The Decades of My Life

The first decade of my life was from 1951 until 1961. Born in East Los Angeles, moved to Montebello Gardens and then at the end of this first decade we moved up to Montebello. Warning up front that these decade posts will be a photo and information overload for many of you.

Somewhere in East Los Angeles possibly on Humphreys if my memory serves me right about the street name from our Pop. My sister Vera is telling me to shush. My brother Fred is not happy about me crying.

Yikes, I’m crying again. My little babushka is standing behind my mom. My parents good friend Zena Katkov next to her and my Uncle Paul holding my cousin Valia and then my Aunt Nina with my cousin Walter beside her. The lady sitting next to mom is a friend from San Francisco (Mrs. Hamzieff) with her son. Not sure who the lady is between her and my Aunt Nina.

These next photos are from our home in Montebello Gardens/Pico Rivera, California.

My sister Vera’s birthday party with many of our cousins on our Father’s side.

Camping in Big Bear, California with our maternal cousins.

The paternal side of our family.

Our cousin Johnny’s birthday on our Pop’s side of the family.

Maternal side of the family on Easter. Our Babushka with her grandchildren.

That’s a pigeon on my head.

Paternal cousins on another Easter.

Berry picking somewhere in southern California.

Paternal grandparents.

Our brother Tim was born and he usurped me of my title of being the youngest in our family.

My seventh birthday.

Cracking up at the way I lay my hands for photos.


I’m on the rug in front of my sister Vera, sister Kathy holding our new baby brother Tim and our brother Fred with the accordion. Love my goofy expression!

Easter 1958. We always got new clothes and shoes for Easter and Christmas.

Christmas 1958

Another photo from Christmas,1958. I’m on the left at seven years old. Our little brother Tim was 11 months old. There’s a reason I’m the only one who isn’t dressed in their Christmas clothes in this photo. I had some medical problems that I can only remember as some kind of kidney infection that I was hospitalized for. I ended up having to have a teacher come to our home for a couple months in the new year, (1959). By Valentine’s Day I still wasn’t back to school because I remember that my home school teacher brought me Valentine’s Day cards from my classmates.

Easter 1959

My birthday in 1961 and our last year in Montebello Gardens. Our next little brother, Steve is on the left barely in the photo. Cousin Vera and Johnnie on my Pop’s side of the family. Our cousin Valia, Tania and Walter on our Mom’s side of the family and my two little brothers, Tim and Steve and older brother Fred who is not quite visible.

My 5th grade photo. I sent this photo to Paul Kushnerov when he was in the service. His girlfriend at the time asked me to write him while he was serving our country in the 50’s. This little act inspired me to be more of an encourager with letters and cards. It was always a joy to receive something in the mail. Paul and Vera were married and would be our youth leaders for a time at Bethany Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Paul’s son shared this photo he found in amongst his parents keepsakes after Paul passed away a few years ago.

At the end of my first decade I was still in elementary school. We were living in Montebello and we walked to school crossing busy Whittier Blvd. There were six siblings and our parents living in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home. In my next decade our family increased.

Because I skipped a grade (2nd or 3rd). I’ve always thought it was 2nd grade that I skipped but now with a little detective work I think it was third grade since I do not have a school photo for the third grade nor do I remember a teacher from the third grade. Now I’m also wondering a lot about 3rd grade. What is 3rd grade known for? 4th grade you have multiplication. From 4th grade on I was a year younger than most of my classmates.

In this first decade of my life my parents socialized mostly with our relatives or Russians who we went to church with. Both of the churches we were a part of had services in the Russian language. Our pop made friends that were non-Russian at work but not lifetime friends. Work is where he picked up most of his English. My mom became friends with an Italian lady who lived across the street named Lucille. Lucille gave me simple jobs around her home and paid me. She made the best Italian cookies. She would let me have some out of the oven, delicious! She baked them for weddings and I remember them iced green and pink and stacked on every surface of the house! When I cleaned the detached room that 2 of her sons lived in she said if I found any money under their beds I could keep it. I did find some! Maybe that was a way of getting me to clean thoroughly. My mom learned a lot of her English from Soap Operas. As the World Turns. Lucille helped her, too.

There was another friend across the street who had an Avocado tree in her backyard. We learned to really enjoy Avocado on toast in the 50’s long before the current trend.

We had a lot of Hispanic neighbors. Rosie was my next door neighbor who’s dog bit me on the mouth. Not a fan of Boxers to this day! Her mom seemed to have a pot of beans simmering on the stove most days I visited inside the home. It was an aroma I had never experienced. Rosie and her cousin betrayed our friendship one day by jumping me and beating me up and ripping my favorite blouse when we were walking to the store. Our friendship ended. Needless to say I didn’t smell beans simmering after that day until high school days with my very good and faithful Hispanic friends!

Speaking of being beat up there was a day that I angered someone at school who let everyone know they were going to beat me up when we got off the bus after school. There was more than one school bus stop in our neighborhood of ‘The Jardines’ and at the last minute I jumped off the bus at the stop before our stop and ran home avoiding the fight.

We would watch TV as a family. Shows like Art Linkletter, Micky Mouse Club, I remember Chucko the Birthday Clown (popular in L.A.) because I went on the show for Victor Katkov’s birthday party. I would like to have footage from that show. I ended up winning a prize on the show, too. Can’t remember what it was. Other L.A. based shows like Engineer Bill were popular, too. “On the green light you go, on the red light you stop because no engineer would ever run a red light” They used that to get kids to drink a glass of milk. Sheriff John was another popular show and here’s his birthday song!

We were able to go to Disneyland shortly after it opened. We also would get in our jammies and load up in the car to go to the Drive-in to see all the latest Disney releases. Bambie was sooo sad. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the sad parts.  Falling asleep in the car on the way home was a regular occurrence. Knott’s Berry Farm was another experience we enjoyed. If my memory serves me right the first time I ever ate in a restaurant was at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Chicken Dinner restaurant.

Many families that we knew had a story about one of their kids falling out of a car from leaning on the door or from the door opening going round a corner. No seat belts and no car seats in those days.

This post is an ‘all about me’ historical post and if you made it all the way to the end congratulations. Maybe my grandkids will enjoy reading about their Baba in the future when I’m not around to answer all the questions.

Happy Birthday to me and I thank the God who loves me and called me, Jesus who saved me from my sins and the Holy Spirit who indwells me, Three in One, that I have made it to my 7th decade 8th decade and to my 71st year. Thank you to Anneliese for noticing I’ve entered my 8th decade!!

About Ellen am a wife, mother, baba (grandmother) and a loyal friend. Jesus is my King and my hope is in my future with Him.

32 thoughts on “The Decades of My Life

  1. Happiest of birthdays to you dear sister. Loved recalling all the memories. I am so thankful that the Lord blessed our family by giving you to us. I love you dearly

  2. Happy Birthday! Many blessings to you! These photos are so reminiscent of my family’s, 6 girls, 1 boy. We did not have those pretty, frilly, dresses however, and not for Easter And Christmas both! I was also bit by a friends dog, a St Bernard, on my elbow, still have that scar. Thanks for the trip across the decade!

  3. Happy Birthday. So nice seeing all your photos.
    You are so lucky to have so many family pictures!! What a treasure.

  4. What a wonderful post. The pictures are so wonderful to see. I remember those TV shows. Those were the days. I was born in 1951 but lived in a suburb of Chicago. I was thinking how wonderful this will be for your grandchildren to read. Happy 71st Birthday!!!

    • PS: 3rd grade. It was for solidifying what you learned in 1st and 2nd and learning to write cursive. For me in a Christian school in Portland, I memorized Bible verses, A-Z.

  5. Birthday blessings to you! I hope today is filled with much joy and lots of love. Enjoyed your post today—what wonderful memories captured in your pix! Reminded me, in ways, of my childhood with the Easter dresses 🙂

  6. That was fun, but not liking the fact that you got beat up. I am sorry to hear that. But you had a lot of great memories and that’s special. God is good and I thank Him every day for His goodness. Happy Birthday Ellen! We are both 71. I’m just a bit older.. lol

  7. You sure have a lot of interesting and rich memories, Ellen! Your grands will love reading these one day! And I love the Easter dress tradition! Your goofy expression reminds me of your granddaughter! Genes are funny that way! Happy Birthday and as much as I hate to break it to you, I’m wondering if you are now in your 8th decade! 🤣

  8. I was so relieved to see you finally happy in that 4th photo!!! I was getting a little worried there!😁 I was able to readily pick you out in the class photos except for the November 29, 1957 one.😕 As for the way you lay your hands in photos, at least you’re consistent! I think we all have a “tell” where photos are concerned. Mine is cocking my head to the side. Interesting how you vividly remember your homeschooling experience during your illness. I’m sure that was a weird time for you, scary time for your parents. Is 4th grade multiplication? I got ripped off!!! We were learning it in 2nd grade! What the what?!??!?!?!? I KNEW those nuns were pushing the envelope!🤣🤣🤣 I’m sorry about your befuddling and frightening experiences with Rosie and her dog and then with her friend. Wow…that came from outta nowhere! I wonder what was up with that?🤔 It would be interesting to find her (and that other braggadocious kid who was threatening you) and ask. What goes on when we’re kids is almost always something we don’t understand until much later in life when afforded context. As a weakling target, I never got it until much later when made aware of “grownup things” going on in their lives. This is an awesome post, Ellen. One of my favorites! I’m sure it was cathartic in some ways for you to get it out here. Blessings to you in your 8th decade and always!

    • Thank you dear Alycia for stopping by and leaving your comment. Cursive handwriting was fourth grade, too, and my marks weren’t great. Top row left side with the curly bob in that November school photo. My mother must have thought I needed a curly do for the photos. Hope all is well in your corner.

  9. Happy Belated birthday! I loved all of your pictures. That was so sad when the girl who you thought was your friend beat you up! What in the world?! This was great to read, and what a great keepsake for your kids and grandkids.

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