California Dreamin’

Julita J
Julita J
Dec 6, 2015 · 4 min read

Violins & Sharing Suckers

Dad died Dec 7th, 1960, Granma died July of 1966, and Grandpa died Nov 6, 1940. When Dad was younger he played the violin, I have a picture of him with it, but never heard him play and as far as I know we never had a violin in my years growing up.

Uncle Harold always told me about the time he took me to Jackson Park when I was little and of my sharing my sucker with a little black boy. He never let me forget that :) We lived about 1/2 block from the park on 66thPlace. Harold drove a bus and when I was young he used to take me along to ride sometimes.

California Bound

The story I always heard was Dad, his brother Harold and another friend had started for the west coast to visit Grandma Elizabeth’s brother Frank Franklin. They got as far as South Dakota when their car broke down. Guess they got odd jobs to earn enough to repair it but by that time Dad had met Mom. In the summer of 1923 Harold had to return to Chicago as he was still in school at that time, the friend, not certain. Years later after talking with others, I think now it was Uncle Jack Franklin rather than a friend that was with them. That would explain how he got to South Dakota.

1930 Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD | Published November 3, 2014 in the Daily Republic

They had gone to a dance at the old Dreamland Ballroom which was in the 400 block on Main St. It burned down and the late 30’s or very early 40’s. It was at that dance that he met my mother, Helen. The rest, as they say, is history. The site of the, ballroom, went through many restorations over the years and was the The Rink (Mitchell’s Roller Drome) up until the mid 80’s when it burned down. Not sure, but I do remember going there myself several times to dances when I was a teenager.

Main Street, Mitchell, SD Circa 1940 | Published December 30, 2013 in the Daily Republic

Moving to the Big City

Upon their marriage they moved to Chicago, and were there when I was born. I was born at Mercy Hospital. Never thought to ask what Dad did for a living in those two years. Guess Mom was really unhappy living in Chicago, and for a while when they first got there had lived with Grandpa and Granma and that’s hard, she not having known them before. They hadn’t come for the wedding as they were married on Dec 28th so sure travel back then would have been unwise at that time of year. I can only imagine how it could have been, what then would have been so far away from home, her parents, her sisters, and then there were Dad’s three younger brothers still at home. And I’m sure they probably delighted in teasing the fire out of this “green girl from the sticks”. Then, they all thought when you crossed the border into So. Dakota you had to hang on to your scalp as there was an Indian behind every rock and tree!!! They still weren’t convinced even in 1936 when they came to visit that it wasn’t true.

Birth Certificate — Bonnie Elizabeth Borchard (Helen Lavonne Borchardt)

When I was born I was nearly 2 months early and weighed just over 3 lbs. Even when they brought me home Mom said my head fit in a tea cup. (Can’t imagine ever being that small–not looking at me now :) ). Mom wasn’t doing very well so Granma Borchardt gave them all the information, but the name she gave them wasn’t what Mom and Dad had decided, but what she wanted… which was Helen Lavonne. Years later, long after Dad died it caused problems. I’ll tell you about that later. Anyway they called me Bonnie Lorraine. All Catholic children when confirmed in the fifth grade take an another Name as a middle and that’s when the Elizabeth came into my name and I dropped the Lorraine. Elizabeth being Granma’s name, that made her happy.

Photo Credits: Carnegie Resource Center & Mitchell Daily Republic


If you’re interested in further genealogy research on the Stelzer or Borchard(t) families visit our Rootsweb Page. We have over 1900 individuals and 670 Surnames in our tree so far! Stay tuned for more from Grandma Bonnie.

If you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane, please recommend this to others. To read other stories from Grandma Bonnie follow her blog listed below.

Originally published at memoirsofgrammabonnie.wordpress.com on December 6, 2015.

Julita J

Written by

Julita J

Posting Social Media Tips, Other fun stuff and anything else I feel like sharing!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade