Index of Posts: Slices of Shona's Life
Memories of Shona

Shona has always been a light in my life. We were born in the SF bay area. Our dad, a civil engineer, had his first post-grad school post at Stanford. I was born two years later, and shortly after that, the family moved to Berkeley where my dad started at UC Berkeley as an Assistant Professor of Engineering. Shona, Leslye in high heels, and Bonnie and Angela on bikes. Woolsey St.The family was lucky to find an apartment to rent in the Elmwood area of Berkeley, alongside three other families, each with two girls of similar ages. We four families - the Kellys, the Alexanders, the Billingslys, and the Senturias became fast friends, with the parents sharing baby sitting duties and the kids (and parents) forming life-long friendships. Ginger Alexander posts her memories here, Ruth Senturia posts hers here, and Michael Senturia posts his here. This was a great time to grow up in Berkeley, we had good schools, empty streets to play in, and lots of houses to roam in and out of. My mother was (and is) an amazing cook, and my parents were very adventurous culinarily. Shona and I were raised on a mix of organic farm-fresh produce from Sonoma County, whole grains from the Food Mill in Oakland, novel and creative Franco-Italian-Californian cuisine of their own invention, an old-world reliance on organ meat and porridge (though never at the same time!), and Indian vegetarian delicacies when the Ballachandarins came to visit. We also as a family frequented every tiny, cheap, authentic Chinese food restaurant we could find, with my dad smiling and pointing at random at the Chinese menu in order to get a surprise. We were proto-adopters of the Berkeley food scene: our house had daily baked bread, home-made yogurt, home-made fruit "leather" for snacks; my parents also shared a love of California wines, and as kids my sis and I were personally responsible for crushing gallons of Norman Landsberg's grapes with our tiny naked feet in order to facilitate my father's desire to make the perfect home brew.

Pacific Island visits: left: with Dad; right: with Mom


In 1971, we decanted to Wellington, New Zealand for my father's sabbatical year. We travelled to NZ on a boat, the journey took 2+ weeks, and resulted in many wonderful images of the family in exotic locales. Living in New Zealand was an adventure of the highest order. Our first port of call was Lower Hutt, in north Wellington. There Shona and I attended a school where a fresh white hankercheif had to be produced daily in a line-up for inspection by the headmistress, yet our swimming pool was perpetually dark green and vile smelling.  On the glacier, NZWe eventually found a drafty house for rent in the Roseneath neighborhood of Wellington that clung to the windy hillside overlooking Wellington Harbor, and spent the year learning to layer sweaters and eat lots of lamb. The walk up from the street was vertiginous; the view from our living room was astonishing. Shona was placed in a school where girls were not expected to know math, or to speak out in class. Needless to say, she chafed under the stern discipline of her teacher and found every opportunity to point out in clear and ringing tones the lack of fairness in this Antipodean school. We had some great times wandering the vastness of NZ landscapes, including taking a small airplane trip that culminated in a walk on a glacier - a memory that stays with me today (and luckily has photographic evidence). Easter of 1972 we spent on the beach in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands with Margaret Cooper and her family. She posts about that time here.

Upon our return my parents bought a house in the southern hills of Berkeley, near to the Alexanders and our two besties Leslye and Megan Alexander. Our new house was on The Uplands, where my parents remain today. For the first time, we each had our own room, we had a huge wild backyard to play in (although in reality we spent the first number of years in hard toil removing obstacles from, and coaxing life back in to, the forgotten soil, in order to plant vegetables), and a new school within walking distance with a multitude of friends. Kindergarten through 3rd grade were uneventful and pleasant at John Muir School. Shona and I on the deck of the Ashby; our dad navigatingAt some point during these years we spent 6 months in England, on another half-year sabbatical. We lived in Goring, an idyllic town on the banks of the Thames in what was at the time a drafty, freezing, ramshackle house called "The Temple", and which was subsequently bought, torn down, and rebuilt by Pete Townshend of The Who. At the end of our sojourn there we rented a boat and cruised the marvelous canals of the border country between England and Wales. We were thrilled because coincidentally, our boat was called "Ashby", an Avenue in Berkeley quite near us. We meandered at about 5 miles per hour through the countryside, finding a mooring each evening and a country pub meal to hold us over.

At age 9, Shona went to Malcolm X school on Ashby Ave for 4th - 6th grades. We both had the ultimate pleasure and privilege of having Mr. Lou Haas for our 6th grade teacher at Malcolm X. He was kind, fearless, demanding, and well out of the box for standard middle school teachers. He was amazing to my sister when she had to have orthodontory work: she showed up for school - a small, timid, embarrassed 11-year old girl who was instructed to wear an elaborate 1980s style "head-gear" all day, every day. He defied anyone to make fun of her, and she walked with her head high with his support. He was amazing. 

At age 12, she was off to Willard School, on Telegraph Avenue, for 7th - 9th grades. There she continued her love of swimming (in a pool that has now been filled with dirt "to preserve it"), and began the love of literature and history that stayed with her throughout her life.

Mom, Dad and Sho on a camping tripDuring our teenage years our parents were mad about camping. We explored much of California equipped with a WWII-era canvas tent that weighed a ton, and took hours (and prodigious cursing from my Glaswegian father) to set up. Under the flickering light of a second- (or third-) hand Coleman lantern we would eat fanciful gourmet-type campstove dinners in remote campsites. We often ate what we caught - that sounds way more macho and outdoorsy than it was. I remember camping on the north coast and my Dad catching a Dungeness crab with a bit of string and pieces of blueberry pancakes from the previous breakfast. That crab was delicious. We would also forage: mostly for elderflowers so my parents could make their famous elderflower wine. On these camping adventures my parents always had their vin rouge tres ordinaire, we had our orange juice, and we'd drift off to sleep after long days of hiking.

Off to High School and College...