Reconstructing history is an iffy process. If someone doesn’t write about an incident right after it happens, as Rose would do in her “famous" diary, we then have to rely on memory. And memory, as anyone knows, is fallible. But in Rose’s case, when I interviewed a few of her friends, they were all consistent in what they said about her. All agreed that Rose is thoughtful, loving, caring, dependable and always smiling.
As for the diary itself, many years have passed, and if it still exists, it’s probably put away somewhere for “safe-keeping” —waiting to be rediscovered. Therefore, I can only give you flickers of Rose’s life; things that she remembers, or that her friends tell me. But I hope it will be enough to understand the essence of Rose.
The subject of the “famous diary” was brought up by Betty Rodahl.
“Rose kept a diary. Not just a regular diary, but a diary that also listed travels and every-day incidences that happened to Rose, as well as her friends. Anytime someone forgot a particular date, Rose was the go-to person.”
Who knows how this got started? To quote Albert Einstein, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Maybe too many disagreements were popping up on dates and events, and Rose—ever the organizer—covered the need.
Where there is no doubt is that Rose (and late husband Joe) both enjoyed their parenting years. To use a much used cliché, the years passed by quickly for them because they were so involved in their kids’ schooling, and in all of their extra-curricular activities.
“I remember Rose and Joe being very supportive parents to Michael and Dina,” says Sharon Ainsworth. “They sacrificed themselves as parents.”
Rose only recalls the enjoyment of it all and chaperoning on many of her kids’ activities. Michael, for instance, belonged to Jack Kelly’s Holtville Junior High School award winning marching band. Of those outings, Rose remembers two special occasions: watching the band perform in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade and accompanying them to Disneyland.
Dina played basketball, and Rose and Joe made sure to be at all her games. Both Michael and Dina were year-round competitive swimmers, quite a commitment. Nevertheless, Rose and Joe would take them wherever they needed to go, whether it was local or out of town.
There are also memories of how friends remember Rose in the workplace. Bunny Hartshorn, a Finley teacher at the time, remembers working with Rose.
“Rose would always go the extra mile to help you out. She always knew where everything was,” Bunny recalls.
Her husband, Charles Hartshorn, adds, “There was a child in the classroom who had very serious reading problems. That year, Rose worked with her on a one to one basis. That same child eventually went on to graduate from college.”
Not that everything was work. Rose also knew how to enjoy herself. For instance, Kathy Toth remembers their favorite pastime was going out to eat and engaging in hearty laughter.
On the theme of laughter, Rodahl adds another memory: “Every Friday, after the football games, we would all head out to Rose and Joe’s house and just sit around talking, eating home-made dessert, and laughing. It was the perfect ending for the day.”
Rose has been a member of the Holtville Woman’s Club since she was a young married woman. It’s a touching and historical fact that many of the women who attended back then (about 30-40 years ago) still attend now.
Women such as Shirley Daniell, Judy Santistevan, Sharon Ainsworth, Mary Jane Kirchenbauer, Pat Salcido, Dorothy Kelly, Paula Daniel, and Joanie Thornburg, just to mention a few. It is a living testament to the longevity and the energy of the women living here in the Imperial Valley.
Bridge is major component of the club, and Rose happened to be an excellent bridge player. At some point she served as the club’s bridge chair, ran its bridge marathon and, as if that weren’t enough, was also its amenities chair.
Apparently, not tuckered out with so much bridge playing, Rose, along with Mary Jane Kirchenbauer, Sharon Ainsworth, and Judy Santistevan, and their corresponding spouses, formed another bridge group separate from the Woman’s Club.
Says Santistevan, “She always brought great baked desserts. We all wanted the recipes, so we’d write them on the back of the score cards. Rose was good at keeping track of everyone else’s cards. Every time she made a bid, we knew she had a winning hand.”
She adds, “Besides, Joe and Rose were a perfect match. He was a joker, and Rose laughed at all his jokes.”
Paula Daniels confirms this, saying, “Those two were always together and always happy. They had a very close relationship.”
However, there are many moments in Rose’s life when the need to care and help sparkled brightly. I repeatedly heard that Rose was the first to send a get-well card or a sympathy card, but her caring (as well as Joe’s) extended further than that.
“When my husband John passed away, Rose and Joe were the first ones to arrive and offer support,” Kirchenbauer remembers. “I am very grateful that they were there.”
Santistevan echoes the same sentiment, saying, “When my husband unexpectedly collapsed, Rose and Joe were there to help. They were the first ones anyone called.”
Maybe Lewis Carroll, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was thinking of people like Rose and Joe when he wrote: “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”
Marcia R. Jennings is a member of the Holtville Woman’s Club.