A Word Portrait of Lucille G
Lucille Gertrude was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on 19 September 1914, she was the third daughter of Carl Jerry Bremmer and Lucy Methesmith Sharpe. Her name Lucille was a modernized version of Lucy (mother’s name). Where her middle name Gertrude came from I have no idea. Lucille was the only blonde child (the rest of the family had light brown hair). She was rather frail, small and not robust. Mother was five months pregnant which Lucille when she had goiter removal surgery at Mayo Brothers Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. We always felt this contributed to Lucille’s poor health.
In 1918, Lucille and I were sitting on our tricycles on the twelve foot retaining wall in front of our home. We were quarreling, she gave me a push and over and down I went. When I woke up, my arm was in a cast. About a month later, she pulled the typewriter off the desk onto her foot, breaking her ankle. No longer was I the star, but now had to share the sympathy with her.
We were three years apart in age and insuperable. By the time I was seven, I was making our doll clothes, using the sewing machine. At the age of nine, I was making our bloomers. Lucille would alway be on the sewing machine “helping.”
Once I sewed the needle right through her fingernail.
Another day we were home alone playing and she put her arm through the glass window over the hall steps. The broken glass sliced her inner arm open, she was bleeding profusely. Somehow I had sense enough to wrap her arm in a heavy towel and walk her the short distance to the doctors’ office.
Lucille was temperamental. In the morning she was a tiger not to be challenged. She was surly, ill natured, crabby, cross and most ungracious until she had drunk several cups of coffee and had breakfast. Her coffee drinking started as a small child, Earl and I drank milk or cocoa. She was the reason I never drank coffee.
In my younger days, it was my chore to rinse and stack the breakfast dishes before leaving for school. Lucille’s coffee cup would be half full of sugar and I would have to dig the undissolved packed sugar out of her cup. That settled the idea of drinking coffee for me!
When she was about ten, she arrived home with a note from the teacher. Lucille had eaten a crayon and the teaching suggested watching her closely as she didn’t know what the aftermath might be. During the night, Lucille cried constantly, being in great pain which mother attributed to the crayon eating. Toward morning, she fell asleep and the entire family did the same. When we got up in the morning mother could not rouse little sister. She was rushed to the hospital and operated on immediately, she had a ruptured appendix. Very, very, ill it was doubtful she could recover. The night following the removal of her stitches, the incision broke open and the internal organs were exposed. The decision was made not to re-operated as the doctors thought she was dying and did not want to put her thought additional agony. Day after day, hour after hour I sat at her hospital bed watching over her. After lingering for weeks she finally became strong enough to come home. The incision area had filled in with a process of granulation, but a large pouch was on the outside of her body. Poor little thing. The doctors would not operate as she lacked the stamina to undergo surgery.
In 1927 we moved to Sioux City but she was not allowed to enter school in this condition. Finally several surgeons agreed to the procedure and Lucille entered St. Vincent’s Hospital. The surgery was successful, the granulation removed and the organs placed back in the body cavity. She healed slowly but nicely. I was working evenings, but I spent, every afternoon at the hospital watching over and reassuring her. Her health improved and she entered school.
She graduated from Lincoln High in Los Angels and immediately went to work in the office of Chudacoff Meat Distributors. She soon became office manager as she was most efficient in all business procedures. She was highly regarded and respected in the meat industry.
She married Leland “Bud” Wood, no children due to the difficult surgeries of her childhood. Bud was afflicted with asthma. On 28 October 1959, he returned home from the doctors’s office after receiving his usual asthma injection. He tried to get out of his car, but fell dead in the driveway. Lucille had heard his car come into the driveway, but when he didn’t come into the house, she assumed that he was talking to a neighbor or had gone into the garage. When she realized it had been over an hour, she went looking and found his body. This shock started her on the road downhill.
She met a soon to be retired Army Sergeant and married him. Later she sold her lovely Pasadena home and purchased a large older home in the Westlake area of Los Angeles. We knew that she and Sarge were into the booze but not the full extent of their drinking. We would phone her at home, but would never get to talk to her. Sarge always answered the phone and have excuse after excuse for her not coming to the phone.
One Sunday morning, my husband and I decided to investigate this situation, we arrived unannounced and surprised Sarge so he had to let us in the house. I found her in bed, with wine and liquor bottles on the night stand and the chests of drawers. She was unable to get out of bed and had not been up for several weeks. I stripped her, bathed her and got her into clean clothes (made Sarge change the sheets). Lucille After I got home, informed by brothers and my sister as to what, I had found. The next day she was admitted to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. After a few days she was transferred to the Army Hospital in Ft McArthur. I visited her everyday. Twenty days later she died, holding my hand while I was talking to her.
The last thing I could do for her, was to see she had proper funeral. For several hours, I stayed in her hospital room until the officials agreed to do as I requested. I was worried what drunken Sarge might have in mind. She was taken to Forest Lawn, to be buried close to mother and dad.
Sarge came out a winner. Married less than a year, he inherited her bank accounts, her valuable coin collection, and the house. Sister Glee and I went to Lucille’s home a few days later and asked Sarge for a few of our Bremmer and Sharpe family heirlooms and a painting of our mother. His answer was to take a large gun out of a drawer and state “I will use this on anyone who tries to remove a thing from my house.”
What a waste o life, such an attractive forty eight year old woman with an excellent mind, now lost to the world. In a little over three years after losing her beloved first husband, Bud she had drank herself to death (certainly aided by Sarge). The doctor were blunt, her death due to “too much Haig and Haig.”
Her death certificate dated 20 March 1963, states cause of death: Laennec’s Cirrhosis due to Chronic Alcoholism.
She was buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California.
Written by Winnifred Jones