Commentary: Mother's Day Reflections

Barbara Jean (Bloom) Stern, circa early 1950s. Photo courtesy of the Stern Family Archives

Victory & Reseda wants to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day!

The beauty of doing this work and art is to see the diversity of people involved in this game. Amongst you are mothers – something I've neglected to cover extensively due to a perspective, which are both obvious but will reveal more in a moment. Yet, I honor my friends, acquaintances and readers (i.e. YOU) who do their best for their children – whether they are infants or have grown in their advanced years.

There is one fact that ties this site and the notion of motherhood: Mothers are indeed a part of this cycle of automobility. This fact has never escaped my own consciousness. Though my own mother, Barbara Jean (Bloom) Stern, was more of a baseball gal (she was the inspiration for the now defunct, but in stasis, The Heirloom blog on, she allowed her sons to explore other interests. For my brother, it was personal computers. For me, it was automobiles.

My mother was a wonderful woman. It took me years to finally come to terms with this as my latent immaturity compounded by being closeted blinded my ability to comprehend at the time. Mom did everything right for my brother and I. She was our moral grounding. She sacrificed a lot to ensure her children can manage in an ever changing, but morally challenging world. This was evident after my father left the house for good in 1972.

Mom gave a lot of herself to the community. She was our den mother in Cub Scouts. She had our 1972 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight modified so she can drive us to campsites while we were in Boy Scouts. She was the president of the PTA in two schools. She helped campaign for a Los Angeles City Council member right in Reseda. And, if you asked a few of my old Reseda friends, she was a generous woman who was always nice to our friends regardless of who they were.

In automotive terms, she was my General Motors side of my house. The Bloom/Cohen side remained loyal GM owners for decades. Mom rarely drove dad's cars favoring a 1955 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Starfire convertible to bring the infant Randy home 48 years ago. She drove our 1960 Chevrolet Corvair to PTA functions after Ralph Nader deemed it "unsafe at any speed." It was apparent she enjoyed her 1967 Chevrolet Impala sport coupe more than dad's 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. In the end, we had the 1972 Olds. Though she signed off on a Ford and a Mazda for my brother, the Bowtie and the Rocket were essential parts of who she was – even through her own parents and brother.

It is her brother, my uncle that solidified my automotive part of this house. He was a service person for two GM dealerships in the Los Angeles area. He ensured that my grandmother always drove a Chevrolet to the end. He always had some cool cars himself – again, always a Chevrolet. It probably explains a lot on my end…

In 1979, Mom dealt with two debilitating strokes. The second rendered her semi-paralyzed and aphasic. She was always a stubborn woman, a battler to the end. The next thirteen years challenged her physically, but she still had that spark that kept her going even before the strokes happened.

Mom is no longer with us. She died in 1992. It took me a long time to manage this grief. When I did, I used this medium to express my love for her in a way that could have been manifested decades before.

Today, I love her even more. I do miss her – a lot. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be doing this – any of it.

Don't mind me and my memories – please make some new ones today! If your mother is still on this Earth, so something special for her today. If you're a mom, take some time off for yourself today. Let your children do your work for you while you embrace the loves in your life.

To my family, and my friends who are mothers, who have fond memories of Barbara Jean (Bloom) Stern, thank you for guiding me through the past twenty years without her in our lives. For showing me what a lost son had to do to understand the importance of ancestry and bloodlines. To embrace her as if she is still here amongst us.

In some way, she still rides along with me. She might be in the passenger seat with her wheelchair in the cargo hold. If she was still alive, I'm sure she'll have opinions about some of the vehicles reviewed and discussed on this site…

Happy Mother's Day!

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  1. She would be SO proud of you, Randy! I'm a mom….I know these things. We never stop missing them, of that I'm sure. Do something loving for yourself today….I plan to eat some chocolate in honor of the woman who never let it go to waste!

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