Memory Book

My brother-in-law, Jim

Memorial for Jim

For those of you who don’t know me, I am LeVonne Nelson, Marlene’s sister and Jim’s sister-in-law. I first met Jim, way back when I was a young girl of 10 or 11. I thought that he was movie-star handsome, and I was pretty impressed that my sister had a boyfriend that everyone said looked like a young Frank Sinatra. When they married, it seemed to me to be a Cinderella affair, and one of their wedding pictures shows me with stars in my eyes. There are several things I want to share in memory of Jim: Coffee, camping, fishing, and Sky Blue Pink. Let’s start with the easiest. You will see that there is a small hydrangea in the front of the sanctuary. It is as close to Sky Blue Pink as I could find. Sky Blue Pink was Jim’s favorite color. He said that it was the color of the sky at that magical moment between daylight and evening.

And that magical moment between daylight and evening brings me to the next remembrance I have of Jim, that of coffee, camping, and fishing. I spent most of my teenage summers with the Petersons, helping my sister with their three small children. Every weekend we would go camping or fishing. The kids grew up with a knowledge of the outdoors, and how to make a campfire, and how to fish. Jim would spend the day fishing with the kids, and we would have fried fish for dinner. And that brings me to another memory: coffee. Coffee played an important role in Jim’s and my relationship. I know that sounds odd, but it is true. I had my first cup of coffee at their wedding. I was very thirsty, and no one would bring me anything to drink except coffee. One cup and I was hooked. But since Marlene doesn’t drink coffee, this became a special thing that only Jim and I shared. When we were camping, Jim would get out of bed before anyone else, make the campfire, and put the coffee pot on to brew. The smell of freshly cooked coffee would drag me out of bed and Jim and I would sit around the campfire and drink our coffee while waiting for the rest of the family to get up.

Jim could fix anything with a wad of chewing gum and a paper clip. He was one of those rare men who could take something apart and actually put it back together. He seemed to understand how mechanical things went together, and had an enormous tool chest, with enough screws and nuts and bolts to hold the world together.

He loved to play cards, and when the kids were little, Marlene, Jim, and I would sit in the evening and play Canasta by the hour. After we all moved to California we have continued the tradition of playing cards when the family gets together. Until shortly before he died NO ONE could beat him at Cribbage. Just ask Marcus!

For years he was the projectionist for Frank Sinatra and Marvin Davis in Palm Springs. Whenever the families wanted a private showing of a new movie, they would send for Jim, and he would go to the house and show the film. He could splice a broken piece of film in mere seconds—again his ability to fix things helped him with this job. He also worked at a theater in downtown Palm Springs. Sometimes he would get Marlene and I in for free, but he said we always had to buy popcorn, because fair was fair, and the theater had to make a profit!

For a few years Jim and Marlene owned a boat that they had docked in Oceanside. Jim loved that boat, but even his ability with chewing gum and paper clips wasn’t enough to make it run properly. It was docked more than it was out on the ocean. On its maiden voyage out of the harbor, everyone on the boat got violently sea sick except for Jim and Guy and Kathy, and they merrily continued to fish. Nothing stopped him in pursuit of the Big Fish.

Later they owned a membership in a campground and often we would join them there for the weekend. It was there that Jim taught our daughter, Carrie, to fish and where Jim and all his grandchildren caught enormous frogs. We ate lots of trout and catfish that he caught in that lake.

When Jim joined Marlene in her doll clothes business, he became known at “Mr. Marlene.” He loaded and unloaded all the merchandise, set up the racks for all the clothes, hung tiny little dresses on tiny little hangers, and was the most patient of assistants, helping little old ladies dress their dolls. My favorite memory of this time was during an inventory, when I found him counting buttons the size of tiny pebbles. There were thousands of them. He was invaluable to Marlene, and was also proud of her success.

This afternoon we will remember all the good times we had together, and I say to God, “Hey, God. Better put the coffee pot on. Jim is on the way!”

Levonne Nelson

Added on October 17, 2015
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Mr. Marlene

I first met Jim and Marlene Peterson at a doll show at a shopping mall. I was an avid doll collector at the time but was on a very tight budget. I saw their wonderful doll clothes and hoped someday to have a doll worthy of one of their outfits. That day finally arrived and my first antique doll looked amazing!
Later, my doll hobby grew into a business and I needed stock for my porcelain doll making store (good old One Stop Doll Shop in Newhall, CA). I remembered the lovely outfits that Marlene made and asked if she would put some in my store on consignment. That was the start of a wonderful business relationship – and an even more special friendship.
When the business relationship started I had a problem. I could never remember Marlene’s husband’s name. It was so embarrassing! I have always had problems with names and still do to this day. Luckily for me Marlene’s name was on the sign at the booth so no problem there but her husband was such a sweet man and obviously loved Marlene very much – but for some reason I just couldn’t keep his name in my brain. So I came up with the perfect solution – Mr. Marlene! He didn’t mind being called that and after a while he began to wear a nametag stating “Mr. Marlene” for all the world to see! I was so thrilled!
The business relationship grew into a close friendship and I finally learned Mr. Marlene’s given name but Jim was always Mr. Marlene at the shows!
Another fun story from those days involved of all things, a fox tail! I was always misplacing my car and house keys and found a very large and beautiful fox tail that had been made into a key chain. It was before PETA was well known and so thinking it was a beautiful piece I purchased it to help me stop losing my keys. My husband Richard and I were out on a weekend drive and I saw Marlene & Jim’s RV coming toward us on the highway. We honked at them to say hello and to be sure they knew it was us I stuck my key chain out the window and waved it. Later I asked if they saw us and everyone laughed. Who else did they know with a fox tail for a key chain?
I’ll miss Mr. Marlene very much. He was always a diligent helper to his beloved Marlene, a ferocious domino and card player and just loved to tell the most wonderful stories. Rest well.
With Love,
Theresa Costin

Theresa Costin

Added on October 11, 2015
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Grandpa taught me and a lot of the grandkids how to play cribbage, my favorite memories are of playing with him and no matter how close I was to winning he would always have a trick up his sleeve and would always win. He would even give me the points that he had every right to steal since I missed counting them. Love you grandpa. Gone but never forgotten. Every time I play cribbage I will remember all that you taught me.


Added on October 02, 2015
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