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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

1967 - 2003 - June's First Airline Flight and Later U.S. travels

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge by June

(Golden Gate Bridge - Photo by June - February 1998 - 2d Year Alzheimer's)

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It was in the fall of 1967, (the year of her 40th birthday) June had her first airline flight. June flew to San Francisco from Minneapolis on Western Airlines with a stop in Denver. (Monday September 18th, 1967.) The stop at Denver was an overnight stop to permit June and I to visit some of our forensic science friends who lived in Denver. June visited the Shumate's and the Jensen's,  both of whom had previously been guests at June's home in Fridley. The return trip involved a stop at Disneyland and Las Vegas.

This first flight for June would become the forerunner of at least 100 additional flights in the future, most in relationship to forensic science matters.

In this time period, it was traditional for the air lines to issue a certificate suitable for framing that commemorated one's first airline flight. Western Airlines did issue such a certificate to June.  The certificate was very fancy and June's name was hand leterred with a date of September 18, 1967. It indicates the flight was from Minneapolis to San Francisco. It is titled as "First Flighter". The Captain is shown as E. Thomas with Ann Noder as  the  Stewardess.

This mode of travel very quickly became June's standard means of travel. Who said you are over the hill at 40? For June, life really got into full swing at 40. June's trip to San Francisco was on the occasion of the conferment conference of the American Institute for CPCU. June was a guest at the San Francisco Hilton. The Hilton Hotel was also the conference site. The conference dates were Wednesday September 20th thru Friday September 22nd 1967.

CPCU Conference Notes: June was part of a group of five (5) couples from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area that attended the national  CPCU conferment exercises in San Francisco. (Al and Mavis Bangert, Doug and Barb Peterson, Jack and Priscilla Moody, Dick and Judy O'Connor and Stan and June Berg.) The CPCU designation is a prestigious professional insurance education designation for personnel who are working the field of property and casualty insurance. This group of five couples were all from the State Farm Insurance Co's North Central Regional Office at Roseville, MN. This group at the time, was the largest such group to attend the national conferment exercises from the Twin Cities Area. The CPCU program is a normal 5 year, 5 part study program requiring the successful completion of a series of annual nationally held examinations.  This 1967 group was a  great group for camaraderie, socializing and  exploring in an around San Francisco during the conference free times. Life long friendships have resulted from those times together in San Francisco. The group all had dinner together one night in Chinatown. They were amused at Stan's difficulty in understanding the Chinese waiter. Stan thought he was talking about the "dock" when he was in fact describing a "duck" specialty!

In the 1960’s San Francisco night life and entertainment was considered the most daring in the nation…by today’s standards it would have been very mild indeed…on one of the evenings, the group sampled the San Francisco night life…while wandering the San Francisco downtown streets one evening, the group came upon a nighttime entertainment establishment with a flashing neon sign that was made up in the shape of  a ladies leg and flexed at the knee…the name of this place of entertainment was aptly named “The Flexed Knee”...It was a “Burlesque House” or in modern day terminology a “Strip Joint.” The group decided to see what it was all about and spent a short time watching the show and the entertainment…while it was considered very “risqué” in that day and age, it would have held very little excitement for the current age society. It did not involve total nudity…my impression was that the men in the group found it of more interest then the ladies who probably were trying to be “good sports” about the men’s interest in this choice of entertainment…

Editorial Notes: Al Bangert became a resident and a patient (2011) in the Alzheimer's Villa of the Benedictine Health Care Center in New Brighton. He suffered from Lewy Body disease, a dementia causing disease. He died on the morning of 11 March 2012 from aspiration pneumonia.Al's wife Mavis later passed away from cancer on 26 July 2014.  Doug and Barb Peterson are retired and living in Hudson, WI. Jack Moody was the first of the group to pass on at a relatively early age.. Dick O'Connor passed away from lung cancer in 2010. June Berg passed away a victim of Alzheimer's on October 23rd, 2008.

  (Photo below right is June on a boat trip in San Francisco Bay in the fall of 1967) June San Francisco 1967

June very much enjoyed her first visit to San Francisco. June loved the "Cable Cars" and used them daily to get around and particularly to visit Fisherman's Wharf. The Cable cars were available immediately outside the Hilton Hotel front doors. The Wharf became a favorite spot and June visited this location several times. June also had meals at the restaurants on the water front. The Cable Cars were a popular means of transportation in San Francisco and they were many times filled to capacity.

June also visited China Town and had dinner there one evening. June remembers well the difficulty in understanding and communicating with the Chinese waiters. She also visited the Golden Gate Bridge.

One afternoon was spent in the Haight and Asbury district of San Francisco. This was in the hey days of the San Francisco Hippies (Flower Children) and their favorite location was at and in the vicinity of the intersection of Haight and Asbury. I assisted June in a photographic session with a number of colorfully dressed and interesting looking young "Hippies". June would always get permission for a picture and they in return would receive some of her spare change. One young lady had a long and rather ugly looking lizard draped around her neck. One was carrying a little kitten and another a baby squirrel. Beads and head bands were frequent adornments. One young gentleman was wearing a stove pipe hat.

June also took a boat trip around San Francisco harbor and past the famous Federal Prison Alcatraz on Alcatraz Island. The former prison was no longer in use as a Federal prison and served mostly as a tourist attraction and historical site.

Before leaving California, June made a visit to Disneyland. She spent the day at Disneyland before traveling on to Las Vegas.

June's first airline flight and first visit to San Francisco was an exciting time for her. This travel event was to foreshadow a later adventurous future involving much travel in both the United States and Europe.

June returned again to San Francisco in February 1998. (February 9th-14th) During this stay, June was a guest at the San Francisco Hilton Towers Hotel. June's trip to San Francisco was made to attend the 50th Anniversary Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Science.

(Photo below right is June with San Francisco in the background - February 1998.)  

June 1998This conference was just the month after the day in January that June had received the sad news that she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.  This unsettling news did not appear to dampen June's enthusiasm during the trip. The gathering Alzheimer's storm clouds all still seemed to be on a very far away and distant horizon. 

The professional quality photograph of the "Golden Gate" bridge at the top of the page was a photograph taken by June during this 1998 conference.

One pleasant afternoon was spent visiting some of the San Francisco Highlights that June had seen on her first visit in 1967. June was very proficient with her camera and took many pictures. Her picture of the Golden Gate Bridge that day appeared more like the work of professional photographer in that the exposure, lighting and composition were excellent. I admired the picture so much that June had it enlarged and framed for my birthday later that year.

Early in the week June was the guest at a evening conference "Welcoming Reception" in one of the hotel ballrooms. The reception was a time for renewing old forensic acquaintances.

Later in the week June went on a tour of the nearby wine country. "Best of the Wine Country." This tour was a visit to a number of Napa Valley Wineries with wine tasting and a lunch.

This same year (1998) was also the 50th anniversary of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. As a part of this 50th anniversary celebration, June attended a special "50th Anniversary Banquet" at the end of the conference.


Miami-Dade County area

June visited the Miami-Dade County are on two occasions. Both visits related to forensic science conferences and activities.

The number of Miami related cities in this county can be confusing to the outside visitor. The city of Miami (Population 5.4 million in 2007.) is the hub for most visitors. The Miami or the Ft. Lauderdale airports are where most people arrive. To the north of Miami is the city of North Miami (Population 56,185 in 2007.) and it is located 10 miles outside Miami. Immediately north of North Miami is the city of North Miami Beach. (Population 38,201 in 2007) Immediately east of Miami across Biscayne Bay is Miami Beach. (Population 87,925 in 2005.) The city of Miami Beach is located on an island fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Miami Beach has been the pre-eminent beach resort for almost a century. Shuttle service to the four (4) Miami's is provided from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale airports. 

June's first visit to the Miami area was in 1992 to attend the 23rd Annual Seminar of the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) hosted by the Metro-Dade Police Department. (Tuesday April 28th - Friday May 1st.) During this visit June stayed at the Marco Polo Resort Hotel in Miami Beach. As a part of this visit June participated in the elaborate annual conference Banquet on Thursday evening prior to the conference ending on Friday. June also enjoyed a "Dinner Cruise" and vaudeville show on the "Jungle Queen" on Tuesday evening.

(Photo lower right - June with friend Linda Kroeger - IABPA Banquet - North Miami Beach - 1994 - Both with same pattern dresses)

June and Linda Miami 1994June's 2nd visit to the Miami area was in 1994 to attend the ll-th Annual Training Conference of the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts. (IABPA) This conference was also hosted by the Metro-Dade Police Department. ((Wednesday 5 October - Sunday 9 October) During this visit June stayed at the Newport Pier Beachside Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Resort in North Miami Beach. This conference also provided a fine banquet on the Friday night of the conference. Nearby shopping was an attraction at the Sawgrass Mills Shopping Mall promoted as the world's largest outlet mall of over 200 stores. June particularly enjoyed the annual conferences of this forensic group as she had developed a number of good friends over the decade of the 1990's. (Mary Anne Reeves - Arizona, Rosemary Carter - Canada ,  Linda Kroeger - Oregon and others.)  Linda and June were the center of an hilarious episode at the conference.  They both arrived at the banquet wearing almost the same identical dresses. The pattern was identical although some of the styling was different. They looked at each other and burst out laughing...pictures of course followed.  

Linda reminisces about past conferences-  "Patagonia Store ( Seattle.) -.June and I both bought the same jackets there - only different colors. Mine was blue and hers red.  I still have it and it is one of my favorites. We had a good laugh about liking the same clothes.   .June and I had a good time at the conferences. Both of us being short gals and like a lot of the same things made it very fun. I always looked forward to her updates about family when we got together. I did notice the last time that I saw her that she was  having some memory issues. (2001*) We all made sure we kept track of her and that she didn't get lost. She was a special person and I miss her."

*Note: I contacted the conference hosts (Norm and Mary Anne Reeves) during the times of the later  IABPA Tucson conference in 2001. I discussed June's Alzheimer's diagnosis in 1998. I advised them that this terrible disease was starting to close in on June. I requested that the other ladies be alerted to possible confusion by June during some of the tours and activites. I did not want her to become afraid or lost as she was no longer capable of getting around on her own. There was splendid cooperation by the group as indicated above by Linda. I do not think that June was ever aware of getting any special attention because of her Alzheimer's.

Las Vegas 

The 1967 return flight from San Francisco involved a stop for a few days at Las Vegas. This would be June's first of three visits to Las Vegas. During that first visit to Las Vegas, June stayed at what was then the famous "Stardust" Hotel. This grand old historic hotel is now only history. It closed on November 1st 2006. At the time of June's visit it was the largest hotel in Las Vegas with the largest Casino in town. For entertainment they featured a spectacular French production show Lido de Paris. This show was their mainliner for many years. The year before June visited this hotel, Howard Hughes had attempted to buy it for $30.5 million dollars - a staggering sum of money in that time period. The sale was thwarted by the Government on the basis that it would violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. A book was later written about the hotel called "The Stardust of Yesterday: Reflections on a Las Vegas Legend." The Casino Manager and part owner Johnny Drew was a known associate of Al Capone. This fact certainly added some flair and flavor to the aura of the Hotel and Casino.

(Photo lower right is June trying out the 25 cent slot machine in the Riviera Hotel Casino in February 1985.)

June Las Vegas 1985June's two later visits (1985 and 1989) to Las Vegas were both in connection with her attendance at Conferences of the American Academy of Forensic Science. At the 1985 conference, June stayed at the Riviera Hotel. This was during the period of  February 11th through the 16th. While at this conference June attended a reception hosted by the Las Vegas Police Crime Laboratory. During the 1989 (February 14th through the 18th) visit to Las Vegas, June again stayed at the Riviera Hotel.

June was not much of a gambler but would always try out the slot machines. June limited herself to a set budget per day for gambling. She would never consider using the silver dollar machines but did use the 25 cent machines. She preferred the nickel or 5 cent machines because it required a longer time for the machine to eventually take her allotted money. Some of the slot machine gamblers would be very superstitious about their use of the machines. June remembered one gentleman's peculiar actions. June noted that if she walked behind him, he would immediately use his arms to cover up the dials. Apparently he felt that anyone looking at the dials on his machine as he was using the machine would somehow jinx him or give him bad luck. It was very humorous to watch him.

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In later years June flew to and visited such places (some several times) as Aberdeen (Scotland), Albuquerque, Anaheim, Annapolis, Atlantic City, Balmoral (Scotland), Baltimore, Boston, Bowness-On-Windermere (England), Branson, Budapest (Hungary), Carson City (NV), Cary (NC), Chester (England), Chicago, Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Dusseldorf (Germany), Edinburgh (Scotland), Fairview Heights (IL), Forton (England), Galveston, Gig Harbor (WA) Gottingen, (Germany) Goslar (Germany) and Greensboro.

June also visited Harrisburg (PA), Hershey (PA), Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Keswick (England), Lake Tahoe (See Reno), Langholm (Scotland), Las Vegas, Leningrad (Russia), Lincoln, Little Rock, London (England), Los Angeles, Miami, Miami Beach, Milwaukee, Moscow (Russia) and Nashville.

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New Orleans (Mardi Gras)

June has been to the city of New Orleans on three occasions. (1983, 1986 and 1992.)

June’s first visit was on the Memorial Day weekend in May of 1983. I was scheduled to testify in a deposition on a firearms case (Franco v. Beretta) on the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend. I thought it would be a good opportunity to take June to New Orleans. We made reservations for the long weekend at a very posh old landmark hotel on Poydras Street in downtown New Orleans. The Hotel was the "Le Pavillion" Hotel. The hotel lobby is of an elaborate old French styling with statues and elegance. The Le Pavillion dated back to 1907. (After arrival, I was told that the court case had been settled and my deposition had been cancelled. This change in plans resulted in June and I having the entire weekend free.) 

(Photo below right - June relaxing after a long day in New Orleans - Hyatt Regency Hotel - February 1992)

June Berg New Orleans 1992This old hotel is also said to be inhabited with Ghosts. The hotel hired professional paranormal investigators at one point to identify the ghosts.

One ghost is said to be Ada or Ava, a teenager who has the appearance of looking lost and confused. She was reportedly set to board a ship when hit by a carriage and killed sometime in the 1840’s. An aristocratic couple from the 1920’s have also been reported seen strolling the grounds.

A young male in a black suit was also one of the reported ghosts of the 1920’s who was also reported to play pranks on the hotel cleaning staff. Grandma June saw no ghostly images during the short 1 day and 1 night stay.  

When June arrived in New Orleans on Friday night it was following a long siege of heavy rains in the city. The result was a flooding of the lower level and facilities of the Le Pavillion. We noted that the Hyatt Regency Hotel was only three blocks up the street so the next morning we arranged to check out of the Le Pavillion and check into the Hyatt. We simply walked our luggage up to the Hyatt.

June enjoyed a very leisurely, restful and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend at the Hyatt, returning to Minneapolis on Tuesday. Some time was spent wandering through and exploring the famous French Quarter before leaving New Orleans.

One of the places that June visited was the famous "Pat O'Brien's" in the "Old French Quarter" of New Orleans on May 30th, 1983. See the photo on the bottom of the page.

June's two later visits were both in connection with attending conferences of the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS)  Both conferences in 1986 and 1992 were scheduled in February during the time of New Orleans celebration of "Mardi Gras."

June stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on both of her later visits. The Hyatt was the official conference hotel and provided convenience to conference affairs and events.

June always enjoyed the elaborate "Wine and Cheese" receptions (a part of every conference) where she could renew friendships with the many friends she had acquired in the "forensic" community.

These conferences were in the days before Alzheimer's started taking over June's life. As a result, June freely moved about New Orleans on her own during the day times and during the times  that I was in conference technical meetings. A "spouse hospitality" room was also available daily where friends could meet and information was made available on New Orleans activities.                                           

(Photo below right is June with her "Mardi Gras" parade loot. - February 1986)

June Mardi GrasMost people automatically associate "Mardi Gras" with New Orleans as if they had a lock or an exclusive on the event. Actually it is celebrated in most of Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean. Other notable city celebrations include Mobile, Alabama and Rio de Janeiro. The term "Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday". The events traditionally end on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is a celebration prior to the fasting season of Lent. 

The final morning "Mardi Gras" parade is an elaborate grand affair and a sight to behold. It seemed to go on endlessly. June never witnessed the tasteless segments frequently shown on TV. To be sure, bizarre, strange and weird costumes and dress were the order of the day, but the displays of nudity were not seen. Perhaps such events were reserved for the evenings in the French Quarter only. The occupants of the floats would throw bright plastic beads, necklaces, coins and other trinkets into the crowd as they passed. June occupied a spot directly on the street at the front of the crowd and as a result was able to snare a large collection of these bright and beautiful items. June was sure that the grand children would find much joy with them later...and she was right.  

Dining in the French Quarter at night can be a delightful experience. June was dining on the outside balcony of a restaurant overlooking Bourbon Street early one evening, when she was shocked to have an order of cooked shrimp delivered with the heads on. One normally does not think much about a shrimp having a head on the rest of the body. The heads are not things of beauty and the waitress needed to assist June and I with removing or snapping them off. The rest of the evening was an event that memories are made of. The balcony dinner seating afforded a good view of the "goings on" below on this most famous of the the streets of the French Quarter. The temperatures were pleasant and the surroundings interesting. It was a great evening! 

June could not leave New Orleans without having "Breakfast at Brennan's", a New Orleans tradition. Brennan's opened in the 1950's and quickly became known as the home for the breakfast gourmet. June enjoyed her breakfast (one of June's favorite meals) - traditionally three courses - but the back home "Baker's Square" did not lose its appeal. Brennan's is also the creator of the delightful "Bananas Foster." 

Before leaving New Orleans, June also visited the New Orleans "Tiffany's" and found that even the smallest remembrance was very pricey. June confined her purchases to a single silver key chain souvenir item. 

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June has also visited Omaha, Orlando, Oxford (England), Palm Springs, Pensacola, Perth (Scotland), Philadelphia, Raleigh, and Redmond (WA) 

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Reno - Lake Tahoe Area.

June and I visited Reno and nearby Lake Tahoe and Virginia City in February (21st - 26th) 2000 while attending the Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. (AAFS). June and I were able to take a non stop flight (Northwest Airlines) from Minneapolis to Reno and the return flight also non stop. While in the Reno area, June and I stayed at the Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel and Resort in Reno.  Reno describes themselves as the "Biggest Little City in the World." ("Smaller, slower, prettier and less crowded than Las Vegas.") I think that June would agree with that description. While Las Vegas is in the desert, Reno is next to Sierra Nevadas mountains with Lake Tahoe nearby.

(Photo below right is June on the shore of Lake Tahoe in February 2000) June Berg Lake Tahoe 2000

June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January 1998 based on symptoms in 1997) June was still fully functional but the Alzheimer's had taken away much of her short term memory. June's long term memory was still intact. She was not able to process and retain instructions and information necessary to take care of herself properly. June stayed at the conference site with me for most of the time of the conference. The two days that June and I spent on tours in the Reno area were days that I stayed with her in order to insure her safety. June was always a fun companion and I enjoyed the extra time with her. I knew that soon enough, Alzheimer's would gradually take over the rest of her life - as it eventually did.  

While in the Reno Area, June and I took a day long tour of Lake Tahoe which included a lunch. Lake Tahoe is an interstate lake in which the western part of the lake is in California and the eastern part of the lake is in Nevada. Mark Twain was said to have been awe-struck by the beauty of the lake and the nearby areas.

Others who found the lake to be a favorite "stomping grounds" were the famous "Rat Pack". (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.) The group was said to have been most active in the Lake Tahoe area during the 1950's and the 1960"s. During the tour of Lake Tahoe, their favorite hangouts (Bar-Restaurants) were pointed out.

June and I had a nice relaxed lunch in the "Grazie Ristorante & Bar" restaurant on the lake shore.

We also had a day long tour of the Virginia City Area. Virginia City is steeped in the history of the Gold Rush mining boom days and the famous "Comstock Lode" mines. This included a lunch at the famous "Delta Saloon. Also included was a short tour of the Nevada State Museum. Virginia City was also the location for the popular TV series "Bonanza". The famous Ponderosa Ranch with Ben Cartwright and his sons. (Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker and Pernell Roberts.) The location of the ranch and the filming sites were pointed out to June and I during the tour. The series ran for 14 seasons.(1959-1973.)

While June was well into the shadows of Alzheimer’s at this point, June was still in early stages. We took advantage of the early stages of this disease to enjoy life to the fullest…with of course accommodations for the short term memory handicap…of course there were times that I could not avoid periods of sadness as I saw June’s gradual decline taking place…while I tried to avoid showing my sadness for June’s sake and well being, she could sense it  and would try to reassure me that she would be alright…I am sure that  we both knew otherwise… 

 

June's name tag AAFS Conference

(June's name tag for the AAFS Conference at Reno, Nevada - 2000)

 

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San Diego - San Antonio

(Photo lower right - The Bahia Hotel, San Diego, CA - early June 1995 - forensic firearms association conference - AFTE)June and Stan San Diego CA 1995

San Antonio:  June visited the city of San Antonio, Texas on two occasions. The first time was in connection with the American Academy of Forensic Science Conference (AAFS) February 14th to the 19th of 1994. During this visit June stayed at the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel on Bowie Street. 

The American Academy Meetings were noted for their welcoming evening "Wine and Cheese" Receptions where June could renew acquaintances with old friends. June was also able to enjoy the beauty of the nearby famous and beautiful "Riverwalk."

June's second visit to San Antonio was in connection with the conference of the Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners. (AFTE)

This visit took place May 28th to June 1st in the year 2002. The meeting was hosted by the Bexar County Criminal Investigation Laboratory - Firearms Section.

This was the year that June and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. This year was also the 4th year since June had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. June was still able to function rather well but had severe memory problems.  June stayed at the Adam's Mark Hotel in San Antonio which is also located on the beautiful "Riverwalk."

The AFTE conference also sponsored a visit to "The Alamo - Mission San Antonio de Valero." This was a private after hours guided tour. "The Alamo" is also considered to be "The Shrine of Texas Liberty." This is the site of the struggle with the Mexican Army by a small group of Texans and Volunteers who held out for thirteen days against the Mexican Army led by General Santa Anna. The  small group of Texans and other volunteers were headed by Colonel Travis, Jim Bowie and David Crockett. All of the small group died in the course of the 13 day battle or were killed when the "Alamo" was finally overrun by the Mexican Army. 

(Below right photo - June at the Menger Hotel - Theodore Roosevelt's picture in the background - 2002)

June and Stan May 2002June also visited the Historic Menger Hotel located at the Alamo Plaza and dates back to 1859. The hotel is noted for it's connection with Theodore Roosevelt. In 1892, Teddy Roosevelt first visited the Menger hotel at age 29 while on a trip to hunt javelina. In 1898 he returned with Colonel Leonard Wood to organize the first US Volunteer Cavalry, the "Rough Riders." This group later fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. In 1905 a group of the "Rough Riders" returned to the Menger Hotel for a reunion and a banquet.

June attended a "Texas Style" BBQ. The BBQ was an evening affair at the Rio Cibolo Ranch outside of San Antonio. The evening also involved some "Texas" entertainment. It was an enjoyable and fun evening for both June and I.

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June also visited:  Rome (Italy), Sacramento, (revisited San Francisco), San Diego, Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls (WA), St. Louis, Stratford-On-Avon (Shakespeare's home town - England), Tacoma, Truckee (CA), Tubac (AZ), Tucson, Vienna (Austria),  Virginia Beach, Virginia City (NV), (See Reno discussion above.) Wabasha - The Anderson House, 16 August 1985 (MN), Wailea (Maui, HI), Wichita, Williamsburg (VA) and Zurich (Switzerland).

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New York City

June's visit to New York City (February 1997) was again on the occasion of a conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. (AAFS) June's hotel while in New York City was the Marriott Marquis Times Square on Broadway. This is the area referred to as the "Theater District". As the name suggests, the hotel was located right on Times Square. Every morning on looking out the window, June had a great view of the Empire State Building. On the roof top of the Marriott was a revolving restaurant that afforded an excellent view of Times Square, Manhattan and New York City. June made use of the restaurant and the great view it provided. It was said to be the only revolving roof top restaurant in New York City. The weather at that time in New York City was good and a walk around Time's Square was a pleasant and interesting experience.

June took part in three tours of the city during her visit. One tour was called "New York City Highlights with an overview of Manhattan. A second tour took June to the NBC Studios. Her third tour was a tour to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The tour of Ellis Island was an emotional time for June as it brought to mind memories of her mother who had once passed through the Ellis Island Immigration processing.

(Below right photo - Varnes Family taken in Norway just before sailing for the United States in 1915.  Great Grandma Haldis is little girl in front. Uncle Jake is boy on the right. Grandma Haldis mother standing in  rear)  Grandma Haldis from Norway

June's mother, Great Grandma Haldis, first immigrated to the United States from Norway in 1915  and was admitted through the Ellis Island immigration processing procedures. Grandma Haldis was only 10 years of age when she came to the United States from Norway. Grandma Haldis traveled with the Lenning Varnes family and assumed the Varnes name. Grandma Haldis mother Hannah Kjerstine Hanson (Hanssdatter) also traveled with her. Lenning Varnes son Jacob (Jake) Varnes was also in the group. Jake Varnes later was to become one of June's favorite uncles.

Uncle Jake was an accomplished wood carver and a self taught artist (painter). Jake was also a proficient violinist. Uncle Jake's paintings sold as fast as he could paint them. It is unknown how many of Jake's paintings are in existence but it is estimated to be in the hundreds. At one time, some of his paintings were in a special "Smithsonian exhibit" of American artists.

Grandma Haldis later became a "Naturalized" U.S. Citizen on 13 May 1952.

1997 Notes: This year was also a year in which June (following her New York City trip) spent a pleasant week during July at Annapolis, Maryland for the conference of the Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners. (AFTE) September saw June at the Fall meeting of the Minnesota Division of the International Association for Identification meeting at Winona, MN.

The Final Years 

While the year 1997 was an interesting and pleasant year for June, it was a critical and pivotal year in June's life. The Alzheimer's storm clouds were now on the horizon. 1997 was also the year in which June first noted her short term memroy symptoms.

It was June's last year before she would have carry the burden of an Alzheimer's Diagnosis. Short term memory concerns at her annual medical examination in December of 1997, resulted in a referral to the University of Minnesota where testing resulted in her Alzheimer's diagnosis in January of 1998. Thereafter her life would never be the same. It was on Valentines's Day 2008,  that I published the below tribute io June in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that told of June's awareness of what was happening to her and what lay ahead for both of us.

"You knew at a very early date, the blackness and the depth of the distant approaching Alzheimer’s storm clouds. You displayed a concern for me. I remember well that Sunday (Ca. 1999) when you brought home the “Care Notes” pamphlet from our church - “Handling Grief as a Man.” You said nothing; you just left it out for me to find and to read. I remember the time that you detected one of my episodes of emotional sadness as I watched your illness progress. You tried to console me by saying “Don’t worry, I will be alright Stan!” I am sure at the time, you and I both really knew otherwise."

It is estimated that from the point of the Alzheimer's diagnosis, one's remaining life is reduced to one half of the life that person could have expected. The present thinking is that from the day of the appearance of the first symptoms, the Alzheimer's disease has already been at work in the brain for the previous 10-30 years.

It became my immediate objective to take advantage of as many travel and other positive life living/enjoying opportunities as was possible in the time remaining for June.  I wanted June's next few years of her life to be as full as we could make it before Alzheimer's took control of that very special life and that very special lady. 

We were able to more than double our forensic conference and non forensic travel (Approx. 30 trips) over the next 5 years before Alzheimer's became the dominant force in June's life. Of course, June did not travel with me when I participated in trials or made court room appearances. In addition, June and I did fun and family non forensic travel/trips like flying to Seattle for the weekend to celebrate June's birthday or travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit our daughter Susan and grandson Daniel. We even did some Amtrak and Bus travels in the later and final years.

The year 2003 was the last year we were able to travel by air. I announced that I was closing my forensic business and taking no new cases in order that I could devote more time to June. Thereafter in 2004, our travel was restricted to automobile and approx. 100 miles of the immediate home area.

In the year 2004, the shadow of Alzheimer's was rapidly closing in. On December 31st, 2004, my forensic consulting business was closed.

In March of 2005, June was placed in a nursing home for help with her future care.

After mid year 2006, June no longer knew me and her mind had retreated to a land or place of mental isolation.

On October 23rd, 2008, in the early morning, June quietly passed away from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The light and the inspiration of my life was forever gone. I would never have believed it was possible to miss one person so much!


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(Photo below - June with Stan - the famous "Pat O'Brien's" - "Old French Quarter",New Orleans, May 30th, 1983)

                     June and Stan New Orleans May 1983

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Reader's Comments

Bonnie Phillips  - Eugene, Oregon - (2 September 2015): "I read about all of your travels together. What a great Experience!!! Thank you for the journey."

 

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Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II.

You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available. June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady.

While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation." 

It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to plumb the depths, and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 12 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008.

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

 

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"