The Tardy Times

 1. Cameron says thanks to his teachers
  and begins a new life at Berkeley HS

  2. She waited on the curb for her dad,
  but Karen never saw him again


CAMERON GRIGSBY did the bidding of his teachers for nine long years at Park Lane School. At the graduation ceremony, it was payback time.
     At last he could finally unleash his emotions in what's reported as a national epidemic of teen angst and alienation.  
     So he did.
     He thanked his junior high teachers. From the heart.
     Nine of them, one by one.
    “Gretchen, thank you for an amazing year of math . . . Karen, thank you for making all science fun. . .

Our long-lost
cousin visits San Francisco

UNTIL THAT MOMENT, he had been little more than a theory of relativity. She smiled as she walked up Hampshire Street to greet the cousin who found her in cyberspace. Or maybe she found him. It didn’t matter. Now it was real time.
    We hugged. Carefully, with reserve. 
MORE THAN DNA, more than genealogical research, more than the vague recollections of her mother and my father, the warm but diffident embrace testified to our shared cultural heritage from Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. No outward displays of emotion.
   As they say back in old Lillehammer, Uff da!
   Karen Ludlow Mallea (and her brother in Oregon, Mark Elliott Ludlow) are first cousins, but until five years ago the sons of John Ludlow never heard of Karen, Mark or their families.  
THE REVELATION began with a genealogical posting on the Web. Spotted by accident, it was an anonymous request for any information about a “Frederick Braastad Ludlow.”
    The name?  John Ludlow had mentioned that  he had been tormented and bullied by his elder brothers when they were growing up in Michigan and Oregon. To him, “Fritz” and “Buzz” were pejoratives. He hated them until his death.
  We knew that “Fritz” is the diminutive of Frederick. He was named for his grandfather, Frederick Braastad (BROH-stad), a penniless Norwegian immigrant who became a department store owner, mining investor, state treasurer and a leading citizen of Ishpeming in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
    “Buzz” was the nickname of the other brother, Ernest Lineus Ludlow.  He was named for his father, Ernest Talma Ludlow, a failed actor-turned-failed salesman and the grandfather I never knew (he was estranged from his wife and children). Buzz died a Skid Road alcoholic in San Francisco in 1971, but left no children (so far as we know).
    As for Fritz, who knew?    
THE POST on's message board came from  Fritz's daughter, Karen, a schoolteacher and solo organic farmer on 440 acres of  orchards and oaks near the hamlet of Gully in northwest Minnesota.  After her two daughters and son were grown and out of the nest, perhaps the long winters prompted an interest in family history gone cold. She visited Ishpeming, took a look at the old Braastad home and saw that her grandfather’s department store is now an upscale mall. But she knew almost nothing about her dad.
   She was just a toddler when she lived with her little brother in her mother's home town in Nebraska, Beatrice (local pronunciation: bee-ATT-ris). She would wait outside to greet her father, she remembers. When he left one day and didn't return, she would go out to the curb, day after day, waiting and waiting.
   Her late mother, Priscilla, told her years later that the despicable Fritz  bought a new car and trailer on credit, emptied the family bank accounts and departed for parts unknown. He left Prissy to pay off his debts. He never returned. Karen thinks he died years ago, but she can’t be sure.
KAREN AND MARK grew up in Beatrice, went to college, married and started families. Mark is an engineer in Olympia, Ore., with grown children of his own – more cousins we didn’t know about.
   Karen eventually divorced Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe, Ph.D. Born in Basque country in Spain, he is  a  scholar in Basque studies. He lives in Salt Lake City.
   As for their children, Karen writes: “Erik (the youngest) is Erik and Nikane
now working on a master's in viticulture at Fresno State. Amahia (the world bicylist and Ph.D)  is teaching at Drake University in Des Moines as a visiting Prof., and Nikane (working on a master's degree at the University of Missouri) has returned to this country.” A professional bicycle racer in Europe, Nikane was named Missouri bicylist of the year.
KAREN last year gave up her job teaching Chippewa kids at the Red Lake Reservation. She continues to work as a substitute.
   “I am far below poverty level,” she writes, “but I like the farm far too well to sell and relocate.”
     In May, Karen visited her son Erik in Fresno. They drove to San Francisco to meet the strangers, their cousins.  It wasn’t a family reunion. It was a union.    
            – Lynn Ludlow

The Tardy Times
September 2008

Devin, thank you for being the greatest social studies/math teacher I've  had . . .”
    And so on, until every teacher and administrator was acknowledged.
   Cammie’s attitude on June 11 didn't surprise parents of kids in the nonprofit K-8 school. He is noted for athletic skills but, more important, his genuine courtesy, unfailing good cheer and just plain goodness of heart. (Full disclosure: He's the writer's grandson. But you can ask anyone.)  He was one of 34 graduates from the school launched 32 years ago in Oakland with a philosophy of progressive education and concern for “the importance of social and emotional intelligence.”
   To the longtime principal, Tom Little, Cammie said, “I wouldn't be here without you, and my experience at Park has been tremendous.” 
    And then he thanked his parents, Roy and Amy (Ludlow) Grigsby, “for sending me to this amazing school and this amazing campus.”

Grigsby family notes

Cammie's elder brother, Tucker, also a Park Day alumnus, is a student at the Oakland School of the Arts. He is enrolled in visual art. And this is probably the right place to designate him as the sweetest teen in Berkelely . . .The real estate business has been a bummer for thousands of brokers and agents, but not for Tucker and Cammie's dad. Although the year began slowly, Roy had all the listings he could handle as of late summer . . . Or so we are informed by Amy, because he's too busy. She is still plugging away at the First District Appellate Project, where her editing and mentoring is interrupted from time to time to protect the rights of society's most-despised subjects – bad moms. . . . Cameron, who will begin classes in August at Berkeley High School, hopes to go out for the baseball team. As a shortstop in the North Oakland Little League Seniors, he made the all-star team . . . Jackson, who is still at Park Day, was the lead-off hitter and multi-inning pitcher for the Little League's Oakland championship Mudcats.
PERHAPS Jackie was inspired after his mother took him to see the parade of ballplayers outside the San Francisco ballpark before the Major League All-Star Game on July 10, 2007.
   He piteously importuned the players in convertibles to toss him the candy and T-shirts the organizers had thoughtfully provided as gifts to throw to spectators. He made out like a bandit, of course.
 More important than candy was a verbal autograph from genial Dmitri Young of  the Washington Nationals, the big first baseman with an exploding Afro, a fountain of hair. The slugger with a .340 batting average spotted Jackie’s disheveled mass of tousled locks. “Nice hair, man,” he said. “Nice hair, man.”

Postscript: Injured and pressured by his manager, Dmitri Young agreed in May to shear his ‘Fro. His batting average in mid-July was .280. He wasn’t named to the 2008 American League All-Star team.  
  On the other hand, Jackie, with hair unshorn, was named to his Little League’s all-star team. Advisory for Jackie: Look out for anybody by the name of Delilah.    

      The Tardy Times
      August 2008


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