Profile Response: Marie, Owner of Bieber Motel, Bieber, CA

HWWLT Logo on yellowMarie was probably never tall and thin, but four children, years of hard work, and gravity have made her very short and stout. When she reaches her arms onto the check-in counter of the Bieber Motel, she almost has to raise them above her shoulders.

Like many people, Marie was initially cautious of me. A grey-haired man in garish biker gear is novel, but potentially weird. However, by the time we completed my check-in form, she must have decided I was okay, because her life story flowed with animated ease.

imagesMarie is from Faial, an island in the Azores that she could walk around in one day. When the United States established a priority immigration program after an earthquake struck, Marie’s parents and eight children came to California. Marie was 12. At 17, she married a 21-year-old Faial neighbor who’d also emigrated. “We never got welfare, any of us. We came and we worked hard.” The week they were married Marie and her husband started a dairy farm outside of Sacramento. They never had a day off. They took their first vacation 28 years later, after they had raised their four children.

“I feel sorry for the Mexicans. They work so hard. But why don’t they come legally like the rest of us? We used to hire them on the diary farm. They had fake social security cards. We all knew they were fake but we needed workers and no one else would do the work. We paid social security. After a while we’d get a letter from the government telling us that number didn’t belong to that person. Then they disappeared to try their scam somewhere else.

imgres-1“My husband sold the dairy farm and bought three ranches up here. This motel came with the deal. He’s 72 now and still works every day. I would like to sell this. I just want to be a ranch wife.

“My oldest son works the ranch. My second son is in North Dakota working the oil fields, but that is slowing down and so he’s coming home. He calls me three or four times a day and says how much he wants to come home. I tell him, ‘you’re forty-five, why do you call so much?’ He’s coming home and will work the ranch, but he doesn’t get along with his older brother. I hope it works better this time.

“My daughter loves to farm. She’s down in Santa Rosa. Didn’t get married until she was thirty-five. ‘I won’t get married unless I can find a man who likes what I like.’ Thank god, she did. Her husband is a good man.”

“My youngest, he wanted nothing to do with farming. He didn’t understand the work has to be done when it has to be done. You can’t wait to milk the cows or bring in the hay. He’s had to find that out for himself.

“The dairy business is year round. But ranching is seven months. We have to make our money in the good weather, and then we can rest when the snow flies.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 12.48.55 PM imgres Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 12.49.06 PM

In between explaining her life, Marie got the gist of my trip. “What you’re doing is remarkable. I have to contribute in some way. I’m only going to charge you half price.” I argued that I was prepared to pay for my room, but Marie insisted. She’s the kind of woman who gets her way. I had a very nice room for $25. But she wouldn’t let me take her picture, or reveal her last name.

How will we live tomorrow?

The way the world is going, it’s not good.”


About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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