Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley

By Moira Johnston | Go to book overview
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A World of Women

Until she was seven, Stephanie Ramona was raised in a world of women. "Maybe that's why I'm funny about men. I never know how they feel," she says from the shattered landscape of her marriage. Her father had died in the fiery skies over Indochina in June 1945 -- six weeks after her birth, ten thousand miles from her crib in California -- as Japanese bullets found the skin of a slow-flying amphibious PBY and brought down a spirited young California Icarus. Red-haired and boyishly handsome, Walt Vogelsang had dreamed of returning home to train as a football coach and of seeing his new daughter. In a terrible irony, he was on his last bombing mission before being furloughed home, just two months before the end of World War II.

Six weeks premature, Stephanie Joan weighed just three and a half pounds at birth. Placed in an incubator, she was kept from her mother's ample breasts and warm arms for six weeks. But Betty Vogelsang would "put a bow in my hair, dress up, and go see her." Stevie, as she called the infant, had eyes so big they called her Betty Boop, and under the jaundiced skin she had her father's fine-boned face. At just twenty-two, Betty had become both mother and father. She had few resources, but she was determined to protect little Stevie from harm, from need, and from life's pain. As she watched her daughter's exposure by the trial as a helpless trophy wife, Betty worried, "I think I overprotected Stevie, did too much for her." If so, it was circumstance and the best of intentions that led Betty to forge a ring of security around Stephanie, which may have screened her from some of life's

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