Happy fathers’ day to all my fathers

photo collage of Bill Trampleasure

On Fathers’ Day this year, I heard a sermon by Rev. Vanessa Rush Southern at the Unitarian Church of San Francisco that challenged member of the congregation to think of all the ‘fathers’ in our lives. Bill TrampleasureAs one who is not a biological father, and has only experienced a child’s early years with my granddaughter—both my stepdaughter joined my life when they were over 13—I was moved by this idea of celebrating the ‘unusual fathers’ in our lives. I reflected, and came up with five fathers I have had.

Scott UllmanMy first father, my biological father, is Bill Trampleasure. Bill passed away almost five years now, and he was with me my entire life. My second father was Jack. Jack was a PE teacher at my junior high (ML King in Berkeley), but I never had him as a teacher—instead Jack had a group of kids who went out running before school. My third and fourth fathers were Scott and Steve. Both these men were about ten years older than me, and I was involved in peace/anti-nuclear work with them for several years in my late teens/early twenties. My Steve Laddfifth father was Jose, my boss from about age 20-33 (with a four year gap in the middle). Continue reading “Happy fathers’ day to all my fathers”

Loma Prieta 20 year anniversary

USGS map showing relative shaking intensities
USGS map showing relative shaking intensities

This Saturday (October 17, 2009) marks the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Everyone who was in the Santa Cruz/SF Bay Area has their story of where they were, and KQED’s Forum call-in program had a great hour yesterday. It’s been long enough ago that for my students (juniors and seniors in high school) the earthquake is now only history. Following is my story of life with Loma Prieta.

When the earthquake struck at 5:04 PM, I had just returned from my workday delivering bread for Uprisings Baking Collective. We baked in the basement of Casa Zimbabwe, a four story building in the Berkeley Students Cooperative. My general reaction to earthquakes is “Cool, feel the shaking,” and that’s just what I did for the first several seconds of Loma Prieta. After several seconds (5, 10, 15??), my earthquake drill training started to kick in as I realized this was not ending as quickly as usual. I headed for the door between our office and the hall, placing my self in the “safest place in the building.” There were probably about 5-10 of us in the bakery area, and I remember some people were heading outside.

When the earth stopped shaking, we all sort of said “Wow, that was big,” and headed back to work. Nothing had fallen off shelves, or any other obvious damage, so we had bread to bake and paperwork to complete.

A few minutes later, the bakers started saying that they had heard on the news that the Bay Bridge had fallen down. “No way” I thought, they must be exaggerating (in the end, “fallen down” was a bit of an exaggeration, but part of it had).  Some of us headed up the block to the Pacific School of Religion (at the top of Berkeley’s “Holy Hill”) to see what we could see. I remember seeing smoke from the SF Marina District, but not much else is in my memory (we probably could see the smoke from Hustead’s Towing in downtown Berkeley, but I can’t remember this).

I finished up my paperwork, and left the bakers to their work. On my way home, I stopped by my sister’s apartment (on Vine, just west of Shattuck) to see how she was doing. She was fine, and I faintly remember hanging out for a while with her and some of her neighbors/friends, watching news on the TV.

In the course of the next few days, at the bakery we had to redesign our routes to get to SF, Marin, and the Peninsula using the Richmond/San Rafael and the San Mateo bridges. I think we took a couple days off, but were quickly back getting food to the people. At one point I heard that an organization that cooked dinners for people with AIDS needed help getting prepared food from West Oakland BART to the Red Cross center in Oakland (they were cooking it in SF, then bringing it over on BART). Our vans, with their racks, were perfect for this, so I helped out for a couple days after work. I remember lots of vans showing up at the BART station, shuttling the food to the Red Cross.

As I drove around the Bay Area on my bakery route (I drove our SF/South Bay routes), I was able to get a tour of the minor destruction area (the heavy destruction areas were closed off). I remember seeing many houses damaged in the Richmond and Sunset districts in SF.

That about sums up my memories at this time. I’ll probably come back and add more as the anniversary refreshes my memory.

Vanessa Trampleasure, 1956-2009

It is with great sadness that I write of the death of my cousin, Vanessa Trampleasure, of Essex, UK. I never met Vanessa, although we exchanged emails several times regarding our family tree.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the Trampleasure family, and how technology makes our world a smaller place: Growing up, the Trampleasure clan was a small one. Living in our area were my grandmother (“Nanny”), Uncle Dave (he had two children, but an unpleasant divorce meant we only saw his kids when I were very young), my two siblings (Calvin and Grace), and my parents (Bill and Mary Lee). Somewhere around high school I decided that there must be other Trampleasures out there, so I went to the local library and started thumbing through the phone books. Eventually (I can’t remember how long I was at it), I came across another Trampleasure! Writing down the address, I went home and my mom and I wrote them a letter. We soon learned there was another line of Trampleasures living in Canada and England. Vanessa was a part of that branch.

This, occurring in the 1970s, was pre-internet. But the technology of the time, the telephone, helped us find each other.

It took us many years, but finally we were able to find the “missing link” in our family trees to prove that we were related (before that, everyone sort of knew that, with a name like Trampleasure, we had to be related).

At 17, on a bicycle trip to Seattle with some friends, I took a personal detour to the Vancouver area to look up cousins living there (Gary and Betty Anne). Being a silly youth, I didn’t make plans, and just phoned them when I got into town (Tsawwassen, BC). No one was home, and I ended up having dinner (dry cottage cheese and canned something) at a local park while watching a kids’ soccer game. I got to talking to one of the moms there, and it turned out she was a neighbor of Gary and Betty Anne’s. We bid farewell, and I took the ferry back to the States.

In my mid twenties, I took a trip to the UK, but, being twenty-something, family wasn’t too high on my list of priorities, and I’m regret to this day that I didn’t put Vanessa and the other Trampleasures on my itinerary.

Over the course of the next thirty years, several of the Trampleasures did come to visit us. Colin and Doris (Vanessa’s parents) made it out, as well as her brother, John, and his family. Gary and Betty Anne brought some of their kids down from Canada on one of their trips.

Last year, I finally made it up to visit the Trampleasures in the Vancouver area. My cousin Madison (my “fourth cousin, twice removed”) was so pleased to meet another Trampleasure that she had me hold I sign she wrote, “I’m a Trampleasure,” when she took a picture of me. That sign still hangs proudly on my wall. I had hoped to make it up there again this year, but plans didn’t work out that way. Next year it’s a priority. There’s still a few Trampleasures up there I haven’t met (and if I’m really crazy, I may extend my road trip to Alaska to visit family from my mom’s side).

Fast forward about about 20 years from the discovery at the library, and introduce computers. Family trees are now much easier to create, and I started using Family Tree Maker to track the family. Still only minimal internet, but as it grows, searching for the family gets easier. Somewhere along the line I learn that Vanessa is the true genealogist in the family. If you Google Vanessa Trampleasure, you’ll find countless genealogy web pages with her contributions. Vanessa provided me with details to help complete my version of our family tree.

2009 marks the year I start using Facebook to meet more Trampleasures. I now have 17 members of the Trampleasure family I can follow on Facebook. It’s like an ongoing family reunion. Birthdays, anniversaries, and even the sad news of Vanessa’s passing. I get to see all the posts from members of the younger generations — many, many posts 🙂 — and the fewer from the “older” generation members (I probably break the trend that younger folks post more). I have my family tree printed and posted on my wall to help me keep track of who’s who, but I’m still a little unclear on some of the younger generation members :-(. I’ve even made some connections with my long lost first cousins and their kids (Uncle Dave’s family).

Trampleasures Christmas 2007
The extended SF Bay Trampleasure clan, Christmas 2007

So, I send my love to all the Trampleasures who knew and loved Vanessa. I shall miss her. Losing a family member reminds us not to take each other for granted, but to keep up the communications and visits. Anyone coming to Berkeley certainly has a place to stay, and I look forward to my visits to Trampleasures the globe over.

– Lee

Great visit with some of the Canadian Trampleasures

Four TrampleasuresThree more TrampleasuresLast night I had a great visit with cousins in Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

Gary is my “fourth cousin.” He’s proud to be the oldest living Trampleasure in Canada, and the third oldest in the world (my dad beats him out by a decade, as does Colin in London).

I met two “fourth cousins once removed” and three “fourth cousins twice removed.” We had a great time talking about the family tree, how Canada got it’s name (a joke I’m sure they would have heard, but maybe it’s just a US joke), whether or not we actually made it to the moon, and the reality of the 9/11 events (let’s just say not everyone believes the US government tale).

The kids were pleased to see a Trampleasure from another shore (well, almost).  I had a great time. The visit gave me encouragement to do more family tree research.