Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you
Paul Simon
Thanks to Gary Cliser for creating this video for me.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Bernice Elaine Bergstrom

Bernice Elaine Bergstrom is my "Aunt Bernice".

I am going to say that knowing her was an opportunity missed. It wasn't until I was an adult (middle aged at that) before I understood her. As a child, she was a formidable figure who slightly frightened me.  No, she was not mean or threatening in any way, she was just a presence that was larger than me.

Bernice was born on July 4, 1912 in Minnesota. Her father arrived from Sweden in 1880 when he was a toddler. Her mother was born in Iowa. How they met or gravitated to Minnesota is not known but Aunt Bernice was very proud of her Minnesota roots. She was the oldest of five children and was very partial to her brother Kenneth.

I haven't done the research to find where she met my uncle but I do remember when they came to see us after they were married on September 2, 1955.

They made the trip from Montana to Southern California. One of my parent's favorite things to do was to take family to Los Angeles and eat at Clifton's Cafeteria in Downtown. (Clifton's has been closed for years but is reopening soon and I am so looking forward to a trip there.)
Me, Uncle Ralph, Aunt Bernice, my mom Ruby, my dad Ernie and my brother in September 1955 at Clifton's. 
We saw a lot of Uncle Ralph and Aunt Bernice but even as a teen I never felt quite her equal. She was exceptionally smart and had an opinion on everything. She and my dad had spirited discussions and sometimes I think he took the opposite viewpoint just to stir the pot.

Howard Rhea, Anne Rhea, Ralph Rhea, Bernice Rhea, Ernie Rhea, and Ruby Rhea in Walnut Creek, California 1970's.
The Rhea's brothers got together at least once a year. The three couples took the train from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Uncle Ralph and Aunt Bernice went to the World's Fair in Tennessee with my parents. If they weren't visiting us, we were visiting them.

It wasn't until years later when my husband and I made the trip to Yellowstone National Park and Billings that I finally understood my aunt. She was in an assisted living facility. It was then I realized she was a kind person with a no-nonsense exterior. I wish I'd seen that before but I treasure the week we spent with her and my uncle.

Bernice Elaine Bergstrom passed away on August 1, 2005.


  1. She was a very pretty woman. I have always liked that no nonsense type person but you have to be prepared for the honesty. We think people are rude, but it is not the same as honesty. Rudeness is selfishness. Honesty is abrupt, exposing and sometimes cruel. But it is what it is.

    1. You're right, I couldn't think of the word but abrupt is right. I always admired her knowledge.

  2. What a beautiful and complete tribute. I am doing What's in a name and chose Bertha for my favorite Auntie for B #Blogging from A-Z swinging by to meet and greet. I am 471 and 472 in the long list, with MOVIES & What's in a NAME Hope you swing by to 4covert2overt and Defining Ways. Hope to meet up everywhere @M_C_V_Egan
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  3. What a wonderful way to do the A to Z. I am just browsing and found this. I love old pictures and family history. It is so rich and full. Your Aunt does look strong minded and sometimes we need to grow up to fully appreciate their strengths. I had an Aunt like this and value her today.

  4. I love this idea of family history. Great start to the A to Z challenge! My grandmother was a Bernice also.

    The View from my World

  5. I love this idea as well. I am interested in family history. I have a lot of my grandmother's photos and try to combine those with anecdotal stories and facts in photo books I do on couples. Though since I started blogging, the family history has been a bit neglected. Great idea of yours. I need to read blogs like yours to find inspiration, I think!! I am doing the challenge as well. Carolyn from

  6. I too have lots of photos and am blogging at Do pop by and take a look at my old photos. I'm enjoying the blogging challenge and it has made me check all the info I have on each person. Visiting from AtoZ