This is a portrait of Luz “Lucy” Vargas Marin with her niece and nephew, Lillian and George, at Consuelo’s wedding in the early- to mid- 1930s.
George Gullicksen was born to Carmen Vargas Marin and Otto Gullicksen on December 2, 1927, in San Francisco, California. He had three siblings: Lillian (1929), Carmel (1934), and Charles (1940).
My great grandmother, Carmen Vargas Marin, immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s. She was born to Mariano Vargas Ramos and Candelaria Marin Hernandez on July 4, 1906, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico.
She entered the U.S. through Laredo, Texas, in 1925, and married Pvt. Otto Gullickson in Harris County, Texas in 1926. By 1927, they were living in San Francisco, where their first son George Gullicksen was born.
In all, she bore four children: George, Lillian Gullicksen (1929), Carmel Gullicksen (1934), and Charles Hubert Gullicksen (1940).
She was noted in the 1930 census as living at 88B Chenery Street in San Francisco, where they paid $25 rent and lived with George and Lillian. It was also noted that she spoke Spanish in the home.
My mother remembers her as a very nice woman who would usually dye her hair a dark red. Once, something went wrong with the dyeing process and it was instead colored a bright fuchsia ahead of a family gathering.
Carmen passed away on October 30, 1984, in Santa Clara.
Note: The photo above was given to me by Cousin Carmen, also named Carmen Vargas. She is the daughter of my great uncle, Atenojenes Vargas Marin. (Thanks, Carmen!)
Until recently, I’d never met my grandmother. I turn 30 years old this year, but I’ve lived in California all my life. Meanwhile, my grandmother, Carmen Dominguez (born Oct. 10, 1932, to Spanish immigrants Benito Dominguez and Mary Menacho), lives in Lake St. Louis, Missouri. A couple months ago, my dad, step-mom and I went out to visit.
I learned a lot of things. I learned where my dad got the Gift of Gab, how my grandparents met (it was totally classy), and that Grandma Carmen loved working for General Motors until she retired.
The Gift of Gab
Growing up, my dad would always talk forever on the phone, and my sister and I would have to drag him away from conversations when it was time to leave a social function. My grandmother, it turns out, is equally as talkative. She loves to talk about the weather (once a tornado tore up a neighbor’s house just one cul-de-sac over), working at G.M. (she used to make huge plates of “enchiladies” for work parties and everyone would call her “mom”), and even my grandfather, who she was hoping would join her in Missouri after she moved there about 30 years ago but who never did.
How George Gullicksen and Carmen Dominguez met
My grandparents were neighbors before they ever met. They lived across the street from each other in San Francisco. Grandma Carmen’s apartment building had a series of steps to get to the street. One day, she was hopping down the steps. George spotted her from across the street and called something along the lines of “It looks like two bouncing footballs!” referring to her chest.
Obviously, true love.
I told you. It was classy.
How they were married
George was four years older and in the Navy, so when he was on the ship, he would still make a point to call Grandma Carmen on special occasions, such as her birthday. They eventually eloped, but George’s mother, a devout Catholic, freaked out and demanded they be married by the Church.
Grandma Carmen was 17 at the time, so she needed parental consent. She and George tracked down her mother and pulled her out of a movie theater so everything could be done officially.
Working for General Motors
Grandma Carmen never finished high school, but she did earn her GED afterwards — I believe to work for G.M. For a while, she worked out of a factory in California, but when that factory closed, the company made employees an offer — move on, or move to Missouri, where they could still be gainfully employed.
My grandmother decided to move out to Missouri, where my grandfather bought her a house on Lake St. Louis. He left with the agreement to return, but never did. Meanwhile, Grandma Carmen kept busy at the factory, where she gave as good as she got. Once, a guy slapped her on the butt as she was walking past. Her response was something along the lines of: “Don’t you dare! The only man whose allow to put a hand on me is my husband, and you’re not him!”
Yeah, she’s pretty hardcore.
She also lost part of her finger when a machine double-punched, had a lot of friends there, and got a cool shiny jacket upon retirement.