Ifirst met Myrna Andersson Allen while I was delivering The Neighborhood News door to door. She was on her porch with her dogs and she immediately engaged me in a discussion about her community, neighborhood issues and the local Neighborhood Council. I remember thinking "this is one smart cookie!" It was the first of many porch sittin’s between us as we shared sensibilities and thoughts and grew quite fond and appreciative of each other. She often passed our magazine out in her community. With the passing of Myrna and the recent passing of another favorite community member, Jo Schaeffer, we at TNN, and I’m sure anyone in the community who knew and really appreciated these women, sharply feel the loss of these accomplished community activists. Her son Eric sent us photos and his memorial of his deeply beloved mother. I was surprised to discover not only her amazing accomplishments, but what a stunning beauty she had been. I share an edit of his remarkable tribute with you....
"My Mom was born in Harvey Ill April 19, 1935. Daughter of Eric and Grace Anderson. Sister to Myrene Dammann. In 1947, the family moved to Dover, Arkansas. In 1952, she attended Arkansas Technical University when she was 17, where she received a scholarship from the National Honor Society and graduated with a degree in chemistry with honors. After Arkansas Tech, she attended Tulane University Graduate School with a major in Ichthyology, which basically means she studied fish. She wanted to be a Veterinarian, but unfortunately schools didn’t take too kindly to accepting women vet students back in the 50s. She took a job at UCLA in 1960 and was at UCLA from 1960 - -1985. While there, she supervised research laboratories and a Nuclear Medicine Facility and handled the administration of contracts and grants for the developmental biology division at UCLA. She co--authored numerous studies and articles that were published in industry journals like: Nature, American Zoologist, Experimental Cell Research and Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Of course my favorite publication of hers is titled “Phospholipid Synthesis in the Nucleus of the Erythrocyte.”
After she had an “early” retirement from UCLA, she got into quilting and designed and sold her own quilt patterns. We estimate that she has over 10 sewing machines, 30 pairs of scissors, 50 quilts and a mind blowing 8,000 yards of fabric in her house.
In 2010, she joined the United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council (UNNC) and in 2011 was Elected board member and resident representative at age 74.
These are some of my memories I cherish most…
The look on her face when I ran up to hug her when she picked me up from preschool. The look on her face after she found out I went to the store….alone...when I was in preschool. Not making me wear my Grandmother's handmade two piece red plaid outfit. All the road trips, river trips and weekend adventures. Horseback riding in Mexico, camping in a hut on the beach in Mulege, Mexico, rafting on Usumacinta. Seeing an anaconda, monkeys in the trees and waking up to find jaguar prints by the campsite in the morning. Teaching me how to plant, sew, cook and of course, what mom doesn’t teach her son how to use a circular saw. Spending every day after school with her at the lab. The 70s seatbelt - always sticking her right arm out when she came to a stop. I mean always. Taking me to every swim, gymnastics class and baseball practice. Every one. Her accidentally cutting her finger then writing my name in blood on a cardboard box….thanks Mom. I still can’t touch cardboard with my finger tips. Telling me why I need to apologize for puncturing a hole in our neighbor's tire. Teaching me how to start my own landscaping business at age nine when I was bored one summer. Letting me hang playboy centerfolds in my room when I was 12 but making the mistake of thinking I could talk to a scientist about my first real crush. Racing her to the car after a baseball game and realizing...holy crap..she’s pretty fast in those clogs. Celebrating with me when I scored the winning run in the all-star playoff game but consoling me the next year when I struck out and we lost the championship game. Finally realizing she knows the scientific name of every plant known to man. The moment I realize how tough she actually is. The way she never let adversities dampen her spirit. Her laugh, the way she danced and sang. Amazed at how much she truly loves animals and realizing that I wish she could’ve been a vet. In awe, as I watched her hold, kiss and love her Granddaughter Olivia for the first time. Sitting by her hospital bed listening to her telling me her best childhood stories. Such classics like….. teaching Susan how to walk up to strangers and say….”I’m cute”....or how her Grandfather would say….”I don’t understand how she can get a scholarship but can’t learn to close the door.” The look on her face when I start playing Pavarotti for her at the hospital. Me appreciating the simple comfort and pleasure a son gets when he holds his Mother's hand….even in silence. I can assure you, I would not be able to stand here today, nor would I be the man and Father I am. I am forever grateful, Love you always and forever, your very proud Son, Eric."
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.