SENIOR GROUNDED BY LACK OF BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
LANCASTER - Charles Ells can't get a passport.
He is an American Indian, the son of a Yaqui father and Pawnee mother. He thinks he was born in Buena Vista, Colo., where he was raised, but he isn't sure.
Ells has no birth certificate. It's possible he was born on a reservation, but maybe not. His birth could have been recorded at the county seat, but it isn't there now. His certification might have been destroyed in the fire that razed the Colorado records building years ago, but who knows?
``There isn't even a baptismal record,'' Ells said. ``There's nothing.''
He knows the man who raised him and gave him his surname was not his biological father. Charles, the name he has always used, is an Anglicized version of his birth name, Carlos, and his stepfather's name, Ells, was substituted for Rodriguez before he went to school.
``I heard once that my real father was killed in a knife fight,'' he said.
He thinks his mother, Beulah Gertrude Parsons, might not have been married to his father and that her situation as a single mother in 1924 was untenable. The stigma she must have endured, he feels, was probably alleviated when she married Winfield Lawrence Ells, a mining engineer.
``My mother was pretty closemouthed,'' he said. ``Any information I got about my background came in bits and pieces. I was always told that her husband adopted me, but there doesn't seem to be any proof of that, either.''
There are some other unanswered questions about his birth, but the U.S. Army Air Corps was willing to overlook them all. Ells was accepted into the service on the basis of a consent slip signed by his stepfather.
He didn't need a birth certificate to serve his country from 1942 to 1945 in the European theater of operations, and he didn't need one to rise in rank to technical sergeant.
But when, in 1995, he wanted to take a trip to Europe with his wife, Janey, and stepgrandchild, he was refused a passport.
``Our plans were all made until I applied for that passport,'' he said.
``All we wanted to do was go see the exchange student that we hosted a few years back,'' Janey said. ``Maria Maenpaa and her family invited us to come to Finland, and we were all anxious to go.
``We did everything we could think of, even to going down to the main INS office in Los Angeles, but they wouldn't budge. No birth certificate, no passport. It was as simple as that.''
She had to make the trip without him.
Chuck and Janey were married May 30, 1992, after a long friendship and other marriages.
Chuck was married for 34 years to his first wife, LaVerna, and for five years to his second wife, Marie, who died in 1990. LaVerna is the mother of his five children: Edna Brackett and Cassandra Davis, both of Hanford; Roger Ells of Lancaster; Raymond Ells of Hanford; and Rose Marie Hickock of Sacramento.
Janey, in the 17 years she was married to her first husband, Carl Kurashewich, had three children: Carl Jr. of Lancaster; Nancy Smith, now deceased; and Peggy Meyer of Lancaster.
She was then married for three years to Ken Minnick, a Linotype operator. Kurashewich and Minnick died within two months of each other in 1991.
Old-timers will remember Janey Minnick as an erstwhile journalist, employed for a time by the Daily Ledger-Gazette and later by the Antelope Valley Press.
Ells finished his education with GI Bill assistance after the war and spent most of his employed years as an electrician on various related jobs. One of the requirements of his electrician's job was to read schematics.
``That proved to be a real adventure when I was given a bunch of blueprints and instructions printed entirely in French,'' he said. ``I finally got it all figured out, but it was a challenge I won't forget.''
Another rather interesting position he had was with Space Ordnance Systems in Mint Canyon.
``It was an explosives factory. It had nothing to do with space,'' he said. ``They manufactured diversionary projectile flares, which were shot from aircraft to misdirect enemy homing missiles.''
He held other jobs such as with a construction company for several years, finally winding up as a service organization bus driver.
This year he decided to finally toss in the towel and retire from all formal employment.
``Janey has pretty much slowed down, too, but that doesn't mean we will give up all our lodge and club work,'' he said.
They have been through the chairs in the Lancaster Loyal Order of Moose and the Women of the Moose. Their other affiliations have included Al Malaikah, Antelope Valley Shrine Club; White Shrine of Jerusalem; Sunshine Chapter Order of Eastern Star; Amaranth; and more. They also are life members of the Salvation Army advisory board.
Youth activities also have been a part of their lives. They feel that seniors have to set standards for the young, and they have put that principle into practice. They have served several years on the Order of Rainbow for Girls advisory board, and Chuck has been Rainbow Dad.
``We would still like to do some overseas traveling,'' Janey said. ``We haven't completely given up hope. There are a few avenues we haven't tried yet to get that passport.''
Chuck, however, is not too sure about the outcome of further research. ``I plan to live to be 125,'' he said, laughing, ``and they'll probably still be doubting that I was ever born.''
LANCASTER - Les Brown and his Band of Renown will headline Seniors Day entertainment beginning at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Antelope Valley Fair.
``Seniors Day at the Fair - at the Center'' is planned for earlier in the day, with Rita Burleson, field representative of U.S. Rep. Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, serving as mistress of ceremonies.
Live entertainment will be provided from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. by The Great Biloni, the Boogie Woogie Mamas and the center's line dancers and Happy Singers.
All seniors 65 or older will be admitted free to the fair on Seniors Day.
LANCASTER - Menus for the week at the senior life nutrition sites in Lancaster, Palmdale and Pearblossom have been announced. All meals include bread, margarine and coffee, tea or milk.
Monday: Southwest stew with beans, citrus salad, cookies.
Tuesday: Barbecued pork, baked beans, spinach, lettuce/orange salad, pudding.
Wednesday: Teriyaki chicken, sweet potatoes, Oriental vegetables, marinated beets, pears.
Thursday: Steak with peppers, rice, corn, cole slaw, bananas.
Friday: Swedish meatballs, parsleyed noodles, Normandy vegetables, tossed salad, Jell-O/fruit cocktail.
Photo: Chuck Ells and his wife, Janey, of Lancaster want to travel abroad, but his lack of a birth certificate is keeping him from obtaining a passport.
Bettie Rencoret/Special to the Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jul 20, 1997|
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