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L P Underberg's Life Stories

Updated on August 4, 2017

Handwritten stories from Mom's files

These early writings show a real snapshot of her life and feelings. I hope you can read them well enough to enjoy. I thought it better to download them as she wrote them.

Franklin Roosevelt


Mom couldn't tell this story without tears. I am glad that I was able to read of my grandfather. I came to know him through the times my mother and grandfather talked of him, and from her stories and notes she wrote of him.

Memory Journal from College in her 50's

My mother took a creative writing class when she returned to college in her 50's. She loved it. One of her assignments was to make a list of memories that she could later write about. Here is her list.

How my Mom met my Father


A note on the drawing below

I was in the ministry with my mother in 1986. We were at a home bible study with a wonderful woman who later was baptized. But it had been a long day, and since I have ADD, I was having trouble keeping my attention. So as the two of them studied, I took a pen from my mother's purse and a note paper and drew this. Mom got such a kick out of it all these years. She showed it to anyone who would love a laugh, and for years it hung in her office alongside her certificates. I hope you enjoy!

Drawing of Mom


Letter of appreciation to Rust Family


Poem written to her heart surgeons


Mom's memorial announcement

This is Mom's memorial announcement in the paper.
This is Mom's memorial announcement in the paper. | Source

Women's Lib


Sometimes a poem was for a specific event or person


A poem for Baby (Names are changed to fit new baby)


Poem written for Chuck and Lora upon their marriage


Baptism Poem, (Names changed for each recipient)


My Life Experiences

scanned from Mom's file
scanned from Mom's file | Source
Scanned from Pat Underberg's files
Scanned from Pat Underberg's files | Source
Scanned from Mom's files
Scanned from Mom's files | Source

LaVonnie Patricia Hildreth, McCabe, Underberg

My mother passed away on October 31st of 2016. She would have gotten a huge laugh out of dying on Halloween. She had a wonderful sense of humor. On her last year of life, she traveled to New York and to Arizona. She went on two camping trips, which she loved. She met her great great grandchildren. On her last weekend, she attended a congregation party, a bonfire, and visited with all of her friends. On her last day of life, she attended the meeting at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, went out to lunch with the speaker, and spent the rest of the afternoon in the ministry. On her last night, she called her grand daughter, Tiffiny, to tell her she loved her, and she called me. I hadn't called her for a couple of days, so she said what she always said when that happened, "Remember me, your mother!" lol. She was happy, looking forward to our trip planned for the next week, and felt loved by her friends and family. That night she died in her sleep. I was so blessed to have had her not only as my friend, but as my mother. Until we meet again, Mom...

I have found a few of her writings that didn't make it into her blog. So I'm adding them over the next few days. I will add some photos to her blogs as well, so you can see what we remember. I'm sure all of you would love to read more of her stories and poems. Enjoy!



My husband was a cad and our marriage ended when he ran off with our Babysitter. But one thing he loved and passed on that love to me was a love of camping. We traveled around the US doing nightclub shows, and we camped instead of getting a motel. After he ran off with the baby sitter, I began studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. It was so exciting and so reasonable. I decided that truly the Bible was from God, and the advice in it would straighten out my life. Needless to say, that was quite an undertaking for me because I had a lot of changing to do to straighten a disaster of life I had made for myself. The most important thing I had to do was earn a living. I had a mother and three very young children to support. The only thing I knew what to do was dancing, and my type of dancing would not do if I wanted to be a Jehovah's Witness. So I was thrust into the work world. I met a man who convinced me to educate myself as an accountant. So I signed up for a correspondence course from La Salle Extension University based in Chicago, and made a stab at it. I was able to comprehend the basics, but I had to get a job before finishing the course. The job I got was bookkeeping. Well, Accountants earn plenty, but bookkeepers earn not much. It was a super struggle to survive on that low wage. I said to myself “you don't have much coming in, but you can learn how to stretch a dollar and make do.” So that was what happened.! We were very poor but somehow we made it.

I loved camping, as I said at the beginning, but how can this happen. I worked Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and very little time to play at anything. Also I had no camping equipment. But one day at work someone gave an old tent to me, somehow we acquired sleeping bags too. Things were looking up!

One day when there was a three day holiday, I asked my boss if I could take one day of my vacation and go one day early to find a campground. This way our nice long weekend would start a day earlier than everyone and we would be able to get a campsite. Everyone thinks Arizona is hot, but Arizona has mountains. I heard on the radio that for every thousand feet elevation it is 2 degrees cooler. The mountain range at Kohl's Ranch (near Payson, Az.) Is about 8,000 (or more) ft higher. Let's go there! We scrimped and saved and planned for about a month for this first vacation. We bought an ice chest. We gathered up wood and newspapers so we could have a nice cozy campfire. My mom said she was too old to camp and she had her own money, so she rented a cabin at Kohl's ranch for that weekend. We also invited our long time friend, Louie, who had become like part of our family Louie was absolutely necessary, he could play guitar and he knew the old time camping songs I knew. We were going to have a great time.

We bought hot dogs. mustard, pickle relish, potato salad, marshmallows, eggs and sausage. I was packing it all on our station wagon roof, and was tying it all on with a rope and tarp, and Louie said “it's going to rain”. I said “shut up Louie. I put too much effort on this to call it off.” We must have squeezed us all in somehow because I remember in my station wagon was my mom, Louie, my children, Chuck, Kelly and Sean, plus the ice chest, food, sleeping bags, tent, and clothes. Also, the children were taking art classes at the park in Tempe, Az. And we took their paints and canvass' also. We also brought wood for our fire and newspapers to start it. And la ti dah the matches. We were ready!

The next morning we were on our way. We had fun as we drove along singing the camping songs that I had learned over the years. It was hot in Tempe .(102 degrees), and as we drove up the highway we were driving up in elevation. The mountains north of Tempe were about 8,000 feet, so we loved the idea of spending a long weekend in cooler weather. We never could afford a car with air conditioning, but our trip started early in the morning, and the windows were open, so we were happily driving along. The holiday was on.! Before very long, we pulled into Kohl's ranch and laid claim on my mom's cabin and she moved in, and we went down to Christopher Creek campground to choose a campsite. It was clouding up, but we didn't pay much attention. We chose a lovely campsite right down by the trickling stream. We thought it would be fun to hear the trickling water as we slept, and the children could paint the beautiful scenery.

The tent wasn't much. Canvass and wooden poles. It was heavy. It didn't look like much either, but beggars can't be choosers. We no sooner got the tent up and trickle, trickle raindrops began falling on our heads. The children and I were determined to toughed it out . We were down by the stream in our leaky tent, reading wet reader's digests. We had put our sleeping bags on a tarp, but the whole thing was a little discouraging.. We decided complaining would not solve anything. We knew when Sunday came we would not be going to a meeting, so we decided to study our Watchtower as we waited for the rain to quit. I said to the kids,“Lets go up to grandma's cabin out of the rain and study the Watchtower.” So that's what we did, we climbed up to the cabin. My mom had started a little fire in the wood stove, and things were nice and cozy. Looking around, I discovered my son, Chuck wasn't there, so I had to hike back over the little bridge to see what became of him. The little bridge was about 20 feet up from the stream. It was picturesque. I thought that would make a nice painting for the kids. I said to Chuck come up from the tent to grandma's cabin to study the Watchtower, but he said “Grandma kicked me out, so I can't come.” (Grandma didn't relate to Chuck very well.) I said “never mind—come anyway”. The Watchtower study took us about 2 hours (we always looked the scriptures up.)

It was still raining when we came out of the cabin to assess our options. We were surprised that right outside our door were lots of people. Right by the little bridge over the little stream were cars, ambulance, police cars, tourists and tension. I was raised in Chicago. In that part of the country, which was flat, we never heard about flash floods. So little did I know, I was about to receive an education about it. Now I know what a flash flood is. That little creek about 20 feet below the little bridge was now running over the little bridge and about to wash the little bridge out. There was a Volkswagen car high in the tree. Upon inquiring, I found out that 3 young girls saw the creek rising upstream from their cabin. They left their little cabin and was coming across their little bridge upstream from us, when the water washed out their bridge and the girls washed out with it, and were now dead in the Volkswagen in the tree. Down below was our selected campsite, but nothing was in it. Our tent, sleeping bags, and all our gear was nowhere to be seen. When we went to investigate we found the wooden poles were broken like tooth picks, the canvas tent, all the sleeping bags and Readers Digests were somewhere downstream. The canvasses the children brought to do their art work were washed to the side. All that was left was the ice chest and a dozen eggs we had in it. (I don't know how that happened! Later we were grateful for the eggs because the whole area was washed out and we could not find much food to buy.) Louie, the kids and I piled in to Grandma's little cabin, and spent the rest of the weekend there. We slept on the floor and squeezed in somehow. We're tough, but this toughed us more, and we were glad to be inside out of the cold and rain. By the next day the sky was sunny and We took the whole weekend to play and explore. We were pretty much by ourselves. The rest of Phoenix and Tempe got scared and went home. But I figured I had put in all this effort in to go, so I'm not giving up that easily. There wasn't much available to buy in the way of food or camping supplies, but everyone was sharing and we were still alive. We even went horse back riding! At the end of our lovely time, we had a new problem. The bridges on the road back to Tempe were also washed out. The only way back home was to go north through Flagstaff and take the freeway. We just adjusted and sang camping songs as we traveled. We made a party out of that too and We arrived home safe and happy.

We all took stock of situation, and decided that Jehovah miraculously saved us because we would have been in that soaking tent with our soaking sleeping bags and soaking Reader's Digest that were now somewhere downstream. Normal people would say “I'll never go camping again”, but not us. I loved camping so much that we went often over the years. Every camping trip we had new adventures. Over the years we accumulated camping gear. Now I have too much camping gear.

Two things I learned, it is when Louie said “it's going to rain”, I should pay attention. Also I should find out what a flash flood is before we go. However here we are still alive and it added to our many exciting days we enjoyed as a family and I not only have memories but lots of camping equipment. Do you want to buy some camping equipment?

Jacky Minor Day

We decided there’s no one finer

than our dear friend, Jacky Minor

She’s perfect at home, at work, and at play

In fact she’s perfect in every way

Now we decided to have our say

And declare a Jacky Minor Day

Pittsfield would have to close off 54

And we’ll have a crowd of 5000 or more

We’ll have a parade with a 50-peice band

The Mayor and President will be on hand

A plane would fly over with a huge banner

And Jacky would be honored in every manner

The 50-piece band would begin to play

And the crowd would shout “Hurray! Hurray!

Then a float would come by with beautiful girls

And 20 dancers going around in twirls

After Jacky was honored, we all went home

And when she and I were finally alone

She said “I really don’t know what to say

I really only wanted to off work one day”


Poem by Pat Underberg


A Place in Mexico

When my children were just babies, my husband, who didn’t have a strong conscience, ran off with the baby sitter, and left me alone with my three children to raise. By some miracle, I found a job and raised my family with a fairly normal life. I found a job, we bought a house, the children went to school and somehow we made my small salary go around. My children grew up and got married. All those years I had carefully kept hidden from the ex-husband because he was a wife-beater and I was afraid to make myself available for more attacks. It was rather sad because my oldest son remembered his father, and he didn’t know about the beatings. When my oldest son grew up, he tried to find his father. He knew he was a veteran and traced it back to the VA and wrote a letter hoping to hear from him. The VA never gave the letter to the ex-husband, but when my ex died, the VA got in touch with my oldest son. All the three children were curious, so they all went to his funeral. At the funeral, they discovered that the ex had a trailer parked on the beach in Mexico at a little resort, not far from Ensenada. After a discussion between us, we decided to go to Mexico, pay the rent for the year (about $450.00) and see what we could salvage.

The first trip to Mexico was a real adventure. We had friends in San Diego that we could stay with. My daughter, Kelly and her three children (who were about 3, 6, and 8) and I took off from Tucson, Az. full of expectation. We always loved to travel together, and this was a great adventure. We went to the AAA travel agency, and we obtained a booklet about what sights to see and a Baha map. I said “here I am struggling to raise the children by myself and that cad was in Mexico playing around with Mexican senioritas”. But I guess I should be happy that I’m still alive.

Finally the day came. I usually am too busy in March with my job to take time off, but we worried we may lose out unless the rent was paid. We took off from Tucson and headed to San Diego to our friend’s place. We enjoyed the friends and invited them to join us in Mexico if they could.

Pretty soon we found ourselves in Tiajuana, a border town. At the border we had no problem going into Mexico. In those days the problems we are having today about the drug Lords had not started yet. Also no passport was needed. The road to Ensenada was very popular with the people from the US, and the Mexican highway department kept it up beautifully. All along the way were beautiful hotels and views of the ocean. We went off the highway to a lookout stop. Kelly said “Look over there”. It was a pod of Whales jumping out of the water like dolphins. We found out they migrate along the West Coast and have their families in the waters off Baha. Not long after that before we got to Ensenada the road dipped down close to a beach. They don’t have the ocean in Arizona, and so we wanted to try it out. There was a huge undertow at the beach, so we got on our way to our destination soon.

Pretty soon we arrived in Ensenada. Although there were lots of elaborate Churches, the rest of the culture was very poor. Everywhere was pitiful street urchins trying to get a hand out. Of course, we spoke no Spanish, but thankfully many of the Mexicans could speak English, so by a miracle, we were able to find the road to Punta Banda where the trailer was parked. On the way were delightful children with a donkey trying to load it up with a bale of hay. Also along the route were very Mexican women with a wood fire and a tub full of pork. They were selling tamales. We stopped to buy some. Also were small shops where they were selling olives by the gallon. We bought a gallon of Olives and several bottles of water because we heard not to trust Mexico water.

By a miracle we found the trailer resort, Punta Banda. We checked in at the office. We asked the owner about the Mc Cabe trailer. We had a picture of my ex in front of a lovely doublewide trailer, but that was not his trailer. The owner took us to a small travel trailer. We paid the yearly rent and we were ready to enjoy our trip. The small trailer was only feet away from the ocean. It was parked on a small lot with Cactus plants and ice plant flowers. My ex must have been a heavy smoker and drinker because the travel trailer was really filthy. We tried to clean it, but found the piped-in water was salt water from the ocean. We were glad we had stopped to buy the bottled water. We cleaned a little and headed right away for the beach. The area was really beautiful and so quiet. The breeze from the ocean was lovely. We pulled out our air mattresses and bathing suits and really enjoyed riding the waves. During the course of the day two small Mexican urchins came by with pails of live lobster. They were $5.00 each. We were pretty surprised when the little tot took out quite a big roll of cash when putting away our $5.00. We bought these lobsters and planed to have them for dinner. We made a lovely fire on the beach and put the lobster on to cook. We don’t know much about lobsters, but to cook them we made the mistake of using sea water. The lobster tasted very sandy. We found out later it must be cooked in fresh water in order to spit out the sand.

The trailer was very dirty, but the worst of all was a rotting ham full of maggots in the frig. We kept trying to hire someone to help us clean, but none of the girls would tackle the frig. We finally gave in and cleaned it ourselves. Pretty soon our friends came visiting from San Diego and we all had a blast flying a kite in the ocean breeze. We stayed there for several days and worked on it to clean it up even more. Using our AAA book we found a delightful town that had a “Blowhole”. The town was named “La Buffadora”. The waves from the ocean would come rushing up, there would be a growing loud noise, and then the wave would shoot up in the air and cover everyone there with water. It was quite a sight. They said there is only one other place in the world with a “Blowhole” and that is Hawaii. There were several street vendors and several restaurants there to enjoy. We were afraid of the drinking water, so we ordered beer with our food. Along the ocean cliffs there were lovely Chalets with what must have been beautiful views. It reminded us of the pictures we saw of the French Riveriera. We bought some Mexican souvenirs and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. During our trip we went to Ensenada and went to the oceanfront where there were several booths. One of them was selling “Fish Taco’s” I’m a great one to try tasting new food. It was really good. Now they sell “fish tacos” at Mexican Restaurants here in the US too.

At that time, our religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, was restricted in Mexico. It was against the law to go from door to door with the Bible, and the Kingdom Halls couldn’t have a sign on their building and they couldn’t sing songs at the meeting. The society was considered and educational society (not religious). Knowing this I feel I took a chance to hand out our little tracts we had in Spanish. One time at the Laundromat in Ensenada I was handing out a tract and an English speaking person said “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness”. I was delighted, and she told me where the Kingdom Hall was. The meeting was on Saturday (several congregations met there, so there wasn’t enough hours on Sunday for everyone to have a meeting). So we went where she had directed us. There were just houses with curtains and chickens. After a long time, we saw some brothers at a house on the porch greeting people and we knew we had found it. Our problem was we were going by Daylight Savings Time from California, but Ensenada wasn’t on the same time schedule. We were delighted and went in for the meeting, which was in Spanish. Since we had our English Watchtower and Bible I had no trouble following along. When it came time for the song, the song was played on the speaker and everyone moved his or her mouth, but no one sang. After the meeting we met some delightful brothers and got invited to one of the homes for lunch. We communicated the best we could, and all of us were delighted to get together. The town of Punta Banda had a Kingdom Hall too, and we found it and visited there several times. There was no sign allowed, so the first time we asked someone to go with us and show us the way. We went there several times over the years.

A few days later we headed back home, with fond memories of our first trip to Mexico. At the border the way back into the US was not that easy. There were several long lines of cars waiting to be OK’d across. In between the cars were pitiful Mexican urchins trying to sell some Chiclets. One had his mother with him with no legs. No wonder the Mexicans are always trying to sneak into the US to better their lives. Surely there must be graft in the government for people to be so poor when there are oil reserves under the ground. Finally, we got through the line and were on our way back home. We went down to Mexico several times to enjoy ourselves and even rented the little vacation trailer out to see if we could recover some of the yearly rent we had paid.

We went several times a year, but when the whole family moved to Missouri, we had to give up. My oldest Son, Chuck, went down and retrieved the trailer in the middle of the night and pulled it to California, and that was the end of that. I miss all those great adventures. Let’s say I never was bored, and isn‘t it delightful that the same meeting that we went to in Spanish also was in all different languages around the world and at home in Tucson in English. I’m so glad to be part of a world-wide religion that is in unity and you can count on them to love you besides.


A true Story by La Vonne Pat Underberg


Jack and Cricket Shultz

It was so exciting when Toddy and Cherie came to the meeting on Farmer’s avenue in Tempe, so many years ago. Pretty soon their Dad and Mom, Jack and Cricket showed up too. I really didn’t know much about them except that they were studying the Bible with someone.

I love to camp and I wanted the children to enjoy it too. My children were about 7 (Sean), 8 (Kelly) and 9 (Chuck) at the time. I heard that Jack and Cricket went to the White Mountains in Arizona every summer as Rangers to take people on nature walks and describe the plants and animals along the way, and we wanted to do that.

So I schemed and saved until I was able to get 5 days off and had the money to go. So the children, my mother and I set out for the White Mountains with what little camping equipment I had at the time. We stopped in Whiteside to get gas. We didn’t know that Sean had gone to the bathroom. After we filled up we headed out. There along the highway we saw an Indian woman walking with packages. I thought it would have been kind to pick her up and take her wherever she wanted to go, but we passed her. Everything seemed quiet, and I said “is everyone here?” No answer, so I asked each person--”Are you here, Chuck” answer “Yea”, “Kelly?” “Yea” “ Sean?” no answer. So I stopped the car and looked at everyone in the back seat, and sure enough, Sean was not there.

I turned the car around and passed the poor Indian woman walking and headed back to the station, which was about 10 miles back. Pretty soon a man came by in a pickup truck honking and getting our attention. It was the gas station man coming after us and he had Sean with him. We were very glad to see him, and we felt pretty silly not to notice it sooner. Come to find out, Sean came out of the bathroom and we were gone, and he was really upset and crying. The gas station owner said “you can live with me, I’ll give you a job”. After retrieving Sean, we turned around and headed back to where we wanted to go. This time we stopped for the poor old Indian woman and took her to her home.

Our troubles weren’t over however. When we arrived at the campgrounds, there was not a space left. It was so much trouble to get there to begin with, we were really disappointed. We went looking for the Shultz’s cabin. By a miracle we found it. They said “You could camp right next to us”. That’s what we did.

We had a wonderful time. Jack took us on a great walk, and Cricket had a cute little chipmunk that would scamper up her leg and take food from her hand. We even were able to go to the meeting in Springerville. What a wonderful weekend that was! It was further enhanced because they knew all my old time camping tunes that I sang as I was growing up. A fun trip to be long remembered. After that, we went on to camp whenever we could, and the Shultz’s became our good friends. Toddy and Cherie and their parents all became part of our wonderful congregation and our lives were greatly improved because this great family was part of it. How we are blessed with the opportunity to know the Shultz’s and be part of their lives too. Heartfelt thanks goes in my prayers to Jehovah for knowing friends like these.



Sean and the Flag Salute

In our little family every year we had a problem. There weren’t that many Jehovah’s Witnesses in the area, and every fall the teachers had to become acquainted with the children’s “strange” beliefs. I would take off from work, get all dresses up and go to the teachers and explain why they won’t be saluting the flag or celebrating holidays. I felt that I should be explaining it, but the children probably could have explained it themselves. I felt terrible for them, it was such a problem. I didn’t want to leave them on their own to have to make that stand for Jehovah.

It was hard for them. In Kindergarten these precious little kids were told to salute the flag and draw pictures of the Easter Bunny and things like these. These little kids were put under a lot of pressure. Thankfully, over the years more and more children were going to school, and the Supreme Court said they should not be required to do something that was against their religion. This happened because of the brave young people who stood up for what they believed that came before and after my children.

One year, Sean was about eight years old, and in about 3rd grade. The teacher had been advised and we thought all would be OK. One day, all the classes were at an assembly in the cafeteria. All were saluting the flag, but Sean and a little buddy he had befriended were standing and waiting for it all to be done. Suddenly a male teacher grabbed Sean by the neck and threw him up against the wall and demanded that he salute the flag--his buddy too. It must have been awful for Sean. When he told me about it, I was really upset and asked for a conference with the Principle and the teacher. The big day came. I got all dressed up (I always feel better if I dress up when I know I’ll be under pressure). I went to the school, scared to death, but I prayed to Jehovah for courage. (Really, I’m a coward without any courage at all).

I made it to the room, and there was the teacher, the principle, Mrs. Carmenanti, and Sean’s home room teacher and others. They seated me at the end of a library table and about 6 stern-faced teachers and the principle all were angry and staring at me ready to do away with me. I felt a lot of pressure, but after praying to Jehovah I began explaining.

“It’s not because we don’t appreciate the United States government. We not only appreciate it but we obey the government. The government gives us many services that we could never afford on our own, like police care and fire protection. However when we pray the “Lord’s Prayer” we say “Thy Kingdom Come”. When we study the Bible, we learn that that Kingdom is a real government. The King is Christ Jesus, and he will have a cabinet of associate Kings. Even though this government is a heavenly government and the Kings are heavenly, wonderful blessings will be extended to the earth. Under this government the earth will be transformed into the paradise that God created in the Garden of Eden. I brought my Bible and I’d like to read Rev. 21:4, which describes some of the blessings. The interesting thing is that very soon this government will take over rulership of all the earth. Let me read Daniel 2:44. I’m anxious to be there to enjoy this blessing, but it is vital that I remain loyal to this heavenly government, so you see none of us who want to be subjects of that government can salute the flag and owe our allegiance to any earthly government in place right now. Since this will be a world-wide event, all Jehovah’s Witnesses in the entire world take their stand against all the governments of the world and remain neutral in all government affairs. Actually, it works out well. During the 2nd World War, Jehovah’s Witnesses wouldn’t “Heil Hitler” either, and wouldn’t go to war with the United States. There were about 20,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany before the war. Hitler tried to execute them the way he did the Jews. They were sent to concentration camps also. After the war, Jehovah’ sWitnesses came from everywhere. Now there are over one million world wide, and they won’t salute the flag of any country. (Today in 2013 there are 7,782,000 in 239 lands). In all these countries, Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t salute their flags. In every country we can honestly say we love the brothers there. Why would we want to kill them in a war or be divided by governments”

The teachers and principles didn’t really think of anything to say. I had brought some books with me. I ended up placing several books. The next year, Sean had that same male teacher as his home room, and all went well until they tore down the school. With great difficulty, the children grew up and every year until High School I went to explain our stand about the Flag Salute to the teachers, By some miracle, our little family made it through and we are still alive. We almost forgot about the school years because generally there is not an issue as an adult. However, there we were at the Muni Musical Theater, and they all stood up for the National Anthem. That was a surprise. I felt a surge of fear as I kept seated. The next time to the Muni we were smarter, and went to the bathroom right at the crucial time and avoided the embarrassment. However, I would rather be embarrassed at the Muni than go down at Armageddon and miss out on the Kingdom.


True story by Pat Underberg



Assemblies and Conventions--San Diego

Jehovah’s Witnesses love assemblies and convention. The difference between an assembly and convention is that assemblies are smaller for one or two days and conventions are larger, lasting 3 or more days. In those days we would have about 5 to eight days. Every convention the children and I went to was a new adventure for us. We prepared for the convention with quite a fanfare. My mother and I would sew matching dresses for my daughter, my mother and myself. The children would pick the fruit from our many fruit trees and sell the fruit to the neighbors to get spending money. We were quite poor, but I saved my money all year so I wouldn’t miss it. There weren’t enough Jehovah’s Witnesses in Arizona during that time, so we had to travel to California for our convention. In my office job, I had to ask for my vacation time at the time of the convention, and I annoyed my whole office personnel because in January, when we found out when the convention was, I put in my request for vacation time.

Every year I would invite someone who couldn’t afford it themselves to go with us. One year, right after I had an operation for a hysterectomy I invited 3 teenagers to go with us. My children were teenagers too. My oldest son, Chuck, had just gotten his driver’s license. So he must have been about 16 years old. Counting down, Kelly, my daughter was likely 15 and my son, Sean, probably was about 14. So in spite of my having to recover, I took on the responsibility of 6 teenagers for the convention and vacation. I must not have thought this through.

The big day came. I had prepared everything. We put the luggage on the roof and tied it on. I had made arrangements for the motels. Our first stop was in San Diego (we wanted to see the zoo). Of course, we headed out too late, and spent a lot of the night traveling. We checked into the hotel about 2:00 AM. The children said they were hungry. “No problem,” I said “I brought cereal with us.” “ What do we do for milk?” they asked. “Chuck, why don’t you go out and find a circle K and buy milk”. He was delighted to be given that task since he was a new driver. So he decided to take some of the others. Probably to have braggin rights. Later, they told me the details of a problem they had. They said they couldn’t find a circle K so they went into a liquor store to buy the milk. When they came out of the store--flashing lights--the police had all of them put their hands on the roof of the car. “All right, what’s in that bag” the police demanded.” They opened up the bag, and there was the milk. The police apologized, and soon they came home, all laughing.

The next day, we had a great time at the San Diego Zoo. Most of us were together as a group, but Chuck, the lover of adventure, had wondered off from the rest of us. Pretty soon he showed up and had a white uniformed clad sea captain with him. He spoke a foreign language (later we found out he was from Turkey). By sign language, he invited us to tour the ship. The United States had given the Turkish government a ship, and this captain was assigned to sail it back to Turkey. It was great fun. Our two beautiful girls, my daughter and guest, ohhed and ahhed over the handsome Turkish sailors and we were delighted to have this nice adventure. Now that I’m older, I can see we took a very big chance that the ship would return to Turkey and these beautiful girls become part of a harem but thankfully all went well. We all went out for Pizza and really enjoyed the experience.

The next day, we headed for our second stop, which was L.A. where the convention was. As usual, we didn’t allow enough travel time, but we had already arranged for an apartment in a Motel called “Something by the Sea”. We arrived about midnight, parked in a covered garage, and stumbled to bed. The girls in one room, the boys in another. Our luggage was on top of the car tied to a rack, but we were too tired to get it down right then, so we went to bed.

The next morning, we looked out the window, and the Motel was by the sea all right, but a freeway was between the Motel and the ocean. We did swim in the ocean, so we must have figured it out. Our plan was to go to Disneyland. We went downstairs to get our luggage off the roof of the car. Guess what! Someone stole our luggage in the middle of the night. My children said OK to going to a used store and picking out new clothes. We always bought our clothes at a used store anyway, but our guests wanted only new clothes, so we took them shopping, and our beautiful female companion picked out one dress, and wore it for the whole convention. Finally, the young ones went to Disneyland and had a great time. I stayed at home and recovered from our trip so far.

The next day was Thursday and the convention started. We loved it, of course, and we are still alive, and didn’t go to Turkey, so I guess it all ended peacefully and happy.

Every convention we went to in California was a lot of fun and adventure. Usually we camped and had vacation at the same time. Often we found other Witnesses to stay with during the convention, and that was a great adventure. My children were taking music in school, so they all had knowledge of musical instruments. Chuck played a base saxophone, Kelly played the clarinet, and Sean played the trombone. We always volunteered for the food service, but for a couple of years they volunteered for the convention orchestra. That was quite a highlight and provided nice recreation for Saturday night rehearsals for all of us for several years. What nice memories we all had of those special times.

A true life experience by Pat Underberg

Traveling with Donna

Traveling with Donna

I have a great best friend. She and I have had great times together. Over the years, we have had a lot of laughs and have done impetuous things that have really brightened my life, and I hope hers too.

I met Donna at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mesa Arizona. Right from the start we enjoyed each other. She and I were quick to see humor in things and we had much enjoyment laughing. She had Scandinavian ancestry, and what you think about that nationality was so true in Donna’s case. She was loving, full of energy and always giggling about something. We started a Bible Study with many people and she was all warmth and love.

One day, I wanted to visit my son in Missouri, and was planning a trip. Donna said “I want to go”. She didn’t have much money, but I was happy to have the companionship on the trip. Trouble was that she wanted to go all the way to Ohio. We said, let’s just go and we’ll have a great time and we’ll find a way for you to go to Ohio. So plans were made for our trip.

We love to camp. Donna always slept on the ground with sleeping bags and air mattresses. I wanted to sleep on a cot. So we brought all this and a tent. My little dog was a Pekinese dog. My dog was a cutie named Blossom. She had lots of hair-virtually a fur ball, and her tongue was too big for her mouth, so she always had her tongue out. Poor thing would sleep with her tongue on the ground.

In packing, Donna gathered up a bunch of nick-knacks in plastic bags to give to her friends in Ohio. We put all of it in the car, with snacks and food and an ice chest and some Bible literature in case anyone asked us about the Bible. We had planned an eventful trip with lots of sightseeing and fun things to do on the way, and we bought an atlas. My good friend and mechanic, Danny Millien, got the car ready. We were ready.

On the way, not far from the Arizona border is a beautiful cave in New Mexico called Carlsbad Caverns. I’ve heard of it, and we wanted to go. So we headed down the freeway from Mesa to Tucson and kept on going on Hwy 10 glad to be on our way. We arrived at Carlsbad Caverns and found a campsite and began to set up camp. I found out that my tent was too small for the cot. When I put the cot up, my feet stuck out the door of the tent. Between us, we figured out something. Donna lay on the floor under my cot, and my dog lay next to me on the cot. We were glad to be there, so nice and quiet under the stars and looked forward to going to the caverns the next day. Donna and I were on a different time schedule. I like to get up early, and she likes to stay up late. In the middle of the night, I woke up and there was Donna outside the tent close to the cot. She was saying “come here, little fella”. She was feeding wild animals my dog food. There were skunks, raccoons and I don’t know what all coming to eat the dog food from her hand. We didn’t get attacked and my dog and I fell asleep again. The next day at the caverns was such a delight, we decided to stay an extra day.

The next day we needed to travel across Texas and we took a highway across Texas. We found out there is not much to see in Texas. It is huge. The route we took was across some salt flats and there really wasn’t much to see. There were no gas stations or quick marts. There also wasn’t any bushes for Donna to squat behind. I always accused Donna that the reason she always wanted to go to the bathroom is she wanted to see what the bathrooms were like. By some miracle, a little market showed up in the middle of all that desolation, and true to form, Donna asked to go to the bathroom. The bathroom turned out to be an awful out house. We were on our way as soon as possible. I never did see such a desolate place. My dog couldn’t even find a private place to go.

Finally we got into Oklahoma, but it was getting late. We asked someone where we could camp. They gave us directions to Lake Eufaula. It was a Core of Engineers lake. We found the campground about 7:45 PM and the office where we had to pay was just closing up. I had the car running, with our luggage trailer attached, and I jumped out of the car to go in and pay. Donna said “I have to call my husband” and she went the other way. All of a sudden, Donna was waving her hands and making a fuss, but Donna was always waving her hands and making a fuss, so I didn’t pay that much attention. I turned around, and there was my car with the luggage trailer attached going backwards down the hill into the lake. I tried to j ump in and put my foot on the brake but I couldn’t stop it. Just in the nick of time, the little trailer jackknifed and stopped the car. We just made it to be checked in. They closed the gate right after we went in.

The next day the sun was coming up, and the lake was beautiful. We managed to get to Missouri on Hwy 44 and got all the way to Rolla Mo., and the car broke down. By this time we were close enough to my Son, and he came and rescued us. We saw some sights in St. Louis the next day. Donna’s plan was to get on a bus and go to see friends in Ohio. She only had the money for one way ticket to Ohio. We had to let her out at the bus station in the middle of the night to catch the bus. She didn’t have luggage, just a lot of plastic bags with her presents in it for her friends. I wondered how could she manage without the money to get back. She pooh-pooh my worries and boarded the bus--all giggly and happy like she always is. I really was worried. She said “Pick me up in Chicago at the bus station in two weeks”. After that there was not one word. No phone call, no letter. I spent two weeks visiting my son, worried the whole time.

Two weeks later, I went to Chicago to pick her up. I couldn’t believe it. There she was with a whole bunch of new plastic bags instead of luggage and two nice Sailors were helping her, carrying her packages and hunting for me. We had a good time in Chicago visiting a friend that had been our Bible Study in Arizona.

Our plan was to go to Arkansas on the way home and go to the hillbilly museum in Mountain View, Ark. I had read about it in the AAA travel book and thought it would be fun. On the way we saw a sign that said camping this way. We started down this very long road. It was a long time before we arrived at this remote campground. The sign said “no vacancy”. What to do now! Donna, who knows no strangers talked to a couple and persuaded them to share the campsite with us. So gratefully, we pitched our tent, and had a great time singing old time tunes, drinking hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows. The next day that sweet couple wanted us to try Rabbit stew, so the man went into the mountain and shot a rabbit for us. What an adventure that was.

Soon we were on our way again. Everywhere we went we were late. About 9:00 or so. We were following a map, but we got to a river and there was no bridge. We found a couple walking along in town and we asked them about it. Oh, the ferry is not running, you’ll have to go--They described a complicated trip taking several roads that ended up in Mountain View Ark. It was late, but we found a quick mart with some chicken left and headed toward our destination. We were getting close, we saw a lot of lights and activity. It was about midnight now, but when we arrived in the town square there were all kinds of banjo and fiddle playing groups all around the town playing the hillbilly music I always heard about. There was even a girl dancing the jig and doing a great job. By a miracle we found a campground nearby and pitched our tent even though there was no one around to pay money to. The next day was delightful, and we found the museum, plus a cave. To our delight, The real action happened at night when all these banjo, guitar, base fiddle, real fiddle all got in groups and played what I found out later was blue grass music. The town and the area were delightful. What a way to end our trip.

The rest of the way back to Arizona was without any further adventures, but the trip still is in my memory as a highlight in my life. Since moving to Missouri, I make it a point to go to Mountain View, Ark. every now and then. What a place! Trouble is, Donna is in Arizona and I’m in Missouri. Both of us are very busy and not too well, so our friendship suffers a lot. Memories of the time I spent with Donna highlight up my life and every now and then a memory gives me a chuckle. I have to thank Jehovah for such an interesting friend.

Computer Panic!

When I was about fifty (I’m eighty-four now), I went back to College in Tucson. I had a full load. I had time to do studies in the fall, and I had fun being a student (students are usually young) when I was fifty. Of the classes I took, one was creative writing (that was a lot of fun for me) and accounting which included computers.

I had been bookkeeping and doing taxes for a number of years, all by hand. In the seventies the computers were just being purchased and used, and I wanted to know how to use them. The problem with computers at that time (the seventies) is that the computer you purchased for lots of money was outdated in a few months So in short order, the computer I paid $10,000.00 for was useless. This made computers already intimidating to me to say the least.

At the same time one of my classes was the creative writing class, and I wrote the following article for my creative writing class. It’s not that I ever got over it. I still feel the same way. As I was putting away papers, I ran across this article. I read it to my daughter, and we laughed and laughed. If you feel about computers as I do, you’ll laugh too. So here goes!

How did I get into this mess! I hate anything mechanical! When I have to check the oil in my car, I go to a full service station. I hate math! I hate machines! I hate computers! But I have to take this computer class to get my diploma. Running a tax office, an accounting practice, keeping up a house, hiring employees, and the rest of my studies I have plenty to do already, but I’m determined! I need this class. The prerequisite for this class was “introduction to computers” and I took that four years ago and don’t remember one thing about it.

With all the confidence I could muster up, I scheduled myself to go in early in the morning into the computer lab to get started. I told myself that there will be tutors there, and they will help. I’ll just sit down in front of a computer and the tutor will just fill me in, no problem. But underneath I was worried. I mustered up a smattering of courage and headed for the computer lab. As I entered, I saw the computers all lined up like a firing squad, ready to aim at me and say “ready--aim--you flunk!” But I’m not a quitter!

I sat down in front of a computer. I asked the girl in the lab which button to turn on to get going. She scowled at me as if to say “is this old lady for real?” Not so patiently, she showed me the button. I reached to turn it on.

“no, no, wait!” she exclaimed

“What, what!” I said.

“You have to put the disk in first--don’t you know that?”

“No, OK”, I said. So I put the disk in first and turned the machine on. In front of me was a screen with a flashing signal that said “CSC 180 programs”. “Now what do I do?” I asked

Her contempt was increasing. “If you don’t know what to do, you shouldn’t be taking the course”, she said, “Weren’t you in the class when they gave the test to see if you were qualified to take this programming class?”

“No”, I responded, my heart pounding and tears starting to well up in my eyes, “I was at an accounting convention”.

“Well, you’d better not take this class”, she said, her disdainful expression reminding me of Ethel Barrymore.

By this time, I was a true basket case. Those computers are out to get me for sure. They’re probably getting ready to line up like Walt Disney Fantasia fashion and begin marching around me, surrounding me like offensive pieces in a chess game--ready to do away with the opponent. Checkmate! I’m defeated--game over--failing grade assured! These computer monsters are closing in on me in a diabolical scheme to give me ulcers.

My machine was buzzing, waiting for me to put something in. I sat and stared at the monster that had grown to eight feet tall and resembled the proverbial dragon of fairytale fame. Whoever thought up computers anyway! Nowadays, computers run the whole world. I even read that dating is being done through computer matching. I had a mental picture of a boy in California wooing a girl in New York via the computer through telephone lines. I suppose in time the computers will marry one another and have little computers--the pitter-patter of little beeps all over the house. Maybe the little hand-held computers from computer stores are from a union of IBM and DEC computers. Maybe immoral computers will have to pay taxes. They’ll probably call it syntax.

But I’m a determined woman--I have to think of how to whip this enemy or I won’t graduate. I guess the thing to do is call my employee who already took the introduction to computers and this programming course too. She even had the same teacher. I got on the phone-- “Bobby, what can I do? I can’t remember anything about computers and no one will help me! I waited expectantly for a sympathetic answer, and an offer to tutor me.

“Oh, if you can’t do the first thing,” she said, “you’d better drop the course and forget it.”

By now, I began to get panicky. “I have to take it to graduate!”

She made some grunts and sounds that made me know that she wasn’t a bit interested in tutoring me. I hung up the phone and knew I had to think of something else. I tried to hold back my tears, but I always fail at this undignified womanly habit. I headed for the accounting lab and by the time I got there, there in the accounting lab a miracle happened. A girl from heaven who had taken the class said “here, take my notes form the class and look at them over the week end. I’ll help you get started. Don’t worry! ‘

With new vigor and determination, I’m now sitting at my desk ready to prepare my attacked on the dragon.

I’ll whip this monster like a knight in shining armor and bring back two of the dragon's teeth (my completed program) to the queen (my computer teacher) and receive my reward (An A on the paper), or else the dragon will do me in. One way or another, I’m preparing for the battle and I'm going to fight to the finish!

The sad part about this whole thing is that I never did get on to the computer programming,. I dropped the impossible class and never did get a diploma from that college.

My fear of computers continues to today. Since then the computers quit getting outdated in only six months, and several features in it help you to not wipe out. I’ve had my computer about three years now, and getting a lot out of it, which is why my daughter helped me put my writings on this blog. In my eighty-four years, I’ve had a lot of experiences. I figure I aught to share them with you while I’m still alive. But to sit at the computer for recreation is not my thing. I’m happy to get all the help with taxes and bookkeeping the computer gives me. But still to this day the computer intimidates me. I guess I’ll have to give up and learn what I can and hope that I don’t wipe out. If I discipline my thinking, perhaps I could say “thank you” to my computer. Actually, the way I feel about computers is not the computer‘s fault. After all, it’s really not a monster, it’s a machine, at least that‘s what my daughter tells me! I have to convince myself that the computer is really not from the Devil.




Saga Of The Missing Tooth

When I was about ten years old, my cousin, Jo Anne, and I went swimming. I always loved swimming, but this time I dived too deep and scraped my front tooth on the bottom of the swimming pool. The only thing I could do was go to the dentist for repairs. The way the dentist repaired it was to put a corner on the tooth, and I had that corner on the tooth until I was about eighteen or nineteen.

About that time, I had become a show girl in a fancy night club in Covington Kentucky. The show was a Las Vegas type show with chorus girls and show girls. The difference between chorus girls and show girls is the chorus girls were shorter and had more complicated dancing to do. The show girls were taller and had elaborate costumes. The important thing is that they be beautiful and glamorous. Our number was pretty elaborate. We danced to the music “Flamingo” and our costumes were full of flamingo colored feathers. We had huge hats that reached up toward the ceiling. We really did look beautiful, and my job was to look as beautiful as possible.

One day during our performance, my front tooth that had the corner, began hurting me. I went to a nearby dentist. He said it was abscessed and had to come out. Oh no! Since I had huge front teeth, this was a disaster to my career, which required beauty. For many years afterward, my life was dominated by that tooth. The way the dentist fixed it was to put the one front tooth on a huge plate that filled my whole mouth like false teeth. I don’t know how I managed it, because it must have taken a few days for me to get the tooth replaced. Somehow it happened, and the audience was fooled into thinking I was still a beauty.

Years went by. Every now and then I would sneeze and the tooth would fly through the air still attached to the plate that covered the whole roof of my mouth.

Not long after that, I fell in love and got engaged. He was the man of my dreams! So that he wouldn’t get jealous, I took a job as a cleaning lady in a country club for girls in Hinsdale, Illinois. One day I was scrubbing the floor with a bucket of dirty water in front of me. The room was filled with handsome young men that were doing carpenter work. Suddenly, I sneezed and sure enough out flew my tooth right into the scrub water. I tried not to let these handsome fellows know it, but I popped the dirty tooth back into my mouth in a hurry.

Soon after that, I was able to get married. The lovely country club was the backdrop of my wedding. I came down a beautiful staircase with a beautiful wedding gown. It was my day! It was lovely! My dream fellow had health issues and was not well, so I took a job as a chorus girl at a Burlesque theater, Minsky’s Rialto, in Chicago, which launched my second career in show business. I loved to dance! I took different jobs in theaters and night clubs. My husband was quite supportive, and we even thought up a great gypsy act that included tumbling which we did as a team. We had bookings here and there in Theaters and night clubs.

One day, the strip-tease headliner in one of the theaters didn’t show up, and the boss asked me if I could fill in. My husband was all for it, and I started my nefarious career as a headliner strip-tease dancer. My husband was supportive. He thought I was a good dancer, and he thought of cute things for me to do and we worked on wardrobe together. First thing I knew, I had a great class act, and was being booked all over.

One day we were booked in a night club, and only one customer was in the audience. (bad weather). I still had my dad’s saxophone and knew how to play it a little, and I thought “why not play the saxophone and take off my clothes.” The musicians agreed, so I did just that, trying to be glamorous and seductive while I removed my clothes. All of a sudden, my tooth suction was broken by my saxophone mouthpiece, and my terrible tooth flew across the floor. I was hoping no one paid attention to my mouth. I kept doing turns, got to where my tooth was, swept it up off the floor and popped it into my mouth. I hoped the customer didn’t notice my lack of glamour.

Years went by! Tragedy struck me! My husband didn’t turn out to be the dream husband I had imagined. By this time we had three children under school age. I was devastated when he beat me up one last time and ran off with the baby-sitter. My husband and the baby sitter even took my costumes and she became a stripper, taking my acts as her own. The children and I boarded a train and escaped to my aunt’s farm in Oquawka, Illinois. She gave us a house to stay in. I was thankful to still be alive, and grateful that I had a place to stay.

Not long after this, Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking at my door and left magazines with my aunt. I had heard the Witness will teach the Bible to anyone free of charge. I needed something to think about to get my mind off my troubles, so I asked for the witnesses for a Bible Study. My teacher came, and sure enough, she didn’t charge me for lessons and I had a great time learning. When I had been young, I took a catechism class in our Evangelical church. In that class I had memorized Bible scriptures and the Lord’s Prayer. Now, I finally understood it.

At this point, our little family went broke, and I had to take a show business booking. I called my agent, and was booked in some night clubs. It’s a good thing my mother was supportive. She baby sat while I was on the road, but this was the first time away from my family, and it devastated me. I had to adjust however, and I travel around and send my money home to support the family.

One of the bookings was in Denver, Colo. at a night club called “the Tropics”. I had rented a house in back of the night club and who should come knocking at my door but Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Come in, I want to study” I said. I was there at the Tropics for about a month. My name was in lights on the marquee as the feature “Patty ‘legs’ O’hara”, but at the same time I went to Bible meetings and studied the Bible. I was impressed with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were so clean. So different from the life I was leading.

Years went by! As I kept studying, I made drastic changes, I had taken a job as a bookkeeper and after great effort, became a Jehovah’s Witness. At this time, my children were in their early teens.

We loved to camp, and found a free campground that we loved near Sedona, Arizona called Baldwin’s Crossing. It was beautiful! We always had such a great time there. Oak Creek Canyon was really beautiful. It was quite an effort to get the long week-end off and I had saved the money for several months (I really didn‘t earn very much).

Right near our campsite on Oak Creek Canyon was a nice pool the children and I would swim in. It was about up to our necks. We were playing in that pool, shoving each other off our air mattresses and laughing, and all of a sudden the tooth flew out into the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon.

Even though the water was freezing, and the pool was deep, I insisted that my poor children keep diving down to see if they could find it. Poor things! They kept at it until dark, but to no avail. The next day I had to go to work with no tooth. My fellow workers in the office thought that was so funny. They kept telling me jokes to make me laugh. So embarrassing!

When I went to the dentist he drilled down the two adjoining teeth and put a permanent tooth in the missing spot. It really looked good, and I had no more trouble with the tooth until years later, when I discovered I wasn’t through all my problems with that tooth yet.

I was in Tucson, Arizona. repairing my house to sell it, and I spit out that tooth and the adjoining one into the bushes. I recovered the broken tooth, and since I was close to Mexico, I went to Agua Prieta, Mexico to get it fixed. The Mexican doctor had been educated in Chicago, Illinois. and did a great job replacing the front teeth again. On one of the appointments with that doctor, I was late, so I went into Mexico and parked, which required coming back through the border crossing. After we waited in line for about two hours, we finally were talking to the border guard. He asked “Why did you go to Mexico” I answered “To get my teeth fixed.” He said “No one goes to Mexico to get their teeth fixed--pull over!” Soon I was surrounded by dogs and police to inspect my vehicle. It was quite an adventure! They didn’t find anything of course, but I read in the Tucson paper that old ladies were being paid by Mexicans to bring packages across the border. They had been arrested! They were in a lot of trouble because the packages contained drugs. Poor things had no idea they had drugs in the packages, but they were in big trouble. I had not done anything, so they let me go.

Today, my front teeth look good, even though I’m eighty-four now. I still am glad that I can smile my huge smile and still have my teeth. The dentist said “ignore your teeth and they’ll go away”. I’m so grateful I can still smile and eat.

( Joke)What does God give you free twice but the third time you have to pay for it? Your teeth!







How I became a Christian Witness of Jehovah

I can truly be grateful to Jehovah that in spite of my nefarious past, Jehovah opened his arms and accepted me. Here I am all snuggled and safe in Jehovah’s organization, and nothing that I deserved ever came upon me.

To start at the beginning, I was born in 1928, and as a little girl being raised in a small town in the USA near Chicago, Ill., my childhood was fairly normal. My dad was raised as a Baptist and didn’t really believe in the Bible, and my mother who had been an orphan spent most of her life trying to survive, and didn’t believe the Bible either. Although it was during the depression, my dad came home with a weekly paycheck. He smoked and sure enough when I was just 11 tragedy struck our little household. He died! My mom and I were devastated. Our whole life changed. At the funeral the minister quoted the Bible. He said “God giveth and he taketh away! “Why would God want my dad in heaven to be an angel and leave us on the earth to hardly survive?” I reasoned. My mom had those thoughts too. A very nice Evangelical minister took an interest in me and I went to Catechism class. In it I memorized scriptures like John 3:16, and the “Lord’s Prayer”, and I even learned that God’s name is Jehovah. The highlight was the summer camp we all went to.

Soon, my mom had to sell the house and we moved into the inner city in Chicago. I graduated from High School and took a very boring office job which didn’t earn enough to even pay the rent. I loved dancing, and every day after my job I would go for Ballet lessons in downtown Chicago. Every night while waiting for the streetcar, I had to wait in front a famous Burlesque Theater named “Minsky’s Rialto Theater”. I would enjoy looking at the pictures and I wondered what went on in there. One day there was an ad in the window “Chorus Girls Wanted”. I said to myself “Imagine being able to earn a living dancing”. My heart took over, and I applied, and I got the job.

Actually, the job was quite demanding. We had real production numbers and besides the show, we had rehearsals. Besides the rehearsals there were 12 numbers a day. We had about a 5 piece orchestra. We really worked hard, but I loved the whole experience. The strip-tease dancers were really nice people, married to comedians, and the jokes the comedians told were no worse than my family had been telling to each other for years. Later I branched into chorus lines in night clubs, donned beautiful costumes and I really looked good.

One day, I met a charming man and eventually we got married. However, he turned out not to be the life-long companion I wanted, but he encouraged my profession, which was fine with me, since I loved dancing. One day, we were working a Burlesque Theater, and the main headliner strip-tease dancer didn’t show up for her booking. The theater owner asked me to take her place, and this started my nefarious career. We were booked into shows all over the US, mostly in night clubs. He was the master of ceremonies and I the headliner strip-tease dancer. He was clever and thought of all kinds of things for my acts, and I was a good dancer, so together we were quite a team. He helped me make beautiful costumes too. The theaters were less popular and one by one were closing, but the night clubs were doing well.

As the years went on we started to have a family. I loved my children, and was quite successful at taking care of them even though we traveled, and were in shows. The 3 children were under school age, so it was no problem having them with us in spite of our profession. However, things were not going as well as I would like. My husband was a drinker, and used to beat me up on a regular basis. Meanwhile, my mother began to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and whenever she got a chance, she would say something about the Bible. We used to laugh that she thought Jeremiah and Isaiah were real people. I always thought of them like you think of Santa Claus—purely fictional...

One day I met a man who had been in prison. He said “Be an evangelist. It’s really a good racket. You get a tent, have a revival meeting, tell everyone they are sinners and scare them with “Hell fire”. Then you pass the plate, and everyone gives you money.” We laughed at that but there was a measure of truth in that statement. Meanwhile, my husband beat me up one last time, and left me with the children and took my costumes and ran off with the baby sitter and made a strip-tease dancer out of her. I was devastated, and since we were in a town owned by gangsters and the police were corrupt also, everyone was after me. I narrowly escaped with my children and was given a place to stay with my kind aunt in Oquawka, Ill. On a farm.

One day, a Jehovah’s Witness came knocking at the door, and left magazines with my aunt. I remember my mother learned from them about the Bible, and I thought of the revival meeting, and their instruction was free, so I asked for a Bible study. My teacher, Rita Carlson, came as promised, and all dressed up with hat and gloves. I was flattered that she would dress up for me. Of course, she didn’t know a thing about my wicked past. The first thing she showed me was that God’s Kingdom was a real government. In Isaiah 9:6, 7 That made sense. In High School I had sang in Handel’s Messiah and in that classical song the Isaiah 9:6, 7 was quoting that same scripture. Then she showed me from the Bible the wonderful blessings God’s Kingdom would bring. As a child I remember the picture of “The wolf and the lamb will feed as one.” on the wall of my church, but I didn't really think it would happen. On my first study, I finally understood the “Lord’s Prayer”, but I thought it was just wishful thinking. I didn’t really put faith in it. From the start, I went to the meetings, and no person put up their nose at me making me feel inferior. Instead, they all were happy to see me, and teach me the Bible. No collection plate was passed, and no one asked me for money.

After about 3 months, my savings were depleted and I couldn’t get welfare, and I had to call my agent and get booked for a job. For the first time, I had to leave my beloved children with my mother and go on the road. One of my bookings took me to DenverColorado where I had played many times before at a nightclub called the “Tropics”. It was a lovely nightclub, and my boss rented the house behind it to me. Soon, knock, knock-- came a Jehovah’s Witness. The nice young man, Jim Elmore, just graduated from High School and was beginning to pioneer, he was delighted to find me. I was held over for a month, and during that time I went to all the meetings and even to an assembly. During that time the congregation book study was in the book "Your Will Be Done on Earth". It was a wonderful book about the prophecies in the Bible book of Daniel. With all these prophecies being fulfilled right now before my eyes, I thought maybe the Bible really was true. I was the feature, and had my name in lights on the marquee “Patty, Legs O’Hara” (stage name)/ as I danced I remembered what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mt. “If he looks at her with passion, he has already committed adultery in his heart.” My conscience was really bothering me!

One of the anointed sisters, Sister Gustavson, invited me for lunch. I said “I could never be a Jehovah’s Witness—too hard”. She laughed and said “Don’t worry about that, just keep studying”. What good advice that turned out to be! Meanwhile every time I would ask a Bible question, the Witnesses would give me a book. First thing I knew, I had a whole steamer trunk full of books. It was just about too heavy for me to travel with. But one of the books was “From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained”. I read that book from cover to cover, and said to myself. “No wonder I don’t believe the Bible, I really don’t know anything about it.”

Meanwhile, the devil was busy because he provided a fellow that wanted to marry me. I thought that’s the way I can finally stay home and be a mother. He came to Oquawka to visit me and even went to the meeting with me. I thought if he just heard about it, he would be delighted, the way I was. When I got an engagement ring, the Watchtower study was on “Marry only in the Lord”, but I reasoned, I’m not a Witness yet, so I got married anyway.

However, as soon as we were out of town, he said “That’s the last meeting you’ll ever go to.” I was so surprised. He never did show this side of him until now. Jesus said to expect persecution (in the sermon on the Mt). And here it was actually happening. Now I had a life-changing decision to make. If the Bible is true, nothing will make me give it up. If it is not true, why go through all this. So I set out to make sure. I didn’t take anyone’s word for things. I made sure of all things. As it happened, the Bible turned out to be the truth. There was ample proof that it really is the word of God. Now I had another problem, did the Witnesses teach the Bible as it really is, and if so do the other religions teach it as well. So I did my research and visited other churches and investigated. Some made me feel like an “untouchable” and sticking up their nose at me. Very little education was involved, and mostly tradition and social gossip was the norm. One of the churches I went to passed the collection plate 5 times. I ran out of money to put in.

My husband, Underberg, in the meantime kept getting meaner and meaner about my new-found faith, and the harder he fought me the more convinced I was. He said “You think you are Jesus Christ himself” and he threw my Bible in the toilet saying “This is where this belongs”. I kept my poor Bible for several years and tried to cover up the obvious water damage.

In the meantime, I realized I had to learn to make a living. My whole adult life was as a dancer. I knew nothing about any other job. I met a man who said “One profession a woman can make a man’s wage is in accounting”, and he suggested that I take a correspondence course from La SalleExtensionUniversity. In the meantime, I went to the unemployment office and found a job Telephone Soliciting. The Catholic Church had hired a Telephone Soliciting company to try to get contributions for a building for the school. If they would promise a contribution, the company would send a person to the home to collect the money. I was shocked when the priest was coming down the hallway and the boss of the marketing company said “careful, here comes our mark”. In carnival talk, a “mark” was like a “sucker”.

Meanwhile, my husband, Underberg, was going from bad to worse. His persecution was completely not normal behavior. It was obvious that Devil was using him to get me to give it all up. Every meeting was a victory. He was angry all time. My Bible teacher showed me the scripture that said “Let your ministry not be found fault with”. So I would try hard to have supper out of the way and dishes cleaned up before I went to the meeting . Finally, in 1962, I was baptized. What a great decision that turned out to be! My friend, Donna Diaz, gave me a good idea. She said “Tell him his persecution is from the Devil, and the only way to get back at the Devil is to preach. So tell him that “ for every hour you persecute me, I’m going to spend an hour preaching.” I actually did that! I would keep track of the time. He said “I don’t know why I’m doing this, you’ll only go preaching.” I wrote to my friend in Tucson about this experience, and the experience was put into the December 22nd 1962 Awake. Later, I was still using my water-soaked Bible door to door.

Finally, much to my relief, Underberg left me. Now I had a new problem. I had to earn a living and support all of us and my mother on my meager wage. I really learned how to stretch the dollar. But the congregation was supportive, and we made it somehow. One exciting thing that happened, I had moved to Tucson to set up an accounting and tax office. One of the brothers came to measure my carpet, and we started a conversation. He said he was from Denver. Until then, I was so ashamed of my past, I didn’t tell anyone about it. But then I said “I was in Denver once”, and I actually told him why I had been in Denver. Guess what! He was the very young man, Jim Elmore, who studied with me for that month while I was there. We laughed and he said “I always wondered what happened to you”. I said “Don’t tell anyone”. He said “Why not, I think that’s a good story”. Since then, my life has been an open book. Can’t delete the past.

Looking back, even though we were very poor, the children and I had a great time. We were very involved in the congregation and got to all the meetings and assemblies, even though they required traveling to California there have been hard times, but we made it, and we were happy. Two of my grandsons have served at Bethel, and my other children are doing well too. I came here to Bowling Green, Missouri to serve where the need is great, and one of my sons is in this area. I’ve been pioneering now for about 30 years, and it was joyful to know several of my students are doing well and we are good friends. My mom and my aunt also became a Jehovah's Witness and were faithful until they died. I have to be grateful to Jehovah that he accepted me and let me serve him all these years. Recently I sat at our assembly waiting for it to begin, I prayed to Jehovah to thank him for accepting me as his servant. I don’t know why I didn’t get in a lot of trouble when I made such drastic changes. Jehovah has been my constant companion and advisor and help.

As the scriptures say of Jehovah “I will never leave you”, and he never has!

My true life experience

La Vonne Pat Underberg

What Our Parents Didn‘t know

Jo Anne and I were about 15 years old. Jo Anne was my double cousin. That means her mom and my mom were sisters, and her dad and my dad were brothers. Both of us were only children in the family, so we became like sisters and spent a lot of time together. Jo Anne my cousin was special to me. But actually, we weren’t that good for each other. If our parents had known what was developing in our young hearts, they probably would have put us in isolation and not let us out until we were twenty one. Thankfully, for us, they never found out, and thankfully for them too.

Jo Anne lived in the country in a little town called Keeneyville, a suburb of Chicago. My Aunt Julia and Uncle Melvin, Jo Anne’s parents lived altogether a different life from our family. They had chickens and a pig and lots of garden. At night the only noise were the crickets singing, and the stars were beautiful and the excitement of the day was Aunt Julia’s fried chicken and home-canned vegetables.

On the other hand, my life was exact opposite. My father died at the ripe old age of thirty seven when I was eleven and my mom had remarried. My step-father was a theater manager. He didn’t earn very much, but we could see all the movies we wanted to at no charge. Soon my mom and he went broke and we had to sell our family home in the quaint suburb of Chicago called Bensenville, and we had to move into the inner city of Chicago.

Now my life took an unwelcome turn. We lived in a large apartment building on the third floor. We were all stacked up like sardines. The only trees were in the park. From the back door, we had a clothes line that reached across a courtyard to the third floor on the other side. In those days we didn’t have driers, and we had to hang out clothes on these lines over this courtyard. The line was on a pulley on both sides. We would lean overhang the clothes and pull them above the courtyard. What a problem! Besides this inconvenience, I had to take a street car to school. The school wasn’t much either, but that was OK because I wasn’t a very good student either. Besides all this, there was a lot of noise. Traffic, “L” trains, street cars all joined together to make noise and keep us awake at night.

When Jo Anne came to visit me, we adjusted to these adverse conditions, and took the “L” train into downtown Chicago. Downtown Chicago was opposite to Jo Anne’s quiet town. Tall buildings that reached so high in the sky you had trouble seeing the sky. Lots of stores and shops, but since we were poor, we had no money to spend for such things. On State Street one of the stores was Marshall Fields, which was famous. As you traveled down State Street south, where the elevated train came down Wells there was the infamous Minsky’s Rialto Theater. I found out later it was famous too. It was a burlesque theater. After vaudeville theaters closed up, they were replaced by burlesque theaters. Who wouldn’t want to know what went on inside a theater like that! One day, Jo Anne and I found ourselves right in front of that Burlesque theater in front of God and everybody. We looked at the advertisements in the windows of the theater. It was about to open for the day about noon. So we decided to go in and check it out. We must have looked older than we were (we were fifteen) because we purchased tickets without being questioned.

Inside was a magical place. Lots of seats, and orchestra pit, and a lovely stage with curtains. We tried to sit in the back in the dark so no one would see how young we were.

Soon the action started. In the front of the stage was a man called a “Barker”. He was trying to sell candy and treats to the audience. He said “In one of these boxes of candy is a diamond ring.” That seemed unlikely but we enjoyed his presentations, and we didn’t have enough money to buy one anyway. Pretty soon the musicians came in to the orchestra pit and started the overture. There was about eight musicians and they sounded good. Following the overture, the curtains opened and the chorus line danced, so cute. There were about ten pretty dancers, and I really enjoyed watching them. As the show progressed, out would come a strip tease dancer. Off would come her gloves, then to music off would come more of her wardrobe as the dance progressed she threw her clothing into the wings of the theater. The audience began to shout “Take it off”. After dancing around she ended up with a little bikini type pants with tassels on them. Also little patches that covered the nipples of her breast and tassels hanging down from them also. First thing I knew the pace of the music picked up and the tassels above and below began to twirl. What a delight!

In between the chorus dancers and the strip-tease numbers, the comedians would come out and do a little play with jokes. That was not so shocking. Some of them our parents would tell to each other when the “kids” were sent out of the room.

Finally, the featured headliner would be introduced. With much fanfare the announcer would say

“Directly from Los Vegas

Our featured dancer,

Lilly St Cyr!”

She was really beautiful. Her music was “Rhapsody in Blue” . She had beautiful costumes and she had a tub with bubble-bath bubbles coming out. Off came the gloves, off came the dress, soon she disappeared behind the tub and let the men use their imagination.

I really meant my applause because I really enjoyed the show. It was not all that shocking. I’ve seen more at the beach!




Story by Pat Underberg



True Life story by Pat Underberg

Nowadays, things are so complicated with bumper-to-bumper traffic on freeways. Now we have computers, airplanes, television, satellites, and nuclear weapons. Sometimes my mind goes back to my childhood when things were so simple. I doubt if children feel the peace and security that I felt as a child.

Once a year, when my daddy had a vacation, we would go to visit my grandpa and

grandma on a farm in Kansas. We would leave home, Bensenville, a suburb of Chicago, and we would travel in my daddy’s Hudson car, the kind that had the gas tank on the running board. We would go by way of the Ozark Mountains on Route 66. It was fun to read the Burma Shave signs:

“A man a miss,

A car a curve,

He kissed the miss,

And missed the curve,

Burma Shave.“

We would stay in those quiet motels, stopping at streams on the way for picnics. In those days, there were no freeways, and some people didn’t even have a car. The road we traveled on was a two-lane highway and very hilly. One time the car completely stopped running at the bottom of a hill. We all poured out of the car and my daddy looked under the hood. After some deliberation and not getting the car to start, my mom looked up to the top of the hill and there was the gas tank. It had fallen off the running board.


Now in Bensenville we had all the conveniences of modern life. We had electric lights, a washing machine, a refrigerator and flush toilet. But in Kansas, where my grandma and grandpa lived, it was like walking into a magical world. They didn’t have electricity (although they did have gas lights on the wall) nor did they have a refrigerator, radio, washing machine, or an indoor toilet. They had to make do with what the good lord provided.

Some years my cousin Jo Anne would show up with her parents too. Her dad was my dad’s brother, and her mom was my mom’s sister, so we were “double” cousins. Her aunt Lois was the sister of my dad, Virgil, so she was my aunt too. And her dad, Melvin, was brother to my dad, so he was my uncle, and my dad was her uncle. So Uncle Melvin and Aunt Julia, with JoAnn came to visit the farm every year too.

On the farm, the day’s activity began early. Everyone was up before dawn. Grandpa would eat a bowl of all Bran with real cream on it, and everyone would go out to do the chores. Grandma went to the chicken coop to gather eggs and grandpa would go out to the barn to milk the cows. I could choose which one to go with. When I went with Grandma, she would let me get the eggs out from under the chickens and put them into the basket. The old hen really didn’t want me to take the eggs. She had other plans for them. But no chicks for her today, the eggs were for the ice cream Grandma was planning to make. Occasionally, grandma would let the hens hatch chicks, and there would be little yellow babies to hold. Grandpa tried hard to show me how to milk the cow, but somehow I could only get a squirt or two out.

After awhile everyone would come in for breakfast. This consisted of eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits, gravy, honey and a whole lot more. After breakfast, grandpa would hitch up old Fleet, the family horse, to plow. Soon grandpa and I would be in the field plowing Corn. Poor old Fleet would go back and forth through the field, and grandpa would be following behind on foot with the plow. He let me try to hold onto the plow, but I was too short. I gave up on this quickly, and went back to the house where grandma was doing the wash. Grandma did the wash on the back porch. She had to heat huge tub of water and put the laundry in to soak. After awhile she put the laundry into another tub with a handle and she would turn the handle and the laundry would swish around. This was probably the forerunner of our washing machines now. To ring out the laundry, she had a wringer that she turned by hand and the clothes went out to the clothesline. She let Jo Anne and me hand her the clothes pins.

Another back porch activity was churning the butter. Grandma would sit by the hours pulling the paddle of the churn up and down, and telling us Bible stories. Jo Ann and I would give it a try too. In time the batter would form into clumps, and Grandma would gather them up for butter for our biscuits. There was buttermilk left over, and Grandpa loved that. Sometimes for a treat, Grandma would make ice cream too. We had to go to the market and get dry ice, and Jo Anne and I would have to turn crank for about an hour before it was ready--but we were well rewarded for our effort when we ate it. The back porch had another delight, a family of kittens. To me, Kittens were pets, but to Grandma and Grandpa they were walking mouse traps. The cats only received milk to drink--the rest of their dinner they had to catch themselves.

When I couldn’t find Grandpa, I would always look in the barn. He spent a lot of time there feeding the hogs, milking the cows and putting up hay. My mom said that when I was little, I came running into the house all excited saying “Mama, you should see all the grass in the horse’s attic.”

Alongside the barn was a silo. It was a tall round white cement building that stored grain until the market was right to sell it. I always wondered how they were able to get the grain in that tall building. Fleet was on hand for Jo Anne and I to ride. Trouble is Fleet was old and probably tired from pulling the plow. He would go very slow going away from the farm, and coming back he proved he was well named as he galloped home at top speed. Jo Anne and I did good to stay on. No saddle of course, my grandma and grandpa were just too poor.

The farm was not without it’s hazards. On the way to the barn was the outside toilet. It was really large--it had two moons on the door and two seats inside. I reasoned that the grownups liked to have company probably. The seat was too high for me, so I had to climb up and stand on the edges above the holes. Carefully, I would let myself down on the seat, fearing that one slip could be my downfall. Somehow I would get situated and after looking at the pictures on a page of the Sears Roebuck catalogue, I ripped the page off and wiped my bottom. It was a miracle that neither Jo Anne nor I ended up falling in one of the holes.

To get to the barn, a person had to go through the fence and across the barnyard, which was always wet, mucky and full of cow and horse manure. No wonder Grandpa always wore boots. I had to cross right in front the pigpen, where the mama pig had babies. I really wanted to hold one of these babies, so when no one was looking, I opened the gate and went in and picked up a little pig. The world has never heard such squealing and carrying on. Immediately, mama hog came charging toward me. I just made it the fence in time.

When Grandpa would milk the cows, there would be several buckets of milk. He would pour the milk in a “separator”. This contraption was not a machine, but just a large metal container. Somehow the liquid came out, the milk came out of one spout and the cream out of another. Grandpa would give the milk to the hogs, but the cream he would save for us. Some he would eat on his All Bran, some would go for the butter, ice cream or some whipping cream to put on our strawberries.

When it came time for the meals, it was a real delight. We sat at a huge wooden dining room table on a wooden floor, and we always had a tablecloth and napkins. My grandmother had fancy china to serve us on, even though the floor was just a wooden floor. The dinner was often a delicious roast with mashed potatoes, gravy and sweet corn right out of the field. After dinner, if I had been good, Grandma let me do the dishes. There was a sink with a drain but no running water. Instead I had to pump the water into a metal pan and put it on the stove to heat it before I could do the dishes. There had to be a glass of water set aside to prime the pump before any water would come out. When the water was hot Grandma gave me a big apron to wear and put me on a stool. When I was done with the dishes she showed me how to wipe the pan out and hang it on a nail on the wall. My aunt Lois confessed to me that when she was a girl she didn’t wipe the pan out, and when she would go to visit every year she would have a tinge of guilt when she saw a streak down the wall under the nail from the dripping water.

Grandma and Grandpa were one of the first ones in the community to get natural gas piped in. So they had a gas stove and lights. When Grandma would iron she had to put the iron on the stove to heat. When it was hot she would iron for awhile until it cooled off, then she would have to heat it again to continue. On the wall, right beside the gas light, there was a telephone with a hand crank. Everyone in town was on the same telephone line and anyone could listen to your conversation. When you wanted to call anyone, you had to crank the operator, and she would ring the person you tried to call. Each person had their own code, but the telephone would ring in everyone’s house.

When evening came, the only noise was the hissing of the gas lights on the wall and the crickets singing outside. Sometimes Grandma would play hymns on her pedal organ. Soon after dark everyone was snuggled in bed. Under everyone’s bed was a chamber pot in case we had to go to the bathroom during the night. My mom called it a “guzunda” because it goes unda da bed. Sometimes I would peak into my grandma’s room and see her let down her hair. During the day you hardly knew she had hair. It was in a little bun tight against her head. But at night she would let the pins out of the little bun and her hair would cascade to well below her waist. She always wore a white nightshirt, and she would always kneel and pray to God every night before she went to bed.

Nowadays, we rush through life trying to get enough money to pay for the electricity, television, washing machine, refrigerator. I wonder what the advantage is. I would much rather be sitting on my Grandma’s lap under the gas light and listening to Bible stories and smelling the nice clean air and eating strawberries we had picked ourselves. On top of the strawberries I’d love to taste the whipped cream Grandpa had just milked from the cow. I wish I had a farm for my grandchildren to visit. These times are really gone from the earth, but they’ll be forever etched in my heart. I wish I could visit my grandma and grandpa today.

Aunt Julia's Fried Chicken Dinner

Escaping from Chicago’s humdrum life in school in the inner city became a joy when we went to visit Aunt Julia and Uncle Melvin’s. They lived in a town called Keeneyville, Ill. It was in a suburb of Chicago but had the full charm of a country farm. Uncle Melvin and Aunt Julia had been raised on a farm and the farm was still in their hearts. They had a pig they called Salome and a barnyard full of chickens and a cow named Suzie.

My cousin Jo Anne was a delight too. She was my “double” cousin. Her mom was my mom’s sister, and her dad was m dad’s brother. Wee had the same genetic background, but we were quite different. Jo Anne had flaming red hair and my hair was brown. She had freckles (which I enjoyed)

and green eyes, whereas I had no freckles and brown eyes. She was short and cute and I was tall and gangly. But we loved each other and had great times together.

Just about every Sunday, we went to visit this magic place. We would watch Uncle Melvin kill a chicken for our Sunday dinner. He would chop off the head, but the chicken didn’t seem to die. It clucked around the yard for awhile without any head. It was fairly gruesome, but the anticipation of the dinner to come helped us to forget this soon. Before very long, they would heat up a bucket of boiling water, fix up two stools for Jo Anne and I and we would be assigned to pluck the chicken’s feathers out. It was quite a lengthy procedure but we would sing songs and tell stories to each other. The large feathers we would put in the trash, but we saved the small feathers for a someday pillow Julia was making. Soon we accomplished what we thought was a big chore.

Soon Julia was at the stove preparing her chicken dinner. Jo Anne said she never could cook that delicious chicken the way Julia did, and I have to agree. I have tried to do it ever since, and now that I’m 81 I’ve had plenty of time to practice. I’ve tried other cook’s attempts at fried chicken too, but they all fall short of Aunt Julia’s gourmet delight.

As the dinner progressed, we all had a hand at getting it on the table. From the cellar we fetched beats, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and corn--all canned from the year before. The smell alone of the fried chicken and home made biscuits made our mouth water. But the real thing when it came along was really special. We were not a religious family, but when grandpa was there, he would say a nice prayer. After this good meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, salad--the works-- we had Aunt Julia’s home made cherry pie. Wow! We could hardly get up the energy to clear the table, but we did, and after the dishes were done, Aunt Julia would sit down at the piano and we would sing wonderful folk songs. Soon the room was filled with songs like “I want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad“, and “There’s a Long , Long Trail Awinding” and “Shine on Harvest Moon” What simple happy days that brought us.

What a shame that after we grew up, we went every which way. Aunt Julia and Uncle Melvin moved to Monmouth, Ill, Jo Anne moved to Florida and I moved to Arizona. All of us were too poor to visit each other on a regular basis. Our lives were consumed with survival. Now Aunt Julia and Uncle Melvin have died, and the secret recipe is gone. Just remembering it makes me want to try again, but I’m afraid the shoes are too big for me to fill. But I wish I could have Aunt Julia’s fried chicken today!




Story by Pat Underberg




It was 1968, and the kids and I , my Aunt Lois, and Grandma were singing “South of the Border--Down Mexico Way” as we whizzed down the freeway between Tucson and Nogales, Arizona on our way to the border town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. I had been raised in Chicago and the thought of going out of the country for the first time was exciting. At last we would see what it’s like south of the border. Friends warned us to park the car on the Arizona side and walk into Mexico. So we followed this advice.

As we crossed the border, we found ourselves in a completely different world. Mexican music was coming from the numerous bars along the street. Mexican children who didn’t look like they ever had a bath, were approaching us for handouts. Up on the hillside were homes with no windows looking like at any minute they would just slide down the mountain. The streets were not paved very well, and going up the hillside some of the streets were still cobblestone. As we walked along, vendors were approaching us to buy something. We looked with interest at a serape--which is a colorful Mexican blanket that has a hole for your head and you wear it like a wrap. The Mexican man said $20.00 beeg bargain. “No”, I said, “I really don’t need it, it’s summertime.” “OK”, he said, “I need to feed my poor family, how about $18.50”. “No”, I said, “I really don’t need it”. By now, he was following me along the street. “OK, $15.00 that’s my last offer, how can you pass this up.? You can show it to your friends when you get home”. “No”, I said “I want to shop around first”. “OK, you are a hard bargainer--$13.50--that’s my last offer--here--it’s yours.” “OK”, I said, “That’s really a bargain”.

With this I made my initial plunge into bargaining with Mexicans. I didn’t feel as smart when at the first shop I entered, there was the same serape for $10.00. Oh well, PT Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute, and here I was surrounded by lots of Mexican PT Barnum’s.

The shops proved to be entertaining to say the least. Each shop had it’s own characters. The vendors would come out into the street and almost drag you in to look at what was inside. There were some stores that carry liquor without the US taxes, so we bought these. Then there were shops full of jewelry;, beautiful little silver butterflies, all silvery and lacy. There wee earrings and watches--genuine Seiko watches--$10.00. I reasoned they probably didn’t have any insides. There were wooden toys that clacked ,and Serape’s, Ponchos, and Mexican hats. Also lovely woven blankets, and lace dresses, and pure leather brief cases and purses for a fraction of the US price. What is more, if you accepted the first price you were foolish. Soon I was on the bargaining economy and we were having a great time bargaining and buying. We ended up with all kinds of goodies--including a huge Mexican hat--like you see on the post cards that covers the Mexican boy completely. We also bought some hand-made lace table cloths and some purses to carry our Bibles and two quarts of Vodka. As we headed for the border, our arms loaded with packages we heard a little faint “cheep, cheep”. We looked in the gutter beside the street and there was a little bird.

“Why doesn’t he fly away?” “What kind of a bird is it?” “Isn’t it cute!” “Pick it up if you can” My Son, Chuck, carefully went over and cupping his hands over the little bird, he said, “Look, he has a broken wing.” “Let’s take him home and nurse him until he is well”, my nurse mother exclaimed. “Yea, Yea” everyone unanimously agreed the little bird needed our help. “OK,” I said, giving my approval”--But little did I realize what kind of a life I was embarking on or that my whole life was about to change.

As we headed for the border--grandma was carrying the little bird--it kept saying “cheep, cheep”, all the while grandma kept talking baby talk to our little friend. We pondered on a name for it. “How about Amigo” said Chuck, who had been taking Spanish in high school, and he said Amigo meant friend. Sounds good to me. We all agreed. Amigo it is.

We soon got to the border with difficulty with all those packages and the little bird. There at the border was a long line of people going through a turnstile. There was a big sign that said “no animals will be allowed across the border”

Well, that settled it for me. No bird. I’m a law-abiding citizen and I obey all the rules. I was ready to leave the poor Mexican bird in his native county to be nursed by his fellow countrymen. But not grandma! I pleaded with her--obey the rules--to no avail. She said “What’s to say the bird didn’t fly across”. I said “Grandma, the bird can’t fly”. “Then what’s to say the little thing didn’t walk across” she said. There was no talking her out of her nefarious smuggling scheme she was planning. So she took the little bird and put it inside the very purse she had purchased to hold her Bible and in front of God and everyone, she walked right through the turnstile--the bird inside the purse all the while going “cheep, cheep”

I didn’t want to be part of this blatant law-breaking activity, so I went through the turnstile a few people behind her. We all got together again on ;the other side of the border. The whole family turned their attention to the bird, and this little Mexican provided a lot more entertainment than the souvenirs we had purchased. We all piled into the car. The kids took the bird out of the purse and set it on the huge Mexican hat we had purchased and we drove home to Tempe, Arizona with our little friend.

As the days went on the nursing of our bird was a family project. Since Grandma was the nurse, she was the leader of the project. We had a discipline problem with our cat several times, and our dog was a little curious, but soon Amigo was a welcome newcomer to the family.

As time went on, and Amigo got older he began to walk by sticking out his neck like a chicken and going coo, coo. We knew now we had probably picked up an Inca Dove. The wing healed, and Amigo could fly anywhere he wanted, but he preferred to walk, and it was entertaining to see him sticking his neck out and cooing. Grandma and Amigo became inseparable friends and Amigo was always riding around the house on her shoulder or head. We were all amused to see Grandma when she took her nap. She always fell asleep with her glasses on and sleeping on her side. Pretty soon along would come Amigo, and would sit right down on her temple until she woke up, hanging for dear life onto her glasses. Every day, we would peek into Grandma’s room when we knew she was taking a nap, and sure enough, there was Amigo perched on her head like a chicken sitting on; a nest.

One day Amigo began to gather up pins and needles, hairpins, and even hair from the combs all over the house. One day, while cleaning, we noticed a little nest being built under Grandma’s dresser. We knew Amigo was misnamed now. It should have been Amiga, because he was a she. He’s don’t build nests. In time, there on her pins and needles nest there were three small eggs. We were so touched. She loyally sat on her eggs for a long time, but nothing came from it, because there was no he-bird to fertilize them, but she kept doing what God wanted her to do anyway.

Meanwhile Meege began to fly all around the house. She would make messes everywhere, and knocked over a priceless heirloom and broke it. That was the last straw. I said we are taking the bird to the zoo. It caused a terrible ruckus, but my mind was made up. So amidst wailing and tears, we took Amiga to the Zoo. Well, I lost, the Zoo wouldn’t take her. Grandma kept saying she would die if we let her go because she doesn’t know how to take care of herself. So we brought Amiga back home to be our spoiled companion for several y ears. Amiga really became a pet. She would come when called. She rode around on the dogs head. It was amusing to watch her because she could fly, but she preferred to walk. She cooed and walked and cooed and walked all over--her little neck stretching out before every step. She loved the children, and when she would be flying around in the yard outside, she would swoop down and land on their heads. But mostly, she was Grandma’s pet and the nap became a daily ritual and source of amusement to one and all.

One day we had guests in our yard for a picnic. A late arrival -- a balding man--came into the yard. The bird swooped down from the roof and tried to land on his head. Of course she couldn’t get her footing and kept trying to stay on top. We all laughed and said it must be the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.

Meege was a joy to the family and a delight for our guests until one tragic day when it came time to lay eggs again, she was walking across the street to visit another pigeon and a car ran over her. We sadly wrapped Meege’s broken body into a little cloth shroud and put her into a shoe box coffin and buried her in our back yard. Our hearts were heavy to see our little pal dead.

Meege taught us so much--she taught us how to be tender, kind, friendly and loveable. But most of all what we learned was that you don’t get anywhere in life if you don’t stick your neck out.

Story by Pat Underberg







I know I’m getting older, but I love to camp, and it seems like the campgrounds are so full these last few years. One day, after the Income Tax Season was over (I prepare taxes for a living), my thinking ability was at an all-time low, and my brain had quit from overwork, I picked up a magazine, and I began to read this marvelous article about a sixty-five year old lady who hiked the whole Appalachian Trail, and her experiences made my heart leap. There’s the answer to getting off by myself where I can sit in my hammock, play my harmonica, and read books. So, I decided to investigate the popular art of back-packing. If this sixty-five year old lady could do it, so could I, I reasoned.

I went over to Bob’s Bargain Barn (an outfitter) in Tucson, where I lived. There they sell back-packing equipment, and what I saw made my eyes pop out. They had little itty-bitty stoves that only weigh one-half oz. They had tents that only weighted two and one-fourth pounds and packed into a little bag. They had sleeping bags that weighed only three pounds that kept you warm to ten degrees below zero. There was even a telescoping fishing pole and a pad to keep me dry and off the ground. The most interesting of all was the food. They had it packed in a little metal bag, and you just add water to make a gourmet meal. Well, they sold me all these things, plus a compass, a trail map, and a book for Mt. Lemon trails, and a back-pack to hold all this gear. I left there quite a bit poorer, but satisfied. At least I would experience some peace and quiet.

My inexperience at back-packing was no deterrent. By now, I had read several books, and I really studied the book on Mt. Lemon trails, and I could already smell the flowers and listen to the brook babbling as I read. It said in the book, “Always tell someone where you are going and how long how long you are staying.” So I told my secretary. “Aren’t you going to take someone with you?” she asked. I felt like Greta Garbo when I answered “No, I vant to be alone”. Anyway I have Dixie, my little poodle ,to protect me and keep me warm.

Well, I mapped my course on the Mt. Lemon Trail map. The trail was called “The Wilderness of Rocks” trail. I would take four days for the hike. I would start at the town ,Summerhaven {a small town on the top of the mountain}, go up to Romero Pass and catch another trail that would take me to Sabino Canyon. (at the bottom of the mountain). Everyone kept saying “Take someone with you”, but I kept saying “I vant to be alone”

The big day came. My gear was all packed. My back-pack pockets were bulging. In the top side pocket I loaded my harmonica, fishing reel, a knife, the compass, a flashlight, and a camera. The top pocket on the other side had a Bible without the cover, and some things to read. The two side pockets at the bottom were stuffed with apples. The center pocket had my food and utensils. In the top center pocket I had the trusty toilet paper, my makeup (you never know who you might meet in the forest) and some deodorant. My top large compartment had my tent, a grill for the fire, a change of clothes, a washrag and towel and of course some rope and my hammock. I attached my sleeping bag to the bottom, together with a warm jacket, my sleeping pad and the telescoping fishing pole rolled in the middle.

Bet you think it weighed a lot--well, it only weighed thirty-five pounds. Why, I’ve been carrying around thirty-five pounds extra on my bottom for years. Anyway, if that sixty-five year old lady could do it--so could I.

Well, my son followed me to Sabino Canyon, where I parked my car, and then he drove me to Summerhaven at the top of the mountain. We hiked down to the trailhead, Marshall Gulch. It was dark and quiet--really too dark and quiet--but if a sixty -five year old lady could do it, so could I.

It was hot in Tucson, but here it was cold. I unpacked my sleeping bag and jacket and was glad for some warmth--Dixie, the dog , was shivering too. I had a tinge of regret as my son said, “Bye, Mom”, and he disappeared into the darkness. Well, my poodle and I snuggled down into our sleeping bag and fell asleep admiring the diamond-like stars and the cool quiet of the forest.

The next day, I packed up my gear and with difficulty got it on my back, then the whole thing fell apart. I took it back off and upon investigation, found that a little pin had dropped off. I don’t know why I had packed large paper clips--but I did, and that proved to be just the part I needed for repairs.

Soon, I was huffing and puffing up the trail. Occasionally another hiker would pass me. They all gave me an unbelieving stare as they went by. This old lady and her poodle with all that gear! (Well I’m not as old as sixty-five, anyway). That evening I made a fire and cooked dinner. I had a good time pitching my tent, getting water from the stream, and playing my harmonica by the fire.

The next day I started out for Romero Saddle, but I wasn’t prepared for what I had to face. When I got to the place where the trail leaves the stream, I filled all the canteens with water and headed up the trail. At Romero Saddle, I was able to look down on Marana (near Tucson). Now I didn’t see any other hikers on the trail. I guess I was too far into the mountains. I started down the trail to catch the other trail that would lead me to Sabino Canyon, but soon I found myself on rock, and no path could be followed there. It wasn’t long before I realized I had lost my way. With the heat increasing and the water decreasing, I began to get panicky. I dropped my pack to search for the trail. Finally, I sat down on a rock, crying to Dixie “Oh, what are we going to do. I was foolish to go by myself. We’ll die out here in the wilderness. Next summer some hiker will come upon my bones, with my poodle snuggled next to me--parched white from the scorching sun.”

My poodle licked my hand in sympathy. I was worried, but she wasn’t. Then my poodle did a strange thing. She went away from me and kept looking back as if to get me to follow her. I decided to follow her--and would you believe it--she brought me back to the trail. Still not looking at my compass, I hiked down the trail--oh, no--we went right back to Romero Saddle. We retraced our steps and were very happy to get back to the little stream. The next day, I talked another hiker into carrying my back-pack out and he gave me a lift to my car in Sabino Canyon.

There are two things I learned from my experience. Never go hiking by myself and buy a back-pack for Dixie. Why should I have to carry her water and food. Even the Bible says “Let each one carry his own load”.

Story By Pat Underberg


The Tax Man Cometh

The tax man cometh, Oh what will I do?

My records are scattered and way too few

I'll tell him my records flew out of my truck

I'm just a person who has bad luck

My mother is dying, just give me a break

This whole affair is just a big mistake

The tax man looked at me with an evil grin

"Sir, there's no doubt your excuses are thin

Every taxpayer must pay his full share

Government is not cheap, I'm sure you're aware

So dig in your pockets as deep as you can

and pay up your taxes, Take it like a man!"

Poem by Pat Underberg


The Quiet Diet

I look in my mirror and what do I see?

A double chin and fat cheeks staring back at me

A long length mirror I have behind me

Reveals my prior lost weight did indeed find me

Everyone advises me, “Exorcise more”

Do some jogging or walking, get your rear out the door”

“Kick up your legs, do a dance. Get your feet off the floor.”

But I say I have too much to do to add one more chore.

I say “self-discipline” is the name of the game

I have no one on earth but myself to blame

Shut off the TV with the food stuff commercial

Say, “NO!” to the refrigerator, just for rehearsal

Well these are good thoughts, my intentions are dandy

I’ll start on my exercise/diet…after I finish this candy

After eating the candy, my heart filled with sorrow

Only one thing to do…Start my diet tomorrow.

Poem by Pat Underberg





I came home from work, was bored out of my wits

So I turned on the tube and watched it do flips

When it settled down, since late was the time

The only things on it were violence and crime

Why can’t there be comedy late at night, or romance?

I turned the dial up then down-not a chance

For on my screen there were burning, flipping cars,

Sirens, and dead people who’s faces had scars

No Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart, those good ole stars

To brighten my night with romantic guitars

But I settled down anyway and watched with disgust

The criminals killing and lawmen engaged in a bust

But somehow, suddenly, my screen went dead

I don’t know if I was dreaming or just out of my head

When out of the screen scaring me out of my wits

Was a handsome hero, who planted one-right on my lips

“My darling, I’ve loved you from inside this tube,

And every night you turned to those others, how rude”

“I didn’t know”, I exclaimed--my heart did a flip

He said “I’m taking you with me on a fantasy trip.

I’m taking you to that soap opera in the sky

Where happiness comes to all who will fly

Away with me through channel eleven

And up, up above into soap opera heaven

Where we can live a life full of romance and love

In our fantasy kingdom in the land up above.”

Then right through the tube shot a shining white horse

This must be his charger to take us, of course!

Just then came a ring, I could not tell from where

My lover just vanished right into the air.

“Now what!” I exclaimed, as I picked up my phone

“Hi, Grandma” a voice said, “Are you alone?”

“No, yes, I don’t know,“ came my startled reply

I must have been dreaming of a pie in the sky

For here was my TV all snowy and white

And no handsome hero to fill up my night

So if you are bored by the late night crime

Try my remedy, it will work every time

Remember the romantic days of yore

When the movies and TV was not a crime boor

When handsome leading men captured your heart

And values and romance in our lives had a part

When a kiss meant true love that ended in marriage

And romantic music came from a guitar in a carriage

When clean jokes filled our hearts with laughter

And all romances ended, “happily ever after.”

No wonder there’s murder and crime everywhere

When TV is sending out murder and crime in the air

My midnight affair took me back to my youth

When my biggest problem was a bad wisdom tooth

Let’s hope the networks take a lesson from me

Why have such terribly lousy late night TV

Poem by Pat Underberg

How I Learned To Drive

I Probably I didn't learn to drive when I was a teen-ager because I lived in Chicago and public transportation was readily available and I couldn't afford a car. Public transportation in Chicago was really more practical, since it was cheaper than driving a car and a lot less trouble. So I didn't learn to drive until I was about 23 years old and married.

My husband said ”you really should learn. I'll teach you!” Trouble is that by now, we had formed a night club act and were traveling all over the United States to night club bookings which lasted only about a week or two each. My first lesson was in Colorado on mountain tops. I must have given my husband a few scares over that, but here I am still alive, so I must have done some of it right.

As we traveled, we decided to buy a van. This was a new challenge, since it was a stick shift vehicle. The really challenge was when I had to stop at a stop sign at the top of a hill. To get going after that took a lot of skill. You have to release the clutch up and push the gas petal down or the car would stall. How are you ever going to get going after that? I really had to leave much of that up to my husband who knew how to do it.

One day we were playing a popular night club in Tulsa, Ok. It just so happened that my husband, who was trying to get a suntan with a sun lamp, was reading. His eyeballs were burned because of it, and we went to the night club to do our show. After the show, the parking lot was full with a policeman directing traffic. "I can't drive home", my husband said," I can't see. You'll have to drive." Well, I thought, no problem! He was a licensed driver, and my permit said if I have a licensed driver with me, I can drive. So I got behind the wheel and ready to do my duty. I started the car. That part went good! But when I would put the clutch down, and tried to release it slowly putting pressure on the gas petal, I kept killing the motor.

Finally one of the policemen came over, and asked if I was having trouble. I told him I had a learners permit and my husband was a licensed driver, but he couldn't see because he had sunburned his eyeballs. "OK" the officer said. This was when I made my first mistake. The motor was running and the clutch was pushed in. I thought a person would have to put the gas petal down to go. What I didn't know is that letting the clutch out while the car was running will make it leap forward. I don't know why the policeman walked in front of the van, but just then I let the clutch out and the van leaped forward and the policeman jumped on the hood. At that point he came over and said "OK lady, I'll drive you home."

By the next day, his eyeballs returned to normal and we became friends with the policeman. Several years later I finally mastered this clutch/gas petal problem but I didn't really learn to drive until several years later, and only out of desperation after my husband had beat me up and ran away with the baby sitter. Here I am driving all over town, but not with a stick shift, thank you!

A true story--by Pat Underberg


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    • profile image

      Kelly 15 months ago

      Thank you Barbara. Mom loved you. I'm so glad she wrote these stories down. She had a few more that haven't been posted yet that I will post later, as soon as I can get her office and computer up and running again, probably in a couple of weeks. I am printing a hard copy of her blogs, poems, and some letters, along with some photos. I can give a copy to anyone who may want one. If you want a copy, let me know on Mom's Facebook account. On a side note, If you know of anyone who may have gotten a video or even a sound recording of Mom and I singing together, please let me know. I can't believe I never recorded it.

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      Barbara Norris 15 months ago

      I spent the morning,from 3:30 a.m. to 5:45 reading Pats stories. What a treasure to enjoy these adventures of true life.I wanted to re visit her and enjoy her company just one more time,now I just did and I feel just fine. Such a joy this fine friend I will not forget! Our friendship will continue with Life everlasting. Until then, dear Pat ,I am looking forward!

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      Kelly McCabe, 4 years ago

      I'm Kelly, Pat's daughter. We had a wonderful childhood with my adventurous mother. I have been encoraging her to write her adventures down and now she is doing it. Please tell your friends. The more that follow her stories, the more she will write. I would hate fo all that wonder in her memories to be lost.

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      Connie Humphrey 4 years ago

      Pat Underberg is a personal friend of mine and we both share the same 'best' friend, Donna. I've known Pat for over 20 years and she's always been that fun-loving, adventerous person. The last time I saw Pat a few months ago at the tender age of 85, she was still that fun loving individual with a huge smile on her face and a jolly personality.

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      Betty Walsh 5 years ago

      Really enjoyed reading your great memories, I have shared many of the same, poor kids don't know what a neat life they are missing out on today, I wouldn't change a thing,thank you so much for being an organized person and writing your experiences down for me to share with you.