Aug. 8, 2004 Oroville Butte County California, USA
"Belle" Fairabelle Mae Anderson Penland was born on November 15, 1923 in Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.
Belle was well known and loved by all. She raised all of her children with a solid foundation and taught each of them to think for themselves. She was a musician's musician. She was one of the best musicians I have ever encountered. She could play any instrument she ever decided to play within a few minutes of picking it up. The grand children all called her "Granny" and us kids all called her "Mom". She was my Mother.
Mom was probably one of the most talented musicians I have ever known. When we were kids going to high school and brought home an instrument (Me - Trumpet, then Drums), (Connie - Clarinet) and (Tia - I am not sure), she could always play the instrument within a few minutes. I know for sure she could play guitar, piano, accordion, banjo, Bandello, mandolin, harp, drums, trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, French horn, drums, harmonica, and there are probably some I have missed. She played all of these instruments by ear and she could also play sheet music if necessary. My Dad was not really a great musician, but he loved to hear my Mom play and sing and I remember his singing to me on the way home from work many times. He could play the harmonica and the Jews harp also. I have tried to play both and could never play either. I always loved to get together with my Mom and get her to play her guitar and sing for me. She taught me to cord on the Guitar a little and she always said which ever one of us kids learned to play the guitar is the kid that she would give her guitar to. I still have the guitar, but I don't play it very often.
When Mom and Dad decided to have a garden, my Dad and I started to haul river sand into the yard across from the house. I remember many Saturdays spent with him going to the river and shoveling by hand a pickup truck load at a time onto the truck and then going home and shoveling it off. Many Saturdays we would do this ten or fifteen times. We got most of the sand within a mile of our house, so as a bonus, Dad used to let me drive to and from the river where we got the sand. We also used to stop by the river on the way home from work in the summer and get a load and take it home and shovel it off into the garden. Dad kept track of how many truck loads of sand we hauled home and it went to 315 truck loads before we stopped. After the river sand, came the fertilizer and we went to the Plumas County Fairgrounds and they had a huge pile of manure and straw from the livestock shows they had there every year and over one summer, Dad and I hauled home over 100 truck loads of that and spread it over the garden. Then each evening we would turn the manure and sand and the following year, Mom planted a garden in it. I remember the vegetables were fantastic and especially the hills of potatoes. The first harvest, there was one hill of potatoes that yielded over 40 pounds of potatoes and they grew one potato that weighed around 5-6 pounds.
When we were small, Mom used to sit us down before Christmas and make all of us kids cut different colored paper and make paper chains and paste them together using white paste. When our paper chains were complete, we would use them to decorate the house and Christmas Tree. She also made popcorn and taught us to take a needle and thread and string the popcorn for decorations. We did the same with fresh cranberries. Many times before Christmas, she also would sew pot holders and then iron on light colored blue stencils and we would take different colored applicator pens and color them to give as Christmas presents because many times there was no extra money to buy presents.
As we got older, we would hike along the PG&E Power Lines and collect any copper wire that the linemen used for tying the power cables to the insulators and had dropped or discarded. We would carry it home in our backpacks. Additionally, I would go to work with my Dad in the summer and go around the job site after work and pick up all of the copper wire scraps that the electricians left from wiring the houses. We would take it home and burn the insulation off of it or strip it off if it was easy and put it with the rest of the copper stash we had collected. Once a year, my Dad would get it all together and take it to the salvage yard in Oroville and sell it to them. He would then split the money up between us kids, so we would have money for Christmas Presents. I think sometimes, he and Mom would add a little to it before they split it up. I know that both Mom and Dad often went without so that us kids could have things we needed.
Belle died August 8, 2004 in Oroville, Butte County, California. She was cremated at her request and her ashes were returned to the earth from which she came by being spread outside the Golden Gate of San Francisco, by her daughter Tia Loya Penland. She was also a published author and published her book, "Bottles Corks and Cures" in 1963, when she was 43 years old. When she died in 2004, she had scrap booked enough work to publish ten to fifteen additional books.