By Starlight Reporter
Vintage Allies (VAV!) proudly announces our Featured Artist and Creator for December, Delia von Meyer Pacheco.
Delia is an Artist of unparalleled talent. What you might not have known until now, Delia has the distinct honor of carrying on the legacy as the Sun-Maid Raisin Girl.
Who is the Sun-Maid Raisin Girl?
During the 90 years that Sun-Maid raisins have been in the cupboards and pantries of raisin lovers around the world, other people have perpetuated the "Sun-Maid Girl" image by dressing in costume for parades, promotions and other events carrying on the legacy and original pose by young Lorraine Collett Petersen One of these people was a young woman named Delia von Meyer (Pacheco).
Join alongside Vintage Allies as we share an interview with Delia and excerpts of her momentuous lifetime.
Vintage Allies: Delia, can you share with our readers and listeners a bit about yourself? Where were you born?
Delia: Before I bore you with too much detail, some events about my German past can be seen My Life Story she continues, I hope this is not too long to share, but these are some things in my life, "that have led me to where I am today".
You've asked, where I was born. In Berlin, Germany during the war, and here Delia smiles softly with a gentle laugh and says "you do the math". I have a twin sister named Alexandra. My parents died from cancer at age 60, twenty-five years apart. I have no family here in America outside of my sis, hubby Al and daughters Sonya and Elisha.
Vintage Allies: Can you tell us more about your home and life in Germany, Delia?
Delia: Since my birth city Berlin was destroyed from the bombings we moved around and ended up in a picturesque town named Garmisch Germany , nestled in the Southern Alps of Bavaria, living there for only 3 years and then coming to America.
My father Alexander was very talented in art and photography, these being his hobbies and owning two Photography studios, one in Berlin and the other in Dresden. Unfortunately losing everything to war, he then had to make a living after the war with his hobbies, including golf, skiing, riding and tennis. Since he lived off of a trust all his life this was quite an adjustment. In 1947 dad died quite suddenly, and Delia adds here, of course no one saw a doctor during the war. I remember the day clearly, crying cause I did not get to say goodbye to him...it took me 19 years to get over his death, because I was his little girl. I believe it formed me as who I am as a woman, and what I wanted in life.
Vintage Allies: Delia, that's a difficult and life altering experience for a young woman. How did you arrive in America?
Delia: Well, having had dad's approval before his death, mom decide to bring us to America because my Grandmother, my fathers mother, Georgianna Ives who was from Hartford, Connecticut was a direct descendant from the clockmaker/print family "Ives". Ironically they where now in England, France and Germany, forcing us to find a sponsor to come to the States, so we would not be a ward of the State. In 1950 we made the journey to the US, sponsored by a man in California.
Vintage Allies: That's quite a noble ancestry! How did you make that long trek to America Delia?
Delia: On a ship named the SS Washington. Delia continued with reflection of memories in her thoughts. The one thing I remember about coming here on the ship, was that I wanted to bring all my books and pictures and was devastated having to leave them behind, because as a child that's all I had for only three years...maybe this is why I collect old books now.
Before arriving to the ship in Hamburg, we traveled at night by train running from my dad's brother who was trying to claim my sister and me, something to do with inheritance, here Delia adds, my uncle kidnapped us one time. As we arrived at the Port awaiting for our US approval, my Uncle caught up with us, but because we where on United States property the captain of the ship had the police take him away and boarded us on the ship early in the morning...again Delia adds, some more of these memories are written for Ellis Island.com site.
Vintage Allies: Delia, it's hard to imagine how you and your family survived in those trying times. What did you do upon arrival to America?
Delia: When you think about it, it was war and we were always on the run from bombings, but we survived from hunger, cold and all that goes with war time...I can't even imagine having small children during war time.
My mom experienced living in America traveling through the States performing with the Ringling Brothers Circus doing a Trapeze act and riding the famed Elephant Modoc...she spoke English and knew the American way, this helped in our adjusting.
We moved to San Leandro California and lived with our sponsor. Over the years I lived in the Bay Area including San Francisco, San Leandro, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont and Union City and Delia added, etc.etc.
When we first arrived my Mom worked for KNBC Radio Station in S.F. and one of her friends gave me a silver horse necklace of "Topper" and Delia shared with Vintage Allies that "Topper" was Hopalong Cassidy's horse, for those that remember...she also gave me a book with drawing papers and pencils, something I will always remember. I still have some of these drawings, including a few from Germany. We moved a great deal because mom loved decorating, well at least that's what I thought.
Vintage Allies: Where did you find the inspiration for your art, Delia?
Delia: I went to a parochial school in S.F. and was known for being "the artist" even doing a stint for shows where someone did a squiggly line and then they asked me to draw a certain thing from it, I always managed. I entered many art contests and always won...my first win was from a entry with a Howdy Dowdy art contest, it was a witch riding a broom with a horse head, winning first place I got a crystal necklace that I still have. Delia adds with playful chagrin, what a thing to give a 10 year old! I do remember seeing the drawing on the Howdy Doody Show and my excitement that is was on TV.
I went to Lowell High School in S.F. where I had a real good art teacher, but that's when I found out I was not the best, reality hit.
Then we moved again, this time back to San Leandro, graduating from their High School.
Vintage Allies: Howdy Doody, Delia, that's pretty memorable and quite an honor for one so young! And, after High School, what next Delia?
Delia: Mom wanted me to be in show business, so I was forced to go to Modeling School actually before High School, ...funny when you don't want to do something and a parent pushes you..it was awful, I hated it. I never pushed my kids to do anything they didn't want to do because of it.
So after my High School graduation we moved to Oakland and I worked in SF, Modeling for Cornet Modeling Agency and working for Fiberboard Paper Prod. This is the company that made the box for Sun-Maid, (see more personal comments from Delia below and on her squidoo.com ) and that's how I got my mug on the Sun-Maid Box. I also worked for a well known Architect for a short time, I had an interest in this and in fashion design.
Vintage Allies: Delia? Have you any idea how inspirational you are for so many of us? Could you continue?
Delia: Oh my Starlight alias Jolene, I'm not sure about that! The only inspiration I would like to leave behind, is being a God loving person.
During these years, my best friend Sue had an Arabian horse and we would ride in the Castro Valley and Oakland Hills, those where some of my best memories I have. After graduation we got an apartment, living the fun life.
Then I met my husband Al at a dance...we dated for almost two years, we had planned on getting married, but the U.S.Government sent him a letter for a physical for the Military, so we decided to run off to Reno Nevada. Had we not been married by Monday, he would have been inducted into the service to go to Vietnam.
We thought Vietnam would end, so we saved our money to buy a house. My husband already worked for GM three years. Then at Christmas 1965 came another letter it read, "Greetings You are Now Inducted" Delia continued... not the Christmas we envisioned, he had to go into the service and to Vietnam, we where devastated.
I married a man who had to go to war, something I swore I would never go through, having experienced the dread of war 17 years earlier. I did have some luck, I got to live with him on base in Fort Irwin Ca. until he was shipped out. It was hard dealing with it, but knew I had to, everything felt so out of control...I use to pray so hard at night that my fingers ached with pain. I just gave it to God as He was in control. My husband left from Oakland Sept 1966 on a ship named Barrett.
Vintage Allies: Delia, what was next for you, with your husband off to war?
Delia: At that time I was working for Shaklee Prod. I was an assistant to the art director, my boss was the famed duck stamp artist Ken Michaelsen. He taught me to paint with acrylics, encouraging me to also freelance my art, while modeling on weekends.
Then Nov.3 rd 1966, I received a telegram informing me, "Your Husband has been injured" he ran over a detonated 500 lb mine with his P.C. (like a small tank)... he was the only survivor. I can't begin to express the terror I felt, and again a feeling of not having control. How I wanted to be with him and comfort him. March 1967 I flew to Hawaii for an R &R to see him, we had a wonderful time, I was so happy to see him, but at the end we had to say goodby again...that was indeed hard.
Vintage Allies: That, Delia, is a mixture of joy and a happy ending that not many are able to experience. What next for you?
Delia: I had sold his two '55 Chevys and bought a '65 GTO, Delia adds, now a big regret.
When he came home he got stationed at Frt. Carson Colorado for 5 months. After that we moved back to California and bought a brand new house and our baby was born in 1968. I went back to work for Shaklee, Ken my boss quit so they offered me the job but I had to declined, we wanted to add to our family and I did not want to work full time.
Then I got a new boss from Australia who hated Germans, telling me so, and of course my German came out and I did not back off, so I got fired and here Delia pointedly shares, you can't get fired for that prejudice now. The one thing I learned from this, that I have NO tolerance for a "lack of common sense and hate" and to this day carry this feeling. I left my job but continued to Model and do freelance art...and then our second daughter was born in 1971.
Vintage Allies: Delia, one of the things we admire about you is your inspiration to others. What was next for you and your young family? What about the rest of your family at this time?
Delia: In 1975 my mom passed away from cancer, she lived with us for a year, I took care of her for two years. In a special envelope left to me from mom was money with a note expressing, that I was to get back into horses and take English Riding lessons...I did and my horse venture followed...and I even got my daughters interested in horses as well, which was a stepping stone of important learning lessons in life, this being a positive in their lives even now.
Vintage Allies: So many changes, Delia. We're intrigued and sure our readers and listeners are as well. What horse venture unfolded for the indefagitable Delia?
Delia: My first horse was given to me by my husband's boss. Patches was a well trained Rodeo and Parade horse, a tall Black and White Pinto Quarter Horse/Saddle bred mix.
This old horse taught me and the kids everything about horses. I then became the Ranch Manager of the Fremont Riding Stable and started to collect horses. Next came a gift from the ranch owner to my kids, a dappled Chocolate Palomino Shetland Pony named Princess. In 1979 we bought our first Arabian mare Shaneya with a foal at her side, this foal was Ibn, my muse. I bought another mare, Ya Anna with a filly at her side, named ChutYanna...my other muse. AND, the breeding program began, with my equine art following as I became known in the equine industry Delia shares that Ibn and ChutYa are in her Panel for Mural Mosaic, can be seen in her photos http://www.squidoo.com/TheHorseGiftMural
Vintage Allies: Sounds like your lives were euphoric, Delia. You mentioned horse breeding? Can you share more? Did you devote your time to this?
Delia: I then worked for a cosmetic company sponsored by a well known Arab breeder, who I bought mares from and bred to his Stallion, starting my breeding program. We began to show horses and found many clients for my art in the Arab horse industry, I had a very nice clientele in California.
In 1979, my husband was in management at GM, but the inevitable happened, this new GM Plant in Fremont shut down...he was out of a job for almost three years, then GM offered a "job or nothing" (with 20 yrs invested so he had to take it) the job was in Kansas City Missouri...we bought a beautiful 10 acres Ranchette, built a barn and by now had 8 horses and a breeding program, also a continued art business through my GKCAHA involvement at that time. I was happy.
Then it happened again, Delia added rather confounded before she continued, GM closed..not a big surprise to me! The plant was 100 years old with a deep rooted Union, so Wisconsin was the next stop, our moves were getting colder and colder..
Vintage Allies: What next, then? What more could follow?
Delia: I decided to downsize my herd, leased out a few horses and sold the rest for pittance to good homes and a keep in touch clause. Delia added in her inimitable way...which is a crock because I never heard from any of them again. I didn't want another Ranch, I just could not start over again. I found a private Ranch and rented three stalls.
I was so unhappy not having my normal life, my daughters did not come with us, my horses where gone, I was alone, and my life felt out of control again. Delia added to this Reporter: By now you understand I like to be in control of my life. I became very depressed and cold, I went to the doctor and found out I had thyroid Cancer and within a week I had my thyroid removed. I came home from the Hospital, gelded Ibn, and sold my horses, only keeping my original two Breeding Arabians, till their deaths 2007-2008.
Vintage Allies: Those were some very trying times. And dealing with Thyroid cancer and a world gone awry again. What did you do in the years to follow?
Delia: Since I have lived in Wisconsin, life has been very different...having long winters is not agreeable for me but it gives me a chance to create. I have done several hundred miniature paintings in the last 6 years, this has been good for me creating many images in my head, I didn't care what size it was. Now I just display my art through the Internet or at local events.
Vintage Allies: Well, the economic environment certainly has abashed quite a great deal of Artists and Creators. What did you do to combat the change in your art interest?
Delia: Oh, I'm not one to be daunted. I joined the EAG about ten years ago, unfortunately it just folded this year, but I formed friendships with artists. I'm also doing more Plein Air paintings and enjoying selling that art form. Delia hopefully adds.
At this time I'm again involved with the Midwest Horse Fair (MHF) and hope to find new ventures and a few creative projects.
Vintage Allies: Delia, when you look back upon on the years and what life has placed before you, how do you sum it up, presently?
Delia: Believing things happen for a reason and God is in control, I leave it in His hands...just like I learned with everything else that has happened. I truly believe God gave me another chance in life for a reason...I then decided to commit my life through my art, dedicating my talent to serving God, giving Thanks for sparing me and giving me a gift of creating visions... then giving all my Art profits to Spreading the Word of God and helping rescue animals, in particular the Horse.
Vintage Allies would like to express our sincere appreciation to Delia for the time spent with us during this interview. The woman, the artist, the wife and mother, Delia, is indeed a true inspiration to so many for so many unspeakable reasons.
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