Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - I Look At Clouds
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:08

Each day my heart sister, Pat, and I talk about clouds. The southwest conjures up Georgia O'Keefe and her paintings. In 1987, the Chicago Art Institute did a retrospective after her death. I went there for two purposes. The first was to view the retrospective but equally as important was to try to find a sense, a remnant, perhaps one artifact of my birth mother by walking the streets of Evanston, and visiting where she grew up. Her name was Alice Welcher Simonoff. Pat and I made a pilgrimage to Northwestern University where Alice graduated in 1934 with a double major in political science and French. I have her sheepskin on my studio wall awarded to Alice Esther Welcher. I thought perhaps I could find matriculation records, awards, something of a sense of her.

"We'll need proof," they tell me. "What Kind?" "Something connecting the two of you." "What?" "Her death certificate, your birth certificate." Some vestige to show we belonged to each other.

I think of those Los Angeles skies and the puffy white clouds and pure blue skies, out in our backyard in Sherman Oaks, early, her walking me in my stroller, something of the nature of the air in 1942.

"Proof," they tell me.

I did find the proof they needed. My mother's death certificate and more importantly, my birth certificate that showed she birthed me. I received back a copy of a letter she signed when she joined a sorority promising not to force anyone to eat liver or do anything else to endanger their lives. There was my proof.

Come back to read about O'Keefe's clouds and the clouds of New Mexico today.

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