September 21

Absinthe Johnson (Mum)

Our mum, Absinthe, was a real survivor. Born in 1915, she survived Swine flu, World War I, Prohibition, and the death of her father.  All these horrific events happened before she was 6 years old, so she was weaned on tough times and prepared to survive almost anything. She was named Abigail at birth but later changed her name to Absinthe, thinking it sounded exotic.

Mum was 6 years old in 1921 when Grandpa died suddenly of a heart attack. Now a widow, Grandma Edythe needed to both cut expenses and boost her income to survive and keep the property. With automobiles like the new Model T touring car, tourism and travel were much easier. Grandma decided to cash in on this trend and made the Inn more desirable to travelers. She even gave it a proper name, The Starlight Inn, thinking it sounded romantic. She kept a just a few permanent boarders, the young women who had no regular source of income and nowhere else to go.

Mum’s 12 year old  twin brothers, James and William, were sent to live with Uncle George and Aunt Harriet in Kansas to save money.  Absinthe was too young to go or to  help on a farm, so she stayed in Santa Barista and began to help out at the Inn.  She started work as a very young girl and was raised as an only child by her busy and hard-working mother. A couple of the young women who were permanent boarders did helped to raise her and to teach her many life lessons.

We’ve always been sorry that we never met our Grandma. She died in 1955, 9 years before we were born. Many of the old-timers who frequent the Inn told us that our mother – Abigail/Absinthe – was very much like her. Both survived as single mothers and both of these strong women survived with a joy for living and an appreciation of the finer things in life, even through hard times. We hope that we will live up to their standards.

If we had to describe our mum, Absinthe, we would say she was beautiful. Not pretty, beautiful. She was tall, about 5’11” and had beautiful black wavy hair and bright green eyes that could be piercing. Her personality could change from warm and soothing to powerful and intimidating. Like her personality changes, her choice of wardrobe also varied from evening-elegant to comfy-cozy.  It all depended on events and the the situation.   Luckily for us, we mostly experienced the soothing and comfy mum.

We loved to watch her put on her makeup  and jewelry when she dressed up  to entertain guests at the Inn. To us, she was the most glamorous woman in the world. We miss her so much.

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