There was a little plaque hanging in Ace’s office that I think describes his brand of spirituality to a tee. We don’t know the back story of how it got there, but The Searcher by Thomas Blake says it perfectly:
I looked for my soul
But my soul I could not see,
I looked for my God
But my God eluded me,
I looked for a friend
And then I found all three,
“Cardinals vs. Giants! Next week, my beloved St. Louis Cardinals will play Ace’s beloved Giants in SF. Rather than wallow in sadness at not being able to kid him when the Cardinals sweep the series ( haha), I remember the many fun letters we passed back and forth over the years about sports.
“He loved his sports and sports teams! And he loved his family and his cousins!! I remember very well the reunion held in Wichita, Kansas many years ago. I treasure the video of that fun summer!”
Going through some old photos in Dad’s office and I discovered one I had never seen. It appears as if this was taken as Bagby School was just built, probably before the official dedication. The year would be 1958.
(Click on photo to see it enlarged.)
Dee’s niece Donna (English) Tronca shares this memory.
I remember Jack and I being at Barbara and Dee’s house one summer. It wasn’t the house on Daves Avenue. It was small, and there were awnings on the outside over the windows. That was an unusual site for me. Mom said they were used to shade the windows from the hot sun.
I remember sitting on the floor in the living room with Bobbie, Josh, and Jack. Uncle Dee darkened the room by pulling down roller shades, I think. He was doing something with a film projector. Then suddenly, lights, action, camera! Cartoons appeared on the wall! I have a fuzzy memory of crow characters, or something like that.
But what I remember most is the sound made by the projector, and the sound of Uncle Dee laughing at the cartoon. I thought how amazing to have the movies right there on the wall in the living room!
I, too, remember what a great treat it was when Dad showed movies on the wall.
Dee’s niece Donna (English) Tronca remembers this:
Although I wasn’t there, I remember Uncle Dee and Aunt Barbara telling this story. The Bagby family was riding in the car. There was a discussion about a previous car the family owned. Uncle Dee offered $50 to anyone who could remember the license plate number of the previous car, and immediately Josh rattled off the numbers. I would have loved to have seen Uncle Dee’s and Aunt Barbara’s jaws drop. But I don’t know how the story ended. Did Josh ever see the $50?
The license plate number was CYF643.
Seemed like a slam-dunk boost in my finances at the time, but Mom and Dad were quick to introduce the concept of “read the fine print.”
Ace’s niece Donna (English) Tronca — she called him Uncle Dee — shares a memory that for me evokes visions of how it used to be here in Los Gatos/Monte Sereno.
I remember one of the visits as kids to Los Gatos during the summer. Bobbie, Josh, and I were going to pick apricots from the trees next to the house. The plan was to sell them to a farmers’ market and then we would have spending money to take to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
I was having trouble reaching the apricots on the trees, so Uncle Dee hoisted me up into one of the trees and acted as the brace so I wouldn’t fall while collecting the fruit. I also remember that at one point we all sat on the ground and ate a few of the apricots. They were warm from the sun and smelled so wonderful. There’s absolutely nothing like that in Wisconsin! We did sell our harvest and went to Santa Cruz. I was afraid to ride the roller coaster so Uncle Dee sat with me on a bench.
We originally had an acre here when Ace and Barb purchased the house in 1953. We had prunes, plums, and apricots. Across the street from us was Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad … and ten more acres of prunes and apricots.
Another story from the memory vaults of Donna (English) Tronca, Ace’s niece.
Mom and Dad were at the hospital. It was in the morning, I think, and Mom was in labor. Jack and I were at grandma’s house. Barbara, Dee, Josh and Bobbie were there too. I was sitting on the sofa in the living room. The telephone rang. I don’t remember who answered it, but somehow the message got upstairs to Uncle Dee. I remember him excitedly running down the stairs in his boxer shorts. About half way down he stopped and exclaimed, “You have a baby sister, and her name is Judith.”
Yea! That was the name I chose. Well actually I wanted “Judy” but mom said, if a girl, her name would be Judith Ann, and we could call her Judy. Mom had discussed naming a girl Cynthia. But I don’t think the rest of us were warm and fuzzy over that one.
This name thing was going through my mind while still sitting there shocked at seeing Uncle Dee in his boxer shorts! A very vivid memory 60 years later! Funny, I don’t remember our ever discussing names for boys.
Too bad nobody had a camera for that auspicious moment.
When Ace became bedridden during the last few days of his life, his niece Donna (English) Tronca wrote some of her memories about Uncle Dee. Who?
When Dan and I visited a couple of years ago, it would be his first meeting with the California clan. A highlight of the visit was our stop in Los Gatos. I had, of course, primed him with stories of all the relatives. Dan was a bit confused about why Uncle Dee goes by different names in the family. I don’t know why, so wasn’t able to offer a definitive answer. But while we were visiting the Bagbys, somehow that discussion came up. I’ve always called him Uncle Dee, sometimes Delos. Judy, the same, Jack too, I believe. I remember Mom and Dad went back and forth between Dee and Ace. So Dan was still confused.
Uncle Dee got up from the sofa, walked over to the chair where Dan was sitting, stood over him and announced in his authoritative voice, “You can call me Ace.” Dan replied, “Yes, sir.” And thus it has been.
I do remember while growing up the oddity of hearing people use different names for my dad. Family called him one thing; school people called him something else.
There wasn’t much confusion for me, though. I called him Dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Ace Bagby!
This photo of Ace was taken by neighbor Sarah Debs when she visited him at the end of March, 2014. He always loved their visits. Not only was she a great conversationalist and photographer, but she also brought cookies.
This is what our house on Daves Avenue looked like in 1956. Of particular note is the state of Daves Avenue without sidewalks and the circular parking spot we had out front. To the right you can see the magnolia and ash trees in their youth. Out of the picture to the left is where the cedar deodara tree was growing. It was also just a few feet tall and not dominating the front view.
At this point, Monte Sereno had not been voted into existence. The city was incorporated on May 14, 1957.