Andrea Donaldson (Orr)

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Andrea Donaldson-Torres in South Pasadena circa 1959

  • Born 30 Nov. 1877
    Silver City, New Mexico
  • 1895 Marriage to Francisco Torres
    Silver City, New Mexico
  • Died: 22 March 1961
    South Pasadena, California, USA

Story submitted by her grandson E.A. Chavez

Little grandma’s house was located in a rural corner of South Pasadena. The property purchased by Uncle Tony in 194?, for little grandma, Aunt Lucy, and Uncle Tony. The property also had a small one bedroom home where Uncle Julian, Aunt Margaret, Mona, Toni, and Juliann lived.  The address was 120 N. Peterson Drive, South Pasadena, no zip code in those days.  The mail box was up a flight of stairs built on hundreds of inverted wine bottles set in concrete.  The house had a full basement where Uncle Tony’s had a bedroom, the room was closed when he wasn’t in town. When he was home and would invite us into his room which was a special treat we get to see his treasured collection of authentic Indian arrow heads, gold mining equipment, silver, gold or precious gems and the stories that went with them. And if we were lucky he would play some of his musical instruments.

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Andrea Donaldson (Torres) center with her daughter’s Harriet (left), Ida (right) and son-in-law Wesley (rear).

When we went to little grandma’s we came off of Collis avenue and turned right onto Avenue 60 and right on the first dirt road. This dirt road was the quickest way to the homestead, it was a one lane dusty road cut into the side of the mountain with a steep crown half way to the barn. When someone was arriving and someone was leaving by automobile, one of the vehicles had to back down and allow the other vehicle to proceed, this happened often. During the rainy season the road became a muddy, slippery dangerous quagmire.  The alternative route was to go up and over the hill onto Peterson drive, which had no parking. One rainy day Aunt Ida came walking up to the house and telling us that her 1948 Pontiac was stuck on top of the road. My dad, Uncle Tony my brother Steven and I went to the rescue.  Uncle Tony was behind the wheel and the rest of us pushed, pulled, slipped and slushed the car down the hill to the corral, and told Aunt Ida to wait until the road dried before trying to drive out.

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Andrea Donaldson-Torres with her children and grandchildren South Pasadena Christmas 1954.

The house set on several acres of land in a small valley, lots of flowers and many very large eucalyptus trees around the house a with  a large barn, wood fenced large corral,  two large animal pens where uncle Tony raised, for  sale,  hundreds of rabbits. The land on the opposite side of the barns was kind of flat and that is where Uncle Tony plowed and planted carrots, celery, rhubarb, and other crops for canning.  I remember Uncle Tony having a weekend rodeo with most of the cowboy horse riding events.  The house itself seemed large, it had three bedrooms, a comfortable front room, a large kitchen/dining room with a wooden “ice box” and a kitchen sink with only a cold water faucet. There was no bathroom upstairs; you had to go to the basement to go to the bathroom.  The back yard was actually on the side of the house adjacent to the kitchen.  The side yard had a sizeable grassy area, a picnic table, large brick outdoor oven, and a concrete area (for dancing). This side yard is where most of the activities took place.  All kinds of celebrations took place at little grandma’s such as wedding and baby showers, birthday parties, receptions, holidays and special  Christmas parties.  Most of the food that was cooked in the kitchen or several pot luck entrée’s which were was fantastic.  The kids would traverse the surrounding hills playing in the tree house until Steven broke both of his wrists by jumping out of the tree house.

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Andrea’s home (owned by her son Tony) seen in the rear. Harriet Castaneda with Ronald Luedeman and Juliann Torres. South Pasadena 1951.

It seems as though we would congregate two or three weekends a month at little grandma’s.  No matter what day we went (my brother, sister, and I ) there was always something going on with our aunts, uncles or our a cousins, and lots of food, desserts (bread pudding, turnovers, fruit pies, tomato jam, cakes) and something called beer.  In the early 1950’s Uncle Tony rented the barn to Mister Parker, where he built and repaired harness racing sulkies and carts.  We would put Becky in one of the carts and pull her around the corral. Little grandma would gather her children in the spring and summer for the caning experience.  This was a day long process, what with boiling Mason jar, lids and utensils everything had to be sterile except the kids. Then the processing of the harvested fruit or vegetables by cooking in large pots and then storing them in the basement with the other hundreds of mason jars.

Andrea and her sister Anita visiting family in Oregon circa 1950.

Andrea and her sister Anita visiting family in Oregon circa 1950. Camas, Washington. Back Row left to right: Buz Parson, Earl Underwood, Marge Parson Underwood, Wesley Parson, Margaret Bothman Parson, Pete Parson, Del Bassett, Jim Wachob, Shirley Parson, Paul Parson Middle, Left to right Eva Parson, Pauline Parson, Anita Donaldson Montoya, Andrea Donaldson Torres, Ruby Parson Bassett, Kay Parson, Bernice Miller Parson, Don Parson, Ben Parson Bottom row, sitting Left to right Peter Parson, Gerry Wachob, Connie Chavez Picone, Betty Parson The older Parsons are children of Juanita Donaldson, daughter of Marcelina Gurule and Jack Donaldson, married to Otto Parson.

One Easter Sunday was spent at little grandma’s and I was unhappy because I wanted to stay home and play baseball.  When she found out why I was upset she gathered every on and had the men move the cars and we set up a ball diamond in front of the house. She even became involved in the game by getting a hit and advancing to first base.  What a fun day.

Easter Sunday South Pasadena circa 1950.

Easter Sunday South Pasadena circa 1950.

The most memorable day spent at little grandma’s was the winter of 1948 that was the day it snowed in Los Angeles. My dad stayed home from work and took my mom, Steven, Bony, Mark, Erick, and I  to little grandma’s.  Driving over the crest of rhe road the entire valley was covered with snow, the view was overwhelming.  It was like a picture post card from santa’s north pole, and it was all ours to enjoy.  What a day, sledding, building several snowmen, and a snowball fight with all of us against my dad, dad won. All of this followed by dirty clothes,huddled around the kitchen open oven, hot chocolate, hot chicken and rice soup. A day to be remembered forever.