María Lucía (Alvarado) Wood Dunham Minasian (1903-2001)

María Lucía (Alvarado) Wood Dunham Minasian (1903-2001)

Come away with me, Lucille
In my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly
Automobubbling, you and I
To the church we’ll swiftly steal
Then our wedding bells will peal
You can go as far as you like with me
In my merry Oldsmobile.

This was the refrain of the extremely popular 1905 song “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” which captured some of the romantic ideas associated with the freedom of the new invention called the automobile. The sheet music of this song featured a couple riding in a curved-dash Oldsmobile, the first mass-produced car, offered from 1901 through 1907. The song was written only two years after the birth of María Lucia Alvarado. It’s tempting to imagine these lyrics had something to do with María Lucia being called “Lucille” throughout much of her life; they certainly express some of her free spirit.

She was born in Los Angeles on April 15, 1903.1 Her parents were José María Alvarado (1866-1920) and Jesús García (1871-1966), who had married most likely in Ensenada (probably in the Church of All Saints, Iglesia de Todos Santos, where their children Carlos and Beatríz were baptized2) and immigrated to California in 1899. 3 [Update: They were married in San Diego in 1895.] José María was born in Mazatlán and Jesús perhaps in Ensenada, although she always insisted her mother gave birth to her just across the border, in the United States. José María and Jesús brought with them three children born in Ensenada: Bernabea Beatríz (born June 11, 18964), Carlos Ysidro (born May 15, 18975) and Leopoldo Francisco “Paul” (born January 4, 18996).

The Plaza Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, 1900

The Plaza Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, 1900

Lucille was the second of three children born in Los Angeles. Her older sister Mercedes was born about 1901 and succumbed to yellow fever May 3, 1917;7 her younger sister, Cecilia María Anastasia, was born April 28, 1909.8 We can probably assume that Lucille was baptized in the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, the Plaza Church (La Placita), the city’s first church from which the city of Los Angeles received its name on September 4, 1781 and the historic center of the city. The baptismal register of La Placita for the dates covering the period during which Lucille would have been baptized are faded and virtually illegible, but we know that her sister Cecilia was baptized there on July 4, 1909.9

José María and Jesús lived the life of typical immigrants when they first arrived. He was 32 and she was 22 in this new land, where José María could only find work as a day laborer, living just north of downtown Los Angeles off Broadway at 414 Bellevue Avenue when their daughter Beatríz died in 1900 at the age of 4.10 [Update: I have located a photo of the house.]

Jesús (García) Alvarado (1871-1966) with daughter outside the family home at 717 Bailey Street in Los Angeles

Jesús (García) Alvarado (1871-1966) with daughter outside the family home at 717 Bailey Street in Los Angeles

By 1905, José María had found work with the Southern Pacific Railroad.11 We don’t know what kind of work it was, but it was most likely hard manual labor. The family was living across the street from the Southern Pacific yards, at 238 Myers Street. In 1906, they were living at 1606 Bridge Street, and by 1907 they had moved around the corner to a house at 717 Bailey Street in Boyle Heights, not far from today’s White Memorial Medical Center, where they remained until about 1916.12 During this time, José María found work in an iron foundry.13

Jesús Alvarado standing in front of Alvarado Mexican Merchandise, Lankershim

Jesús Alvarado standing in front of Alvarado Mexican Merchandise, Lankershim.

By 1916 the family was living on Fourth Street in the unincorporated community of Lankershim.14 The address was 10939 Fourth Street, an address that would remain in the family records for years to come. It was an upstairs residence above a store that had a rooftop garden and a social hall in the back the family would rent for weddings and other occasions.15 On the ground floor Jesús would establish a business called Alvarado Mexican Merchandise, probably after the death of José María. On the annexation of Lankershim to the City of Los Angeles in 1923, Fourth Street would become Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood. The family store and residence was at today’s 10939 Magnolia Boulevard at Craner Avenue.

Cecilia (1909-2008) and Lucia (1903-2001)

Cecilia (1909-2008) and Lucia (1903-2001)

Around this time the family also had a residence downtown at 543 1/2 Fremont Avenue.16 [Update: I found photos of the house.] It was here that Lucille’s brother Carlos, an artist then employed as a show-card writer at Hales Stores,17 contracted the deadly Spanish influenza, which would cause a worldwide pandemic in 1918-1920 second in levels of mortality only to the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages. This particular flu strain was unique in that it claimed its victims from among young and strong adults, as opposed to most other flu stains that preyed on children and the elderly. The entire world was in a panic as death rates spiraled out of control in the great cosmopolitan cities. Up to 100 million people died; about 20 percent of the world’s population was infected.

As Carlos lay ill, Lucille was sent to live with her family in Ensenada to protect her from infection.18 This would not be the first time the family had sent children away to save them from disease; Cecilia had been sent to live with her aunt Rose (Rosario García) and her husband Cristóbal Portillo in Santa Paula when Mercedes contracted yellow fever.19 Lucille spent the time in Ensenada most likely with the family of her maternal aunt Trinidad “Trini” García (1878-?), who on November 3, 1900 married Federico “Fred” Goldbaum (1862-?).20

The Goldbaum family was highly respected in Ensenada; Federico’s brother David (1858-1930), a mining engineer, is considered one of the founding fathers of that city and in the last three years of his life was mayor of Ensenada.21 David’s period of mining success coincides with Seth Dunham’s period of disillusionment with mining in northern California. The grand-daughter of Federico and Trinidad by their daughter Beatríz was Virgínia Enriqueta Escarcega, who married into the Hernández-Hussong family of Ensenada (famous for the family saloon known as Hussong’s Cantina, where some claim the margarita was invented) and would remain a lifetime friend of Lucille’s.22 Her aunts Trini and Rose were always very supportive of her, even in difficult times, and throughout her life Lucille would faithfully visit her family in Ensenada. Trinidad’s daughter Enriqueta married the theatrical entrepreneur and ambassador José María Dávila. He was a patron of the famous artist Diego Rivera, who painted portraits of Enriquetta “Queta” and her daughter “Quetita” which are still in the family’s possession today in México City.

Lucille returned to Los Angeles from Ensenada with a cosmopolitan viewpoint that challenged her family. Her mother was disturbed. Jesús conferred with the widow Minnie Wood,23 her neighbor at 512 S. Fremont Avenue, whose son Willard Vane Wood had recently returned from San Francisco and was living with her.24 At the time, Willard was employed as a bookkeeper with Los Angeles Gas and Electric Company.25 To Jesús, it seemed that Lucille needed some reigning in. Minnie thought her son Willard, born in Iowa on November 20, 1898,26 was the ideal husband for Lucille.27 Jesús agreed, and against Lucille’s wishes, the two young people were married in Los Angeles on February 3, 1919.28 Lucille was 15 years old.

María Lucia "Lucille" Alvarado (1903-2001) on the day of her marriage to Willard Vane Wood (1898-1986), 3 February 1919

María Lucia “Lucille” Alvarado (1903-2001) on the day of her marriage to Willard Vane Wood (1898-1986), 3 February 1919

At the time of her wedding, her brother Carlos had just died (on January 4, 1919 at the age of 2129) and her father most likely had already contracted the same Spanish flu. As her sister Cecilia described it, there was “death upstairs and death downstairs.”30 Her father, José Maria, would succumb to the Spanish flu on March 21, 1920 at the age of 53.31 This was the macabre setting for Lucille’s unwanted marriage. They soon divorced.

On November 5, 1919, Lucille gave birth to Willard Eugene “Gene” Wood.32 The 1920 U.S. Census shows the family living at 2621 Brighton Avenue, with Willard employed as a teller. By 1923 they had separated; Willard was a clerk living at 764 Ottowa and Lucille was a salesperson for the International Music Company living at 1423 S. New Hampshire.33 Jesús was at the family store on Fourth Street.34 In 1925, Lucille was a bookkeeper for Bakers Purchasing Company, living at 4335 Brighton Avenue.35 In 1926, Willard was a bookkeeper at 3603 S. Central Avenue, and there are no known records of him thereafter except for his death on March 29, 1986 in Los Angeles County.36 [Update: I have learned much more about Willard’s subsequent life.]

Around this time, Lucille was employed in maintaining an apartment building in Los Angeles. One of the tenants was Sumner Earl Dunham (born April 23, 1899 in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County37), then about 26 and by all accounts a strikingly handsome man. He noticed how hard Lucille worked and how she seemed to be unappreciated by her family.38 He invited her on a date, and on that first date asked her to marry him. Swooning, she promptly agreed. They were married January 31, 1923 February 14, 1923, in San Bernardino.

During this period, Lucille also managed a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood or North Hollywood. Among her regular customers were many employees of the motion picture studios in the area.39 As a free form of entertainment, Lucille and her friends would attend Sunday services at Angelus Temple in Echo Park to see the antics of the legendary Aimee Semple McPherson, colorful and charismatic founder of the Foursquare Gospel Church, whose “dramatic sermons” were lavish displays of theatricality.40

Sumner Earl Dunham (1899-1964)

Sumner Earl Dunham (1899-1964)

Sumner Earl was the love of her life. Lucille and he would often go to the amusement zones of Santa Monica, where enormous dance halls were filled with thousands of people far into the early hours of the morning. She probably found him dashing, exciting and adventurous; a truck mechanic who knew how to party.41 Some indication of their bohemian spirit is recorded in the 1930 U.S. Census, when they lived at 1119 87th St. in an unincorporated area south of the City of Los Angeles. They gave their names as Stanley and Lorraine, aliases for which we have no explanation.42 “Stanley” was then employed as a washing machine salesman and would later work as a real-estate agent. Lucille followed him in the washing-machine sales business, devising a special trailer for her car to accommodate this new invention, which she would demonstrate to housewives at curbside.43 She bragged of a high sales rate. Another job Lucille had was a telephone operator.44

Their first child, Virginia Lucille, was born on December 2, 192645 and was always known as “Dolly.” Jack Leonard followed on June 2, 1928,46 Cecilia Suzanne on December 27, 193647 and Rosemary Jane on April 1, 1941.48 We don’t know precisely why Lucille and Sumner Earl finally separated after nearly 20 years together (one family story has it that Sumner Earl was discovered in flagrante delictu by Lucille in the office of his real estate business); their relationship was stormy and had included intermittent separations. The divorce proceedings were as high-pitched and emotional as their life together had been.49

Lucille Minasian, Jesús Alvarado and Aram Minasian behind the house on Windsor Street, Glendale

Lucille Minasian, Jesús Alvarado and Aram Minasian behind the house on Windsor Street, Glendale

Shortly after their final separation, probably in 1946,50 Lucille married Aram Minasian, a very different person from Sumner Earl, at the Church of the Open Door on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, known for its famous neon sign reading “Jesus Saves.” Aram was born in New York on July 27, 1903,51 the first son of Leon Arsman Minasian (1874-?) and Louisa Terzian (1885-1958), Armenians who fled the oppression of the Ottoman Empire.52 They were most likely from Kayseri (Gesaria in Armenian), the ancient Caesarea where St. Gregory the Illuminator embraced the Gospel in the Fourth Century—the birthplace of Armenian Christianity—and immigrated to Fresno, center of California’s Armenian community, in June, 1897.53

The Bible Institute of Los Angeles and the Church of the Open Door was located on Hope Street, immediately below the Los Angeles Central Library downtown. It was the predecessor institution of Biola University. Image circa 1930-1940  from a postcard in Werner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

The Bible Institute of Los Angeles and the Church of the Open Door was located on Hope Street, immediately below the Los Angeles Central Library downtown. It was the predecessor institution of Biola University. Image circa 1930-1940 from a postcard in Werner von Boltenstern Postcard Collection, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

Aram was an exceedingly cautious and thrifty person, who was perhaps scarred from experiencing the harrowing poverty and need of the Great Depression. He would in his later years roam the streets of Glendale collecting the castoffs of others to save for potential future uses, offering comments such as “Can you believe someone threw away this perfectly good piece of wire?” While others called him a packrat, Lucille preferred to call him a “collector,” and she had great patience with this trait, although she would not let him store his finds in certain parts of the house. His stepdaughter Rosemary recalls that when the price of gasoline exceeded 25 cents per gallon, he would simply stop buying it. The family lived at 5875 S. Hoover Street in Los Angeles,54 and Aram worked for decades as a truck driver for Bormann Steel in Burbank; before that he worked in the foundry of Bethlehem Steel.55

Aram’s caution often precluded him from taking advantage of investment opportunities. He loved to regale people with stories of how he had a chance to buy various plots of land, smiling as he remembered thinking that no one would want an orange grove in a place called Anaheim (now the site of Disneyland) or another grove far from the city center (now the location of the Beverly Hills Hotel). He was never bitter about these lost opportunities, instead he would laugh, amused at his own lack of vision.

Despite Aram’s misgivings, Lucille would often take her children out on the open road, driving around the United States on vacations, getting her kicks on Route 66.56

Dunham Family Picnic

David, Frank, Naomi (Schilling), and Cecilia Hernandez, Jesus Alvarado, Lucille Dunham, Gene and Patrice “Patty” (Dixon) Wood, Virginia “Dolly “Nancy” (Dunham) and Winford “Bill” Tate, Jack Dunham, Suzanne (Dunham) Johnson holding Janice and Yvonne, and Rosemary Dunham. Seated: Eva Lucille Wood and Louise Tate.

After Dolly, Jack, Suzanne and Rosemary married and moved away, Lucille and Aram lived in a Craftsman-style bungalow owned by Lucille at 211 Windsor Dr. in Glendale, and Lucille later bought a house and two-unit apartment building at 204 W. Kenwood Dr., also in Glendale. The front house they rented out, and Lucille lived in the upper apartment, while Aram filled the bottom apartment with his finds.

Lucille passed her time in this apartment painting and reading, with visits by family for holidays and special occasions. The apartment was decorated with her watercolors and oil paintings, as well as antiques she inherited from various family members and the family’s long-time advocate and protector, Dr. Cecilia Reiche. A visit to Grandma often included a special treat: lunch at the original Bob’s Big Boy on San Fernando Road Riverside Drive in Glendale.

During this time Lucille enjoyed her new-found freedom. She had a wide circle of friends. She was active in the Las Amigas Club of Glendale, editing the newsletter, organizing trips and playing canasta. She even took swimming lessons at the Glendale YWCA. Lucille and Aram greatly enjoyed the since-forgotten pastime of “going for a drive,” where they would get into the car and just explore the open road. Often they would set off to visit family members across the state or in Mexico, but just as often they would have no planned destination, following roads on a whim and delighting in what they discovered.

Eventually Lucille and Aram separated; Aram rented the house on Windsor from Lucille and she continued to live on Kenwood. Even though divorced, they continued to be friends and companions. It seems they still enjoyed one another’s company, but realized they simply could not live together. For Lucille, her relationship with Aram was tinged by a deathbed promise she made to his mother Louisa to always take care of Aram. Lucille was true to her word. Aram died on February 4, 1990 in Glendale at the age of 8657 with Lucille at his side. The family emptied the Windsor house of decades of accumulated and neatly organized paper bags, string, scraps of wood, old nails and other such things. His brother Arthur inherited the bulk of his estate, as Aram always had a strong sense of responsibility as the elder son.

When it became apparent that Lucille could no longer live on her own, she was shuttled to various hospitals and convalescent homes. For a while she lived in Alabama with her daughter Virginia, “Dolly.” As a nurse, Dolly was especially suited to this responsibility, and she cared for Lucille with great devotion. Lucille was frail and forgetful; she would often not recognize family members. She also spent time in a convalescent home in Orange County near her daughter Suzanne.

Lucille died on May 25, 2001 in Glendale at the age of 98.58 Her funeral was at Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale, where her daughter Rosemary had been married and her eldest grandson Eric Stoltz was baptized. She was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale near Sumner Earl.

Throughout her life, Lucille was a non-conformist. She enjoyed life and did not feel constrained by what society felt were appropriate roles for a woman. She was not afraid to work hard to support her family, and she enjoyed whatever she did, whether it was toting a washing machine behind her car, cooking Mexican food all day or spending hours at a telephone operator’s station. Her eyes would shine as she related each of these chapters of her life, smiling as she told her stories.

What kept her going was the need to provide for her children at home, and perhaps to get a little time to get behind the wheel of her car and go wherever she wanted, enjoying the perfume of the vast orange groves that lined the roads of her California and the simple pleasure of stopping to pick a bunch of grapes from an unattended vineyard along the way as she drove without a plan, merely to savor the journey.

Cover of sheet music to "In My Merry Oldsmobile," 1905

Cover of sheet music to “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” 1905

Even when Lucille could no longer drive, she could not bear to sell her beloved 1984 Chevrolet Celebrity. The car sat gathering dust in her garage on Kenwood. It was the end of an era for her, the loss of her independence and an unconquerable spirit that had led her through so many hardships.

Though often disappointed by the men in her life, she remained devoted to her extended family and friends, and open to new experiences. She was never afraid to try anything.

Did Lucille’s life-long nickname come from the old song? Perhaps an answer lies in the last days of her sister Cecilia Alvarado Hernández Kirkman.

In the months before her death in October 2008 at the age of 99, when she often could not remember her sister or other family members, Cecilia would be heard softly singing “Come away with me, Lucille…” You can almost see Lucille behind the wheel of her car, flying down the road of life.

Listen to In My Merry Oldsmobile

María Lucia “Lucille” Alvarado Wood Dunham Minasian is my grandmother.


  1. Lucille Minasian entry, Social Security Death Index.
  2. Archivo Diocesano de Tijuana, both baptized on the same day, June 27, 1897.
  3. Declaration of Intention of José María Alvarado, U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California, January 11, 1916, no. 3109.
  4. Baptismal record, as in no. 2.
  5. Baptismal record, as in no. 2, and World War I Draft Registration Card. The baptismal record gives his name as Ysidro Carlos, but he and his family seem to have preferred Carlos Ysidro throughout his short life.
  6. World War I Draft Registration Card. He died July 1, 1963 in Los Angeles (California Death Index).
  7. Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder death records.
  8. Cecilia Alvarado Hernández Kirkman died on October 1, 2008 at the age of 99.
  9. Family records in the possession of her daughter Gloria Joyce Hernández Alvarado, San Diego.
  10. 1900 Federal Census, Ward 2, District 13, Los Angeles.
  11. Los Angeles City Directory, 1905.
  12. Los Angeles City Directories, 1906-1913.
  13. Los Angeles City Directory, 1910.
  14. José María Alvarado, Declaration of Intention.
  15. Interview with Cecilia Alvarado Hernández Kirkman, 2008. She recalls the name of the dog in the photograph as Jerry.
  16. Los Angeles City Directory, 1918.
  17. A show-card writer was one who would use brushes and ink to carefully and artistically letter the promotional signs of retail establishments. Hale Brothers would later become part of Hale-Broadway Stores, the company that would operate The Broadway Department Stores in Southern California, since acquired by Federated Department Stores (Macy’s). Today’s equivalent of this position would be visual merchandising. There is no way to definitively explain the fact that Carlos gave this occupation on his World War I draft card—and signed it—six months after his recorded death date. The draft board must have misdated it. This is also the occupation given on his death certificate.
  18. Interview with Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz, May 2008.
  19. Interview with Interview with Gloria Joyce Hernández Alvarado, 2008.
  20. Norton B. Stern, Baja California: Jewish Refuge and Homeland (Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop, 1973, p. 47.
  21. See Donald Chaput, William M. Mason and David Zárate Loperna, Modest Fortunes: Mining in Northern Baja California (Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1992.)
  22. Virginia’s husband, Miguel Hernandez, was the son of Jorge Hernandez and Estela Hussong (born December 22, 1891 in Ensenada, according to U.S. Border Crossing Records), daughter of the fabled Johann Hussong, founder of Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, “the bar that founded a city.”
  23. Minnie would later die as the manager of an apartment building in Venice sometime after 1920. See 1920 U.S. Census. She was born about 1867 in Iowa.
  24. World War I Draft Registration Card; he was a newsstand manager at the Fred Harvey Restaurant at the Santa Fé Terminal in San Francisco, living at 895 Mission Sreet.
  25. Los Angeles City Directory, 1918.
  26. See 1900 U.S. Census, Washington, Wapello, Iowa, and World War I Draft Registration Card. Willard’s father was Charles A. Wood, born about 1867 in Iowa, who probably died when Willard and his older sister Edna (born in Iowa about 1890) were very young, leaving Minnie to raise the children by herself.
  27. Interview with Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz, May 2008.
  28. Los Angeles County Recorder-Clerk; she gave her name as Lucy.
  29. Death Certificate of Carlos Alvarado, Los Angeles County Recorder-Clerk.
  30. Interview with Cecilia Alvarado Hernández Kirkman, 2008.
  31. Hollywood Forever Cemetery Records.
  32. California Birth Index. Gene died on December 14, 1968 in Los Angeles (California Death Index).
  33. Los Angeles City Directory, 1923.
  34. Los Angeles City Directories, 1922, 1925.
  35. Los Angeles City Directory, 1925.
  36. Death Record for Donald Vane Wood, California Death Index.
  37. World War I Draft Registration Card. He died on April 22, 1964 in Lynwood, Los Angeles County (California Death Index). His parents were Sumner Dunham, born March 24, 1871 in California, died October 7, 1947 in Sacramento at the age of 76, and Cora Belle Ivans, born March 12 1873 in California and died July 11, 1963 in Los Angeles County at the age of 90. His son Jack, a leader in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, presided at his funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale.
  38. Interview with Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz, May 2008.
  39. Various stories by Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz.
  40. Account of Lucille Minasian to Eric Stoltz.
  41. The 1926 Los Angeles City Directory lists Earl Dunham as an auto mechanic living at 1419 E. 66th St., the first record of him in the city.
  42. 1930 U.S. Census, Gardena Township, Los Angeles, California. This same Census shows Gene living with Lucille and Sumner Earl and also with Jesús and Leopoldo at the house on Magnolia Boulevard. Apparently Gene spent part of the year with his grandmother, where they got by on Leo’s salary as a court interpreter and the revenue generated by the house and store.
  43. Various accounts by Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz.
  44. Account of Lucille Minasian to Eric Stoltz.
  45. California Birth Index.
  46. California Birth Index. Jack died on July 3, 2000 in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona (Social Security Death Index).
  47. California Birth Index.
  48. Lucille records Rosemary’s birth in her Baby Book as 1:20 p.m. on a Tuesday, born at Doctor’s Hospital, 325 West Jefferson Blvd. She weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
  49. Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz recalls that Jack and Dolly were forced on the witness stand to claim beatings at the hand of Sumner Earl which never actually occurred.
  50. Lucille records in Rosemary’s Baby Book about her beginning school: “Entered under her new father’s name Minasian – name of Dunham dropped April 21, 1946.”
  51. California Death Index.
  52. The Ottoman Empire had always been a highly diverse entity where a delicate balance was maintained between various peoples of many nationalities, religions and cultures. But in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, a nationalistic Turkish viewpoint took hold, and entire ethnic neighborhoods, especially Greeks and Armenians, fled cities such as Istanbul and other areas of the empire under pressure from ethnic Turks. See Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City (New York: Vintage International, 2006).
  53. Leon Arsman Minasian, Petition for Naturalization, Southern District of California, Southern Division, April 27, 1907. He gives his birthplace as “Kaiserich,” most likely a variant transcription from the Turkish. He renounces (probably eagerly) his allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmet V, whose son Mehmet VI would preside over the denoument of the empire. The other children of Leon Arsman and Luisa were Ardaches Leon “Arthur,” born September 3, 1905 in New York and died September 27, 1997 in Los Angeles, and Dikran L. (Leon?) “Richard,” born September 8, 1907 in Fresno and died June 15, 1993 in Laguna Niguel, Orange, California. Dates from California Death Index.
  54. Record of Lucille in Rosemary’s Baby Book.
  55. Desperate for a job, the normally honest young Aram had lied about his age to be employed by Bormann, with the result that several decades later he had to retire early, on his 70th birthday according to company records, according to an account he gave to Eric Stoltz.
  56. Account of Rosemary Jane Dunham Stoltz to Eric Stoltz.
  57. California Death Index.
  58. California Death Index.

3 comments on “Come Away with Me, Lucille

  • Eric, Excellent. Grandma’s father Jose Maria Alvarado is buried at an unmark grave at 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. Great grandmother Jessie is buried at San Fernando Mission Cemetery. My mid 1970s family history project went to Aunt Dolly Tate in late 1991 before I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anything on Aunt Jovita who moved to New Zealand ? I met her once when she and Grandma visited our 3500 Prospect Avenue home in La Crescenta. You certainly did your homework.


    Janice Christine Johnson
    Jan-Christine Johnson
    3636 Sixteenth Street NW
    Washington DC 20010

  • I’m pasting some comments I received from my cousin David Hernandez. He had inadvertently included some personal contact information, so I deleted his comment and am posting the rest of his notes:

    thanks, Eric, for dispelling the mist of secrecy which has long shrouded our family past.
    A few points of addenda:
    1. My grandmother, JG Alvarado, the first born child of Rosario related to us that she was born on the banks of the Tijuana river when her mother was rushing to the nearest hospital in San Diego. She always maintained that she emerged on the north bank, which would have made her an American citizen by birth but there was no proof. So in the early ’50s, still barely able to speak English, she took the citizenship test assisted by my brother Frank and was sworn in officially as an American.
    2. Your grandmother, Lucia, once confided to me that she was born in Ensenada and was in fact, Mexican. I do not know where Mercedes was born. She is buried next to her brother Carlos and her Father.
    2a. In 2003 I escorted my mother to Ensenada for her final visit with cousin Virginia. Virginia took us to the graveyard where her grandparents’ headstones were clearly visible from the street giving the dates of their deaths.
    3. In 1990 cousin Dolly showed me the original marriage license for JG and Jose Maria Alvarado issued in San Diego and dated 1899. Hand written neatly at the bottom were the birth dates of all the children. We both remarked that Carlos’ birth date was exactly 9 months and one day after the wedding date.
    4. Aunt Lucille told me that my mother Cecilia was born on Market St. in Boyle Heights, delivered by Dr. Cecilia Reiche.
    5. Uncle Aram bears the distinction of being the first Armenian to settle in Glendale.
    I guess I’m getting old but I honestly don’t remember a Bob’s Big Boy on San Fernando Rd. in Glendale. There was a diner just down the street from your grand parents’ home across the street from the main post office. I enjoyed many a spaghetti size there working the Christmas midnight shift while attending Loyola U. The original Bob’s Big Boy was located on East Colorado St., walking distance to Glendale High School.

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