Segarini: My Mom

Pop Mom and Me

My annual Mother’s Day Tribute to my Mom. I wish you all could have met her….

As most adopted children can tell you, one of the first things you remember being told is how you were chosen to be part of your adopted family, not a random act of passion borne to fruition by parents who sometimes weren’t really trying to make a baby. Any time this information was imparted on an adopted child, it was meant to soothe and/or dispel any doubts the child had of being loved or being perceived as an ‘outsider’.


Truth be told, parents who adopt have already let you know how much they want and love you by simply taking you in to their homes and lives. My dad wanted a son but, more than anything, wanted his wife to be happy. My mom had had eight still-born children when they finally decided to adopt. My almost older brothers and sisters, all laid to rest, side by side, where my mother and father are interred, constitute a family that was not to be, but my mom spent her life being a mother to so many others, she made sure all the love she had to give did not go un-given. My mom was born to be a Mom…and she proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt throughout her entire life.


Mom (2)Mercedes Ormi Walters, was born in Arkansas City, Kansas on June 30th 1919. Half Cree, half English, she somehow found herself on the west coast by the time she was 12, living in Los Angeles with the Brumbaugh  family, and at one point, spending weeks in the hospital after falling asleep in MacArthur Park in the blistering Southern California sun. She eventually ended up in Stockton, California with two sets of parents; Jim and Anne Brumbaugh, and Albert and Kate Walters, who both adored her, but never, to my knowledge, socialized or spent any time with her together. We always visited the two sets of parents separately on holidays and birthdays.

She eventually met my dad, who had moved to Stockton from Genoa, Italy and had started a grocery business with his brothers, and they married sometime in the ‘30s, an almost 20 year difference in their ages, but in love enough that their marriage lasted until both were gone. Come to think of it, there were no divorces for any of the 4 Segarini brothers.


GE DIGITAL CAMERAI was born on August 28th, but my mother sent me a birthday card every February 26th as well. That’s the day they brought me home, six months after I was born. It was never a secret that I was adopted, and armed with my mother’s “you’re here by choice, not by chance”, mantra, whatever stigma attached to being adopted that could be turned into insults by schoolyard bullies never penetrated. I knew how much I belonged with my family.

I don’t think I have ever known anyone who loved kids more than my mother. The number of people who grew up in Stockton who called my mom ‘mom’, or ‘Aunt Merce” are legion. My friends were always welcome in her home. Even after I moved out, they would visit her far more often than they visited me, and nothing could have made her happier. Our home was a safe haven for anyone who needed a place to be…or a plate of pasta.


Some Mom Stories

The Sleepover…

Bob 1957I was 12. My friends and I decided to have a sleepover one night, and my mother suggested we ‘camp out’ in the back yard. So it was that 5 12 year old guys found themselves pitching sleeping bags in the yard and looking for mischief to get into. It was a perfect summer evening and someone (I don’t recall who) suggested we steal some beer from their dad’s garage, or swipe a jug of home-made wine out from under my dad’s wash basin in OUR garage. My mother overhears this and makes a further suggestion. She tells us to sit tight and retreats into the house to make some phone calls. I figure we’re busted and she’s calling everybody’s parents. I was half right.

She comes back and explains to us that if we tell her what we want to drink, she will go to the liquor store and buy us the booze. She has spoken to everybody’s mothers and they have agreed to this as long as we adhere to one rule.

“You will not leave this yard” my mother says as sternly as possible.

“Yes, Mrs. Segarini” my stalwart friends answer in unison.

So, armed with a list that includes beer, sloe gin, rum, and whisky, off to the liquor store goes my mother. She returns with pints of this and cans of that, and we are the happiest bunch of 12 year olds you could possibly imagine. We proceed to drink everything she has given us. By midnight, no one is awake.

There is a fly buzzing in my ear. I open one eye. It is incredibly bright. I open my other eye. It makes a noise like a drawbridge being raised. Slowly, my eyes focus on the scene before me. There is a pair of pants in the little tree in the middle of the back yard. One of the guys is asleep (or passed out) under the tree with his sleeping bag on his head, another is stretched out in my mother’s herb garden, and still another is flat on his back with a cat asleep on his chest. I sit up. I look around. There are pools of vomit everywhere. The door off the patio into the garage slams shut, causing an explosion in my head, then, my mother’s voice.

My Mom 2013Rise and shine, sleepyheads!” she chirps, sounding like she is screaming at the top of her lungs. Bodies stir. There is groaning. “Who’s ready for a big breakfast?” Again, she sounds like she’s shouting. More groans. Momtakes the wooden spoon in her hand and uses it as a drumstick against the metal bowl in her other hand. It sounds like a fire truck is about to run us over. “Breakfast is served!” The thought of food reaches everyone’s brain. Stomachs begin to react. “Pancakes with butter and syrup, eggs, and lots of hot, greasy bacon!” followed by what can only be described as maniacal laughter, “Can you smell that bacon?” (This picture of my Mom beautifully restored by Brian Goguen)

That was it.

The retching starts anew, my friends are losing what’s left in their stomachs all over the yard, and even the cat gets sprayed as it tries desperately to jump out of the way. Years later, it dawned on me…my mother…is a genius.


The Long Walk…

I was 15. Long story short, my Uncle Al makes a bet with me that I can’t walk from San Jose to Santa Monica without giving up or taking a train/bus at some point. Challenge accepted. With a friend, and armed with papers from the Stockton Police Department, California Highway Patrol, our parents, an emergency credit card, a wack of cash, sleeping bags and knapsacks full of clothes and survival gear (!), we embark on this trip down Highway 101 which is to culminate in my mom driving down to meet us and a few days in Disneyland.

Under the OverIn the two weeks it took, we slept under overpasses, stayed in hotels twice because of bad weather, slept in a park in San Luis Obispo, a police squad car in Santa Barbara, and generally had a great time. We would show our letters to the authorities when we needed their help (Obispo and Santa Barbara) and all were accommodating, even getting us press along the way. Everything was fine until we reached our destination, Santa Monica. We stored our gear in lockers at the Santa Monica Bus Depot and went to a movie and out to dinner to celebrate. Figuring we’d spend the night in a hotel and call my mom in the morning, we went back to the Bus Depot to collect our stuff only to find the building locked up and no one there. Fine. I’ll just call the authorities, and we’ll sleep wherever they put us and collect our gear in the morning. I call the authorities, tell them our situation, and there’s a squad car at the phone booth before I hang up. The next thing we know, we’re standing in front of a detective who doesn’t believe a word of what I’m telling him, and unable to provide our papers which are locked up in the Bus Depot, find ourselves being put up for the night in separate jail cells. My mom was there exactly 8 hours later…and considering Stockton was about an 8 hour trip back then, she must have driven like the devil.

The one thing I will NEVER forget about our overnight stay in jail was the breakfast. Hot buttered and jammed toast, thick, delicious, perfectly cooked Detectivebacon, scrambled eggs with scallions, 3 maple syrup-ed pancakes, and a perfect cup of coffee.

The other thing I will never forget was watching my mother tear this detective a new one, our papers sitting in front of him from the knapsacks the police retrieved from the bus depot, and the humiliation dripping off his brow when he apologized to us for not believing us. Mom 1 – Santa Monica Police Department 0.

Mom Provides Irrefutable Proof…

The first band I actually put together was called the Family Tree. We were determined to play our own music, (Mike (Durr) and I both wrote), plus Family Treesome classic rock and roll like Little Richard’s Rip It Up, and some British Invasion goodies I would find on imports I would buy atLewin’s, an awesome record shop on Hollywood Blvd. in L.A that was worth the 350 mile trip, if only to feel the slick, glossy, flimsy LP covers that England favoured over our sturdy, but dull, cardboard equivalent. It was because of Lewin’s, that people in the Central Valley towns we played thought I had writtenDrive My Car, If I Needed Someone, and Nowhere Man, because those songs weren’t released in the U.S until Yesterday and Today, and we learned them from the imported Rubber Soul, and Revolver LP’s months earlier.

In order to accomplish this dream of playing great original and cutting edge cover tunes, we had to rehearse, and rehearse a lot.

We did just that.

4 East MontereyIn my mom and dad’s house.

We would set up after dinner and rehearse until 10 pm almost every night. My mother would make dinner for my dad, my aunt Della, herself, and usually the whole band, and then we would set up and play. Vann’s drums were in Della’s bedroom, the guitar and bass amps in the dining room, and the mics, and a little P.A were in the living room.

The first time we did this, we had been playing for about an hour when, at the end of one of the songs, we heard knocking at the front door accompanied by someone constantly ringing the doorbell. My mom came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron and made a beeline to the door. Looking over her shoulder, we saw two policemen standing on the porch.

“Mrs. Segarini?”, said one of the cops, “May we come in?”

“No”, said my mom, sounding stern and a bit annoyed. “What do you want?”

“Well, we’ve had a noise complaint from one of your neighbors”.

Kragen. Mr. Kragen from next door. Mr. Kragen, whom I was sure was an ex-Nazi, hiding in Stockton since the end of WWII. This man had kept every ball that ever accidentally got tossed into his yard. He would come out and turn the hose on you if you hopped the fence to retrieve them. By now, he must have had enough footballs, baseballs, and whiffle balls to start a rec centre. He was, up until this moment, just a cranky old buzzard that hated kids. Now…now he was Satan.

It was around 9 pm when this happened, and my mother pointed out that we could play music until 11 pm if we wanted to. That was the law. The police said they were sorry, but getting a complaint meant we would have to stop playing.

“They aren’t that loud”, said my mother through the screen door. The cops shuffled their feet.

barcalounger“Well, your neighbor says he can hear them in his house, so…”, The cop began. My mother cut him off.

“I can prove they are not that loud, officer”, she said, unlocking the screen door.

The two cops stepped into the living room, and my mom pointed to the corner.

There, next to the P.A, was my dad in his Barcalounger.

Sound asleep.

We played until 10 that night, and every night thereafter. They never came back.


Mom and DadMy mom always had my back. Through thick and thin, she was there for me and my friends no matter what. She loved her kids. All of us.

There are so many great stories about her, I’ll have to tell some more down the line, but I just want to say how much I miss her, how much her love and involvement in my life means to me, and how I pray her and my dad are together again, keeping their ever-watchful eyes on me, my family, and our friends.

Love you mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Mercedes Ormi Segarini Jume 30th 1919 – August 18th 1997


Segarini’s regular column appears here every Friday

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DBAWIS ButtonBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, and continues to write music, make music, and record.



3 Responses to “Segarini: My Mom”

  1. What a wonderful blog post, Bob! We used to get our food from your dad’s shop, and I heard my mom say “we need to stop at Segarini’s and pick up…” so many times that I thought it was just another name for ‘grocery store’. I love these trips down memory lane, and your tribute to a loving heart. (What street is that house in?)

  2. Bob, I remember your Mom well. She treated everyone, even me, with kindness and respect. You were lucky to have her.

  3. really nice tribute,I teared up,which is not a common occurrence.Sounds like a great lady.I had one as well.The luck of the draw I guess. My mom would go to the Peel Pub in the 50’s. It was a secret gay bar back then and she would go for lunch with a gay male co-worker.I often think of how cool she was and how much that man must have trusted her, with what was then a dirty little secret. Thanks Bob…Thanks mom.

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