Her Life


I have been surprised that ending my life while still somewhat functional has become one of my main personal and political causes over the past 2.5 years. I have been saying for decades that at some point in the aging process, prior to when my body fully closes down, and while I still have my mental faculties, I will choose not to create another phase of my life.

One reason I am going forward now, is that my physical health keeps slowly spiraling downward with an ever expanding range of problems that began with a serious injury when I was 28 years old. I am tired of the increasing work it takes just to remain barely able to do activities I value. An equally important reason is that my capacity to contribute is vastly diminished now that I have fully retired from being productive professionally, am no longer an active member of a shared household, and in my capacity for political activism.

The cultural presumption is that the best natural death is to die in one’s home, surrounded by loved ones but that’s not the only choice. Nor is it even an option for people like me who are solo agers. Rather than face a long drawn out aging process of unrelenting loss of capability, loss of privacy and dignity, I am actively choosing assisted suicide. Because my German, half Jewish mother, had spent three formative years in Switzerland, she talked to me about suicide as an option for herself. This history with my mother, meant that suicide was not a forbidden topic, but was something that could be discussed.

But then actually doing the deed in a way that avoids legal issues or emotional imposition on others is difficult unless you have a terminal diagnosis (<6 months to live, no hope of recovery).

Proactive dying has become my cause, my project. It is yet another social value that I want to change, by example. This act is deeply appropriate for me as a person, and I believe for many others.

I had two wonderful Celebrations of Life before exiting early by choice by traveling to Switzerland to complete living as a manifested human on this planet, using the services of Dignitas. They allow “weary of life,” as an acceptable reason to choose to die on your own schedule. 21% of the people Dignitas assists have this, not terminal illnesses as their reason for ending their life.

The following is my list of 6 reasons for exiting early by choice:
  5%    1.)  Exchanging meals, food, and socializing with my peers is evaporating.
27%    2.)  To leave $ for people and causes I want to support. 50% people, 50% causes.
21%    3.)  To stop having to limit what I do, due to environmental sensitivities.
27%    4.)   Enough already of dealing with the limitations of a disabled body, exacerbated by the aging process.
15 %   5.) An increasing % of what I want to do electronically and on the web, is a burden or impossible.
 5%    6.)   I might run out of money.

1.)  As a solo ager, with no partner or dependents, my stopping to live will be a loss, but not create a major problem for anyone.
2.)  The main source of my money is having sold the house I lived in. I had saved a little money in an IRA while working as a house remodeler, and I had inherited ½ a million $ from my parents 20 years ago, which we thought would be enough for me to live on for the rest of my life. But before I sold the house I was becoming house rich and cash poor.
3. & 4.)  I know what it takes to live elegantly with a disability, but how I spend my time has tipped downward, in terms of even being able to care for myself, much less contribute to this wonderful world.
5.) The newer methods of communicating are increasingly beyond my capacity.
6.) I feel good when I can contribute money despite having less and less time to support what I believe in. Acting now accomplishes this. Delaying does the opposite.

I dearly hope that you will join Robert, John and others who are planning on offering a workshop at the next Reimagine the end of life in San Francisco Oct. 24-Nov 3, 2019 for a workshop that features a 4 minute video about me titled "The Last Days of Spring".


Lifestyle Choices in the 1970's & 80's
Adult life Phase I
Adult life Phase II Construction, Business Owner and Teacher, 1980 – 2014
College and Graduate School: Madison and NYC. My First Jobs
Childhood: My Family Heritage
LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 1
LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 2
LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 3


I have been surprised that ending my life while still somewhat functional has become one of my main political causes. I have been saying for decades that at some point in the aging process I will choose not to create another phase of my life, prior to when my body fully closes down. One reason is that my physical health keeps slowly spiraling downward with an ever expanding range of problems. An equally important reason is that my capacity to contribute is vastly diminished now that I have fully retired from being productive both professionally, in a shared household, and in my political activism, etc.I had two wonderful Celebrations of Life before Exiting Early by Choice by traveling to Switzerland to complete living as a manifested human on this planet.

At some point it becomes time to end it all. But then actually doing the deed is difficult.
Dying has become my cause, my project. It is yet another social value that I want to change, by example. This act is deeply appropriate for me as a person, and I believe for many others.

The cultural presumption is that the best natural death is to die in one’s home, surrounded by loved ones.  But at some point a few of us decide that it is time to actually choose death in advance of when physical and perhaps mental infirmities slowly remove my choices.

But then actually doing the deed is difficult.
I am sure that I want to end my life now.  It will not be in my home, partly due to the medical system, and partly out of consideration for others. More resources on this are available through the meetings of the meet-up Options in Dying.

I was surprised that when I retired from my work and household responsibilities, for myself, I choose not to start a new life, but to put effort into communicating to other family members in the younger generations, the few items of family history that I knew uniquely, largely from end of life talks with the generation before me. I also was more comfortable with the topic of suicide than most Americans because my German, half Jewish mother, who had spent three formative years in Switzerland, which contributed to her talking about suicide as an option for herself. This ease of talking about suicide meant that once again as I have entered this last phase of my life, I have drawn a conclusion and a plan of action that I believe is ahead of what many others in our USA culture will come to believe and act on. I am an exception in being on old person who chooses to not reinvent myself in a new and diminished form.

The book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” by Atul Gawande, has been providing me with inspiration for my choice.  It discusses end of life choices about assisted living and the effect of medical procedures on terminally ill people and challenges many traditionally held notions about the role of medicine. The graph on page p. 27 was especially informative for me. It shows how modern medicine provides a pattern of one's physical condition between one's birth and death of repeatedly recovering from physical crisis but with less health, and a lower trajectory, instead of what happened until 200 years ago. Before modern medicine, when one experienced a health crisis one would die quickly, and just a few people were able to live till old age. This article,How to Die Well, According to a Palliative Care Doctor” adds percentages to each path on  graphs similar to those in “Being Mortal”.

On Oct. 16, 2018 I, Spring Friedlander, gave a talk to ‘Death Talks,” on my experience in selecting how to die without a diagnosis of a terminal illness. The California End of Life Option Act (CELOA), physician-assisted dying, only applies in case of a terminal illness. If you are simply ready to die after a life of chronic illness, or in a similar situation, you need an alternative to the Act.

The CELOA went into effect in June 2016 in California,  and about ten other states now have adopted similar acts. Compassion and Choices / Death with Dignity are the organizations that are publicizing / defending this Act and supporting other states to get their version enacted.

At the talk, I discussed two alternatives on how to end one’s life when one does not have a terminal diagnosis:

One alternative is voluntarily refusing food and drink: Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking, (VSED), which is legal in many states. Refusing food and drink at home, VSED, takes time: at least five days for one’s liver and kidneys to fail, which means one is dying; and then another 4 - 5 days to die. Kaiser will provide palliative care at home for the initial period, and then hospice care in the final days. However the transition between palliative and hospice care can be messy. One of the challenges is that Kaiser may send different people at different times, you can't be sure who will show up. Apparently Kaiser has become more supportive of individual people, since I checked with them at the end of December, 2017.

It is good to prepare one's body for VSED by tapering off food and water for 2 - 3 weeks. Then drink only liquid soups (bone broth) and water (down to 8 oz of water / day) for 6-10 days, while taking the amino acid, l-threonine, 200 in the am & pm. In my case I also found two supplements that would keep my sugar levels balanced by taking 6 servings / day of each Collagen Protein- Vite K - 107 with GlycemoVitamin K - 85, both by Apex Energetics. Then one takes the next step, which is to completely stop eating and drinking.

There can be interruptions. People may disagree about your wishes, and you may not have control over your environment because you are dying. So refusing food and drink is simple in concept, but can be complex to execute, especially since you cannot expect to be in control the entire time.  It’s essential to complete Advance Directives before starting this process.

It seems true that the worst outcome to taking your life is failure to complete the process of dying. And without clear responsibility and control, failure is quite possible, even with the best of intentions among everyone present. The chances of success are significantly improved, if there is a team of people who are your advocates, (children, spouse, friends, etc.)

Once I found out about going to Switzerland I choose this path and went through all the steps to apply and be accepted by Dignitas, to end my life. It feels like the right choice for me.   
A second alternative is finding an organization to take responsibility for your death, like Dignitas, in Switzerland. The complexity here is in the initial arrangements and procedures. But once you have completed those, then the actual process is simple: you walk into an apartment in Zurich, Switzerland, you drink a sequence of liquids very similar to what is provided under the CELOA, and within a few minutes you lose consciousness and die. With the help of Dignitas you have complete control over your death, and it is as simple as possible.

Here are some points about Dignitas:

       21% of their clients do not have a terminal illness, but are "weary of life."  Most of their clients are old. The do not service younger people who are suffering from depression. They may service younger people with other types of disabilities.
       Their mailing address is not an actual street address, for privacy
       They require medical opinions from two MDs here in the US, not chiropractors or other health professionals, about your health challenges.
       They did not want me to mention my cancer,  even though I have had melanoma for 15 years, because my cancer was not stage 3 or stage 4 which would indicate one being close to  terminal.
       The web is helpful to learn about Dignitas and their process, but they require original hard-copies of all documents. They will not proceed at any step until they have the originals.
       They are very clear about the information they want submitted. Due to them needing more information on why I am making this choice, it took me submitting and resubmitting three times. Dignitas required signed and certified originals, which I sent by USPS for less the $5 each, and would follow-up by email. I got no evidence that they looked at the electronic version I sent each time.
       They far prefer that when you go to Switzerland you are accompanied by family or friends. (and some airlines offer round trips that are cheaper than one way).
       The complete Dignitas procedure costs money: 300 euros initial fee (about $340), then 3,000 euros ($3,500) for two doctors in Switzerland, and about $11,000 total, not including airfare. They recommended that I pay through TransferWise.  TransferWise requires a physical street address, not a PO Box. Dignitas did provide a street address with about a 10 day delay. If I do not complete the process with them, I get a refund of all but my annual membership in Dignitas, $300, and about $2,000 for their handling the administrative process of accepting my application
       The result is clear control, responsibility and legality of a defined process for your death, which seems only possible if an organization like Dignitas takes responsibility. They assert that Switzerland is the only country where foreigners are allowed to be helped to end their life.

It is unclear to me how long their process takes if everything goes smoothly for completion, but in my case I began in January 2018, and I got my final paperwork accepted in the middle of February 2019. I got delayed because;
they added the requirement that one of my Doctor’s letters needed to be from a psychologist,
and I had to go through extra steps to get my birth certificate to match the name I changed to in the 1970's.

Also after my third round of signed letters from doctors were not accepted, I realized I needed to have them review the letters prior to getting them signed. First they had wanted more details about my medical prognosis and then they wanted briefer letters. They required that I focus on objective physical limitations, not fears of my future deterioration. Then the letters were older then 4 months so I had to get current letters. I recommend that anyone going through their process have them review the letters prior to going to get one's doctor to sign it and put it on his letter head. My last round of 2 MD letters involved me sending them draft letters, getting their feedback on how to change the letters to meet their standard, and then talking with them on the phone to get permission to not include some of the language about assisted suicide they recommended. So on round 4, I was able to get them two current MD letters, one from a psychologist, that met their standards. My other communication with them was by email and USPS air mail.

21% of the people they service have this, not terminal illnesses as their reason for ending their life.
I plan to “exit early by choice,” earlier than when my body wears out more, because of not wanting to live/suffer through much more of being older/old. I choose to be in charge till the end of my life now that “enough is enough.” My feeling is that my life is complete as reflected by my conclusion that “My life has been a good run.” I am unusual because I have chosen to take responsibility for the timing of my death.

The following is my list of 6 reasons for exiting early by choice:
 5%    1.)  Exchanging meals, food, and socializing with my peers is evaporating.
27%    2.)  To leave $ for people and causes I want to support. 50% people, 50% causes.
21%    3.)  To stop having to limit what I do, due to environmental sensitivities.
27%    4.)   Enough already of dealing with the limitations of a disabled body, exacerbated by the aging process.
15 %   5.) An increasing % of what I want to do electronically and on the web, is a burden or impossible.
 5%    6.)   I might run out of money.

1.)  As a solo ager, with no partner or dependents, my stopping to live will be a loss, but not create a major problem for anyone.
2.)  The main source of my money is having sold the house I lived in. I had saved a little money in an IRA while working as a house remodeler, and I had inherited ½ a million $ from my parents 20 years ago, which we thought would be enough for me to live on for the rest of my life. But before I sold the house I was becoming house rich and cash poor.
3. & 4.)  I know what it takes to live elegantly with a disability, but how I spend my time has tipped downward, in terms of even being able to care for myself, much less contribute to this wonderful world.
5.) The newer methods of communicating are increasingly beyond my capacity.
6.) I feel good when I can contribute money despite having less and less time to support what I believe in. Acting now accomplishes this. Delaying does the opposite.

I am putting some time and energy into documenting my end of life, as well as the earlier phases of my life when I was at the cutting edge of a series of cultural and political shifts. I plan to get this up on refer to it on FaceBook and have a video made about it.

Twenty one percent of the people that Dignitas provides end of live services for are categorized as “Weary of life.” This is what I wrote as my own version of being “weary of life”. “My life is not working for me. I have put a lot of effort into making my life work, but the results are no longer enough to persuade me to go on. I just do not have it in me to keep retrying old strategies or trying additional new strategies. I am clear that my choice is to end my life at this time.“
I will check, but I believe that if this is one’s reason for getting their help then they require that one of your MD letters be from a Psychiatrist.


I lived in the same collective house for 44 years, on a quiet street in Oakland on the border with Berkeley, starting in 1972.  In 1968, after reading an article about collective living in Look Magazine, I had decided that it would be my future home lifestyle.  This was after eight years of having lived with a series of apartment mates, while in college, as a young working woman including while attending college. After one year of getting to know people in the Berkeley area, I, an older woman  (59) , and another woman in her late 20s, were fortunate to purchase a good house in a good neighborhood and kept improving it.  We had a stable set of housemates with whom we shared our active, independent lives. After our second long term housemate left, we started to have children in the house, first half time, and for the last decade one full time plus a second part time child with their parents.  My original reasons for living in community have remained relevant in my life: to have casual social interactions without over scheduling one's free/unstructured time – and I get all this common space for the same price as having my own unit. Also, so that I would have a stable place to live, since dating and developing a loving relationship was clearly going to be a challenge for me.

I did many renovations, and remodels to our 11 room, 3000 sq. ft 1912 Craftsman house over the decades, which had been developed into 7 bedrooms with a built in ships ladder to access the 3 (bedrooms?) in the attic just before we purchased it. I improved the sound insulation between the floors (by dropping the ceilings by one inch) and between the rooms one at a time. I also moved into different rooms, both on the main floor and in the improved attic to accommodate incoming housemates. After 21 years, we took out a home improvement loan from the local Credit Union to finance a major renovation, with building permits, and improved an already beautiful house with a second full bathroom upstairs, a real staircase between the floors by adding a small rear addition that also created more pantry space, which we used for an extra refrigerator and storage, a extra full closet, and an extra room. I also replaced the few residual gas lines from 1912 and any remaining galvanized pipes with copper. Toward the end of too long a remodeling project, we even agreed to proceed with the final phase of removing the old second chimney to open up and expand the kitchen much to our future benefit. Within a year I completed this kitchen/pantry expansion by having a commercial grade linoleum flooring installed in the expanded kitchen, pantry and rear room. We all benefited from this major renovation – which was beautifully done, I might add.

The deep level of improvements in this house over the years was helped by my choice to shift my profession to carpentry in 1980.  I was a green remodeler even before a Certification was offered as a Green Remodeler, which I got.  The green construction features included a wood-burning stove with a catalytic converter to heat the house, a solar hot water collector and photovoltaic panels on the roof, and interior single pane windows on the interior of our leaky single pane aluminum frame windows to create good temperature and sound insulation.

As a collective living community of up to eight people, the Prudence Crandall House (PCH), as we called ourselves, enjoyed living cooperatively but independently, cooking and sharing two (initially 6) dinners a week, and growing much of our own produce in the backyard garden, the latter enhanced by a drip irrigation system. The Eco lifestyle of the house included sharing two cars and bicycles for everyone for many years.

We named our house Prudence Crandall House, PCH to honor a Quaker white woman who had stood up for Negro (the term of the day) girls to be educated.  After a few years she got run out of town. Later in life she was given a pension by the very same town in Massachusetts to honor her earlier work.

Having enough money, plus enough space to stage projects, makes a huge difference in each one of our abilities to be comfortable and organized.

I was one of several neighbors central in evolving our 140 household neighborhood into an Eco-village. Eventually, my networking and linking of co-ops, collectives, and co-housing communities developed into a newly created organization, the East Bay Shared Housing Coalition. But little or no purchasing happened as a result. And now all of us of my generation have cashed out and moved on, and I am unaware of much continuing to tie our 140 household neighborhood together.

I was able to be hired as a City Planner from 1965 to 1979.  I worked as a City Planner for Westchester County in New York, Santa Clara County, Marin County, and City and County of San Francisco in the San Francisco Bay Area, (SFBA).

My having been born two years before the baby boomers, 1943, influenced my being able to be a career woman. Despite City Planning being a “man’s field” I was able to get hired. After being hired after having been deeply unemployed for the only time in my life, I thanked the Marin Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) for creating the pressure that resulted in two of us females being hired for at the professional level for the first time by Marin County in 1971. The woman I thanked was uncomfortable with claiming this much responsibility. I am still in gratitude that the second wave of the Women’s Movement helped me continue as a professional city planner.
In 1979 I did door to door canvassing for a worthy cause, for better quality care in convalescent homes. As well as giving me employment, It also helped me to learn how to be a good salesperson. Then I worked on the 1980 census.

In Oct. 1980 I chose construction as my next career. This was helped by the two semesters of Carpentry classes I had taken in 1970 and the projects I had completed on the house I was living in. In 1980 I returned to Peralta Community College to take more classes in Carpentry, Framing, Roofing, Cabinet Making, and Electrical Construction Technology.  In 1989-91 I taught several of carpentry classes as well as being paid half time to administer the dysfunctional Carpentry Department at Laney College. I functioned as a house doctor.  As a house doctor, I tore people’s house apart, made a big mess, spent some of their money, and created something better (sometimes wonderful) from it. In  1987 I was licensed as a general building contractor. My challenge was less marketing then performing. Contractors are expected to perform miracles and few customers want to pay what it costs.

To lessen the adversarial structure of our relationship, I PUT MYSELF AND MY CUSTOMERS ON THE SAME SIDE financially by sharing the risk of how much each project cost. I estimated the cost of the project and then divided any savings or overruns between estimate and actual cost with my clients. This alignment of our financial interests helped create satisfactory projects for both me and my clients. It also meant I was unwilling to make fixed bids on affirmative action jobs.

I HELPED SEVERAL FRIENDS who did not have money TO PURCHASE HOUSES. A friend who did not have any family money borrowed the down payment from me to purchase, and fully repaid me over a long period. I loaned the down payment money to a woman on welfare, which allowed her  to purchase the building she was living in directly from the owner, who sold it to her instead of putting it on the open market. With substantial money from the City of Berkeley I eventually got fully repaid. She ended up owning the building long term.  The details of this story are that in 1979 I helped Lois Haas who had two young sons, Io and Taro Cuetera, purchase the house she was living in at 2412 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Berkeley, while she was being supported by welfare. By the time I got repaid the loan I made for $10,837, and my parents' loan of $1,907, the one thing I felt good about was that $1000.00 was donated to the initial funding of purchasing the Women's Building in San Francisco on 18th Street.  It turns out that this donation was one of only three private donations, so it was very important in showing that local women supported the creation of the building.

Years and big money went into purchasing two houses for friends of mine who had no money, attempting to get them to own them, including me being willing to loan them the 3% down that they needed to provide themselves. But unfortunately, neither project resulted in them being able to buy the house. I learned lots of lessons, and still have some regrets. The Hill Family house, Carmen’s house.

I have taken lots of financial risks to help other people over the decades. Many of my offers have been repaid. Some have not. Currently I am in the middle of three of these, where I believe I will be repaid.

After I received money from my parents’ estate in 1991, I was generous with people I knew with providing construction financing. I financed the solar panels at Ft. Radical and a gap in their money flow for a New College in SF and got fully repaid. I also did construction financing for two guys I knew, my former job foreman, and David Bass and a new guy Scott Wozuski. I ended up in the awkward position of backing into doing construction financing. It worked out in the end, but I suffered during the periods when I needed to keep loaning them more money in order to have construction completed, so I could get my loan repaid.

I have been fortunate to be able to build on the values taught me by the three generations of social activists on both sides of my family.  I continue to gain more current values, skills, knowledge and finances to support the people whom I supported, and with whom I networked.  My core values were Eco-village, hands-on work, living collectively, being a planner/contractor,  shared housing, and functioning as a member of the GBLT community, and the HAI community. I identify as Jewish, but as a secular Jew. My lack of grounding in the religious tradition is a shortcoming at this later stage of my life and I find myself resonating more with the limited introduction I have had to Buddhist traditions.

In 1980 when I made carpentry my career - a rarity for a woman at the time - I joined the Skilled Workers Resource Network minutes after all the women had left because they were expected to perform backup roles and not take leadership. I was openly welcomed as a peer by the guys there. By 1983, I was working through the Carpenters Union, Local 36 as a journey carpenter. I was the first woman in the SFBA to qualify for a journey card by taking the test instead of going through the apprenticeship in the carpenters union.

While making the career shift to being a carpenter I tried out three different roles; I contracted with customers to do projects on their houses, I worked for a contractor as a middle level carpenter, and I got hired out of the union hall as a journey carpenter.  After three years of rotating between these roles, I concluded that owning my own business was my best choice.

I was a key organizer of the first National Trades Women Conference in 1983 at Laney College, which was attended by 600 tradeswomen and our allies from many parts of the USA.  It was years later before there was another national conference which was held in Chicago. Then there started to be annual conference of West Coast TradesWomen that rotated between Sacramento, San Diego and Oakland CA. and I went to offer workshops for self-employed trades women.   I also participated in the leadership of Self Employed Trades Women as well as the Skilled Workers Resource Network 1980-89. Then the participants in of both groups got welcomed into the Splinter Group in 1998, an independent self-education and lobbying group of building and remodeling contractors, until it disbanded about 2015

By 1984 I overcame my internalized political value of my parents against individual ownership and got a business license in Oakland, took out workers compensation and hired my first employee. In 1987 I had enough experience to qualify to take the written test to become a licensed general contractor as Spring Friedlander Remodeling. My jobs increased in length from a few days to 3 weeks, to more, to one big job that lasted 1 ¾ years. I kept returning to working with my tools and one helper, to working with my tools and a small crew, to hiring a field supervisor, so that I could focus on being the problem solver, coordinator, administrator and sales person.

I taught construction and carpentry at Laney Community College in Oakland from 1989 to 1991  and in 2008 – 2009, I taught building trades and construction at Kennedy High School in Richmond, California.  Also in 2008, I was in the first group of us certified as a Green Building Professional by Alameda County. I was one of the early adopters of green building practices in the market. I had become a “Green House Doctor.” I joined others in a series of organizations that helped create more sustainable building construction practices both locally and nationally. The current local groups are Stop & Build it Green.

In 2006, “Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975” was published.  Edited by Barbara Love. University of Illinois Press. 2006.  ISBN 0-252-03189-x.  Spring Friedlander, featured on page 161, is below:

“Friedlander, Spring (R.)* (1943 - now) (Ruth Friedlander) entered the women’s movement in 1969 after attending a NOW hearing in NYC. She participated in a feminist teach-in at the University of Chicago that year when visiting her family in Chicago, and in 1970 moved to the east bay of San Francisco, where her mother’s family had settled  in the 1940's after escaping Hitler’s Germany. She helped start CR groups in Berkeley (from 1970 till 1976), and helped coordinate a conference on Women’s Theory in November 1971. She has since helped set up many discussions and presentations on women’s theory. Friedlander came out as a bisexual in 1970, before we had the word “bi,” she says.
    In 1972 Tish Summers and Spring F. purchased a large single family house for our feminist collective household, named Prudence Crandall House.  We continue as a family friendly collective.

From 1972 - 1973, she was a volunteer at the San Francisco Sex information switchboard. She also led drop-in bisexual discussion groups at the East Bay Women’s Center (1974 - 1976). 

From 1971 - 1980, she was in a collective that coordinated Breakaway, A Women’s Free School in San Francisco and Berkeley. 

She was the coordinator of Bay Area Women City Planners (1972 - 1976), and 

has been a member of OWL, national and Ohlone East Bay Chapter, since 1974, and 

did a successful capital fund raiser to purchase the Berkeley-Oakland Women’s Shelter in 1978.  

She served on the board of the NWPC (2002 - 2003), and has been active in her local NOW chapter since 2001. 

She co-organized the first national conference of Trades Women in 1983, and participated in the leadership of Self Employed Trades Women from 1980 till its dispersal in 1990, the skilled workers network 1980 - 87 and the Splinter Group 1986-current and the San Francisco Area Organization of Women Architects 1978 & 2002 till now. 

Friedlander holds a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1965) and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College CUNY (1969) and a certificate in carpentry/residential construction from the Peralta Community Colleges in the San Francisco East Bay (1982).”

The following are some additions that were not printed in the book.
1.    I entered the women’s movement in 1969
2.    Ruth Friedlander: I changed my name to Spring Ruth Friedlander in 1976.
In 2008, I was certified in Green Building Professional Training.
In October 2009, I was certified as an EPA Lead Certified Renovator.

I have also had many experiences over the years of providing generous charity to friends and those in need.

I consciously used my white middle class privilege to make a long term commitment to an at risk family.  I helped a trades woman friend raise four of her grandchildren, the offspring of two crack addicted daughters.  She, Geraldine Hill, acknowledged my role by adopting me as her sister in 1995.  She died in 2004.  I also purchased a house that she was unable to buy, even with me willing to loan her the 3% down.  When I sold the house, I shared the money obtained from the increase in the value of this house with her offspring. I am also an important person in raising two younger and two older children of a formerly abused single woman, Carmen Gonzalez Brown from 1997 - 2005.

On April 25, 2012, I wrote:
“I am happy due to having a secondary relationship with a man Marty Bragen I have known since 1984 and dated on and off since '93, along with continuing with my increasingly sweet weekly date with Marty which we have been sharing for 25 years.”

But two months later, in June, I was handling several changes in my life: moving within our house, Marty's death, and working things out between my brother Dan and me as he approaches death.

On July 9, 2012, my only sibling, my brother, Daniel “Dan” Friedlander, passed away after a year of illness.  I went to Boulder, CO, Dan's home, for the Memorial Service, which was held on July 29th. Daniel's final letter, which was written to be sent out to his relatives after he died, states “I will miss a great family. My father gave me wisdom. And perhaps too much tolerance. My mother had strong European values. And little tolerance. But out of this, I emerged. Stronger and Better.”

I wrote of being the secondary woman:
Marty Bragen came to my house once a week, as well as when his partner was out of town.  We also shared a weekend vacation twice a year for a few years, as well as one later trip to Yosemite.  On that trip we escorted my first cousin and her husband on their once in a life-time trip from their home in Israel while they visited the USA. Marty passed away on May 12, 2012.

On my birthday in July 2014, Ellen Augustine formerly Schwartz wrote a Birthday Salutation:
“Being a Burning Soul is the essence of who you are.  In so many arenas, you are the Light for many others. As a Tradeswoman, you were on the leading edge, smoothing the way.  You have been highly instrumental in opening a bigger space for bisexual and lesbian women to clarify, amplify their voice and flourish.  And most importantly now, your Magnum Opus (my big creation) creating community through shared housing.”

“You see the bigger vision and have an amazing capacity to hold the details and the strategic implementation.  The intensity of your dedication, focus, and persistence is a great gift to us all.”

Thank you, my very dear friend, and a Most Happy Birthday.”  Love, Ellen 7/26/14

Linda Goldman Laviolette visited me from Portland OR in Jan. 2019 and wrote, “My gratitude for having you in my life is immense. You were the crucial link to many things that have made a profound difference for me, the biggest impact being the catalyst for what became my life's work and major contribution, my work in the non-profit sector.“ She made a career transition from City Planner to fund raiser after we teamed up to raise the money to secure the down payment for purchasing Oakland Berkeley Women’s Shelter in 1989.

Carmen Brown texted me in Feb. 2019 “Thanks for including me in this celebration of your very giving and truly generous life. You always had, even today, so much information. But much more that, it’s the way you’ve always shared. There are memories and lessons from our relationship that I hope to be able to share with people in my life.

By June of  2018, I had just sold the collective house on 66th street in which I had lived until 2016, and had been the owner since 1972, I choose to complete the moving out of the tenants, by paying $17,000 for the 4 people who were still living there to move, knowing that there was a high likelihood that I would lose the money, which happened. So helping clear my old house of tenants felt like my version of this type of generosity.

I am tired of having health limitations which I have had since my 20s. I want to leave something for the next generation.  I have been dealing with melanoma cancer since 2003. I also have been battling bugs in my body for the past four years. I have been diligent in the various methods I have used to lessen this ongoing distress, including alcoholing anything that could be a carrier for the bugs, and have taken to sleeping on a wooden surface with a thin sealed plastic mattress. In 2014, I wrote of my joy with being cancer free. It was not to last, however.

Recently, I have been dealing with the third phase of my life, which is post retirement, both professionally, post collective household, and non-leadership political activism.  All while my health keeps slowly spiraling downward. I have been surprised that ending one’s life while still somewhat functional has become one of my main political causes.

The following is writing that I have done for the writers group that meets every second week:

I have yet another reason to write my autobiography: to use writing as a form of mental exercise. So now I am committed to writing something every 2nd week.  So some of the following is material missing from what I already wrote.

One of the advantages of living in a shared household was how we divided household responsibilities so they would be taken care of. We had chores to divide, cooking and cleaning up after shared meals to rotate, and scheduling and running house meetings to deal with issues that involved two or more of us that we could not resolve ourselves or that impacted others.
Household chores: After 4 months of rotating the pie chart of chores, we each took on the task that we were good at. Mine was grocery shopping, and the other chores were keeping the house clean, gardening, and the fourth person handled the remaining miscellaneous tasks, like emptying the dishwasher and drainer. This division allowed me to take care of my household responsibilities without the tasks taking over too much of my life. In addition to a weekly shop at the Coop Food Store which, after it closed, was replaced by a weekly shop at the Berkeley Bowl. In-between my weekly main shop, I would go to the stores that sold merchandise for a discounted price, like Country Cheese, Grocery Outlet and the predecessors to CostCo. I never got into doing a buying club or going to the farmer’s market, mainly because of the extra time involved. This allowed me to function as the hunter. We shared 100% of all our foods, had one large refrigerator, plus one mini- frig with the main regular challenge being to fully utilize the wonderful produce from our own garden. We each had a shelf to store our own dirty dishes and pots and pans, so we could keep our counters clear. This pattern lasted for 30 years. By 2002, 30 years later, it became clear that some household members did not make their purchasing request by my weekly deadline, and had limited willingness to cook the extra food that I brought in as deals. So others did all the grocery shopping for about 2 years. Then I became one of 5 adults who rotated who shopped for each other. Also by then we dropped down to sharing dinners 2 or 3 times per week, so we started to need more refrigerators.

My adult life has been comprised of many dimensions:
    City Planner / Collective living / Career Woman
    Construction-business owner / stable place to live / open relationships
    Construction-teacher / Co-housing / open relationships

A sub-text of my life was my approach to my own money.

I had the luxury of having been able to save enough money that I earned in my youth, ($600) that functioned as a reserve, for years. Then I was able to save enough money to sustain me for 2 ½ years of living expenses, before I dropped out of the full time work force. I took on some full time jobs after that, but never with the option, nor intention of keeping them long term. I developed a pattern of working 7 days per week but not full time.

Writing my life story is also a way I am providing information to my relatives and anyone else who is interested in how I contributed to the shifts in the decades when I was active. I sought out groups where I could be fully myself, and several times I helped create and sustain them, This was primarily in the 1970's. Then in the 1980's I settled down to my roles in the world. Now I have dropped those roles, and feel lost. It does not help that it is December, a time of short days, and dreary weather.  

One of my writings for our Writers Group on November 23, 2018,
Bugs: I have finally come to the conclusion that when I am out of my apartment where others are, that I need to avoid touching.  I suffer from hypersensitivity and allergies.
Sometimes I choose to talk about my vulnerability / sensitivity to critters large and small.
The consequence is that before I dare touch other people, I check if they meet several criteria which usually takes me explaining why.  Sometimes I gamble and hug and touch, but too frequently I need to go through my decontamination procedure afterward, which is to remove what I am wearing, put it in bags with alcohol, take a shower and put on decontaminated clothes.
By some miracle I have a few people in my life who are willing to cooperate with my protective measures, so I dare touch them deeply.

The following are  pieces I wrote for our Writers Group on Making A Powerful Point At The Right Time: Social Activism                                     January 18. 2019

It gives me a thrill/peak moment when I am able to MAKE A POWERFUL POINT AT THE RIGHT TIME. Here are a few examples when I managed to be the right place at the right time with enough connection with the people there to shift a group. One time when I most improved this skill was while leading Breakaway registration sessions twice a year for 10 years in the 1970's.

After spending my organizing energy on women’s only projects during the 1970's, I decided it was time to return to projects that include men. So I attended a meeting where 30 women and men showed up to form affinity groups. We sat in a big circle and introduced ourselves. The woman leader had modeled their format to take a minute to introduce herself, and the male leader had taken 2 ½ minutes. As the rest of us introduced ourselves, we followed the same pattern. At the break I asked and was granted time to explain why I was not going to return.  I said I was not willing to struggle over such basic discrepancies as women and men getting a different amount of air time, and left. Years later a woman recognized me, and informed me that my point shifted the focus of the group to their own gender dynamics.

In 1983-4 when 6 to 8 of us were organizing the first national trades women conference, we were into “women’s energy.” I realized that we organizers were tipping too far in assuming that everyone who was there was a lesbian. So I privately shared my own, and got others identity and behavior (straight, bi-sexual, lesbian). When it seemed appropriate I would gently remind the group that some of us had men in our personal lives. This got us to back off enough for the women with men in their lives to feel included.

YES, TIMES AND VALUES DO CHANGE.                January 15,2019

When San Francisco Sex Information, SFSI, got formed in 1971, it was a haven for people who felt different. By the 25th reunion there were so many “alternative identified” participants, that a straight suburban married woman was lauded for being part of the switchboard. Who was on the fringe had shifted.

In 1968, when I turned 24, I was old enough to be becoming an “Old Maid” by the standard of the times. Decades later, a statistically significant percent of women are choosing to have children, even if they can not find a person to partner with to share raising their offspring. Since the biological clock does keep ticking, even if it has been extended to one’s late 30's, the set of the people bearing and raising children keeps getting increasingly diverse, not only locally, but  nationally.

In 1973 there was a lesbian conference in LA that I attended. That was a turning point conference for a lot of people. A big issue was can lesbians be accepted in society or are we going to be rejected. I was one of only two in a room of 80 women who believed we could/would be accepted in our culture. They were vehement about it; it wasn't casual conversation at all. But, I had came out to enough people at that point to test if it was acceptable, and it was acceptable. I was right there at that moment of change. Decades later efforts to legalize same sex marriage became an approach that many could support. So many formerly straight women were coming out at that time that my sharing that I was dating women at that time and at some point in the future intended to be open to dating and have relationships with men again, did not create an issue partly because I was leading an all woman based life then, and for several years later. One reason I could take the risk of being “out” was I did not have any children to negotiate child custody over.
I was lucky to be able to stay close to both my parents for most of my adult life until they passed.
They visited me many times in my house, and shared in parties I threw for them. They and I took a 3 year break from 1976-9 while my mother started taking lithium and then we resumed our close relationship. We took vacations together, and then I spent the last 19 years of Benny’s life visiting them for 3 - 5 days in their winter home in Green Valley AZ.

However I was not so lucky to develop ongoing relationships with my extended family. It turned out there was a division between those of us who were agnostic and religious that was hidden from me until well after my parents died. Plus both sides of my family were practicing zero population growth.  We had limited access to our distant grandmothers who lived in Berkeley and Israel, aunts, uncles and second cousins. We did drive to both coasts to visit several of our first and second aunts, uncles and their offspring while we were teens and then traveled to Israel when I was 18 to visit our 5 first cousins there.  Our extended family includes just two nephews, plus several cousins and second cousins. We have been practicing zero population growth and as a non married woman I have slowly lost contact with most of my relatives. My relatives include only a few Friedlander’s in Chicago and Brooklyn, Thuman’s in Houston TX, Bentwiches in London, Agronot’s in Israel, and Straus's in the San Francisco Bay Area of California USA. Instead my energy for family was mainly focused on the people who lived in my house.

My father spent the last two years of his life writing an autobiography of his life “My Life on Three Continents”  1910-1996
    I have what he wrote, and my edited version of what he wrote in this computer. I shipped all the originals to Roberta Louis Goodman, RJE, Education Director,     (847) 721-5479 cell, (847) 835-5478 home, because she is the only biological relative that I am aware of who is interested.

Eva Straus Friedlander, Nov. 4,1913 - May 6, 1999

My experience was that both of my parents really cared about me and my brother.
My mother had us because she wanted us to feel loved. She succeeded with me but not my brother.
My brother, Daniel's final letter, which was written to be sent out to his relatives after he died in 2012, states “I will miss a great family. My father gave me wisdom. And perhaps too much tolerance. My mother had strong European values. And little tolerance. But out of this, I emerged. Stronger and Better.”

She was a full time home-maker and volunteer until I was 10 when she returned to working.
My father had a full time professional job and did his share plus of the household work.

They were both firmly committed to a family based life. My father’s autobiography does not reflect the depth of his involvement with the daily life of raising us, and doing his share to keep the household functioning.
They enjoyed nature and traveling.
They believed in politics as a way to shift things and did their share.
I was impressed when I found out at Ben’s memorial that the two precincts they had were the highest vote getters in Hyde Park. They made sure to be available to go door to door and staff tables between and during every election. I knew enough to cry with joy for my parent’s achievement when Mayor Washington (the first Black Mayor of Chicago) was elected.

Their dynamics between them was both good and bad. They shared lots of values. But their interpersonal dynamics lacked.

Several examples of the WAY OUR FAMILY HANDLED FINANCES in as fair a way as we could negotiate:                                January 16, 2019

During my mother’s last 2 ½ years after she was widowed, I give her credit for responding to my lobbying her to spend money, despite her and my father’s deep stinginess.

When I answered my mother, Eva’s, phone call at noon on 12/6/1996, she said sit down. Luckily I did, so I could absorb the shock of her news. She informed me that my father, Ben, her husband for 58 years, and her caretaker, had died overnight in his sleep of a heart attack. I asked her if she was willing to move into a different independent living place other than one of the two they had selected so she could be near me in the SF Bay Area where I had settled down, in large part because her family was here. She said she would check with her other offspring, my brother.  Twenty minutes later she called to say yes. So I spent a whole month helping her complete things in Chicago, including holding a memorial service, helped her select what clothes, furniture, art, etc. to pack and what to ship. Serendipitously, I had just found out that a woman I already knew, would be able to recommend local places for assisted living. The third assisted living  place she suggested that we visited felt the best. Due to my mother’s positive attitude toward moving into this type of facility, and the support she had from me and my brother, she was accepted by her first choice, Creekside Lodge in San Pablo.

I convinced my mother if they had been less stingy, he would probably still have been alive. They had selected a retirement community in both of the places they lived and anticipated that at some point they would move into one or the other. When he died they had spent the 10 years since his retirement rotating between living in Chicago and Green Valley AZ. They took two days to drive between their one bedroom second floor walk-up condo where they lived for 7 months a year and a two bedroom town house during the snowy season that they had purchased a decade earlier in a retirement community, in Green Valley AZ, near Tucson. I had lobbied them three times to pick Chicago or Green Valley, and for her to move into the retirement community there, and keep their existing home for him. He would have visited her every day. But he would also have been able to build a social life of his own. Instead they stayed in their own place, and almost his whole life was absorbed by him being her caretaker. But it had been beyond their comprehension that “wasting” $500.00 per month on two places to live was an appropriate option.

After my father died, she shifted to negotiating financial decisions with my brother  and me. I was pleased and surprised, when our mother asked me and my brother if it was OK for her to her spend her own money. She explained that she was checking with us first because it really was our money, since we and my two nephews were going to inherit it. Her question was would it be OK for her to gift the largest annual tip to match what her friend with whom she dined was donating to the staff at the assisted living place where she lived. I appreciated her for asking and had to resist laughing a yes, when the amount in question turned out to be so little, $300.00. It turned out that this relatively small yearly tip was amazingly effective in lengthening the time the staff supported her in staying in independent living. As her health slowly deteriorated due to her Parkinson’s Disease,  she needed an increasing amount of help, first from me, and then from a personal helper we convinced her to hire directly. The result was that no one pushed her into moving into a nursing home. After she died, we did reward three of the women who had been most helpful to her with larger gifts.

I turned out to be the first person she hired to help her. After half a year of deeply coming through for my mother, she rewarded me with such a large birthday present, $3,000.00, that I offered her a day of my work time. She asked me how much I would charge. I said my going rate, which was $32/hour. She said that is a lot. I responded that this my rate, to give you a work day, instead of fitting you in when I have free time, which is never enough. So we agreed and I reported what she paid me as income.

After 1 ½ years my brother and I pressured my mother to select and hire a woman to provide her with more personal care than I felt comfortable giving her. I played good cop and my brother bad cop and then I posted brief, large print reminders in the 4 places she spent time in her 2 room apartment. The proudest phone message I ever received from my mother, was her reporting that Betty was great. Selecting and then getting helped by Betty was a real accomplishment for her. My mother actually paying the Betty and me turned out to be a production, that needed me lobbying for several visits when she was sort of ready to pay us each couple of months.


My mother told me, several times, that she and my father had the perfect marriage.  Feeling (or seeing?) how they behaved toward each other, I decided that "If this is a perfect marriage, I am not signing up." My gut told me their marriage was flawed; but American culture in the late 1940's & 50's lacked the concept of "dysfunctional family." How to be emotionally clean with one another was an agenda for me - and future generations.

The traditional song "I never will marry, I'll be no man's wife, "written by The Carter family in 1933 and later recorded by the Weavers, functioned as my personal anthem.  This is my 2011/2014 revised version of the songs text.

“I never will marry
I'll be no one's wife
Yet I live far from single
All the days of my life

Well, living unmarried
Isn’t living alone,
Plus I love men and women
Though by now I’m a crone.”

In 1970 I lived alone for 9 months (the only time in my life) and found it stressful.  Being with others casually was difficult.  I didn’t mind shopping and cooking food for myself, but I did miss sharing eating.  I could take the solitude if I knew l'd be seeing one person or a group, even the next day.  I often went several days without having a conversation outside of work.

In 1971, I began to live as a single woman dating people not living in our multi-generational collective household.  I knew that getting married and having children would not guarantee not being alone in my old age.  My finding the right person with whom to weave a healthy relationship looked like a long rough road.  Getting married and having children was far from a guarantee of not being alone in my old age.  Because I wasn’t a superwoman, I was choosing the path of becoming a career woman.

My dating and living
And staying heart-free
Let me and my partners
Have stability.

They say that love's a gentle thing
Indeed I do agree
I hang out, connect, and date
But love has mostly eluded me

There's many a change in the gender world
And changes in limits we've passed
Shifts continue in this old crone's heart
Who will hopefully have love at last

The years, the years, they do go by
And righteous work I do
But love it still evaporates
Just like the morning dew.

Next to having a home, having one close girl friend has always been important to me. I experience a sense of strain and rushing from one thing to the next when I have not had a girlfriend.

During the brief times I have not actively dated, I have felt a lack in my life. Yet none of the men or women were both the right person and available for me to partner with.  I always hoped that being physically close would create a mutual commitment, and that I would be fulfilled.  Yet the one time I lived with a man (for 6 months), it didn’t turn out that way -- I wasn’t willing to drop all my outside activities to focus on him.   While we were a couple I continued my own individual existence, but I thought I was wrong to do so.  The women I dated have repeatedly wanted me to function too much as the breadwinner out in the world person.  Now I aim to continue my own existence and am open to meeting a man or a woman with whom I can share part of, but not all, of my life.

These days, my views are far more nuanced than the narrow and rather rigid beliefs I held when I was much younger and relatively inexperienced in relationships.  For 26 years I had a weekly overnight date with a married man in an open relationship. I connect with my long distance female polyamorous lover who visited 3 times over a 3 year period. Two men visit me as well as I visit them. I just began providing the space for women only and mixed cuddle parties hosted by another woman who is more socially skilled than I, and also bi-sexual.

My goal continues to be in better touch with myself and my needs and where I am as a woman. Being a full person continues to be a vague, amorphous, exciting goal. It allows for anything from staying in the house all day puttering and reading to rushing from one thing to the next.  I sustain my fast-paced life by balancing it with daily and monthly periods of complete relaxation.

I never had kids, so the kids that I share
have grandparents who come and go
and as the years accumulate
it's clear we're all mishpokhe (connected as family).

I've claimed my notches professionally
In organizations, too
I've had good impact on our world
And in my communities too.

I continue to build on, instead of question, the values of my extended family.  As a third generation on both sides, politically progressive, urban, Jewish feminist I proudly maintain my heritage of being active and socially involved with European, justice, nature-based, values.
Now my home provided security, a safe space where I can be myself. A home is where I share with people as well as having privacy.  A home is where I tie together all my activities.

Now, in 2011, I live in a stable interracial, spiritually eclectic well decorated collective home.  My housemates are three other women, two men, a male teen, and two 7 year old girls. After 4 ½ years of  sharing this home with me, the family unit of husband wife and their daughter feel like a stable and solid part of my life. The single mother, with the 15 year old son, also seems valuable and solid after a few months,.  The others may stay here long term or could be drawn away by other opportunities.

After 39 years of aiming for it, our home is finally, consistently, a good experience on a daily basis. I have my own room for privacy, as does everyone else, including visitors.  We lead independent overlapping lives.  Anytime, I can go into the common space to maybe be with others. We cook excellent food, shop most of our food for one another, keep the house clean, have a productive garden, house meetings, etc.   With the drop in the real estate market, we may be able to find buyers and renters to move into neighboring houses as they become available so we can expand into a co-housing community in our active neighborhood.
In retrospect, I feel the satisfaction of having accomplished much of what I set out to achieve professionally.  After a decade of full time urban planner positions with several cities and counties, I concluded I needed different work to create a balanced life.  After four years of searching for a new career, a light bulb went off inside as I realized I enjoyed my avocation as a handy person, and carpentry was to be my new career.  I wiggled through my second career gender hurdle as a tradeswoman specializing in house remodeling as a “Green House Doctor."   The synthesis of my two prior careers and my collective living arrangement is to expand shared housing in the San Francisco East Bay while weaving an “Eco-Village” in our two block area with 140 households in north Oakland bordering on Berkeley. (But by 2018 all of us doing the weaving had sold our houses for good money and our “Eco-Village” disappated.)
So I earn my living by using my body as well as my brain in construction. For the second time, I'm unemployed and not fighting It.  I expect though, that I'll resume my profession engaged in socially relevant work, preferably being paid for it, sometime this year.

I'm into a variety of things.  I work with my hands sewing and cooking, and doing carpentry and electrical repairs. I maintain my health by eating carefully, taking a short nap after lunch and before dinner, walking, swimming and bicycling, being in two weekly movement classes (Rosen & Eutony), and going to a healer regularily (Eyebody, Alexander, Applied Kinesiology, acupuncture, etc).  I have recovered from two types of melanoma skin cancer with minor surgery plus complementary medicine, but no radiation or chemotherapy.  I belong to a small women's group where we talk about and analyze our lives. Consciousness Raising (CR) Groups continue to be critical to my being in charge of my life instead of my life running me.  I wish that a postage stamp would be issued honoring the role of CR groups in helping women evolve into full people.

I also enjoy many different types of workshops and retreats. Professionally, I am active in several "green" construction organizations and function as a house doctor.  As a committed resident, I am involved in the City of Oakland planning process supporting higher density along transit corridors.      

I am a high energy person who manages my ADHD through frequent and regular exercise, and by intentionally pausing before I speak or act.  I do many things; and although it hasn't been easy for me, I've learned to effectively follow projects through to completion. I live in the here and now, as well as working towards a secure, supportive future for myself, people I care about and our communities, through doing my part to create and support communities that reflect my values. When I feel the need for warmth and support I remind myself of the many good people I know, and the positive contributions I am in the process of making.

My leading spiritual practice is eye body work, along Jewish Gateways, with Rosen/eutony/Alexander movement, reiki attunements, and chiropractic healing services which I regularly receive.

I am alive due to modern medicine saving my life when I was 28 with back surgery, and probably again when I was 40 from blood poisoning, and again at 60 years old from polluted bay water when I made the mistake of swimming during a heavy storm.

I'm a older single woman with a fulfilling lifestyle.  Earlier, while in my 20's, I choose to live collectively with people who did not date one another.

Much earlier in March 1971, I wrote the following AutoBio for a Break Away class on The Family

I am in a Breakaway class on the family, where we figure out the advantages and drawbacks of single, married, and communal living. I am helping organize a new semester of Breakaway. I’m working with the woman candidate of the left coalition for the Berkeley City Council. I’m in a group that meets monthly to eat and to figure out where the Women’s Liberation movement is at.

In addition I started working half time driving a school bus. I do about four major things a day. Before I moved, when I was inactive, I was doing one major and two minor things (like shopping) each day. I try to schedule periods of rest by myself to recuperate and to assimilate all the things I am doing. Presently this means two periods of 2 to 3 hours during the week plus doing something relaxing like hiking with people or bicycling for a day each weekend. The major thing which I want to find more time for in my life is more reading.

I am a lover of nature.  I am a mechanical producer of products.  I am an analyzer of physical objects and of group dynamics and of government and increasingly of myself. I am a mind detached from my body. I am a well functioning healthy body. (I have always tried to keep my body in good shape so that it would allow me to feel good. Now I am allowing myself to feel the fullness and strength of my body.) I am a mind and a body throbbing with sensations. I am a natural speed freak.

I have a talent for seeing and acting upon the many possibilities for people and objects (material goods and connections) that elude others.  My gift is to be a networker / organizer / change agent.

Lifestyle Choices in the 1970's & 80's

In my late ‘20's, when I set up the structure of my adult life based on communal values, I choose to aim for a limited vision to improve the chance our house would lasting longer.
Many of my cohort chose to live a collective life in all aspects. They shared who they lived and worked with, loved, raised their children with, and cared about. They shared their expenses and income. Each contributed what they could and in turn had their basic needs met by the group. They had house meetings and love circles. They shared eating together, parties, and hot tubs. Many dreamed of establishing an agriculture-based life in the country. A few groups drove their retrofitted buses to rural areas, purchased land, and settled down. Several of those groups continue to this day, with the second and third generation running them as well as newcomers.

Unlike many in the SF Bay Area, I wanted to continue as an urban person, due to being comfortable with apartment buildings and traffic. This Bay Area was low density, by my standards. I was thrilled when we purchased a house with a yard, and learned how to be responsible for our luxuriously sized house. I consciously choose not to weave all aspects of my life into my living situation, partly to improve the chances that by aiming for less we would encounter fewer hurdles and therefore my home would function as a stable leg of my life. As a career woman (the other choices being to be superwoman, which I accepted I was unable to do, or to be a mother / housewife), I helped create this collective household.

Communication between our houses happened at monthly meetings of the Communal Grapevine, CG, where we shared what it took to do this right. We talked about how we ran our houses to keep them clean and us sharing food while taking care of paying taxes, etc. Half the issues that we discussed at the CG were irrelevant to our house, because as a women’s only house, we did not need to deal with the issues of getting the men to fully cooperate in what it took to have a well functioning household. Another surprising conclusion was that people who agreed to work on houses in exchange for reduced or free rent rarely got around to performing enough. Over the ensuing decades it also became increasingly clear that there is an important difference between agreeing to do a task and taking responsibility for whatever comes up in that area of concern.  Another lesion that took me decades to figure out is that only a small proportion of us are ambassadors / extroverts who get energized by reaching out.
I was slow to figure out ownership gave one more rights / power. This culminated in a situation in 2005 when my lack of acting on my power to initiate an eviction created more craziness than my actually proceeding with it Many years earlier (1973-76) I had not claimed this power which led to me being disenfranchised internally until 2005.

Another theme was that I backed into ownership of both my house and my business. I did not realize how much of an accomplishment it is for anyone to qualify for and then actually perform this role. I went from 25% to100% ownership of the house, and from attempting to register my contractor’s license in construction as Spring Friedlander and Associates to dropping the “Associates” and accepting sole ownership, due to these issues. To own, one needs to either have all the skills, time, luck and finances to perform, or get forced out.

As the years passed, I realized that my life changed substantially each time someone moved out and we replaced them. So I concluded that one way to dilute this shift would be to be one embedded household among the many in a co-housing community. Our collective unit would have more bedrooms than one designed for a family and our own common space, as well as sharing in the common space in the larger community. This vision was my incentive to be active in several efforts to establish a co-housing community in the East Bay. One phase of this was my being I was a wanna-be burning soul, part of a larger effort about creating the adult version of the Berkeley Student Co-ops that was active for about a year when the market was soft in 2008.
Since our large house had lots of common space, we casually acted as a gathering place / role model for the groups we were involved in. Most of these meetings were later hosted by Women’s Centers, in rented office space. I have been told that in the 1940's similar functions happened in large houses occupied by theater type people. The anti-communist efforts of the cold war undermined many of these creative people of the prior generation, and the 1970's felt like a opening up of creativity and rights that our household fully supported/benefitted from.

Here I am in 2018, having dropped all these issues, by moving out of and selling my house, and fully stopping doing construction, etc. Now I get to be an old lady and reflect on what I learned.

The special skill that I developed, networking, has been largely superseded by the internet. My attempts to keep up with electronic communication have been only very partially effective. One  current description of what used to be called networking, from a nice community source is weekly, daily, or even hourly cross-referrals.

 I am unhappy that my role has devolved into being a source of employment, and an increasing proportion of the time, even someone who gets in the way. I experience myself being relatively unproductive and not even very entertaining.

For me the time when I had the most impact was the late 1960's through the beginning of the 1980's as a woman at the cutting edge of the second wave of the Women’s Movement. Then I chose my next career and settled down.

In the summer of 1970, when I was turning 28, and the following year, I set the direction for the second phase of my post-college life, in the San Francisco Bay Area where I had been aiming to settle all my life.  I was in the process of becoming a career woman, made possible by the early second wave of the Women’s Movement, and making a long term commitment to living collectively as a lifestyle.

In August of 1971 I “came out” and started to date women as a bi-sexual identified woman within the lesbian community.  In 1972, I was an early volunteer for the San Francisco Sex Information Switchboard (SFSI), because many of us realized that freeing one's sexuality was critical to freeing one's self.  The expanded family network, and other groups helped me to realize that my parents had separately modeled strict monogamy and poly-fidelity and I chose the latter. When I was dating several people, the woman I was involved with suggested that maybe it was time for me to return to dating men as more than the extra person in the hetero-sexual couple I was dating.  By then, after 8+ years, I sadly accepted that in my relationships with women, they wanted me to be in the role of the man more than felt right for me as a strong woman who had never questioned that I am a woman. So I ended up weaving a long term, 25 year loving relationship with a man, where I was the secondary woman in an open relationship.

I worked as an urban planner from 1965-1978, and became a carpenter in 1980, a house remodeling contractor in 1987.  I also taught construction from 1989 – 2001 at the local community college. My ideal has been to forge an intersection between social justice and ecology, by using sustainable construction techniques.

Adult life Phase II Construction, Business Owner and Teacher, 1980 – 2014

My having been an urban planner from 1965 – 1979 helped as I shifted from city planner to builder. I understood the legitimacy of the role of an inspector, and the desirability of construction plans. I became a carpenter in 1980, an employer in 1984, a house remodeling contractor in 1987.  I taught construction from 1989 – 1991 and in 2008.

As a house remodeler, my ideal was forge an intersection between social justice and ecology, using sustainable construction techniques. I helped create more sustainable construction practices as well as a niche in the construction industry for women.

The craftsman house, which I owned part of, and later all of, and where I shared and lived my life for 44 years, offered me many construction projects, both before and after I made carpentry +++ my career. 

The following are several of MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS in my adult life: Phase I and II

Coordinated Breakaway, a Women's Free School, with others (1970-1980)
    In the fall of 1970, I attended the first session of Breakaway, A Women’s Free School, in San Francisco. The originators believed, incorrectly, that new people would offer to set up future sessions, if it was valuable enough.  I coordinated, along with a rotating collective of others, over twenty additional sessions of Breakaway, in both San Francisco and Berkeley.  Two or three times a year from 1971 until 1980, we published and distributed a catalog and held registration.  Each semester about 400 women registered for between 20 and 30 classes and consciousness raising groups.  Classes were held in women’s homes.  Breakaway helped improve the cultural/political atmosphere for women in San Francisco and the East Bay.  Breakaway was where I met the two other women, Tish Summers and Tanis Walters, who joined me in creating a collective house: Prudence Crandall House 1972-2015. The archives for this are stored in the U. of Houston LauraX social movement archive

Active in the Communal Grapevine, collective living, (1972-2002) and then Co-Housing, - 2017

Coordinated monthly meetings of the Bay Area Women Planners by myself 1972 - 76

Helped raise other people’s children by functioning as an extra aunt. Got adopted into Geraldine Hill’s family and helped raise several of her 17 offspring, 1990-2002-now. Also Carolyn Smith’s two daughters 1971-1995 and Carmen Gonzolez Brown’s four children for 3 years in the late 1990’s. The children of my housemates, especially Jasmine Laniel from age 2-9 ½.

I managed to get job sharing adopted in San Francisco, with the help of about 6 other young wonderful woman professions who understood the issue and New Ways to Work NWTW. (1974-1977). It took me 2 1/2 years to successfully lobby the City and County of San Francisco to allow “Permanent Part Time” positions.  The City lowered the authority to make the decision about which civil service positions could be made part time to the departmental level.  We succeeded, despite an entrenched civil service system, an old city charter, and a unionized labor force.  We succeeded because San Francisco had/has a significant number of employees without financial responsibility for dependents, i.e. children, so civil servants could afford to work part time.  The response we had to the workshops I coordinated and ran for NWTW for the 1 year ½ time CETA grant to provide information to people in the job market on how to get hired part time got such a good response that NWTW moved their offices from Palo Alto to San Francisco.
I had taken on this task because it brought together women’s and workplace issues.

Led drop-in bi-sexual discussion groups at the East Bay Women’s Center 1974 - 76 and continued to be active in the Bi-sexual community for decades, and in the Lesbian Community as an open Bi till now, 2019.

 When the closed San Francisco Head Start Program was refunded, Head Start contracted me to arrange for 13 of their former sites to be reopened,  ‘76-’77

Created a successful fundraiser to secure long term financing for the Berkeley Women’s Shelter with one other woman ‘79

On board of the Oakland Business Women’s organization, the Last Monday Club, 1979 - 1990

Main organizer of the first National Trades-Women Conference (1983) The archives for this are in the
San Francisco State Labor History Archive.

In 1980 I settled into the second phase of my adult life by remodeling houses for customers. It was a good 30 plus years. I treated my customers fairly, and they reciprocated. I kept returning to doing the actual work with my own hands and tools, instead of being lured into the office, which the construction industry is structured to create as one adds employees and larger jobs.

College and Graduate School: Madison and NYC. My First Jobs

Immediately after high school, I went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison where I earned a BS in Economics, with a focus on City Planning, in 1965.  As I entered my junior year I abandoned chemistry, which I was good at, in response to  advice that in-order for me, as a woman, to have interesting chemistry projects, I would need to focus all my attention on my career, and give up on having a balanced life. I was unwilling to commit to this sacrifice. So I chose economics with an emphasis on urban planning when I realized I had skills and a passion for how cities function.

I managed to get hired in NYC as a City Planner immediately after I graduated, despite it being a “Man's field,” and moved there for my job. After working for two years I enrolled in a Masters Degree in Urban Planning (MUP) in New York at Hunter College of the City University of New York, (CUNY). While enrolled I worked part time as a Planner and managed to earn my MUP on time in 1969.

During the four years I lived in New York City, I was actively involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement. During one large demonstration at the Pentagon in D.C., in 1969 to which my friend Patrice and I drove, we were gassed so badly that when we went into a local department store to buy extra clothing because we and our clothes were so toxic, they closed the store until we had bought our clothing and left. But because we were able to get our extra clothing, we could go to a local motel, shower, and spend the night before driving back to NYC.

Along with several hundred others, I attended a NOW hearing in New York City in 1968, where I lived.  I participated in a feminist teach-in at the U. of Chicago in 1968 with my brother who was a graduate student there while visiting my home town. Only later did I realize that these were both part of the beginning of the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement. I also attended some conferences of what became the ecology movement as it began in 1968-9.

Since I had managed to complete Graduate School with the same amount of savings I had started with, I concluded that this was a unique chance to do open ended traveling. So I went to Europe and Israel for four months, and then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA), to continue my career as an urban planner. I followed my plan to leave NYC after a wonderful fast-paced 4 years.  Living in “The City” had been wonderful, but too demanding to sustain long term.  So when I moved to the SFBA I choose the less intense East Bay as my place to settle down.   

Adult life Phase I

I managed to get three city planning jobs in the SF Bay Area, 1970-1980, but as I hit a glass ceiling I shifted my attention to a job-related topic that affected all workers, where I believed I could make a difference: creating job sharing. I was instrumental in getting this adopted by the City & County of San Francisco.

I participated in and helped to start consciousness raising groups in Berkeley from 1970 - 1976.  I was in the process of making the decision to become a professional career woman as a city planner and later as a house remodeler. I wanted a more rounded life as a member of a community with access to assisting in raising children.  The women’s movement shifted my straight forward competent none deferring way of dealing with the world from being considered the “other” to my behavior being what many women were aiming for.

Because I was the staff person dealing with housing policy in the unincorporated areas of Marin, I was in the right role at the right time to support a change in the building code.  In 1972 I was able to support adding sound separation between each building unit to the building code. My judgment was that the minor additional cost of sound separation was worth the improvement in the livability of adjacent and stacked housing.


Childhood: My Family Heritage

I was born Helen Ruth Friedlander, in Chicago, on July 24, 1943, the first of two children of Eva Straus Friedlander and Max Benzion Friedlander. We were raised in the only progressive neighborhood of 50 precincts in Chicago, IL, by two loving parents, who did a decent job of empowering me as a woman in our American culture.  It helped that my parents and both grandmothers held consciously feminist beliefs. They also believed that a role of the younger generation is to keep the older generation up to date.

I come from a solidly middle class background, my parents having been raised upper middle class. We were raised with regular access to two siblings of my father and their children in Chicago. But those relationships faded over the years.

My half Jewish mother was born on Nov. 4, 1913 in Berlin and escaped Germany in 1933, along with the rest of her immediate family. She grew up in Germany, the USA, Switzerland for 3 years, Germany, Israel, Vienna Austria, Germany, and France. When she was 25 she came to NYC as a student and got her BS degree in clothing design in one year from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY, while learning English, and then managed to get a job designing wedding dresses after graduating. My Jewish father was born on July 4, 1910, and raised in New York City for his first 10 years until his father was killed on a post WWI war relief mission. Then he, his mother and five siblings moved to England to live with his maternal grandfather when he was 10-12 . Then they lived in Palestine when he was 12-21. My American father and my German mother both lived as the children of Zionists in the same town in Palestine/Israel in the 1920s and knew each others siblings and mothers. They met and were married in NYC in 1938, and moved to Chicago in 1942.  They continued to be politically progressive and active their whole lives.

I and my brother were raised in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago for my first 18 years, where my parents settled after having lived in too many places while they were children and young adults.  So they decided to raise us in one place and continued to be rooted there for the rest of their long lives.

Our parents protected us from many of the fears the Holocaust had created for them, but toward the end of their lives they provided more information for me to conclude that it, and the aftermath of WWII, had had significant impacts on how they raised us.

I was brought up as a secular Jew with politics, not religion being our family's major focus, a tradition I have continued.  I started out lobbying for Henry Wallace to be elected as president in 1948 when I was 5, walked in “Ban the Bomb” marches in the 1950’s and was active in Hashomer Hatzair, a Jewish youth movement from 1954 – 1959 which was recruiting Americans to move to Israel. We were the girl / boy version of the Scouts. I attended the South Side School for Jewish Studies on Sundays, ran track for 6 weeks, played the flute in orchestra for 3 years, and was in our Chemistry Club for 2 years at my high school.

In high school, I wondered when I would become attracted to boys, and I finally did as a senior. My first boyfriend, Dean Chandler and I are still friends today. Later I came out as bi-sexual and poly-amorous.

LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 1

Education & Job History
    Ray School kindergarden-8, Hyde Park High 9-12 grade, U. Of Wisconsin Madison, Economics with a speciality in City Planning, summer camp counselor, City Planner and then Case Worker for Westchester County, 1965-67, CUNY Hunter College 1967-9 MUP and worked as a City Planner part-time. 1970-80 Santa Clara County, classes in carpentry 1970-71, drove a school bus, handy person,  Marin County 1971-2 & SF 1973-5 as a planner, + re-license 13 Head Start sites as a contractor 1976. 1977-1980 a variety of jobs including + calculating the lost income from a VW having hit a cow, canvassing for a good cause, doing a fund raiser to secure the Berkeley Oakland women’s center, census taker, handi-person. Choose carpentry as my second career. Did small maintenance and remodeling jobs 1980-1984, and took classes in carpentry 1980-82,  added an employee 1984, then continued doing remodeling projects as a building contractor 1987 – 2014
Here is additional information that is not integrated into the Autobiography above.

Arlene Slaughter offered to be my mentor. In the early 1950’s she had taken on challenging the racial based restrictive covenants still being enforced by the local realtors. In the late 1970’s she purchased a house with a swimming pool, offered me access, and then we would hang out when I was there. This went on for over 10 years.

Arlene Slaughter, realtor, got 5 buildings purchased by women’s communities –
BWHC (Berkeley Women’s Health Collective), the
Berkeley/Oakland Women’s Shelter,
the bar and entertainment center (Ollie’s at 41st and Telegraph),
Pacific Center for LGBT people, and
The residence of the two women who owned the Women’s Bookstore, a Women’s Place.
It took many negotiations, and good math to convince the former owners of these buildings that it was financially viable to sell them to her non-traditional clients.  I regret that I had not arranged to tell this story at her memorial, because no one else told it.
It turns out out that the down payment for the Berkeley/Oakland Women’s Shelter on Shattuck and 65th St. was a temporary loan. So Arlene found a conservative leader in the community, Carol Sibley, who was willing to be honored, as well as herself, in a fund-raising dinner. Then she recruited me, Spring, and I found a second woman, Linda Goldman Laviolette, to raise money to repay the woman who had made the temporary loan. We had a successful event, and the building was secured for the long term.  Over 400 people attended the event at Goodman Hall in Jack London Square on November 8, 1979. In addition, there were about a dozen corporate sponsors of the event.
The women and children served were victims of domestic violence.
Much to all our surprise, having a women's shelter for victims of domestic violence turned out to be relevant to Arlene at the end of her life. She died in 1988, killed by her boyfriend. She had functioned as my mentor, had moved to a new house to have a swimming pool so she and I (Spring F.) could swim there.   When I hung out with her for a few minutes the day before her death, before swimming in her pool, it felt like she had given up wanting to live. She had been in deep chronic physical pain and she needed to protect herself from her former lover.
She had a restraining order to keep him away from her. She had stayed in my house for a week and then friends had stayed with her at her own house the next week, which was her last. But she turned them down on that fateful night, and her former lover managed to get in and then killed her with an ax.
Arlene was a Jewish woman once married to a Black man; they had two bi-racial daughters together. When she could not buy a house in North Oakland due to mixed race laws in the mid 1950s, she decided to take on the obsolete protective covenants.

What follows is additional information about me that I pulled out of an earlier draft of my Life Story
Then lower down I have also cut and pasted in the text about my uncle Daniel Friedlaender  (the ae is correct) who was gay and killed himself at 18, and Bisexual in 70’sSpringF from an interview with Carolyn Arnold.

How I used to describe myself:   

I am an international cosmopolitan person.  My cosmopolitan sensibilities evolved from the European progressive and Jewish values imbibed in me by my parents, and my own moving to a variety of American cities and traveling abroad enough to get a deep sense of the varieties of cultures.

I have been tracking current news by reading “The Week” for decades.  I moved from Chicago (the Hyde Park neighborhood – the only non-machine political district out of 50 in the corrupt political run city), to Madison, Wisconsin (with a tradition of struggle between the Right and the Progressives) to Manhattan, where I enjoyed the quick pace, but acknowledged I could not keep it up long-term and I wanted more of a community base that legitimized shared access to the expansiveness of urban/wilderness outdoor spaces.  I settled down in moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland, CA., in the East Bay.

I would also describe myself as a Burning Soul who has engaged in, nurtured, and supported collective housing.  I have also been described as a Jewish progressive, “green” house remodeler, local activist, a feminist, active networker, employer, job-sharer, and a walker in nature with a healthy lifestyle.  I have been involved in movements all my life evolving from peace, to folk, civil rights, anti-war, feminist, bisexual, right livelihood, trades women, and sustainable movements.

I am an international cosmopolitan person. My cosmopolitan sensibilities evolved while living in a variety of cities and traveling abroad enough to get a deep sense of the varied values available in a culture. I moved from Chicago :Hyde Park – the only non political machine ward out of 50 in the machine run city: to Madison, Wisconsin, with a tradition of struggle between the Right and the Progressives; to Manhattan, where I enjoyed the quick pace, but acknowledged I could not keep it up long term, and I wanted more of a community base that legitimized shared access to the expansiveness of urban/wilderness outdoor spaces; to the San Francisco Bay area.

I have described myself as a Burning Soul who engages in, nurtures, and supports collective housing development.  I have also been described as a Jewish progressive old-timer, “green” house remodeler, local activist, a feminist, active networker, employer, job-sharer, and a walker in nature.  I have been involved in peace, folk, civil rights, anti-war, feminist, bisexual, right livelihood, trades women, and sustainable movements.

As a Jew the Last Monday Club, an Oakland based business women’s group, helped me shift my image from being the other to being included in “white” society during my lifetime.  I got it when Robbie Kingston had her sister speak on the Holocaust in 1987 and I reached out to the other Jews who had attended from synagogue based groups to say that LMC had fully included me.  My father’s warning about needing to protect myself by expecting anti-antisemitism was no longer true, at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area as explained in the 2013 movie “American Jerusalem”.  My view of and how I function in the world is very influenced by my Jewishness. I continue to be both consciously anti-racist and anti-classism.

What follows is information relevant to who I have been from an interview with Rose Tully in 2011: She interviewed me but did not use this information to modify my chapter titled “My choices --- herstory creating family/relationships” on being bi. for a book published by the lesbian writers group. “The (In)Visible Memoirs Project, Voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,and Transgender Women Writers of Strawberry Creek Lodge and Openhouse, Volume 7: My Heart Is A Plum And I know Freedom, 2011 ISSN 2150-0819 (print) ISSN 2150-3346 (on line)

Rose Tully: So what specific exercises do you do to manage your ADHD?
Spring Friedlander: Exercise efficiently. Walking with trekking poles, or swimming, or bicycling outside are my three main exercises. Most of these involve nature. Since I like company, I take the effort to meet up with somebody and make sure we’re rendezvousing. I’ve never explored medication. ADHD wasn’t diagnosed in adults until ‘96, I was born in ‘43.

RT: What is great about your house?
SF: Can’t walk in the front door without people saying it’s great. We have streams 200 feet down; the house wasn’t remodeled before I got my paws on it, so it didn’t have a lot of features that had to be recreated. It was a physically intact house that has been improved by yours truly. It still feels like a craftsman, which is an accomplishment. This whole district is semi-designated by the City of Oakland as a historic district.

RT: What do you love most about your house?
SF: The people in it. The fact that we’re intergenerational. We have someone from every decade between 0 and 60s in our house and we’re all here to function as an intentional family. We find people these days on Craigslist.

RT: One of the things you talk about with your house is that you eat excellent food.
SF: It’s organic, fresh, well-flavored, well-presented. We share eating it. If we’re coherent enough, we do a yum, as opposed to an om, in order to resonate with each other, led by the six year olds, and then we harmonize, and then we have a custom-made lazy-Susan in the center of the table and serve ourselves and each other depending upon the nature of the food and how many are at the table, and then we eat and we usually have a flow between one conversation and several, and when we’re real together, we do things like what we call the green box which is who’s is this does anyone want it box, and we do roses and thorns, and we tend to do that, which is things you like or don’t like about your day, we tend to do that about ¾ through the meal, when the kids have eaten enough and getting distracted isn’t too serious, but it’s still there. And then we clean up and the cooks are exempt but everybody else chips in. We get most of our food from the Berkeley Bowl and our backyard. We grow fruit trees, rosemary and blackberry patches, and then whatever seasonal vegetables are in good supply. Right now it’s kale, collards, spinach.

RT: Tell me about your parents.
SF: My father was very involved with the family and involved with us as children. “My Life on Three Continents” is the book my father Ben M Friedlander wrote about his life. Mother was involved in the local school and in politics. “The role of the younger generation is to keep the older generation up to date.” That is a quote, said regularly at appropriate moments when we were growing up. My whole being bisexual is like, “All right, we’ll deal with it.” They didn’t do a very graceful job of it, but it turned out that this was due to family dynamics around my gay uncle who jumped to his death as much as me. Generally, they were accepting of my dating women. (met a few of the women I dated, went on vacation with me and one of my lovers, let me talk about being bi.) But they were not willing to lobby his family to accept me as bi-sexual.

In terms of just day to day what it takes to run a household, my father was competent, and my mother was slightly incompetent, and so I got to have a model of the man chips in and the model of as a woman you have choices of what you do or don’t do when it comes to the household.

RT: When did you come out?   SF: ‘71.
RT: So 1971 was a very big year for you?
SF: It was after a women’s studies class I solidified my choice as a single woman who dated people. I went click. I was at a party for San Francisco Sex Information which was called Fort Help, a big warehouse in the SOMA area of San Francisco, back in the day when people were taking over warehouses to live in, and this lesbian was there speaking and she said, “Well you know what the logical conclusion of love is ?” and I go, “Bong, oh, that’s right. It’s me.” I was clearer than a flash that I would have been bi from the beginning. There was a certain line that you wouldn’t go over if you wanted to be a part of society. I went to my mother while in Highschool and said what’s going on, and she said, well you’ll get around to liking guys, and I did, which made me heterosexual. San Francisco Sex Information, sex positive community, which you may be familiar with. It’s one of the two sex switchboards that remains nationally. There were a lot of switchboards to answer people’s questions about sex.   Because one of the ways we can empower ourselves is sex, the other being money, it’s the two forbidden topics in this culture.

I was 13 and walking home from school with my girlfriend and we were holding hands and clearly bonded, there was an apartment building we were walking past in my neighborhood, it’s probably still there. I remember getting this psychic verbal message from this unseen person who’s clearly female, saying if you were in any other neighborhood, you couldn’t do this. So I got that clue at that age, so that same woman who I’d been holding hands with, we stayed good friends and when I was 19, she’d gone off to Oberlin and I’d gone to the U. of Wisconsin. Long before I came out, she comes to me and sets me up in this totally romantic setting on the lake, Lake Michigan, on a rock in the lake, to propose to me. Well, by that time I started dating guys. And so I was babbling about these guys I was dating and so she never proposed to me. And she went off and became the female version of a monk in Germany.

RT: What would you have said?
SF: I probably would have said no. It never occurred to me that she would be proposing to me as partner/lover until I came out, so I missed the message behind it on some level even though I got the basic essence of it and it wasn’t until I came out that I said oh shit, from 13 until 19 I had this person in my life who if times had been different, I would have been partnered with. She never did say it, I was trying to get it out of her, it was clear she had something to say, but she didn’t say it.
    And before I came out, there was a psychodrama group through the free university in Palo Alto. At the time I was living in San Jose and I would go up to Palo Alto for my social life. It would be like 45 of us for the weekend, doing sleep deprivation to really get down to what your feelings were. So at the end of the weekend, we’re laying around debriefing, and this couple, heterosexual, is lying in each other’s arms and the woman is saying You’re in danger of making a decision. She said, So what’s behind your decision to be a career woman as opposed to a wife? And I hadn’t fully made the decision yet. And she was clearly warning me about this decision.

I went to where an affinity group was being formed around fighting nuclear power plants in the late 70s. It felt like it was time for me to return to having men in my life other than at work.  I thought. I go to the Unitarian church in San Francisco and they’re forming affinity groups, and the leadership team is a man on one side and a woman on the other side.  Their verbal instructions are for each of us to take a minute to introduce ourselves. Their actual behavior is that the woman takes one minute, the man takes two and a half minutes. I time each person and each woman took a minute and each man took 2 1/2 minutes.  Come time for lunch, I say excuse me I’m not coming back and this is why, and they gave me the time to say why. Years later, I’m in the shower at my local swimming pool, this woman comes up to me and she says, “Are you that woman?”  And we figured out that I was. It turns out the group spent the rest of the time talking about what I had told them. My statement was I’m not willing to struggle on this level. I’m beyond this. This is not my issue. But my sharing my observation transformed the group.

In Oct of 1980, I decided to become a tradeswoman. I’d been looking for another career for four years and realized in a flash of light, that I had been drawn to the trades for my whole life, had enough experience doing the work to know that I was decent at doing it, I would not have to sit at a desk, which was hard for me to do, I could get paid for using some of my excess physical energy, it was well paid, and by age 37 I was confident enough to handle the discrimination expected as a woman in a man’s field. I had some idea of what was required to get into the union from my having shared office space with Women in Apprenticeship. I enrolled in a Community College class on estimating. I joined the Skilled Workers Resource Network, a support group for us who were beginning self employed construction workers. When I showed up, they made sure I was having a good time. A few months later other women informed me that all the women had walked out a few minutes before I arrived. This was in response to being tired of doing all the grunt work of keeping the organization going. And they felt that the best way to do that was to just leave. Struggling wasn’t working. So I got to be the token woman. So I felt welcomed which felt wonderful. I in turn welcomed women who joined later.

RT: And yet your parents still felt challenged when you came out, so it wasn’t sexuality- based; it was more gender-based?
SF: No, they were more concerned about their relatives and what it would do to me in terms of choices. Just before my father died, he revealed that my uncle who had died and was so honored had probably been gay, and that this was a family secret, that made it harder for his family to deal with the gay issue for my generation.
In 1973 there was a lesbian conference in LA that I went to. That was a turning point conference for a lot of people. The big issue was can we lesbians be accepted in society or are we going to be rejected. Two of us in the whole goddamn room thought we could be accepted in our culture, the rest of them thought we couldn’t. And they were vehement about it; it wasn’t casual conversation at all. But, I came out consciously at that point to test how much it was acceptable, and it was acceptable. I was right there at that moment of change.

RT: What is your vision of love?
SF: People who are happy to be there for each other, it’s mutual and therefore a commitment. We’re each independent people as opposed to two people making each other whole.

RT: Do you have any visions of sitting on a porch swing with somebody and growing old or anything like that?SF: I actually have fair hopes that I will create that in my life. One of the nice rewards of working for myself so much is that I’m doing so much better being close to people, so maybe I’ll find myself in this process.             

RT: Could you see spending the rest of your life with a guy?
SF: Oh yeah, I see that as more likely than with a woman.

RT: Why?
SF: Cause that’s who I am. It’s far easier for me to hang out with guys than with women in terms of dating, so. But it’s a very narrow difference, so I’m truly open. Because I’m someone who’s quite androgynous in a lot of ways, it’s always mystified me that there’s the bell curve, and if we didn’t have all the socialization issues there’d still be a bell curve. A lot of us could potentially be bisexual. So it’s always mystified me that such a high proportion of the people who feel in the middle feel the need to choose one or the other.                                
RT: What is your current life with dating women?
SF: I dated women for 10 solid years 1971-81 but rarely since then. I’m looking. One of the reasons I’ve been hanging out in OLOC is because I’m looking for someone to date. It’s hard for two women who connect and seem compatible to make it clear that we’re interested in each other. It’s a combination of unwillingness to endure rejection, lack of willingness to take initiative, unclear who is available, etc. It’s also a slower wooing process I think for women. And our flirting skills for my generation tend to be weak. I actually took a class in flirting at one point, I thought, God, I gotta send some messages out here. It’s helped a. The idea of legitimizing that as an activity was by itself helpful, because actually, you remember, I mean being tall and proud and then reaching out is all counter to what we are expected to do in our role and culture.

The flirting class taught me how to connect non-verbally. Make eye contact, open up your chakras, focus on the other person and yourself simultaneously, feel attractive. It’s a way to connect positively.

Some of the construction jobs I did

In 1988 I helped Marty Bragen ready his family home for sale as his son, Lawrence, turned 18. I removed the lower portion of a double garage door damaged by dry rot and replaced it with soluble sill plate of pressure treated wood and rebuilt the studs, prepared replacement sheathing, caulking and flashing.  I also helped with estimate and advice on preparing the house for market, including dealing with the termite inspection.

In 1984-5 I spent a 1 ¾ years upgrading a 4 floor 6 unit house in Berkeley under the supervision of the owner, who was an Architect and Engineer with her own business.  We slowed the project from 8 to 3 workers, so I could return to working with my tools.

Right after the earthquake in 1989, while I was teaching carpentry at Laney, I did a seismic upgrade of the foundation and ground floor of a craftsman house with City of Oakland financing.

From 1989 – 1991, I taught carpentry half time and functioned as the administrator for the Carpentry Program at Laney College, and taught a class of women being trained to ender construction.  The students completely remodeled a gutted duplex that was sold to finance the program.  The students were well instructed by me, as confirmed by their next teacher, Cynthia Correia, who was hired as the first tenured tradesperson.

In 1995, I worked very briefly as a Maintenance Mechanic for the City of Oakland. I cleaned up a warehouse and provided my own respirator when I smelled mold in the room. Then I got offered $15. to see if I had damaged my lungs from the mold, but I informed them that I had provided my own respiratory filter.  The City’s respirator had been delivered after a few days but with no filters.
In September, 2001, I completed the Electrician Certification Class, “Electrical Theory National Electrical Code Training.”

In 2003, I was certified as a Green Remodeler, active in the Green Remodelers Guild.  It evolved into Build It Green,, and the Organization of Women Architects.

On a personal level, I lived in a collective household that included three generations, from young child / baby to senior.

Looking back, living in our shared 8 bedroom house at 434 66th St. Oakland, worked for me less and less as the years passed.
I found myself drained more and more by living in the house that had worked fairly well for me for the first 30 years. In 2002 I became the sole owner occupant in, due to the death at 85 of my co-owner
I ran into the predictable problem that it’s almost impossible to be a landlord living with tenants. And it made it even harder that I was living out my decision to live with others as a lifestyle, and that decision was over identified in my head with the house. An additional factor was that I my aging lead to me having less bountiful energy.

I contributed to my difficulty of being able to relax and enjoy myself in the house, by too often putting work before pleasure. Also I did not expect other people to carry their share. I was warned that just one of these issues, living as a landlord with tenants, was enough to doom my efforts at being part of a community that worked for me.  
The four roles I filled in my household prior to relaxing were.
I cared most about the systems, and was willing to lobby for the maintenance of sometimes overly complex systems
I was the land lord / rent collector
I was the maintenance person / project manager / house improver
I was the old timer with the history of the social and physical background of our house, as well as other shared houses.
My housemates did persuade me to kick back more earlier, to some effect. But I kept running into limitations from living there.
Once I decided to give up on trying to make it work, and sell the house, I was flabbergasted at how much stuff I owned. I figured that I had two rooms full of stuff. I did not realize how much stuff I had in the common spaces, the garage and the sheds. So moving out turned out to need more culling than I had and concept of how handle. It did not help that I had lived in the same place for 44 years.

At my birthday party in 2009, people shared how they experienced me. Brian Laniel saw me as weird, unabashed, courageous, refreshing, resourceful, flexible and inflexible, a walker and biker locally, inspiring, diversely connected, always working on herself and learning. I perceived my creative gift is to be an organizer, but it does not always serve me as a person.  Abigail Laniel saw me as resilient, does not hold grudges, moves relationships through and forward, remarkably open to feedback, works with alternative health to work through various health issues. At this time, I was experiencing my third occurrence of cancer. Optimistic: Lisa Vance did not believe I was so up all the time in 1977, so I promised to call her the next time I am down – which is the best remedy for being down. We became good friends after that. Karen says I have an active frontal cortex.  Josh Beth sees me as eccentric, good-hearted, organized, principled, committed, thoughtful. Steph wrote inside homemade fortune cookies: “You are a bundle of energy, always on the go.”

A contributing factor to my back going out in 1971 was I did not feel understood and supported in developing my own unusual lifestyle at the time. The only place I expected support did not provide it, which was from the most progressive women in the movement. The final connection got made by Ruth Mahaney who I had asked twice while attending Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, OLOC gatherings. “We did not support women who acted too powerful in the 1970s.” and “We did not know how to deal with the issue of women who were strong, so sometimes we mistreated people.”

In 2011, I described myself as “a “green” house remodeler, employer, and job sharer, a secular Jew, a feminist, an active networker, walker in nature, local activist in my Oakland, CA neighborhood, and living in a stable diverse three generation collective household since 1972. I am also one of the early adopters of green building techniques in the market.

Over the course of my career in construction, I was involved in rough construction, foundations, electrical, decks, framing, termite repair, sound attenuation, insulation, shear walls, stairs, finish construction, doors and windows, storage systems, sheetrock, linoleum, siding, shingling, administration, estimating, obtaining permits and change orders, billing, payroll, employee supervision, purchasing supplies, staging, and trade seminars.

On April 25, 2012, I wrote:        “I am happy due to having a secondary relationship
Professionally, I had a career transition and hoped to use my extensive experience as a Green House Remodeling Contractor, City Planner, Teacher and Activist in a socially productive way.
Organizationally/politically, I am today still involved with several groups, including Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and the Older Women's League.”

In 2012, while on a tour of the partly completed new Oakland Kaiser hospital building for local contractors, I raised my concerns and I believe I got Kaiser to use dry, not pre-mixed sheetrock mud. The anti-mold pre-mixed joint compound is toxic.

By 1980 I started being in touch with my phobias and fears, and keeping them at a distance.
My response to my mother’s overwhelming fears and phobias during the McCarthy era of the 1950s when leftists and Jews were targeted, was to not let any in. In my late 30’s, I accepted that sometimes fear is an appropriate response to a situation, and finally when I reached 60 years of age, I was in touch with my fears and negative feelings as events unfolded.

I have made incredible changes in how I live my life, and the positive feedback I have gotten from others is a strong incentive to me to continue taking care of my body, my social interactions, my finances, etc.

Steve Nickels, at the end of the Splinter Group annual non-directors meeting in January 2013,  said he wants me to keep being feisty.

Neighbor, Ardys, said I am didactic, especially excessively, on my telling her that it is a problem for her compost bin to touch her garage.

I have also been described as “Intrepid.” What does this mean, I wondered. Then looked it up – adventurous explorer, forthright, energetic, persistent. Me? Resolute fearlessness, fortitude and endurance, an intrepid explorer. Also bold, courageous, dauntless, fearless, gallant, greathearted, gutsy, brave, lionhearted, manful, stalwart, stouthearted, undauntable, undaunted, valiant, valorous.
My core values:
   My being pivotal
   Hands on work
   Living collectively
   As a planner/contractor

In 2014, I retired as a contractor, carpenter, house remodeler, after 34 years.

I left my house to relax about every 6th weekend for decades. I would go to nature, either by visiting a friend, back-packing or attending a retreat. I flew to vacations with my parents as well as to relatives in Israel.
One of the more memorable was that in June 1991, Bari, Tanis and I flew to Juneau, Alaska to celebrate Bari’s 75th birthday. This was followed by a cruise in the inner passage of Alaska, staying on shore each night. This was followed by 10 days in Seattle where I stayed with my mother’s sister, Aunt Charlotte, and visited Rae of the Bi Community.
Another was in June 1986 when Lisa Vance, Tanis, Chude (Pam Allen), and one other woman backpacked to the Crabtree Camp in Emigrant Wilderness for five days. We had the special experience of surfing down the waterfall on the moss, which I now realize was ecologically incorrect.

Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty:

Gratitude From A Stranger for a Ride Home
Tuesday night after an Human Awareness Institute (HAI) Support Group meeting in early 2019, I was coming from a full heart space.  I spotted a little old lady going into TJ's just as it started to pour. So as we both prepared to exit, I offered her a ride home. After entertaining me with her current life situation, she gave me the following take away: It is nice to be an old lady.  Now even total strangers offer to help her, and she feels safe enough to accept. For decades she relied on her husband, but he died a year ago.

Another example of institutional barriers to Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty:
When my friend commuted over the Dumbarton Bridge in 1982, the person in the car ahead of her paid her toll fee, so she told the toll taker she was paying for the person behind her and went on her way. The next day at the toll taker's booth, as she talked to the same toll taker, she was informed that “the person behind her did the same for the person behind them and it continued for most of the prior day.  This was a series of gifts from and for total strangers who would never meet. About a year later, my friend had another day when helping someone else seemed right, so she offered to pay for the driver behind her. The same toll taker informed her that a policy had been adopted which prevented her from accepting payment for the next person.

It felt so good to receive the gift of another person paying having paid for one’s bridge toll.
It is sad that spontaneous acts of generosity are so difficult for policy makers to leave alone.

The Grateful Dead may have modeled this option.  For many years, DeadHeads leaving New Year's Eve shows in Oakland, (earlier years at Kaiser auditorium, later years at Oakland Coliseum) who crossed the bridge, driving back to San Francisco, would pay the toll for the car behind them.  The Grateful Dead were a San Francisco Bay area based band that performed all over the Bay area, and later, the US, Europe and Egypt, from the 1960s to 1995.
Recently, I have been dealing with the third phase of my life, which is post retirement, both
In July of 2018, I attended an all day meeting of the Old Lesbians Organized For Change (OLOC), where we shared times when what we did involved overcoming being scared.

Bridget Basham and I put together the agenda for the Organization of Women Architects and Design professionals held in San Francisco, July 14th this year. There were breakout sessions in which stories of harassment were shared, as well as celebration of male champions of change, and a workshop on how to disrupt an entrenched workplace culture.    I shared my background as a city planner, a housing remodeler, and having taught construction at a high school and at a college as well as reconstructing of my own shared house: the plumbing, heating and gas systems, storage areas, etc.

I pointed out my wearing overalls to the conference, represented my real work outfit.
I stated, “I am proud of having done my part to create a niche in the construction industry for women while weaving a balanced life.”

I also shared growing up in Chicago in the 40s, 50s. At that time the land along the Chicago river, referred to as “the slums” were demolished the summer of 1959 by the City Urban Renewal Project. No replacement housing was provided so the displaced people, mostly African-Americans, doubled up to accommodate their relatives. Most whites moved to the suburbs. My family stayed.

Now when buildings are demolished, the plan, but not the reality, is to build mixed income housing, not just displace to nowhere, building intentionally, as in San Francisco, real diversity on the ground, revitalizing the neighborhoods.

I started my own firm partly because of the difficulty for women getting career ladders within existing firms. In the 1970s, even the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club was men only. In 1980s it opened up to women in Oakland.

On July 24th 2018, I celebrated my 75th birthday, at my cousin Michael's house in Marshall, along with five close friends of many years: Tanis, Yehudite, Patrice, Charlene, and Carol Ruth.
Yehudit, Tanis, and I talked about the many meals and chores we shared over our many years in communal housing.  Tanis and I had also camped together on the Straus farm in Marin County. It brought back memories of when I worked for Marin County Planning Department, and how my information about Land Trusts contributed to the concept of Marin Agricultural Land Trust paying farmers for their development rights so the farmers could afford to continue in agricultural.

Lots of memories:

One random memory was that one of the first McDonald’s was in our neighborhood in inner Chicago in 1961. At the time, easy, inexpensive take out food was progress.
I also remember how I swam in the San Francisco Bay off Emeryville, checking the tides beforehand. This was part of my avoiding the chlorine in pools, because it contributes to cancer.

Carol Ruth Silver shared her recently published a book about her experience as a Freedom Rider, including her smuggled notes from Parchman Prison in Mississippi in 1962. The book is “Freedom Rider Diary.” After Carol became an attorney she was hired by the People’s Law Project to spend years providing legal services for the poor. Then she moved to San Francisco and was elected to the Board of Supervisors to form a progressive majority under Mayor Masconni, until Dan White killed him and Harvey Milk.

Yehudite retired from being a professional violinist for the San Francisco Ballet.

Charlene, the youngest of our group, became an RN and is a wonderful resource for her extended family, now that she is established in her career.

Tanis, a former housemate of mine, now spends her time growing fruits and beautiful flowers on the land around her house in the rural setting that she so loves at Pt. Reyes Station.

Patrice Woepple, since retired as a hospital, health care exec, wrote a book on the disaster of the workers' compensation system, entitled, “Depraved Indifference: the Workers' Compensation System.”

We all had a wonderful time together, celebrating my birthday, and great food -within all our dietary restraints, I might add.

On August 7th of 2018, I met with my friends who met through the recently defunct in the Older Women's League (OWL).  It's a small group of us, but most of us have known each other a long time. We rotate meeting at member's houses in Berkeley and Oakland and share what is going on in our lives, and some of our history. The purpose of the group is to share ideas about growing older, and what's best for each of us.  Jackie was a Gray Panther. Chris's father was a realtor who helped Japanese-Americans. Her mother was one of the original members of OWL. Yvonne who worked for Arlene Slaughter took on getting rid of red-lining. I talked about my 75th birthday celebration soon to come at The Smokehouse. The question also came up of how many of us date.  I shared that I am working on my memoir. Yvonne shared that while she lives alone, she is the “greeter” in her community. Chris and Yvonne are neighbors.
I grew up with three agendas that it has taken me till now to partly solve:
       Being in contact with my feelings and learning how to act on them in a caring way.
       Being on time.
       Having my possessions serve me instead of running me.
On my Bucket List from 2015 was to “Meet the love of my life. Love deeper. Help others till the day I die. Work on good healthy living. To fall in love and let it be forever.”  

In July of 2018, I attended an all day meeting of the Old Lesbians Organized For Change (OLOC), where we shared times when what we did involved overcoming being scared.

Bridget Basham and I put together the agenda for the Organization of Women Architects and Design professionals held in San Francisco, July 14th this year. There were breakout sessions in which stories of harassment were shared, as well as celebration of male champions of change, and a workshop on how to disrupt an entrenched workplace culture.

I shared my background as a city planner, a housing remodeler, and having taught construction at a high school and at a college. I also did the reconstruction of my own co-housing house: the plumbing, heating, gas system.

I pointed out my wearing overalls to the conference, representing my real work outfit.
I stated, “I am proud of having done my part to create a niche in the construction industry for women while weaving a balanced life.”

I also shared growing up in Chicago in the 40s, 50s. At that time the land along the Chicago river, referred to as “the slums” were demolished the summer of 1959 by the City Urban Renewal Project. No replacement housing was provided so the displaced people, mostly African-Americans, doubled up to accommodate their relatives. Most whites moved to the suburbs. My family stayed.

Now when buildings are demolished, the plan, but not the reality, is to build mixed income housing, not just displace to nowhere, building intentionally, as in San Francisco, real diversity on the ground, revitalizing the neighborhoods.

I started my own firm because of the difficulty for women within firms. In the 1970s, even the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club was men only. In 1980s it opened up to women in Oakland.
I grew up with three agendas that it has taken me till now to partly solve:
       Being in contact with my feelings and learning how to act on them in a caring way.
       Being on time.
       Having my possessions serve me instead of running me.

I concluded that both of my parents were raised as upper middle class. This was partly because both of them had household help with cooking, washing, serving meals and entertaining when they were being raised.  Neither of their fathers helped with domestic responsibilities and their mothers had two or more women helping. It was much more common in the early 1900’s for households to have full-time servants or domestic help.

I was lucky to be able to stay close to both my parents for most of my adult life until they passed.
They visited me many times in my house, and shared in parties I threw for them. I took a 3 year break from our visits 1976-9 while my mother started taking lithium and then we resumed our close relationship. We took vacations together, and then I spent the last 19 years of Benny’s life visiting them for 3 - 5 days in their winter home in Green Valley AZ.

My father spent the last two years of his life writing an autobiography of his life “My Life on Three Continents”     I have what he wrote, and my edited version of what he wrote in this computer. I shipped all the originals to David Friedlander and Roberta Louis Goodman, RJE, Education Director,     (847) 721-5479 cell, (847) 835-5478 home, 710 Woodridge Lane off Forest Way. because they are the only biological relatives who are interested.

Eva Straus Friedlander, Nov. 4,1913 - May 6, 1999

My experience was that both of my parents really cared about me and my brother.
My mother had us because she wanted us to feel loved. She succeeded with me but not my brother.
My brother, Daniel's final letter, which was written to be sent out to his relatives after he died in 2012, states “I will miss a great family. My father gave me wisdom. And perhaps too much tolerance. My mother had strong European values. And little tolerance. But out of this, I emerged. Stronger and Better.”

She was a full time home-maker and volunteer until I was 10 when she returned to working.
My father had a full time professional job and did his share plus of the household work.

They were both firmly committed to a family based life. My father’s autobiography does not reflect the depth of his involvement with the daily life of raising us, and doing his share to keep the household functioning.
They enjoyed nature and traveling.
They believed in politics as a way to shift things and did their share.
I was impressed when I found out at Ben’s memorial that the two precincts they had were the highest vote getters in Hyde Park. They made sure to be available to go door to door and staff tables between and during every election. I knew enough to cry with joy for my parent’s achievement when Mayor Washington (the first Black Mayor of Chicago) was elected.
    Their dynamics between them was both good and bad. They shared lots of values. But their interpersonal dynamics lacked.

A few historical details about my mother, his wife of 58 years, and her escaping Germany and immigrating to the USA. Also about how our family responded after Benny died.

She was born in Berlin, grew up in Germany, the US (while her father was interned for lobbying the US to not declare way against Germany) Switzerland for 3 years, Germany, 3 years in Palestine, Munich Germany, Vienna Austria, France (to learn farming 1935),  Switzerland, Palestine when she picked strawberries, USA 1936 on a student visa, and then as an immigrant after earning her BS in design from Pratt in 1937 which she managed to convert to immigrant status after earning her BS in design from Pratt in 1937.  

She and her family took a train out of Berlin Germany 10 days after her father died of a blood clot and the last day Jews were allowed to leave with their possessions. She took the train with her Mother Edith Straus, her sister Lotta who was born in the USA and her brother George. Her fourth sibling, her brother Emanuel, succeeded in being allowed over the border to Switzerland when he took the risk to ski over the Alps with some important papers. Edith managed to get the life insurance policy that they all lived on past the inspector on the train. Instead of letting it lapse, her father’s brother had made the last few payments for this policy and therefore claimed half of it’s value, but that still left $100,000 for them to live on.

Spring and Summer of 1934  Eva was in France (Chateau de la Borde in Jore-lesTours, L. for about six months. She was with a group of young people who were learning agricultural skills in preparation for immigrating to Palestine. Her mother visited her there and removed her because she was losing too much weight due to insufficient food.

1935   She managed to get a student visa to travel from Vienna (6/36) or Tel-Aviv to NY USA in 1936
August 1936- July 1937: 120 St James Pl. Brooklyn NY, while she attended Pratt Institute on Ryerson St. in Brooklyn, NY.
A teacher from Biet Raeli in Haifa introduced Ben and Eva to one another, and they got married 11 weeks later with Carmel Forsythe being their witness in 1938.  P. 56-57 of Ben’s Autobiography.

Eva worked at a variety of jobs until I was born. Then she was a full time mother and volunteer until I was 10 years old. After one year of taking a job doing clerical type work in an office, she enrolled in and graduated with a certificate in recreational therapy. She taught arts and crafts to old folks as long as her mother was alive. Then she shifted to teaching arts and crafts to young children at the local community center. She deeply enjoyed this work and was good at it. This she did till she was 75. She was sort of lost after they forced her from this job by lowering the salary to below what she felt she was worth.

In 1976 my mother flipped out and was hospitalized over the Xmas holidays. She was diagnosed as being manic depressive. It turned out that their prescribing lithium worked for her. Our whole family became a healing family system as she evened out her manic and depressive cycles. Later Dan figured out that he needed to stay on lithium and could not keep going on and off it. Both my nephews also have the issue of being manic depressive.

Just before Benny died in April of 1997 Eva wrote the following to claim credit for the work she did to raise the two of us. Eva did all the laundry, made the beds, changed sheets when they were wet when we were babies, took care of us two kids when we were sick, took us to the pediatricians, took us to the playground and baby lake, bought stuff (cloths, etc.) from Sears, sewed and mended, bought toys and baby furniture and encouraged our drawing and painting by installing a gate for privacy in our apartment, decorated the places we lived, visited schools and teachers and arranged private tutoring for Ruth to learn to read when I was 9, volunteered in the playground at our elementary school, etc. Eva cooked most of the meals which took 20 minutes to cook. Benny did the weekly grocery shopping.
Eva had modeled being an independent woman during her 58 year marriage. After Ben died overnight unexpectedly, she moved to Creekside Lodge in San Pablo north of Oakland, independent living, where I visited her for a full day every week, and Dan took care of her financial affairs and visited regularly from Boulder. My, Spring’s experience was that Eva “grew-up” at a deeper level during these last 2 ½ years of her life, despite the limitations of being in the 8-10th year of having Parkinson’s Disease (PD) at a time when the medication for PD became ineffective after 10 years.

I have been surprised that ending my life while still somewhat functional
When my parents were in their late 60's, (each of them worked till they were 75) my father complained that she was saving all the money she earned as her own money. He wanted her to pay part of their shared basic household expenses despite her income being much smaller than his. I supported him in this request by offering the model of couples who share house holds each paying the same % of their income for basic expenses. Soon afterwards, they agreed that she would pay their monthly homeowners fee.

I sympathize with the sources of my parents attitude toward having money. Their early world was one where everything was to be saved and discretionary expenditures were limited to education and travel. Both my parents were affected by the Depression and the scarcities of WWII. My mother was also affected by the German inflation of 1922. Both of them had access to some of the fixed amount of money their mothers received when their fathers died, and did their best to minimize how much money they received from their mother’s endowments.

But I ended up taking a different path, and after my mother was widowed, she paid more attention to what I was offering her in the financial department.

Being Bisexual in the Lesbian Community - Bay Area in the 70s
Interview with Spring Friedlander by Carolyn Arnold  1/12/18 with additional edits made by Spring since then

Spring Friedlander, Jan 12, 2017  Born in July 24, 1943
Her experiences as someone who came out as a bi person in Oakland.

1)    Cultural history – what kind of family and childhood did you have, financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, sexually?
Raised by stable set of parents who were 3rd gen feminists, raised in progressive comm. In the City of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood around the U. of Chicago. It was an multi-class / etc. neighborhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s, as a 1st gen American I was taught that Am consumer values are not great,
My father was raised in the USA, England, and Israel. My mother was German and was raised in Germany, Switzerland, Israel and the USA:  She was half Jewish, and he was 100% Jewish
I had one brother who was a year and a half younger,
We were raised with 2 other families in Chicago – one Uncle and one Aunt of my fathers, their spouces and their children
My mother’s family was in SF area.
All my mother’s family got out before the Holocaust took over, but it had more impact than I was told about.

LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 2

I spend18 years solid years living in Chicago – Our parents want us to grow up in one place.   Most of my peers in school moved away due to racism and corruption of the Daley political machine.
My mother was very supportive of me exploring my sexuality, and mis-identified me as a lesbian, and encouraged me to be gentle with myself.  Specifically when I asked her, she said that it was likely that I would develop an interest in boys/men later, which happened by my last year of High School and continued into college and later.
My father was directly supportive but not with his sister and brother.  This was due to the tragedy of his gay brother having killed himself at 18 which was not shared with me until just before my father died.  1940 was long before American culture had developed tools on how to open up for discussion and guide the person to accept themselves for whomever they were becoming.  turned out had something in his past that led him to be supportive.
I went to Univ of Wisconsin – Madison – 3 hour bus ride, a good distance.   1961-65
    Parents supported me in college financially
In hindsight, from 2nd year through my 4th yr I had a roommate who I would have been sexual with if it had been an option.  But she was homophobic lesbian and anti-semetic Jew,  not self accepting. Being sexual with one another was a line one did not step over then.

College started with me having an ailment from Israel. The school doctor didn’t treat me because I was in this dorm that used to be a boarding house known for lesbians, and she didn’t want to out me.  So treatment was delayed.   In the dormatories women were restricted by the rules of in-loco parentis, and women had to be in by 10 pm, not spending the night away, and all got changed while I was there,  including the option for not being in dorms. So my last year I was able to rent an apartment, which I did with this close friend.   
You are trying to sort  out who you are at that age,  and it was all overlapping. She and I stayed close through the 4 years I lived in Manhattan  - Marcia Sommers,  (died about 2000-:)

I was dating guys and having a good time, and not realizing that the U. was a good place to find a good guy.  During my first year of college, I got propositioned by HS girlfriend, and didn’t realize it, as I did not see having a lesbian relationship as an option.  I talked about the guys, and she assumed I liked that. Only 10 years later did I come out as a bisexual woman.    I was dating guys at the U. of Wis. And having a good time socializing with the women in my dormitory. One of the guys came back 4 years later and offered to marry me, but by then I didn’t want to give up my life to be a faculty wife.

As college ended I managed to get hired for a professional job as a city planner in NY with only a BA degree – working for county of Westchester, in White Plains in NY area. I lived in Manhattan and had a one hour reverse commute on the subway and the train. The train cost less that way (for the cleaning ladies).  Premium on commute hours going towards NY.

Her college roommate Marcia. found a nice apartment through a friend, and Spring took it over from  her, and Marsha got her own place. Spring always shared her apartment with 2 roommates, shared a bedroom, all women.  For dating, I had a series of guys I dated,   3 mos up , 3 mos down and 6 months to recover.  So I got better at ending process, so I could be open to starting another relationship soon after the prior one ended.  Then I lived with a boyfriend who I met through a friend…. My friend married my former boyfriend.  Dated each other’s former boyfriends. I dated and lived with Randolf, and I spent 5 weekends at Randolf’s parents house in queens, but didn’t like it, too much of a wifely role.    The other roommate thought they needed more space if they were all dating.  New to be there just because of the guy, in Queens, but didn’t like it – not exciting.    

Feminism was not quite a name yet. The women’s movement just started  68-69 but didn’t know it was a movement, and it was in NYC and Chicago that I got involved.    I did recognize enough to know what could be effective since I’d been in Ban the Bomb, Anti viet nam, and civil rights movements, and felt good about how I could work within movements and be effective.

At one large gathering in Manhattan, of what became the women’s movement, they referred to the Lavendar Menace, and I had no clue that they were talking about lesbians. I  was hanging out in the village, where I could feel something simmering in the bars, and just as I moved out of town, the Christopher St riots were just starting. I didn’t identify with the energy because I was still straight. One of the reasons that Marcia and I got along, was because I was not homophobic, so I wasn’t trying to peg  her, as a lesbian or not.   During those years in NYC a lesbian was trying to introduce me to the lesbian lifestyle, and a cop bothered us in Central Park,  just being with an out lesbian, maybe touched each other, which may have flagged cop, who wanted to pull us over. The woman I was with knew enough about the attitude of the NCY police, to get us out of there.    

On a similar note, one Saturday when I was hanging out with a guy I met in Central Park, he  interested in doing more than I wanted to do sexually and he started to force himself on my. While I ran away I was going past benches with rows and rows of gay guys subtly flirting with one another, and didn’t occur to me to ask for help, and they didn’t offer any.
All this was young people exploring
Unlike.  #ME TOO;  Appropriate behavior consciousness, not having the tools
As of 1 / 20 / 18 the OWADP Org. of Women Architects and Design Professionals has the tentative goal of doing what we can in our professional roles to contribute to creating a sex positive culture and still protect against predatory behavior.

Marcia visited me in Berkeley after I left Manhattan and after I’d come out as bi-sexual. When I came out to her she freaked out and immediately got laid by a male friend of mine.

I’d been visiting the Bay area since I was a kid where my mother’s family lived, so I knew it was a good place to live.  But it was far better for me than I realized, partly because the Bay Area lesbian community was far less separatist than some others in this country. I got to fulfill my mother’s wish to move out here and then at the end her life she moved because I was here. So after completing graduate school I and came out here to live.  I arrived here on Dec 4, 1969, and lived with my uncle for 5 weeks in Oakland while I looked for and got hired for a job as a city planner in housing by the County of Santa Clara, which is what I wanted – a score!   However the position was only funded for 9 months. While living in San Jose to be near my job, my social life was based in the Free University in Palo Alto, a 20 minute drive each way from where I rented, and I took classes there – leather working, made some sandals, political theory, etc.

As the City Planning position ended due to the funding being over, I moved to Berkeley with a coworker, and enrolled in a school called Breakaway in SF where I took, classes in family history, massage classes, (story coming) etc. The 7-8 founders of Breakaway believed that the students who enrolled in the classes would volunteer to run it. They assumed leaders would step up, which was a mistake (wishful thinking for both this and later the local women’s bookstore).  At the retreat, where the 7-8 women who started it were shared the school, I met two other women who turned out to be my future housemates/homeowners of a collective household.   I ended up running Breakaway for 10 year with others, but I was the most consistent person.     Got a series of jobs, learned construction (I taught at Breakaway) , drove a school bus, and did some handyperson work, and County of Marin city planning, affordable housing, and took on Job sharing  as an issue to get adopted, and successfully lobbied to get it adopted for City and County of SF (Muni cashed in on this) , and then was an independent city planning contractor while looking for other profession with out so much writing and where your success is more visible. .

At that meeting, to share Breakaway in July 1971, I met the women who became my housemates with whom I bought the house (me 25%) One woman bought most of the house, and the others were going to do a payment plan to buy in, but didn’t want pay more to buy in.  3rd woman acted like an owner, though she was a renter.

How I became bisexual.  At Fort Help in San Francisco, I attended a women only series of lectures in 1971. At the time many of us were claiming our sexuality and our independence from unsatisfactory marriages. The divorce rate was going up.  This lesbian speaker said, you talk about loving women, and we all said yea yea, and when she said you know the logical conclusion, a ‘pop’ happened in my brain.  I have it in me, since I reached puberty, to be attracted to women. So I went to my 5 friends and asked them would they still accept me if I shifted from dating men to dating women. Much to my relief all of them said they would not distance themselves from me id I did this. So I concluded that times were changing and now it was no longer true that one would be pushed to the margins of American Society if one “came out”. The impact of being bisexual or gay was shifting. It is OK to explore now.  But women who had been lesbians earlier did not catch this shift. My newer viewpoint was not believed by others at the conference in LA for Lesbians that happened in August 1973. 1,000 women were there and Kate Millet was a key speaker.

Then another discussion group I was in talked about having relationships with women.  I asked, what about guys. All of us had had only heterosexual relationships. Some of them were good. Cathy Cade and others said they were dropping guys.   I thought I will become a fuller person if I learn how to date and have relationships with women.
I could give up the guys for one year, and see how to date women, but I honor the fact that I have had good relationships with most of the guys I have dated. Then after I learn how to date women I will be open about if the person I connect with is a woman or a man.   Of the women who came out as lesbians in those days. the assumption was that they were dropping guys. I was clear with anyone who I started dating and with all my friends that the personality and behavior of who I dated was what I wanted a mutual match on, and that I was interested in a gal or a guy.  

I was in women-only house, and I was dating only women, so  they urged  me to call our 4 women house a lesbian house.  But I didn’t because it wasn’t = one was celibate, I was bisexual, one was lesbian and one considered herself too old to date, though she thought she would have been open to women as well as men if she had.

Somewhere along the line that the fact that the gay guys had sex and no relationship and the lesbians were the other way around, had a kernel – love and marriage didn’t always have to go together (like the song) .      By then I had volunteered at SF Sex Information. Then at the second session of a Breakaway class in message in 1975 or 76 we had a special first meeting. 20 of us stuffed ourselves into my second room in the house.  The topic was: do any of us want to go beyond massage to sex.  I was interested in this because I had noticed that my relationships changed when we got sexual.  Would be good to have a safe place to be sexual with other women we were not in a relationship involved with. Five of us got together on once per month on a Sat night. I experienced that each of us had a predictable pattern towards sexuality were independent of what was happening in the room.  I was ready to participate, as we all did, but with different perspectives.  Three of us were ready to play each time, one woman wanted to talk up a storm, but was fine to play, and another said she had no orgasm and wanted to in this group, but later denied this Pre-AiDS didn’t have to be careful, we were all juicy.

Therefore, when the HAI came along in late 70s – only 4 levels, still in stone front, and before that in the circular meadow building,  (and I had grown up listening to Stan Dale in Chicago.   --  , I recognized it as a place to expand who I was, to the extent that I was stuck, like being in touch with my feelings (took me  till 65 yrs to get to that). I never had substance abuse, but I still had to go through feeling 12, 14, 21, ages to grow up, and how I was feeling, was not reflective of my house. This was in my house, where I felt safe.  My housemates were supportive and stable, raising a few kids, one FT with a straight couple, and a single woman with one kid PT, and one PT  kid,  By this time, I’ was bored with having all women, so started with 1 man starting with a city planner, plus the older woman was not a feminist .

The women who dropped guys and just were with women, had a certain evangelical glow about them, and the guys had not started changing yet.  Soon it became apparent to the guys that they needed to change.

And it turned out that lesbian relationships were not without problems, that just by leaving men you could have an easier relationship, but still had the issues of class, race, and personality.  It may have been easier, in general, to date women than to date men in that era, but it far from guaranteed that the relationship would be healthy. And most of us were at a different age (in our 20’s), so that made a difference.    (who was it who was helping lesbians in relationships, Deborah Anapol and JoAnn Loulan, and Body electric the sex parties on Walker St. in Oakland, and some parties did some stuff, and this was part of a reflection of this class – the idea of going somewhere and just having sex without a relationship, just for fun, very hard to accept.  

When I popped that dating women was an attraction for me (see above for description), I flashed back at boyfriends, honoring them, and I could have been sexual with women and they would have been first, at puberty.  Fortunately my very mother had enough knowledge to guide me through that.   I said, I’m not interested in guys, and she said, I will, and she was right.    I am still friends with my first boyfriend. Dean Chandler, Jr.  254 778-7892 home, 721-5647 (254) cell 3409 Whispering Oaks, Temple  TX  76504,
2)    What kinds of things did you get involved in Berkeley?
a.    Paid jobs
b.    Unpaid activities
c.    Other activities of the heart

Being Bisexual
1)    How did you define bisexuality and how/when did you apply it to yourself?
Sexual history – how did you come to identify as bisexual? When I came out

You date both women and men, depending on who ends up close to you,  The gender is not the critical defining criteria.  I was very active in the bisexual community  conferences, magazine, support groups (I lead several rounds of a bi-sexual support group at the women’s center) Later one of my motivations was to find a woman to date from leading the groups, which I did.

My experience was that once I became sexual with a woman, their default personalities would emerge. Unfortunately several of them in a row they wanted me to function in the man’s role.   I became clear that I’m willing to do 50%,  but I don’t want to be pushed into the men’s role. I believe the fact that I was athletic and assertive contributed to this expectation from others.    One was an alcoholic, and I’d never dated one and had to stop, and other had substance abuse issues, so higher priority.  But the real reason was that she didn’t help me, and didn’t get it, not the reciprocity I wanted, but it took me years to figure out that this was my pattern, to not set up a relationship for reciprocity soon enough based on my expectations based on my family of origin.   Don’t always want to be the one with the resources, physical, financial, etc.

2)    How did you meet other women or men who were bisexual?
a.    I met men who were bisexual, primarily through the bi community but only had a few first dates.   I did meet women who identified as bi-sexual through the polifidelity community, which helped me realize that lots of straight women were ready to explore their bi-sexuality. See above for info on finding women to date through the bi-sexual community. The big change was I was meet two SECULAR Jewish men, (one through the poli/swinging community and another through the construction trades. Dating Jewish men was a big shift, which happened soon after my 10 years of dating only women. I experienced a cultural familiarity, similar background.

3)    What was the sexuality of most of your friends or acquaintances?
All over the map, if they were bisexual, since I had access to men in my daily life, thru my jobs, like city planner and then builder, and some I befriended, and I befriended some of my construction clients.  I was repeatedly part of support groups of various kinds,  had all sorts of people, some of which I started to connect with others with similar issues.    I was never in a 12-step program, tho went to groups for ADD, but didn’t make any friends.  During the period when everyone went to 12-steps, and Ollies the bar closed down, a woman turned me down because she felt that I would not understand how hard it was for her to stay sober.  I limited getting high a limited amount of grass so I stayed a cheap high and avoided becoming addicted. So I smoked once per week, preferably on Friday night so I would be in free floating time most of the weekend. When I needed to get high a second time during the week to connect with a woman I was in a relationship with I was not willing for this to become a regular pattern.

Exercise was my default way to stay together and be well tuned physically. The only time I did not exercise was in 1970 when I lived in San Jose. Several systems in my body went wrong, so ever since, I always exercise, and it turns out exercise works to balance my ADD body.

4)    Were there groups or meetings for just bisexual women or men that you attended?
If so, what were they like, what did you do in them, how long did they last?
I was running some, and it was the availability to each other, cross race and class that helped.  A lot of women would show up for just  1-2 meetings, but seeing them later, I know it made a difference to them.  My experience in social change is people claiming who they are – like I coordinated several groups, for bi-sexual women, Breakaway, and pagan groups at Elderflower Festivals (Now changing their name to Sister Spirit).  It was freeing to be in a group where we could get an atrophied part of ourselves get matched.  We functioned as truth sayers where we helped one another learn that each of us is OK.   

5)    Any other stories about being or becoming bisexual?
I had a neighbor who came over to me and said, you are not a hippy.  What gives you that impression?  You mow your lawn, you go to work”    But I self identified as a hippy inside, ie someone who was not following the rules of convention, ie. to get married, be straight, have kids, belong to conventional orgs.

I came out to my parents right away.   But I did not get the response I expected.  It turned into a fight between them.  My mom flipped out and said she would leave my dad, but she never did.   But turns out that dad’s brother was gay, and it turns out they had cut the young man out of the family, and then after he got his first electric shock treatment, he jumped off a balcony and killed himself at age 18.    And there was no processing of this in the family.    

I was in the awkward position of both parents lobbying for their conflicting belief of who is family – only the immediate nuclear ones, vs. the father’s inclusion of most people, including his first love, half his autobiography is about her, so he wanted sympathy about that , and mother didn’t feel love because of this issue.  By bringing this up, I was a bringing up these issues, and wrote a letter to the aunt, known as the horrible letter and asked not to ask her about it.  Then years later I learn that my father and his sister were in contact every day, due to family losses and stuff.

On the other hand, my mother’s extended family here in the SF Bay area were OK with it when I came out to fight some legislation.  One aunt divorced my uncle and got married to the man of the couple they used to double date with who had been widowed and continued to include me and my parents when they visited as part of their extended family.  Another continued to invite me to their dairy farm despite (and I recently learned that my coming out probably endeared me to them) having come out to them about my dating women.

Had been part of fighting anti-gay California referendum (1978?) so I come out to my Bay Area relatives at that time.

In 1971, Jan to July I used to hitchhike, on  Ashby Ave. in Berkeley. Watching the drivers closely (tinted car windows were rare) I noticed that every 2 weeks there was increase in % of women driving cars, even when there was a man in the car.  Also number of women looking androgynous steadily increased.  Then this shift in appearance spread from Berkeley to Contra Costa County, there was this momentum.  Then 3-4 years later, the androgynous looks were reduced by some liberated women returning to dressing more feminine.   One reason was that it was no longer assumed to be needed to look androgynous to be safe on the street.    

I have mentioned twice that I knew not to get involved with women earlier in my life to avoid the cultural consequences. By 1971 I was in a consciousness raising group, and I get this pop, and I go to all my friends, and told them I was coming out, and I didn’t lose a single friend.  One of the women I was very attracted to and tried to date me, but she turned me down partly because she had not come to a bi or lesbian identity.

Finally I was dating another bisexual, because the lesbians didn’t trust that we would not go back to guys.   And sure enough I experienced one of the reasons that lesbians were reluctant to date me. The first woman who I dated and was sexual with, who had successfully lobbied me to love, when she felt she had to choose between me and the guy she was dating chose the guy over me.  We were part of Radical Psych, which was very helpful to self understanding, and at a support group there, and I told the founder, the reason I’m here is that I’m coming out as a bisexual and want support for that, but it was not articulated in the group. That specific aspect of myself was not covered in front of the whole group. Leaving out my bi background happened recently in that I was interviewed and they left out my dating history.

In 1973, Kate millet and others in LA, had a lesbian conference, and I said, that just because you are a lesbian, does not mean you will get rejected.  I got lots of push back from the other woman there.  So I convened a group at the conference for “professional” women.  Of the 80 women who came , only 2 agreed that times had changed and it was safe to be a lesbian, and that it was no longer true that being a lesbian get one rejected.

My mother, and then two of my housemates (1972 & later), had been actively supportive, but they didn’t distinguish between bi or lesbian – all deviant, so could be group.

1984, in an Oakland based business women’s support group called The Last Monday Club, we had a speaker who shared how German attitudes toward Jews and contributed to the holocaust and compared it with American attitudes toward Jews in this country. I spoke up to say that we no longer have to assume there is anti-semitism in the Bay area.  And then it turns out, there is a movie that shows how Jews have always been  part of culture in SF.  So these things are regional, so the lesbian community  and how accepting of bisexuals, does vary by region.

EG: Mama Bear’s Bookstore in Oakland did a very good job of their publicity and behavior and events, they were pretty open to bi’s, men, even though they were lesbians.   

Yes, I’m making the claim that in SF, there has always been lots of tolerance.  This tends to be true of port cities, like SF, Coos Bay, Long Beach, etc. This conclusion of mine was reinforced at presentation of panel bi/lesbian women only at New college, where lots of support for each other was shared.

The lesbian bias against bisexuals, didn’t really continue.  I hang out in lesbian community looking for women to date, but have had very low results.   I think another contributing factor was my parents – they said they had a perfect marriage, and yet it didn’t look like that, since emotionally, they didn’t have the tools to work out emotional problems between them.

I wanted to have a stable place to live, and I figured it would take awhile to work out my relationship issues, and so when women got close, I wanted to continue to date, but I didn’t want to live with them even when they asked, because I felt I was not ready.

Went to HAI in the late 1970s to levels 1, 2, and then repeated level 1 and I continued to attend one-days workshops and support groups while I sought a relationship, and then I did another round of level 2-5 in 2015, and level 3 and 7 just recently.  I was also participating in personal growth retreats and workshops to keep working on my relationship stuff.  I continued to make slow progress…. Goes together with ADD, social skills are only passible, so intuitive sense is weak, i.e. can’t see it coming, especially when others shift to being against me.  

I was friends with, in my first place in Berkeley in Oct. 1970, before I came out, there were a couple of lesbians next door, and they were helpful to me as I came out, giving me basic info about the lesbian community – scientist and theatre costumes and handyperson work.

When I drove a school bus in 1971 as a way to earn some money, there were clearly dykes driving other buses, but I didn’t want to be like them.     Single-room occupancy was only choice of housing for lesbians and women who didn’t marry.   Kind of a boarding house, before the 70s when people group-living started, until then it was an exception to share a house.   And the large houses gathered people.  Our house functioned as women’s center.  There was house owned by 2 lesbians, on Addison and Curtis, that functioned as a place to start consciousness-raising groups. Then our house functioned as a women’s center, until more official women’s centers were started.  

Arlene Slaughter, realtor got 5 buildings purchased by women’s communities – BWHC – Berk Women’s Health Collective, Berkeley Women’s Shelter, Ollie’s (a bar with a theater space), Pacific Center and house for two of the women who ran the Book Store A Women’s Place   I regretted that I had not arranged to tell that story at her memorial, because no one else told it.  She died in 1988, killed by her boyfriend, and she had moved to have a swimming pool so she and I (spring) could swim there.   When I hung out with her for a few minutes the prior day, before swimming in her pool, it felt like she had given up wanting to live. She had been in deep chronic physical pain and she needed to protect herself from her former lover. She had a restraining order to keep him away from her. She had stayed in my house for a week and then friends had stayed with her this week. But she turned them down that night and he managed to get in and then killed her with an ax.

Arlene had cooperated in me, Spring, and a woman I recruited to raise money to repay the woman who had loaned the money to purchase the Berkeley/Oakland women’s shelter on Shattuck and 65th St. It was not realized till after Arlene was killed that she was a domestic violence victim.   Turned out Arlene was a gambler (she went to casino’s to lose $).  She was an anti-racist, Jewish married to a black guy, and when she could not buy a house in north Oakland due to mixed race laws in the mid 1050’s she formed a black realtor’s association.  And it helped we had busing going on, so racists moved out of Berkeley, opening up low cost housing.  Arlene’s son wanted to take over twin pines the credit union. , at Tele and Russell

Pat Rennpage (now Kovner) , made drawer to fill the frame of a dresser drawers and installed several additional windows in the exterior wall of our house.  

Interactions with lesbians and straight women (covered above)
1)    How did bisexuals and lesbians work together in the groups you were in?
2)    How did straight women work with bisexuals and/or lesbians?
3)    Did you have positive and/or negative interactions with lesbians as a bisexual?
a.    If so, tell the story
4)    Did you have positive and/or negative interactions with straight women?
a.    If so, tell the story
5)    Any other stories about interacting with lesbians?

Work, political, home, social time
1)    How did you spend your time on weekdays and weekends?
I had a balanced life, but was running myself so hard, I’d take a break every 6th weekend to a structured retreat in nature, eventually to HAI.  My attitude was, for every hour of travel, should spend a day.  I supported a lot of good things by supporting.   Other weekends – dated, dated one guy for 25 years:  1990- 2015, as the secondary, but not acknowledged at the end.    The proportion of women and men I dated:
Made a list that started in the 60s, even through the 80s
All men in the 60’s.
All  women in the 70s.
A few with women in the 80s.
    Dated a woman Dierdre who lived close to me, and twice a week, once in her house, her guy Richard and me and her (and their 2 kids), and we did family things, and in my house, just us.   Their daughter was the master tenant of my house, and because a problem until I sold the house, with the tenants in them on January 2018.
He asked me to marry them, which I thought was to marry them officiate, and the woman said it was to marry really, but I didn’t want to marry someone without living with them.  They were part of S&M, and I did a little of that then but not later.

I was dating a woman, and after we broke up, she got together with the couple – example of overlap.

My lunch hours I would swim for 20 mins of my 1 hour lunch break. In the duck pond in Marin civic center.  My regular job was 8 hours, plus commuting, and didn’t let other things interfere while I was on the job.   And I was doing Breakaway, house, support groups, classes, and social life and attending events – very full life – always taking a little more than I could handle.   I started using a computer in 1993, and they said we needed to deal with 10x as much info.  In 1976, said I need to go down to Part time work, ie job sharing – a wonderful overlap. 1973 Loni Hancock had hearing for 80 people wanting PT work for the city.  Brought women’s issues and the workplace, and I took it on., and I realized that SF would be the people who could afford it.   I changed my name then, since I was leaving the system, and could support. Myself.

2)    What kinds of things did you do for home and food maintenance?
Household – first 19 years of the house, we stopped rotating duties after 4 months, so we took on permanent assignments, cleaning, gardening, shopping, always 4 people.  We all cooked for each other, and shared food for a longtime.  We went from 6 to 5 to 4 dinners for a long time, and over years got to 2.  Plus house meeting.   Less food sharing and more refrigerators over the years, dif diets   Big shift in how to run house meetings, and I would bring up most of topics, and cared most of the systems, and became a problem, and it got worse as I became owner.

3)    What kinds of tasks/purposes/goals did you have in your paid or unpaid work?
4)    What kinds of things did you do/strive for politically (if different from ‘work’)
5)    What kinds of things did you do socially?  (getting together with friends, movies, concerts, festivals, cultural or political events, etc?)
a.    Including going to demonstrations.  Posting announcements around town which was our prime way to communicate!  
6)    Were there other things you did that were not mentioned?

Changes over time
1)    How were the 70’s different from the 80s, if they were?
a.    For me, hugely different, because I stopped being so politically active, and became a businesswoman.  Many others also did. I had employees for many years, until a few years ago, I wanted to work on my own house,.  Taught at Laney where I laid the groundwork for the first tradeswoman in the US to get a tenured job, even though it had been my job for 2 ½ years, taught construction in Richmond at Kennedy high, just while they had the funding for a fully credentialed (me) teacher.   Could not teach a little and run a construction business.
2)    Did any of the situations mentioned above change over time during the decade, or afterwards?  How and when? What do you think was going on at that time?
3)    Looking back, how do you assess your time? Would you do anything differently?
Movement work is tricky.  I went to a sing along with Ronnie Gilbert.  It was shocking how few stood up as a cultural work.  Hard to be and support self that way.  I never tried to support my self, but important to support them.  I don’t want to spend all my funds on myself – leaving funds to land trust.   Like when I went away for weekends and gave to personal and social groups.

I come from upper middle class background, and feel fortunate that I had discretionary income from male jobs and knew how to budget

I want to support people who are involved in politics, like east bay political caucus.  
I held up my part of the sky in the 60s, 70s, 80s,  but my mother asked me what would I do in my old age if I don’t get married or kids. And I said I didn’t notice that it was a guarantee.    But it had not occurred to me I didn’t really have a plan for my old age.  And so here I am, in my old age and the only options that are really available are to move into a Senior residence with food I can’t eat, and granted I can take care of my self at this point, but it does not leave much leeway  - I’d rather spend the money the causes.

No question that we made a difference, and the positive impacts we had will hopefully be leveraged.  The battle will be won or lost no matter what.

​ LOTS MORE DETAILS about my life - 3

I was surprised that when I retired from my work and household responsibilities I choose not to start a new life, but to put effort into communicating to other family members in the younger generations, the few items of family history that I knew uniquely, largely from end of life talks with the generation before me. The following is one of the important details I hope people, including my, read.

Spring R. Friedlander
Oakland, CA 94606

The question is                        April 17, 1998
was Dan Friedlaender 1918-1936 gay? He would have been my uncle.

It is hard to reconstruct sexual orientations and gender identities from an earlier era into the current one.  The best I can do is interview Dan’s contemporaries and get their opinions.   I have already experienced one miss in this process as described later.

Dan F. would have been my uncle.  I came out as bi-sexual in 1971 before there was a name for loving women as well as men.  I sustain a low level of involvement in the San Francisco and American bi-sexual movement.

The first clue that Dan F. might be gay came when I read a draft of the autobiography that my father Ben wrote during the last few years of his life.  Ben wrote that Dan F. had a limp wrist. In America a limp wrist is an indication that a man is gay. So I asked my father, Ben to share more information with me. He said that he believed Dan was gay particularly during the months in Chicago when Dan joined him in attending the University of Chicago.  But Ben was unsure how self aware and self accepting Dan was of his own gayness.  Being gay was not the kind of thing that was spoken of in their proper family.  Even the increasing acknowledgment of gayness since the early 1970's did not remove the hard time my accepting father had talking with me about my own bi-sexuality. I started sharing this when I visited my parents for Thanksgiving in 1971 just after I had accepted this possibility for myself . Benny made it clear that he would have preferred for me to not share this aspect of my life with our relatives.  Also, my repeated attempt to convince him that the discrimination against men and women with alternative sexual orientations is a civil rights issue of the 1990's and 1980's were unsuccessful.

In addition, my father told me much earlier then when he wrote his autobiography, and repeated it at least once, that their mother Lillian regretted following Dan psychologist’s advice that she stop contact with her disturbed son.  Lillian believed that sending Dan away to Chicago and cutting off contact has exacerbated her son Dan’s instability.  If part of what disturbed Dan was his sexual orientation, then not discussing it and cutting him off probably did exacerbate his emotional problems.  I was told to expect to be cut off from my family when I came out in 1971.  Fortunately, my parents have the attitude that one role of the younger generation is to keep their older generation informed of what is going on in our lives, even if it makes them uncomfortable or they do not fully understand.  My mother’s mother disowned her for marrying a Jew in 1907 in Germany.  Later this Grandmother was supported financially by my mother’s father, the very man that she had disowned her daughter for marrying because he was Jewish.  She had lost her Latvian estate in the Russian 1917 revolution.  She, Von Feetringhoof, lived in the same house with Eva + and paid special attention to Eva when she was 10 years old when they lived in Germany.

Last modified on 4 / 13 / 01 with the addition of
two mentions of the movie “The Bentwich Syndrom” added 8/28/17

Interviews with several people who knew my uncle Daniel Friedlaender
                                Spring R. Friedlander   
                                June 24, 1998

Dan Friedlaender - his sexual orientation and reasons he died an untimely death
Born 1918    Died at 18 in 1936    Pianist and composer

Rachael (Benny’s first Cousin) was in the Raeli School in Israel with Ben F. from 1923-1928.
You shared some information about the Friedlander, Bentwich, and Yellin families that helped me understand my father, uncle Hertzl and uncle Dan F.  Thank you.

I understand that some of this family information is sensitive.  Because I am an American and half a generation younger, I feel a need to write up what you told me and have you correct it.  Later I would appreciate your looking at what I have gathered from others and commenting on and correcting it.  I would also appreciate knowing who else is interested in our family history and genealogy.  You mentioned that some one is interesed in Israel but I do not know who.  I have heard that Ticki's daughter who lives
in Minneanapoles- St Paul, Minnesota is interested in the family letters.  Ron Beck in Boston, and Michael Straus in Marshal California, have both been doing family trees.

As a sexually positive person, I am interested in exploring the sexual history of  members of my family.  As a bi-sexual I am particularly curious about relatives who seemed to have been not fully straight.  Because I am somewhat of an outsider, as a visiting American relative who does not speak Hebrew, I do not have to live with the daily consequences of exploring delicate subjects.  You and several of the other people who shared their impressions of Dan F. and our family do.  So I am doing my best to respect the need for friends and relatives not to stir up topics they would rather leave alone.

All 6 children got damaged by losing their father at an early age. No one talked about those things (death and lose) in those days.  The oldest, Hertzl was 13 when their father was killed.  He took on the role of the man of the family after his father was killed.

Their mother Lillian kept uprooting them.  She was restless.  She arranged for others to take care of them.
When Dan F. was (8?) a (famous) pianist named ? evaluated DanF.'s piano playing and said he was gifted.  The pianist told Lillian that Dan F. had potential but he was delicate and needed to be "protected".   The pianist tutored Dan F.

Dan F was a beautiful boy with rosy cheeks and fun loving.  He was also effeminate.

There was an incident when Dan. was (12?) with the gardener.  The gardener was retarded.  He used to leer at people and make them aware of and uncomfortable about being sexual creatures.  In the 1920's in Israel people did not openly acknowledge that youngsters or single people were sexual.  Anyone who was sexual other then privately with their married partner was deviant.  The gardener was a about (21?) at the time.  The gardener was working there because he was a relative (nephew?) of Thelma Yelin's husband.  

It was understandable that the gardener would have approached Dan F.  He looked and acted effeminate.  He was young and friendly.  Because sexuality and particularly alternative sexuality was repressed in the general society Dan had no supportive people with whom to share.  The distinction between effeminate behavior, sexual identification and sexual orientation is only being developed now, in the late 1990's.

Maybe the gardener raped DanF., maybe it was consensual, and maybe not much happened. Dan F. was never willing to discuss it.  After the incident, which neither therapists he was sent to nor family members were able to get Dan F. to talk about, Dan F. changed and began (to have periods of being depressed and melancholy.  It was understandable that the gardener would have been attracted to Dan F. because of his effeminate qualities.  Dan F. was probably too young then, and even at the time of his death at 18, to be sure of his sexual identity, orientation and practice.  Since he was part of this proper British family, it is unlikely that any one knew about or discussed gayness or bi-sexuality as an life style option with him.

They took Dan F. to America in the hope that America would be a home for him.  But he did not remember America.  He was 2 years old when his father was killed and the family moved to England.

Dan F, could not deal with the competitive pressure at Julliard.  He became depressed.

Hertzel recommended that Dan F. be sent to receive the newest best treatment available at that time which was shock treatment.

Lillian had been over protective of him. Rachael said that Lillian’s instinct was to resist sending Dan F away on his own and cutting off contact with him. But she actually followed the standard advice of the time, which was to cut off contact.

Dan F was sent to Chicago for shock treatment.   After receiving his first shock treatment Dan was left alone in his room that night.  He walked out the window that night and fell to his death leaving no note.  Hertzl was blamed for Dan F's death by Carmel, (? Lillian ? others) and took responsibility for the death of Dan.  The problem with a mistake in this area is that it can not be undone.  "It was a mistake and your can not undo a mistake like that."   Said with pain in your (Rachel's) eyes. In other areas it can be partly compensated for, but not when there is a death.

The person who most needed therapy was Hertzal.  After Dan F.s death he would not cooperate with Lillian at all.  This included vetoing all efforts to deal with the Zicron estate even after her death.

Thank you for correcting some of my impressions of my great grand father Herbert Bentwich.  The only information I had about him were from the biography written by his daughter.  My father used to say that the biography was not just to Herbert, but Ben never gave me any specific different information.  You mentioned a letter that Nita, his second daughter, wrote when she traveled to Palestine for the first time.  Dear Father.  I want to buy a mountain top and settle there.  And so the Biet Daniel and Lange estate at Zicron Yacov was purchased.  I, Spring, believe I was told that the mountain top was purchased by Nita’a husband and in the 2014 movie “the Bentwich syndrom” I learned that she died a virgin, ie. never had sex with her husband.

I would really appreciate your writing about Herbert (which I did not follow up on.  A lot of the information you shared with me was new to me.  I am not aware of it being written any where.
                            Spring R. Friedlander

                            April 21, 1998
Shosanna, Benny’s cousin, in Israel
Dan F. was not a sad person.  He was both joyful and serious.

Having to compete at Jullliard was too much for him.

Dan F. kept on saying that he was filthy.  I’d like a better description.  I remember two months later that someone said he used to wring his hands and say that he was dirty.

You mentioned that Dan was in an asylum. Where and for how long? You are the only person who mentioned this.

When did he depart from Israel and go to New York?

Info told me by my father, Ben Friedander

My father used to tell me that Dan F. walked in his sleep so his death was considered accidental by the family.  The information about the shock treatment and therapists is new.   Also new about Hertzl being blamed.  My father did say that Lillian regretted following the therapists advice of cutting Dan F. off from the family.                                Sincerely,                                Spring Friedlander

On April 12, 1998, I asked our family friend Rayfee Haskel if he had information on whether Dan Friedlander had been gay. Rayfee was born in the USA. He lived with the Friedlander’s while they all attended Reali school in Haifa, Israel. He also was a life long friend of Benny’s and visited us regularly from Detroit MI where he settled.

Rayfee believes that Dan was aware of being gay but was not self accepting of this aspect of himself.

Dan F. had a sexual incident with the retarded gardener at Bet Daniel when he was about 15 years old.  It was never discussed (in the family) with Rayfee) but Dan was clearly disturbed by it.  He did get counseling but Rayfee does not know if anyone explicitly discussed the gay implications, or the fact that being gay was a viable choice.

Dan F, Rayfee and Lillian took a freighter from Haifa to New York when Dan was about 17 years old. Rayfee remembers Dan as staying very much to himself and being withdrawn and uptight when on the ship.  Dan refused to join Lillian and Rayfee on shore when at their second port.  Rayfee’s sense is that Dan was staying on board to have a rendezvous with a crew member. No one discussed the gay “issue”

Daniel & Batya Levite, April 16, 1998, Zihron Yakov, Israel 30900

April 16, 1998
Daniel Levite was born on July (10th) 1915.  Dan Friedlander was two years younger and two classes behind them in the Reali school.  Lillian Friedlaender moved to Haifa to send her children to school and took Daniel Levite as a pensioner.  Dan L. lived in Bat Slomo and could not travel to Haifa every day to attend Beit Sef Reali.  He believes that his family paid just for his direct costs.  All Lillian’s children but Hertzel, who went to U. in America, lived in the house.  Because Lillian’s children did not know Hebrew, Benny was pulled back one year, so he was in the same class as Carmel.
Lillian was something wonderful.
The two Danny’s shared a room in 1928 & 9 in Lillian’s house starting when Dan  Levite was 13 and Dan F. was 11 years old.  Dan L. did not have the impression that Dan F. was gay.  Dan F. was an active sportsman.
DL used to listen for hours to DF play piano in his special small music room.  DF played off sheet music at the time.  He did not start composing till later.  DF had a special teacher who came from Tel Aviv to tutor him, named Avi Leha.

When DF was 13-14 Lillian traveled to America for 1 year.
Dan F. and DL shared a room as pensioners with a friend of the DL family in Haifa.  Dan F brought a piano there and all enjoyed his frequent lengthy playing.  There were about three other pensioners plus two children in the family.  The pensioners were a business for this family.  The husband was not earning enough as an engineer so his wife and two small children, 6 and 7 years old, boarded pensioners.

DL remembers DF as a good student in academic subjects.  He participated actively in sports events.

My father Ben was a good sportsman.  Beit Sef Reali had three teams who competed against each other.  Ben was the head in running, jumping, swimming, handball with goal, basketball, and chess.
DF and Ben played tennis in Zicron.  Dan L. came to play tennis with Ben in Zicron at Carmel Court.  My father Ben tutored DL for the bar mitzvah.  Ben was five years older than DL.

The students at Beit Sef Reali were forbidden to participate in any political activities.  The school considered itself apolitical.  DL thinks Benny and others went to meetings without permission.
Benny was an American subject so he could permit himself to do things the Israelis could not.  Ben went to the main government building of Haifa and put a red (Benny told me it was a Jewish) flag on top of the building on shabat (Ben told me he did this about 1am in the middle of the night). He was caught, probably by the British police and went to jail. Though Lillian did not travel on Shabat, this time she traveled to the judge on shabat and took Ben out of jail on bail. Under the British Mandate, they had a mixed police force of British with their own uniforms, and Jews and Arabs with another type of uniform. The jails were run by the Turks and were dangerous for an independent person like my father Ben.

Lilian promised the British that she would get Ben to leave the country in order to avoid being sent to jail. But Ben was not told this, and was persuaded to leave to attend U. in the USA.  Lilian probably was right not to tell him because I remember him being furious many years later when he was told about this ruse after Lilian died in the late 1950's.  Benny was not the only one who was political.  Half of the students in Benny’s class, about 10, became communists.  The communists were quite free when talking to each other.  The head master threw them out of the school when they were 17 years old. Two went to Spain to fight Franco and came back to Israel.  Afterwards (1937) they went to Russia.  They were shot because Stalin did not need communists in Russia.  He only needed communists outside of Russia espousing communism.
Another student, Ezra Levine, went to England and became an architect.  Raya Glicken went to Germany and then to England and married Ezra.DL has never been political

Interview with Ahud Pascal notes from a tape recorded in person interview, Who I drove to in Redwood City, CA 94062 USA, to interview about Dan F.   Rena - stepson, his daughter

Dan F. was born in 1918 and Ahud was born in 1923.  Ahud was 9 years old when he started studying at the Technion.  Ahud was one of the youngest students.  Dan left the Technion in 1935?

Spring: You say Dan was very spontaneous and very friendly.  He came to give you hugs, played the piano, [unintelligible] He was really friendly with young women, though in a different way then the other teenage boys.

Ahud:  Certainly, he would behave like the other boys

S: Was he a sporty guy?  To your recollection, he wasn’t into sports or anything like that?

A: [affirmative]  S:  Did the girls like him?  A:  He was very friendly, very spontaneous, a change of moods, etc.

S:  Very emotional, that’s right, you said he’s very emotional.  So did you continue to be in that school with him for several years?  Did you know my father?  He was probably too old for this...
A: Ben had gone away already.    S: Okay, so you missed my father.
A: I missed your father, but I stayed at the Technion for seven years.

S: And you graduated at that point.
A: No, nine years past class 7 doesn’t [unintelligible] for graduation.
S: That’s what I was asking    That’s not obvious.
A: No my parents took me back home during the second world war [unintelligible] summer [unintelligible] When second world war started there was high consideration that Haifa will be bombed by the Italian’s because of the border, because of all the refineries...
S: Was it ever bombed?
A:  They never succeeded
S: You mean they never succeeded in hitting anything?  Wow, that’s amazing.
A: No.
S: They weren’t that good, huh? 
So when you knew Dan, he was in school overlapping with you for 2 or 3 years, right?

A: One year.  The next year when I came, he wasn’t there.  Then I heard that he fell off the balcony and he was killed.
S:  What was the explanation given to you for him falling off the balcony?

A:  The explanation that I heard was that all the boys talked that he killed himself, among themselves, and the opinion was that he committed suicide.

S:  Even though that wasn’t the official line, you all felt that way.
A:  Not felt, that’s what I hear.  I was 10 years old.
S:  So, did they have any reason why he might have committed suicide?  Nobody had any theories at all?

A:  Not that I heard.  Look...  S: You were still a child.  So I’m surprised to hear you say that he was so friendly and outgoing just a year before he died.  That surprises me.  I talked to Rayfee, did you know him?  He was my father’s age so you might not have known him.  Rayfee Hascal took a freighter from Palestine to New York with Danny and with Lillian and he said that on that trip Danny was very despondent, wasn’t outgoing.

A: That was in the summer?   S:  Yes.  

A:  How can [unintelligible].  A little boy who had other things to do   S:  Right, it wasn’t like a focus of yours.  A: Not at all.   S: Was there any talk of him may have being gay?
A:  Some.  I didn’t know [unintelligible] when? it was.

S:  Nobody talked about it in those days.

A: were asking

S:  I’ve been talking to various members of the family and trying to find out what’s going on and it’s something that’s very hard to get my family members to talk about, because...a death is a hard thing to deal with.

A:  Later, I heard that [he was gay]S: Oh really?  So this would have been 3 or 4 years later kind of thing?        

A:  I wouldn’t know.
S:  So while you were still a student...
A:  While I still were...there were children who were older than me.

S:  And what did they say?   A:  That’s what they heard.S:  They said that he was probably gay    A:  Yeah.  S:  But they said he definitely was gay, or how was it?

A:  Well, later when I put one and two together, I decided that it was true, most probably...the case.  Because his behavior was kind of sexually different and...however at that time, I didn’t know what it later years I had some memories together and say...that’s what probably happened.  By the way, my grandfather, his father, died while (((?keeping the corn?))) used to come to your place for quite a few years of the summer. (Is he referring to Herbert Bentwich?)

S: To Zichron  A:  Yes.  S:  To Biet Daniel  A:  Yes, stayed there.  As a matter of fact, he was there two days before he died.

S:  Oh wonderful, while he was in one of his loved places.  A:  Yes.

S:  It’s sort of like my father, Benzion, we didn’t realize it at the time, but he went to Israel in April 1996, the year he died overnight unexpectedly.  None of us knew he was going to die, including himself, but it was important for him to be there.  It was the only time he went without my mother, and he was very clear he wanted to go without my mother.  There was no question about it.  And part of it was because she had Parkinson’s, so she was really slowing down, and part of it was because this was his childhood, my mother had been there, but it wasn’t her childhood on the same level.  She spent three years there, he lived there for a major part of his life (from age 12-21).  So, there was a difference,

A:  What did he do after he finished high school?  S:  We’ll get back to that in a minute...

S:  So...what I heard from other sources was that Dan was pretty depressed and he felt that he couldn’t get clean and that he wasn’t satisfied with himself, and all this other stuff and you’re saying he was pretty friendly and happy and seemed...

A:  Well...he could have been kind of masking ... overcompensation...who knows.  As I say...remember I was nine years old, youngest boy, and I had plenty...I was...I had a bad dyslexia, and nobody knew what dyslexia was at that time...I had to struggle to learn...[End of Tape]

These additional notes are about two family misses where women were considered gay, even though they did not consider themselves gay and were not even especially attracted to women, due to no one discussing gay issues.

Hertzl Friedlaender’s granddaughter is not gay.
Here is an example of a family miss in not openly discussing who is gay.  My father, Ben, told me that his brother Hertzel Friedlaender, at the end of his life, accepted his grand daughter for who she was.  After Ben mentioned this several times over a period of years, I directly asked him if this meant she was gay.  He said yes.  Knowing Hertzl I figured that he may not have explicitly communicated this good news to his granddaughter Margo.  So I arranged to travel to Los Angeles to share this good news with her in person.  This January (1998) she surprised me by responding that she is not gay.  If she was to date anyone it would be a man.  She seemed quite comfortable with her single professional lifestyle with a circle of close male and female friends.  She works for the Los Angeles County in adoption services.  She has a generous sized, well decorated apartment in a nice neighborhood in Pasadena and a country home, cabin 1 1/2 hours away that she shares with people she knows.

Her grandfather Hertzel lived in her apartment for half a year after his wife of many years Evelyn died in the 1980's  I believe it was not right after Evelyn died and may have been twice.  Apparently Margot’s lack of sexual activity and their lack of direct discussion of her sexual identity resulted in an incorrect conclusion by Hertzel.)

Great Aunt Carmel Forsythe (sister of my grandmother Lilian Friedlander) was not gay but led a woman-centered life after she left her three young children and her husband (Finkelstein). I was real interested in her answer to this question, and never communicated the NO to Moonie or Hadassa or their off-spring. I visited her at her female friends house is Sausalito CA several times in the 1970's after I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and was unsure myself. But being sexual with women one was close to was an important dividing line, and Carmel F. was clear that she had not crossed that line. I asked her this after I had come out as bi-sexual.
(I never asked her why she left her marriage when she did.  I asked her about her sexual self identification but not this important question.)
There certainly were a lot of Lillian Friedlaender’s sisters who were never married or widowed who spent long periods of their life without a husband or a male partner.  Personally I knew Carmel Forsythe (Finkelstein) the best.  She traveled to Sausalito California every summer to visit her close friend who she had lived with after she left her husband in the 1930's.  I carefully told her about my bi-sexuality and inquired after her sexual identity.  She lived with this woman for years in Carmel California but never considered being sexual with her.  She did not mention being sexual with any men either though I did not ask.  My sense was that after she left her family being a sexual person was not part of her sense of herself.

Then I learned from the recent 2015 movie “The Bentwich Syndrom” in the 1930's that one of the Bentwich daughters (Dorothy?) was removed from the family when she started to live as a lesbian.


Herbert Bentwich was a lawyer in England, and an active Zionist, who sent several of his children to found the Jewish State of Israel and lived in Israel for the last 20 years of his life. He was the father of Lilian Friedlander, Carmel, and had a total of 11 or 13 children before his wife Sara died from birthing too many children.