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---- Wednesday - March 22, 2017 - 4:13:49 PM - Navajo Nation Time ----

Lillie Todychini Lapahie

Dad
Ush Ke Tah Le Wood
Mom
Julia (Jennie) Armstrong
Son
Harrison Lapahie Jr.

Mom and Dondo having their picture taken in 1958 in downtown Los Angeles.  Mom was about 28 years old and Dondo about 3 years old. Family picture of Mom, Dondo, and Dad, taken in downtown Los Angeles in 1957.  Mom was about 27 years old, Dondo about 2 years old, and Dad about 32 years old.

Charlotte Cambridge, the daughter of the sister of Mom, Mary Cambridge, and Mom at a Fiesta in Durango, Colorado in 1949.  Charlotte was about 5 years old.  Mom was about 20 years old.
Diné Name : Anos pah
Clan : Bit'aa'nii To dich'ii'nii
Bit'aa'nii (Folding Arms People) from mom Julia Armstrong
To dich'ii'nii (Bitter Water People) from dad Ush Ke Tah Le Wood
Birth Date : Officially April 14, 1929
Actually July 6, 1930
Born Where : El Huerfano, Huerfano Mountain, or Tse Nalt Holt Dilt Li (Navajo)
San Juan County, New Mexico
Children : Harrison Lapahie Jr.

Grandma and Mom at Grandmas Sheep Corral at Dzil Naoodilii in 1949.  Mom was about 19 years old. Mom Lillie Lapahie has had a hard life. She married Harrison Lapahie, as she tells me, because he was sick, and he needed someone to take care of him. When they got married, dad was about 30 years old, and mom was 25 years old. Mom Lillie Lapahie, first met Dad when both went to the Ute Indian School in Ignacio Colorado. She said father Harrison Lapahie was always a teaser and clown, that he liked to pull their pony tails, throw bugs at them, and make the girls laugh.

Mom going to Blanco Trading Post with Charles Cambridge Jr., Annabel Paul, and Mabel Paul (not shown inside the wagon).  Picture was taken at Dzil Naoodilii in 1947.  Mom is about 17 years old. There are some other interesting facts here. Mom and Dad had a lot of relatives in common that caused them to get married. Father Harrison Lapahie was a cousin to Alex Lewis, Charles Cambridge, and Diana Cambridge. Diana Cambridge and Alex Lewis also grew up with Lillie Todychini. Diana Cambridge and Lillie Todychini were like sisters when growing up, and Alex Lewis had thought that Lillie Todychini was her sister. It wasn't until years later that he found out she wasn't. Diana and Lillie both went to Ute Indian School, and at times had to sleep under the same blankets together. Lillie's sister, Mary Todychini, married Charles Cambridge the cousin of Harrison Lapahie. When momma went to see Mary, or when Harrison went to see Charles, they would run into each other. Also, when momma went to Los Angeles to visit Diana Cambridge, she ran into Harrison Lapahie again. So momma kept running into Harrison, and sooner or later they just had to get married!

Taken at Cedar Dam, Colorado, in 1933, when Mom was 13 years old.  Mom lived with the Brothers Family in the basement of the house shown.  Mom worked as a helper for them for $6 dollars a week for 3 or 4 years.  Mom slept with the dog Bud.  The horse was named Apaloosa Pokadot. Mom went to school at the Ute Indian School in Ignacio Colorado. She was only there for a short while, and had to leave to help her mom, Julia Armstrong, to herd and take care of the sheeps and goats. So when Lillie Todychini was a little girl until her teens, she was a sheep herder.

At the home of Mom sister, Aunt Mary Cambridge, in Durango, Colorado, in 1945.  Mom is 15 years old, and was working for Dr. Lloyd during this time. Mom Lillie would tell me stories, of when rustlers would come to steal the sheep, that her and her sisters would ride out as a group on horses bareback and chase the rustlers away. She would tell me that when the girls would get in fights in those days, that they use to pull out the sage bushes and hit each other with them! She also told me, that someone told her and Diana that chili was good to use for pimples, so after they rubbed chili on their faces to get rid of the pimples, their faces were burning and they felt they would die. She also told me of how she use to sit over the cliffs at Dzil Na'oodilii and talk and sing with her brother Frank Paul, and how another relative, Elmer Armstrong, use to put her on his shoulders and take her up the cliffs of Tse Nalt Holt Dilt Li (Elmer died in Belgium during World War II). She says she use to love her relative, Elmer Armstrong, and thinks about him every now and then. She also tells me that she use to go to Blanco Trading Post and listen to the current hit songs in the Juke Box, and use to love to dance to them. She was one of the best dancers when she was young!

Mom and Dad at Cliftons Cafeteria in 1954 in downtown Los Angeles.  Mom is 24 years old and dad is about 29 years old.  Dad and Mom are not married yet. Mom left Tse Nalt Holt Dilt Li in northern New Mexico to live in Durango Colorado when she was just in her teens. She was the first Navajo to live in Durango at that time. She first worked at C.O.D. Laundry as a seamstress, then as a live-in Housekeeper to Dr. Lloyd, then as a Nurses Assistant at Merci Hospital. All these positions were in Durango Colorado.

Mom and Dondo in 1955, at their L.A. apartment.  Mom is 25 years old and Dondo is about 2 weeks old. She tells me of the time when Clark Gable, the old-time movie star, was making a movie in Durango (Across the Wide Missouri), and that he came to C.O.D. Laundry to get his shirt fixed and ironed, that she was the one who fixed it. Clark Gable then grabbed her hand and put a silver dollar in it. This is a story that she tells me often. One day, around 1970, we stopped by C.O.D. Laundry, and there were still a lot of people working there that knew my mom Lillie Todychini Lapahie. I was surprised! They were also happy to see her after such a long time! I remember them saying, Lillie Todychini has a son!

Mom and Dondo, at their L.A. apartment.  Mom was about 27 years old and Dondo was about 2.5 years old.  In the background is Grandma Julia skirt that Mom had just finished sewing. As a Housekeeper to Dr. Lloyd, she said Dr. Lloyd was a rich man. He was one of the very few to have a very good home in Durango at the time. She use to take care of his kids, and do the house chores for the family. Dr. Lloyd made her as part of the family, and when they had dinner together, momma also was required to eat with them. The way she tells me, Dr. Lloyd was honest and truthful, and treated her fairly.

Mom and Dondo, in the beginning of 1956.  Mom is 25 years old and Dondo is 4 months old.  In Jack Arnold apartment in Los Angeles. After my mom started working at Merci Hospital, the Nuns liked my mom so much that they were going to send her to school to become a Nurse if she became a Nun. My mom thought about it and was going to become a Nun! But before she would become a Nun, she wanted to visit Diana Cambridge who was now living in Los Angeles. Her original intention was just to go there, for two weeks for a visit. Well when she visited Diana Cambridge, they went to go see Alex Lewis who also was living in Los Angeles. Alex Lewis and Harrison Lapahie were sharing a room together in Los Angeles. Well that two week visit turned out to be a stay in Los Angeles that has lasted until the present! She never returned to Durango Colorado to become a Nun and a Nurse. She ended up taking care of Harrison Lapahie, and they eventually ended up getting married at the Church of the Open Door. The Church of the Open Door use to reside next to the LAPL Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. After downtown Los Angeles slowly died, the Church of the Open Door, moved to Glendale CA in about the year 1985. Their marriage was in the year 1955. Shortly there after, she returned to Tse Nalt Holt Dilt Li, just to give birth to her son, Dondo (Harrison Lapahie Jr.), so he would be born on the Bitahnii homeland.

Dad, Mom, and Dondo, at Clifton Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. in April 1956.  Dad is about 31 years old, Mom is 26 years old, and Dondo is 7 months old. Mom Lillie was pretty good with her money, even though, she made little at work, she made most of the important payments, in the history of the Lapahie family. It seems that she kept the family afloat, even though dad made more from his job at Rockwell. Dad seemed to help little, and mommma had to keep needling him to buy a car, or buy a TV, stuff that dad didn't want to get. One of the worst mistakes dad Harrison Lapahie every made was not to buy a home. Mom Lillie kept needling him to do it, but he wouldn't. Toward the end of his life, my father regretted how stubborn he was. He saw all the relatives buying a home, and we always lived in an apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Sonny and momma also knew dad was feeling sad toward the end of his life because now he couldn't buy a home because he was sick (he didn't know how long he would live), but we loved him still the same.

Mom, Dondo, and Grandma Julia, at Dzil Naoodilii, in 1961.  Mom is about 31 years old, and Dondo is about 6 years old. Mom Lillie has been in Los Angeles since 1953 and never returned back to her homeland, only to visit. She has become an Angeleno, and knows a lot of the growth of the city and its recent history. Lille Lapahie has lived in Los Angeles for just about 43 years, all in the downtown area of Los Angeles. She has watched her neightborhood, the Pico-Union District, turn from a middle class neighborhood of homes, to a over crowded slum dwelling with many illegal Hispanics taking over the area.

Taken in Southern California in 1963 when Marilyn Monroe died.  Mom is about 33 years old. All my mom's life while she has lived in Los Angeles, she has been a seamstress. That has been her only job. Mom has worked for the union. Local 52, the Laundry and Seamstress Union, for about 39 years. Originally, Local 52, was made up almost exclusively of Black American women. Now it is made up almost exclusively of Hispanic women who speak only Spanish. Thats how much the union has changed. Mom use to be very proud of her Union, but once she got a stroke, they did very little for her. My mom worked as aseamstress until 1996, when she was 67 years old. She stopped because she got a stroke, and she felt very healthy until after the stroke. Now it looks like she will never work again. She has earned her retirement.

Mom and Dondo at Mesa Verda National Park in Colorado in the summer of 1970.  Mom is 40 years old and Dondo is 15 years old. Mom Lillie was the best seamstress there was. She knew how to move the material through the sewing machine and through her hands. She has a couple of sewing machines at home, two portable sewing machines, and one permanent one for the house. She made a lot of clothes for her son, and husband. Also, when the furniture's material became worn and tattered, she made coverings for them, therefore, we had our original sofas for a long time.

Dad and Mom at the LDS Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Picture was taken during the summer of 1975.  Mom is 45 years old.

Momma was also pretty good as a Silversmith. She learned it watching my father make jewlery at home. Father Harrison Lapahie got a little jealous watching momma make her own jewlery, so momma there after stopped, and let dad make it. We still have the original silversmith equipment at Dondo's townhome, and are just waiting on Dondo (Harrison Lapahie Jr.) to make jewlery when he can find the time.

Harry Lapahie (Dondo), Nilda Quimno Bingil Lapahie, and Mom Lillie Lapahie, after the wedding in November 1997.  Mom is 68 years old.

After Lillie got her stroke in 1996, her son, Dondo, moved all her belongings to his townhome in Huntington Park California. Huntington Park is just about 5 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Her boxed up belonging, since moving to Huntington Park, have dwindled somewhat, but still there are a lot of it still packed away.

A few more pictures of Lillie Lapahie can be found by observing her photos.

Dad
Ush Ke Tah Le Wood
Mom
Julia (Jennie) Armstrong
Son
Harrison Lapahie Jr.

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