Please comment on this page to share your memories of Anna. Thanks!
Funny stories I’d like to share. I hope they make you smile like Anna always did for me:
1. She met Dana because of ladder back chairs. She was living in New York City. I think she was moving some chairs and he saw her and told her what sort of chairs they were. When they went on their first date she ran down to her favorite shop and told them she had to have the most attractive swimsuit for a very important date. She ended up picking one of those old fashioned (50’s style?) swimsuits with slinky sides and a tight skirt around the bottom. Even at an old age when I knew her, she claimed that it helped her win his heart. That and the fact that she could cook. She told me that Dana’s mother was never a very good cook. That one of the few things she managed to do ok was peas. Dana and his father were so happy she could make something that she mistakenly assumed they just loved peas. It took them a long time to tell her that they did not in fact love peas.
2. Dana said he was more afraid of meeting her dalmatian than her father.
3. She was working as a chemist when she was young. Dana actually told her that she was the first thing about chemistry he ever really liked. She had actually wanted to go to med school but a lot of people had discouraged her. While working as a chemist she was doused in acid and spent a few months in the hospital all wrapped up in bandages. It was so quiet in her room she could hear her orchid open one day. Later in her life when I knew her and we would bake, she said as a chemist she had to make quantitative exchanges (which was her way of telling me i should scrape the bowl more and not waste anything)
4. When she was 25 she was laying in a hammock that was hung on a great big (oak?) tree. thinking she couldn’t believe she was 25 and that she felt so old. She lived in a back house behind these 2 couples who had combined their yards so their dogs could have a space to play together. One day, her and one of the couples took the dogs out to the nearby lake. One of the dogs promptly found a skunk and was sprayed. Anna spent the whole car ride home praying the smell didn’t stick to herself or her dog.
5. She loved flowers and plants in general. Her house was always full of them. When she worked in the garden she used what she called the “french over planting system”. She didn’t like the flowers and plants to be organized by type. We would put one tomato one place and another other places. She also didn’t quite understand the planting of palm trees because she said when they made shade they made it 3 blocks away. She preferred Liquid Ambers even above trees like Jacarandas which produce rather sparse shade. She also knew the names of all sort of plants and taught them to me. You could show her just about anything and she would know the name of it. She also hated dyed flowers. Evelyn gave us a bright pink dyed orchid that was half done and she made us stick it outside so she didn’t have to look at it.
6. She would also get the best deals on plants. She would fill up her shopping cart with $300 worth of flowers then she would talk them into giving her all sorts of discounts.
7. When she was younger she sold tickets to the symphony. If people didn’t seem interested she would light a cigarette (which meant they couldn’t throw her out because ladies didn’t smoke on the sidewalk). She laughed that it was sort of bad but it was for a good cause. This way she sold more tickets than anyone else.
8. Once, for a job that didn’t require it they made her take a dictation test (because she was a woman). She was so mad, she went outside, took a Valium, came back in and typed something like 120 words per minute perfectly then walked out and never came back.
9. When she first met Dana’s parents they had a broken cuckoo clock at their house that they had taken to a few repair shops with no luck. She some how managed to fix it but she regretted fixing it because every hour it made noise that seem to say “look at how smart Anna is” and it actually made her feel quite embarrassed.
10. One summer she went to this party and wore a red hat. She was sweating so much (because it was really hot). When she went inside she realized that she had a big red line across her forehead so she had to keep the hat on.
11. Once she went to a party and wore a wig and no one recognized her. She also said she thought it would be fun to dress in a full body guerrilla suit on Halloween but the suits were so hot she couldn’t stand to stay in one. Speaking of Halloween, she had a witch hat she liked to wear. She also liked giving out crackers instead of candy. She carved her pumpkin with a kitchen knife because “why do I need a pumpkin carving knife?”. we set the pumpkin on some books on the kitchen table facing out. Then we turned off all the lights in the kitchen/house and sat in the dark so it could: “look like Halloween.”
12. She was known by some at USC as the women with the “sensible shoes”. She also said how she loved her feet so much. She was sad she messed one up because she broke it and kept walking on it for a few months.
13. She always loved to look fabulous. We would try on an outfit and if it didn’t feel quite right for the occasion we would go back and change her into something that “Felt right”. I think she always knew intuitively what looked good. I knew that if she tried something on and said she wasn’t sure about it we would leave the house with her wearing something completely different. I remember this year she was trying to decide which scarf and hat to send out to you and her granddaughters and which to keep for herself. I took a picture of her in the different options and we agreed that beige on beige wasn’t quite the thing for her
14. Once their dog tore up the interior of their car when Dana was president of the University Club of Los Angeles. He was so embarrassed Anna had to park the car off campus so no one would see it. she eventually took it to Sears and back then they reupholstered car interiors.
15. She also loved the rain. We would collect all the rain water and if it was raining she loved to go outside. Her other caregiver sent me a story “on a Sunday night I was cooking dinner for Anna and I saw that it was raining out side so I told her “Anna, it’s raining outside”. Her face brightened up. She seemed so excited and she told me: ‘let’s go outside’ so I took her. We just stood out in the rain and felt it drop on us until it stopped. When it rained, she also loved to go through the puddles with her trolley and clean the wheels.”
16. One of her caregivers, Aura, brought her a giant squash from her yard. Anna was so excited we stuck the whole thing in the toaster oven to bake.
17. She also loved Scrabble and word games. A lot of the time she would manage to scrabble while we played.
18. When she traveled she always loved to have a polka dot suit case with a homemade yarn pompom. She said she wanted it to be so horrid and bright that so no one would want to take it or accidentally mistake it for their own. Once when she was traveling with Ann Josie in China. She liked to stay up and read while “Ann Josie goes to bed with the chickens.” unfortunately Ann Josie had recently heard a story of 2 people had been traveling and one person had fallen in the bathroom (?) and died. One night she was up late reading in the bathroom and Ann Josie burst in and exclaimed “I thought you were dead!” and then they both just laughed.
19. I’m sure she told you about the saga of Jim and James. She and Evelyn used to sit with these 2 men. James didn’t have the best short term memory and would often get stuck on an idea and repeat himself. Jim on the other hand was highly negative. He initially accused his children of trying to take all his money so Anna and Evelyn decided to help him. She called in a favor to get him a free neurological assessment and connected him with her lawyer. Unfortunately he turned out not to be such a friendly character. He never payed Anna’s lawyers as he had done (apparently) with all his previous lawyers. And it became apparent that much of his drama was self created problem. It was sort of a long ordeal but It did show me that she really tried her best to always help and advocate for the people around her even when they weren’t very positive people
20. She met Evelyn when she was living at the Terraces after she broke her neck. They almost immediately established that they had a mutual friend Patsy Ketchum. She said over and over again that Evelyn saved her from extreme boredom at the terraces. They would always call each other up and invite one another over for a game of Scrabble and an ice cream bar. After Evelyn fell Anna bought a travel Scrabble board but opened it up so Evelyn didn’t know she’d bought it new. Then she just laughed and said “I’m not sure why I needed to make her think it wasn’t new”. She also worked to help Evelyn get a caregiver (because she’s a very proud woman who wouldn’t always accept help and always needed to be reminded/made to wear a seat belt.). Politically they didn’t agree, but they really loved each other a lot and brought so much happiness and excitement to each others lives.
21. I guess there was some sort of old tv show where a coroner was examining a body and said “coreopsis has set in”. As she (of course) and Dana knew coreopsis was actually a flower.Every time the two of them saw it growing they would say that exact line and laugh. She actually planted some in the back yard of her house on Paloma and the joke never got old every time we saw them.
22. Once a young woman activist came to our door asking if we had a minute to let her talk with us about bees. initially we told her we weren’t interested. but then as I was asking her what she’d like to do Anna saw the activist walking across the street through her kitchen window and said she’d like me to call her back so we can hear about the bees. The girl came in and gave her speech then Anna told the girl a story about how she had saved a hive of bees that had made their home in her house. Bill built this bee box that they had propped up on the side of the house which allowed the bees to come in but not out. I think it ended up costing something like $3000 or $4000 but they saved the bees.
23. A few years ago there was a great storm in Pasadena that knocked over a lot of trees. During which time she was going to Europan (which she called “Sumi’s” because she knew Sumi the owner) with Bill (her handyman). they saw that the tree out front was bent over and had all about broken in the wind. She then became determined to save the tree. She and Bill rushed home to get some sticks and ties and returned back to prop the tree up and protect it. After that every time she passed it should would proudly say “that’s my Ginkgo Tree!” and it was something to be proud of! To this day it’s the tallest and happiest looking tree on the block
I helped take care of your mom for about a year and a half and saw first hand what a truly amazing, brilliant, funny, and generous person she was. I will really miss her but feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her. I wish you and your family all the best in this upcoming new year.
-Sophia Watkins (caregiver)