Over A Century of Memories

| April 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

Patricia Elizabeth Whelan stands on the back patio of her Mission Hills residence.

How would you like to have seen and experienced the world over the past century? Do you know anyone who has?

Well, I know someone who owns that role and she lives in Mission Hills. And, I am honored to say that she is an inspiration to those of us who think of reaching that position in the world.

This past month I spoke to Patricia Elizabeth Whelan who just recently turned 101 and she recalled her 100th birthday celebration with friends and family at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. It was an impressive party with reminders of her past, including parents, siblings and various lifetime events.

Patricia spoke of her mother and father and the fact that she was born in Spokane, Washington and that they resided on the East Coast before her father passed away at age 54. It was the reason that her mother, brother and Patricia moved to San Diego in 1926. Her grandfather resided here and it provided an opportunity for them to build a new future.

Patricia recalled the fact that her mother took a position as a front office cashier for the El Cortez Hotel. For anyone who knows the history of San Diego, the El Cortez was the tallest and most glamorous apartment-hotel in the city. Celebrities and dignitaries stayed at the hotel, which became a playground for Patricia and her brother.

She also recalls living in a downtown apartment building and using a ladder to connect with a neighboring hotel via the rooftop. Residents of the hotel caught she, her brother and other young friends climbing from hotel to hotel. That aerobatic activity was quickly discontinued.

Balboa Park was their ideal playground. Patricia and her brother loved all that the park offered, including the museums and natures setting.

When World War II happened she said San Diego began to be discovered. Change became inevitable. She was here to experience the war time and all that would come with it, including lots more people and housing and business growth.

Patricia told me about her first boyfriend who was responsible for introducing her to her future husband. Both male friends lived in a house on Third Avenue near Date Street. Her boyfriend was leaving for a job out of state and her future husband (Bill) sought to date Patricia. It was then that Patricia and Bill’s life journey began, which included a 62-year marriage, three children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Looking forward, Patricia has shown that she isn’t afraid to revisit her life interests. She played tennis in high school, yet didn’t take it up again until she was 62-years old. Bill had retired and they both found this form of recreation was what they needed. They took lessons at Morley Field and enjoyed competing with friends who shared the same interest.

Adding to her interests and activities are bridge, yoga, book clubs, gardening, beach visits, camping, religion and Carl Yung psychology. Patricia informed me that she meets weekly with a Carl Yung group to learn about individualization and to grow in human development. Having learned about Carl Yung in my college psychology class, I was impressed that she was continuing this growth experience with other like-minded friends.

As I learned, Patricia is an amazing woman and constantly growing. She has set an amazing threshold for all of us who consider becoming a centenarian.

Patricia, thanks for sharing with me a glimpse of your life and helping me understand that the journey is about grabbing what inspires and comes your way.

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