Friday, December 9, 2011

Alice Irving

My mother, Alice Irving (b. 1920 d. 2003)
My Maternal Grandfather

My Maternal Grandmother

Far right in white dress: My maternal grandmother in England with family, friends, and staff, 1800's

My maternal grandmother at age 25, 1918

My mother crowned homecoming queen at Teacher's College, Spokane, Washington

"Just Married"

For ten years mother lived the roving life of a Navy wife in California, Nebraska, Missouri and then back to Washington. In 1959, she returned to Cathlamet with a divorce and three small children. She resumed teaching in Cathlamet at Wahkiakum High School where I was fortunate to have her for a teacher. Did I have a choice? Wah-Ki-Hi had approximately 200 students and mother taught a lot of classes (i.e., world history, debate, speech, drama, etc.) It's a good thing we got along so well but still I worked the hardest in her classes...

After twenty-one years of hard work as a beloved, highly admired educator she retired in 1981 and moved to Boston for a year. Then, on to France  where she found a 16th century stone farmhouse in the small village of  Lemere.  For the next ten years she lived the good life in the Loire Valley and travelled extensively throughout Europe. I can't think of anyone who deserved it more! I'm grateful that she finally had an opportunity to do something for herself as she had, for a very long time, sacrificed and supported so many others.

Steeple of Old Pioneer Church where my parents were married in 1948.
View of the Columbia River from the Victorian mother found for us after
she returned to Cathlamet, Washington in 1958.

Population sign for my hometown when I was growing up  (late 50's-60's).

View of Columbia River from balcony of house where mother raised me and my two siblings in Cathlamet, WA.

Sitting with mother on front stoop of military housing complex in Alameda, CA, July 1953.

My father serenades us during a rare leave home from sailing the seven seas. (early 50's)

My father teaching me to shoot a bow and arrow.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 1956

Playing in the woods with Mom and Dad
Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park (August, 1953)

From left: Scott, Robin, and Laurie in the 1950's

Article in the Longview Daily News on dinner theater opening in Cathlamet

"Alice Irving's forte..."

I.C. Productions opens their first theater-in-the-round production with "The Owl and the Pussy Cat.

Letter from The Daily News praising Pierre's Restaurant and Cathlamet dinner theater

Article in The Oregonian about theater growing as mother prepares to begin new chapter

This is where mother lived her first year in France (1981-1982) after moving from Boston

Mother's house in Lemere, France

Mother spent a decade in this 16th century stone farmhouse in the Loire Valley after her retirement as an educator. She made a lot of new friends and met a wide variety of interesting expatriates. She didn't know how to speak french when she first arrived...

She lived in the small village of Lemere located 15 kilometres from Chinon where high castle walls overlook the peaked rooftops of the old town bordered by the Vienne River. This is where Joan of Arc delivered the fateful message to Charles VII, King of France, in 1429 informing him that he was the rightful heir of Charles VI. It is also the birthplace of Rabelais and the setting for his tales of Gargantua and Pantagruel.

View of sunflowers mother had from her house in Lemere.

"Winter Tree"
A photograph I took at mother's house in Lemere.

Chateau de la Vrillaye, Chaveignes

Mother was a good friend of the owner and enjoyed many soirees here with friends. During winter holidays I joined them for the annual New Years Eve dinner and dance at the chateau.

Mom testing her wheels coming out of a side gate at her place in the Loire.

Teacher's words echoed

A teacher's impact continues to amaze
A letter from Julia Butler Hansen

My letter to the editor of the Wahkiakum County Eagle after mother's passing

San Francisco resident imagines country life in city

San Francisco resident writes on the spirit of home

Alice Irving (1920-2003)
Difficulties Delight Us (Family Crest Motto)

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic and power in it."
I'll never forget the day mother returned to Cathlamet to resume her teaching career after the divorce with three small children in tow. It wasn't long before she bought this noble, elegant old house in the most exclusive part of town and resurrected it to give us a home. 

In Cathlamet, Washington this Victorian on the hill, the historic West house, manor of my youth still stands proudly over the Columbia River. Palm trees didn't used to hide the entrance and there were two huge weeping willows on the right that were for some reason removed.  


Our balcony in the old house had to be replaced after falling into front yard during the infamous Columbus Day Storm October 12, 1962 (in photo it hasn't yet been painted).


When I left home for the first time mother gave me a silver bracelet with one round little charm on it engraved simply with the word, Live. I have no idea what happened to it. At times, I miss it and imagine its still there, dangling from my left wrist. Its out there somewhere in the universe. Now, many years later, I take comfort in knowing that I followed her advice. My mother was the most enlightened, funniest, and generous person I've ever known.  She loved unconditionally with limitless trust and an open heart and mind. She will always be my hero - I owe everything to her...

"In the time of your life, live!"
                                                                           -William Soroyan

Dear Class of 1948.....

     Thank you for the invitation to your 50th reunion. As you may or may not remember, I was married in the "Old Congregational" Church shortly after your graduation. For ten years, I lived the roving life of a Navy wife: California, Nebraska, Missouri, and then back to Washington. In 1959, I returned to Cathlamet, with a divorce and three small children. I resumed teaching and spent the next 21 years at Wahkiakum High School, where I had the privilege of teaching some of your kids. I retired in 1981 and moved to Boston, Ma. for a year and then on to France for the next ten years--living the good live and travelling throughout Europe.
     Finally, my kids issued an ultimatum, and I came "HOME" to Cathlamet in time for Christmas, 1992.
     Thank you for the wonderful memories, for sharing your kids and for making my life so full.

                                                                                             Alice Irving