My daughter, Elizabeth Travers was born at Marin General Hospital in 1985. At the time, I was happily married to her mother, Katherine. Strike that. I was ecstatic. Shortly after her birth, we moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where she was raised.
At first we were going to stay at Katherine’s father’s home in Topanga Canyon, but he got “cold feet,” kicking us out. For the rest of 1985 we lived in Katherine’s grandmother’s home in the west Garden Grove area of Orange County. Around Thanksgiving of 1985, we were able to purchase a home across the street from her mother and grandmother. Elizabeth was baptized at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Los Alamitos.
That was where we lived in 1986, when I worked for Falk, Regnell, Hamblin & Godfrey in Santa Ana, while attending Western State University College of Law in Fullerton. All was right in the world. We had two dogs, both named for favorite baseball players, Boone and Seaver. I marveled watching Elizabeth chase the dog into a room. A few seconds later the dog was chasing Elizabeth out of the room, all to great hilarity. The first small cracked occurred when I dropped out of law school. Boone ran away. Seaver was killed by a car. I had to scoop the carcass off the street, driving it to the Humane Society.
In September, 1987 Katherine and I broke up. I continued to live in the house. Katherine mostly hung out at her mothers. Every day I came to get Elizabeth. Holding her in my arms as I walked her across the street to my abode, I looked at her and cried. Katherine assured me I would always be a part of her life, would have total access to her. I saw the future. I saw something else. I cannot begin to describe what it was like to contemplate life without Elizabeth in the same house with me.
Over the next couple of years, Elizabeth was cared for by Katherine’s wonderful grandmother, Mae Mae. After a while, we put her in a pre-school in Bellflower near the doctor’s office where Katherine’s mother, Mary Jean Harrison worked for Dr. James Kallins. In 1987 I started taking her to church.
In 1988 I was in Columbia, South Carolina undergoing Army training. After returning, in 1989 I moved into a condominium in Redondo Beach with Mark West. When the condo’s owner, Pat Petersen saw Elizabeth, she said I could not have here there. Since Pat was never there, I ignored her “edict.” I had Elizabeth there whenever I darn well felt like it.
In 1989 and 1990, I tried to be as good a dad as I could. I took Elizabeth to USC baseball games, where the band adopted her as their “dancing mascot.” I called her my “silly goose.” In 1989, Katherine and I screamed at each other in the 502 Club. Katherine said she would try to see to it I would “never see Elizabeth again.” The future I envisioned seemed to play itself out.
A very, very strange event occurred in 1989. I was in my brief one-month sojourn managing the 502 Club when the phone rang.
“What are you doing?” Katherine yelled, frantic. I did not know what she meant. Somebody called the Orange County home, telling her they kidnapped me, were torturing me, and were going to come by to take Elizabeth and rape Katherine. It was utterly bizarre. I called the captain of the watch in the Garden Grove Police and Orange County sheriffs, asking them to swing by and watch over them. I never found out who could have done such a thing. That was the end of that.
The divorce became final in 1990. Somehow Katherine and I managed to stop screaming, and I kept seeing my daughter. I loved seeing Elizabeth appear in a musical for kids at Millikan High School in Long Beach. I took her to a game at Dodger Stadium. I took her up north to see my parents, in Marin and especially at Northstar. I took her to a game at Candlestick Park. I started hitting tennis balls with her. I taught her how to read using “Hooked on Phonics.” I read to her all the time. I also taught her “Hooked on Match.”
I took her to movies. Oh how I loved Milo and Otis. It was sweetness personified, but I felt like I was living a Biblical parable. The innocent world was giving way to a corrupt one. The reality of divorce and increasing separation from my sweet daughter intruded on “paradise.”
I was as much to blame as anybody. When I moved to Redondo Beach in 1989, I entered a world of great sin. I gave way to the temptations of the flesh. There was a lot of flesh down there. I served the god of hedonism with great gusto. I separated this world from my daughter, but when I looked at her innocently playing in the park, I thought of my own failings. I was filled with remorse and recriminations. I failed her. I had not kept the marriage together.
When I moved to San Francisco in 1990, it was a very trying event. I was physically separating myself 400 miles from her. She came up often, spending most of her summers at Northstar. I began taking Elizabeth to Christ the Victor Lutheran Church in Fairfax, where Katherine and I were married six years earlier. I made lifelong friends with the wonderful John and Jean Strahlendorf. She always she had to return while I cried driving home from the airport
I visited her a lot, of course, staying at Bill and Jean’s, thank goodness. Once Elizabeth stayed in Bill and Jean’s spare room. She cried, saying “I want to sleep in my feather bed” at her house. I was devastated. I wanted her time with me to be just like at home, but try as we might it, it was never quite the same. But Bill and Jean were absolute Godsends to me. They attended Elizabeth’s plays, like when she was the star of Annie. They took us to the Long Beach Playhouse, to concerts and all kinds of fun events. We regularly attended their services at a Methodist church in Long Beach. We went to church dinners and raffles. We went to the Queen Mary, where Elizabeth and I partnered in jazz inspired swing dances. Again, however, there always came the day I had to leave with tears in my eyes.
Around 1992, poor Elizabeth was caught in between Katherine and I when somehow Katherine thought I called her new husband John “dumb.” We never really got to the bottom if it. Maybe I said something John said “sounds dumb.” I never figured it out, but sweet Elizabeth was reduced to tears, crying that “I was only joking.”
I know for a fact my name was bad-mouthed badly in her presence. My parents and I never said bad things about Katherine. I just endured it, “ate (deleted)” as the crude expression goes. I had no choice in the matter. If a flight was ever missed, an appointment canceled, a schedule changed, it never worked out to my favor. It always meant precious time with Elizabeth stolen from me.
In 1993 Elizabeth and my mother visited me in Germany when I managed the Berlin Sluggers.
I think one of the reasons I was not able to have Elizabeth with me as much as I wanted to was because I selfish and sinful. It was God’s way of teaching me a lesson. In the 1990s I engaged in many sinful acts. I have some strong feelings about Katherine, but I am compelled to be honest. She never fell into the kind of behavior I did. She was a family woman and good mother. I was the one sleeping around. I cannot honestly assess my life without admitting to this fact.
But it was funny. I always thought of a line from Gone With the Wind. The rapscallion Rhett Butler enjoyed whiskey and fallen women, but he loved his little girl. When some matrons saw him accompanying his daughter, one remarked, “There must be great good in a man who loves a child so much.” I always took hope in that sentiment. For no matter my faults, no man has ever tread upon the Earth’s soil who loved another human being so much as I love my daughter Elizabeth. Despite all my faults, there is good in me. The light of God exists within me. Elizabeth is the spark of that light on this Earth.
Elizabeth grew up going to USC football games at the L.A. Coliseum. She was almost born at the 1985 USC-Ohio State Rose Bowl. Many times I either brought Elizabeth to Katherine, or she brought her to me at a game. But I think she really became a fan when she 10, in 1995. The Trojans underwent a few bad years, but that season won the Rose Bowl. Elizabeth and I attended the Stanford game at the Coliseum. Keyshawn Johnson made a miraculous catch with almost no time left to win it. Elizabeth and I hugged and wept. It was just like old times with my father.
I took her to a lot of baseball games and hit a lot of tennis balls with her. She never really took to those activities, but Trojan football became a passion we shared. At Lake Tahoe, Elizabeth attended a horse camp every year. She loved riding and caring for beautiful horses. It was very a wholesome activity for her. She also loved fishing with her granddaddy and I. These were special memories. We swam at the Northstar pool and barbequed. Northstar was like a gift from God, a place where we could be a real father-daughter. We had wonderful family parties up there. Elizabeth became close with her cousin Justine Travers, Todd’s daughter. We often went to see my Uncle Charles. Elizabeth learned our remarkable Travers family history.
I finally moved back to Los Angeles in 1997. This marked a major shift. I was with Blake by then. While I lived in sin, I was no longer the skirt-chaser I had been. I felt better about myself as a father. Elizabeth was 12 years old, in the sixth grade in Villa Park. I well recall it took me a couple of days to settle in to my new house in Hermosa Beach. I planned to see Elizabeth as soon as I was squared away. She called asking, “Daddy, will you come see me?
It was the sweetest request in the world. My little girl wanted to see me. I almost felt unworthy of such love. I saw her the next day. The next four years were a transition period. Elizabeth loved coming to visit me. We went to the beach, rode bicycles on the Hermosa boardwalk. I took her horseback riding in Palos Verdes Estates and the Hollywood hills. We barbequed with Rob Scoal. I took her to Venice and we got on a major “Shakespeare kick.” We continued going to Tahoe each summer.
Elizabeth got along well enough with Blake at the beginning. As she went through two years at Cerro Villa Middle School in Orange County, she experienced the normal growing pains. Blake was equipped to deal with a sweet little girl, not an adolescent. I look back now and believe it was a blessing in disguise. Blake and I grew apart in small part because of this. I was not meant to marry her. I am so glad I did not.
When I moved back to L.A., Elizabeth and I attended USC-UCLA and USC-Notre Dame games. It was great for my daughter to experience all the glory and passion of these events. Sometimes we went with Rob Scoal. I took Elizabeth to USC baseball games with Rob and Bruno Caravalho.
I attended all her PTA meeting, getting to know her teachers and school principals. I was invited by her school a couple times to address the class on writing. I attended all her recitals. She joined a Presbyterian church in Orange with her mother. I attended services and saw her sing. She took lessons from a wonderful young man named Francisco Calvo. She also came under the tutelage of a fabulous music teacher who had her perform at great events. I saw Elizabeth sing at Cal State, Fullerton. Once she was even in the back-up choir for Rosemary Clooney at a Christmas pageant at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Elizabeth has a heart of gold. She volunteered with special needs children through her church. She continued attending Christ the Victor Lutheran Church with me when she visited. She often arranged to sing, always a special treat for the congregation. We enjoyed the 1997 Robert Duvall movie The Apostle. The whole way back home we repeated Duvall’s admonition, “It was Jesus!”
Once I took Elizabeth to Corona Del Mar, spending Christmas even with the Scoal family. All the Scoals were highly impressed with her poise, beauty and intelligence. It was a moment of great pride for me. I always admired the Scoals. On another occasion, Elizabeth went with Rob and I to spend the weekend at Rob’s mother’s house in Palm Springs. We then went swimming at the spas nearby on the way home. I took Elizabeth skiing at the resorts east of Los Angeles. I spent time in Omaha, Nebraska with Elizabeth.
She attended Villa Park High School. I covered some Villa Park sports for StreetZebra during this time. In 2000 Villa Park was the national champion in baseball. For a number of years, she had high blood pressure. It was a mystery. Numerous doctors were unable to diagnose the problem, but in her senior year of high school a doctor finally came up with a solution. She was cured, the high blood pressure never returning. That doctor is my hero. Elizabeth went to the University of Oregon after high school graduation in 2003. She dated a few different guys. Frankly, only one of them, a conservative fellow with plans to become a police officer, ever really impressed me. I sent Elizabeth reading material, including Atlas Shrugged and all my conservative magazines when I was done with them - Human Events, National Review – but she took to her own likes and dislikes.
Elizabeth is smarter than me. Not better educated or more knowledgeable, but gifted with greater brainpower. Like her mother, she has the ability to read very quickly and comprehend fully. That has always been hard work for me. I have learned through dogged persistence. It comes to her easily. She can read a 300-page book in a few days with total recall. Her favorites are historical novels about Europe and England during the Elizabethan era, that sort of thing. In this regard she shares my mother’s likes.
As I succeeded after a long struggle in the writing game, I was proud to have Elizabeth in attendance when I made speeches and did book signings. She saw how hard I worked, what it took to make something of myself. What a great lesson to pass on to my daughter.
Elizabeth flowered into womanhood; a beautiful, tall, red-headed lady. She is very friendly, a real people person. She gets along with everyone. She is poised, has good manners, and knows how to be around all kinds of people. She was in Oregon from 2003-08, when she moved back to Orange County. She was hired by Systems Pavers, the big national construction company. She worked for two years in a very good, professional environment at their Newport Beach offices. If I am hired to work in the USC athletic department, I hope to hire her there.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism