In 1974 we lived in Hollywood, California. We had moved to California in 1969, first landing in Santa Monica then we moved to Culver City, next came Palms and we finally ended up here. We moved each time because my mother was convinced that the “mafia” that had “followed” us all the way from Missouri had found us. A few months after our last move my dad became ill. Being a strong, healthy man all of his life he denied that he wasn’t up to par. That facade didn’t last long. He had worked construction most of his life and while at work one day in August of 1973 he collapsed. They sent him to the doctor but instead, he came home. My mother and sister didn’t care but I begged him to go see a doctor. After a couple of days of not getting any better, he finally gave in. I went with him and the doctor ordered tests and x-rays. A few days later we got the news, he had lung cancer.
He ended up having surgery to remove his right lung and I took him for chemo and radiation treatments 3 times a week for 2 weeks. The doctor told me he had about 3 months to live. I was devastated. He made it past the 3-month mark and was seeming to get better. One day he heard me talking on the phone making an excuse why I couldn’t go with some friends to Universal Studios. I had wanted to go there for quite a while but now wasn’t the time. The next day he handed me the money and told me I had to go. I began to argue but he told me it would make him happy. So I called my friends and the next day we made the short trip up I-5 to Universal.
It was so much fun. Of course, it was a lot different then it is now. They had the village with the rushing water that flooded the streets, King Kong made his appearance and we took the tram ride around the studio lots. We saw TV shows being filmed and actors walking around on the lots. One of the best things that happened was sitting in the audience of a live radio show. The host, Bill Balance, was a controversial figure. Conservatives tried to have his program banned. I was thrilled to get my photo taken with him.
There were a lot of movie props from the “Land of the Giants” TV program that you could get pictures with and everything there made you feel as though you were in a movie. We had such a good time that I felt guilty on my way home because I felt I had neglected my dad. He was waiting for me when I got home and wanted to hear all about my day. Back in those days, you had to wait a week for your film to be developed so we had something to look forward to. I remember his face lighting up when we relived the day through the photos.
My beloved dad passed away about 4 months later, on June 24, 1974. He had lived 6 months longer than what the doctor gave him and for that I am thankful. I will cherish the memory of that trip to Universal Studios until the day I join him again!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.