Tangent Stories – A Tribute to the Outlaws

Greetings all!

I apologize for wandering away from my blog. Mid-January brought the illness, heart-failure and eventual death of my Father-in-Law, Dr. Daniel D. Kersten. He was ill for 40 days before his death. It took 40 days from there to have his memorial service. We have been more than a little occupied.

There is so much introspection when a person dies. While I write these blog entries for the Escalante family, I have to remember that there are the “Outlaws” as well. There is always a branch grafted onto the tree that adds more to the color and gene pool, with every marriage, every torrid love affair. Add the Romos, the Barbachanos, the Valenzuelas, and we have a lovely orchard of fruits and nuts. Haha! I had forgotten that my son has a whole second tree I will need to tell tales about.

However, Dan’s family history isn’t all that estranged from our story. His story almost ran tangent to it in some places. He was a second-generation German-American born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. German was even his first language, as his parents held on to old German traditions. He was mortified by the children making fun of him on the first day of school for not speaking English. I believe this reason is why he was such a lover of English, with its grammar rules and regulations, later in life.

His father was a physician. Dr. Erwin Kersten started practicing medicine in Calipatria, Imperial County, CA. According to the US Census of 1930, he, his wife Wera, and baby son, Dan, were all in this tiny agricultural town. They weren’t in Minneapolis anymore. I’m not sure if Erwin knew what to do with the vast varieties of people who were populating the county. If you, dear reader, get a chance to go to the Pioneers’ Park Museum in Imperial, CA, you will see tributes to the more than 15 ethnic groups that made up the population. And the little Kersten family had to be what? 30 miles north of my family in Calexico where my family was setting up businesses, families and lives?

After Erwin worked to build his medical skills, the Kersten family moved to another county my family once called home. They moved to Orange County. Except they moved to the more Germanic town of Anaheim, California. I say this kindly: ALL peoples will move to what they know. No matter what race they might be. It isn’t a new thing. It gives comfort.

Flash forward 40 years, my husband and I met in San Luis Obispo, at Cal Poly. My parents lived in North San Luis County and his parents were in North Santa Barbara County, and we met in the middle. Location, location, location. Ted’s family was apparently always near mine, just a bit out of reach. It took a lost test on the Business Building lawn for him to finally come to my office asking for directions. Fate had to step in.

I respected Dan. Between he and my sweet mother-in-law, I have a wonderful husband. Dan had many academic accomplishments, including becoming an orthodontist. But that wasn’t what I found fascinating about him. He had met a Civil War veteran and survived the Depression; although he had a tendency to keep many things, as you “never know when you can use something.” But it was his growth as a person who grew up with ideologies from the late-1800s (his parents) who moved into the 21st century with eyes open and a willingness to grow.

I’m sure I’ll get back to Escalante story-telling soon. I’m working on drafts as I write this too. Thanks for your patience of my absence and letting me be a little retrospective in this writing. I was where I needed to be the last few months. It is, after all, THIS life we are living now that will be the tales of tomorrow.

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