the Spring and that I would go with her. We had three great cruises in the Caribbean, going to the Bahamas, Cape Haitian and Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, and Puerto Plato in the Dominican Republic, where the poverty was unbelievable. We went to three ports in Jamaica. Kingston, Montego Bay and Port Antonio. The ship had a program where families entertained the people on the cruise ship. Grandma and I were entertained by Mrs. Antonio whose husband was THE doctor for the 300 bed hospital in Port Antonio. We were impressed by the fact that the majority of the people were black, but the white people had all the money. Grandma was a great traveling companion.
In 1971 Karen married Danny Osborne in Miami. Janet was born March 31, 1972 and Sandy was born April 1, 1973. Sandy Osborne was named for Sandy Gardner. May 18, 1973, Sandy Gardner married Daniel Herman Hines at our city home.
The Best Vacation I Have Ever Had
In the summer of '72 we had, I think, the very best vacation ever. We tent-camped all the way from the Keys to Maine and back, a trip which took two months. Allan was fifteen and Frank was eleven, they were young enough that they enjoyed camping with Mom and Dad, but big enough that they pitched the tent each night and took it down in the morning. Our first stop was Sebring, Florida where Frank went to a Boy Scout camp for a week. Jesse, Allan and I rented a cottage on a lake for the week, a respite from life in the big city, and went fishing. I cannot remember each stop, but on July 4 we camped at Stone Mountain. near Atlanta, Georgia and saw fireworks. We explored Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, went to the Land of Oz, somewhere (I don't remember just where it was located), stopped in Hershey, Pennsylvania and saw them make chocolate candy. Frank wished he could lick the pans. The whole town smelled of chocolate. The street lights were in the shape of Hershey's kisses. In Connecticut we went to Mystic Seaport; in Massachusetts Mavis took us to an armory, where all sorts of armor were displayed including armor for horses and dogs. We camped in Maine at Hermit Island and saw our friends, Bertha and Ed Clark. We stopped in Connecticut on our way home. Denise had a big family picnic for us. All our children were there except Karen, who was in Florida. We left Connecticut taking Mary Lou Bush and Sandy Gardner with us. Our next stop was Washington, D.C. We had reservations at a Howard Johnson's. When we arrived they had a room for the girls, but not one for us. They made arrangements for us to have a suite across the street at the Watergate Hotel. Later when the Watergate scandal came to light, we realized that we were there at the time of the break-in which led to the scandal. While in Washington. we visited the FBI Building. We knew a fellow, Ken Goldman, whom we met through Teddy Zimmerman, the man for whom Allan worked, and he took us into rooms which the general public was not allowed. We also visited the Smithsonian Institute. We divided up into teams, Jesse and Allan. Mary Lou and Frank, and Sandy and I. Mary Lou and Frank had a great time, every so often they would find us and tell us about "something you ought to see." Sandy flew home after a three day stay. We took the Auto Train from Lorton, outside of Washington, to Sanford, Florida. It was quite an experience. Mary Lou stayed with us in Florida for a visit when we returned home. Allan became interested in ham radio and had quite a nice little set up in his room. He spent many hours "talking" to people all over the country and if I am not mistaken, also in other parts of the world. Frankie went into the candle making business. He had all sorts of molds and made some very beautiful candles. Years later when we moved to Lake City, Penny Goodwin still had some candles Frankie had given her. When I was about twelve or thirteen years old. I saw a movie which took place on an island. The house had draw draperies. At that time I knew of no one who had draw draperies. To me living on an island and having draw draperies was the utmost one could expect. One day I realized I was living on an island and had draw draperies. What more could one ask?
Activities in the South
While in Florida, Jesse, Allan and I took the Power Squadron Boating Course. Later Jesse joined the Squadron. Allan joined as a Junior member and I joined the Auxiliary. At that time women could not join the Power Squadron. Since then it has changed and women now hold any office. Jesse had several offices in the Squadron ending up as Commander in 1974. Mavis's Sandy had to have a kidney operation in the Spring of '72 and I went to Massachusetts to take care of James. At the time of the picnic at Denise's a few months later, he would look at me and then look away and hang onto his mother. He was a sweet baby and I enjoyed taking care of him. We had lots of company while in Florida. It was fun for we had our guest quarters where they could stay and have privacy. We would stock the refrigerator with breakfast food so they could either get up early or stay in bed. The guests would eat the other meals with us. All of our married daughters visited us several times, also my Aunt Maggie and Uncle Richards, my cousin Richard, his wife, Dianne, and their children, Mark and Matthew. Mark spent several weeks with our boys. Our friends, Joe and Marie Tyler, and Christine Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs and their daughter, Barbara, who later married Jesse's brother, Roger were among our guests. After Sandy and Daniel were married they stayed in the guest quarters for a couple of months. We joined the Methodist Church. Jesse was on the Official Board and I was the Church secretary. Toward the end of our stay in Florida, Jesse's mother had a series of mini strokes. We went up to Connecticut and brought her back with us. The strokes affected her mind and her attitude. She was always such a pleasant, easy going person, but her attitude and disposition changed. We could not make her happy. She had a friend, Mrs. Murphy, who came down to Islamarada each winter, but this winter had no place to stay, so we invited her to stay with us, hoping company for Mom would be the answer. They fought like two kids. Finally in the Spring she and Mrs. Murphy went home.
In the fall of '74 Sandy and Daniel invited us to visit them in San Diego. Don, who was in the Navy, had just been transferred to San Diego. Our friends, Philip and Doris Horton, offered to come and stay with the boys while we were in San Diego. We took our camper and went West. We liked San Diego, the weather was beautiful and there was so much to see and do. We had come to the conclusion that there was not much in the employment area for the boys except fishing and tourism, and we felt that they should have more opportunity than that. The irony of that is Allan went fishing in Alaska and Frank is in the restaurant business in Michigan, but we still feel that they would not have had much opportunity in the Keys. Also the house which was to be home for eight people only had four people in it. It was much too big. We decided to sell out and move to San Diego. We purchased a ten-acre lettuce field with a house. Before we left the Power Squadron gave Jesse a "going away" party. At this time there was a gasoline shortage and rumors were that on January 1, 1975, gasoline would be rationed. As it turned out it wasn't rationed, but we bought a van, which we felt we would need when we started our horse business. So in December, '74 Jesse and our good friend, Philip Horton, loaded up the van and drove to San Diego. A few days before Christmas. Don telephoned and asked if the boys could come for Christmas. I was to stay and sell the house. I took the boys to the airport and they flew to San Diego for Christmas with Jesse, Sue and Don. I went up to my Aunt Maggie and Uncle Richards's, which was like a second home to me. After Christmas I went back to Key Colony taking Beth Tiffany with me for a little vacation. Jesse flew back shortly after that. We decided to leave the house in the hands of a realtor. Together we drove once again to San Diego.
City Life in San Diego
When we first came to San Diego, Sandy, Daniel and we took a trip to Death Valley. It was there that we first saw date trees. Later on we would see lots of date trees when we moved to the desert. San Diego, in my mind, is America's Finest City as it likes to be called. The weather is almost perfect. In South San Diego, where we lived, you actually do not need heat nor air conditioning, and I believe it is the only place in these United States where that is the case. When we arrived in San Diego we had no furniture. One day our son-in-law, Don Hines, who was in the Navy, told us about a fellow Navy man who had a house full of furniture for sale. It included a couch, loveseat, two end tables, a king size bed, complete with bed linen including an electric blanket, a woman's chest of drawers with mirror and a man's bureau, two bedside tables, and a dining-room table with four chairs. All of this was being sold for $500.00. We contacted the fellow immediately and bought the furniture. The house was an old house for San Diego. It was built before they had inside plumbing. There was a staircase in the center of the house. Four bedrooms were upstairs, one on each corner of the house. However, by the time we arrived one bedroom had been made into a bathroom. The water pipes went up the outside of the house and never, to our knowledge, did they freeze. Downstairs on one side was a big living room with a dining area, the other side had a kitchen and another front room which we used for family dining. Jesse built cabinets in the kitchen for me. He also enclosed part of the back porch for storage. The house left a lot to be desired, but we were primarily interested in having a horse boarding ranch, and that took preference over all. There were several out-buildings on the land which were in fair condition. We were busy building horse stalls for the best part of four years. When the building was completed we could board 76 horses.
At one time, I believe, we had 72 boarding horses. Each stall had it's own waterer and salt block. We also had two hot walkers, a show ring and a five-acre exercise lot. We had barrels set up for gymkhana and jumps for hunter jumpers. Allan and Frank each had a horse. Allan enjoyed riding for pleasure. Frank, being of a competitive nature, enjoyed showing his horse and participating in gymkhana events. His specialty was "ride and pickup" and he participated in sztate wide competition. In the first summer that we were there, Frank wanted to go up into the San Francisco area to show his horse. Allan volunteered to drive him and the horse. We debated a bit whether to let them go, for it was a 600 mile trip with a horse trailer. We finally decided that Allan was responsible enough so off they went. In the fall, Frank wanted to take Driver Ed in school, but before he could do so he had to present our car insurance papers to the instructor. I went looking for the car insurance papers and found that the insurance had expired in April. but the Company had not notified us that they were dropping our insurance. I had three accidents the previous years so we were not considered a good risk. I always felt that they should have told us that they were not renewing the insurance, but was so thankful that the boys had made the trip without any mishaps.
We had not been in San Diego very long when we heard about the "gunion run." Every so often, when the tide and season are right, these little fish come ashore with the tide. As I remember it is always after midnight. We went one evening, or early morning; the beach was full of people. There were bonfires on the beach and everyone was catching gunion. One might call it a fiesta time. During the five years we were in San Diego, each Mother's Day I flew to Wallingford, Connecticut, to see my mother. The first couple of years I took her out to dinner. Then she wanted me to eat at the Masonic Home, which I did. I cannot say enough for the Masonic Home. In the dining room the men wore suits and the ladies had their best dresses, and all the ladies had their hair "done." Mother took delight in telling everyone that I came all the way from California to be with her on Mother's Day. Allan decided that he would like to learn the horse shoeing trade.
We found a school in Phoenix so we sent him off to school. He did very well and Jesse drove out in the van to bring him home with all his new equipment. The night that Jesse was gone was the only night that I spent in a house alone. I lived with my mother until I was married, then when Jesse was traveling for the Metal Hose there were children in the house. Frank was staying with Sandy nights at this time for Don was at sea. We had several friends visit us while we were in San Diego: Doris Horton, Joe & Marie Tyler, Jesse's brother, Ken, and his wife, Sylvia, who was called John, Mary Lou and Theresa Bush, and Jesse and Marlys Carson. I am sure there were more but cannot remember. In 1977 Karen wrote and asked if she could come to San Diego and stay with us a short time until she could get settled. We were delighted to have her and sent Allan to Florida to help her drive her car out to California. They arrived in San Diego, May 16, 1977, the same day that Sandy had her baby, Daniel Herman Hines, Jr. Sandy had a tack shop on the ranch. I had the pleasure of taking care of Daniel while she worked in the tack shop. It was a busy time with both boys home, Karen and her girls and Sandy and Don and Daniel close to the ranch.
We were two miles from the Ocean and two miles from the Mexican Border. It doesn't seem possible, but each night in the seven mile stretch from the Ocean inland the Border Patrol would catch 1.000 illegal Mexicans trying to cross over the Border. It was very sad to see so many desperate and poor people. At night the helicopter would hover overhead with search lights and round up fifty to a hundred people at a time. The Mexicans would pay anywhere up to $200.00 each to a "coyote" to take them across the Border and usually to Los Angeles. Almost every Sunday the Border Patrol would set up a road block in front of our house. They would stop the cars coming from the Border. I cannot remember how many times they would open a truck and five or six poor people would be stuffed into that trunk. We went over to Tijuana quite a few times, especially when we had company. Tijuana at that time was a real dirty mess. I understand that they cleaned up the city and had a real renovation downtown. We were advised not to take our car over the Border, for in Mexico you are guilty until proven innocent, and the Mexican citizen is always right. The last six months that Don Hines served in the Navy he was on Shore Patrol and one of his jobs was to take meals over to the Tijuana jail for the sailors who had landed in jail. In Mexico, at that time, prisoners had to furnish their own meals.
We had many pleasant times while at the Ranch. There were quite a few young girls about thirteen years old, who just loved their horses and spent many hours at the Ranch. At one time we had a vaulting team, which Sandy coached. We had a barrel upon which they practiced and then we bought a vaulting horse. Both Allan and Frank were in the vaulting team. We had quite a few dogs. Frank had a lab named Sam, who was one of the nicest dogs we ever had. We also had several Saint Bernards and even had a litter of pups. In 1978 we took a trip back to Key Colony Beach as the house had not sold. We were amazed at the condition of the house. The people to whom we had rented it stole a great deal and did a job on the house itself. Jesse and I painted the outside and a good part of the inside. Eventually we sold the house. June 11, 1978, our oldest granddaughter, Karen Bush, married Scott in Big Pine Key, Florida. Jesse and I had a good many nice trips while we were in San Diego. Between Allan. Frank. and Sandy the Ranch could very well run without us fora period of time. We visited Tombstone, Tucson and Bisbee, Arizona, also the southern California Desert. We went to the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, Montezuma's Castle, Montezuma's Well. Ginko Petrified Forest in Washington State, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Mt. Shasta, Winchester Castle, and the Mojave Desert, which we explored in our 4 x 4 and had a wonderful time. We explored the Colorado Desert. We had a 4 x 4 Chevrolet pick up truck upon which we put a small camper. It was just big enough for the two of us to sleep. When I mentioned sleeping in the camper I remember one day that Karen and Allan decided that they would go out into the desert early in the morning to see the sunrise. In the afternoon I received a phone call from Allan. The truck had broken down and they were stranded near Borrego. At that time Don's son, Anthony, was with Don, and Don told Anthony to go with me. We put Janet and Susie in the back of the camper and set off for the desert. We found Allan and Karen. In the meantime the mechanic at the garage to which they had hiked felt sorry for them and went out into the desert and towed the truck back to so-called civilization, and even fixed it for them. I followed Allan home. At first they had planned to take the girls, and we were so grateful that they had not taken them, for they had about a five mile hike after the truck broke down. The San Diego chapter would not be complete without mentioning Cathy Larson. Cathy was in the Navy and boarded her horse at our place. When her hitch was up she was not allowed to re-enlist. She took her unemployment and for six months did not work but spent all her time at the ranch. She was a big help - she would work harder and longer than anyone. She had her meals with us. Eventually she got a job.
One morning we were awakened early by someone pounding on our front door. We looked out the window and there were two policemen there. Jesse and I went downstairs; I went into the kitchen and there were two policemen at that door also. Jesse answered the door and was told that we were harboring fugitives. We assured them we were not. They asked if they could come in and look. We said "yes" so they went upstairs and Frank was sound asleep. They shook him and woke him up. Imagine his surprise to look into the faces of two policemen. They asked him what his name was and he told them. They then asked if they could look in the outbuildings. I asked them what they were looking for and why our place. They were looking for two young people from Ohio who were fugitives and they had phoned Ohio from our telephone. I explained to them that our telephone was not up to date and whenever a toll call was made the operator had to ask our number. Each month we had charges on our Jesse which were not ours and the telephone company deducted them when we called. Hearing that they did not bother to look in the out buildings. About a month later we had a collect call from Ohio to one of these people. We did not accept the call, but did call the P.D. to tell them about it. We never knew if it was a legitimate call or if it was the P.D. In 1979 we were tired of working and decided to sell the Ranch. Sandy and Don wanted to buy it. so we sold it to them. In the meantime Allan joined the Coast Guard and Karen married Philip Hutchinson in Reno. Nevada on March 21, 1979. Frank graduated from High School in June and was to board with a friend and at that time planned to go to college on a wrestling scholarship. However, after a short time he decided to go to work full-time.
Sandy had a big party for us just before we left the Ranch. The plaque they gave us hangs on our wall. We moved the furniture over the mountain to Salton City where we purchased a two bedroom home. Life in the city was somewhat different.