Serving Northern California

Since 1985

Life At Carlton

From Carlton Senior Living on Facebook


Why Carlton?

We help residents live their lives with attractive senior housing options, acclaimed services and our legendary “culture of care.”


Our Mission

We’re a family-founded, family-focused company, and taking care of you and your loved ones is our mission and our passion.


Service Principles

We aim to love, honor and care for our residents with exceptional service, enthusiasm and integrity.

Senior Living Surprise

While vacationing in San Francisco I decided to take a quick trip up to Pleasant Hill to see an old dear friend of mine who lives at Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill. I must say you guys do it right! The food was incredible (especially the salad bar!) I was quite impressed with the staff who went out of their way to make me happy. Very clean and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. As I left a fun county band started to play... I wanted to stay but had to leave, hopefully next time I will catch them. Keep up the great work Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill!!!Dr. Wright

Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill Assisted Living Is Truly Special

Special thanks to Lisa Spivey at Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill, on my visit to see my dear friend, you were so warm and welcoming and thanks for the nice chat. You and your whole team are gifts to all the resident that live their. If I retire in Pleasant Hill someday, I wish to call Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill my home. Thanks again and lunch was delightful.S Pelegrino

The Best Senior Living Community

I visited Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill and I was very much impressed with how you guys run this senior community. I live in Florida and what I've seen in my parts is not even close to what you have assembled here. The food, activities and staff are all above board. Very lively place as well. I'm impressed.John B

Assisted Living That Is Like Coming Home

Warm and friendly staff at Carlton Senior Living San Leandro! They make you feel welcome. Very nice apartments, lots of activities and the Sunday Brunch that I was fortunate to attend was OUTSTANDING! Really as good as anything you will find anywhere in the City. Not sure how you do it but I'm sure glad you do. John loves it there.Kathy Oslow

Wonderful Retirement Community

Thank you to the Carlton Senior Living managers and team, for all of the care, patience, time and efforts you put in to helping my father, he was a blessed and happy man until he passed in March. My husband and I appreciate all that you did for him. We really want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sending us flowers on his funeral. Thanks again!Betty Shrine
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Our Memory Care

“Everyone is helpful and caring. It is such a relief that my mom is taken care of at Carlton’s Memory Care. I never worry about her care or well being and she is happy when I visit. Thank you all!” – Alice C.

From the Carlton Senior Community Blog

"The Attic" from the Memoirs of James Thompson Sr. of Carlton San Jose

"The Attic" is just one of the many short stories from the memoirs of James Thompson Sr., a resident of Carlton Senior Living San Jose. Written during the 1970s, Thompson's writings illustrate what life was like as a child growing up in the small town of Dyer, Indiana during the 1930s. Dyer is a town in St. John Township, Lake County, Indiana and is a southeastern suburb of Chicago. According to census records, the population of Dyer was just 672 in 1930 and had increased to 976 by 1940. "The Attic" by James Thompson Sr. The attic was a good place to play if the weather was mild. In the summer, the attic was very hot and in the winter it was very cold. I still have an old trunk that was in it. Martha has the other one. There was an old pair of ice skates, all worn and patched that belonged to Henry. He finally claimed them after many years. John had a decanter with a little hand pump to dispense whisky. I used it to pump water in tiny little shot glasses. It disappeared sometime or other. There were a lot of figures of cardboard owls about three feet high but these were from the Dyer Owls club that Henry belonged to. An old set of Boy Scout signal flags were in there that also belonged to Uncle Henry. There was an enameled chamber pot from the days before we had indoor plumbing. There was an artificial Christmas tree and a lot of metal candle holders with clips to fasten to the tree branches. I never saw the candleholders used. I found an oak wedge about ten inches long that probably was dropped there when the house was built. There were two old radios from the time the 20’s that people built their own radio from kits. There was a stereo viewer for looking at stereo photographs. There was a knitting machine for knitting socks. It had a metal cylinder about four inches high and about six inches in diameter with many wires guides for the yarn. Aunt Ann said they sold you the machine and the yard and were supposed to buy the socks when they were completed. But the socks were never good enough for them. Aunt Ann said it was a scam. There was a set of books in a small end table. It was supposed to be an “Encyclopedia of Commerce.” Mom said that Grandma took washings to pay for them. They were for Henry. "Chicken, Eggs and the Broody House" Every spring we got a hundred baby chicks and raised them in the garage. Sometimes we got the chicks from Mike Burson who had a hatchery in the basement of the drug store. When the chickens were bigger they went to the chicken yard where the roosters provided Sunday dinners for most of the year. Then hens provided eggs. If we have extra eggs, we got credit at Hoffman’s IGA store at four corners. (The four corners was where the town’s only traffic light was.) Those eggs were a lot fresher than you can buy today. In the winter, the chicken house had maybe six or eight hens. With the doors closed, the inside temperature was above freezing even on cold days. The chicken coop was close to falling down and some of the rafters were propped up with two by fours. There was a smaller coop we called the broody house where the hens could set on their eggs until they hatched. It made a good playhouse. I got some leftover patching plaster and filled all the nail holes that I could. I bought an old dry cell battery from Gene Schultz for a nickel and wired up a tiny bulb and pretended that you could really see with it.   "The Story of the Old House" [caption id="attachment_23332" align="alignleft" width="120"] James as a high school student.[/caption] We lived in an old house that rented from the Hilbrich’s. After the war, we had to buy it, because they wanted to sell it. It wasn’t much, an old farmhouse built before the Civil War. It was built before electricity. The electrical wiring was added after the house was built. A single cold water faucet was in the kitchen. There was no hot water unless it was heated on the cookstove. There was originally a barn beside the road but it burned. A chicken house, broody coop, an outhouse, a garage and a woodshed were there. When we moved in, the house had an old outhouse in the back with a brick walkway. The outhouse was in danger of falling down. Uncle Henry built a new outhouse which lasted until a bathroom was built five years later. The bathroom had an old used cast iron tub and was built very cheaply. The outhouse then became a woodshed. Another memory was the bare pine floors in the bedrooms. I got slivers in my feet, unless I wore slippers or shoes. The house had a shallow cellar made with limestone blocks and had a dirt floor. It was fine for me as a child, but the adults had to duck their heads. The cellar finally was made deeper and a cement floor was put in. I found an arrowhead in the dirt that was excavated from the floor. There was no basement under the dining room or the kitchen. The kitchen was added to the original house, lean-to. In the winter, the kitchen faucet could freeze, so the water was left on just a trickle. I used to get my baths in the kitchen sink when I was two or three. To get soft water, rainwater was pumped from the cistern under the front porch and heated on the stove. The drawback was there was soot in the water. The Saturday night bath was more truth than fiction. Uncle Henry worked on the railroad. Before we had inside plumbing, he would take a bucket of water and a wash pan to his room and wash up. He was in the army in France near the front lines during the war (WWII), he said his early years training stood him in good stead. (Published on July 12, 2020) We look forward to sharing more of James' short stories on Carlton Senior Living's blog in the future. Want to read more from our resident writers? Check out these pieces by Elma Blaud and Harriett Burt. Read more

"Let's Dig In, Go Green & Talk Recycling"

Today we recognize America Recycles Day, a day to spread awareness of keeping our communities beautiful and sustainable for future generations. We are excited to showcase the efforts of Denee Coleman, one of Carlton Senior Living’s Inbound Marketing Specialists, who has gotten involved in cleaning up her local Contra Costa community of Martinez, California.  The above photo of Denee was taken at Nancy Boyd Park in Martinez across from Contra Costa Fire Station 13. “You can make a meaningful difference in your community, even if it’s in a small way, like picking up litter.” -Denee Coleman, Inbound Marketing Specialist, Carlton Senior Living Denee and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, and they noticed an abundance of discarded bottles and cans around the sports fields and parks where her children like to play. Unlike her family, she is not much for sports, but she does like walking, and so naturally, collecting recyclables was a great way to get in extra steps while cleaning up the local outdoor space. As Denee shares, “Litter is also unsightly, and one day I decided to stop complaining about all the trash and started picking it up instead.” When she began her efforts, she was collecting recyclables by hand, which was slow work. But that didn’t deter Denee, she had big goals and high hopes to make a more significant impact in her cleanups. Once she got her hands on a second-hand “trash picker,” the rest, well, is history or rather HERstory. She began to collect litter and created the DeneeDigsIn Instagram account to document her efforts.  Although she regularly picks up litter along the streets and throughout parks in the Pleasant Hill and Martinez areas, she is sure to keep a trash picker in her car just in case. Denee makes it a point to do a little cleanup of the many outdoor spaces she and her family enjoy, including visits to Sonoma County, where she was raised. Since the beginning, her efforts have grown in numbers with a few locals joining in, her husband and even her older children sometimes join in to clean up. They also help her take photos and decide what to post on the DeneeDigsIn Instagram account. While picking up trash and recyclables helps beautify outdoor spaces and protect the environment, Denee’s intentions go far beyond that. Her real goal is to inspire and motivate others to make a difference in small but meaningful ways. DeneeDigsIn is a way to connect with others around the world who share a similar goal, but the people she encounters in-person are the ones she hopes to inspire. To date, Denee shares the most significant stride she has made in recognition of her efforts. People in the community have noticed, and it’s rewarding to receive a “thank you” while cleaning up. She has also joined forces with a fellow like-minded Martinez neighbor to organize community cleanups of local parks. Utilizing Facebook groups to promote cleanups has furthered their success; most recently, over this past summer, they were able to gather 14 volunteers to help pick up litter in the Hidden Lakes Park. Denee shares that “it’s rewarding and certainly more impactful to collect litter as part of a group – it’s also something that can be done while remaining socially distanced.” In asking what the most found items seem to be, she shares that food wrappers, recyclable beverage containers, and now even personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves are at the top of the list.  Suppose you’re looking to get involved and begin recycling, Denee shares that the best place to start is home. She recommends checking with your local waste management company to verify which items can and cannot be recycled. They may also require that recyclables be clean and dry to be accepted for recycling. This information can be found on the provider’s website along with a handy recycling chart to post at home for reference. Denee’s children love to ask her which items are recyclable, and the chart helps with that. One important recycling tip is regarding the disposal of electronics, also known as eWaste. Although it can be confusing, there are plenty of organizations that collect and recycle electronics for free. Recycling eWaste at an approved location is essential because it helps keep toxic and harmful things like batteries and other electronic components out of landfills. If an item plugs in or requires batteries, an eWaste recycling center will typically accept them.  For Contra Costa County, Denee uses and recommends Rapid Recycle in Pacheco. As she shares, “The Rapid Recycle team is always friendly, and dropping off electronics for recycling is easy; they’ll even unload it from your vehicle. My busy household always seems to have things like old cell phones, unused and damaged electronic cables, and electronic toys to dispose of, and so I store the items in one place and drop them off at Rapid Recycle every few months.”        From your Carlton Senior Living family, we applaud you, Denee, and all of the fantastic work you are doing to beautify the community and protect the environment. Your efforts are truly inspiring. We want to thank you for letting us “dig in” for sharing your passion and your knowledge in going green and recycling.  Read more

5 Benefits to Living in a Carlton Senior Living Community

5 Benefits to Living in a Carlton Senior Living Community

Deciding to live in an independent, senior living community is a smart option for those who can still handle day-to-day tasks but who want the added benefits offered by Carlton Senior Living, such as maintenance-free living, social interaction, and peace of mind. However, some people are not sure if this is a move that is right for them. If an individual feels like this, getting to know more about Carlton Senior Living can be helpful. Keep reading to learn more about independent living at Carlton Senior Living and how a senior living community offers an excellent option for people who are 65 years of age or more. Knowing what Carlton  provides will help ensure a person decides if this is where they want to be. 1. Maintenance-Free Living When someone chooses to move into a Carlton senior living community, they will discover there are many housing options to choose from. While this is true, there is something common with each of these options – they require no maintenance or upkeep by the tenant. At the Carlton independent living communities, an individual does not have to worry about handling the chores related to typical homeownership. There are maintenance and housekeeping employees who are ready to handle all these tasks, allowing the resident to focus on other parts of their life, particularly the more enjoyable ones. Some of the specific maintenance-free perks offered by Carlton include full-time maintenance and access to 24/7 repairs, exterior and interior maintenance throughout the community, no expensive maintenance bills, easy scheduling. This ensures that each resident receives the services they need. 2. All Inclusive Rent In the past, independent living meant an array of different bills for every aspect of the home. Today, though, Carlton provides everything in a single payment. This includes the rent, utilities, and garbage service. This makes it easier than ever before for those living in the communities to keep track of their financial situation. The total cost related to moving into a Carlton senior living community can be financially beneficial. This is especially the case if someone is downsizing from their existing home. An independent living community can help reduce a person’s monthly spending. 3. Proper Nutrition For many seniors, one of the main issues is getting the proper nutrition. This includes the quality of the food and the ability to consume the needed nutrients. If cooking is not an option, for any reason, seniors who reside at a Carlton senior living community have the option of dining in the full service dining room/restaurant where professional chefs prepare fresh foods each day. Besides making sure only high-quality ingredients are used, often from locally sourced produce, dietary needs like lower sodium dishes can also be met. Many communities also hire dietitians who are focused on senior nutrition and who are a valuable resource. Their job is to make sure residents are eating a healthy diet. Some of the top services offered include full understanding of nutrition in certain foods, increasing a senior’s daily serving recommendations of nutrients and vitamins, selecting healthier items for seniors to keep cholesterol levels in check, and helping seniors know what a healthy plate looks like. 4. Private Living with a Built-in Community Another benefit offered by Carlton Senior Living is achieving balance between privacy and being part of a senior living community. From being able to participate in several activities that occur in the community each day to eating meals with others and utilizing the exercise facilities, seniors are also able to use everything the community offers. 5. Social Interactions Every state of a person’s life comes with unique challenges. As a person ages, the ability they have to make new friends may be more challenging than it seems. One of the main benefits of living in an independent living community is that seniors will be surrounded by other people who are in a similar stage of their life. Even better, they do not have to worry about the added responsibilities like grocery shopping or upkeep for their home. Also, there is an entire team of employees who are dedicated to planning activities to do each day. Here at Carlton, it is also easy to connect with similar people and to reap the benefits offered by consistent social interactions. Bonus Benefit: Freedom with Help Many seniors want the freedom to do what they want and the sense of independence that comes with independent living. However, they may also need help from time to time. When help is needed, they want someone nearby. This is exactly what Carlton senior living communities offer. This means that individuals who live in these communities can have the best of both worlds. Making the Most of Senior Living  When it comes to moving to a Carlton Senior Living community, there are many factors to take in account. While this is true, these locations offer an array of benefits that are truly undeniable. Being informed and knowing what to consider are the best ways to ensure Carlton Senior Living meets all the needs that a senior has. Read more

Resident Spotlight - Lucy Day

Resident Spotlight - Lucy Day

Meet Lucy Day, Carlton Senior Living's spotlight resident - Louise “Lucy” Day was born January 26, 1943 to parents Mary and Jim Day. Louise was born at Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She has two siblings—one older sister, Donna, and one younger brother, Jim. She, Donna, and Jim are still very close. They enjoy having dinner, going on walks, and seeing movies together. Her favorite childhood memories revolve around the family cabin in Bayfield, Ontario, on Lake Huron. She enjoyed watching the lake from the lookout tower. She and her siblings also loved climbing up and down the cliffs, despite the poison ivy that grew on them! Lucy grew up in the Detroit area. For a time, they lived in Pleasant Ridge, about a mile from the Detroit Zoo. They visited the zoo often; one time she even got to ride a tortoise! Later they moved to Grosse Pointe, where Lucy attended middle and high school. Her favorite subjects were science and English. When she was a kid, she wanted to become either a journalist or a biographer. After high school, Lucy went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She moved to California in 1964. She and a friend drove out to spend the summer in San Francisco; Lucy worked as a flower seller on a street corner and for the Bancroft Whitney Publishing Company. She then moved down to Long Beach, where she took a job as a first-grade teacher. After two years in California, she moved back to Ann Arbor and took a job directing a preschool. Lucy then moved to London, where she spent a year teaching special needs children. She loved living in London; she fondly recalls that it was a very cultured place to live. She then moved to Milan, Italy, and taught English for two years. After her time abroad, she moved back to the U.S. She worked as a matchmaker for Big Brothers in Costa Mesa, California for four years, matching children in the program with mentors. She moved to Davis, California around 1980; she purchased a house and decided to make it her permanent home. Lucy’s life philosophy is to maintain curiosity. She also strives for equanimity, or composure and even temperedness. She loves turn of the century classical music, especially works from composers Jean Sibelius and Dmitri Shostakovich. Her favorite movie is “Gone with the Wind.” She loves casseroles and lemon meringue pie. Her favorite scent is salt water. She loves being outside and looking up at the stars. Here at Carlton Senior Living Davis, she appreciates how kind, positive, and upbeat the employees are. Lucy most admires her father; he had a good sense of humor and cared about doing the right thing. View additional Resident Spotlight articles. Written by Ben Slade, Resident Liaison at Carlton Senior Living Davis Read more

Resident Spotlight - Frank Hopkins

Resident Spotlight - Frank Hopkins

Meet Frank Hopkins, Carlton Senior Living's spotlight resident - Francis “Frank” Hopkins was born June 6, 1942 in Lowell, Massachusetts to parents Frank and Kay Hopkins. Frank fondly remembers being a troublemaker as a kid. He also remembers being fascinated with photography; he wanted to become a photographer when he grew up. Frank still enjoys taking photographs at Carlton Davis events! Frank went to Lowell High School and the University of Miami. He joined the Air Force, during the Vietnam War, and served about four years. He was stationed on Crete and worked as a broadcaster for the same radio station that was portrayed in the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam.” After his time in the Air Force, he finished his education at UC San Diego. After college, Frank continued his career in radio. He moved to Sacramento to work on then-governor Ronald Reagan’s press staff. Frank is particularly proud of a photo he has of him and Reagan shaking hands. After working for Reagan, he stayed on at the California State Capitol. He was essentially in charge of radio press releases; he would interview legislators and relay the information to local news stations, who would then use Frank’s information in their own broadcasts. He was able to incorporate his love of photography into the job, as he was also sometimes asked to take photographs. He is proud of being friends with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. He and his late wife, Cindy, had one daughter, Christina. Frank has a lot of respect for Christina; she is inquisitive and very smart. He describes her as “always wanting to learn new things.” Frank, Cindy, and Christina enjoyed taking road trips together; they often went back east to visit Lowell and Boston. He has one granddaughter, Kira. Frank moved to Davis in 2018 to be closer to Christina. Frank describes himself as funny, helpful, and smart. He loves just about any “good food.” His favorite dessert is dark chocolate; Frank is especially fond of Dove Chocolate. He likes dancing, music and telling jokes. When asked for advice he would pass along to others, he suggests the advice he always gave his daughter, “never get a tattoo!” View additional Resident Spotlight articles. Written by Ben Slade, Resident Liaison at Carlton Senior Living Davis Read more

"Two Worlds Meet at Carlton: The Story of Setsuko Iwawaki Brockman" by Harriett Burt

An interesting thing happened during the recent temporary re-opening of the dining room so that new wait staff could be trained on proper meal service techniques. Table seating of residents (two to a table or booth) were organized by Dining Room Manager, Janine Smith of Carlton Pleasant Hill-Martinez. Among the ‘two at a table’ next to a window were Blanche Perry and Setsuko Brockman. Both being friendly types, they started exchanging information about themselves right away. Blanche mentioned she had lived in Japan for two years after World War II with her US Air Force husband and their family. Lo and behold, it turned out Blanche had lived in the same part of greater Tokyo as Setsuko had when she was a baby. Greater Tokyo is divided into 23 departments from east to west on the large island of Honshu. Since Setsuko had lived in Department 23 from her birth in 1929 to 1932 when the family moved to downtown Tokyo and Blanche lived in Narimasu, a small town in Department 23 in an American family complex called Grant Heights complete with a school, commissary, and theater from 1950 to 1952, neither knew of the existence of the other. But Carlton worked as a reunion of sorts for both of them. After their conversations, Blanche said, “I was surprised to meet her…it was wonderful,” Setsuko smiled and said, “I am fond of her.” Read more about Blanche Perry: "You Don't Meet General MacArthur But I'd See Him..." FAMILY: The oldest of five children, Setsuko was born in western Tokyo on February 20, 1929. In 1932 the family moved to downtown Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace and a large public park. Their home was not far from the Palace grounds which were open to the public twice a year. Also nearby was a beautiful large city park open to the public. Mr. Iwawaki, a graduate of the respected Yokohama Business School, had what Setsuko described as ‘a good job’ working for an airplane parts company. He also had a serious spinal cord condition which gave him a humpback on the left side which was very painful. It also caused his death in 1940 when Setsuko was 11. To this day she remembers him as a gentle man whom she often accompanied to a local hot spring so he could some get relief. Besides his advanced education, “my father was very westernized,” she notes. “He always wore Western clothes and shoes,” a preference he passed on to his sons, one of whom collected Western clothes and shoes as an adult. In fact, everyone in the family wore western clothes except Setsuko’s mother and grandmother. They both wore the traditional silk kimono except during the summer when it was too warm to wear silk comfortably. Then the two ladies wore cotton muumuus, Setsuko remembers. Setsuko’s mother was also well-educated. Trained as a teacher, she preferred to be a stay-at-home Mom, her daughter says. Setsuko, as the oldest child, was expected to help her mother with all the responsibilities of a housewife and mother which she did until she got married herself in 1956. Asked if that was a common expectation for eldest daughters, she thinks it was. The same expectation was not laid on eldest sons, she notes with a wry smile. “Even my father didn’t do anything,” she adds. While Setsuko’s father was still alive and working in the 1930s, the family was prosperous enough to own a telephone, rare for homes in Japan in those days. Setsuko remembers the neighbors coming over to ask if they could use it. Did they ever pay? She smiled and shook her head. The family’s life changed in several ways after Mr. Iwawaki’s death. For a while, the family functioned financially as it had when the father was alive. Later, they moved out of downtown Tokyo to an area of the city farther east. Like eastern Contra Costa County, it combined city residences with small farms and orchards. Setsuko recalls crying about the move because “it was so far away.” In the end, it was a good move for the family because they were not near the horrific Tokyo Firebombing of March 1945, which, like a similar bombing by the Allies of Dresden, Germany, resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. Second, Setsuko’s mother went to work in a factory. Third, the three younger brothers were sent to the north for their safety to live with their grandparents while Setsuko and her sister remained with their mother in the new home away from downtown Tokyo. Fourth: As was customary in Japanese families, Setsuko, as the first-born girl, had more responsibilities for the household than the younger children. Therefore, she could not accept an opportunity before Pearl Harbor to join a Western dance group that entertained Japanese. “No,” her mother replied when asked. “You are the first (child in the family) so you have to help me.” It was what Setsuko calls “the old system.” The oldest daughter served as an assistant to the mother. “You don’t argue with Mother,” says the daughter.  And fifth, Pearl Harbor happened in December 1941. As a result, life in Tokyo and throughout the country changed in many ways. EDUCATION: Japanese schools were organized so that some students graduated in our 10th grade with working-class skills while those who were going on to university graduated two years later as in Australia and other countries. Setsuko never lacked for jobs not only because of her personality and willingness to work hard but also because she was skilled with the abacus. In the days before computers and adding machines, the ancient abacus morphed into a variety of forms and uses. Her father used the Japanese soroban abacus at work. “He was a whiz with the abacus,” Setsuko says. She apparently inherited the skill so she took a class and became very adept. The strength of the soroban abacus is that it can be used for practical calculations even involving numbers of several digits as well as non-normal numbers such as 1.5 and ¾,  according to Wikipedia. One of the jobs where she used the abacus was at the Tokyo Post Office/Insurance Company. Another job was as an elevator operator in an 8-story building in downtown Tokyo taken over by the Americans. That job is significant because it inspired her to take English classes, and because that is where she met her future husband. WAR  - “In 1942, the War became very hard,” Setsuko says. The Doolittle Raid in 1942 was only the first air raid Setsuko experienced. As time passed, particularly in 1944 and 1945, the sirens began going off at night as well as during the day.  The neighborhood of three homes constructed a sort of air-raid shelter. Since the water level was very close to the surface, the shelter couldn’t be underground. So, a neighbor constructed a heavy wooden wall with a roof attached and a bench along the wall. Dark material hung down from the roof on three sides. When the attacks began, the neighbors gathered beneath the roof on the bench by the wall. Fortunately, no bombs ever dropped really close to them, but it was frightening enough anyway. The raids lasted approximately a half hour or so, she remembers. The number of raids and their destructive capacity increased in 1944 and especially 1945 when the US could use land-based bombers from the islands of Tinian and Okinawa. Before the end of the war, strafing became common forcing the family to huddle under the table in the house which had black curtains over the windows. “1945….that was a scary time,” Setsuko recalls. She and her family were not touched by the March 10, 1945 midnight raid of B-29s dropping large numbers of incendiary (fire) bombs on the working-class neighborhoods of East Tokyo. An estimated 100,000 people were killed in six hours. Similar to the Dresden firebombing in Germany in 1945, the purpose was to destroy people’s homes and cause large loss of life in order to encourage the government to surrender. While 60 Japanese cities were firebombed with estimates that many hundreds of thousands of people were killed in 1945, it wasn’t until two atomic bombings in August 1945 that the emperor surrendered. FOOD: There was rationing of course but her family obtained most of its food by “exchange” (bargaining) with nearby farmers. Although Setsuko had missed living downtown near the Imperial Palace, their new home was close to small farms where they could bargain with farmers for a variety of food. One farmer gave her mother a big bag of rice. She kept half of it and sold the remainder thus reaping more money for the family’s food needs. What was used for the exchange? One example is the beautiful silk kimonos Setsuko’s grandmother gave her each year for her birthday. Setsuko thinks about 10 or 12 of them were exchanged for food for the family. The exchange disappeared after the war as many farmers were too old to farm and the young people weren’t available for jobs in agriculture. It was replaced when the “the US gave a lot of food” to Japanese families including Setsuko’s which she says helped her recover from the negative feelings she had about America and Americans at the end of the war. The bombings and the hardship were one thing but the real issue for Setsuko was the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. HIROSHIMA --- The 75th anniversary of the atom bomb being dropped on Hiroshima occurred on Sunday, September 6 of this year while we at Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill-Martinez were spending an unusually hot day inside the building. For Setsuko, however, it is an event deeply ingrained in her being. She was outside at home at 8:16 a.m. on Monday, September 6, 1945, when she saw the southern sky fill with a huge shiny vision in a variety of colors which soon disappeared. Because Hiroshima is 450 miles as the crow flies south of Tokyo, there was no sound to be heard and no mushroom cloud visible in Tokyo. The news spread the next day that a new kind of bomb had been dropped, she recalls. The Japanese government was informed that unless it surrendered that day, another bomb would be dropped. When it didn’t heed the warning, the Nagasaki bomb was dropped. After that, the Emperor announced the surrender of the armed forces of the empire of Japan. 75 years later, Setsuko remembers vividly how angry she was at the time. “Everybody cried when the Emperor surrendered,” she says. Like many Japanese, she had been told “we would fight” to the bitter end. When she talks about it, she appears to have been ready to do just that herself. However, she and other Japanese found out as time went on that Japan had been losing the war for years. But, she was asked, didn’t she know that the Americans were moving north across the Pacific from island to island including the Philippines and Okinawa? “No” she answers, adding that the Japanese government never told the population the truth about the last three years of World War II in the Pacific. She also openly admits to the wrongs of Japanese soldiers in China during the 1930s and in the Philippines and elsewhere in the 1940s. According to an article in a recent 75th anniversary New York Times special edition at the end of World War II, there were Americans and wrongs as well including the deliberate firebombing of working-class neighborhoods with no factories but many wooden homes and buildings. Several American airmen, now in their 90s, told the Times “we hated what we were doing.” The purpose of the raids was to get the Japanese government to surrender but it took two atom bombs to accomplish that. Setsuko says that she honestly “hated the Americans” right after Hiroshima and the end of the war. When and how did that change? To begin with, as food became very scarce in the country because the farmers were aging with no one to replace them, the Americans stepped up and “gave us food.” Setsuko and her family were greatly helped by that. The Americans also were pleasant and helpful in other ways and provided lots of work opportunities which is how Setsuko ended up operating an elevator in an eight-story downtown Tokyo building and meeting in it the American man she would be married to for 63 years. JOBS: Chicago-born Carroll Brockman was a young weatherman in 1952 when he was posted to the Air Force weather station in Tokyo. It was located on the top floor of an office building in downtown Tokyo commandeered along with two other even taller office buildings. Using the elevator each day, he was immediately attracted to the cute, vivacious Japanese operator who had learned English ‘on the job’ and by taking classes. Setsuko had a Japanese boyfriend at the time but he moved away at some point. After Carroll and Setsuko took a few rides in the elevator, he asked her out in the employee break room. He was 21, two years younger than Setsuko. She refused but he was persistent. She’d see him at the corner waiting for her at the end of the day. He would then walk her to the train station. He even came over to their home to ask her mother for permission to marry Setsuko. “No, you are not going to marry my daughter,” was Mother’s crisp reply. Setsuko only translated the “No.” Carroll stayed in Japan until 1955. He went home, resigned from the Air Force, became a taxi driver in Chicago and did other jobs. In 1956, he rejoined the Air Force and was sent back to Japan. When stationed at Yohobe AFB near Tokyo, he reconnected with Setsuko. By this time, she says with a smile, “I’m thinkin’ he’s not such a bad guy.” They were married in 1956. He worked in the weather office and Setsuko, who never had a problem finding a job, worked in the base bookstore and as a cafeteria cashier. Their first child was born in Japan. They went to America in 1959, living in a Chicago apartment where the heat was turned off at midnight in the winter so they woke up to ice in the apartment. Setsuko remembers the baby having to sleep between her parents. Her first household task was having to chip off an inch of ice covering the window when she got up. From there, they lived in Cincinnati where their second child was born and Setsuko became an American citizen. For the next 30 years, the couple raised three children and lived much of the time in Japan where Carroll worked as a weather forecaster at two different U.S. airbases in the Tokyo area and later as a proofreader of the English language edition of Mainechi, one of the top four greater Tokyo daily newspapers. Her mother, whose feelings about Carroll had changed from suspicion to full approval, soon moved in with them and helped raise the grandchildren. Carroll’s last posting in the Air Force came in the 1970s when he and the family lived at Vandenburg Air Force Base in Southern California. After retirement, they ended up in Sacramento where Carroll worked for the Stars and Stripes and Setsuko landed what must have been her favorite job considering how enthusiastically she talks about it. She worked in the IRS tax document repository in Sacramento. It was charged with keeping and distributing all kinds of federal income tax forms. That included not just current forms but also those going back to the beginning of the federal income tax in 1913. She holds both arms up far apart to show the size of the original tax form sheet. The repository staff made sure that the Fresno Internal Revenue Office had what it needed and also mailed whatever forms for whichever years businesses, law offices and the public needed. Also in retirement, they made regular trips to Japan and traveled in the United States. They enjoyed going to Reno and Lake Tahoe and to some of the Indian casinos. Carroll would occasionally wake up in the morning and say to Setsuko, “Let’s go to Los Angeles (or elsewhere) for a few days” and they would. Because the war canceled college for her, Setsuko feels so fortunate to have been able to take painting, crochet and ceramic classes as well as a variety of business classes at junior college and to have a great family. She and Carroll made sure their three girls could go to college without having to worry about paying for it. The last few years became difficult for the couple as Carroll developed severe dementia. They moved to Carlton two years ago. Some months ago, his condition had worsened so much that he was relocated to Carlton Poet’s Corner where he passed away recently. After over 60 years of a happy marriage, Carroll’s illness and death has been a difficult time for Setsuko. However, she describes all the rest of their marriage and her entire life with a big smile as “Wonderful!” even with, or maybe even because of its challenges as well as its positives. Friendly Setsuko Iwawaki Brockman at 91 is still what she always has been….what the Australians call “a bright spark.” Written by Harriett Burt, Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill-Martinez Resident Read additional pieces by Harriett Burt Read more

Madame La Farge from La Barge

Madame La Farge from La Barge

There is a group of very nice ladies who gather each Tuesday and Thursday to discuss and practice the art of knitting and crocheting.  We have a wonderful time. I took the liberty of referring to our group as “Madame La Farge from La Barge.”  I constructed La Barge – I say it is in central South Dakota but who knows.  It is a good guess. My grandmother once told me that very nice ladies knit or crochet.  She was correct.  My Knitting and Crocheting group is composed of such wonderful and talented ladies – I do enjoy them.  They are constructing such lovely pieces of art.  You would be amazed at their talent.  They are developing lovely blankets, glass cases, along with delightful conversations.  It is fun to listen to them.  These ladies are also very generous, insisting that each person has sufficient yarn, needles, and anything to make each project a great success! And – there is great humor as well. A machine was needed in order to develop a ball of yarn.  That was a hilarious project!  Since Mander is so generous and talented in the art of getting all we need, he was called over.  The next day he gave us all the parts for the machine!  Our mechanical engineers were called in for the assembling process – work and more work.  I sat in the back and giggled. No success. Then our machine disappeared but “necessity is the mother of invention;” the ladies devised something else.  I don’t know what, but our knitting goes on and on.   I can relate story after story.  But it all returns to great fun being had by all in the Knitting group. Thank you – Mander, Cynthia, Michaela, and all those who knit or crochet. You are great, you are talented. Sincerely, Your Friend, Elma Read more