Barbara Ann Waite: Memories in Heart and Words

Barb Headweblg

Everyone’s Story welcomes back Barbara Waite. It’s funny, I’m not quite sure where I’ve bumped cyber elbows with Barbara, but it seems like I’ve known her for years and it’s a lovely feeling! What I admire most about Barbara is her passion and respect for family, as evident in her touching memoirs of her grandmother, Elsie. A former missionary now taken to the keyboard, Barbara shares with you this week more glimpses into the very special life of Elsie. I hope you find her life experiences as fascinating as I have, and hope it fills you with encouragement. Please check out Barbara’s great BookGiveaway offer of  the 2nd Elsie memoir, Elsie’s Mountain. We’re both looking forward to hearing from you.





Barbara is offering 1 copy of Elsie’s Mountain,  to 1 randomly chosen commenter, so please do leave a comment. The winners will be announced here on Friday, July 22nd between 5-6 PM EST.

** Please note regarding BookGiveaways: email contact information within comments are no longer required. However, if I have a question regarding yours I’ll leave a comment for you to forward it in order for you to chance winning.


Barbara’s past visit on Everyone’s Story: Using One’s Past To Enrich One’s Present


When Words Live On by Barbara Ann Waite


Across the peaks of Palomar a winter wind is blowing;

The mountain air is crisp and keen: tonight it may be snowing.

Against the slopes of mauve and bronze the evergreens are looming,

Where only flowers of memory still linger in their blooming.

–Elsie Hayes Roberts**

As I walk among the apple trees on Palomar Mountain, I marvel at the beauty of the blossoms on the gnarled trees, planted over 100 years ago, many of them by my grandfather and great-grandfather. I experienced through reading Elsie’s diary and journals the mountain culture and the day-to-day life of California ranchers of the time. Elsie loved words. She lived nearly a century and during that time her love affair with words never waned. She loved words in books, spoken words, and words in her diary. Words were the essence of this vivacious woman. Elsie was a wellspring of kind, always-gentle words. Yet, as I looked deeper into my grandmother’s life, I know that she withheld some words. Perhaps the words she avoided using are the story behind this exuberant yet occasionally reticent woman. I tried to preserve these times, in my grandmother’s memoir, “Elsie’s Mountain- Memories of Palomar & Southern California 1897- 1987.”

One newspaper writer described, Elsie (at age 97), as having, “…a mind as sharp as an Ansel Adams photograph.” She viewed life as a glorious adventure, recording a rich diary account of the serenity and beauty of her beloved mountain.

Elsie first traveled to Palomar in 1904 by horse and wagon, a three-day excursion from Long Beach. In the summer of 1918 Elsie, her husband Jack Roberts and their baby Catherine moved to Palomar to work on the apple ranch purchased by her parents in 1904. They eventually operated a small resort.


Barbara in vintage costume speaking at a one-room school in Julian , California to the Julian Historical Society. The school was built in 1888, the same year Elsie was born.

During the apple-season, they hired pickers with diverse backgrounds and Elsie’s husband often employed British cooks. The combination of personalities proved to be humorous. The sheriff showed up one afternoon to explain that the man hired to chop wood was a convicted ax murderer that had escaped. Elsie served dinner for the sheriff and his prisoner.

I find value in viewing the past, the ordinary, if it causes us to pause and examine our own lives. Elsie never seemed too busy to notice the first flowers of spring, often found peeking through the snow-dusted earth. She often slowed her pace, read, and sometimes moved her bed outside to view the stars, experience the wind, the night sounds, and the earthy mountain smells. Perhaps her story will encourage you to stop and see the beauty everywhere. Perhaps it will even encourage you to extend grace to those around you.

I have tried not to interpret Elsie’s story. In the book by Markus Zusak,*** The Book Thief, Max says to Liesel when giving her a blank notebook, “Words are life Liesel. All those pages, they’re for you to fill. I’m not lost to you Liesel. You will always be able to find me in your words. That’s where I’ll live on.” Elsie’s words live on to tell her story.

**These are blossoms from this year’s crop from trees of 1904.

***Barbara wrote the author of The Book Thief and was thrilled when his agent wrote back saying she could use his quote in her book. A lovely surprise!


Barbara’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author @BarbaraAWaite: how memoirs on others help you to examine your own life. (Tweet This)

@BarbaraAWaite offers #BookGiveaway of memoir Elsie’s Mountain, tribute to a special woman. (Tweet This)

@BarbaraAWaite: Could it be that slowing down to see life helped Elsie live as long as she had? (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

Barbara Anne Waite grew up in San Diego, California, spending weekends at the family cabin on Palomar Mountain. Summers were spent on Palomar with her grandmother Elsie. When Elsie died in 1987 (at almost 100 years of age), Barbara read the diaries and letters Elsie had saved. These compelling diaries contained the adventure and love story of her Grandmother’s three years teaching in rural Arizona, and from them Barbara created her memoir, “Elsie – Arizona Teacher 1913-1916.” During her life, Elsie wrote for magazines and newspapers but none of those stories compared to the story revealed in the diaries.” The first “Elsie” book was published weeks before the State of Arizona celebrated its centennial in 2012. That book, published 4 years ago has been voted on Goodreads as the #1 memoir “Old West in First-Person.” It has sold over 3,000 print copies and 5,000 e-books.

Many readers requested the rest of the story, Elsie’s California years before and after her Arizona experiences, when her family operated an apple ranch and resort on Palomar. The first copies of “Elsie’s Mountain” went on sale in October, 2015 at the Apple Festival on Palomar Mountain.

Barbara has been sharing Elsie’s stories and selling her books at community groups, book clubs, historical groups, Rotary meetings, women’s events, libraries and genealogical societies. Historical non-fiction books seem to have potential sales opportunities that novels might not experience.

Places to connect with Barbara:








Check what reviewers are saying:



Tweet This for Always With You:

Always With You by Elaine Stock: a story of ‪#‎love‬, ‪#‎faith‬, & ‪#‎family‬ challenged. (Tweet This)

Barbara and I look forward to your comments. The comment area is below. 

Click “Comments.”

34 comments to Barbara Ann Waite: Memories in Heart and Words

  • What a rich and wonderful family history you have, Barbara. Thank you for sharing some of it with Elaine’s readers today.

    Great post, Elaine!

    • elaineadmin

      Kathy, I’m always curious to see who shows up first to leave a comment and I’m so pleased it’s you 😊 I’m glad you enjoyed Barbara’s feature.

  • Bonnie Roof

    Your grandmother must have been an amazing woman, Barbara – thanks for the giveaway opportunity of ‘Elsie’s Mountain’ – I’d love to read it!! No doubt my mother’s diaries tell the story of her life also, she’s 91 years old and has kept one since she was a young girl. I think she may be a lot like your grandmother- having a positive attitude and gratefulness for the beauty of nature, spending many hours outdoors caring for her lawn, plants, and flower gardens!!

    • elaineadmin

      Bonnie, after reading Barbara and your reflections I have to admit that one major “downfall” I have is that I’m more a Martha than Mary. Like my husband who takes the time to play with the neighbor’s cat, inhale the scent of wild flowers, and pick up rocks while on a walk to marvel at the formation, perhaps I need to do these things. Then again, LOL, perhaps if I wasn’t squeezing in my writing with a full time job I’d be able to. Ack. Me give up writing? Enough said. It’s a blessing to have these special people in our lives. Like different seasons, God created us all differently and I’m learning, day by day, that He doesn’t make mistakes and: I. Am. Okay.

  • Hi there Elaine, Kathy and Barbara!
    The stories of Elsie are beautiful! It sure reminds me of my mom. She wrote a diary every day of her life from age 14-47, when she passed away. We sure cherish those now. Will I see you, Elaine and Kathy, at Maranatha this year? I have signed up. It was such a lovely conference!
    Blessings to all,

    • elaineadmin

      Myrna, I’m so glad you’ve visited… have been missing you! I don’t have much leftover from my mother except for a few handwritten letters to me and a couple of poems, so do treasure your mom’s diary. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that they’re priceless.

      I’ll be attending ACFW Nashville in August so I won’t be able to make it to Maranatha this year. And yes, it was a lovely conference, indeed.

  • Barbara Waite

    Thanks Kathleen. It has been fun to see that even men seem interested in Elsie’s story. One man when I spoke at a Rotary club commented about how much he enjoyed Elsie’s poetry, made my day. I love sharing history that causes us to pause and think.

  • Thanks Bonnie for your comment. Several people have told me how they enjoyed reading the first Elsie book aloud to their mother. Sweetest review on Amazon was by a gal 102 years old that read “Elsie- Arizona” on kindle and then skyped her daughter a review.

  • Words are life to me also, so this book sounds delightful. It seems that Elsie was a strong woman who took life as it came, with a great sense of humor and a deep vision of beauty.

    I wish I could have known my grandmothers better, and your story, Barbara, is an inspiration for all of us to be legacy writers like Elsie.

    • elaineadmin

      Thanks for visiting, Delores. I can see you connecting easily with Barbara’s books 😊

    • Oh yes, Delores. Elsie always took life as it came. I never heard her complain. It was years later I realized how hard were the times she experienced. He deep vision of beauty of creation filled her poetry and letters. Legacy writer indeed. Thanks.

  • Hi Barbara:

    I really enjoyed your grandmother’s quote below:

    “She often slowed her pace, read, and sometimes moved her bed outside to view the stars, experience the wind, the night sounds, and the earthy mountain smells. Perhaps her story will encourage you to stop and see the beauty everywhere. Perhaps it will even encourage you to extend grace to those around you.”

    In a way, I believe that we can never really ‘see’ the true beauty around us until we learn how to make the effort to fully entertain the experience. Like a lens, the eye sees nothing. Seeing is a total mind, body, and soul experience.

    This is why I found the Ansel Adams comparison to be so insightful.

    As an apprentice photographer, who thought he knew a lot more than he did, I was stunned when seeing my first Ansel Adams print. My first thought was: “It is absolutely impossible to take a photo like this one! You can have fine detail in shadows or in the bright sunlit areas but you can’t have both in the same photo.”

    And you couldn’t –unless you were trained to experience the scene you were about to photograph — as not what can be seen thru the lens but rather by what the scene could become in the darkroom after exposing selected areas of the photographic paper to different amounts of light from the enlarger.

    In essence, pictures had to be taken in ‘the wrong way’ so that they could be corrected later in the darkroom in order to produce an image of such perfection that even the eye cannot reproduce. The result is almost a God’s eye-view.

    Just as your grandmother loved words, I believe that Adams loved light.

    I believe that the seeking of the benefits of sleeping outdoors imbued the author’s vocabulary with a richness only achievable by having a total mind, body and soul experience.

    I believe that a few great writers can show us beauty that we would usually never see unaided. They do this with simple words that are seemingly everyday. I think Mark Twain did this just as Grandma Moses did it with her primate art.

    I look forward to reading, “Elsie’s Mountain”.

    Thank you for bringing your grandmother’s work to our attention.


    • elaineadmin

      Vince, I agree. Seeing is the fusion of mind, body, and soul working together. Well said!

    • Oh Vince, what insight in your comments. Elsie loved, words and people and nature. She created a feeling of awe when talking about her experiences on Palomar Mountain. Do let me know if you enjoy her story. I think you will see her mind and soul in her poetry. I began each chapter with one of her poems. Elsie truly “entertained the experience” anywhere she was. She lived that little saying ” Be here now.”
      I enjoyed your Ansel Adams and photography comments.Thanks!

  • I want to be Elsie when I grow up! Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful person. I never knew any of my grandparents and I wish one of them had been a lover of words and left something behind. Great blog!

    • elaineadmin

      Pat, I smiled when I read the “want to be Elsie” part, something I can relate to 😊 Yet, it sure is glorious of Him to make us all uniquely special. I’m glad you enjoyed Barbara’s feature.

    • Thanks Patricia, she was an amazing woman. I realized so much more about her personality as I read her letters written during the great depression. She loved words and loved sharing words with others, always words of encouragement. She left a lasting impression on what I desired to be when I grow up!

  • Thanks Delores, I just got an email from a women’s Club where I will be speaking in Sept. She asked for title of my presentation.You just helped me, I think I will entitle the presentation ” Legacy Writer Elsie.” Perfect.

  • How wonderful Myrna to have those diaries from your Mom. The research into the time period is what helped fill in the blanks when writing Elsie. Several decades and things dramatically change. I loved when I read that Elsie had her hair bobbed and marcelled in 1924. She surprised me with that.

  • Marilyn R

    What a legacy to leave for family members. I have letters from my grandmother and a recorded sermon from my grandfather. My mother keeps a dairy so some day I’ll see what she has written. Elsie’s Mountain is going to be added to my TBR list. I enjoy reading first person history. God bless.

    • elaineadmin

      Marilyn, treasure your family legacy and love to you!!

    • You might be surprised Marilyn at discoveries to be found in vintage letters. I discovered a few secrets as I read through Elsie’s letters. There were also lessons to be learned tucked in those heartfelt letters between Elsie and her sister Alice. Letters are a lost art, so special when you have some to treasure.

  • Laura Conner Kestner

    Enjoyed reading this post, Barbara! So glad you’re sharing your grandmother’s story! She sounds like a lovely, fascinating woman. My husband’s grandmother will be a 101 this year, and I love getting a chance to visit with her. Up into her 90s she insisted on doing many of her own chores (including mowing her lawn) and also tended to a small herd of cows. She’s always used lots of natural remedies so I asked her recently what her longevity “secret” was and she said it was Vick’s vapor rub. Made me laugh, but I’m not going to argue with her 🙂

  • How fun Laura to see your grandmother’s longevity secret. I think Elsie’s was See’s chocolates. She always had a box on hand, along with a stack of books.

  • Becky Smith

    This is really an interesting interview. I am putting this on my TBR list and can’t wait to read it! Historical non fiction books are good to read, too. What a legacy!!

    • elaineadmin

      Becky, I’m so happy you’ve visited Everyone’s Story and enjoyed Barbara’s feature. The world may be full of tragic history, but when you run across a treasure of joy, like Elsie’s story, you just got to grab it and soak it up! 😊

      Hope to see you again!

    • Thanks Becky. This is a non-fiction story taken directly from my grandmother’s letters and diary entries. She also began writing when she was in her late 80’s her story of years operating the apple resort. I had much to glean from. Trust you read and enjoy Elsie’s story.

  • elaineadmin

    A big and warm welcome goes to my special guest, Barbara Ann Waite. Barbara, I can tell you’ve be appreciated by many this past week… I wonder if that’s a wee bit of your grandmother’s charm coming through? 😍

    Thanks much for the lovely BookGiveaway!! The winner of Elsie’s Mountain is…

    Bonnie! Yay and yay, Bonnie!! Enjoy. Both Barbara and I will send you direct emails shortly. Happy reading!

    Blessings to all.

  • Thanks Elaine. Thanks to each who commented. How fun to meet potential readers through your blog Elaine. I trust maybe I will see a new review or two on Amazon. I have a goal to approach Barnes & Noble soon and see if they will stock Elsie. I hear they have changed their policy. A girl can dream, right? I imagine extra reviews might influence them. Bonnie, congrats on winning the book. It will go out on Monday.Enjoy Elsie’s story and thanks for joining the visit on Elaine’s website. My website has some additional photos of Elsie not included in the book. It is

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