The rosary and funeral Mass for my aunt, Verna Ann Lander, (1) was held today at the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St. Mary’s) in Visalia, California, on what would have been her 93rd birthday.
When I was a kid, Aunt Verna and her kids lived in Hollywood on the tail end of Mulholland Drive (the part that overlooks the 101 Freeway, not the ritzy part where all the profound political thinkers with day gigs as actors live) next door to my Aunt Bea and Uncle Art and their passel of kids. They had a large lot with 3 houses on it. We and our passel of kids lived 20 miles away in Whittier, and so we all routinely got together at their place. Lots more room than at out tract home.
Aunt Verna’s kids were all older than me, while Aunt Bea’s two youngest sons were near my age and so, as a little kid I didn’t really get to know Verna or her kids very well since I hung our with Butch and Ricky – oops, I mean Arthur and Richard – mostly (and I’m bad with names and faces and even then already lived inside my own head).
Today found out a lot of fascinating stuff. A couple of the parish groups, the Rosary Guild being one, had planned a tea for her birthday, as she was a fixture at the parish – it turned into the gathering after the Mass. It was very nice, and got to talk to family and view pictures they pulled together for the occasion. (The pictures here were all taken with my phone of the pictures there – that explains the glare and skew.)
During WWII, a very young Aunt Verna worked as Rosie the Riveter, putting in the firewalls between the cockpits and the rest of the plane on B-17s, and some parts on the top of other planes. They had a model and pictures of some of the planes she’d worked on – see above.
Later, she got involved in computers, starting in the punch-card era and working her way up as the tech advanced. Sharp lady.
But what everybody remembers is how sweet and kind she was – that was certainly the impression of her I had as a kid. Just a great lady. May flights of angels sing her to her rest!
- I’d bet it’s something like Veronika Anna on her birth certificate, but maybe the ancestors had already gotten into anglicizing Czech names by 1924?