My Biography

The Early Years

I was born April 29, 1946 at the Montclair Community Hospital in Montclair, Essex County, New Jersey to Emily Bruen and Everett Lewis Regel. The family lived at 263 Linden Ave., in Verona, New Jersey. I was the youngest child, having an older sister, Constance Ann Regel, born March 10, 1943. I have no memory of those first few years in Verona, but by 1948 our family moved to the nearby town of Bloomfield, New Jersey where we had a lovely home on a quiet street which bordered a golf course in the back year. Although no one played golf in our family, we did enjoy sledding and building ice forts there in the wintertime, and selling lemonade to the golfers in the summer. There were a number of children in the neighborhood to play with and I learned to ride a bike there. I remember a basement in the house which served as a “party room”, complete with a billiard table. In those days my parents had a lot of friends and frequent parties. We had a family dog named “Daisy”. She was a sweet cocker spaniel and I remember pushing her around in a baby stroller, pretending she was my baby. I loved playing with my dolls. In the summer, we would all go to Tabor Lake where we owned a cottage. It was a closed community of summer residents that enjoyed swimming and fishing on the lake. I have very fond memories of it and recently went back to revisit the place and found it much unchanged. It was there that I learned to swim and enjoy playing with frogs and tadpoles, etc.

By the time I turned seven in 1958, my parents decided to move to California where the aerospace industry was booming. My father was an engineer/manager. He had been working at American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) in New York at the time. I suppose the long commute was a factor in their decision to move as well as the fact that his brother, Keith Regel, was already living in Menlo Park, CA. The post WWII recession was over and the economy and job opportunities were abundant, especially in California. After boxing up all our belongings and saying goodbye to friends, we drove to California in our “woody” station wagon along with our dog, Daisy, via the southern route for 2 months, sightseeing all the way. It was an adventure to say the least and left lasting memories, in spite of my young age. I still have so many memories of the trip, although many may have formed from the multitude of photos my father took along the way. We arrived in Santa Monica, CA in Aug. 1958 and found a motel where we stayed for several months while my father was job hunting. I began kindergarten while living there and remember my big sister walking me to school and helping me find my way around. I believe the area had a large oriental population because I was entranced by their beautiful facial features and wished I could look like them. I also remember the very high water towers in the area that frequently were the scene of suicides as people jumped from them. Gruesome! Also though, I remember the beautiful parrots that were on outdoor display along Santa Monica Blvd. And I loved going to the Santa Monica pier to play at the beach and sometimes enjoy a merry-go-round ride. Soon, however, my father landed a job at Lockheed Corp. in Burbank, CA. We quickly moved to a suburban area of Pacific Palisades where we lived the next 2 years.

Once settled in Pacific Palisades our furniture arrived via the large moving van. My father enjoyed woodworking as a hobby and remodeled the garage into an apartment for our nana to live with us. She arrived soon after we moved in. My mother’s mother (nana) lived with us or next door for most of my childhood and I spent long hours with her. She played the violin and I longed to play it too, but my mother refused and instead let me play her piano. Music was an important part of my life even as a young child. I remember going to concerts (and falling asleep half-way through) and playing with my dolls under the piano while my mother practiced. I also remember playing with a little boy across the street. His mother liked to do crafts and invited my sister and I to join them. I got in trouble once for climbing up on their roof with the little boy. I guess you could say I was a bit of a tomboy. We lived in walking distance to the school and on the way we crossed a vacant lot where we hunted for rabbits and gophers. I don’t recall ever catching any though. I loved our house there with the big den. We had a ping pong table which doubled as banquet table when family came for holidays. We raised guinea pigs in a box in the den and loved playing with them. I also remember learning to walk on stilts there. My father enjoyed archery and made us each a bow with a handmade set of arrows. We would shoot (supervised, of course) in the driveway. I also remember the beautiful flowers in the yard…especially the poinsettias and the gladiolas.

(to be continued)