Herman and Cecelia (Myers) Brown Bio

From Herman Brown, October 19, 2007:

My friend Bob Baker is the one person responsible for introducing us in our last year of high school. I think it was on the back stage of the high school auditorium. Bob knew we would like each other.

Cecelia says the date was March 23rd, 1956, at 4:35pm.

When I met Cecelia, I was working part-time for a small electronics-manufacturing firm on Sepulveda, in Manhattan Beach, Sid Held TV / Novatech. I later worked for a string of small electronic companies on the other side of PCH, all of which eventually went under.

We exchanged spit for a couple of years, and despite threats from Cecelia’s parents, we got married somewhere around the Fourth of July, 1960, at the Methodist Church overlooking Haggerty’s Cove in Palos Verdes. Leonard Askham, an old friend from Jr. College, was the only guest at the wedding other than my sister Louise and my brother-in-law Wayne. Cecelia and I spent our honeymoon in Laguna Beach.

Cecelia says the date we were married was July 2nd, 1960.

Our first home was the front part of a small duplex at 431 Longfellow Ave., in Hermosa Beach, CA. Cecelia worked for the credit dentist chain, Dr. Campbell’s, in Inglewood as a dental assistant, and I was now working at Estey Electronics in Torrance, CA as an electronic technician. We both were attending El Camino Jr. College at that time.

Our first daughter was conceived in Hermosa.

When the company offered me a chance to work in a small research division in Canoga Park, we moved there into an apartment on Topanga Canyon Blvd, in Woodland Hills right near Ventura Avenue. Cecelia worked at keeping the home running, and Denise Lorene was born while we lived there, in the summer of 1962.

Cecelia says the date was August 12, 1962.

When Estey decided to close down the research division, I found a job working at Scionics Corp., also in Canoga Park, as a test technician in the telemetry department. A new friend I had met while working at the Estey Research division, Ariel Paladini, was then working at Scionics and told me about the position. I eventually became the head of the test department, and when the company moved a little farther into northern Canoga Park, with the financial help of my new boss, Bob Kusch, we bought our first home near the business. I was actually able to walk to work.

Cecelia continued to work at home and soon made our final daughter, Brenda Louise, who was born in late 1964. So both of our daughters are “Valley Girls”

Cecelia says Brenda was born on October 16, 1964.

I accepted an offer for a position at a small company, Schaevitz West, in Santa Ana, CA as a Junior Engineer, and after commuting for a spell, we bought a house in Westminster sometime in 1965.

When the parent company decided to terminate the West Coast division, I took a job at Hurst Engineering in Costa Mesa, as a Jr. Engineer designing motor speed controllers. The year was around 1966.

Unfortunate circumstances helped me decide to accept a position at TRW, Space Technology, in Redondo Beach, CA, as a Project Engineer in the Data Communications division. It was a long, slow commute. It is also a very big company.

During a visit to Carpinteria, CA to see our high-school friend, Katy (Allen) Lang, I was interviewed for a job in Santa Barbara at Sloan Technology, accepted the position as a “Member of the Technical Staff”, quit my job at TRW, and we were moved into Carpinteria, all within the same week. Katy’s husband’s cousin, J. Guidi, knew the chief engineer at Sloan and had arranged for the interview.

We then lived just next door to Katy in a small apartment complex close the beach. Carpinteria reminded us both of the earlier days in Hermosa Beach. The rent was about $100 a month, as long as we paid on time.

According to Cecelia, the date we moved was in November of 1968

When hard times hit Sloan, I was out of work. We had already purchased a home in the mountains behind Santa Barbara in an area known locally as “Paradise”. I worked for some odd jobs, including a few weeks for an upholsterer in Goleta, and eventually heard about a position In Carpinteria, for a company named Infrared Industries. Because of a recent friendship with an employee at IR, I was easily able to get the job as a Project Engineer, helping to develop a line of gas analyzers.

A few of the principal employees formed a small but competitive company in Santa Barbara, Anarad Inc., and when offered a position there, I readily accepted it. I was already pretty tired of the 36-mile commute. It seemed that I was always ending up living far from my place of employment.

I had worked 5 years for IRI, then 5 years for Anarad, back to IRI for 5 years, and then went back to Anarad again for another 5 years.

As soon as our two daughters were able to take care of themselves, Cecelia decided to go back to work. One of Denise’s friend’s mother, Pat, told Cecelia about an opening as a cook for the local Los Prietos’ Boys Camp, a kind of truant center. When applying for the job, the chef asked Cecelia, ”Have you ever done any institutional cooking?” Cecelia’s response was “I come from a large family, have many friends, and have cooked a lot of nice meals for them….And I’m a DAMN GOOD COOK!”.

His response to this was “You’re hired!”. This was in about 1975.

One story I like to tell about her first day was when the chef was showing her how to make potato salad for the 200 or so kids. As soon as he would do or say anything, she would write it down in her little notepad, as he had said he didn’t use a written recipe for anything.

As he prepared to make the salad:, she wrote: 

1 sack of potatoes, boiled and skinned,

2 handfuls of mayonnaise….

She took a quick look at his hands and compared his to hers, and then changed the “2” to a “4”.

That job lasted for 3 - 4 years, and when there was an opening for a breakfast chef at a restaurant in the historic Cielo Store (on top of the pass between SB and Paradise), Cecelia was recommended for, and accepted, the job. This position lasted through two owners, and Cecelia made herself quite a good reputation with her tasty omelets and pancakes. 

Years after she left that job, one of her favorite waitresses from the store, Tami Guton, started her own restaurant in Goleta. She called Cecelia one day and asked if she (Cecelia) could send her (Tami) the recipe for her (Cecelia’s) famous buttermilk pancakes.

Cecelia did, and Tami’s new menu had an entry for “Cecelia’s Buttermilk Pancakes”.

In 1988, her close friend Lee Miller told Cecelia about a woman in Santa Barbara who might need a cook to help her in her food business, Mama Mia Food Products. After meeting the owner, Marsh Lopez, Cecelia decided to try out the job. This new job developed into a long and close friendship with Marsha, which continues to this day.

Problems with her back resulted in Cecelia having to leave the commercial food business. The back problems started in the first years of our living in the mountains, when Cecelia slid into a deep trench being dug to repair our septic system.

A nervous breakdown for me, coupled with hard times again at Anarad, left me unemployed again, this time in 1996. By now, both of my parents had passed away and I was already getting a small income from the estate. I consulted for a spell, and when Denise and her fiancé, David Hollister, moved to Greenville in the Sierras, we decided our money would go farther in this small little town, plus, the USFS wanted us to tear down our mountain home of 28 years. That’s another story!

So we sold most our assets, paid cash for this house, and spent the first year remodeling it. 

This was in 1998.

We are now in the mountains again, but this time, there are real seasons, Cecelia can do the laundry inside, we have closets, a second bedroom, and we have water and power available almost all the time!

During our over 40 years of marriage, we did manage to get a little traveling in. We got to see part of the East Coast, Hawaii, Denmark, Alaska, and made more than a few trips to Canada to visit Cecelia’s sister, Teresa.

Our trip to the East Coast was prompted by a recommendation from my boss at the time, Ted Ross. We had always wanted to see the East fall colors, and he suggested a stay at Marblehead, Massachusetts, as a good spot to start. We rented a car at the Boston Airport and stayed a night in Marblehead. From there we went as far as Desert Island, Maine. The colors were beautiful!

Mom and Dad later treated us to two ocean liner tours, one that hopped between the Hawaiian Islands; the other went through the San Juan Straight from Vancouver Canada to Glacier Bay, Alaska.  We both put on a little weight from all the good food.

Through the years, we took three trips to visit our friend, Ariel, who had since moved to Denmark. The second trip we took with our friend Katy, and all the tickets were paid by Ariel, whose business was then at the height of its success.

He eventually died in San Paulo, Brazil in 2008, after finally completing his "Impossible Dream" home.

Most of all our other trips were camping affairs, sometimes taking the coastal route to Canada.

Now that we are retired, we hope to do more traveling, especially now that the house is more or less done.

Since I complied this, my son-in-law made a kind of "mother-in-law's quarters", at their new home in Arroyo Grande. So we plan to stay longer periods down that way, particularly in the winter when the house pretty much takes care of itself, and use that as a base for more trips further south.

Herman Brown, October 19, 2007 (update January 30, 2012)