You wouldn’t know that Barbara Mollison has called Sterling Court home for just a few short months as she has settled in like it’s been home for years. Perhaps that’s because San Mateo has been her home for the past 43 years. When it was time to downsize from the family home, she knew Sterling Court would be just right for her. One of her daughters helped her to select her first-floor apartment that looks out over the verdant garden courtyard. It was here that I first met Barbara as she was enjoying time with new friends on a beautiful summer-like day.
Anyone who loves bridge will certainly have met Barbara by now. She plays bridge almost every day and you can be sure she’s quite good at the game having played it since she was 16 years old! She was quick to tell me “I can’t imagine sitting and doing nothing.” As we started talking about her life’s journey, it was apparent that she’s always been doing something – raising children, traveling, flower arranging, and more.
At 16, something else very special happened in Barbara’s life – she met her husband (a fellow bridge player as well!). They got married when she was 22 and were married for 43 years. In the early days, her husband was at the Annapolis Naval Academy and Barbara worked in a doctor’s office. They had 3 children and moved around as he was stationed at different ports – Connecticut, Florida, and Norfolk, Virginia to name a few.
The entire family also experienced living internationally when they were stationed in Japan for over 4 years and the children were quite young. “I loved living in Japan and loved the people. We lived on the naval base and it was a great experience.” It was here that Barbara learned her passion for flower arranging.
I was interested to know how the family got to California and was surprised by the answer. “Our daughter said, ‘everyone lives in California and I want to live there too’.” And, so they did (and to this day, all three children still live in California, two right here in San Mateo and Hillsborough and one in San Diego).
After Barbara’s husband died, her love of travel didn’t wane. She enjoyed immersing herself in the local culture of places like Africa, China, England, France, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. But mind you there are plenty of places in the US she loves as well having mentioned Boston and Philadelphia.
When Barbara is not playing bridge, you might catch her in the library looking for a new mystery novel, attending lectures here or at the San Mateo Senior Center as she likes to stay informed, visiting with any of her 6 grandchildren, or hopping on the bus for an outing. Barbara’s children encouraged her to downsize and join a new community feeling that it would be “less lonesome for her.” They were certainly right. For Barbara, there’s no time to be lonesome at Sterling Court!
At Sterling Court, we love to promote healthy, active, independent living. It’s amazing what fresh air (have you been enjoying the great weather recently?) and even a short walk around the block (the leaves are almost ready to change so no better time to get out than in the fall) can do for your overall well-being. And what about all those classes we offer? There
is something for everyone and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends. We always want to hear your ideas for new classes or events, so stop by the front desk and share with us.
In the meantime, we ran across a few tidbits recently that can promote positivity in your living space – and who doesn’t love that? Research shows that our immediate sur- roundings can have a tremendous impact on our physical and mental health. Take a moment to assess your apart- ment. What sort of changes could you make, big or small, to help bring a fresh start every day into your life? Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
A full life can lead to full shelves… and closets. Some of your belongings are surely worth keeping, but many other items may be doing nothing more than taking up space. Enlist the help of friends and family to help you lift and sort through your belongings. You’ll be surprised at what you can donate or toss out. Once the process is finished, you’ll have beautiful new free space for those things that are meaningful to you. Perhaps some new books, family photos, or space for your hobbies.
Are your side tables filled up with framed pictures of loved ones? Consider getting a few wall-hanging frames to leave table space for other objects and general use. Many stores and websites offer multi-panel hanging frames to display photos — ideal for family collages.
Wall frames are great, but you can take things a step further by using digital frames (drop a hint to a family member for one as a holiday present 😁 ). Digital frames cycle through hundreds of your favorite photos on a single, space-eﬃcient screen that easily sits on a shelf or piece of furniture. If you’re computer savvy, this can be a snap to set up. Otherwise, recruit a techie friend (or come to one of our computer classes) to help get your photos digitized. This also makes it easy to update with any new photos as you receive them via texts and emails.
Continuing down the digital path, you may have several other possessions – VHS tapes, vinyl records, CDs – that could be converted into digital formats and free up tons of space. There are companies in the area that will convert your music and videos recordings to smaller files for storage. This is Silicon Valley after all .
Keep your mobility ﬂowing by making sure there is plenty of space to walk within your apartment without running into anything. Seems obvious but moving one piece of furniture might make it easier for you. Or perhaps adding a new small piece might be helpful for your keys and phone.
And speaking of furniture, this can be one of the best things to consider for a fresh start! Are you taking full advantage of the sliding glass door and the natural light it brings into your apart- ment? Is your furniture placed to allow for the views that are outside your door and windows? Do you make a point of open- ing the curtains every day for natural light? Would a change in furniture placement be a benefit for how you use your space for watching tv or working on hobbies? Sometimes just relocating a chair and a small table to the other side of the room can open up how you navigate your space and, most importantly, enjoy the views. A few simple changes can make all the difference.
On the day Gerald Caudle was born, his family was given a devastating decision to make.
They lived on a farm in a small town in Oklahoma. When Gerald’s mother went into labor, his father jumped on their horse to fetch the doctor. Later, the doctor announced, “I can only save one of them” and asked which one that should be.
“My mother’s sisters said to save her,” said Gerald, “but we both made it. My mother lived to be 34 days short of 100 and I’m 85 years old.” Just a year after Gerald’s birth, his brother was born.
This was the 1930s, when Oklahoma was known as “The Dust Bowl”. By 1934, the Great Plains were a desert and Gerald’s dad couldn’t make money farming, so he and his brother took the family west.
“My dad knew he had an uncle in Modesto, California, so three adults and two kids crammed into a Model T,” remembered Gerald. When they arrived after the 1,700-mile drive, they didn’t have an address for their uncle, so they hung around the post office until he happened to show up.
The family picked peaches at a local farm. Gerald’s dad and Uncle James were good workers but at the end of that first day got “paid with
change.” They ate a lot of flour gravy and biscuits in those days. Ultimately their dedication paid off because the family was able to work that one farm and put down roots. Gerald’s dad built a home that stayed in the family until 2014!
As a teen, Gerald worked in a lumber yard. His boss noticed his aptitude with numbers and promoted him to work in the accounting department. Gerald went to night school for advanced accounting and of the 60 people who started in the class, he was among the 6 who finished. He and his brother then attended the new Sacramento State College and worked part time.
“We got an apartment above a garage and I made $300 a month. Th at’s when gasoline was 17 cents a gallon and McDonald’s had two cheeseburgers, two shakes, and fries for a dollar,” he said, so he felt pretty rich.
Gerald’s parents showed up at his graduation ceremony with a letter. “It said, ‘Greetings’ – so I was drafted,” he recalled. It was peacetime and he had hopes of being stationed in France but ironically, found himself back in Oklahoma. Using his accounting skills for the Army, he also made extra money doing taxes in the evening and his supervisor encouraged him to become a CPA.
After the Army, he joined an accounting firm and became a partner. He lived in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill for 38 years, had a view of the City, frequented clubs such as the Purple Onion and hungry i, and ran 5 to 10 miles every day. He loved City life. After 20 years as a CPA, Gerald left to become the Controller at a firm called Nurserymen’s Exchange in Half Moon Bay where he worked until retirement.
One thing that becomes apparent throughout Gerald’s story is that he is grateful to every person, family member, professor, or supervisor who ever encouraged and helped him along his journey. His cozy Sterling Court apartment is filled with mementos of a life well-lived – including a photo of him and his brother on that farm in Modesto.
ALL QUIET ON THE POTOMAC
This phrase means peaceful and undisturbed; a time of ease or quiet enjoyment. The saying comes from the frequent repetition of the phrase in bulletins issued during the War Between the States, 1861-1865. The original expression has been ascribed to General George B. McClellan (1826-1885) who was in command of the Army of the Potomac in 1861 and 1862. He received much criti- cism in Washington because of his lack of aggressiveness in pursuing the war against the rebels of the South.
The phrase sometimes is used as “All quiet along the Potomac,” from the poem, “The Picket-Guard” (1861) by Ethel Lynn Beers.
Following is the sixth stanza:
“All quiet along the Potomac tonight, No sound save the rush of the river, While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,
The picket’s off-duty forever.”
TO RAISE CAIN
In the United States, one “raises Cain” when he or she causes a distur- bance. The saying refers to the first child of Adam and Eve, Cain who killed his brother, Abel. Cain was jealous of Abel and his anger knew no end. Cain’s name has been associated ever since the Bible was written with losing one’s temper and causing a real problem in society.
AT LOOSE ENDS
A person, with not much to do, is said to be “at loose ends.” During the days of the windjammers and other great sailing vessels, rigging grew more complex. On many ships, there were, literally, hundreds of ropes.
If these ropes had been left free to unravel, a hopeless tangle would have resulted, so every ship’s master prided himself on the good condition of his “ends” – the taped end of his ropes on board. And when other work was
slack, the captain might just put his sailors to work repairing the loose ends of the ropes. Such a ship’s master was accused by his men of ordering such work to keep the men occupied and they were working at the “loose ends of the ropes.”
Have you ever been at loose ends with just busy-work to do?
Frank and Lena Venturelli have done it all together. The longtime San Mateo residents, married 68 years this July, owned and operated a successful business and raised two children. Along the way, they also became something they never expected: pioneers.
Frank was a TV Technician who also installed antenna systems. In the 1960s, when Foster City was in its infancy, the city wouldn’t allow antennas on rooftops as per city ordinance and by-laws since the flight paths of planes landing at SFO passed directly overhead.
“People had to use rabbit ears to get reception,” Frank said. “A plane would pass overhead every two or three minutes, causing the TV picture to flutter, becoming unviewable.”
Frank saw an opportunity. Along with his brother-in-law Al Cerro, he approached the Foster brothers in 1966 with the idea of installing cable television in Foster City. A deal was struck, the company Cer-Vent Cable TV was born, and Frank helped to change the way Foster City residents watched television.
“We installed 70 miles of cable,” Frank said, while showing me newspaper clippings from the time heralding the deal. “We were offering 12 channels, which was a big deal back then. It’s unbelievable to me what cable is today.”
Lena was Frank’s partner in the business – “She was our right-hand ‘man’,” Frank recalled – and wore several hats, from bookkeeper, to saleswoman, to receptionist. Together, they kept things going until they couldn’t keep up with the demands of the rapidly-expanding city. They sold Cer-Vent Cable in 1968 to Continental Telephone and used the profits to buy a portion of the Burlingame Plaza Shopping Center (with Lunardi’s as one of their tenants) which they still own today. Frank kept his TV Sales and Repair business until he retired, and now assists his son David and nephew Alan Cerro in running the shopping center.
Frank and Lena moved to Sterling Court last July and immediately felt at home. They already knew a few other residents before moving in and have made more friends along the way. Frank even met another resident who was in his high school senior class.
“There are great people here,” Frank said. “They’re friendly and the staff is great. They just really treat you well here.” They’re also big fans of the food. “It’s hard to get thin here!” Frank said, laughing.
The couple stays busy, enjoying many of the activities offered at Sterling Court. Frank even makes time to entertain the other residents with his accordion, which he’s played since childhood. They’re also active members of the Peninsula Social Club and enjoy spending time with their two children, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Frank and Lena’s impressive business acumen is admirable, but it’s their personal story that resonates the most. It’s a testament to the strength of their relationship that they have accomplished so much while staying at each other’s side along the way. Raising an amazing family and shepherding a pioneering business are great triumphs on their own, but to do both is something truly special.
When they met through a mutual friend who happened to be working on Lena’s family home, both felt it was love at first sight. It’s safe to say that they were right.
We can help with apartment availability and scheduling tours, or send an application for residence. Let us know what you are interested in learning more about and how we can help you!