Carol Bone calls herself a change-of-life baby.
When she was born, her mother was 44 years old. Her two older brothers were already 22 and 18.
“My parents were old enough to be my grandparents!” she laughingly recalled.
The pregnancy was so unexpected, in fact, “They thought I was a tumor. They took an X-ray, if you can believe that. And they were ready to do surgery,” she said.
As she turned out, the tumor was a baby, as the X-ray soon revealed.
“My mother just didn’t know what to do with me!” said Bone.
That’s not the only thing significant about her mother’s pregnancy and her family.
When her brother Gerald entered kindergarten in 1938, he was sent home on his first day of school with a note pinned to his shirt that read: “Keep Gerald at home; he is uneducable.”
“Sadly, the public had no programs for (children like her brother) and feared anyone ‘different,’ so mom kept him home,” Bone said.
The irony was not lost on Bone who, because of her brother Gerald, was inspired later in life to get her master’s degree in a field of study that would help her “try to figure out how to help people like my brother.”
And with the medical knowledge we have today, she added, she was the statistical candidate to be a developmentally slow child because of the fact she was born when her parents were much older.
But fate ruled otherwise, and Bone went on to work for the California Youth Authority as a high school resource specialist where she retired after 31 years of service.
Bone will share Gerald’s full story in a speech that she will be giving on Monday during the Elegance in Black and Pearl event put together by various members of Red Hat Society. The luncheon fund-raising event, which will be held at Isadore’s restaurant on North Main Street, will be attended by more than 100 Red Hat Society members coming not only from Manteca but from other places including San Francisco, Hayward, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sacramento, and Merced.
Now in its second year, the Elegance in Black affair was the brainchild of Red Hat Society Queen of Queens of the Central Valley, LaDonna Settlemoir who approached Bone, one of her newer members at the time, about hosting an Elegance in Black affair. Ever the fund-raiser, and being the president of the Valley CAPs Board of Directors, Bone thought, “why not turn a fun event into a noble purpose as well?” She asked Settlemoir if the proceeds could go to Valley CAPs, and the deal was happily made.
There’s actually a connection between Manteca CAPs and Bone’s brother, Gerald. When the family moved to Manteca, “Gerald became one of the first consumers at was then called Manteca CAPS!” said Bone.
Gerald was the inspiration behind the formation of the Valley CAPS program called Senior CAPS.
“When he turned 55, he inspired the director of CAPS to write a grand to form a Senior CAPS group at the Manteca Senior Center to further integrate this unique population into our society as they aged,” Bone explained.
With that in place, her brother was able to continue attending Senior CAPS until he passed away seven years ago at the age of 73. Bone became her brother’s conservator when their mother died in 1989.
Her brother Gerald was born in 1933, 18 years before she made her appearance into the world. Gerald was born in Reedley, Calif.; Bone in Bakersfield. The family moved to Manteca in 1974 when he went to work as administrator at Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom. Bone’s other brother, Corky, went on to work for the legendary Howard Hughes’ tool and die company which was instrumental in putting in the Alaska oil pipeline. He lived in Anchorage for six years while the pipeline was installed.
The Elegance in Black and Pearl reception and luncheon on Monday, Sept. 16, will start at 11 a.m. with no-host cocktails. The open luncheon will begin at noon. Featured will be live entertainment plus door prizes, and prizes for best-dressed diva and other awards. The event was a sold-out event during its launch last year.