Susan, Kurt and Anna Grow Up

Anna says, "I bet the next second I picked up that marble ashtray and threw it across the room and then grabbed those flowers and ate them."

1961, St. Louis, Missouri

Notice that Leonard got down low to take this photograph. He had natural talent, like his father.

1961, Berkeley, Missouri

I climbed on that dog's back while he sat in the kitchen waiting for my mother to feed him. When he stood up and put his head down to the bowl, I slid face-first onto the floor and busted out a front tooth.

Anna and I weren't always dressed alike, but once in a while. We kind of liked it.

1965, Philippines

My mother made the Madonna and child hanging on the wall to the right of my head. She got the pattern from a woman's magazine, like Family Circle, or one of those. Anna still has it.

1968, Norfolk, Virginia

Kurt says, "The model on the desk is of the Apollo Lunar Lander. All things astronaut were the thing in the 60s and 70s. It was really advanced for a kid, and I think I had help from Dad or Mom, but I really painted it well, and did ...a real good job with it. It came apart and docked - connected - like it did in flight, and the lunar lander's landing gear operated (I was really proud that I got that to work!). The plans/instructions for the kit are at the front right of the desk.

1970, Arlington, Virginia
"There's a Voodoo Fighter desk model on the desk; I got that from Grandpa Dee Dee; it was from McDonnell-Douglas.

"There's that cash register savings bank. An old-styled globe; I liked those when I was a kid. A pile of magazines; I always saved magazines (still do). Just above the Lunar Landing Module is a fire alarm box that I got somewhere. (You're looking at the bottom of it in the pic.) I wanted to make it into a light switch for my room somehow; never did. On the base of the lamp are little figurines of characters from a Pop-Tarts offer. I ate pounds and pounds of crusts from Susan's Pop-Tarts to get those! Just to the left of my left shoulder is an old cigar box that has trinkets...and I still have it, and likely lots of the trinkets. Of course, we all remember that 3-legged chair. Who has it now? [Susan says, "I do."]
"I remember the drawer to the desk, it had a pencil tray in the front. Mom made the dress Susan is wearing. Those are Boonedockers shoes that I'm wearing. There was a push button on the base of the lamp to turn it on/off that you had to hold for a few seconds before it would fire, and I remember a bunch of other silly things.

"On top of the pile of mags to the right of the pic are three stacked clear cases. They are car models from a series that included those stacked cases, for display. Which reminds me...

"One time Grandpa DeeDee took me to a car show at the old St. Louis Arena. I was struck by one concept/experimental car there, a Deora. I bought the plastic model kit of it and took it home to Dee Dee's and built it. I put it under a desk lamp to dry the body paint on the model during dinner. It melted! The main body piece was badly deformed, but maybe reparable. I cried, but I thought we could do something with it. Grandpa Dee Dee decided to teach me a lesson, so he put the melted mess on the kitchen table and said something like "It's done! Get over it!" And then he smashed what was left with his fist. I bawled!! (Grandma Dee Dee did not like this!) And then he took me back to the car show the next day (and I think paid another pair of admissions) and bought me another model. So basically, he taught me to not cry over spilled milk."


Padi in the Saddle

One of the things Padi was proudest of was her horsemanship. She took dressage lessons at the D'Rossa School  in Makati, and used to tell the story of getting to ride one of President Marcos's horses.

Padi, far right, at a school presentation in 1966.

Invitation to the school presentation.

She found it thrilling to control a horse with the tiniest movements; she said the rider's directions should be undetectable to an onlooker.
Padi at left, in 1965.

Padi at left, in 1965.


Padi at School

Padi at 8th grade graduation, 5th from left in the front row.
Circa 1948.

Padi in the Ritenour High School Band, left end of 3rd row, with saxophone.
Circa 1950.


Gramma Dee Dee

When we knew her, Dee Dee was the best gramma ever. She'd play Chutes and Ladders for hours at a stretch. The sheets in the spare bedroom were ironed white cotton and the bed was piled with quilts. She embroidered Sunbonnet Sue and days-of-the-week dishtowels. She made killer Barbie clothes. Who knew she used to be young and cute and a little bit naughty?

Frances Margery Smith, graduation circa 1934. Just a year later she had my mom. She had eloped while she was still in high school!

Frances, second from right, dressed as a man, circa 1930. Whoa.

Frances, second from right, leaning languidly on some guy who was not my grandfather, circa 1931.

Men Holding Babies

And not doing it too badly, either.

This is our grandfather, Thomas Lyle Drennen (known to us as Grampa Dee Dee), with his daughter Padi in 1935.

Choo Choo Papa and his grandson Leonard, in July 1933.

Paw Paw and his son Leonard, in 1933, on the river somewhere.


Kalogs on the Loose

"Kalog" is Tagalog slang for "crazy in a fun way." This was a ladies' club for the social elite of Cavite City, where the Sangley Point Naval Base was located. Padi and Leonard made a point of "living on the economy" and socializing with the natives. Either because they appreciated my parents' openness, or because she was crazy in a fun way, they made Padi an honorary member.

"Auntie, say 'Whiskey' or 'Sexy'!" They are crazy.

The chair of the Kalogs made an album of their last outing for Padi.

"Now look girls, here's what we do!"

"Aboard the 'jet' enroute."


"Chums ..."

"At the close of a glorious day!"


This is the best shot ever of Anna, Kurt and Susan. It was taken at Kurt's wedding to Karen Stix ca. 1983.

So Cute, You Could Eat Her Like a Cupcake

Padi Drennen at age two (1937)


Four Generations

Frances Smith Drennen, our grandmother, holding me; Gramma Smith, Frances' mother, holding fat baby Kurt; and Padi