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Tracking Down the Ancestral Myths…

My mother’s mother was a glamour girl named Olive Getten. She apparently, to hear my mother tell it, was quite the flapper.

My mother claimed that she — my mother — was the illegitimately conceived offspring of Olive and a fella named DeLong, an a-scant offspring of a prominent turn-of-the-century family in upstate New York. Though the couple married, once my mother was born and given a proper family name, they divorced. My grandmother allegedly returned to California (or Illinois, or wherever her tribe was living at the time) and my mother’s custody was adjudicated to her father’s parents. In other words, my mother was raised on a farm in upstate New York by her paternal grandparents.

The more you learn about these people, the more jaw-droppers come your way:

Most striking: apparently my mother really believed Olive died in the mid to late 1920s, but that was not true. Olive evidently was still living in the 1970s, when my own son was born.

My mother believed she saw Olive die: that she passed in the Berkeley home of the maternal family and was carted out of the house into a hearse and driven off down the road.

This, apparently, was some kind of a trick. Very clearly, she did NOT die…she left many a footprint in the years that followed.

Olive may have married Jack Sansome, scion of a prominent San Francisco family. If that was the case, she spent at least part of her life as a very wealthy woman.

Somehow they hid this from my mother, OR my mother made it her business to deny it. HOWEVER, in other parts we learn my mother married Sansome:

It’s not impossible that the Gettens themselves may have been fairly wealthy. In the 1920s, that part of the Berkeley foothills may have been pretty swell. According to my mother, the house on Hopkins was a Frank Lloyd Wright knockoff, if not an actual FLW design.

If this involved sub-plot has any truth to it, then how much did my mother know?

Did the Getten bunch lie to her? If so, did they do so in cahoots with Olive?


Or did they evict Olive from their family and their lives, telling her she would be dead to them henceforth?

If so, how did they put her up to the fake cancer death? That would have been a very elaborate performance, apparently designed to trick my mother and possibly some others.

Sansom lived until the late 1970s, and incredibly, he’s listed as my mother’s spouse, married in 1931. This would have been shortly after Olive’s purported demise. Is it even remotely possible that he married her daughter soon after she died? Why??????

Is it more possible that the data appearing online is wrong, confused? Uh…well…yeah…

Here we find an interesting entry in the ever-unreliable website known as

Apparently Olive lived until 1979…if you believe My mother claimed to have seen her carted off from her deathbed, placed in a hearse, and driven away down the road…when my mother was in her teens.

My mother was born in 1911. So she would have been, say, 15 years old in 1926. Olive would have been in her mid-30s.

Soooooo….how was Olive still haunting us in 1979?