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what I'm writing, and I'm sure when I get deeper in it, I'll recall something that should have been told earlier. Ordinarily, when done, I'd separate paragraphs throughou and get the dates in order, but will have to depend on you to do that. Thanks in advance).
I wa born on March 3, 1917, in the old Martin home in Atchison Kansas. my mother was born in.
The same house
My father, Paul Gerheart Tonsing, was 47 at the time ofmy birther, and my mother, Ruther Martin Tonsing, was 44. I'm sure my birth was a shock to them, and to the rest of the family, as I was preceeded by seven other siblings, which by any measurement would signify a full bjushel.I have always understood that my father had always wanted a son named after him, but for one reason or another, they had all slipped by with other names. So presumably, I was planned by him at least, to be named Paul after him. But as will be narrated futher along in this term paper, the Martin family was dominant and my name went on the birth certificate as Martin Paul Tonsing. This was not entirely appreciated by me in my formative years, as I was subsequently called "Junior" the rest of my sojourn in Atchison, of some 18 years. I've always told least than interested people that I left town to get away from that nickname. But when I did grow up and get out of town, I changed my name to Paul Martin Tonsing, without any legality, but in those days they weren't so red tapish (and who cared!). I had a wonderful childhood, probably not appreciated at the time. But my oldest brother and wife, Evan and Bess, were wonderful to me, like a fond uncle and aunt. I spent many happy days in their home on Riverview Drive in Atchison, and their children, Virginia and Gene, were my frequent playmates. The old house was a treasure trove for children, having cabinets, mainly n the large librry, full of treasures like music boses, stereopticans, some Civil War bayonettes, and thousands of books lining its shelves. The cellar (we weren't so high-fallutin' as to call it the basement) was under about half the house, and was a wonderland of places to play hide and seek with kids in the family, and neighbor playmates. My mother used to can anything that would grow in her garden and on the cherry, mulberry and pear thres, plus a rheubarb pat in the garden under the bay window, on the south. Alongside the house, below the library windows, was a huge bobsled, perhaps 20 feet long, left over from when my older brothers used it to slide down the second shteet hill. But i*iwas long past its prime, and just sat for years and rotted away. Jutting out from the kitchen on the northwest side of the house was a porch, mainly used for washing clothes. Mom had an old washing machine, armed (I's sure with the grandfather of electric motors), wooden slatted. It would leak alightly at first introduction of water, but the wood would soon swell until it was leak-proof. It didn't have a wringer, so it was usually my job to hand wring the clothes with a hand wringer, a contraption with two rollers about two inches in circumference, and a long handle projecting from the side, Clothes were introduced into the wringer, then with one hand they were steered down the middle of the rollers, while turning the handle to get them through, and into a washtub sitting underneath. From there, the clothes were carried outside and hung on clotheslines on the north side ot the house. As clothes were added, clothespoles were constantly moved and adjusted to compensate for the load of wet clothes. Mom always said, at least once a day, that there was nothing sweeter smelling than clothes fresh off the line, and warmed by the heat of the sun. V Probably jumping the gun, but across the road in front, and down the bluff was (or were) rail
yards, and a roundhouse where engines
-2around, and as I recall, there were repair shops there also. still on the subject of washing.)
(My mind isn't slipping, I'm
Consequently,all this ra railway activity generated tons of coal smoke and ash, and any clothes onthe line thrued white sheets into grey ones.) But Mom never complained, was glad the railroad was there, for it generated jobs for men whi otherwise would not survive the Depression then racking the country. Returning to the cellar: As a result of all the trees and crops from the garden, Mom did lots of canning, in Mason jars, with a glass lid, and a little metal clamp that sprang down and kept them airtight. A rubber gasket kept them airtight. The basement was usually cool the whole year, except when t got too cool in brutal winters, when lots of the jars would freeze and we'd be busy sweeping up shards of broken glass and sloppy fruit. The floor of the basement was some sort of primitive or cheap cement, for as one swept it, one could always rely on it giving up duat. In other words, it was never entirely clean. On the sough side of the base (OOps, cellar) there was a coal bin, and in better days coal was heaved through a window, from wagons, then the window was sealed until the next load was needed. By the time I came along, this was never done, probably as we could never afford a load o coal, and it, along with wood and corn cobs, wer carried down steps on the soughwest side of the house, with very crude steps. A wooden cover and door covered this stairway, and was used only as something had to be carried into the cellar. There was a large old furnace at the bottom of the steps leading down from the kitchen, which had long since given up the ghost before I came along, so it was only a space-waster. Instead, the house was headed by stoves in various rooms, and it was my job to take a coal scuttle down the staprs daily, and bring up enough coal to last the night, or day. Stoves were banked (or shut down when we went to bed, and on cold nights Mom would hand out bricks that had reposed on top of the stoves all day, and we'd wrap them in newsprint and put them in the foot of the bed. I can still remember how cuddely (that's decidely a faminine term, but can't think of anything more appropriate), these bricks were. Plus piles of blankets and comforters, some kept over from the Civil War. The house was not well built, and I'm sure Grandfather Martin really got cheated by various workmen when he had it built). I'm sure e was busy being governor, and the workmen got away with things. The house was originally equipped with gas lights, and little gas jets, with their lines on hinges, jutted out from varous wallfof the house. By the time I came along, the house had been wired for electricity, with wires many times running across ceilings and down walls. The plumbing was also rather crude, and pipes would freeze in winter, bursting at times. It was a yearly ritual to wrap them with paper and rags, and yet they'd still burst at times. The roof would also leak, but by the time I came along it was a very old house. afford a roofer, so my brother Ernie and I would go up on the roof with a tar bucket wa got at J.C. Penney, and patch the shingles. We couldn't
I'm digressing a bit, but while on the subject of roofs, the old barn had a tar-paper roof in two levels, and it was old and rotten, and always leaking. So we gook great pride in getting sheets of muslim at J.C. Penney, a bucket of tar, and patching that roof, sometimes in fairly large areas. That method worked beautirully, and in later years I've patched roofs in that matter at a cost of cents in stead of hundreds of dollars. By and large, all this maintenance and repair taught Ernie and I a great deal about maintenance and repairs, plumbing, brick work, electricity, and all sorts of things to meet the challenge of kepping the place functionin and livable. ricks were also always bulging in one spot of another, and we'd get
some cheap oortar and patch em them in place, sometimes improvising braces to keep the walls from bulging too much further.The kitchen was the real center of the household, on the west side of the house, almost then entire width. In the northwest corner was a sink with one faucet. In h those days, if you wanted hot water, you'd heat it on the stove in a tea kettle mainly. This tea kettle was a backbone of the household, usd for cooking making tea, coffee, hot soup, and a myriad of other uses. it sat on an old black gas tove south of the sink, and I can still remember the tea kettle whistling when it got hot. The stove was Mom's pride and joy, as it had four gas burners and a large oven. I remember w very young and running around with Papa and we found it in a shop, and bought it as a surprise for Mom, for $5. Leavin the oven door open would heat the kitchen, also. X&XXKKXXXXsoagh of the stove was a window, and a small desk where Mom had her typewriter and writing materials, and usually an album she was always working on. Almost to the wall, in the southwest side of the kitchen was a staircase to the second floor, with about four steps in the room, then a door,and then the stairs curving to the east upstairs. To the east of this desk and staircase was a large table, where we ate all meals, and whilch I would guess would seat up to eight eaters. I remember that Dad was a very friendly fellw and would often bring home a customer from the print shop, a supplier, or visiting pastor, always aaying that Mom could add another cup of water to the soup. Mom was a mervelous cook, and as Dad was of German ancestry, we ate a great deal of German dishes. Like sauerdraut, sausage, German pancakes, potato pancakes, hogs jowls, and even brains for breakfast, with es. I must have been very young when we had chickens, and got daily eggs. The chickens wee kept in a fenced part of the yard between the houea and the barn. I also have a very dim memory of a nanny goat that Mom was forever forbidding me from riding. But in later years, the only anomals were cats...lots of cats, and an occasional dog. I'll get to the barn in more detail, but in reference now to the animals, I was crazy about cats, and we had one old calico cat that I swear had lw or 15 kittens every six weeks. These kittens would often disappear, and I remembe having dreams of making a cat refulge in the barn, where I could keep doxens of them. Sort of a cat orphanage. But I guess I figured ont what Mom was doing. Her pride and joy as a Singer sewing machine, really abeauty, and she was shocked to find scratch marks down the front of the center drawer. She nailed me for doing it, and I told her I did that in revengs for her drowning my kittens. To feed her large family, Mom was always baking, either pies of cakes, and as I showed a fondness for pie crust, she would always bake a little dab of pie crust separately for me. And I usually got to lick the bowl. By the sink in the northwest side or corner of the room was a dipper with a long handle, and i one wanted a drink, one would runse it out and drink whatever he or she wanted. At one point we had a person living or vising there I didn't like, and I always dreaded drinking from his spot, so I'd get in one of the corners by the handle. I was horified one day to see him carefully drkin out of the same spot.
I'm jumping ahead, but in my teen years, neighbor kids and I would make fudge and divinity in her kitchen, and she kingly furnished the ingredients. We tried popcorn bills one time, and cound mekt them stick together, but we ate the popcorn any Remember much later, ohosting a taffy pull, with half a dozen kids from school. As we were pulling the tafffy, mine came out sort of grey. That was after I started working in the print shop, and I can remember how embarrased I was, as I had parinters ink imbedded in my skin. I dn't getting teasing for this, but that was the first and last taffy pull I ever hosted.
Continuing in the kitchen, on the east wall, perhaps ten feet from the south wall, was a door leading down to the cellar. The steps were wooden and steep, and I recall a handrail along one side. To the north hardon to that door was a waist-high window...that of the pantry, which backed up to the kitchen wall. Yo yhr douyh og yhr vrllst foot esd sn rnytyesy, ehivh lrf yo s hsll, the westward end of which ended up in a clothes closet with a slanted roof, to adhere to the contours of the steps above going upstairs. I remember winter clothing there, and my sled and ice skates living in that closet. Sort of zigzag, was the main entry outdoors, to the porch. Probably when the house was built and shortly thereafter guests and family members entered the premises from the eastern side of the house, through the front door. But by my days there, almost entry was through this door. The porch was perhaps eight feet wide and twenty feet long, with another entry to the house on the eastern side of the porch, to the living room. Casual guests and family members came in the kitchen door...but more formal visitors came in the living room entry, and as I remember it was graced with rather ornate door with a glass window, perhaps party etched. This prch was one of the main habitats of the family, as it had a wooden slatted bench with a back against the northern wall, and a couple of rocking chairs spread casually on other spaces. At the southeast corner of the porch was a two-inch pipe railing with two horizontal rails...and my earliest memory was of Mom tethering me to that rail so I wouulding wander off. Projecting out southward of the railing was the door or lid to the cellar entrance...which was seldom opened. It evidentally had a strong lid, for I recall myself and neighbor kids bouncing up and down on it, without going through. To the west and abuting'the porch was an old cistern. It had a wooden platrorm, and was made of tin, perhaps three feet tall, with a crank on one side and a spout on one end. This cistern was widely known, and had a certain taste I can't describe, perhaps that of soft water, for I remember feminine members of the household wasking their hair in cistern water. And in my infant years it was my duty to go out with a pitcher and fill it for meals...almost ice cold no matter the season. Down in the cistern perhaps ten or twelve feet was a bed of charcoal, and alightly above that inlet pipes from the gutters arund the house, which caught rain water and channeled it to the cistern. I've read about them since, and that they take a lot of maintenance...but I can't recall anyone ever tinkering with it in any way. Inside the metal casing was a sprocket wheel, and sort of chain with little cups were attached at intervals, and as the crank was turned, these buckets would go c into the water and bring up their contents, to dump into the spout. I remember distant family members visiting and delighting in the taste of that water, so it must have been special. Continuing with a description of the house, Behind the fancy door and the entry down the hall from the kitchen, was the living room. It had a long couch along the north side of the room (now in the possession of Fred Tonsing). It was rather hard, and stuffed with horsehair, but I recall sleeping on it many times, or reclining lazily. Mom also had a china cbinet along the east side of the living room, and various chairs were scattered around the room. On the south side was a bay window, projcting out perhaps two feet, and it was my duty every night to go out and close the wooden shutters.
The living room was perhaps the real hear of the house, for here Grandma Martin resided, and received many guests. I'll cover that subject more thoroughly later on in this theme paper. A fireplace adorned the south wall, just east of the bay window, but I never reall seeing a fire there. Perhaps it was dangerous, and so was never used. We always had trouble with the outside walls in that area bulging outward, and that may have prevented use of the fireplate. Along the wouthern wall, going eastward, was a large room, probably originally a sort of sitting room...but in my day it was Grandma's bedroom. I had to sleep in there on a cot beside her bed in my formative years, and get up when she wanted anything. I was somewhat of a bookworm in those days, and I recall spending many a night with a Boy Scout flashlight reading under the covers, thinking I was being clever and eluding authority. When one came in the front entry, on North Terrace, one mounted about seven steps, and was on a large porch. It was sometimes used, and had a swing that hend two or three people. Digressing a moment, six or seven years olf, my sister Ida came down with some sort of illness that necessitated quarantine, and so Dad screened in this porch and she spent the summer there. Entry into the house from the porch ended up in a rather ornate hallway, with a curved staircase leading upstairs, and a railing about eight inches wide. I've probably slid down that railing several thousand times, as it was also a favorite with the neighbor kids. To the right of the staircase was a rather long hallway, with one door on the north leading into the library, and the end up in the living room. Just around the corner, in the living room, was a door to another clothes closet unde the front stairs. Retreating to the bottom of the staircase, when one climbed the stairs and reached the upper landing, to the south was a door into a bedroom, that was also my home after Grandma died. One of my strongest memories, was on hot summer evenings, with all the windows open, laying there and sweating through the sheets, it was so hot. We had primitive electric fans then, but they didn't do much to help. Back into the upstairs hallway, to the north was entry into a small bedroom, occupied by a succession of family members, like Ernie and Ida, for instance. Going westelong the hallway, gained entry into a large room, probably a sitting room originally, but used in later years as Mom and Dad's bedroom. My memory of this room is rather vague. More or less in the center of the house, abuting the south wall, and over the living room, is what I presume was the master bedreeo, and again I have little memory of its contours, except perhaps a closet or two. Returning briefly to downstairs, the bathroom was located against the north wall, off a passageway leading to the library from the kitchen. It was small and consisted only of a toilet and wash basin, although I wouuldn't risking more than a dollar betting on that. XK&XMfi)4XXXXXXXXXXXXAn afterthought. On the downstairs kitchen north wall was a long cabinet, with a shelf about three feet high and drawers and shelves below, with two rows of cabinet ors above. This continues almost to the library door on the east, with a space perhaps three feet by four feet, occupied by a large crate-like recepticle with hinged lid...which contained all the dirty clothes generated by the household.
-YAlso, I recall a cubbyhole with a door, above the bathroom, containing files of John A. Martin's paper, the The Champion. They were bound, perhaps in yearly volumes, and occasionally they were brought down for reference. To complete the layout of the house, the upstairs bathroom was at the top of the back stairs, in the hall connecting the front room and the master bedroom. It consisted of a toilet, wash basin and a bub. I've stated before that the source of hot water in the house was solely water boiled on the kitchen stove, but think now that was wrong, for I never remember carrying water up for a bath...so we must have had a hot water heater somewhere.. .but I don't remember it. The house was situated on two large lots overlooking the Missouri river, but large trees across the street and on the bluff prevented any glimpse of the river from downstairs, and only limited ones from the upstairs window. Doubtless during John A. Martin's sojourn there, the trees were small or non existant, so it had a five view of the river and Missouri on the further bank. By way of explanation, I'll divide the yard in thirds, more or less equal, with lines running east and west. The eastern third was mostly grass, and again divided in thirds. The western third was a garden most of the time, and I was assigned the job for years to till the garden, plowing it with a primitive hand operated plow, then lboriourly planting radishes, onions, green beans, corn, tomatoes and various other edibles that flourished there. It was also my job to go out and pluck from the ground whatever was mature to eat, just beofre meal times, and we ate it only a few minutes later. As a result of this chore, I still have an aversion to gardening, and would do so only under duress. East of that, in the center third on the south, was sort of recreation area, with a croquet court and I recall pitching tents out there on summer evengs. Usually neighbor boys would come over to adventure with me, and we'd roam the neighborhood, usually with mild mischief in mind...and feeling it a grand adventure. We thought we were fooling Mom, but with six children preceeding me, I'm sure she was aware of what I was doing. Luckily, we'd get sleepy fairly early and get in the tent and go to sleep, before we could get in real trouble. The eastern part of the wsoutheastern part of the yard slped down to the street, and consisted of lawn. We had a hand-pushed lawn mower, very primitive, and it was my job to keep the yard mowed. One time I recall, the folks were away, and I mowed the whole place with just paths, with neighborhood kids and myself playing tag. When the folks came home, that game ended abruptly, and I had to finish the job. The middle third of the yard was occupied by the house, and I recall a cherry tree almost against the bay window, separated from the house by a brick sidewalk. The edges of the sidewalk had bricks impbedded at a 45-degree anble, and they were always getting knowked over...so I had to keep them aligned. Right under the bay window whwas a rheubarb patch, and as Mom's best pie was made from this succelent weed, I showed no reluctance to gathering rheubarb for a pie. East from the house was also yard to be mowed. The entire length yard along North Terrace was aloped down to a wall, with the yard coming to the top of the wall, then under the wall was a concrete that tree roots had grown under the slapbs of concrete and forced a somewhat uneven path. But further to the north was nothing, so along there. of the side lawn sidewalk. I recall them upward, making there was no foot traffic
Three giant elm trees were planted down near the wall, and the center one had a tire swing which my brother Ernie erected for me. It was great fun to run down the yard with the swing ahead of us, then as it soared into the air, get in and go far out over the street. Or, if more thna one kid were present, we'd push each other down the slope, and try to set records as we gravitated over the street.
AS previously stated 99 percent of the traffic came up the back alley, and parket in the yard. The alley was fairly steep, and led to a large number of parking spaces in the yard, which was paved loosely with cinders from the railroads. Some sort of giant tree was directly west of the porch, and another to the north of it. At one time or another, I Erected a tree house in this last tree,with wooden rungs nailed to the tree, and I spent many a happy hour up there, seemingly at the top of the world, looking down on small humans as they came and went up and down the alley. At times we heaved missiles at unsuspecting passersby, but moe than often than not missing them.
An area perhaps 100 feet long and 20 feet wide was the diriveway to the west of the house and was paved alternately by bricks, coal cinders and beaten-down grass or bare ground. More about this area later. About two-thirds of the final third of the yard was in grass and two or three shade or fruit trees.The old barn occupied the northwest end of the property, and originally was a combination gymnasium and stable. It was a two-story brick structure perhaps 50 feet by 20 feet, and a later addition was two garages, probably added when cars appeared on the scene and horses were obsolete. One gained entry to the barn via three or four steps and this led to a large two-story room, commonly known as the gymnasium, with a wooden floor. Not much ws left of equipment when I came along, except an exercise wooden bar, perhaps seven feet in length, with notches on one wall and one post whereby it could be lowered or raised. Ordinarily this room was the recepticle of junk and castoffs from the old house, and I remember cleaning it out periodically when I was of an age to do so. Along one wall was a flight of stairs which led to an upper room, evidentally where the hay was kept when horses were the vogue. And another room to the south of this was just a room for tack and miscellaneous horse stuff, I presume. A large window led out onto the roof of the added on garage. Below these two rooms was space for a couple of cars with a dirt floor, as I recall. Probably originally where horse stalls for a couple of horses. 1 spent many happy hours while growing up in this building, along with my frien, and we could arrange the junk inside any way we wanted to suit the occasion One item was a tandem bike, or frame of one, that Dad had used on older members of the family and I have a picture of him on this bike with infants Ernie and Ida in a parade. But it was in hopeless shape for me to fix up, so just stayed there until the barn was i dismantled, I presume. Inside the upper south room was a winch with a long cable, which stretched out over the garages and to a branch of a large tree, already mentioned as the home of my play house. A pulley there extended to the ground. In all the years I lived there the back yard was littered with old cars and parts of them, perhaps as many as six or eight, mostly '23 and '24 Chevies. Dad and I would go out and spy one in a vacant lot or in a driveway, and he'd bargain and usually get one for $5. We'd drag it home, and my brother Ernie would either get it running, or use it for parts. I learned to drive at 15, but long before that I was pulling motors out of the old cars via the winch, and overhauling them or repairing them. I remember Ernie and I gragging once that we had the motor out of a Chevie and on the ground while it was still hot from running. At some point I got various parts off these old cars and hang them on the wall of the upstairs room in the barn, cleaning them in coaloil first. We also had an old '26 Essex sitting in one of the garages for years. had As I remember, Dad
an ol d Mitchell that Ernie and Ida drove to a summer Lutheran camp, and it broke down, so they traded it for this exxex. I got the Essex running once, but it had a very weak and small motor. The maker had theorized that a small motor would do if one installed a large flywheel and ran it at high speed, so the momentum would substitute for power. This theory didn't work. We had a sloping alley to the south of the house, and this car wouldn't climb this alley. Finally had to tow it up the aley, and store it again in one of the garages. Eventually, as the Essex had a fine steel body, said to be the first one in the industry. I got hold of a good '26 Chevie motor and chassis, and mounted the essex body on it. It fitted fine, except the hood wouldn't work. The essex Was sort of square and the Chevie was rounded. We called this vehicle a Chevex, and after I left home I understand Mom sold it for $15. I never knew what the neighbors thought of this junkyard at the former Governor's mansion, but I'm sure they didn't like it. But it was n the midst of a depression, and a lot of rules were broken in order for people to survive. Along north Terrace to the south were fine homes, but to the north was territory known as the hollow, and mostly bleck people lived down there. I got along fine with them and had a black playmate known as "Walter." I've often wondered what became of him. Speaking of black people, the children went to a segregared school until the age of about twelve, and then they'd attend Atchison High School, along with all the white kids. We had a few, perhaps half a dozen in my class, and I can't recall any tansion or segregation. They fit right in. One particular was poor in English classes, but a math whiz, so as I was the opposite, we'd hap each other out. There were a couple of wealthy bick families in Atchison. One, the Kerford family, owned a rock quarry north of town, and had a gib business going. They dug gravel out of huge tunnels that could accomodate two boscams side by side. I drove in them for many years, but didn't go in vary far, as I was afraid of getting lost in the labyrinth. Rumor had it that directly above them was St. Benedict's monastery, and a shaft was runup from these tunnels that delivered cool air to air condition the building, as it was about 58 degrees in them year round. The tunnels are closed now, wit mounds of dirt blockint ehe entrances. While on this subject, other tunnels were excavated south of Atchison, miles of them, and after World War II the government took them over and still stores machine tools in them, with round the clock armed guards. IN the event of another war these tools would be needed to manufacture planes, tanks, trucks, ammunition, etc . Backtracking a little, just at the foot of the stairs coming down into the cellar, was a hole in the floor, in two levels, about the size of a coffin, and covered by a heavy wooden lid hinged. This was the cold storage, of a sort, for the household It was always a few degrees cooler than outside air in the cellar, and worked fairly well, I suppose. I don't recall us having an ice box, the forerunner of a refrigerator. So mea and spoilables had to be onnsumed quickly. I recall us getting milk deliveries to the back door, and once I was severely reprimanded when I came home earlier than anyone else on a cold day, nd the cream was sticking out of the semi-frozen milk bottle...so I yieldd to temptation and ate it. Although I grew up in the age of automobiles, horses and wagons were still around, and most notable in my life was the iceman. I don't recall us ever using her services, but he had a big wagon, high off the ground, sort of shaped like the old covered wagons. It was drawn by two horses, and had a seat up front for the driver, but the reins were long and extended through the body of the wagon out to the There was a step there, and the iceman usually stood on this rear step where he could reach into the wagon and get out chunks of ice with an ice pick and tongs. It was a really fun thing for us kids to ride on this step, and the iceman was always in a good humor, and didn't mind us picking up and eating small chunks of ice scattered
over the bed of the wagon. The iceman knew what to deliver to each household, for his company distributed beforehand a piece of cardboard printed into four sections, and each side had a hole punched for attachment to the front door or window. I don't recall the sizes but if a person wanted 10 pounds, he'd have the 10 pound side up. Same for the 20, 30 and 40, I presume The iceman wore heavy clothes, and had a big leather apron extend down his back, with a gutter in the end to keep the ice from leaking onto his legs. Other assorted peddlers would roam the neighborhoods, and housewives would gather to pick over their wares. I can't recall the names of any of them, but they were quite popular. Atchison was a city of 15,000 people back then, and I understand it still is, and in some ways has changed greatly, and in other, very little. Farmers came from many miles around to shop there, and Commericial STreet was a busy and industrous boulevard. It used to run through east to west, but after I left a devastating floor enveloped downtown, and urban renewal came in, with the bright idea of closing Commercial Street and making it a strolling mall. It is my understanding that this never really went over, but it still is that way. Ours was a very close-knit family, and for better or worse, I'll take on the characters inhabing this world and describe their activities and lives to the best of my ability. Grandma Martin was the matriarch of the family, and as the governor's wdow, evidnetally had some clout, for someone or other was always at the doorstep wanting to see her. I presume she had been a very acative woman, but by the time I came along, she had retreated to a wheelchair, with rheumatism, and my earliest memories of her are in that wheelchair. When I recahed the age where I could be trusted, I presume, i was her "gofer" and did countless errands for her, and slept in the same bedroom to help her if she needed to get up at night. When the folks went somewhere, which was rare, I stayed with her, and we'd play games, the only one I remember was "Flinch,". As this was a strict Baptist household, playig cards were not permitted onth premises. Inever rcall her leaving the house, but she was a leading power in the local Baptist church, and the ladies would frequent come to the house and hold prayer meetings, and gossip about the pastor and doings at the church. Grandma was presumed to have a little money, deriving from renaals of the building at 500 Commercial, which Contained Wolter's Drug Store, a doctor and a denties with offices upstairs in that building, and Dad's little print shop. I obt that he paid rent, or could afford to, but she probably had a veterans' pension and perhaps one from the state of Kansas. I remember very little about Grandma's death, except that I got to ride in a Cadillac limousine. As it was my first funeral, I was shocked to be surrounded by adults who talked and laughed on the journey to and from the cemetery. I thought everyone should be weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth during the whole proceeding. "Papa" was the next ranking member of the household, at least by age. In a sense I was never near to him, yet lived in the same house and worked side by side with him for many years. I guess it's the perspective of being a restless kid trying to understand an older man. I resented him through my youth, and having to go to work when everyone else was playing baseball and football, or in the band. But later years brought reflectins that he was a very kind and affectionate man, and I was too stupid to realize this. He called me his "boy bearcat"
"e W a S
Papa never spanked me in my whole life, and I don't remember him ever raising his voice to me. IN that regard, I excaped childhood entirely without being spanked. It is a common belief in modern society that schools theren happily and frequently spanked students, but I never recall anyone in all my school years getting spanked by the school authorities. Getting back to myself, I certainly deserved getting spanked, but my sins were either overlooked, or I got away with it. As I was the eighth my parents on one hand knew all the tricks, and on the other hand were simply too tired to inflict any damage on me. I feel a tinge of embarrassment in calling my father "Papa," b,t that is indeed how myself and my siblings referred to him. Since his death, I have always felt guilt in that I did not appreciate the fine man that he was and what a wonderful father he was. Probably as in the case of all kids, I was selfish and engrossed in my feelings and wishes and desires, and resented his interference in fulfilling those aims. In later years I have moe and more appreciated him and understood what he went through in his lifetime. He grew up in Ohio, the son of German immigrant parents. Before I go further, I must emphasize that I never had any contact, knowledge or information about them. The Martin Challiss dominance in the family was overwhelming, and to this day I don't know anything about my grandparents on my father's side, except that which has been unearthed in the 1st few years as a result of the family reunions. I supposed I had uncles and aunts on that side, and cousins. But they were never mentioned. In recent depictions of World War II, many scenes are shown of German soldiers marching, and fighting...and now I'm quite sure that cousins and relatives of mine were in that group. I suppose, coming from a strict Lutheran family, my father was inspired to seek to enter the ministry, and that desire led him to come to Atchison, where there was a Lutheran seminary. There is a story, whether true or not, that my father spied my mother in a parade, as th daughter of the Kansas governor, and he asked someone who she was. Getting the reply that she was the daughter of the governor, he said "I'm going to marry her." And he did. I'm sure this caused consternation with my mother's family, as they were hardshell Baptists (whatever that means) and very opposed to Lutherans. Beside, he was the son of German immigrants, whole mom was the daugher of the governor, of very high social rank, and no doubt spoiled by wealth and privilege. But in due course they married, and he graduated from the seminary. Thence they had a call to a little church in Nebraska, and started having a family with the birth of my brother Evan. I have hard that they lived more or less in poverty, with church members giving them a sack of potatoes now or then, or a chicken, and very little money. Mom's second baby was Cyril, and for one reason or another he did not live long. At that point, family lore says, GRandmother Martin came up and urged Mom to return to Atchison. I imagine he was given an ultimatum to come with br or not, and he quit the ministry, to a degree, and returned.
I'm surf, with the help of Grandfather Martin, he set up a small print shop, and worked there the rest of his life. Being a very religious man, Dad or "Papa" preached at small churches in the perhphery of Atchison, Like Valley Falls, Bendina and Troy. In addition he stayed in touch with Lutherans by being a staunch member of St. Mark's Lutheran church in Atchison, and a firm friend of its pastor, Rev. Wheeler. One of the mainstays of the print shop was the monthly printing of The Kansas Synod Lutheran, and my earliest memory was of the typesetting, makeup, printing, folding and mailing of this publication.
I used to accompany Papa and must confess being a go after church services boundaful meals, usually
on his weekly excursions to these outlying churches, little heathen at the time, my purpose and aim was to to some farm or other and partake in delicious and with friend chicken.
Looking back, Papa must have had a miserable life, not able to pursu his calling, mired in poverty, living in his ther-in-law's house and bringing up seven children. But I never was aware of this as I was growing up. This frustration was probably what caused his weight to balloon to 125 at his death, of cerebral hemorraging. At age 65. And I blame the drpression for killing him. It was the custom of the family, and taken for granted, that the children at the c°e of 12 would go to work in the print shop. Before that time, we were enlisted to fold papers and sweep up, but at that point it was almost full time work. He made anarrangement with school authorities to let me out at lunch every day, at whih time I'd go home, four blocks, and then go to work with him after his brief nap. I remember it was out custom to stap at Wolter's drug store in the street level of our building, and we'd hae shocolate root beers, at a nickel a glass. As these were fountain concoctions, the erson making these would make them about half syrup and half water, and they were delicious. We'd usually work at the shop until about 6:00, then go home for supper. Saturdays we'd wook all day, and sometimes Sunday after church if there was a deadline to be met. It was my job to sweep out the place, and sweep the long hall and stairs leading to the street level. I remember a denties who had an office there, one time was critical of my work, and my brother Even overheard him. Evan backed up the dentist to a corner and used words I've never eard before or since, needless to say, that dentist avoided me thereafter...but I never dared to sit in the chair and let him poke in my mouth. We had an old Linothe, //666, model 1, high base. It was an extremely cranky old machine with frequen meta squirts of hot led, so it was a low process setting anything on it. As forms were printed they were usually poured into an old stove that had a metal bowl over burners, and the lead would be melted in there, and after the dross was skimmed off, they were IT WAS poured into "pig" molds, or chunks of lead, to be few into the Linotype as needed. Besides the Linotype, the shop was equipped with a 10x15 Chaldler & Price press and a 12x18 Chandler & Price press. I was taught to feed the smaller press, standing on an upended crate to be high enough. I suppose this taught me the patience I have been blesses with the balance of my life, for the press' speed was about 1,000 impressions per hour, just lifting the bare sheet with the right hand, putting it into guides on the platen, and with the other hand pulling the printed sheets off and pubbing them into a pile. Hour after hour was taken up by this task, sometime day after day. During that time the mind would wander a thousand miles away, and fantisy would usually set in. As I grew, I was gradulated to the larger press. I got a bright idea, to mess up to badly, Papa would allow me to miss this chore. But as I'm sure that was not an original thought with me, I didnt' prevail. We also had an old 30-in paper cutter, a real monster with along handle. rows of hand type cases. And
The Linotype and two presses were powered by a large old motor about 12 feet off the floor, and power transmitted to a large pulley wheel on a long shaft, leading one way to the Linotype, and the other way to the two presses. As these belts were wont to stretch and slip, we'd use belt dressing to keep them gripping, and finally, take the belts off, cut out a portion, lace up the new end, and put them back on the pulleys.
We had a part-time helper in the person of a young Irish woman, red-headed and volatile. I remember one day her skirt got entangled in the belt, and disappeared instantly. But she was wearing modest bloomers, so despite her embarrassment, the work proceeded. I'm proaably getting ahead of myself, but so be it. Going to school really only part time, I barely squeeked by, gettings and D's mostly. But setting type on the Linotype and with hand type, taught me English very rapidly, so I ould slip by in school, particularly in English classes. To this day, I don't know the difference between verbs and nouns and pronouns, as I could write theme papers grammatically correct, at the drop of a pin. I squeeked by in Latin partly because of the awe the teacher had of my grandfather, and partly because I'd use mom's old typewriter and write notebood, and print up a cover at the shop, stapling them into booklets. I still have some of these old books. I was extremely lazy as a kid and resentful, so when Papa would go on an errand somewhere or other, I'd cease all work and stick my head out of the upstairs windows and gawk at the traffic below, sometimes throwing little chunks of lead on people below me. I could hear Papa return down the hall, so back to work I went. I know now that he had knowledge of what went on, but being a kind man, and; probably a very timed man, he let it slip. I was deeply resentful that I couldn't take part in school activities, which abounded. Like football, baseball, basketball an band. But I passed over all that. Also, I had little time for class activities. But on reaching adulthood, I thank God every day that I learned a trade, particularly in the depression, and as a kid could go anywhere in the country and get a job as a journeymen. For some years Papa had published Atchison City Directories, and it was a real chore to canvass for them, which I did a little of. But most of our data came from various postmen,a nd previous directories. We would set and arrange type for alphabetical listings, pring that section, then rearrange the type sorting the slugs into street listings, numerically listing burinesses and houses according to their addresses. This practice shood me in good stead later in life. Again, getting ahead of myself, Papa died at age 65, and was buried on my 18th birthday. At that time I did not appreciate this wonderful man, and guiltily realizaton came later of what a wonderful human being and father he had been. INSERT: Times were very hard for Papa, as we had the telephone number of "3" in Atchison, and at one time it was taken out for non papment of the bill. Another time I overheard him talking to Mom, when he asked what she needed for supper, and he replied' "I only have a dime." Now and then Papa and I would take a Saturday excursion, perhaps for 50c, down to Kansas City, where he'd to to a ued clothing store, which would sell him clothes they had obtained from an apparently wealthy man of his size, and this was his clothing for years. I was upposed to get a salary of 50 centa week, but most of this time this wasn't forthcoming, and I would go cryong to Mama. If she had it she'd slip me a dime, and I mamaged to get a pound of candy at Woolworth's for that amount.' I'm sure that my parents had many differences and difficulties...yet, I do not remember one word of irritation, anguish or disapproval between them. I'm also sure that these inevitably happened, but they did it in private. I hope I"m not being trite, but I firmly believe that if all children could grow up in such an atmosphere of love, caring and closeness, this would be a far, far better world. And while on this thmee, Papa was a strict prohobitionist, deeply against the use of liquor in any sense, and Mom belonged to the WCTU, Womens' Christian Temperence
Back when I was growing up, Prohibition was in force in the nation, particularly in Kansas, and I can't recall any family member or friend or acquaintence who used liquor. I think that goes down as one of the lies of the century, like Hitler filled his nation with lies, that Prohobition was a failure. It was a grand success, and only an occasional few would drink in defiance of the law and peoples' beliefs. The Rooseeelts made their money with liquor, as did the Kennedy's, and they, along with powerfulliquor interests, perpetuated this false belief on the American people. The only example I saw of booze was of a hard drinker named Sullivan who lived across North Terrace in a small house. At times we could hear quarrels over there, and his wife screaming as he beat her. I once came upon him laying in a puddle of throw-up an another puddle of urine, as he tried to get home from a visit to Missouri across the river. A teacher at the high school was also rumored to go over there and get drunk on Saturday nights, but I can't verify that. Consequently, I was deeply imbued against booze, and to this day have never tasted alcohol. Even the "wine" at church was grape juice. Mama...words can't convey the deep respect I have always had for her...a wonderful, loving mother, a friend, confident, and grandmother to my children. One f my earlies memories is of her switching my legs with a branch from a small tree, as I misbehaved in one way or another. I don't ever remember her raising her voice to anybody, including myself. I'm sure I was a surprise to her and the rest of the family when I was born when she was hh. Particularly after raising six of my siblings. But she obviously knew the ropes, and had infinite patience with me. I remember complaining about having to work so much , and not getting paid...but she did he best she could and was a patient ear to my selfish complaints. Mama was a wonderful cook, and we had many dishes of German origin that we ate regularly. Sauerkraut, that was dished out of a big barrel at the store, into a little white cardboard box, with a thin wire handle. Lots of sausage, and Papa would procure halves of hogs that some friends had butchered. Fish out of the river, bought from a fisherman named Koester. Catfish a yard long, that she'd buy steaks of. Early on I remember her keeping chickens in a pen north of the house, and we had fresh e.§laily from them. A frequent dish was "smearcase," a watery version of cottage cheese. And when unexpected guests showed up, someone went out and caught a chicken, we'd eat a hour after it had last squaked. Another favorite was an old German dish, "scrapple," made up almost anything left over, probably mixed with flour, spiced highly, and baked. I look forward to visits to the Northeast, whenre this dish is still paopul. Mama had a volumptuous mailing list of people she'd write to, and she had a old tynewriter, I think called a Varietyper. She'd write wordy letters leaving hardly any margin showing, to save space. One of her most frequent correspondents was Amelia Earhart's mother, a cousin of ama's. Mama had an extremely difficult task in keeping harmony in the household, for Grandma and KXHXXX Papa didn't get along, and I remember one period of a year or two when they didn' speak to each other. But this eventually blew oer, and he'd finally get Grandma and take her. riding. In my late teens when I started dating, she'd always wait up for me...but by this time she fell asleep often, and many a night I'd sneak home, go past her, and on to bed.
After I left home, Mama still lived in the old house, and it was badly crumbling by this time. I estimate I've made well over a hundred visits back to Atchison, but I'll never forgive myself for my neglect in her later years. There is so much I could have done for her...but I was engrossed in my own family and life and business. In her later years I went up and got her and she made several trips down here to visit us, but by 1966 or so she was getting forgetful, and fina-ly had to ove out of the old house and into a nursing home. She was ston deaf by this time, and roomed quite happily with a demented woman who neer shut up. Mama was a deeply religious person, with her Bible nearby for perusal at any time. She faithfully read it, and tuly believed it. But she was not a preachy person, flaunting Bible verses in the face of anyone who disagreed with her. I lived with her some 18 years, and knew her about 50 years, and I never recall her being critical of any person. Or complaining about any circumstance. I feel deeply that she was the most worthy of sainthood of all the thousands of people i've met in my life. I used to tease her that every time the church doors opened, she was the first one in, and the last one out. But she was no shy violet either, having opinions about many subjects, and not loath to express them. One thing, among many, that I learned from her was not to argue with someone with whom you disagree. Just change the subject to something you could agree on, as the other person has a right to his opinion also. I adored my brother Evan and his wife Bess. They were probably the closest family members to me, as Orpah, Luther, Bob had grown up and left home. And I was only with Ernie and Ida for nine or ten years, before they too departed. Evan was a very handsome man, with a million-dollar personality. He worked for the Atchison Daily Globe most of his working life, after learning the printing trade in apa's shop. I think he met Bess Moyer when they were in school together, and waited some years before they could et married, vowing to get a new car and build a house. It turned out to be a beautiful house of Riverside Drive, overlooking the river and a bluff. I spent many happy times there, and their children, Gene and Virginia, were not too far from my age, that we had a lot in common. Gene was drowned in Bean Lake over in Missouri when he was 18 or so, and his father never got over the shock. Evan also was deeply religious, and was Sunday school superintendent as well as choir director. At some period in my life he enlisted me to sing in the choir, but I understand got tired of punching me to keep me awake in front of all the congregation, so I soon escaped. Evan held various jobs on the Globe, probably starting as a Linotype operator, and advancing to reporter, ad manager, and one of he editors, before he and Bess bought a bookstore, and took over Papa's print shop after he died, and a few omnths beofre I left Atchison. Evan was stricken with cancer, long lingering, at an early age, but had time to teach Bess and Virginia all about the printing business and the book store business. They ran the business for some years, before finally selling out. One of the things I remember is that Evan had a beautiful tenor voie, and I think sang over the radio at one point. I think in other circumstances, he could have become a professional singer, but he was too busy at other pursuits to ever follow hat up. Orpah left and went on to school before I came along. She married Pari Mellenbruch of Topeka, and subsequently had four girls, Ruth, Esther, Kitty and Marjorie. Ruth was near my own age, and we were good friends. I greatly admired Pari, and all my life hae considered him one of the four or five genuises I have run across. He was a Lutheran minister, a psychologist and university professor, and could succeed at anything he put his mind to. I don't remember much about Orpah, except they lived in Ohio at Springfield, and she was a rather
1 don't remember much about Orpah, except she was a rather quiet person. Orpah, Pari and the girls were all musically inclined, and the four girls all have followed music all their lives professionally. At one point, Orpah and Pari went on a missionary journey to China, and left the girls with us all summer. We had a delightful time, I remember. Luther was ong gone when I came along, moving to California, and marrying a girl named Mary. They had two children, John and "E "Geeta", but I have only faint memories of any of them. Luther and Mary later divorced. When I went to Los Angales in 1937 or thereabouts, I looked up Luther, and we became good friends, seeing eather once a month or so. He was the foreman of a large printing company with a good job. \ Later, after the war, Luther and a girl friend named Lucille visited us in San Francisco a time or two, and I later heard he had died in Chicago.
Good ol' Bob was a wonderful man. He had married Helen Horniker of Wichita, and had two children, Bob Jr. and Helen Louise (?) Bob had also left home before I came along, and moved to Wichita, where he assumed a job on the Wichita Beacon... a Linotype operator at first then moving up the ladder to one of the editors. I understand he spent some 40 years there before retiring. They wree also a fine, devoted couple, and a source of admiration and exambpe for me to live up to I visited in their home many, many times, always stopping in on one of the numerous trips to Atchison, and finally ending when Bob died four or five years ago. Bob and Helen were a deeply devoted couple and deeply religious, setting a fine example for all who knew them. Bob had a fine tenor voice, and had joined the glee club in Igh school in Atchison, continuing with the glee club at KU, and sang in his church choir until he was about 92. He also played handball for many years until perhaps 90, which kept him in good shape and contributed to his longdevity. I remember little of Bob and Helen during my growing-up years, except occasional visits to their Wichita home. But in later years we became much more close, particularly after Helen grew increasingly weak and finally had to enter a rest home. Bob went there two or three times a day to help with her care and oversee her eating, and getting to bed at night. They were married 78 years. Bob died two or three years ago, and I deeply miss him. The next sibling was Ernie, the ideal big brother. There was some nine years diference in our ages, but in my earliest memory he was a part of my life, fixing things around the house, and particularly our cooperating in keeping the old cars strewn around the yard running. I recall one time he had obtained a motorcycle, and occasionally took me for a ride. But one time he was gone, and I was fooling around with it and it started. I was horified and terriied, as I couldn't turn it off. It didn't move, sitting on its stand. Just roared with me sticking my foot in all accessible lower parts, and turning every gauge and knote, until it finally quieted. He died without me ever telling him of this event. Ernie had numerous neighborhood pals, and I was allowed to tag around with him as they went ice skating on frozen aakes; and one time they built a giant kite, which they flew out over the bluff. I was small at the time evidentally, as it would lift me off the ground, but I was too chicken to go up very high with it. As stated before, we very poor, and as Ernie had a job, I think as a Linotype operator on the Globe, he bought me some fine shoe ice skates and a Flexible Flyer sled, then the Cadillac of racing sleds.
Ernie, to the delight of Mama, decided to become a preacher, and for a year attended school at St. Benedict's college, a Catholic institution in Atchison. I remember him saying the priests there were among the finest and kindest men he had ever seen. But I'm getting ahead of myself, as he and Ida both attended Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas, some 60 miles away from home. He came back, evidentally, to attend St. Ben's. Then he was off to a seminary in Nebraska and one in Chicago, where he got his degree. Ernie fell in love with, and eventually married Dorothy Peterson, a Swedish girl from Falun, Kansas. I remember attending the wedding, and what her parents looked like. Even today, I could pick out their pictures if presented to me. During the ceremony I was baby sitting a nephew, , "Skeeter" Denton, an infant son of my sister Ida, and during that time he took his first steps. (I'm not sure about that Skeeter, but will change if incorrect, later) Dorothy was a very sweet and gracious lady, and I immediately fell in love with her, which affection continued until her death in 1983. Ernie and Dorothy moved to a little house on Second Street in Atchison, presumably while he was attending St. Een's, but I'm not sure of that. At one time, perhaps for her birthday, I got a box of chocolates for her, but being at times very shy, chickened out giving them to her, so ate them myself. I later confessed to this misdeed at Ernie and Dorothy's wedding anniversary. Ernie ended up with a fine church in Topeka, until called to service during World War II, when he was commslisioned at a chaplain. He served overseas in the European theater, and was in the the Battle of the Bulge, and other engagements. At the end of the war, I think in Poland, his unit came upon a otown where there was a German concentration came, qhite by accident, and upon entering found hundreds of emaciated and dying prisoners, skin and bones, plus piles of others, ling dead, laying like cordwood in stacks. The Army rounded up townspeople at bayonette point and made them bury the dead and tend to the living. I don't think he ever got over that event. After a long and painful illness with cancer, Dorothy died on May 17, 1983, and I tearfully attended her funeral. My wife rtha died two days later. For a time of several years, Ernie kept the house in Topeka, but eventually contacted Parkinson's, and entered a Presbyterian nursing home in Topeka, where he died. INSERT ABOVE: After Martha's death and Dorothy's, I was not handling it very well, and one 4aY cllled Ernie and asked if he wanted to get out of town. So we piled in the car and took a trip of a month's duration, driging some 10,000 miles, over mush of the western and northn as well as the eastern states. It was a gime of healing for both or us. And we talked endlessly. Ida, of course was Ernie's twin, born a few later than him, so she was the junior of the pair. I understand she instantly adopted me, and was a second mother, treating me as a doll. I don't remember any of that, as she went away to college in Lawrence when I was about nine. During her sojourn there, she met and married Paul Denton, and they enede up with five children. Ida, followed the family custom and earned her way thru college via being a Linotype operator, probably a pioneer, as Linotype operator of the feminine gender were extremely rare, then and to the end of their use in the 70's.
As I think I have related before, about the age of 16, Ida was confined on the front porch of the old house with some contagious disease, the name of which I have no knowledge. Anyway, the family story was that she was not really sick...that she had famlen in love with a motorcyclist, a young man of German origin, and who Papa violently disapproved... so this was a ruse to keep them apart. Later, I'm told, the young man went on to become a Lutheran minister. Paul and Ida's relationship was rocky, as he sold insurance and went to law school, she continued to work at a Lino operator in the Oklahoma City daily newspaper. some pint in the '60's, the owner of that operation locked out the union workers, including Ida, and she came down to Fort Worth to seek employment. She worked briefly at the old Fort Worth Press, but joined other refugees and went to San Francisco, getting employment on the San Francisco Chronicle. Sh had a house in South San Francisco, until her retirement. I visisted her fairly often, at least once a year, and took her to lunch at Fisherman's Wharf there, until her dateh. Ket me correct that. I visited her while she was in South San Francisco, but she got sick and moved in with a daughter in California, then later with Skeeter in St. Louis, where she eventually died. Ernie and Dorothy had two fine sons, Fred and Evan. I remember seeing them occasionally while growing up, but in later years have kept in close touch with both of them, and consider them firm friends. (NOTE: I'm iertantly mixing up the tales f Bob and Hlen and Ernie and Ida. please sort 'em out.) So
As stated, Bob and Helen were an extremely devoted couple, and I never ever heard either rais their voice to the other. But they had a funny habit; as for instance Bob at one time had a kick for slides, and we'd dutifully sit down and he'd narate about some place or other. Frequent, for instance, he would say this is Virginia, an that's the Lutheran church in Abbyville. Then Helen would correct him, perhaps saying it was North Carolina, and that's the Wholesome Baptist church. It never went on to raised voices or saracasm. But happened often, as if they agreed to disagree, but had consideration for the other's belief or opinion. AND GETTING BACK TO IDA: She and Paul had five children, Skeeter, Dorothy, Martha, Jon and David. Jon came down to Fort Worth two summers while in college and worked for me at Printing Center, but have seldom seen him since. Dorothy has stayed close, and through the years we have frequently communicated, and she comes down here every month or so. We're good friends. Other frequnt visitors to the old house were Mama's sisters and two brothers. Aunt Faith Settle lived ina little town near Wichita, and visited perhaps two or three times a year. She had a son, Allen, I remember faintly, who I understand lost his life in World War II. Also a daughter Kathleen, who I lost track of. I was very fond of Aunt aith, and she'd usually bring me a toy of some kind when I was little. I think her husband's name was Clayton, but I have little memory of him. At that time there was probably a railway to Wichita, and she probably rode up on it it, as Atchison was a main terminal. Aunt Grace alwo came fairly often, and she lived in Oklahoma City; also spoiling me with toys or treats of some kind. sAunt Ethel with her husband Charlie HOle were very frequent visitors, living in a little town west of Atchison, Monrovia. I was particularly close to them, as they'd take me home for visits. They lived on a farm, but Uncle Charlie apparently didn't like farming, so it was a collection of falling down barns and weeds. He apparently rented out some of it to a sharecropper. It was an old wooden two-story house.
As stated before, the automobile had already taken over when I came along, but Charlie HOle distrusted them, and had a horse and buggy. I remember riding in it with fascination. At one time his brother had given him an old Model T Ford, and Charlie Hole drove it a few miles until it ran out of oil, then that was history. Charlie Hole was a tall, handsome man, with a shock of grey haur. He had an extremely loud voice, and it was said you could hear him in the next county when he preached, as he had a college education and was an occasional preacher in Monrovia. Aunt Ethel was a shy, retiring person, speaking infrequently, and apparently in awe of her husband. I remember one time when I visited them, and one night got sick. The got a doctor out to their house (they had miracles then) and he diagnosed me as ill from eating too many green peaches. Apparently his cure worked immediately, for I remember leaning out the upstairs window and asking the departing doctor what kind of car he drove. Aunt Ethel and Charlie Hole had no children. Uncle Harry (of Harres) was a very frequent visitor, seeing his mother at least once a week. 1 was fond of his wife Thelma, bud don't remember much about her. They had two sons and several daughters. But I remember gwoing up wity Ralph Martin only, and papparently he and his brother Paul were younger and ran around with other kids, and lived in a different part of town. IN recent years since family reunions started have grown to know them both. I apologize that I don't know their sisters, even their names, for they apparently came along after I left Atchison. U:ncle Paul was the tycoon in the family, being publisher of the Lansing )Michigan) State Journal, and a very influential man. He never married, but had the knack of bonding with kids, so I really liked him. He visited the old house and his mother about once a year. I vividly remember one occasion, when apparently I was 15 or older, when he came to town in the biggest, shiniest, newest Packard I had ever seen. He let me drive it, and one morning took me to school, letting me steer it up to the main entrance, where all my clasmates could get an eyeful. My stock really soared them. Around 1950, Martha and I bought a 22-foot trailer, and drove east and visited Uncle Paul. Rick was five and Bobby a baby. Uncle paul invited us to his palatial home and eneertained us in his garden, I rmemember. I had sold my business, and was at the moment footloose but had no intention or thought of moving in on Uncle Paul. But I remember as he showed me around the wonderful, modern, printing facility he headed, that employees eye me suspiciously, wondering if i ws paanning with Uncle Paul to move in on them. at the time it had never entered my mind, and I wouldn't.
I got notice that Uncle Paul had died in 1965, so flew to Lansing and attended the funeral, being the only relative to show up. It was rumored that he had Grandpa Martin's gold Civil War sword, and I wasn't adverse to getting it for the family's sake. But it never showed up, and wasn't mentioned I found out later that he had donated it rightly to the Kansas Historical Society, and in the intervening years, it has been stolen, and they have no clue as to bs whereabouts. Grandma's brother Jim Challiss lived about a block away, in a big house overlooking the bluff, but he seldom called on her. I only remember one time, ween he gave me a quarter. I really treasure that, for i -ight have been the first quarter I'd ever seen, being used to pennies, nickels and dimes. Probably bought candy with it, to feed my habit. Uncle Jim was an attoryey, but had a ohobby of fl shooting bows and arrows, and I think made them in a shop in his back yard, over the garage. I remember vguely of him showing me through his workshop one time. Across the street from his house there was about a 20-foot-wide strip of lawn, and he'd set up his targets there, and shoot an-™,,. • . arrows xnto them. Myself, with other kids, would admire that, and he let us retrieve the arrows fromthe target from time to time.
T rpmpmhpr liparino nf his wife. Aunt Rilla. hut Hnn'r rpmomhov O,rov- i,oo-:~„ u„„
The "aunties" were a familiar subject of conversaton around the house, with Grandma and Mama speaking of them fondly and often. Mama kept up an acative correspondence with several of them, hearing about Aunt Mina, Aunt Dora, Aunt Blanche, and probably others I can't remember now. ,;; :. -i..a . . Wneh I moved to Los Angales and lived in Hollywood, I got in touch with Aunt Dora, who lived up the hill from Gower Gulch on Beachwood Drive, a area of beautiful homes and properity. As I recall she lived with her daughter and family, the MPheeters. 1 visited her quite often and grew quite fond of her, as she was a friendly and charming lady. One time Mama came out to visit me, and we "house Sat for the McPheeters while they were on vacation. Much of this memory escapes me, but I do remember that they had a beautiful big player grand piano. This piano played when paper rolls were inserted into its maw, and 1 remember about saring out certain of the musical selections I grew fond of. Another auntie lived in Los Angeles, I think Aunt Mina, but that is probably wrong. At any rate, she lived with her second husband, a very nice man, and they invited me over to eat now and then. I recall them living very fruguely and barely got enough to eat on these visits. He was reputed to be quite wealthy, owning real estate here and there, and intent on leavng hiswealth to his grandchildren. I also heard that they went through it in six months when he died.
That about lists all thefrelatives l^can think of, and now to my personal memories on growing up at 315 North Terrace, and later life and adventures. Aside from othe£alreaated3iemories i-n m Y youth, about the earliest I can remmember vaguely a trip made when I was about eight. At first it was decided to leave me homw, but at the pleadings of someone in the family, I was taken at the last minute, and ended up in Ohio visiting Papa's relatives there. I have no shred of memory about them, though. But supposedly we took a day trip on a boat out into Lake Erie, and a storm came up, and the motor quit, and we were rescued by the Coast Guard of other rescue bodies in the area. I remember some tossing and jolting, but have been tossed and jolted so many other tin in my life, it may not be authentically that trip. I think we had a big old Hudson touring car, and on the running boards and the rear sere camping materials and probably a tent, for use on the way, for there were no motels in tht day, and we couldn't afford them, even if there were. From the first, I was a motor car nut, and I remember someone bragging that I could name every car on the road before I was eight. In addition to the Hudson, we had a Hupmoble, si distinguished by a very high radiator cap. And a Dort, but this was before Papa got the idea of the $5 Chevies littering the back yard. School wass four or five blocks away from home, an easy walk in spite of the hills, and I did this jaunt afoot starting in kindergarten and ending up when I took college courses in th same block. So my entire formal education was in this small cluster of buildings. Both the grade and high schools were fine buildings, well heated and with lots of windows. The teachers were well trained and most of them were women. In that day and age, of the depression, it was the law that women teachers could not be married, as it was felt that each household was entitled to one breadwinnter. It was rumored that certain of the teachers were married, but had to be sneaky when meeting their mates on weekends, r probably out of Atchison, as it ment instant firing if they were caught. At best I was an uninterested student, but squeaked by on c's and d's. We had one English teacher, who evidentally was quite wealthy, as she accompanied her family on yearly trips to Europe, totally uncommon in those days. Anyway, she was fond of recount! her adventures in class, and it quicklv eni- •„ K~ Y got to be a game to question her about some place or other, and she'd sperthe rest of the period rhapsodizing about thi8 C thls ol! that trip, ignorine our l«««nnB
Another teacher I grew quite ond of taught shop, Mr. McVey, and I took to that like a duck to water. I remember making Mama a bookcase, really classy, painted a main coat of blue, thenoverpainting it with crackly black, to give some effect of other. I've often wonder where that ended up. And I built an airplane swing for Gene and Virginia, that they hung on a tree near their back door. Of course, it was fireengine red. One of the smartest things I ever did in my life was to take two years of typing, and that has enabled me to type at around 80 words per minute for lo these many years, incluc my act at the moment. Even later on, when I had a large staff who could write letters for me, I could dash off a letter in five or ten minutes and have it sealed and in the mail before they could gear up to the task. 0 must add at this point, that some of these letters, as well as my mouth, has gotten me into a world of trouble all my life. I finally learned that iwas a mistake to put a lot of things in writing, and I w escaped penalty on a few occasions, when I signed the letters "Barney Google." INSERT PAPA: I May have given the impression that life in the old house was grim and forboding. Nothering could be further from the truth Papa had a wonderful sense of humor and the house rang with laughter, aprticularly when we had guests and he got to telling jokes At the shop he had the joke of the day and I remember rolling my eyes when he told the same joke in front of me to half a dozen people. He was the personification of the "jolly Dutchman," and referred to himself a s a Dutchman. Most of the jokes those days were about Irishmen, Dutchmen, Swedes and some about the stoic Lutherans, who really were a very humurous people. The government had the WPA program ging building various things to keep work going and profive a living for the unemployed. One joke referred to a WPA worker who ene/ ended up in the hospital, after his shovel collapsed when termites ate up the handle. Papa always had a smile on his face, and was quite an optimist, in spite of his hard life.
Mama was the soul of optimism, and always had a genuine smile on her face and a cheerful ±r about her...a verysweet and cheerful person. I dont remembr her telling jokes, but she had a good sense of humor. Grandma was the epitemy of gloom, milking every event to its dire outcome to the best of .her ability, and was evey eager to criticize the failings and miserableness of humanity around her.. She gloried in grief. But I will confess that is my personal iview, and the memories of other weo were around her seem to be the opposite of mine. So be it. For years I have chucked with amusement as I hear the doomsayers, mainly coming from the older generations, of how the younger generations are doomed and are guiding the world into utter chaos and anarchy..."nothing like previous generations and the good ole days." For that is the same chapter and verse that I heard daily from Grandma, and my generation did pretty well, surviving the Depression and World War II. I believe the present generations will do as well, and many things are much better than they were back then. Up to now, I've pretty well covered different places and personalities of people surrounding me in Atchison. But I'll take a brief interval to describe Atchison, for the sake of those who may read this and haven't been there. Atchison is situated on the west bank of the Missouri river, with the state of Missouri on th other bank. At the time I was growing up, the only way across was to ride over the tool bridge; but I rresume one could walk over, although I never tried it or knew of anyone who did. But as Atchison was "dry" and East Atchison was "wet, I presume many people walked over to get a drink. Or perhaps drove over and hocked their transportation for booze, and walked back. The bridge was a senene of entertainment now and then, as it sat mainly on a base in the middle of the river, and when a boat of any size wanted up the river, or down, the bridge would open, with its pathway parallel to the river. It was always a great adventure to run down to the lookout and see the bridge open, and see what
ad occasioned this event.
The river was very wide, perhaps a mile, and very muddy, filled with whirlpools and sand and dirt, so that I doubt one could see the bottom of a cup if one filled it with river water. I have a dim memory of showboats coming up the river... perhaps not with shows at that place and time, but to take townspeople for steamboat rides on the river. As it was very treacherous, it was said sandbars could form almot daily, and boats could go aground very easily. So not much traffic was ever on the river, except some sane barges, and an occasonal fisherman. Getting back to the bridge, 1 was told early on that Mama was in the first vehicle across tha bridge, wheeled by her father in a baby carriage when as governor he attended the ceremony, and pehaps had a hand in getting it there. Before the bridge, I understand ferries operated on the river, but that was before my time. In later years a high, new bridge was opened, and it was free, delegating the old bridge to occasional trains only. I suppose it still opens, for there is bound to be river traffic now and then, too high to pass under it. Atchison's Cinnercial and Main Streets come down to the river through a valley, with high hills converging on both the north and south dides of that street (or streets). The town had a poulaton of around 15,000 when I lived there, and I understand it has held about steady up to the present time. It was mainly a farmers' supply town, with many nice stores and peripheral businesses to supply fameers with whatever they needed. It was also home to a small steel mill, where I understand they built the undercarriages of trains and streetcars, and I supplise it still fulfulls those two functions, light rail I suppse (I'm sure making a lot of mistakes... I'm sorry) Another main industry were tall silos that held grain crops that originally shipped grain on the river, later the trains, and now probably trains and trucks. i • I was a city unique in this day and age, where most of the streets fan straight through from east to west and north to south. A few were mainer than others, but one had the choice of dozens of streets going in each direction. It was a peaceful town, with little reported from the penitenitaries at pen was located, but also the state were conducted along the river, but crime; and occasionally a break-out was Leavenworth, where both the federal one and military one. I suppose manhunts I don't remember any specific one.
The bluffs along the river were very steep on the Kansas side, and I spent countless hours roaming paths on these bluffs with pals, going as far north as St. Benedict's Monastery a couple of miles north of home. I tink I've mentioned them before, but trains were thick at the train yards below the house, with a round house and turn table; and frequent trains chugging by. On the river side of the tracks there usually was a huge sandpile that was dredged out of the river, and this gave us countless hours of delight in climbing to the top and sliding down the steep sides. Also climbing up and around on the freight cars, and I'm sure Mama never knew of this danger. Little snakes called ringnecks abounded on the bluff, seldom longer than six inches, and I delighted in bringing them home and horlfying Mama. I'm sure I was original in this pursuit. Also, w'd get little turles out of the river, careful not to even dip a toe in it, and little green frogs living under the train turntable.
-22MARGARET: two things: Please delete any disparaging remarks about Grandma [/art£n And as I haaen t touched this for two weeks, I m sure I have duplications... so beware and correct. Growing up in Atchison was a delightful expreience. Please realize this is from a disaance of 70 and 80 years. So I'm sure I didn't think so at the time. We were poor, but not near as needy as other people during the drpression. Girls in the family wore clothes made from flour sacks, and it was quite a shopping spree to go to a market and have feminnie members go through various brands of flours to pick out what would suit thrir fancies. Mama was an expert seamstress, with her beloved Singer sewing machine, and I'm sure capable of making complete dresses and suits if the need was called for. I remember two main stores, J. C. Penney and F. W. Woolworth. All clothing items came from these two, who had a wide range of selections. Of course, one was lucky to have even three or four selections, but I dan't vouch for the distaff side of the family. I remember Christmas coming up with great expectations, and being given a whole dollar to spend on my gifts. Handkerchiefs for feminine members of the family could be had for A cents, and a pound of candy for ten cents. Speaking of which, it's remarkable that I grew up with any teeth, for every time I coul from Mama, I'd buy a pound of cheap chocolates, shaped like pyramids, candy corn, gum drops, orange slices and an enticing variety of other selections. And , of course, jelly beans. It's been my well-kept secret sll these years, of my addiction to these goodies, as I'm sure my parents weren't aware of it. But, as already alluded to, I'm sure me, bine the eighth, couldn't surprise them much. Down below the house at 315 were wooded bluffs, and I spent years, iwth my friends, raoming them, going as far up the river to below St. Benedict's monastery. Below this monastery were giant caves, chiseled out by Kerford Quarry Company, a local institution owned by a black family, who were somewhat of elite in Atchison. The entrances to this quarry would hold two boxcars side by side,a and we'd delight in going in the laborinth of caves as far as we were brave enough to do, daring eath other on. Trucks came roaring out from time to time, but none of the drivers paid the slightest attention to us. It was always cool in the cave, said to be 58 degrees year round, and supposedly being on the property of the Monastery above, it was said that a shaft was tunneled up to the monastery, providing air condition to it year round. Speaking of air conditioning, all I can remember is that the three theaters kpssessed it, the Orpheum, the Royal and I can't think of the other one at the moment. If it comes to me, I'll insert it later. There were rumored to be wild animals up the miles of bluff, but the only ones I can remember were an occasional rabbit and little snakes, about six inches long, called ring necked, as they had such band just behind their heads. I'm sure poison ivy was present, but I must have been immune to it, bor I can't remember itching. Railroad tracks were along the river, ging north at that time, rumored to reach up to Omaha, but we never went near that far. We played on the array of boxcars parked along there, and were lucky that one never moved while we were on it. Of course, the old steam engines were noisy, and one could hardly sneak up and grab a boxcar. Also along the river were giant sandpiles, and we delighted in climbing them and sliding down. Again, noone ever paid the slightest attention to us.
Ours was a very close and loving family, not touchy=touchy or kissy-kissy, but true to our Lutheran and Protestant upbringing, not overtly affectionate. I never remember anyone saying "1 love you," but the feeling was apparent and obvious every hour of the day. I take no credit for this, as it was by only the wildest chance that I was born to such parents and family, but I sincerely believe that every child on earth was born into such circumstances, it would be a far better world, with much better citizens. I went through such pranks as turnng over garbage cans, letting air out of cars, soaping windows and screens (particularly around Halloween), and various other pranks which I can't remember at this time. By the way, there was no trick or treat in those days, just the pranks as I remember it. Saarting about a week before Halloween. I had childhood friends, such as Tom Elder, Albert Fred Latz, Jay Lyman Reddick, Eldon Elder, and a black boy up from the hollow named Richard, who was quite a comic and kept us in stitches. I'm skipping years here, I suppose, but my mother tried to fix me up with Karen Elder, a sister of the Elder boys, and it didn't take. One night there was some sort of celebrationd owntown, and they insisted I take Karen to it. But I did so, and abandoned her during the festivities. I've always felt sorry about that, but I suppose that was not the worse sin I ever committed. There was a pool hall down town across from the shop, and we boys would sidle slowly along, stealing peeks at the provocative pictures on the magazines displayed in the windows, thinking noone would notice our actions. We never had the courage to go inside and purchase one of them. I remember Tom Elder was the neighborhood sage, and he had some theory, which I've long since forgotten, about where babies came from. I understand when the war came on, he joined the Air Corps and was shot down over Germany. I met Karen at our 50th class reunion in 1985, and she was an old maid, no doubt grieving that I had not taken her home that night, and later on fell in love with her. But there my imagination rolls on. As mentioned before, I was car crazy as far back as I can remember, and in my earliest years could tell anyone listening the make of every car on the road. In line with our car collection in the yard, I made a collection of radiator emblems, back then made of ceramics and colorfully designating what make of car they were attached to. As my dad was a frequent customer of car junk yards, I would acquire these emblems now and then for a nickel or dime. And had them attached to a board in my room. One night after working late, I started home and spotted a car with a rare and fine radiator emblem, and yielded to temptation and started to pry it off. Then I heard a voice behind me saying (What are you doing, boy?" and turned around thd there was a policeman about two feet away. As I had not sucessfully lifted the embled, I stammered some reply and ran home. For the next few days and nights I toseed and turned, worrying what my parents and family would think of me behind prison bars, and then and there decided that I didn't have the guts to be a criminal, and live my life looking over my shoulder. About this time, a member of my class had broken into a garage and was siphoning gas from the tank of a '48 Chevie, and then lit a match to see his progress. There was an explosion, and he landed in the hospital. was an example of criminal activity that was crilled into us both in school and at home and in church.
t one point
At one point, Papa had a printing job every week for the movies, and in return we got a pass to go to them any time we wanted. He loved the cinema, and we spent manya happy hour or tow at the motion pictures. In those days the screen was silent, and usually the theater had a pianist or organist to accompany the action on the screen. Cepending on their ability, this could range from beautiful to awful, and if too bad, the audience would react with catcalls. But usually they were.quiet and well. behaved. From time to time relatives would show up and stay for various lenghts of time. 1 remember Allen Settle, Kathleen Mauck, Johnny and Geeta Tonsing, and the Mellenbruck girls, who spent a summer with us while their parents were in China. Among my playmates was a girl, "Chugie" Welch, who I vowed I would wed when we grew up, but alas, she moved away and that romance was averted.Also, Ralph and Paul Martin were frequent visitors to the old house. In most cities in America, streets are laid out like a can of worms, seemingly with no planning. But Atchison, in common with many Kansas cities, was laid out in a grid, with numbred shtreets going north and south, and named streets going east and west. And most of these streets went all the way through, whereby one could drive anywhere in town on a wide selection of streets. As stated before, myself, along with my brothers and sisters, went to work in the print shop at the age of 12, and my Dad went to the school and arranged for me to take basically all my classes in the morning and come to work in the afternoon. This necessiatated only the barest of high school education, and I squaked by. At one point the Principal, Mr. Wright, called me to his office and informaed me that I was flunking and would not graduate unless I made some changes. I had an aged algebra each, Mrs. Killarney, who had taught my mother, 44 years older than I, and was quite grouchy; consequently I was flunking in algebra. So I switched to another teach and learned to love the subject, and hence, passed and graduated. My entire education was in one square block in Atchison, starting with kindergarten and ending up with college classes as an extension of KU, which inidentally I loved. But unfortunately, my father died and was buried on my 19th birthday. So I never went back I, along with others in the family, walked a lot, as school was five or six blocks from home, and the same from the shop. And I walked that almost every day of my school life. Now and then I remember encountering a bully, but that was very early on, and appare-tly I grew to enough size so was not subjected to bullying . But one time, as I was delivering some circulars we had printed to the Fitz Overall Company dow- on second street, on a path above the creek, I picked up a rock and threw it rather randomly. By pure chance it hit a large boy on the head, so I had to change my route for the next month or so; and finally this blew over. For one reason or another I decided to elect Latin as an elective, and suffered through two years of it. But I was lucky, as the teacher for some reason was an admired of my grandfather, John A. Martin, and went easy on me; and I would take notes in class, then later type them neatly and make a fine notebook, printing a cover in the shop, and stapling it professionallly. This got my passing grades, although I learned little or no Latin. I staill have one or two of these notebooks. The same went for English. As I learned English and word usage early by setting type by hand on the Linotype, I could write anything put before me correctly, and think up and write a story on the spot with correct English. Consequently, I never learned to decline a sentence, of learn the difference between, Nouns, verbs, participles, and vowels. And still to this day don't know.
One particular prank backfired, as a house down the alley was occupied by an old lady, Mrs. Dolan, and as thealley was hilly, her garage was accessible to the yard next door by perhaps three or four feet onto the roof of this garage. Tom Elder and I for some reason, delighted on climbing onto this garage and then Mrs. Dolan would come out and scream at us to get off her property, which we'd promptly do by jumping off. One time (the last) we both jumped and I came off unscathed, but Tom broke his leg, and I'm sure Mrs. Dolan went to her grave with a smile on her face. One of my best friends, Jay Lyman Reddick, was reasonably well off in those depression days, as his grandfather and father owned two furniture stores, an he was the only heir. I'm moving back and forth in time on this narrative, but Jay's father was one of the worst chain smokers I've ever seen, and had a very frequent cough, almost constantly, and never took the cigarette from his mouth, even when talking. I often wondered how he slept with it glued on, and how they excaped burning up in bed. Jay Lyman had asthma, and at times had to go to the' hospital and breathe oxygen to recover spells. As noone else in my family (he wasn't in the family) smoked at that time, and smoking attaint the same status ad Demon Rum, I learned early on to never smoke; and though tempted many timt my subsequent life, I never had one in my mouth. SayaEjiaanwe batb.nhadhldaHnadwt8aH.iand, eaBr|ii^efiathaE didqh&atgyandf&elieto work and left the car in his garage, Jay Lyman and I would take it out on joy rides. We almost got caught when his father checked the mileage, so I came up with the idea of disconnecting the speedometer cable, and we got by with this for a while. But, also, his father came home one time and felt the radiator, and that game came to an abrupt end. While we're on the subject of cars, one night Papa walked to work after supper and explicitly forbid me to take out the old Chevie. As soon as he was out of sight, Jay Lyman dna I took it out and proceeded to do wheelies with it on a football field. When we came home, Papa was sitting on the wall at the foot of the alley, and caught us red handad. I've never been very quick witted in those situations, and have no clue as to what I old him. But he didn't yell or ever bring up the subject again, and I was so conscience-stricken that I never tried that trick again. I also reemember skipping school one day and running around by myself down in the hollow, and hiding below the front wall. I came home at he usual time, and if my parents ever learned of it, it was never mentioned, and I never repeated that. In high chool I had a crush on a girl named Betty Brittain, and neve got up the courage to any more than stammer in her presence. I drove by her house dozens of times, but was too chicken to do anything buy wave if I saw her out in her yard. Anyway, one day she got stuck in the out at Jackson Park and Jay Lyman happened to drive by and rescued her. One thing led to aother, and he married her. I understand they had one son, and then she went off the rocker and was interned in a mental hospital. I dont knw the end of that story. But Jay Lyman never had anything to do with me after that, as I would rave about her in his presence before all this happened. This is going out of sequence, but after I left home and moved to Hollywood, I'd dome home every summer and visit and evan and Bess and othe relatives. I'd drop in to see Jay Lyman at his furniture store, as his grandfather and father had died, and he was sitting there day after day, with his mother by his side, bored silly, and with no future in sight. Of course he had plenty of money, a beautiful home and a new car, but he was miserable. So I'd tell him about my glamorous life in Hollywood, and about how I ran around with the stars, etc. In reality, I'd see Alice Faye occasionally and would dance frequently to the tunes of Phil Harris, but I was never star Papa was not a good rrlver, as his generation grew up with horses and wagons, and cars appeared on the scene later. As said before, Ernie and I worked on crs
la the back yard from the time 1 was eight or so, and I remember one time I was by myself, and had the motor installed in an old Chevie, before connecting the brakes and various other accessories, when I decided to test it out. So I started it up, somehow managed to cluCcrT it and get it in gar gear, and promptly ran into a tree, damaging its fender. So as I had the time, 1 got another fender from our inventory,and never told anyone until my later years. When I was about 15, my sister Ida took pity on me and taught me how to drive, shifting gears and clutching and so forth. So one day I asked Papa if it could drive and he said I didn't know how. I replied that Ida had taught me, so he moved over and henceforth I was the chauffeur. I had another friend by that time, John Rittley, and as we were beginning to look the girls over in earnest, we decided to get a car. So we settled on a 1927 Ford, the last Model T, and paid $15 for it, with monthly payments for a while. It was a roadster, but we fiddled with it, and got a pickup body and attached when we had something to haul, and even improvised a rumble seat. We also tore it down and painted it, black and br GREEN as I recall, and I bought a giane pair of Cadillac headlights for five cents and installed them. This car had a rudimentary self-starter, but would run the battery down after a couple of starts, so would hand-crank it all day, then show off to the girls by using the starter at night. Also as money was in shortsupply, we'd buy a gallon of gas and grew expert as to the distance this would carry us on dates. Also uptown was the installation of a floor accelerator, a novelty on Model T's. One time the car started to knock and miss, we took off the head, and found one cylinder had disintegrated, and the piston rod had chopped deep brooves into the cylinder walls. We had this one cylinder ground out to maximum and put in a new piston. It ran okay, but gobbled up oil after that. John and I had grown to know two girls, Crystal Willette and Phronzie Guy, and we got up the courage to ask them for a double date, a picnic. It was vaguely understood that my date was Phronzie and his Crystal, but the girls instantly moved the other direction. I went with Crystal for eight years, off and on, but never married her. And John Married Phronzie, and perhaps are still married over 5p years, as far as I know. Atchison had a wonderful park, ans still does...Jackson Park, on the southern part of the city. Within this park are narrow dirt roads, one of which led up to Guerrier Hill, and we frequented this many balmy evenings, necking up to a point adn gazing at the star^Our gallon of gas would take us that far and turn, if no variations would occur. I suppose I would have married Crystal, but at a weekly salary of 50 cents, couldn't really have afforded a wife. I fell rapturesly in love with her, and I suppose she with me, but we didn't really get along and argued frequently. So my guardian angel was looking out for me, and we never married. The family never much liked her, not because of her, but her father was sort of a rascal, and he and her mother finally divorced, which in Atchison at that time was scandelous. Of the years, Papa had gotten out an Atchison City Directory, and I remember vaguely on knocking on doors and inquiring about the people who lived there. But mainly the indormation came from prevous directories and by Papa consultine with various mail carriers. It was a big job, setting up the tpe, making up the pages, printing these pages, assembling them into sequence, then putting on the cover, which was attached by small nails or brads, then a stlckum cover over the backbone of the book. The directories were first printed alphabetically, than all the type was re-assembled by streets, sorting the slugs for that purpose, and running them again thru the press in that order. Papa died before the lo36 book was out, so family members got it finalized, and collected the money for ads and gave to Mama. I still have a copy of this directory. Bobout the time Papa
Papa died of a cerebral hemorrhage, at age 65. He keeled over and three days later was dead, apparently with no pain. 1 think the dual handicaps of being tremendously overweight, and the depression, killed him. I'm sure he was a very worried man, and had had a rather tragic life. Studying and aspiring to be a minister, and having to give that up for a calling that he probably didn't really care for, and living in his mother-in-law's house for the rest of his life, was probably very frustrating. But he never showed it. About the time of his death, Even, having worked for years at the Atchison Daily Gloe, decided to quit and bought out a book store next door to 600 Commercial. He and Mama and other members of the family wanted me to take over the print shop and remain in Atchison, but I had neither the experience nor desire to do so. So he took over the printing equiJ^ment, and he and Bess acquired a new location up Commercial street, the Tonsing Book Store. About this time they learned that Evan had cancer, and was told he wouldn't live very long, so he carefully trained bess in all pects of running a business and a print shop, and he died, not long after I got out of the service (I think my sequences are out of order, as Papa died in 1936 and Evan died in 1947, as I recall. So he must have ahd several good years. As Crystal's folks were divorced, her mother decided to give in to the wishes of her brother, who was quite well off, in Los Angales, and move out there. About the same time, my sister Orpah and husband Pari had talked to a woman who owned a weekly paper in Tippacanoe City, Ohio, and she offered me a job as a printer there. So Crystal and I decided I would go back there and work, save every cent, and when I returned we'd go to Los Angales with her mother. Subsequently I obtained a 1948 Chevie, the first car I ever drove that would go 55 miles an hour, and drove it to Ohio. Pari and Orpah and the girls were very kind to me, and I often spent weekends with them in Springfield. But on entering the printing shop in Tippacanoe City, I found printing equipment I ad never seen before, and hadn't an inkling on how to run these presses. The lady put up with me a week or two, and get a printer from West Milton to come over and help me get out the paper, then fired me. This man, Named Cecil, was a fine fellow, and got me a job in the West Milton newpaper office. There I learned to run a cylinder press and more modern Linotype and other better equipment than I had grown up with. In both cities I roomed in homes, the first in a school bus driver's ome. later learned that my replacement on the paper occupied the same room,and one night the gas went out on the small stove, and he sufficted to detth. I
The second place I lived with with a widow woman on a small farm, who was used to cooking for farm hands, and she decided to fatten me up, which I much appreciated. These were wonderful i-ttle towns, and I have always carried fond memories of them. I lived very sparcely, mainly subsisting on one huge meal a day, and purchasing, on payday, supplemental food in seven sacks to last me until next payday, thereby saving my money for the trip to California. iSERT: Before leaving Atchison, I need to get in two or three more memories:
Commercial Street in Atchison was the main drag, always brimming with life but on Saturday nights, it really boomed. It was the custom of the young set to cruise it all the way from Second Street to Thirteenth, then back again f Q " ^ / e m e m b e r ° n e P arti cular individual who had hopped-up „ 2 \ 2 6 V i e " ° a ^ t " a n d P u t s ? e c i a l Pipes on it, that emitted a deep roar, and would idle down to a whisper. I don't remember any dragging, for the cars blocks!
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nromot^""? ^ ^ e , ^ c a l world one time, as the town had some sort of promotion, whereby a bakery would promote its products, say "Baird" and we printed the entries in our shop. When one made a purchase in selected stores, one got one of these letters with his purchase. Well and good. But we printed thousands with " A T . A, I, and D, f o r i n s t a n c e .
But we printed only ten or so "r's" and 1 doubt all of those went in the stores. Perhaps one, to a selected store and customer. I think they were foolish to pull such a stunt, and include us blabber-mouths in on the scheme. They would have been far wiser to print the full amount for each letter, and thrown away the ones they didn't distribute. One of several things I learned in the old printing shop was patience. To stand up at one of the presses, and feed in a sheet of paper with the right hand, get it printed, and retrieve the sheet with the left hand, for hour on hour, indeed taught patience. Again my guardian angel looked after me, as my mind was roving miles away, but I never got my hand caught in the press. A thousand an hour was top speed, and I dreaded orders of 10,000, which sometimes came in and were welcomed as added income. I may have mentioned that the old Linotype was //666, and countless others were manufactured later, so it was a very primitive machine, balky and prone to squirts of hot lead and sluggish keyboard. We had fonts of type from 8-point up thru lA-point, with 12-point being typewriter standard size, and 8-point newspaper type. Anything other than that were hand-set in a "stick" letter by letter. These letters were gathered up and locked into a chase, which was put on one of the presses. After printing, this type would have to be "thrown in," or re-distributed in type cases, for use in later print jobs. Very tedious, and much patience required. More about Linotypes later. After returning to Atchison from Ohio, amidst much crying and sobbing from Mama and Evan and Bess, with pleas not to go, Crystal, her mother and I set out for California. Aside from a flat tire two or three times a day, we made the trip in three days, and got to Los Angales. Back then, tires would go flat for no reason at all, and one had to jack up the axle, take off the tire and its rim, dragout the tube, and patch it. Then a hand air pump was manned and after the tube was patched, it was inserted into the tire, the tire wrestled onto the rim, and the rim mounted back on the wheel, by fastening the lug bolts. And pumping up the air with the hand pump. Crystal's mother, named Beryl Willette, was a wonderful woman, and very protective of her daughter and her virtue. Uon arrival in L.A., they went to live with her brother for a spell, who was a well-to-do insurance executive, with a live-in maid; while I got a room in a rooming house over near Pico. In those days rooming houses were common, as hotels and motels were either non-existant or too expensive for our taste. These rooming houses were ordinary houses, with a number of bedrooms, and a bathroom down the hall. If one chose, one could amass some groceries that would keep without refrigeration, or eat out at various restaurants. Sometimes breakfast was furnished, and some rooming houses had abundant meals where one could eat enough to last the rest of the day. Others were sparse and mean. This was about 1937, and L.A. was a wonderful place (and still is). But back then it had an innocence long since lost. As the depression was raging, and literally millions of able-bodied men were hungry and out of work, I was extremely lucky to be able to land a job in a print shop immediately, even though a kid. I remember applying for work at one place, and was laughingly turned away, for a child like me was not able to run a Linotype. But I soon got a job in Glendale, a suburb of L.A., at a place called The Church Press, and they printed religious material, of course. It was owned by a Mr. Farson, and his wife and two sons worked there, along with two iidividuals named Paul Fesler and Carl Moser, and we became fast friends, for I worked there over two years. Paul Feler lived in Hollywood with his parents, on Bronson Avenue, just a block from Gower Gulch, and within walking distance of Hollywood and Vine. I obtained a room a couple of doors away from Paul Fesler in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ingram, and there met their son, Al Mason, who turned into a lifelong friend, and I still communicate with him every month or so.
(Correctino in last sentence:
It was Al INgram, not al Mason)
INSERT: In Atchison, not only the caves north of town, the Kerford Quarry, contain miles of passageways, but a similar place south of town, probably owned by the same individuals, also was a quarry: But, after the war the government seized it and proceeded to store hundreds, perhaps thousands, of machine tools i therein. It was and is a very secret installation, with a high barbed-wire fence and closely patrolled by armed guards, even today. I met an individual once, who had occasion to periodically visit the place as a government employee, and he said with the constant temperature of 58 degrees, and a dry fimosphere, the machines were coated with cosmoline, and remain intact in case of another war. No matter what was built, planes, tanks, ships, trucks...all used somewhat identiacal machine tools. Now back to L.A.: Hollywood was a wondrous place, with wonderful stores and entertainment along Hollywood Boulevard as well as Sunset Boulevard. Restaurants, theaters, studios, all were at their peak then. Every December all month long, every night, was a Christmas parade, led by Leo Corillo, I believe, a bog star of that time, and dozens of movie stars and notables appearing during the month, along with floats and assorted vehicles, plus bands. There was a streetcar track down Hollywood Boulevard, and I would frequently take it downtown I remember one New Year's Eve, when I tried to get on board, some drunk had wandered in front of one ans was laying there waiting for a meat wagon to take him to the morgue. My job in Glendale was interesting, as for the first time in my life I was working with up-to-date printing equipment. They had two Intertypes, fine machines. I have often referred to Linotypes, for they were the predominant typesetting machine of the day. And were ivented first about the turn of the century. But a rival soon came up in the form of the Interype, and they were quite similar, with some differences in deference to patent laws which still protected Linotypes. Most of the time I preferred Intertypes, for they had a slightly lighter keyboard, and both were fine machines. Also in the plant was a new Chandler & Price Craftsman press, the first automatic press I had ever operated, and it was wonderful to me. I also operated a Baum folder and paper cutter. For all this, I was paid $18 per week, 40 hours. Now and then I asked for a raise, and finally worked up to $22 per week. But in those days one, especially single, could get along quite well. I soon bought a beautiful '36 Oldsmobile coupe, jet black, and that was the worse car I ever owned. It was used, and it soon came to light that it had been through a flood. When out on a date, one of the wheel bearines would seize, and a wheel would not turn until I backed it up a foot or so. This led to embarassment on occasion. And it leaked oil, water and gasoline. I made friends with the mechanic who had to constantly work on it, and finally in 1939 he suggested I get rid of this lemon. I told him I couldn't afford a new carand besides how could I get rid of the Olds. 1 said I couldn't afford not to. So he visited a Plymouth dealer friend of his, and made a deal for me to purchase a green coupe. He instructed me to tow or push the Olds to a block of the dealer, to fill all the liquids, and drive it onto the lot, pick up the Plymouth's keys at the desk, drive off, and never go that route again. I did so, and enjoyed bounteous prosperity with the moneh I didn't have to spend on tat old junker. Al Ingram became fast friends, and an discovered a church nearby, the Hollywood Presbyterian church, that had a fine young peoples program going, under a wonderful lady, nationally known, named Henrietta C. Meers or Miers. Although I was brought up in a religious household and always regarded myself a Christian,
but I must confess in my callow youth that I did not pay much heed to religion — and as I was exposed to it eight hours a day in my profession as Linotype operator, grew somewhat cynical of some of the self-righteous bigots I encountered from time to time. But Al Ingram were drawn to the Hollywood Presbyterian church youth group, mainly because it was an avenue to meet nice girls; and there were several of them to choose from. I went a while with a girl named Joyce Love, and apparently she had a great desire to get married, anf inally faced me with the decision, yes or no, and wanted me to ask her father for her hand in marriage. I didn't love her, and mainly dated her because she was an excellent dancer and good fun to be with. So I demurred, and was cast off. Another girl, whose name I can't recall, was an absolutely wonderful dancer, and I went with her off and on for a year, without even kissing her. Finally one day I stopped by to see if she wanted to go dancing, and it was an abrupt "no." I guess she had decided I was not husband material. Back in my teens, Crystal and I learned to dance, and would sneak across the river to a casino on the west edge of Sugar Lake, and dance away many evenings. It was very romantic, good dance music, and watching the moon come up over the water. So I finally became a dance addict, and I doubt if my mother ever knew. Anothe girl in the group, Marion Johnson, was great fun and a good dancer, but was peculiar in some ways. She loved to go up to lovers lanes, park next to other cars, and listen in on their conversations. And she got me to mount a spotlight on the driver's side of the Plymouth, and we'd shine it for a moment on amorous couples, then dig out before the couples could get their wits about them and follow us. We surmised they would assume we were the police anyway, and would not follow. In total, I remained unscathed in these encounters. Marion had aother habit, as she was an avid saver. We'd wait at movie houses on Hollywood Boulevard until the usher had left the door, then sneak in and see most movies free of charge. And L.A. at that time, I think down on Western Avenue, a public swimming pool called the Bimi for some reason, and she found a loose fence behind it, so we'd crawl under it and have a good swim free of charge. I was really smitten with her, and one night popped the question, but of all things, she laughed at me, and thank God I was let off the hook. She was a wonderful girl, but I don't think it would have worked. During this time I was seeing Crystal now and then, and we'd sort of reminiscence (?) but the glow was gone. She got a job in a restaurant/bar over on Pico, and I understood she became the mistress of the owner. She later moved up the coast to Monterey, and I lost track of her. When up there one time, I tried to locate her without success. Someone later, in Atchison, told me Crystal had died. I've always regarded her as the first great love of my life. The Presbyterian group would meet every week or so, and would have parties at someone's house, or go to an indoor amusement park for an evening of rides and fun. Then we'd tour various roller coasters abundant in the L.A. vicinity, and ride them for hours, daring each other. They had a particularly steep one at Long beach, with a steep dive down toward the ocean and over a part of it, which we all loved. After working a year or so at the Church Press, I heard that Linotype operators on the L.A. Times were paid twice as much as I was making, $1.25 per hour, or $50.00 per week, so I went down there and saw the foreman of the department, Sammy Platus, every week for a year, and he finally tired of my persistene and hired me on a trial basis, probably doubting that one of my tender years could operate a Linotype machine. So
This job was not with the newspaper dividion, but a printing shop called the "job shop," as it did general printing and books, especially phone books for the Bell system. As L.A. is and was a huge city, hundreds of telephones were added, changed or subtracted daily, and this necessMateda daily phone book, five days a week, for tehephone operators. This shop had tweove machines, all first class, and six were devoted to setting changes for the daily books, but adding to the yearly big phone books for L.A. and surrounding communities. These six machines were "hard metal" machines, with no explanation necessary, as the phone book type took a beating, and ordinary lead, antimony and tin would not hold up. I worked briefly on one of these machines, and the deadly monotony of setting a person's last name, first name, in bold type, then address in light type, first two letters of the prefix in bold caps, then a thin space, and the rest of the prefex in light type...and then the phone numbers in bold type. All telephone nubmbers had prefexes, as FLanders 4800, for instance. The daily changes were assembled into type forms and pages, until the forms were up to date, then taken to an adjcent room, where half a dozen Kelly presses would print a number of books, probably no more than 60. The press operators were greatly skilled in getting a form on the press with quick form lock-ons, then hit the button and turn out the required number in a matter of a minute or two. Then the press was stopped, the form pulled off onto a movable (on wheels) table called a "turtle", and another chase put on the press, and this process repeated until the pages were all printed. Then they were rushed to a bindery department, an daily books were ready at daylight for distribution to the operators. The operators were a fine bunch of men, with several of them workng years on this deadly monotonous job. I vowed I'd quit for being doomed to this job. But the foreman, a wonderful man named Sammy Platus, found I could set about anything, and gave me the job mostly of setting phone book ads. This I loved, and Sammy taught me to be really a craftsman on this job, as these ads had to be perfect, and it did not matter how long it took a person, that was the criteria Another operator was working beside me, and grew obnoxious, for a reason I never fathomed. Perhaps he was jealous of me, because of my youth. But he picked on me in one way or another, and as I thought he was part of managment, endured it without complaine. One day Sammy asked me if this individual was bothering me in my work and when I affirmed that he was, the guy was fired and I never saw him again. And I got his job. I never heard anything about the trial period, by the way. I mostly worked nights, also mostly by myself, to pick up corrections by various other departments, and loved the job. A book, Oil Drilling and Geophysics," by J. J. Jackosky, was brought to me, and they said they preferred one operator do it, so I spent months on and off typesetting this book and correcting it many times, as the author explained the subject was changing so rapidly he couldn't keep up. It was very complicated, with many footnotes in a different type, and superior and inferior figures, which had to be inserted into lines by hand. But eventually it was done. The L.A. Times was a marveous place to work, as it was very prosperous, and had had labor problems years before; and in 1911 some union member bombed its pressroom, a . therefore the company hated unions. I had no feeling one way or another, as I had rd never encountered a union. Consequently, they paid union or better wages, and had a department that dealt solely with employee relatons, complaints and beefs. And if the complaint was genuine, action was quick to follow. The company also had a credit union, and I had craved a motorcycle for some time, so after working there a short time I acquired a Harley Davidson, used, and fell in love with it. Even in those days, parking downtown was difficult, but a motorcycle would fit in many places, free, so I mostly drove it to work. When on the night shift, I drove the Plymouth. Al Ingram and I, along with a character called Charlie Townsend, formed a trio that had a lot of fun gotether. For instance, somewhere I acquired a Frankenstein rubber mash that would fit close down over one's head, and oftentimes we'd cruise Hollywood Boulevard with one of them riding behind with tat mask on, and people would casually look at us, then cast a startled look, and oftentimes we'd have a parade of cars following us with eople trying to get another look. As I rarely found a car that could keep up with the Harley
the Harley, we'd soon lose them. And then one time we acquired a strong water spray gun and again cruise the Boulevard, and squirt water on people waiting to cross the street. We'd shoot high, and delighted in the startled looks people cast at the sky to see where the rain came from. Another trick was to go up beside a car in its blind side, then one of us imitated a siren, and the hapless motorist would pull over, and we'd dash by. We took the mask to Catalina one tim, and would hide in the shadows after the dance was over and spring out at people. But a security guard soon quenched this fun. We usually couldn't afford a cabin over there, so we'd prowl most of the night, and get a nar on a bench somewhere. The island had a big auditorium, and had name bands play there almost every night during the season. Guy Lombardo, Kay Keyser, Dave Brubeck, Phil Harris ar Lawrence are names that I remember. As the dancing was largely stag, numerous girls would sit around the edges and we'd pick out one and ask them to dancy, and if all went well, we were awarded several dances. I remember one very sweet girl I met there one night, over with her an aunt from Long Beach, and I instantly fell in love with her, sort of. I met her the next morning and had a wonderful morning, but when I asked for her address, she declined, and I wondered for years if that could have blossomed into something. She probably had a boyfriend, and I was a distant second. Charlie Townsend came from a family with money, so one day he turned up with a 1950 Chevie convertible, and we did have a good time with that. But one night, when Al and I were sort of cruising around, we spotted Charlie and his date a girl named Barbara (who he later married) getting out of the convertible, and sauntering around the corner to a movie. So getting into the car was easy, and in that day there was no such thing as steering wheel locks, so we pushed it into the street by hand, then I pushed it several blocks and parked it in front of Charlies's apartment house. Those days cars had sturdy bumpers, and such feats could be performed without damage. We came back subsequently, to see Charlie and Barbara look back and forth for his car, then he went in a house and called the cops. We disappeared, and found out later that the cops took him home, found the car in front of his residence, and took him to the station to question his sobriety and sobriety. They'd had a little prevkus experience with him, it turned out. He never really knew we did it, but we never admitted it, and he couldn't figure out how we did it. Soon after Charlie and Barbara were married, her sister got a key and several of us decided to sneak into their apartment and surprise them. They surprised us, by barely getting in the door and undressing. , We immediately showed ourselves before it got crucial, and I don't think they ever forgave us for that. Working nights, I became sort of a beach bum, with one of the gang with me, we'd spend many happy days at the beach, with several to pick from. We'd play volley ball, surf and back then they had sortof gigantic pillows you'd blow up, tie the neck, and take out and ride the surf with. I never got good at it, but sure sorte a tan for years. I can still remember the smell of the beach, hamburgers and hot dogs, son beating down on sweaty bodies, and sun lotion mslting on hundreds of bodies. It was a wonderful aroma. Plus the salt smell of the sea. One sunny day I was casually driving the Harley down a residential street, and saw a Chevie come up to a stop sign, then dart out directly in front of me, and I crashed into hi I had crash bars and went in sideways, flew over his hood and miraculously landed on a lawn. I wa out for a minute or two, probably, then seemed all right, except me ribs hurt. I left an imoression of my fight arm and wristwatch in his fencer. He apparently did not see me, and those days motorcyclists did not have to have a helmet or the deadlight on.. An ambulance came and I kept protesting I was okay, then the police, and a witness told them emphatically that I was not speeding. So presently I got on the motorcycle and drove it home, with a bent handlebar and crash bars. The Chevie had to be towed, as I moved the motor over. Neither of us got a ticked, which I resented, as I had the right of way, and that sap had stopped, and ted proceeded. Anywal!
One time, a group of doctors had gotten together and written a small treatise containing various situations paople had gotten themsves in by insertine various objects into their bodies, or onto their bodies.. It was extremely hilarious and interesting, so the mamagement had decided that I do the typesetting at night by myself, so as not to disrupt the place by doing it on the day shift. Word got around, and I was beseeged by employees stopping by and coming in who wanted a copy of this narrative, and they about wore out a proofpress in making copies for themselves. I ended up with a finished one, but it quickly disappeared for some reason. As previously mentioned, Aunt Dora lived up Beachwood Drive not far from me and I visited her from time to time, and found her extremely charming and interesting. Anothe aunt whose name escapes me was also on my list, but didn't see her often. I managed to make an annual trip to Kansas to see Mama and Evan and Bess and other relatives, usually in summer, and remember it being so hot that I couldn't keep the windows open, the wind would burn me. I stripped down to a bathing suit, and put a blanked over the seat, and even though sweated through the seat. I've also mentioned visiting with Luther, maostly in his place of work, when we'd go out and g-t a meal. Los Angales seemed to be the world capital of weird religions in that day and time, and I remember, Marian Johnson, who liked to visit these places of worship, then break into laughter at some place, and they'd politely ask us to leave. I remember one such church, with a woman pastor, Violet Greenlee, who either had violed eyelids and green hair, or the other way around...I can't remember. Anyway, this was shortly before the war, and for a small fee would fortell anyones' future. We found out it was the military for the boys and getting married and having families for the girls. She was probably very accurate. The city was very versatile, or rather the climate. One could literally go swimming in the ocean in the morning, then go up to a mountain resort and ski in the afternoon. One such retreat was Big Bear, and one couple I knew skied there frequently, and it seemd just as frequently, showed up with a broken arm or leg. So I didn't think it was worth it, and never tied on a ski. But up at Big Bear tobagonned once or twice, and that was thrilling enough for me. Downtown L.A. resembles downtown Calcutta nowadays, but back then it was a glorious place, with gigantic apartment stores, restaurants where one could get a good meal for 25 cents, and several theaters, with vaudeville every night. I loved those, and rarely a week would pass that I didn't see a show. The had danching music, magicians, jugglers, hypnotists, comedians...a whole galaxy, most of whom I imagine hoped to break into the movies. And then they'd show a movie. Both there and at Atchison a big draw was the serials on Saturday afternoons. They were very adventuresome with the heroes and maidens, and cowboys and Indians in perilous situations, and invariably, they'd come up to the edge of a cliff, or some suchsituation, and it'd be continued the next week. Most young people couldn't wait for the next episode, and I was among them. Also across the skyline of L.A. every night were gigantic beacons or spotlights, heralding the opening of a movie, or the start-up of a car dealership. One was wont on evenings to gravitate to these events, then generally end up with disappointment. Grand movie introductions would sometimes draw out the stars, and these were very populrar. Working nights, I remember one place in particular, on Vine Street just around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard, a hamburger place that served the most luscious ones I've ever tasted, with giant hunks of mean and some sort of dressing that was out of this world. I'd go in there sometimes on the way home in the middle of the night and have one. I think they went for a quarter, highly priced for that day and time, when others could be found for a nickel and a coke also for 5 cents.
I think those days in Hollywood were among the happiest of my life, relatively carefree and happy. I had wonderful friends, plenty of money, benign climate, and a job I enjoyed, and indeed lookdd forward every day. But the blight of war loomed on the horizon, and Soon Al and 1 were faced with the distasteful chore of registering for the draft. There were rumors afoot from many directions...among them that the armed forces would not accept left-handed men as they could not shoot the rifles left-handed. That latter part proved true, as indeed you couldn't, and they ignored pleas that you were left-handed and were soon enough taught to shoot rifles right-handad. But I'm gettig ahead in my story. As induction day grew nearer and neared, we were faced with a decision, either to be drafted the army as draftees, with no choice whatever, or enlist in anothe branch of service. It turned out that Al was somewhat of a natty dresser, and had long admired the beautiful dress blues adorning Marines, so we repaired to the Marine recruiter, and were sworn in. We were treated very cordially and politely, and that gentleman explained all the benefits of being a Leatherneck, and the long, proud history of the Marines, and opportunities afforded, and the choices available to us. Immediately after the swearing-in, we were crudely addressed as s—t heads, and shoved here and there all the way to San Diego and boot camp there. Seeing that I was 24 years old at the time, I was immediately given t-e nickname of "Pops," due to my advanced age, and bore that name until my discharge. My companions were still little more than children, seventeen-year-old and sometimes younger than that, who in their eagerness to join up in the patriotic fever, and the chance to get away the bou home, recruits abounded who had lied about their age and got in, some at least temporately. Many, after suffering the indignities of boot camp after a week or so, capitulated and revealed their true ages, and disappeared without a trace. Another rumor abounded that if a recruit wet his bed, he would be discharged, and there was a flurry of such behaviour; but the result was that their faces were rubbed in their bed sheets, and they spent hours scrubbing the barracks floors with their tooth brushes. That was a miraculous cure. Al and I waited for the issuance of our dress blues, but instead got pairs of dungarees, Marine Corps green, one size fits all, and modeled to fit a 300-pound gorilla. The bottoms were rolled up, and the crouch came to our knees, but as we were all in the same predicament, with noone to complain to, we endured. Shoes, dubbed"boondockers" were issued to us, and we'd stand on a sheet of paper holding two pails of sand, while the fitter decided what size we needed, and those we got. While at the recruiting office, Al and I noticed another enlistee being refused entrance into the Corps, as he had a cleft lip and lisped. Lo and behold, our assistant drill instructor was blessed with the same affliction, and if not so tragic, it would have been funny, as he tried to march us here and fro; we didn't understand him, and marched off in all directions, to his utter rage. Boot camp was rough, very rough, arid discipline harsh, with the slightest infraction resulting in carrying endless buckets of sand from the beach way out to the shore line, and dumping it at waters edge. Standing at attention for what seemed like hours. Endless profane verbal abuse and at times getting hit by the d.i.'s for some minor disobedience, or conceived disobedience. We had to drawl, with 40-pound packs, under barbed wire fences, and keep down, with machine gun fire chattering just inches from our rumps. Anyway, we were told it was live ammunition, but noone dared to challenge that statement. Climbing bare walls, swinging across mud-filled chasms on a rope. Getting pushed into a swimming pool fully dressed and having to get to the other side by whatever method you could improvise. Mock landing craft made of logs about three feet high were endlessly climbed, as that early in the war landing craft with a ramp opening were still on the drawing boards..
As I was somewhat of a lounge lizard up to that time, earning my living in a sitting position, and at my advanced age, it was particularly hard on me. Boot camp was like a prison, as we had absolutely no communication with the outside world, and could not call or write our parents and loved ones. Finally, we reached a certain stage with a bit more freedom, and the first time we ventured to the PX and saw a real female girl, we could not remember how to address her, as our vocabulary consisted mainly of "yes sir" and 'No sir," up to that point. Al had a letter awaiting him from his father, who reported seeing Charlie Townsend riding a Harley around Hollywood. I had rented a garage for several years, and when leaving had put the Harley in the back of it, and driven my Plymouth to block the Harley. Somehow Charlie had moved the Plymouth over and got the Harley out. I vowed to kill him when I was on liberty for the first time, but he apparently heard when I was coming that way, and had the Harley back in place in the garage, and I don't think I ever saw him again. I didn't realize it at the time, but our boot camp was relatively easy in that particular time slot. First, when leaving the L.A. Times, they had bestowed some sort of bonus on me, and I had some savings, so yielding to constant pressure to buy war bonds, I invested the entire cache in war bonds, and owned more than all the rest of the platoon together. d.i. was evidently impressed that I was a vip or related to one, and pretty well left me alone, and never once bestowed any whacks on my body. Second, it seems there had been a death in a previous book came episode, and the mother of the youth had raised cain with Congress, but it came down the line to take it easier in some aspects. And third, at that time there was a war movie being filmed, I think "The Shores of Tripoli," and we spent days in full uniform (not dress blues) out on the parade ground, saiting for the signal to march when the cameras rolled, and missed much of the debasement. We spent two or three weeks at the rifle range outside of San Diego, and that was like a long-anticipated vacation. At that time all the Marines had n the way of rifles was the '-3 Springfield rifle, and we spd endless hours dismantling them and reassembling them in the dark. I did quite well with this rifle, attaining the rank of "sharpshooter," but with the later Ml and "Rising gun" did rather poorly. And we learned to fire the Cold .45, but these were mainly issued to officers; and anyway, couldnit' hit the wall of a barn if I was inside, with it. After the dungarees, we were issued khakis, that fit fairly well, and dress greens, for parades and liberty. It seemed that only members of the band, and Sea School graduates were issued dress blues. But that didn't deter me, for after getting out of boot came, went down the purchased a set of dress blues at a Army and Navy store, and wore them with pride throughout the war. I'm glancing into the future a bit here, but I remember stopping at a filling station in San Diego one time, much later, and the attendant inquired as to what hotel I worked at.
I haven't mentioned it heretofore, but Al and I entered the Corps during the summer of 1941, before Pearl Harbor. Many of us had vowed to kill the drill instructors whenever we encountered them in San Diego after graduation, but they either laid low or were transferred, for I never laid eyes on them after that. The Marines are a very proud outfit and universally regarded as one othe elite fighting organizations in the world, and indeed I think they are. But I can't for the life of me see what purpose was gained by the utter debasement sufferend during boot camp, the foul-mouthed ridicule
and bullying by the drill instructors, who seemed to give in to the worst instincts by bullying these men and humilitation they heaped upon them. I was always proud of the Marines, proud to be a member of those elite squade, and will go to my grave being exceedingly proud. But can't fathom the methods they use on the poor suffering recruits under their command. The Marine Corps did some very stupid things, and we troops wondered how they could possibly win a war. But we guessed, the Japanese and Germans did even stupider things. For instance, on graduation from boot camp, there apparently was a selection of careers in the Corps by the needs of various segments of that organization. For instance, if they needed truck drivers, the first five members, for instance, standing at attention, were marched off to be truck drivers, regardless of whether they could drive or not. The same for cook and bakers school, artillery, infancty, etc. I think they were fairly selective in choise of Sea Marines to serve with the Navy. I happedn to land with a bunch assigned to radio school, although 1 could barely tune one in, let alone know anything about communications. I'm sure some of my platoon were shipped off to the Philappines, and took place in the death marches ther and Staan, and probably died early in the war. So again my guardian angel overlooked the field and subsequently I went to radio school. It was a long intense course at the Marin base in San Diego, but we were treated well, with good food, and had every night off and weekends. On my first I went up to L.A. and sold the Plymouth, and drove the Harley down to San Diego, one miserab] night, through the cold fog, and in my entire life's history, I don't remember being so cold. Anytime 1 drove over 20 miles an hour I'd start shivering so violently I'd veer from side to side; but finally made it and had to thaw out for two or three days. About then I got my dress blues, and friends I made in radio school, took turns riding around downtown San Diego on the Harley, in my dress blues, and had a wonderul time. I recall getting the munificent stipend of $18 per month at time of enlistment, but all clothes, lodging, meals, etc. were indluced As I didn't drink of smoke, I had no money problems, and from time to time I'd cash in a war bnd for one need or another, and sent some home to Mama. Tragically, and I take full blame for it, after Mama died, she still had some of those bands tucked away, and as she lived in poverty for years, I wish desparately I could replay that scenerio and have had her cash them in and use them. Anyway, perhaps gainsaying the above paragraph, I tried setting pins in a bowling alley, who not yet had automatic pin setters. One stood behind the pins, when the ball came weeling down the alley, one lifted one's self up on a ledge, then return the ball and set the pins in proper position. I thought I was good at this, and a time or two took on two alleys at a time, but this was dangerous, for some patrons with a sense of humor would see one's legs setting the pins, and throw the ball at these appendages, seeking to maim the pin setter. So I soon gave up this endeavor. The Harley was great, but limited in that I couldn't drive it to L.A. Nnd repeat my ordeal. So I sold it and bought a 1931 Chevie sedan. , as it was apparent that I'm going to be in the States for the forseeable future, coing to school and training. So weekends I'd get three or four passengers who wanted to go to L.A., they'd buy the gas, and we'd have a wonderful time in that city, getting back at camp just before roll call Monday mornings.
As I had plenty of free time on my hands, and was depleting my savings, i decided to approach a printing company in San Diego and work part time. Not only could I get such a position, but was overwhelmed by the eagerness and delight the owner bestowed upon me, learning that I was a Linotype operator with the L.A. Times. So I started in, and as he had several vacant machines, due to people going into the services, I was overwhelmed by the load, and worked all I wanted. He was, among other things, working with Lockheed and setting type for specifications for the B17, I believe, then building in San Diego. One day this individual came to me and said he had forgotten to see my union card. I told him I didn't have one, and presently he said I couldnt' work there anymore But after a few days, he got in touch with me, and said the hell with the union, and to come back to work. I dimly remember a scene with the union steward, but worked until I was fina-ly shipped ot. When I got the old Chevie, I made arrangements with Carl Moser, and gave him a set of keys, that if I failed to call him once a week, to come down and get it, and sell it for me. I understood, and thought he understood, that I get the money for the good old car, never got it, even when I looked him up a couple of years later and asked for it, and he hemmed and hawed. So I erased him from my address book. I forgot to mention that n the day of Pearl Harbor attack, I was in a movie with a date on Ho Boulevard, and immediately all mediums got to broadcasting that all service men report at once to their unites. Never one to miss a meal, I exited the theater and went to my favorite restaurant in L.A., thinking I might not be back for a while. But I did get back many times before being called overseas. After radio school on the base, which I dismally failed, but it didn't seem to matter to the Corps, I was sent to Camp Del Mar, a few miles inland from San Diegl. Let me back up a little, and say that the mechanism of radios totally escapes me now, and did then. We had a mediocre teacher, and really never saw a radio in class, but he drew diagrams on a blackboard and explained circuits. I kept asking him how an electric current can carry voices and code, but he ignored me. And then there was the Morse code. We had to spend hours, days, weeks with earphones on and memorize that thing. I apparently have some sort of memory disorder, for I couldn't grasp it...and this may have ensued from my total lack of interest in the subject, and just wanting to escape. A little later on, in the field, we were given radios weighing around 40 pounds, and had to lug these in addition to back packs, on frequent hikes, mind-numbing, with us poor Leathernecks trudging down rusty roads, and officer in a Jeep calling cadence. For that, and other reasons, I took an intense dislike to officers, and it took me years to get over it. But more of that later. But, a little on that subject here. Marion Johnson had a brother-in-law who was a lieutenant in the Army, and we got in contact with one another, before I got the Chevie, with him suggesting that I could ride with him up to L.A. on weekends, and return with him, as he had a good car. But, we couldn't eat together in San Diego, as that was a strong no-no, an officer eating with an enlisted man. I really took offense at that, for some of the few officers I had had contact with were simpletons, with one driving an ice cream route in Georgia before getting a commission. Of course at Del Mar I had a car, but there was no other transportation out of there to San Diego, and I was very popular. Some of the troops who found themselves stranded in San Diego just stole a car, and drove it up to the camp. Every Monday morning the San Diego cops instituted a sweep fo the area outside the gate, and picked up the small fleet of hot cars. In this camp I joiuned my outfit, B Battery, 22nd Marines, 6 Marine division, and stayed with it some 17 months. I quickly made friends with some in the unit, partcularly those in the radio unit, like Charles Giertsen, Mel Jenses, Robert Schnurr,
around with a M
J "*"«d Shimpke,
and I don't remember his first name. But I'm probably giving the plot away, for he was the only one in the outfit to be killed in the war. We had a Lieutenant Harris, with whom I became friendly, as he was also from L.A., and familiar with the territory and the L.A. times. But we had to be careful when and where met. He also was killed in the war, flying in a small plane spotting targets for our artillery. B Battery was a 7-millimeter cannon that had survived World War I, and would have made Napoleon proud. It originally had wooden wheels, but rubber tires came shortly. It was known as a "pack howitzer," meaning it would be easy to take it apart and carry by soldiers if the going got tough. The outfit practiced for the duration of when I was with it, disassembling the gun, picking up various parts of it, and reassembling it, all to the tune of a stop-watch. And the troops had to carry it some distance, then climb over one of the aforementioned fake landing barges. It was then I considered myself lucky, as I had only to carry the radio and my pack. When we got overseas we continually practiced, and soon found the radio was next to worthless, as we could set up one and go 100 feet with another, and not being able to communicate. And there again my ignorance pai off, for I never recall anyone using code. We got some bette radios later on, but they were larger and took three men to carry them. They didn't have a battery, but a sort of sawhorse carried a generator with a crank, and one of us had to turn this crank whenever transmitting. But, again, that was iffy, and we finally turned into linesmen and strung telephone wires, sometimes afoot, but more generally behind a jeep where roads were available. Now and then we'd shinny up a cocoanut tree and string wires, particularly when we had a somewhat permanent camp, and I spent most of my radio career stringing wire and manning a switchboard when in camp. This was easy duty, but boring, and most of us enjoyed it. Particularly when we could eavesdrop in on officers' conversations. Now and then, one would abruptly stop, and say, "Tonsing, are you listening." I may have been stupid, but not that stupid, and kept quiet. One of my less agile-minded co-sufferens said "yes sir" when asked that question and got in a bit of trouble. I was brought up in a somewhat feminine atmosphere, and had always been aware of female gossiping, but they couldn't hold a candle to us Marines. We'd usually get some hint of what was to be from the officers' conversations, and the "scuttlebutt" would infiltrate the whole camp in minutes. Anyway, without notice sometime in 1942, we were notified we were shipping out, and did so promptly the next morning, without allowing anyone to communicate with family or friends. The Japanese were probably trembling to know the information from our outfit, but voluntarily or now, wwe kept stiff upper lips and th secret evidently didn't leak. We boarded a wonderful old cruise ship, the Lurline, that had spent years cruising in the Hawaiian islands. It originally held perhaps 500 passengers, but they cramped I don't know how many on her, with figures varying from 2,000 to 10,000. All I know is that we had to take turns sitting on deck. Staterooms were stacked high with improvised bunks, where one couldn't turn over without getting out and returning in the new position. We had been warned many times to keep a close watch on our equipment, and threatened with a court martial if anything was missing. Except for rifles, which had serial numbers, everything started missing. Clothes, canteens, cartridge belts, etc. So we had to keep infiltrating to other outfits' staterooms to steal things back.
We got two meals a day, usually a sandwich and apple or orange. So many troops that all the daylinght hours the lines were continuous. Being bored, and having an inherent distaste for lines, I volunteered to hand out the goodies. We were again wrned with court martials and a trip to Leavenworth if we snuck a goodie for ourselves, but by that time I had learned sneaky, and didn't suffer any, nor did any of my buddies.
INSERT: I passed over Pearl Harbor: After returning from Hollywood on hearing of Pearl Harbor, there was mass confusion, and I could have been three days later reporting for duty, as many were missing and showed up several days later. But the panic led to us getting in the boon docks with rifles all night and patrolling for an invasion that they thought imminent. So as to not kill each other, we were not issued ammunition. I guess it was assumed that we could parry the invaders with our bayonettes, for we had had days of practing parrying with them, and stabbing innocent dummies (not Marines). Finally the panic subsided, and we had more organization. ZEXXXXKXXXKXXXEHPCX It's an isolated incident, but I remember temporarily to an outfit at the end of the runway at Lindbergh Field in San Diego, running a Multilith, my first experience with offset. It was evidentally everyone's first experience for noone knew how to run the thing, particularly as we used paper plates. They had a shelf of various chemicals, and I would try one after another, and finally could get 25 or so readable copies from a plate. During this, big planes were continually taking off from the field, with air jockeys going lickety-split as far as the field would go, then draw up their whels, full throttle, and joom upward. This was perhaps 50 feet from the office where I was, and this might have contributed to my later deafness. As the Lurline was a fast ship, it zig-zagged for days across the Pacific. We had supposed that we would go to a cold climate for we had been issued overcoats, mittens and winter cap. But this was just another snafoo typical of the Corps, for one day we pulled into a beautiful harbor lined with palm trees, very hot. Several outboard canoes approached, and climbed up on deck on nets that had been thrown down. We asked them where we were and they said "Upolu Samoa." And the little city in the distance was Apia. The rusted hulk of a sunk ship jutted up from the harbor, and we later learned it was a German boat left over from World War I. The Germans had owned the island for a while, then the English, and at that time wasa possession of New Zealand, the nearest land of any consequent. As the harbor was shallow, we were taken off in small boats, and driven via trucks some 22 miles to our camp, just a weedy glad of thousands of palm trees. Before we get off the subject of the Lurline, as said, we were extremely eroded; but we could see the expanse of promenade dacks, where we were not allowed, with occasional deck chairs holding officers, and now and then a few hanging over the rails, doubtless conferring on how we could win the war. We heard they were served in the dining room with silverware, napkins and a menu to choose from. Some of us troops were picked to serve them, and we were livid when listening to this scuttlebutt o how luxurious their quarters were. Tales were told, that in revenge, some of the wanters delibertly spit in their salads and urinated in their soup, but I rather doubt any of this happened. We were constantly threatened with Leavenworth for the smallest infration, then it got to where many of would have preferred that to being where we were. The island was far away from any Japanese troops, but nevertheless always on the alert for an attack, and once or twice someine said a Japanese sub had been sighted, but that was never confirmed. We were put to work early on making a camp out of the pin eapple forests, and as this was a volcanic island, we pitched tents after clearing out the weeds, then made neat paths aroun the camp from "scory," small bits of lava and coral perhaps as big as marbles. Trenches were dug all over camp in case of attack, and deep holes were dug that housed vital units, like the switchboard. Mosquitoes were very prevalent, by the millions, and we were furnished mosquito nets that had to be strung carefully
over a framework at the head and foot of every cot. Again, dire warnings were proclaimed daily about protection from Mosquitoes, as we were government property and could be sent to Leavenworgh for destruction of same. INSERT: During my sojourn at the Marine Corps Base in San Diege, we'd be called out from time to time to "police up the area," a wide definition, which included going out to some officer's house and mow, trim bushes, wash windows, paint, etc. We didn't resent this too much, for it was a relief from the monotony of learning code. And we'd be called on to polish up the mile-long strip of offices along the parade ground. This would consist of cleaning the urinals and toilets, mopping floors, washing walls, cleaning sinks, and in one particular instance, for some insane reason copper was used for shelfs in an officers' bathroom. We'd polish and clean this, but the first drop of water on it would produce a stain which would have to be polished away the next day. Waxing the floors was a not-unpleasant chore, for we had big electric buffers abot 18 inches across, and at first they'd almost wrestle you to the ground, until you learned to push down the handle slightly to go one direction, and lift it to go the other. We became quite skilled at that. The rule about soluting officers particularly riled me. As I recall, if one was indoors with one's hat off, one needn't salute an officer. But you had to stand at attention to addr them, until told "at ease." This particularly rankled me, for I was an old man of worldly experience and aged 25, while these guys were sometimes babes who had not yet shaved. Ourdoors within a certain number of feet we'd have to salute every officer, so usually when I saw one coming, I'd duck into a door to avoid him, or go out on the. parade graound at sufficient distance it wasn't necessary. Now and then we'd have to muster for a parade for some dignitary or other, so we'd polish our shoes, press our uniforms, clean our rifle, and fall out on the parade ground sometimes standing at parade rest for up to an hour, an&XXK&KXKXKualt^ie dignitary would casually show up, picking his teeth, and we'd have to fall in at attention, while he inspect the troops. San Diego has a temperate climate, but in winter it could be quite chilly. We'd have a summe and winter uniform, and unit commanders would ordain which season we were observing at which time. Sometimes they'd evidently forget, and we'd have to wear our "greens" with tunic on blistering hot days. And khakis on cold days. To add to the confusion, different Marine units would have different times to change, and MP's downtown would often challenge our choice of uniform , as in their judgment it was not the "uniform of the day." I've always been slightly rebellious when I could get away with it, and had saved out s particular pair of wing-toed shoes from civilian life. On liberty I'd don them instead of tr ugly and uncomfortable standard issue, and venture downtown. Once out the gate I wass usual! okay, but sometimes would be challenged at the gate, but simply went down to another gate and usually got through when mixing with groups going out all at once.. MP's downtown would sometimes call me down, but it was such a slight infringement I never got in serious trouble with them. aBACK TO SAMOA: Our camp was crude at first, but we soon made it homey. At first we had to live out of our duffle bags, which held all our world possessions, a canvas bag perhaps three feet high and a foot thick. At some point we were assigned the job of building a new camp for an Army unit that was close to us, and not yet in, and they had prefabricated wooden huts, with screened areas atop the wooden bottoms, thus were fairly cool and breezy dompared to the tente. Someone suggested some of that lumber would make dandy locker boxes, and as I suppose we could get hinges and locks downtown, the camp soon sprouted these things. I had one I was particularly proud of, when the order was passed we had to get rid of them, as some Army VIP would inspect our camp and we'd get in trouble if in possessic of Army lumber. So I hid mine out in the boondocks a few days until the heat was off, and redeemed it, without further comments, escept from the guys who had destroyed theirs .
Samoa is located just about as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north of that line. But is without Hawaii's trade winds so is much hotter. Part of the year it rains every day, but of short duration, so walkers just duck into a native hut, visit, an wait until the sun shines again. The population at that time lived in "fales," Pronounced "follies," which had a thatched roof, opensides and a stone floor elevated up a foot or two above the ground. They ate and slept in this abode, usulaly on cocoanut mats. They are a stalwart race, with plenty of food available in cocoanuts, breadfruit, bananas, taro and ot native produce of the region. The cocoanut trees were long neglected, with millions of them laying all over the surface of the ground. At first we delighted in eating them, but after a week or so, grew sated. The Marines quickly set up mess huts, and we had our meals there, of questionable quality, as the cooks were not too ambitious, and the food supplies lacked variety. We got in a lot of canned Spam, an to this day I can't stand it. Powdered eggs wer available, but we also grew tired of them. We also got powdered milk, and ignored it, uhtil later we got in an ice cream machine, and the powdered milk had found a purpose. Now and then we got in some old meat from New Zelland, and the officers got the best cuts of steak, while ours went into meat stew. One time I was on mess duty, and a crate of eggs showed up. They turned out to be from the dinosauer era, with most of them endowed with maggots, and 1 had the duty of going thru the mess and rescueing the few good ones, also no doubt for the officers mess. I seem to be dwelling too much on this enlisted man/officers thing, and I apologize. It was a big thing then, and most of us felt very slighted, and it was a main topic of conversation. Later on, when I got out, I met some of he finest men I have ever known who were officers and who served their country to the best of their ability, and it was not their individual fault that the system was off balance then. Girls...were very abundant on the island, and attractive for the most part. Of course by that time we were slightly "asiatic" and any female looked good to us, no doubt. I've spoken before about scuttlebutt, and I'm sure the people in charge knew how to use it to the best advantage. Upon our arrival, we were told that the Samoan families were close knit, and the girls were very protected. Word got around that a couple of early comer had taken advantage of girls by raping them, and while Marine justice moved very slowly, the local justice was swift. Meaning that one or two nights after the events, these Marines were dageed out of their tents, naatly castrated, and left to lay. Needless to say, this had a huge effect on the troops. A story with a ring of truth was also told, that for centuries the missionaries had tried tc get the girls to cover their breasts, to no avail. But it only took the Marines two weeks to ensure they were covered. In bootcame and at later intervals, all hands were ordered to view training films, where among other things, various parts of both female and male bodies were shown, riddled with sores and blisters, from venerial diseases. This had a huge effect on most of us, and temptations were usually quickly resisted. One hndred percent on my part. Drilling, hiking, policing the area, etc., were very boring and I sought other amusements, so once or twice a week I volunteered for the garbage run,which took over half a day, and was a pleasant ride covering beautiful scenery in another part of the islanc On one of these rides, I was standing up in the truck which we had emptied, grasping the gun mount on the front of the bed, when the driver suddenly lurched in gear, and I went over the side and broke my clavical, or shoulder. In great pain I was rushed to a makeshift hospital, where two or three doctors discussed what what part of my anatomy was broken, as either x-ray had not been invented, or they didn't have the apparatus yet. Finally after feeling me over, one doctor set my shoulder, very successfully it turned out, as I never have had any trouble with it, and don't even remember which shoulder it was. I was told later that I should have applied for a purple heart, but it never reached channels.
We spent a little over a year on Upolu, and it wasn't bad duty. We had as commanding officer over the battalion, one Colonel Ferguson, an older man who was said to be a grandfather. He wasted no time, though, in acquiring a Samoan girl as a friend, and set her up in a hut of her, with a GI issue refrigerator and furniture to equip it. The story was that one time he showed up unexpectedly and found her entertaining an eiited man on the premises, so placed the whole battalion off limits in the town, Apia. But as that little city was the only game in town, it held an attraction for me and my friends, so many days we'd hitch rides on Marine and Army trucks and go over the back fence, avoiding the sentries at the gate. A Samoan lady, Aggie Grey, was well knwn on the island, and had sort of hamburger stand with cold drinks and snacks in a neat little restaurant. We also had a Captain Crandell, or something like that, who was quite chicken in our estimati We had a little game going, as we'd rush to this establishment, and if he was not there, we'd go in and loiter for hours, nursing Cokes and other soft drinks. Sometimes he'd dome to town, peek through the door, and if he saw enlisted men inside, he'd go elsewhere. I found a little print shop manned by an Englishman, and hung around there from time to time. The man was quite bitter that the natives were not at all ambitious, and would work a while enough to get money laid aside, then simply not show up any more. I didn't argue with him, but I sympathized with the natives, as that was a wonderful situation to be in, in my opinion. If one didn't have to work, who ruin one's life in ding so, particularly when the work was boring. I met a girl who worked in one of the shops, named Teresa, and got sort of crush on her. But as I was an enlisted man without transportation, she'd have nothing to do with me, even if my intentions were honorable. Two or three of our outfit, natably an old friend Rule Stout, a former farmer from Missouri, "married" one of the girls and was quite ga-ga over her. He was determied to stay on the island when we pulled out, but some of our squad physically restrained him from going over the hill, and got him aboard the departing ship. It's my understand he never went back for her. The island was way off the track of the war, but we were very conscious of being a target of the Japanese, so had rather tight security with several of us guarding the camp and patrolling on foot every night. One of our charges was a shack housing supplies for the Navy Seabees building an airfield there, and it was a tempting target for us. Some of us got in one night, and among other things, I rescued some loganberry juice and drank so much of it, I got sick. A couple of months before Christmas they got in some supplies, and we managed to extract all the Christmas candy. Scuttlebutt had it that their commander stormed our camp demanding retribution from our captain, and for once he took up for us... refusing that individual entrance. It was lucky, for all over the camp our GI cans were heaped with candy wrappers. We soon worked ourselves out of that job. This airfield was being built for Navy fighter planes and bombers, and I got volunteered to work there one day, mainly operating a clattering air hammer and shovel. I decided then, very quickly, that construction was not my line. A little later on, when the airfield was open, large and amll planes would land, some shot up, and many with Japanese flags painted ont the sides. At one point, Eleanor Roosevelt was scheduled to show up, and all hands were told to police the area, and to show up a certain day all spruced up for some ceremonies and sort of parade. By that time, we were a rather undisplined lot, and two ro three of us went over the back fence and disappeared for the day. As told before, this island was the result of a volcano,and the minds detemined that some Marines had to man an outpose on the summit of a mountain called Tafu, so somethin; like that. So some of us had to hack our way through a jungle, then clamber up its steep sides with p a c k s a n d s u p p l l e s Q n Q u r backs
I was in probably the best shape of my life, but soon found out that the small, wirey, thin guys could climb circles around me and carry bigger loads. At the top we had a big ten, with the roof riddled with holes. It soon turned out that rats were abundant up there, and the Marines had improvised some poles with a wire strung across between them, and we hung our eating supplies there at night. Of course, we had a guard on duty, and when some rat would venture out on this pole, the guard on duty w < shoot it, or try to. We got used to that soon, and just turned over. It turned out that I ruined my rifle by not cleaning it for some two weeks, but that item was lost in the general turn of things. Also, at some point we got the first radar, and our squad got the duty, as we were communication guys, after all. We had about two hours of schooling, mainly on how to start up the big diesel generator and maintenance of the same. We were told to watch the screen for blips, and it had some sort of primitive direction finder that told when the plane was, if we spotted one.
I was gonna quit, but I can't escape this last dig, (hopefully for the last time). We were o a small hill, overlooking the military headquarters of the island, the "brains" so to speak. Now and then to relieve the boredom, in the middle of the night, we'd phone in that we had seen the blip, and as the staff evidently had communications with air control, usually a galaxy of lights would light up as they took for granted there was a bevy of Japanese planes on the way. Somehow we escaped any sensure on this prank. We were all rather amused as the Marines had been issued a big Navy guy, no doubt a refuge from World War I, that fired six inch (or so) shells. This was mounted pointing sort of towards Japan, on solid concrete foundations, and had a turning range of some 90.degrees. The minds were obviously convinced that the Japanese were stupid enough to come only fro that direction to attack us, instead of from the other side of the island. We didn't know it at the time, but we had been held in reserve while America could churn out ships, tans, Jeeps, guns, and millions of men necessary to attack, starting in the battle of Midway, and when it was time for the big push, we pulled out on a ship and went over for a brief stay in Pago Pago, the American part of the Samoan islands. This was entirely different from the fine, solemn, good people of Bitish Samoa, as it was known then, as it seemed everyone on Pago was on welfare, and honky tonks, strip joints and whorehouses abounded., plus the island was just dirty and unkempt, I haven't mentioned that from time to time we were taken out in ships, one a captured small lusury liner of German origin, and we practiced disembarking on a landing net down the side of the ship, boarding landing barges, and storming ashore in one spot or another, with boys in our battery bravely carrying parts of the pack howitzers on their backs. When the seas were rough, we had to sand up, as the boats would go whump, whump, and it hurt our feet, so we learned to stand up on the balls of our feet, and rise up and down as if a spring had been placed under our feet. A lot of the boys got sick and threw up over the side, sometimes missing, but I was very lucky to escape that feeling. Soon we embarked, again in secrecy, aboard a ship and spent everal days at sea, finally landing at Maui, Hawaii. When first going ashore, we were ecstatic, seeing Caucasian and American girls for the first time in months, and we gasped in awe at the sight of girls' panties and bras hanging on lines outside nurses' barracks on Maui. We camped up on the side of a desolate hill, with a magnificent view of the sea, but at night it was cold and windy. I have no idea where this spot was. We ventured down to a little town when on liberty, and found some of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen in my life, rumored to be of Chinese and Portuguese ancestery. But they'd have nothing us, and we weren't there long anyway. I remember one day, seeing two Navy planes owerhead collide, and just one parachute opening. We never did know how that turned out.
I was so used to being a lineman that I had sort of forgotten about radios, when I was presented the key to a brand new Jeep with a magnificent, powerful radio taking up all the rear portion of it. WE had some schooling on the operation of this marvel, and could transmit and hear from oppisite sides of the island with ease. 1 recall there was a minor ruror caused when the motor pool guys resented me getting this jeep, and I think we had a pair of them. They complained that only their members were entitled to drive vehicles, but their please were ignored and I pouudly drove it for miles around the island, practinging sending and receiving. One day, we (the vehicle called for two to operate it, one to drive and the other operating the radio. Anyway, we were on a hill, and I noticed a great flurry in the vailed below us. It turned up that a great number of Marines and Army boys were maneuvering down there, and were supposed to witness an air strike by fighters and bombers. When these failed to show up on time, the commanding officer ordered the troops into the area, and then the bombs, Or merely one, rained down directly on the troops, and scuttlebutt said some 80 of the boys were either killed or badly wounded. My companion wanted to go down there and see some of the gore, but I refused to do so. To my knowledge, nothing of this event ever apeared in American newspapers. INSERT INTO PAPA: I may have left the impression that Papa was somewhat of a dolt mechanically, but that is far from the case. Lack of money in those hard times spurred innovations on the part of many, and he was no exception. Utility bills were always a bane, and the Linotype machine was always simmering with its gas pot keeping the metal melted. He deemed it a waste
L [13 L
this pot was hot 24 hours a day, and only needed eight or ten hours a day. So as the gas was piped through a valve, that turned one way was open and the other way closed, he attached a long stick to it, perhaps 18" long, with a string on the end. With the stick in a horizontal position, the gas was barely on, similar to a pilot light. When droppedit turned the gas on fully, as he provided a chair or something to limit its fall. Then he got an old Big Ban alarm clock that had a stem winder, that unwound as the alarm went off. He'd set the alarm for a couple of hours before we were due in, the alarm would go off, alarming the mice and roaches no doubt, but the gas would go on fully, and the metal was duly melted when we came in. If I missed a point here, the string would wind up on the clock stem, then the stick would fall to the chair bottom. Get it? Another invention of dubious success, was the fact that car heaters were unknown, at least in our $5 vehicles. So he drilled a hole in the exhaust manifold of one, and ran a pipe through to the cab, then through a series of crooks and ell's, it would run back and forth below our feet on the floorboard. For some reason it didn't work, but he deserved an "A" for the idea and effort.He was a very humorous man, and usually had a joke of the day which he gleefullly told all those he met, and they were many, for Atchison, at eleast downtown was filled with friends and neighbors that he could tell his joke of the day to. I dimly remember rolling my eyes up as I heard the same joke perhaps a dozen times a day. But he was always coming up whti fresh ones, and many times they were about the Irish for some reason. He loved Irish people, and they evidently loved his jokes. Also Dutchman jokes, and he always characterized himself as a Dutchman. As his parents had emigrated from Germany, I was always under the impression that he didn't speak English until he got in school, so was very proficient in German. And that evidently was similar ti Yiddish, so he loved to eavesdrop in on Jewish people chatting away, then suddenly addressing them in their language, with the purpose of startling them. He (and they) got lots of laught from this humor.
By the time we got to Maui, technology had caught up with the Marines, and the landing barges had given way to LSD's, which were somewhat soophisticated boats with powerful engines, and a front end which opened up on reaching a beach, with the sailors driing up hard onto the beach, but we usually got at least our feet wet when running out of them. We practiced this maneuver many times until proficient. And as said before, I had graduated to my Jeep, so was due to land on hostile beaches by gunning out and setting up the radio as soon as possible. The pack howitzers had also graduated from riding on the backs of Marines to being towed by Jeeps and other vehicles. It was a favorite joke of the Marines that the Army had mules, while the Navy had Marines. We practiced firing the guns frequently on gun ranges, and often as not I was assigned as forward observer, which necissated crawling up to the front ot to a designated spot, setting up a field phone, then observing the shells as they came over, when aforward observer at my side, directing the shots to the target. It was quite an experience to hear my comrade say "fire," then hear the gun go off in the rear, and moments later, if one looked carefully, see it zoom overhead into the target, usually. After we had come to Maui, with a corresponding ache, where I couldn't get on my Filiarisis lymphagitis, or mosquito bites. I noticed my right leg swelling up above the knee, and when it reached alarming proportions, pants, I reported to sick bay, and it was designated elephantitis, a common malady in Samoa, due to
It was a very common sight in Samoa to see natives with horribly swollen feet, legs, groins, arms or necks distored by this disease, and now and then someone with a wheelbarrow bearing horribly distended private parts. At that time there was no known cure, except dispatch to a colder climate, so I was ordered to pack my sea bag and report to the field hospital. I had thoughts of a visit to Leavenworth as had been threatened to anyone who didn't sleep under a mosquito net, but I had faithfully, to the best of my knowledge, done that. But the pesky critters were abounding everywhere one went, and we didn't have an effective mosquito repellant at that time. I was then hurriedly dispatched to a Navy hospital called A Aeia Heights above Honolulu, and ordered to keep to my bed. I complied the best way I could, but as I was in no great pain, was very bored. In a few days they got me on a Liberty ship, along with hundreds of sick and wounded Americans, we sailed to San Francisco. I remember I had only one dime, and saved this up until I couldn't stand it, and bought two candy bars at the PX. It'was hot, umcomfor table, rolling,slow trip to we finally sighted the Golden Gate, and I swear hardened Marines, seamen, soldiers, all, and we the most emotional feelings I have ever had, to after 17 or 18 months away. San Francisco, but everyone on board, so-called all wept in unison. It was one of see my beloved country
A bus met us at the dock, and by this time we were in a rollicking, glorious mood, and yelled and sang and rocked the bus, amid cries from the driver to "sit down." I was taken to the Oakland Naval Hospital, and it seemed like heaven, with pretty American nurses, spacious rooms, marvelous food and the feeling of "home at last." I of course called Mama and she broke down with emotion that I was safely home.
As the weather was chilly, and after various ointments and balms were applied to my leg, the swelling went down, and I was soon Amulatory. I don't remember how long I stayed there in the ward, but it was probably a month, when I was declared able to return to duty. While the great minds mulled on how to use my talents, I was assigned as an MP to patrol the hostal grounds, and mainly to man the gate. It was policy at that time to feel down employees of the hospital, mainly for liquor, which was prohibited, we did that some, and had to be very careful when a long line was waiting, not to look up and start to feel down a female employee, although I admit the temptation was great with some specimens of gorlhood. Anyway, we knew sailors employed at the hospital were wont to go down the fence a ways, then toss a bottle over, and retrieve it later. So the MP's would scour the area frequently, and any liquor they found was confiscated for the finder's own personal use later. I was somewhat rankled that when an officer drove through the gate, he could have a bottle on the seat beside him, and we couldn't even mention it. During my stay at the Oakland Naval Hospital, an invitation was issued one night that some of us were invited to go down to Mills College, a very prestigious girls' college nearby, for a dance. So eager to get back into the dancing game, I volunteered for this hardship duty, and in due course was escorted into the beautiful ballrrom at that facility. After dancing with a few of the girls, I picked one, and she was a doll. We had been instructed that this was a one-time thing, and we were STRICTLY not to try to date these crea of the crop debutantes. But I felt connected with this gril, and did get her phone number.
I didn't have my dress blues anymore, as they had been lost in the shuffle of overseas duty. I did have good greens though, and would call this girl and we'd go out on a date, taking the trolley to San Francisco and eating and dancing. I quickly ascertained that she must be from a wealthy family, as she didn't have an inkling of what things cost, and even to my untrained eye, she was wearing very classy clothes, not cheap. Anyway, we seemed to hit it off, and I was getting the feeling that she might be the one. But one day I phoned up the college, and was told that she was not available, and would not be in the future. So never saw her again. I'm sure her parents found out she was dating a buck privat Marine, and quickly put a stop to it. Subsequently, I got orders to report to the Marine Corps Depot of Supplies at 100 Harrison Street, in San Francisco. The needed someone with printing experience in the Reproduction Department, mainly to set type by hand and make rubber stamps for the Marine Corps worldwide. As I was still technically a radioman, it was strictly against regs to switch over to another category, so I was kept a private, or perhaps a pfc by this time, working around sergeants, staff sergeants and technical sergeants who had spent the war there and were sporting ribbons attesting their skills at getting supplies out the door and to the front. As the Marines had no barracks to house the huncds of them working there, we were given a stipend and told to find quarters wherever possible. I got a room, I recall at North Beach, on the end of a street car line. As gas rationing was in full swing, few people could drive to work, so the street cars were extremely crowded. I caught on almost immediately, that if one wanted until the last minute, then run to catch one and hang on standing on the funning boards or bumpers, that the motorman could not reach you to collect a fare...hence free. I loved San Francisco, and particularly Market Street, the main drag. There were countless stores and abundance, and many shows and amusements. One partlcul favorite was the Pepsi building on a corner of Market Street. They this place fixed up like a USO, with easy chairs, radios, typewriters, free stamps, free drinks, five cent hamburgers, ironing boards and irons for pressing cthes, showers, etc. And the volunteers manning it were wonderfully helpful in aiding service men and women in giving directions or advince of whatever they needed. Ever since then, I've had a tender spot in my heart for Pepsi for this thoughtfulness.
I wasted no time in going to an Army & Navy store and getting a set of dress blues As mentioned I think I was a pfc at that time, but seldom bothered to sew on a stipe. Particularly, as in the case of the dress blues, anyone over private wearing that attire was required to rea v wear a red strip down the side of each leg, and that indeed made one like like a movie usher or hotel doorman. I alsy waisted no time in getting down to L.A. I have menationed how knid the L.A. Times was to me, and among other things they had given my name to a comely young woman, and she corresponded with me while I was overseas; so I was anxious to meet her. 1 visite the plant in L.A. and saw most of my old buddies, those who were still there and not at war. This girl turned out to be a pretty redhead, and we had dinner one night. But nothing happened, and we didn't jell. Undoubtedly she had a steady. It was a walk of two or three blocks over to a train station, where trains would take one varous parts of San Francisco, as well as across the bay to Oakland and Berkeley. I had to go a block or so further to catch my streetcar to North Beach. One day after work I was walking along there, and someone whistled at me. I turned around and saw two pretty girls, one in a corporal's uniform and the other a civilian. They smiled at me, and I was suddenly captivated. The corporal was Martha Pittenger, and the civilian was her sister Jane. (To her dying day Martha insisted I whistled at her, but I don't remember it that wayO. It turned out that Martha worked also in the Reproduction Department, and we saw each other the next day, and it quickly led to true romance. She said later that she phoned her mother in Texas that night and told her she had met the man she was going to marry, but I wasn't aware of that at that time. The girls roomed with a cousin in Berkeley, so got on another train line to go that direction. We got along famously. She was pretty, cute and had a grefit sense of humor, and came from a background similar to mine. It was difficult dating, as we had to rely on public transportation, and lived in opposite directions. We's have a date in San Francisco, then have to get on the "a" train and get Martha home, a long ride and walk. Then I'd have to get on the train, and again a streetcar in San Francisco and get home in the middle of the night. Martha didn't know how to dance, so I volunteered to teach her, and we enjoyed that recre married life. Martha and Jane lived with their cousin, Myra Graves, in Berkeley, Myra was married to Jack Graves, who had been drafted into the navy, and was at sea. So it worked out very well for all of them. Myra had two darling litle girls, Peachy and Suzie, and I quickly fell in love with both of them. At some point Martha told her mother in Texas that she was marrying a Marine, and her mother immediately got on a Greyhound bus, and sat on her suitcase for the ong trip to San Francisco, where she was going to set that young man straight. But it didn't work out that way, for she and I liked each other immediately, and she turned out to be my biggest fan throughout her life. I'm jumping ahead, but I'd always get the biggest slice of pie, or the choicest steak when she was in charge of the cooking. We always got along famously, and I can state we 'ever had a cross word in her life. I probably didn't know it at the time, but I guess I was ready for the married life
I on't really remembering proposing to her, but we just seemed to fall into plans naturally, and soon were discussing our future and children, for we both really appreciated Peachy and Suzie and how wonderful children were. So we had a short courtship. As it was generally frowned on at the time, marriage between service couples was going full blast, as the men were returning from overseas in growing numbers. As Martha's father couldn't get to the wedding, we somewhat reluctantly invited our commanding officer, a captain, to give Martha away. He was somewhat of a toad, so never showed up. We had a beautiful wedding, with a friend at the time I cam't remember, and Jane standing in as bridesmaid. A staff photorapher took wonderful pictures of the wedding, which I still have. Martha was a corporal, but had only been in the service a short time. So I accused her of getting her stripes in her bucket. When one enters boot camp, one either returns all belongs home, or delegates them to the dump, and one enters without any personal possessions. Hence a bucket is issued, containing comb, toothpaste, toothpaste, shoe shining kit, underwaear, etc.
We honeymooned at some small hotel in west San Francisco, over a weekend, and reported for work Monday morning as usual. Fellow workers were ecstatic over the office romance, and we got many presents and continual kidding after our marriage. I remember once, sitting at my desk making rubber stamps, when a kpretty redhead girl working there came by and was running her fingers through my hair, when Martha came around the corner. For a moment I thought the war had esculated to San Francisco. So the redhead and I henceforth were distant nodders. We thought we were stationed for good in San Francisco, so a co-worker whose family owned some apartments over on University in Berkeley,rented us a small apartment, and we moved in, along with Jane, whowe always got along with. And I bought a used 1934 Ford coupe, but coming to think of, it was a sedan. Anyway, we had our own transportation at last, and thought we were set for the duration. But our direful captain was transferred, and we got in a woman captain, who immediately made it plain she did not approve of Marines marrying each other, and she got me transferred out. I was put on a train down to Camp Pendleton to be precessed for overseas duty again. This distressed us greatly, fut there was nothing we could do about it. Martha and Jane still had the Ford, and had to drive daily over the Bay Bridge, and one time the ful fuel pump failed and they tied up traffic until a wrecker got them off. I landed at Camp pendleton, and they hadn't the foggiest as to what to do with me, particularly as my medical record got lost somewhere and didn't show up until much later I didn't have any swelling in my leg, but it ed now and then, so I was in perfect shape to go over again. A few days were spent in various duties, in the fire department, MP duty, and office clerk. I had protested now and then during my serivce that I could type 80 workds per minute, and had seen many office clerks who didn't know which end of a typewriter to use. While I was this temporary office clerk, I immediately made out liberty passes for myself, and hit the road for San Francisco.
I tried several methods to get to San Francisco, a distance of some 500 miles from Camp Pendeton and San Diego. Once hitchhiked on an Air Corps plane that was rumored to be going to San Francisco, It took off, thenlanded, and fooled around all dey, finally reaching L.A. Trains were slow and out of the question, and buses not much better. So a as the roads were lined with hitchhiking Sailers, Marines, and Army personnel, hitchhiking wan not much of an option. But...I put on my dress blues, and immediately was picked up despite dozens of other personnel standing nearby. That rather unique uniform took the decision making away from motorists, an I got lucky. I don't know horn many weekends I went up to San Francisco this way, usually leaving Friday afternoons, getting to S.F. Saturday morning, spending that day with Martha and that night, then hitting the road back to San Diego. My guardian angel took care of me, and I never missed, in perhaps five to ten trips this wey. I had some interesting drivers. One quickly pulled out a revolver and showed me, saying just in case I had any ideas, and then was quite congenial. Another driver was the wife of an officer, with two children in the car with her. She asked if I could drive, and when I assented, she said she was beat and to take the wheel, while she got in the back seat and slept most of the way. Another driver was a psychologist, who was quite heavy on the subject that I take up that professon when I got out, saying that h he could enter any profession or trade, and since he knew how to manipulate peole, could succeed. I suppose he was right, but I never took his advice. Aonother was a fast driver, going up to 100 miles per hour, and bragging on how fast he could get from point A to B. All were unfailingly courteous, and I could never buy a meal or drink while with them, as allhad relatives or loved ones in the service. The same was true in L.A. and S.F, but San Diego was so swamped with service men that they weren't even treated courteously. Fortunately, the woman captain was short lived in her post, and was succeeded by a woman lieutenant, who needed a printing supervisor. I went to see her with Martha one Saturday, and she pulled strings and got me back. Still a private, I succeeded a staff sergeant who was getting discharged on points, and took supervision of seven ladies who ran various small printing devices, like Multiliths, Multigraphs, Ditto machines, etc. This was pleasant duty with amiable people and I enjoyed it. Martha got pregnant, and got her discharge, but I stayed on a while At one point I went down to L.A. to see about returning there to my old job, and was met with joy by my supervisor and fellow workers, and was assured my job was still open to me. But, I soon discovered there were absolutely no residences available in that city, as many thousands were returning home with the same demand. Couldn't even rent a room, let an apartment or house. So returned to S.F. and told Martha. She really didn't want to go to L.A., and hated S.F., as she was a Texas girl and always had chill bumps inthe colder climate there. Ahen I was sent down to Camp Pendleton, Martha and Jane gave up the apartment and moved in again with Myra and Jack. Upon my return, though, w got a house along Shadduck Avenue, at least the top floor of an old house.
We had some difficulty in obtaining this residence, though, as a quirk in the law ordained that it could be occupied only by defense workers, and for some reason we were not defense workers. With Jane moving in with us, we qualified, and moved in. The landlady was a quirky old gal, and somewhat odd, as we spotted her ging through our garbage can now and then for any food we might have thrown out, still edible. When we moved in this abode, we didn't tell her Martha was pregnant, but when she finally spotted Martha one day, very pregnant, she very rudely.told her we had to get out, for she didn't want any babies around. Martha's mother was visiting at the time, and when I came home that day, Mom and I want over and read the riot act to the old lady, who was suitably cowed, and we seldom saw her after that, leaving the rent in a slot in her door. We decided to stay in San Francisco until the baby was born. I may be a little mixed up c
at some point we decided to drive to Kansas and see Mama and my other relatives, and probe introduce them to their new daughter-in-law and relative. The old Ford was knocking and rattling, so decided to overhaul the V8 motor. Jack Graves and I had become good friends on his return from the Navy, so we took out the motor and found it in worse shape than anticipated, and had to have the cylinders reground and new pistons. We had that done, then put it together on night by the light of an extension cord and flashlights, and started out the next morning on the long trek to Kansas. At Salt Lake City the water pump went out, spewing water all over the place, but not being able to afford to take it into a shop, I parked it by a Western Auto store, bought a water pump, and installed it there. Had no more trouble out of the old car, really a superb machine. Had a good time in Kansas, and the relatives were enchanted with Martha, who sometimes went by the nickname of "Betsy," for she didn't particularly like that, as she said it was the name people bestowed ontheir mules. Never having a mule, that was new to me. I rarely called her by other name, always referring to her as "Honey." and that was my name for her throughout our marriage. She was a very sweet, intelligent and companionable individual, and I loved her dearly our entire married life. On our return to California and my discharge from the Corps, I determined to get a job, and landed one in San Francisco at a typesetting shop. The first thing they wanted was my union card, and as I didn't possess one, was told they couldn't hire me until I got one. So I went down to union headquarters, and was told bruskly that I had been blacklisted because of working at the L.A. Times and the little set-to at San Diego. I don't remember who gave me the advice, but was advised to fight it via a union meeting, and as I was one of the fair haired boys returning from the war, the membership elected to accept me with open arms. And I became a union member. At some point got another job at a firm in Berkeley, named Lederer Street and Zeus, and learned some hard lessons there. It was a sweat shop, with a circle of Linotypes and a foreman sitting on a raised dias above us. He kept an eye on everything, and if he judged you went to the bathroom too often, or got a soft drink too often, would chew you out. Now and then I'd catch up in my work, and have to sit idly for a while, and it was a very uncomfortable feeling to ge glared at by the foreman. At last the time came for Rick to be born, and I took Martha to the hospital, in Berkeley I think, but I'm not certain as that city and Oakland just have a street between them. Anyway, I left her there and they chased me out, so I had to go wait at home until they phoned me and said I had a healthy son.
We were ecstatic and Martha had had little trouble during her pregnancy except for some morning sickness. As this was the event we had been waiting for, we mounted up the old Ford set out for Texas after about six weeks. By the way, Rick was born on my birthday, March 3. Our ambition was to live in Texas until the housing situation in L.A. loosened up, and then return there'to my old job. But that never happened. Martha's folks, Richard and Cherry Pittenger, lived on a farm south of Weatherford, TExas, and they were ecstatic over the birth of a boy, as they had had only the two girls. All this time Jane had lived with us, and we all got along fine, for she and Martha were exceptionally close their entire lives. We settled in Fort Worth, for that is where the jobs were, and I went to work at a magazine publishing company, Branch-Smith. They were fine folks, and I was treated kindly and was happy there. They did fine work, and I enjoyed that. The owner was born without arms, and sat as his desk all day, signing things with a pen in his mouth. He was attended by a black man, Promise Jones, and he and I became pals, for he had a fine sense of humo, and we often played tricks on one another. But while I worked there he got in a poker game, and ended up dead, illed. I don't remember why I quit that job, but I didn and went to work for a gentleman down on 13th Street, named %dolph He had a two-man two Linotype typesetting shop, mainly setting type for various religious publications. His last name was Ellig. We got along fine, and I really enjoyed working there. In running a Linotype, one gets into a rhythm over the eight or ten or 12 hours at the keyboard, and you don't think of what you're setting, ...your eyes just follow the copy and seem to feed directly into your fingertips; so you are uaually thinking of other things. We had a customer I didn't care for, who said he was a minster, and had a monthly publication. It seems he would travel around his teritory and mooch on various pastors and churches, then come back and write about them. It seems he couldn't spell right at all,and that threw a wrench into the rhythm, as the wrong word would set up an alarm in the brain, and you'd have to think about it and correct that spelling. I started that way, and he soon let me know he didn't appreciate me correcting him, and that he wanted everything spelled precisely the way he got it down. So I fell in line. He was stuck on special phrases and rpeated them endlessly...one of which was the important Rev. Jones occupied his pulpit....etc. I'd sometimes leave out the "r" and he never once caught, as apparently he didn't proof read, nor dis his readers, if any.
My main friend in the Corps, Charles F. Giertsen, had followed us to Texas, and I enjoyed his company and serving with people as closely as our units were, friendships were deep and permanent. In fact, we had named Rick "Charles Richard Tonsing," after Gertie, as h was known. LBut as Rick's grandfather was named Richard, all the family immediately started calling him Richard or Rick, and eventually the "Charles" was discarded by him.
It seems Char Gertie had never worked for a living, as his mother was evidentally well off, and I never did find out what happened to his father...probably dead. Anyway, Gertie got a job as clerk in a department store in Fort Worth, but was very unhappy with that. I also found that I could not really earn a living working as a Linotype operator, and so put in a lot of overtime, and sometimes had two jobs. So one day Gertie spotted an ad in the Star=Telegram, describing a weekly newsper in Mansfield, about 15 miles south of fort worth, with a populaton of some 700. This ad described the poperty in glowing terms, saying it pulled in a profit of $30,000 a year, the equivalent of $300,000 nowadays. Anyway, his idea was that we buy it, with a small borrowed down payment, and he'g sell ads and write the news and editorials, and I'd do the grunt work in the back shop. So we bit, hook, line and sinker. the profit someone's imagination. It turned out that the equipment was junk, and I don't think it made $30 a year profit.
Arwway, we were committed, and moved down there. the quarters consisted of a long narrow building on the main street, with a small office in front, then a Linotype, Miller job press, Babcock hand-fed cylinder press, and type cases and a paper cutte and saw. So I started putting out the paper as best I could, and brought the Linotype up to serviceable condition. The Babcock was a huge monster, with a huge cylinder and feed board above that, where the operator stood and fed in sheets of 24x36 newspring. The heavy type forms were on a bed that traveled back and forth, picking up ink from a set of rollers, then at the end of the stroke, the paper was picked off with fingers, traveling down a "fly" and was deposited on a table. The forms were made up on stones, then toted to the bed of the press and locked in. I found myself many times alone and had to tote these heavy forms to press by myself. It's a wonder that I have any back lef I soon got another press, a bit smaller, called a Cranston, and put the Babcock in a garage next door, among a fleet of school buses, just to have a backup. The old motor was not attached to the press, but away from it, and had a heavy leather be. extending from the motor to the flywheel of the press. This would stretch, and had to have belt dressing applied periodically, or cut now and then and new clips put in. The one in the garage was on a greasy floor, and on the occasions we ran it, it was in an unheated garage, and the thing would slide back and for greasy floor in rhythm to the travel of the bed. I finally anchored it onenight to the bumper of one of the buses., with a chain. I had also inherited two customers, two black men, named "wise" and "melton.' they were fine men, but despised one another. They probably couldn't survive without the but fought constantly. I thought I'd see fisticuffs at the first, but they never got that far, just colorful name calling or hours of silence. The put out a publication called the "Fort Worth Mind," and I think it was the leading colored paper n fort Worth at that time. Wise was a very handsome, quite debonaire and well dressed, who sold ads in his part of the paper, mainly to white firms. Melton was an amiable sort of guy, he sold ads to black firms. They brought in their own paper, weekly, and woe if I dared to use a sheet of Wise's paper on Melton's run, or else. I forgot to mention that we had an "apartment," if it could be called that, on the rear of the print shop. It was two rooms, on an old wood floor, and one room was the kitchen-dining area, and the other the bedroom. There was an old "swamp cooler up on the ceiling," a cooling device that was hollow, some three feet square, with shredded wood aroiind the edges, and water dripping down this wood, wile a fan pumped water'trough it. It was quite effective for that day and time.
y Martha turned it
One time Martha turned it on at the beginning of the season, and a dead rat fell out, decapitated by the fan. There was a bit of excitement over that, T can tell you. She vowed that she'd divorce me if I couldn't get us out of there in three years, so 1 had that deadine to meet. As Mansfield was a small town, with a dugstore, grocery, cafe, clothing store, shoemaker, Western Auto, etc., there was no need for these merchants to advertise, so we depended somewhat on a lady in Fort Worth to get us ads from the big city. This didn't work though. Then Gertie, it seemed wouldn't or couldn't sell or write. I'd get up Tuesday mornings and start work on the paper, and get to bed Thursday night after it was printed. Up to this time I had pretty well kept my figure, inspite of sitting down at my work all day. But in Mansfield, driven by exhaustion, I ate four or fie dimes day, and really blossomed out in the scale department. Fridays we'd clean up the shop, throw in the type, do the billing and collection and then head for Weatherford, where I'd sleep practically all the weekend. This suited the grandparent just fine, as they adored Rick and spoiled him fotten, and Martha would have to re-trainhi to get him over it. Rick's grandfather would take him down to the feed yard, and among oter things teach him to spit, so Monday mornings Rick woudlb e spitting all over the place, to Martha's horror. An I spspect Rick got a taste or two of beer. Pitt wasn't a drunk by any means, a fine gentleman, but he liked a little nip now and thei Martha and I were getting more and more upset about Gertie all the time, as he was getting on her nerves, and with me working those long hours, he'd stay up and match my hours, but sit and read or piddle around, accomplishing nothing. Then we were broke, and hardly had enough to buy newspring and food. I had to go to him and ask for am money I needed. This rankled, so one day I told him it was him or me, that I couldn't stand the way it was going, and he offered to leave, which he did. This geieved me greatly, for he was a wonderful person and friend, and we had been through a lot together. I then hired a lady who had a deep knowledge of what was going on in Mandfield, to be editor, and she did a fine job. Except she couldn't type so wrote her news on tablets in longhand, and she couldn't spell either. So I'd set type for the columns, editing and correcting the spelling as I went. This worked fine. I pretty well gave up on making a living from the Mansfield News, but hit on the idea of printing other papers, so landed a couple. Then hired a young man just home from the service, who couldn't tell a printing press from a broomstic but he was a quick learner ad in simonths was a journeyman. Theo Cantrell was his name. He had a nice wife who got along with Martha, and a son about Rick's age, so we got along well. One day, a rare snowstorm dumped several inches on Mansfield, and Theo and I got a ki skid from the shop and meant to use it as a sled, towing it behind my car, with the two boys on it. We went out, and were tying the rope onto the bumper of the car, when the town constable, named Bud Pierce, accosted me and said that was against the law to pull sleds behind cars. him a bit, saying we had not done so, so far. Then shy Martha, who usually kept her silence, proceeded to give him a piece of her mind, and he arrested me. He took me to the justice of the peace, who happened to be the husband of my editor, and whose son also worked for me, and he declind to put me in jail, but gave me probation. That enraged the constable, and he stormed off. We thought it was a huge joke, so as Bud had told someone he had aches and pains, I ran an article about the event and named him prominely in the column, and surrounded this article with Lydie E. Pinkham ads.
I noticed that Bud was not on my side of the street much, and to tell the truth I avoided his side as much as I could, as the boys forom the welding school next dooor learning to weld on the GI Schooling Act, told me that Bud had a revolver with a set of notches on it from shooting criminals and he was layxng for an excuse to shot me. I later learned that these boys had told him that I was a shrtpshooter inthe Marines, had killed some 50 Japanese, and had an ar enal of various weapons brought home from the war, and was itching to use them again Atrial was rumored, but eventually the Fort Worth district attorney got word to me that charges had been dropped. Mansfield at that time was a bigoted little place, and even Martha, who came from a town west and slightly north of Mansfield, was deemed a "damn Yankee," let alone their thoughts of me. We tried going to church once or twice, and were royally snubbed. I've already told about the law there, but other things didn't measure up also. One individual had the town in his grip, and he owned the theater and water works, so if you didn't measure up, your water was cut off or your bill doubled. He wouldn't stand for any competition; for once someone wanted to put a skating rink on the sotskirts, and he iklled it, for it would be competition for his theater. Kids there had nothing to do and after school hours and summers could be seen loitering around and even smoking as early as pre-school. The his had and town's lone doctor usually was seen lounging in front of the drug store, as office was above, ogling the girls. And we heard that if a school girl any injury, like a sprained ankle or broken arm, he would have her undress he'd give her a physical.
The school superintendent had sole possession of several school bank accounts, and if for instance there was a baseball or football game, he'd come in and order tickets printed for the number of spectators he would expect. He stood at the gate and personally sold the tickets. The kids were forced to buy their own uniforms, pay for rides to games on school busses, and pay other expenses. Once a car dealer donated a car for driver instruction, and the superintendent appropriated it for his own personal use. As we were within minutes of bankruptcy, there was absolutely nothing we could do about this, so just kept quiet. I soon got two or three weekly papers to print, and one, Charlie Tilghman became a firm friend. It was the advent of television about then, and he was a pioneer in buying one. He'd invite us out to his house, have a living room filled with chairs, serve popcorn and soft drinks, and we'd sit there like in a theater to view this wonder. Charlie made good money on his paper, covering Kennedale and the Mansfield highway merchants. He asked me to get a numbering mcahine, which I did, and every paper was printed with a different number at the top. Then he'd print different numbers in ads, saying that the owner of this number could come into the store and claim his or her prize. This was a sure winner, and he cleaned up. He was a gifted salesman, and very persuasive, but didn't want customers to know he made money. So he had an old battered Ford he'd use while out selling, while at home had a brand new big Pontiac he never drove up the Mansfield Highway. We ha,d„*netheriSfe<svtomer we became friends with, Jack Schooler, w ho nau
who had a religious bent, and was somewhat of a blue nose. So one day I slipped an off-color joke into his paper in a strategic place, and printed just one copy, then removed the type and substitued smoething else. He always came in and scanned the paper on top of the pile, so when he saw this joke he almost had appoloxy )?) and wouldn't believe me when I told him it was only on one paper. He finally saw the humor of it, but never fully trusted me again. Jack had an aunt somewhere in Oklahoma who had raised him, and she reputedly owned half of the town where she lived. Every year she'd buy him a new Chevie and drive it down to deliver, and pick up his old one from the prefious year. One of his main gripes was that she wouldn't let him pick out the color and model, and he'd gripe to me about it. I sure felt sorry for him, and told him so. Jack at that time had a small drinking problem, and once got picked up by the law and his license revolked for six months. After listening to his wife for those months, I think he gave up the bottle...for she had to drive him everywhere. As stated before, I'd work long, back-breaking hours, and then go up to Weatherford and sleep most of the Weekends. A small airfield was acroxx the road from Martha's parents' farm, and as I'd always liked airplanes went over there to see what was going on. It was mainly a flying school, with two or three Aeronca Champions, a PT'13 Air Corps trainer, a Aeronca Chief and a T-Craft. One thing led to another and Martha and I both enrolled in the school, using the GI bill to learn to fly. We both loved it, with perhaps Martha being even more enthusiastic than me. We'd go over Saturdays and get lessons, and sometimes Sundays. When I got enough time in doing chaundelles and maneuvers, I finally soloed, and secreted a camera with me; flying over to Mansfield, and took some aerial shots of the city. These turned out to be poor, as it wasn't much of a camera; so later got a professional from Fort Worth, Skeet Richardson, to go up with me. He got a fine picture which I duly published in the paper, and while on this flight he wanted some shote of Fort Worth, so we flew up there, and went in low, with his door open and sideslipped so he could get good shots. He wanted to take another pass, but I refused, as the second time they'd get my number, and perhaps I'd lose my license. A few other planes were housed at that field, and later on some of us would take off early Sunday morning and fly more or less in formation to some spot or other where there was a good restaurant by the air strip, land, and have a choice and wordy breakfast. Once, in order to qualify for my license, we needed a cross-country, so Martha and I got in the P-13 and took off for Corpus Christi. The thing had an oil guzzling motor, as well as gas appetite, so we had to land every hour or so to fill up. We had a wonderful time, veering here and there to see interesting things along the route. We often took Rick up, and he got so bored with it that he finally refused to go. Some Sunday mornings I'd get over to the field early and fly off in various directions, and often gt lost. It was usually easy to find out one's location by flying up to a town and reading the water tower. One day I did this, as I was really desperate to get home, and the water tower said "Go Rangers," or some football logo.
All this time we lived in the small apartment in back of the shop, and Martha deserved jewels in her crown for putting up with this life. But she was a wonderful sport and very cooperative-and seldom griped. W\en s h e g o t a meal ready, he'd open the door to the shop and yell "chow down" to me, which usually brought a laugh t spectators. Also, she always called me "honey," and Rick always camm called me by that name, as did our other siblings, until they were grown. When the three years were up, and I paid of the place, we advertised it for sale, and soon a guy showed up, who was a relative of an ex-governor, and he was willing to give me a down payment, with me carin carrying the note. Anything to get out of there! So we bought a heavy 22-foot trailer and went back east on a long vacation, and visited my Uncle Paul in Lansing, Michigan, alraady chronicled. Upon our return, we rented a small house in the eastern part of Fort Worth, and about that time had a new arrival in the family, Robert Evan Tonsing. He also was born on my birthday, March 3. I could await his arrival at the hospital this time, and proudly took him home. I remember Martha was quite upset with me when at the age of two days, I gook him next door to introduce him to the neighbors. Well, we couldn't wait forever! I got a job at the Fort Worth Press and settled in to a normal life with normal hours. It was a good place to work, and my associates were cheerful and humorous, so enjoyed it there. They had fairly good equipment, about 12 Intertypes, and when it was found out that I could set type on these machines, maintain and fix them, and do makeup as well, they utilized me in all these departments. It was strictly a union shop, so when one came in on his shift, in my case the foreman would designate what role I'd play that day, and I'd work at that task. The machinist was sort of a jerk, and didn't maintain the amchines well, being lazy as well. So to keep from being bored, I'd shut down one of the machines when playing mechanic, and go over it and do necessary maintenance. But when I was playing operator, I wasn't allowed to touch a machine, except the keyboard, and now and then got u run up for working outside my category.
They had a big brake drum on a stging by the door, and the foreman would strike this when the shift started, when it was lunch time, again on return time, and when the shift ended. One was expected to instantly drop what one was doing, and go to lunch, for instance. Sometimes I had only two or three minuted to finish a task, so got run up now and then for that. I remember charges were brought up against me in a city union meeting, and when my opponent got up to cite the charges, he lied profusely. I instantly got up and turned to him and said he was a "lying son of a birth." Needless to say, I was excorted from the meeting and sat outside. In a few minutes, when the meeting ws over, they came out and said the membership had sided with me.
I haven' t mentioned that I was workig nights at the Press, as day situations, as they were called, meant a wait of some 15 years for one to open up. I'm sure this was hard for Martha, me working nights, and sleeping days. At one point there was a series of chain gang robberies, as they were called, where motorists were flagged over on the streets, particularly late at night, and the drivers assaulted with chains beofore their cars and any other possessions were stolen. So I borrowed a '22 rifle, and kept this loaded at my side when driving home nights. But I was lucky and nothing happened to me. The Press building is still standing, but across the alley from it to the east was a Negro hotel, of some three stories, perhaps only two. And some very interesting things happened there. The Press had a series of windows that directly faced the windows of the Gem Hotel across the alley, and sometimes when a lady had a customer, o a lookout on our shift would whistle, and everyone in the composing room would rush to the windows and see what was up. It must have been very obvious to them they had an audience, as we were backed by brights in our building, and a of heads sticking out the windows must have been apparent. But generally they ignored us, until some jerk would whistle of yell over a remark, then the froclikers would pull down the shades. Saturday nights were generally the liveliest, for evidently they had a stage downstairs and put on sort of strip show, for across us were the dressing rooms for the actresses in their skimpy costumes, putting them on and taking them off between acts. When this happened, word would go out to other employees working that shift, and oftentimes we'd have to put in some overtime to put out the Sunday paper. There was a lot of humor ammong the men working at the Press, and one time when we sort of had --we had, definitely, a sort of dummy working there as an apprentice, recently married, and during lunch we'd sit around the tell war stories and gossip. This lad was quite unhappy that his wife did not meet his expectations of affection, and he voiced his complaints almost daily. We soothed him, and proceeded to spell lurid tales of how our wives were really hot tomales and we had to wear chastidy shorts to keep them off of us. He bit on this hook, line and sinker, but I don't know the outcome, as I stopped working there soon afterwards. Upon our return to Fort Worth we had become quite a close knit family. We continued our weekly visits to Weatherford until Martha's father died, and then her mother moved to Fort Worth after selling the farm. They had lived there many years, and had a small house, but a big barn and one or two storage sheds, all crammed to the ceilings with discarded items and years of magazines and books. When it came time to clear this mess out, Mrs. Pitt, Martha and Jane went up and started, but couldn't get anywhere without crying over some momento or another, until I told them to clear out, and went through it hurridly, tossing the junk and organizing an auction for the rest. The neighb-rs and friends showed up and bid up everything, even buying cans of rusted bent nails. I thought at the time it was to help out the widow, and suppose it was. Jane had also married sumetime after her return to Fort Worth, to an old Weatherford friend, Harold Pickard, affectionally known as "Si" and he was a fine fellow and man, with a wonderful sense of humor and likeable disposition.
Si's family had a commercial laundry in Weatherford, where he worked, and when they moved to Fort Worth, he continued in that business until his death. Jane worked for me at Mansfield towards the end, but when I sold out, she got a job with Reynolds Tobacco Co. Presently she and Si had a daughter, Cherry, and she and our children grew up almost as brothers and sisters. She still is very near the top of my list of people I love, and is a wonderful human being. Another member of the family, Aunt Gladys Pittenger, was much loved. She had never married, and had entered community work as an employee of the City of Fort Worth, and eventually headed the city welfare office. She was reported to be a beauty when young, and and very popular with the boys, but when her father died, she took her mother in her house over on 8th Avenue. It was said that at one point she had a boy friend she was very fond of, but one night he showed up for a date, her mother had a talk with him, and he never set foot onthe property again. Aunt Gladys was particularly a pet of the young set, for when we elders would gather in the sitting room to talk, she was squatted down playing kid games with the children. She had a Negro maid, I guess you could call her, or probably a better description is housekeeper. Her name was Leoba, and she was also a favorite of the young set, for her cookes and goodies she'd bake for them. I'm backing up a bit on this saga, for after we lived in east Fort Worth for a yar, we had a lease which expired, so began house hunting ahead of that deadline. We finally found a new home in the Poly area, a show house for a proposed addition, and loved it. So we signed up for it, and time went on and on. I borrowed $800 from Aunt Gladys as part of the down payment, and stupidly told the agent that I had. After string us along for weeks, with Martha pregnant with Bobby, he said the deal could not go forward because the down payment made with borrowed money was illegal. I had previously talked this situationover with a friend, and he had advised me to go down to City Hall and regiaster this deal, which I had. It was out of the quesion to get the house, so we asked the agent for our money back, and he demurred and stalled. About the second time I saw my beloved wife lose her cool, for she boiled out of the car, stuck her finger up the agent's nose and backed him up the hill, screaming at him. Finding the house was tied up at the courthouse, he humbly, v hat in hand, show up one night and ask us to sign a release. We did, after both of enjoying a little torture first. That left us high and dry as far as living quarters were concerned, with Martha fixing to birth any day, so we loaded all our possessions in two trailers, and parked them behind Aunt Gladys' house, and moved in with her. (MARGARET: This doesn't jibe with my account of taking Bobby next door to meet the neighbors on the east side, but I guess all this happened in just a few days, for both are quite vivid in my mind._
1NSERT INTO Mansfield just after Giertsen leaving: As we were getting quite a workload on the News, somehow I procured a professional printer, Glenn Sappington and he was goo at his job, but turned out to be a drunk. When getting his paycheck Fridays, he was a hopeless mess until Monday mornig. But sometimes he'd come in morning lit up, and I think he could just smell a bottle cap and get boshed. There are many kinds of drunks, and he'd get very talkative, never stopping to get a breath, and followed me around until I had to threaten to fire him if he didn't go home and sleep it off. He had two cute little girls he was raising, and I don't know about any mother. Jane was working forme at the time, and she said she'd like to adopt the girls, but couldn't stand him.
When I finally had to fire Glenn, his brother Leonard came in, and he was also a good journeyman, but it soon turned out he had a habit also...dominoes. Now everyone plays dominoes from time to time, but in Mansfield at that time was a pool hall, and a game in progress called Shooting at the Moon, or Moon. It was a gambling game, so Leonard would disappear Friday afternoons and come in stone broke Monday mornings, asking for a loan. This got a little ugly, and I caught him trying to sabotage the press one day when he thought T was not there, and fired him and changed the locks. We were on a roll at that time, and a delegation came over from Cedar Hill, a small town over near Dallas, and it seemed they wanted a paper, and asked me to put one out for them. I was still naive at the time, very green it turned out, and I went over and made a little speech for them, and had a bit of a ceremony when I got out the first edition of The Cedar Post. It was loaded with ads and news, and they were quite enthusiastic. But on the second and succeeding weeks their enthusiasm dwindled, when I asked them for ads...they thought I was the tooth fairy and could subsist on nothing but news and editorials. About that time a character named Clarence Grey showed up, a veteran, with a thousand dollar personality, not quite a million. He was a handsome devil and soon proved a marvelous printer, and I was delighted. I quickly turned over the Cedar Post to him, and he succeeded in selling a few ads, but not enough to break even. In addition he worked in the shop. Soon after coming to Mansfield, he married a local girl, and her mother set them up in housekeeping over one of the shops on Mansfield's main drag, even furnishing furniture. A week or two later she shows up pregnant, I decide to fold the Cedar Post, and I came in one day and found the forms were missing for that paper. I had never in any shape or form given him ownership of that paper, so i found him, sitting in the cafe in Mansfield, and the only time in my life I challenged someone to a fistfight was then. But he demurred, I got the forms back, and he left town, sans his crying little wife. I'm under the impression he also took some of Mama's furniture with him. Then next thing I know, he's the distribution manager for the Fort Worth Press,a and after a month or so there, they began to wonder where the receipts were that he had collected. He then vanished, and I never saw him again. By chance soon after that I ran into his brother, who was a fine and hones farmer outside of Mansfield, and he told me Clarence had a habit of moving to a small town, getting a job on the paper, marrying a local girl, and when he gets run out of town or tired of the game, disappears. The brother said Clarence had done this quite often, wieh nary a divorce. He also said he had researched people like this boother, and it was quite common, though relatively unknown.
Mansfield at that time was surrounded by cotton fields, and had a gin, if I remember rightly. That industry required hordes of cotton pickers, and many Negroes had settled in and around Mansfield. They were not allowed in the Mansfield schools, but were bussed right by the schools to one in Fort orth. I had made friends with a guy who ran a small store on the outsikrts and at the moment couldn't remember his name. But he hated Negroes and posted a sign over his door that none were admitted, using the "N" word. About that time the emancipation hue and cry was in full tilt go get them integrated, and when it was announced that some wee to go to Mansfield high school, he stood in the doorway with a loaded shotgun and forbade them to enter, along with the sheriff, I surmise. He turned them away, and they didn't get to attend that school until his daughter had graduated. Another friend 1 had made was Penn Jones, who owned the Midlothian paper, some ten miles south of Mansfield. He had been a major in the army, and when the was was over he settled there in Midlothian. He had far better equipment than I had at the beginning, so when mine broke down, I could go down there and et type on his Linotype or run his press. He was also a belligerent individual, and had a running battle with the school board. He wa always ranting about them, and I understand once had a fistfight in their meeting until they threw him out. Skipping ahead to 1963, I think, when President Kennedy was assissanated, Penn grew quite agitated about it, and started writing books on the subject. I had the Printing Center by that time, and printed several books for him. He gave me copies o his autographed books, but as I wasn't interested inthe subject, didn't read them. I still don't know if he was for or against the killing of the president. MOVING AHEAD: After selling the Mansfield news, I left with the quivalent of a college degree in behavioral science, business ethics, psychology, and business administration, as well as labor relations. This experience was bitter, but very, very educational, and I learned much that later I was to use, some good and some very very bad. After getting a small down payment from the new owner, I got a job with the All Church Press, a religious printing establishment , with the composing and pressrooms in the basement on WEst 5th Street in downtown Fort Worth. It was the first air conditioned place I had worked, and was owned by a Mr. Tomlinson, a very old man at the time, and his son, Lambeth Tomlinson, was beginning to take charge. They had a wonderful idea, and as I remembe, printed some 140 religious papers a week. Take, for instance, your congregation. Say you were Baptist, so would fall under the Baptist umbrella, wbh three pages devoted to general Baptist news and all the ads they could sell, to pay for the printing. The front page was given to your church, to fill n any way you wanted, with church news, meeting, deaths, and weddings, etc. Then when the type was set, the forms mad-up and curved' plates made for the press (actually on this model press, they were circular plates. The press would stop, the three inside pages were also mounted, so the front page was pushed on, locked in place, and the press would grind out how many you wanted, lickety-split. V ery efficient undertaking, with perhaps a minute stopped, then started up. The composing room was very efficient, perhaps the best I ever worked in, and there wa was no nonsense. It was a union shop naturally, with the hiring practice of tr; operator out for three days, then he have a "situation,"and be considered permanent. By some mysterious wave of a magic wand, one time they hired a lazy, inept, stupid, lazy characted who was totally unable to hold down the job. To their shock, when they discovered this, they tried to fire him, but the union would order them to hire him back, and they bad to comply, or face a
strike. As the foreman was not a shy tipe, he followed the nincompoop to the restroom and coffee machine, and read him off, with colorful references to his character, or lack of one. It finally worked, the character quit, and we were all happier, for we had to work harder to make up for his ineptness. One group of LIntype operators would work a "windmill" shift, starting perhaps Tuesday morning, and work 12 hours, then come back after 12 hours and work another long shift. It was a killer, but one got three or so days off a week. I tried it briefly, and found myself thinking only of eating and sleeping, and was miserable, for 12 hours is a long session at the keyboard. The buyer of the Mansfield News proved quite inept, and started missing monthly payments, plus my friend Thwo Cantrell showed up, saying the new owner msssed paydays with regularity. Aso, the customers were complaining to me, and wanted me to do somethng about it. So finally, after three months' delinquency, if my memory serves me, I repossesseed the paper, and found it a mess, with equipment ruined or some missing. The owners of the papers I had printed had left, but were unhappy with their new printe So, for a period, I'd work full time days in Fort Worth, then go down at nights and set the paper, and run it by myself, only with the aid of my faithful editor. Soon another "buyer" shows up, and he had a duplex on the North side he wanted to rade me, so I gladlly traded, and he took over. He stayed a lttle while, then a woman took it over, and she ended up closing it. down. As Isoon discovered, y experience as an ehtrepeur had spoiled me, and I was unhappy simply working for other people, plus the money was skimpy and just barely enough to get by on. Charlie Tilghman came to me, and said he'd be willing to finance me into buying a little plant to print his paper and others, so I got hold of Theo Cantrell, and made him a 60/50 owner; get some printing equipment ....rented a small storefront on South Main, and started up. Theo was to work there full time, and I held down my reguaar job and come out there evenings to get the papers out. He drew a full salary, but there was not enough in the till for me to draw any, so in effect I was working for nothing. The main fly in the ointment was that Theo's attitude had flipp-flopped, and he was quite hard to get along with, plus he didn't like Charlie Tilgfman and verbally abused him, in spite of the fact that gentleman had set us up in business. Thie situateon went on for a while, and I was not only exhausted from the double shifts, and neglecting my family, but laying there sleepless worrying and freting. Finally one day, I came to him and tole him "it's you or me." It turned out he had an uncle who was willing to buy me out, just the pittence I had raised to help in the enterprise, so I went to the bank and took out half of the balance. Theo came ungled at this, and for years afterward would accuse anyone within hearing that I was a thief. I felt quite hurt, as I was the one with printing experience who had taught him everything he knew, had the experience and knwledge to go out and procure equipment, get it in shape and running, and get the financing necessary for the enterprise. Plus the fact I had not been paid anything for my a many weeks of labor. He remained an enemy for life, and eventually died of leukemia, a very bitter man.
I was doomed to learn another lesson the hard way, for the duplex I had traded the newpaper for was unavable for inspection before I aquired it (someone being sick of something), so when I got itn found there was one bathfoom for two familes, who did not get along. So I quickly determined to make anothe bathroom our c a rather large close and unable to hire a plumber and electrician because of a financial defincial, undertook the work myself. I was forced to climb up into the attic and do the wiring with live wires, as if I turned off the breaker, I'd have no light up there. but I got that done, then brought in a sink, bub and toilet, hen under the house, pulling on a pipe wrence, I kpulled my back out of place, and washit by the worse agony of my life. I managed to crawl out to iy-•< L." m.:. -'F '50 Plymouth, crawl up and honk the horn when I saw someone passing by. Most ignored me, but finally a kindly lady came over to investigate, and she called Martha, whc came out and got me, then took me to a doctor, who manulipated my back, gave me a heat treatment, and I was good as new the next day, with a stgong back ever since. My guardian angel at work again. The Fifties were tumultuous years for the Tonsing family in many ways. Along about the t that Bobby was born, I think I have mentioned that I purchased a dandy little 1950 Plymouth sedan with stick shift, as automatics were just coming into the market, and cost extra. Anyway, Martha was beginning to feel the constraint of having to depend on me and others for transportation, so I generously offered to teach her to drive, as that part of her education had been sadly neglected. Either I or Jane had taken her any place she needed to go. We went out to a country road and after a few encounters with bar ditches, sign posts, and clashing gears, we came near divorce. So for a Christmas gift I gave her a certificate for driving lessons with a professional, and went and hid while she was away on this jaunt. By some miracle he had taken her straight downtown and she soon was an excellent driver. But she hated the stick shift, so I had to get rid of the Plymoth and get a used Oldsmobile automatic. From then on she was on her own. Things had been hard on me since leaving the Marine Corps, working and worrying about paying bills and meeting the payroll, etc. But in retrospect they were far harder on Martha, but she bore up like and seldom complained. I will be eternally grateful tat I had her long hours I think a trooper by my side.
Sometimes I worked at the Star-Telegram, but found this disturbing and depressing. They had excellent equipment, but the attitude of fellow workers was a drag. One time I sat down at my machine, spoke friendly-like to the fellow aside me at another machine and went on with my work. I soon noticed a cold chill on the part of fellow workers, and finally found that the guy next to me was being shunned...nobody speaking to him and playing like he was not there, for some reason or another. I found they had strong sliques and jealousy over one thing or another was rampant. One time I was called at home to come in and sub for someone who had shown up for work drunk and picked a fight with the foreman. I was shunned for a time afterward, for "takeing this guy's work away from him." Texas had enacted the right-to-work law some time back, saying that one did not have to belong to the union to work. But the papers were strongly union. A fellow at the Star showed up and was hired by management, but did not have a union card. He was ostracized at once, and once tole me that his tires were pierced and ruined, his wife called in the middle of the night and threatened with obscene threats. He asked me what to do, and I told him he'd better leave town, which I presume he did. I may have mentioned before that when running a Linotype one assumes a rhythm on straight matter, and the words come in the eyes and go straight to the fingers. I was a fairly swift operator, and sought this rhythm, for it was pleasant and I could think of other things while settingtype. At the Star-Telegram, the machinist would come over to me and tell me to slow down, as they did not
esn the management to know how fast the machines could go. I ignored him and went on with my business, when I found I was having a lot of "flats," that is, the brass matrices would be laying down in the magazine, and necessitated a long process on the part of the machinist to get the machine running again.
Most of the guys at the Star, Press and All-Church Press were great, and I made friends with some of them. One in particular I used to go th "lunch" with him at midnight at the White Way Cafe downtown, and 1 was quite fond of this guy, but he was a woman chaser. One night, he landed a date with one of the waitresses, and asked me to call his wife and toell her he had to work overtime. He had a invalid wife and several kids. I refused, but he spent the night with the waitress sans a I've always loved music, and it seems to run in the family, so for some reason I got a yen for playing the accordion, and started taking lesoson on Saturdays. But the long working hours, and a baby in the house, soon put a stop to tht. About this time, if memory serves, perhaps '52 or '53, we acquired a 14-foot travel trailer, sleeping six, with a small refrigerator that needed ice daily, a butane stove; and butane, 110-volt and 12-volt, from the car, lights. So we'd take week-end trips in it to various lakes, and the kids had great fun, as every meal was a picnic. Then on a vacation we wwet to Michigan to see my Uncle Paul, and while there received the news that Martha's father was critically ill with cancer, and was not expected to live more than a few days. So we bundled up, and I drove all night to the airport in Chicago, with Martha sicl throwing up all the way. I finally got her on the plane, and her father passed away before I could get myself and the kids home. I also remember, we passed near a tornado, and the winds buffeted the trailer, it leaked, and for a time I could not see the end of the hood. But we made it through. Martha and Jane adored their father, and we got home in time for his funeral. Then came the problem of what to do with the farm at Weatherford. So it was decided to sell it, an< Mom Pitt and the girls were at the task of cleaning out the ohouse and a big-storage shed, as they never threw anything away. I found them crying over every little trnket, at assumed they would never finish the job, so I shooed them out and got rid of all the stuff in short order, with an auction. Farmers came in from all directions, and even bought cans of rusted bent nils, 1 assume to help the widow. As Mom Pitt had Angina and just one eye, it was decided she move in with us in Fort
w orth. Now here's a blank place in my memory. For some reason, I went and bought a very nice house in Westcliff, with three bedrooms, a big yard, and backing onto a railroad across the back fence. Ithought it was a lovely house, but Martha hated it ever lived there. I got along fine with Mom pitt and we never had a cross word in all the years I'd known her. But she and Martha couldn't get along, and soon I dound Martha at the point of rebellion, and finally it was decided that we procure a small house over on Wayside a few houses from Jane and Si, and she moved there. I couldn't really afford the house I'd bought, so had to sell it at a great loss, as nobody else wanted to back up on that "dreadful railroad." The kids and I loved the choo-choos, and I couldn't fathom why everyone else didn't.
Mom Pitt lived in that house a number of years, and got along fine and Jane, Si and Cherry took good care of her, and seemed to get along fine. She finally started to get forgetful, and had a pistol she would brandish every time anyone rairg the doorbell, so after consulting with her doctor, it was decided with great anguish that she be moved to a nursing home in Weatherford, where it was assumed friends there would visit her, and the deed was done. But she lived only a short time before she died. That was a pall over our lives for many years, but I don't know how it could have been done otherwise. She was a great lady and I always loved her deply. Returning to the early '50's, as I was surrounded by Linothpe operators and printers who had dead-end jobs, working all their lives at boring and tifling tasks, I determined this was not for me. Aslso, h the entreprepural spirits were stiffing, carried over from the stint in Mansfield, for that was a hard, difficult and distressing time, but being the boss and in charge, with a future depending on myself and not on someone above me, I decided to ventire into busines sror myself. I had noted that printers around town and in the Fort Worth-Dallas area needed Linotype mechanics, I started up the Printers Service Company, and rented a building downtown on Harding street. A huge, run-down building owned by a Negro church. It had broken windows a sagging roof, and other detriments, but t it turned out to be home for anumber of years. I happened onto a lady who had a small newspaper in Cleburne, whose shop had burned, and she was willing to sell me the equipment. The stuff was not burned, just rusting from water damage. After a period during which she fought her insurance company, I got the Linotype, a Miehle vertical press, a couple of hand presses, and auxil equipment. As I was borke, happened onto a fellow named eldon Jones, at t e South Fort Bank, and he agreed to lend me money from time to time to bjy equipment. He really stuck his neck out, for he never saw the equipment, and only had my word it existed. But anyway I gought it, ans started fixing it up, buy found that 1 had to make monthly payments, while the equipment was months away from being ready for sale. During this time it was very tight financially, and I even had my phone taken out and had to lock the door against people wanting to collect money from me. All this time I was "subbing" at the three publishing places, working nights and doing my thing days. It was sure hard on Martha, but she was a trooper and didn't complain. But salvation arrived with a phone call one day, from a fellow who had a low-base Model 5 Linotype on a truck, and he wanted to sell it to me sight-unseen for $400. I had known him, so agreed adn he delivered the machine. It was a dandy. About this time I was getting pleas from Charlie Tilghman and Jack Schooler, that Theo Cantrell was still sbusing them, and they desperately wanted me to print their papers. I didn't have a press, and demurred, for would this be ethical? Probably not, but I heeded their pleas and agreed to print their papers. This necessitated me workig the ungodly hours again setting tye tpye and making up the papers. My old friends, Wise and Melton, who owned the Fort Worth Mind, had gotten a Duplex automatic newspaper press, and agreed to print these papers, if I could get the forms out to them. So I bought an old Jp Jeep panel truck with doors in back. I'd set p the papers, and load the forms in this Jeep, wieh wooden plywood between the forms, and take them out South Main and Wise and Melton would print the papers. This liefted me financially, and I figured I paid for the Linotype in the first six week I had it.
About this time, another man, Ted Gouldy, who owned the Weekly Livestock Reported wanted me to print his paper, but this was more than I could handle, and Wise and Melton were unable to carry much more load. So I found a Duplex press up in Arkansas, and and went up to get it. I had long since made friends with a man who owned a couple of old trucks, with gin-ooles, and trailers, and we went up there. I remember the highway department was not going to let us on the road because of the width, but after negotiating, we finally got it to Fort Worth. This was a monster. It was an automatic newspaper press, which required a pit, probably three feet deep. The forms were placed on two beds, one aboeve the other, then a huge roll of paper was mounted, and the web was threaded, and off we'd go. After goig, it was delightful to see the folded papers coming off, and one man could sit and run itwwhen everything was going alright. But that didn't always happen. Web breaks were horrible, as it sounded like a jet plane was flying ten feet up through the place; then we'd have to clean up the scraps of paper and ink.
I began to acquire employees by this time, one, Roy Bilberry, remains to this day a close friend, and I see him and his wonderful wife, Caroline, fairly often. But more of them later. Another was Jack Jordan, and we became bosom buddies for many years. Also more of him later. I had acquired snother Linotype or two, and started printing school papers, on a flat-bed press, hand fed. These school papers were a life-saver, and at last we were sort of over the top financially. The teachers, and sometimes students would bring the copy in, we'd set it and make up the forms, then they'd make the final proof read, and we d go to press. One teacher I was very fond of, as I recall a beauty, with green eyes, but she had a bad habit of changing the paper not matter how many proofs I ve her So to avoid this situation, one day she phoned to see if the paper was ready, and I lied to her, saying it was on the press, to avoid any more make-overs. About 15 minutes later here she came in the door, and that ended that situation. In 1955, we had our delightful daughter, Nancy, and everyone in the family was excited and adored her. As said before, we were a close-knit family, with Jane, Si, Cherry, Aunt Gladys, Leotha, and others celebrating birthdays and Christmases. Aunt Gladys was particularly a favorite, for as said before, while us adults were sitting around gossiping and visiting, she'd be quatting down on the floor playing with the kids, and they adored her. During these years, the old travel bug would bite, and we'd take off in our little trailer for various places. I religiously went to Atchison to See Mom at least once a year, and had her down several times. I'd also always stop in Oklahoma City to see my sister Ida and family, Bob and Helen in Wichita, and Ernie and Dorotyh in Topeka. The trip used to take two days, some 600 miles, through small burgs with stop lights and winding roads, but the Kansas Turnpike me into being about this time, and it shortened the trip
to one day, if one reall hustled. Martha had relatives on her side, the Farmers, a close-knit family in Fort Worth, but we'd seldom see them...except for her aunt, "auntie," who was an old maid school teacher living on the North side. In the early 50's she died, and Martha was l/7th heir. One of the assets was a beautiful '48 Packard two-door. We thought about buying it, and to test it out drove it to Atchison. But it proved to be a gas and oil guzzler, so I sold it and turned the proceeds over to the family. As Printers Service Company continued to grow in the printing side, I gave up buying and selling equipment, and am sure Eldon Jones was quite relieved. More work continued to come in on the Duplex, and I got two more Linotypes to take care of the load. It was a good press for its day, but was very limited, for the quality was poor and ink distribution erratic. It had two ink fountains, fed from a 55-gallon drum of ink, and one man had to pump the ink, while another was in te pit directing its flow into the fountains. Always one to cut labor where possible, I decided to pump air into the drum, and then one man could do the job. One day Roy was in the pit filling the fountains, when the supply got low and was sputtering ink all over him, and he couldn't turn it off. After being overcome with laughter, he was rescued. (He as not the one doing the laughing!_ Along in the Fifties, by some chance I met Staley McBrayer, who owned eight small neigoborhood papers in Fort Worth. He had published these papers during the war, with his wife carrying on the business while he was away in the army. But hewas distressed by the high cost of buying and maintaining equipment that was old and worn'out, plus the high cost of labor to run this equipment. Also, he wanted to be able to print pictures cheaply, as well as color. In our publications, pictures were expensive, some $3 each, andwe had to send up to Enid, Oklahoma on the bus to get them, then race tot ehbus station when they phoned they were in . So one pircute per publicaton was normal. Offset had been in use some years, which is a process of photographing a sheet of printed material, getting a negative. Then this negative is exposed onto a sheet of aluminum. This sheet is strapped on a cylinder on the press, and when the press is tarted, the ink adheres to the letters and/or pictures with dots, while the water adheres to the blank areas. My experience, though brief, in the Marine Corps with the Multilith had taught me something about it. But early on I had inquired of a plate-maker how much a plate cost to make, and it was something like $20, he said. This turned me off immediately, and it was only until years later that I found he was mistaken...that the cost was something like $1.50. Anyway, Staley had found that Justawriters were on the mrket; typewriters which would set typerapidly, and justify right and left, making even columns. And Headliners wee somewhat bulky mechanisms, and slow, but would print large type on strips of film., and then could be deveoped into positives, and pasted down on sheets of pages. Very, very expensive presses were being manufactured in the 0 far out of range for most people. 40's and 50's,
S So Staley found he could buy a couple of presses in Germany that would print on one side of the web, and ganged them together, to print on both sides and come out folded.
One of the assets of this process was that one could leave a space for a picture among the type columns, and separately screen the pictures with tiny dots, paste them down on the negatives, and have pictures galore at almost no extra cost, except for a few minutes labor. Having eliminated the need for his letterpress, Linotype and assorted equipment, he asked me to sell this equipment for him, and I did. The quality of the print was much better than that produced by the old duplex, and h this process perked my interest. It seemed that Staley had some fine people working with him, among them Herb Killick, who I soon regiarded ,as a true genius. Another one was Herb Chapman, who I regard to this very day as one of my best friends. Anyway, Staley and Herb Killich had communicated this interest in a press to the owner of a machine shop, Mr. Ghormley, and together they concocted the idea of building a practical, cheap, offset newspaper press for themselves and others in the same situation. A press was built, modeled somewhat on the German presses, but was able to print on both sides of the web. Different units could be mounted one after the other, to give m more pages and/or color. Each unit would print four standard size pages. If eight pages were wanted, one added a unit, and if color was wanti on four pages, another unit could be added. This method had been used for many years on letterpress presses. The first press was nt not very good, particularly the folder; but an old German folder was found somewhere, and it was copied, to give a fine folder to the new press. The second press was a dandy, and was put into service at Staley's Arlington plant, runing out his papers and others. Abou t this time, a Grand Prairie daily newspaper came on the market, near bankruptcy, as its owner was a drunk. So Staley sent me over there to look over the equpment and organization. I told him the equipment was in bad shape, and that was what he wanted to hear. He bought the paper from the bank, and started print this paper in his new plant. He also started small dailies in five or six communities surrounding the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In the meantime, I was getting hungry for this press, so I remember it i like it was last week, a meeting in a the Mexican Inn out on Jacksboro highway with Staley and his partner, Jenkins Garret. I told them of my desire o to have one of these presses, but they knew I was near broke and could not afford one in the present ciscumstances. So they came up with a plan that I get a brand-new four-unit Vanguard press, and put the order in for one. B this time they were manufacturing the presses at a plant in Kennedale, a few miles south of Fort Worth. Vurthermore, a plan was concocted whereby Staley would set up a credit for me with a Fort Worth bank, and a credit line with a couple of paper companies, with him guaranteeing payment if I couldn't make them. But I never called on him to put up a dime. And we decided to call the new company Printing Center, and arranged to rent and move into a new building at 201 JOnes street in Fort Worth; a 5,000-foot building. This building had been vacant for some time, and wss in poor shape. So with the help of Rick and Bobby, and others, renovated it. The bricks had been painted a ghastly blue, and were chipped, so we rented a sand-blaster and got the peint off. Then as the building would have to be air-conditioned for the press, got a load of sheet rock and sheet-rocked the ceiling and insulated it. I recall borrowing one of Staley's flat-bed trucks to haul the sheet-rock, and under the load it blew out a tire on the North Main viaduct. I quietly went down
To back up a bit. Before moving to the Harding location, I rented a Quonset hut building off Pafford street in sough Fort Worth. I filled this with my equipment and old r presses and Linotypes, and sold some out of there. One thing I remember is that the building needed wiring down the sides, so as it was to cost a horrible price of $45, I decided to do it myself. I concocted the idea of saving labor ar by funning one wire down the conduit, and ues used the conduit as the ground wire. This worked fine, but by ahcnce a Fort Worth city inspector chanced in and found this. When he asked who did this electrical job, I professed ignorance, and had to spend a bit more than $45 to bring it up to snuff. Vcross the street was a printer named Ira Wilson, and he and I became good friends. He had a good shop with good equipment, and I'd come out now and then and set type for him if he needed me. He had an employee named DavidS Shipps, and he and I soon became good friends. Ira at one th time had a good business, but it had dwindled, and it was some question as to his survival. He absolutely insisted on going home at %:-- and never worked overtime. Then he had a vixation on running his Monotype machine, which east new hand type, and he filled all his cases with this type, while Rome burned. I had an acquaintance with someone at TCU and I suggested Ira go over there and solicit their work, as he was the closest printer to them. But for one reason or another, he demurred, and finally went out of business. My timing may be a little back and forth at this point, a but David was getting worried about his job with Ira, and as he had a wife and four little boys, was quite upset at the prospect of being without a job. As I was engrossed with setting up preparations for getting the new press in, David came by and soon started to help in the preparations. As the time came and went for our new press to get in, Staley said someone had been sold the press...but he would lend us one that had been sent to the Phillipines, and they quickly found they could not use it. So we got in a two-unit Vanguard and proceeded to run it. I had held an auction of my olf equipment on Harding street, and got nearly nothing, so junked what we did not need, and took the Linotypes with me to Jones Street. We had some problems with the transition. I remember we got some Nu-Arc equipment, like camera, light tables, plate maker, and e developingequipment. A salesman from Nu-Arc came in and spent several nights with me, teaching me quickly how to shoot copy with the earner, strip negatives, make prints and plates, get them on the press, and finish the job. I also went over a fw nights to Staley's Arlington plant and learned how to run his press, in short order. David had come in and asked for a job, which I gladly gave him, as he was a fine man and skilled printer. I also had a couple of Linotype operators, among them Jack Jordan, and we were bosom buddies, eating breakfast every morning at the Swanky Shack over on Sylvania. We continued setting type and making up pages, then proofing them and going through the camera process. But we could print pictures free, even less than free, as they were cheaper than the type to fill the same space. With two units we could not yet use color, as our papers were mostly too large and needed both units for black. Jane also came to work there, and ran the front office for a time. I remember running the press all day and sometimes evenings, and getting provoked when someone came in and wanted to talk to me about printing their papers, or other matters. But David soon took over that task, and I was finally freed to run the business, and get other work and attend to the many details of running a business.
Ever since the days of Gutenberg, who invented the printing press in 1448, along with movable type, printers the world over had depended on these primitive hand-fed presses to turn out their weekly papers. They hand-set type tediously letter by letter up to about 1900, when Mergenthaler came out with the Linotype, which swiftly cast tp type into lines, perhaps 100 times faster than hand setting type. But the presses remained the same, hand-fed cylinder presses with names like Babcock, Cranston, Campbell and cranston. These were in use up to the 1960's. Owing to the lack of labor during the war, the high cost of skilled labor since the war, and other factors, weeklies were dropping off like flies. But in the early 1960's, due to Staley McBrayer, all at once affordable web offset presses appeared on the horizon. Not that the local weekly paper could afford one...far from it. But, central plants quickly bought the new presses. At Staley's plant in Arlington, he was also printing some weeklies and a smattering of food circulars. But he was interested basically only in his own publications, and his growing printing empire. So when I came on the scene with the new press, he persuaded his customers to come over to Fort Worth; some I suspect unwillingly. So we had a ready-made clientele, plus the papers we were already printing, to start immediately making a profit. It was hard at first. The new four-unit press finally came in, and one of the first jobs off it was the TCU Skiff, who wanted a four-color process picture on the front page. We were having trouble with the press, so printed far more that went into the dumpster than were finally delivered. One night I recall, when all had gone home, except me, a lady showed up from Jacksboro, who wanted her paper out. It had been snowing, so was bitter cold. I was there all by myself, so I had to fall to and shoot the pages, develop them, plate them, get them on the press, and with her catching, managed to get her paper off in the middle of the night. I was kidded somewhat by the hired help about my overnight tryst with the lady, but I dont recall her being seductive material. And I imagine I wasn't much to look at either, probably covered with ink and paper dust, and red-eyed from a long day.
I had worked in shops where the boss sat comfortable in his air-conditioned office, while the hired help had to suffer from the heat and cold, earning a living for the guy. So I determined that the hired help get te air conditioning as well as myself theraafter, and besides the equipment more or less necessitated air conditioning. So we had an old ht pump pulled up to a window, which did a fair job, even in those days. We soon added some window units as they came on the market, so the place was quite comfortable all year round. As most printers do a variety of work, they must laboriously sit down and figure every jc and give a bid on it. Our work was pretty much cut and dried, so I evolved a printed price list we handed out freely to everyone. Some of the help demurred that it would give a leg up to our competitors, but that didn't prove to be the case in most instances. We'd charge so much for the first 1,000, that being our mnimum run. Then so much for one color
that usually was on the front and back pages of each issue, if being standard pages. Tabloid pages were half size, and we'd print eight pages of them with each unit of the press. As I recall,we'd charge $30 for the color of choice on those pages, and $15 if running what was already on the press. These other colors were usually red, blue and green, so the customer taking h our choice was always surprised by the color that finally appeared. It quickly occured to two or three crafty customers to ease back to the pressroom and take a look t at what was running, and if it suited them, they'd take our choice. But occasionally, there'd be another paper run, with another color, and some were disappointed when their anticipations were dashed. Let me go back a bit and explain further that with the old letterpress weeklies and monthlies, it was tedious to print the papers, and required high-paid skilled labor. But suddenly, here was this new process, where an editor could enlist his wife or daughter, and sometimes sons to set type on one of several typewriters then entering the market, have a small, bright, air-conditioned room with make-up tables, and paste up his pages during the week as the news broke and the ads came in. Then he'd load u up the wife usually, hie to Fort Worth and my shop, or others across the country, leave off the box of pages, and go shopping or have a languid lunch, while we got out the paper, usually within three hours. We prided ourselves on having the largest quickprint shop in the state. We tried at first to schedule these jobs, but soon found it hopeless, as human nature being what it is, accidents happening, weather interfering, or dozens of alibis, it was impossible to schedule them, so we just took them when they came in. One or two, like the Weekly Livestock Reporter, were pretty much on schedule, so they got favorite treatment when they came in in. This nationwide, and probably universally, was a transfusion to the small newspaper business, and many wee started or resurrected to take advantage of this quick, cheap and easy way to turn out weeklies. I didn't mention that the press initially cost $88,000, which may as well have been ten million. But Staley McBrayer's kindness and generosity leapfrogged me into a prosperous business. At one time we were printing some 40 weeklies and cieculars. But very soon we outgrew the building at 315 Jones Street, and we eyed a vacant building across the street at 310. A neighbor across the street was the Fort Worth Shopper, run by brothers Homer Tomlinson Ted Tomlinson. They had an old Goss letterpress press in the basement .which printed the Shopper, which came out Saturday nights, and whas a whirlwind of activity that day and Sunday morning. Homer told me he had had the idea of starting up an enterprise similar to mine, but I beat him to it. We got along with them fine, and helped each other out in pinches. One day I casually mentioned to Homer, for even then I had a big mouth, that we were rapidly outgrowing our buiding, and were having thoughts about buying the building across the street. He quickly went to the owner and purchased it out from under us, and when we wanted it, we had to rent from him. That wasn't too bad, but we were amused that on the first day of every month, promptly at 8:00 o'clock, he'd be at the door wanting hs rent. Sometimes we'd play a little game with him, by me coming in late, or the checkbook being lost, or some other little game, but he was persistent and for years he got his check that day. 1NSERFT: We established Printing Center in October 1962, and by about 1965
moved to 210 Jones Street
The new building was a cavernous one with high ceilings, and required lots of innovation to suit our needs. I remember installing a huge air-conditioning unit on tV west side of the building, by a guy named Miller. When we got hot we cranked it up, and it conked out promptly. When we called Miller, he said the reason was the unit had gotten too warm. We thought that unreasonable. We tried various tricks, then finally built an awning out over it, and it behaved for many years thereafter. The building at 215 stood vacant for a time, then a mailer moved in, and it was quite handy for he meils some of the stuff we printed. At that time Charles Tandy was starting up Radio Shack, and this guy got a good deal of tt business, as Tandy believed in volumptouus mailings frequently, and it succeeded. For one reason or another, we were unable to land any of this business through all the time we were there. A Chicago printer moved an office to Fort Worth, and Tandy gave them most of their business. It was partly, I understand, due to the sales tax in Texas. If we printed anything for them, they'd have to pay this, but out of state printing was exempt. A seven or eight percent saving ain ' t hay! A little later Tandy got into financial difficulties, and had a hard time paying his mailing bills; and then offered the mailer across the street stock in Radio Shack in exchange ror mailing the stuff. The mailer turned it down, and when Tandy overcame his difficulties the mailer retired lamenting the golden opportunity he had passed up. In the new building we built a second story in part of the building and offices in another part, really changing it drastically. It had a loading lock and we got boxcars of paper delivered there usualy once or twice a week. Often people would park there and walk uptowna couple of blocks away, and when a boxcar showed up we were in a fix. At one time we had a big forklift, wit dual wheels, and when a motorist parked a Cadillac at the loading dock and a train appeared, I drove the Cadillac around the had it in the air to deposit in the intersection, when this aldy came screaming down the dock to drop her car. That cured her, but I did get to hear some words I was unfamiliar with. The property included a parking lot to the north of the building, and then a row of dingy, squalid duplexes made of cement bocks. They apparently were part of our property, so we got the job dismantling them. I advertised a free building the Shopper, and had a taker. I told him the building was to be removed entirely, leavin; a clean slab. And that I had to have $100 e deposit that would be returned when the job was done. He took to it valiantly, but about halfway through he wanted to throw in the towel, but I persuaded him to finish, and he did. It seemed to be the custom about then to steal hubcaps from employees' cars on the night shift, and this infuriated me. So I borrowed the .22 rifle aforementioned, and patrolled on the roof a few nights, but noone ever showed up those nights. I don't really know if I would have shot anyone perpetuating such deeds, but I shudder to think that I might have. I did encounter a small kid one night later lifting the hubcaps from my car, and surprised, he ran for a car idling nearby, and got in and sped away. Shades of Fagan!
Jane had accompanied us on the move across the street as office manager, and she tended to the customers who came in with jobs, as well as a myriad of other responsibilities. But she was showing the strain, and got where she could not handle the job. She threw tantrums and embarrased anyone looking on; so after much heartache and o loss of sleep, Martha and I agreed she'd have to go, so I
-62reluctantly let her go. But, as said before, she and Martha were extremely close, communicating several times daily, and this caused no fift in the family, that 1 know of Martha had grown up in Weatherford with a girl she was fond of. They weren't intimate friends, but had stayed in touch. Her name was Louise Rushing, and she replaced Jane. It seems she was happily married to Paul Rushing, who was a construction worker, and one day on the job he was electocuted by a high line that had draped his construction equipment. She had a long and frustrating battle with the company and insurance company, to no avail, and was penniless, with two children to raise. She turned ot to be a jewel, and was a wonderful asset to the company for many years. I still tat h to her now and then. Shen moving to the new building we built a partition on the south side of the building, and this confined our four Linotypes and auxiliary equipment. But as this type of business was dwindling, Jack Jordan and I made a deal whereby he'd take over that part of the business, and eventually move out. He did so, and rented a building over on Sylvania. As I was adeptwith forlifts, I helped move him, but got a bit careless on the last Linotype, failed to tie it down, and it fell off, burning over. Luckily it had been raiing, and the ground was soft, so the machine wasn't irreparedly damaged. But that forever tarnished my reputation as a skilled driver, at least with Jack. We still had breakfast every morning for many years. Hw eventually moved to a bigger building down on Jones street, and then moved to a building back near Sylvania owned by Ted Gouldy, oone of his main jobs was the typesetting of that journal. Let me say now that 1 printed that paper before going offset, perhaps 1960, up until 1986, and never recall us being late out even once. Ted and I remained friends until a number of years ago, when he died, e leaving the business to his widow, Rosemary, and I still talkto her now and then. He was truly a good friend. %n the meantime, on the home front, we bought a house in View Park; a new house not quite finihsed, and could pick the brick. It was in a long row of houses in a sub-division, and we were the end house, nextdoor to a horse pasture. To the rear of the house was a vacant field extending for a mile or two, and slightly ro the right was a small airport. One night we heard a bang, and learned that morning that a couple of fliers had frequented a bar until the wee hours, then repaired to the airstrip for a little night flight. They took off and flew all right, but on landing the pilot came down on the rough field adjacent to the airport and crashed. One was killed instantly, the other crawling up to a neighbor's house seeking help, but he died later.
It wasn't a very good house, but we were happy there. The horses intrigued us, and onething led to another, and we ended up buying three or four at different times, at the horse auction then being held weekly on the north side. Martha said she wanted a beautiful golden house, so we bought one one ight at the auction. Bobby rode him and he seemed all right, so we loaded him up and kept him in the yard that night, surprising Martha the next morning. We made arrangements with the owner of the pature, who had a stable and other horses on the property. So as soon as possible we got a saddle and Martha mounted "Golddust." He immediately ran off, and she was knocked off a short distance away as he ran under a branch. Luckily she was not hurt. But we fo^nd he was extremely excitable, and was a fine gainted horse, with a smooth, regular stride. We got a special bit for him, which pretty well controlled him, and Martha rode him often, even in parades. But he was always skittish, a dared not kick i him of urge him on, as he had a tendency to run away any time. One time we had a kid visit us who wanted to ride him, and I cautioned him to take it easy. But of course he kicked Golddust and he ran away with him, running up to the fence, stopping suddenly, and the kid catapaulted over the fence.
INSERT BACK TO ABOUR 1966: About the time that Nancy was born, I decided to buy another Harley Davidson. It was ostensibly for its economy of operation, I loved the feel of driving it. Again, I was a cautions driver, never going over 55, and took few chances. But also, took one or two dumps when turning a corner and hitting a damp spot, which dumped me instantly. I remember taking Rick and Bobby on rides through the pard, and over to Lake Benbrook, where the road leading eas east from there was infested with grasshoppers, and we'd drive slowly, weaving from side to side, and squashing the grasshoppers. I 1 also remember us exploring dow Highway 35 as they were building it then. (I may have written this previously). Anyway, I delighted in riding the motorcycle, until one day when ridinghome, it must have been cold weather, for I took a dump just east of our house in Viewpark, and tore up the sleeve of the coat. Martha asked what had happened, and I lied to her for perhaps the first time in my life, saying it got in a machine at work. Then a nosy neighbor came down and asked how I was after the accident. Of course, soon the motorcycle was history! To refer again to the horses, we also bought a raw-boned gelding named "Prince," and I rode him most of the time. And then there was the pick of the litter...."Poncho," a giant part belgian pinto, with huge brown and white spots. He was gentle as a kitten, 'and good natured. ' He was a favorite of anyone who ever rode him, and probably mine as well'. Of "all the horses I rode, he was the only one to kick me, step on me, bite me and throw me. Of course, all these were accidents. One time when Cherry came out to the pasture, I decided to show off and went a distance on Poncho, then returned at a gallup, and then took off my cowboy hat and waved it. Poncho went one way, and I went another. We had to peel Cherry and Nancy off the ground they were laughing so much. We had a serives of horses for Nancy, but never really got her a specific one. Perhaps unfortunately, Rick had more or less gone at the time we got the horses, so he missed out on that enterprise. Rick had grown up before we knew it, and alternately worked at the print shop and at a drive in movie over on Felix. He was always a good kid and few times a problem. Studious, he preferred sitting quietly and working with numbers, he was a natural for computers. Around 1965, he met and Married Rosemary, and at the same time enlisted in the Air Force. After bootcamp at San Antonio, they shipped them to Chicago, where he entered comuter school, and ended up running and servicing trainers for the Air Fdirce pilots. Meanwhile at Printing Center, we continued to grow, and again took over 315 Jones street for our job shop. This housed sheet-fed presses. We had somewhat diversified, and started printing independent phone books, which necessitated printing coers and inserts, plus other stray jobs that required these presses. Stanley Cole was hired to run this department and to this day remains a good friend. We also continued to grow, but before that, to the e west of outbuilding was a commercial parking lot run by an old retired character, and also had a two-pump gas station. We considered this an asset, for we were continuing to get more trucks and forklifts, and this should help us save money. Wrong!!! We could never reconcile the figures, and finally closed the station. The old guy there was of a somewhat barbed nature, and kept a close watch on cars under his watch. occasionally one would sneak in, and he'd immediately call a wrecker and have it towed off. Instead of facing the raging owners themselves, e he'd sick them on me, and often I found myself defending myself when I didn't even know what I was guilty of. This of course cured them of encroaching on his domain. Another time at the job shop, a character persisted parking by their loading dock, so accidentally a can of printer's ink was inadvertally spilled
INSERT: Back in the 50's, while working part time on the three publicatons listed previously, I went various places and got equipment to be repaired and resold. One such event was from a phone call one day from Wichita, Kansas, where a school had two Linotypes on the second foor, and had to move them for some reason, so dismantled them and had them in a sotre room. It sounded interesting, and as they had nobody who had an inkling as to how to put them back together, I rented a trailer and drove up there. As each machine consisted of hundreds of parts, it tfas impossible to determine if they were all there, but the price was very cheap, so I loaded them up an drove them home. Over time, I assembled them, and they turn ed out to be good mcchine? which I sold eventually. Another time, I had a friend, Bob Greer, who was a police sergeant on the Fort Worth force, and who had a small compact business card press which printed in two colors. I set ths type for some time, but he craved his own Linotype. So I had one eventually, but the problem was that he had a small office out on North Main at Exchange Avenue, with a narrow door, and no way to get the machine in. I still had the old Jeep panel truck, I dismantled a machine, and made two trips out there with the parts, walked them in the door, and assembled the machine.
He had an amusing incident, when he parked his car at a meter, but never put a coin in it. the beat cops knew he was a cop. So one day a woman lost control of her car for some reason and ran into his parked car. She accused him of being at fault, because he was illega-ly parked with no coin in the meter. I guess later she found he was a Fort policeman, and that probably shut her up. Later, he found that the location was not a good idea, so wanted to move the Linotype int( a shed in his back yard. So I had to dismantle it again, load up the old Jeep, and delive it to his back yard. The problem was that the shed had a dirt floor, very dry and dusty, and the machine had to sit on this floor. Having no recourse, I installed and gt it running, and it might still be thee for all I know.BACK TO THE 60's: The old Vanguard lasted about three years, running day and night, and by this time it had proven inadequate for the job. It was a fine press, but had chain drives on each of : units, and these tended to stretch a bit, causing a slur on printed matter, especially pictures. So we determined to buy a new pess, a V22 Cottrell, also made in Kennedale by the same people. It was a fine press, much faster than the old Vanguard, cruising at 22,000 impressions per hour, and printed to very close register. The people at Cottrell tried valiantly to gt the old press to print better, and even installed gears on each of the units, but this afterthought did little good. So when the new press came in, David and I loaded the old press on a trailer, having sold it to a little printer up in the corner of Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas, in the Ozarks. We drove u- there one night, stayed and got up early, rented a forklift when the press arrived, and took a day to install the press. We got it running that evening, stayed on another day to instruct the new owners, and apparently they had no trouble with it, as we didn't hear from them again, to my knowledge. They only printed 1,000 or so impressions a week, while we were running it at several hundred thousand per week, in two shifts. After mastering the old Vanguard, David learned to run it, and we hired a series of white pressmen to come in and run it. But these proved to be very temperamental, and if they got a phone call during a shift fromanother printer, offering them 5c more per hour, they'd walk out and take that job. So we hired a pressman from another printer, Al Samaniego, of Mexican extraction, and he proved to be a jewel. He hired Mexicans, some illegals, and taught
them to run the press in six months or less. Union rules, by the way, demand a six-year apprenticeship for such a job, but these men were doing fine at six months. Al also spoke fluent Spanish, so we pretty well left it up to him to hire and fire, and it worked fine for years. At one point hysteria was running in the printing industry as Immigration was conducting roundups of illegals, so we went to some trouble to get green cards for ours, and never had any problem with immigration raids. Eventually we had five departments in Printing Center, with a total of 215 employees, and two of those departments were run by Mexicans, two by ladies, and one by a white guy, Bill Campbell. For a while, my friend Stanley Cole ran the Job Shop, but eventually he went on to another job, which will be dwelt upon later in this narrative.
At one point Al Samaniego decided to build him a fine home overlooking Lake Benbrook, and one day rented a cherry picker to trim some trees. While high in the air, the wind came up, and toppled the cherry picker, with Al landing on both feet, shattering slmost every bone in both feet. He was in agony for severl days, and doed heavily with morphine, and the doctor said he'd likely never walk again. But he was a very determined kind of fellow, and determined that he'd walk. When he went hom< and was feeling better, he got restless and bored, but could not walk a step at this point We were also restless at the plant for him to return, as he was a very key figure in our operation, so I got the idea of renting a little electric three-wheeler from a surgical s i house, and asked if he wanted to use it. He was eager to get off his back, so his wife w< him in every day to the ramp to the loading dock, we'd meet him with the three-wheeler, ai scoot around the plant, doing his job, and much happier than if left at home. Eventually, he got to walking a few steps, had one or two more operations, and eventually walked without even a limp. A very i . fine and determined man.
Around 1960, when Rick was 15, Staley McBrayer called me one day and asked if 1 could locate an old cylinder press for him. It seemed he had a concesson at Six Flags, which was being built, and this concession consisted of getting pre-printed newspapers with the headline space blank, then employees would print any slogan or saying on order for patrons as they came in. Staley wanted the press in the window, with some action on its part if possible. I located a small cylinder press in Azle, and delivered it over there, I remember, sloshing around in the mud trying to get it into the building. I stripped it down partly, but left it where the cylinder would turn, attaching a small motor to it, with a simple switch on the wall where employees could turn it on every shift. I also installed Zerk fittings to lubricate the frictin points, but tol them I had to come over every week to inspect it and lubricate it. So I got a pass for two year? Having a bit more time on my hand at this time, I'd get Rick and Bobby and some neighbor hids and come over every week to grease the press, then spend the day there. Soc at my suggestion, Staley hired Rick a couple of summers to work in the print shop, and we'd have to go over and get him every day, either Martha or myself. So those two years clocked a lot of visits to Six Flags. I loved it, as did the kids, and I'm sure I have well over 100 visits to that institution under my belt by now. Later on, for many years, as a couple more generatons og grandchildren came and went, had season passes to tht institution, and greatly delighted in visiting that place. I remember once that the kids proudly introduced me as the guy who really knew his way around Six Flags. Nancy was born in August of 1955, and she was a trooper at the fine olf age of five.
Backing up a bit, when Nancy was born, I purchased a Kiday 8-mm movie camera, popular then, and recorded the event of bringing her home. Over the years we photographed many reels of birthdays, trips, Christmases, etc., with various members of the family. Finally it was retired in favor of a VCR camera, and Igot the idea of getting out the old reels, expunging them of unnecessary material, and sat one day in a studio, and narrated a an hour or two of history into a microphone, making a video history of the family. I made several copies and gave to marious members of the family, and still have mine around somewhere. I was always eager to take to the road on various trips, but Martha was somewhat reluctant, epecially if the weather was hot, and we tried several tings to cool the cars down, like getting ice in a bucket on the floorboard and blowing a fan over it, and a swamp cooler in the window, which didn't do much good. But we finally got a 1957 BuildRoadmaster, which was a real lemon in many respects, buying is used, but it had an air conditioner we could use sparingly, as the motor got hot if used t c But that changed Martha's mind, and she was a fiend for motor trips after that and subsequi conditioned cars. Printing Center had been n busines a short time, when a guy came over from Dallas and wanted us to print a paper for him. We knew instantly he was a fourflusher, as he'd advertise in a minor headline on the front page that he had 20,000 readers, when in truch we printed 1,000 for him. Anyway, he wore $100 shoes and drove a bi Cadfy, so I distrusted him especially when his checks bounced. I put him on cash, and one night paid an unexpected visit to the shop, and found him trying to recruit one of my key employees in a projected plant he was putting together, to compete with us. And found he had talked to severa employees,' promising them the sky. So I took one of his bounced checks out of the safe, blew up into a larger copy, and pined it to the employee entrance door. This stopped that plan on the spot for him But he talked several backers to come in with him, and soon we were losing jobs right and elft, and heard he was telling our customers that he didn't care what they were paying us for printing, he's cut our price by 10 percent. This went of for a few weeks, and we had a sudden drop in sales, which really worried us. But then I got a call from his salesman, a character named George Parker, and he said he wanted to come to work for me, as this guy was great on promises, but couldn't deliver the printing. So I hired George, and hewas an asset at the beginning, as I had done what selling needed to be done, but I didn't enjoy it, George was a character, with traits including being a cheapskate. For instance, one day when leaving a resaturant we frequented the waitress asked somewhat heisitattly if we had leaft her tips the day before, and when we assented, she said she guess the busboy had picked them up. But I lingered a bit a day or two later, and saw George coming up in the rear, taking the tips from under the plates of each ofus. A little later, I got a call from a printer on the west coast who asked point blank if I Wi interested in selling out. I demurred, and said "maybe," so this guy and his brother came into Love Field in Dallas. I got so interested in talking to them, that I got lost getting back to Fort Worth, and I guess they surmised from that that I was a dummy. Amyway, they made us an offer of a million dollars, but in stock in their company. So David and I gook a trip out there, and looked them over, but weren't impressed. They ahd the idea of setting up a chain of printers across the country, and printing for the big boys like Wards and Sears and other chains. But I told them we weren't interested, and they said they'd put a plant in Dallas and put us out of business. I told them I'd heard that before, and doubtless would hear it again. At te time of their visit, on a Sunday, Geofge Parker unexpectedly came in and I somewhat reluctantly introduced him to them. But they left. And a month or so later Geor up with a new Cadillac, saying he had sole some Cattle in Oklahoma. He no more owned cattle in Oklahoma than I owned dinosauers in Arkansas.
I don't remember what clued me to the fact that he had assumed a job with them, but it turned out that they had hired him, rented the Caddy for him, and wanted him to stay on with me and get all the job files out he could, including the pricing ad and production information. So I had a big scene with George, fired him, and got a lowyer to sue them and him. We were lucky, and got a quick cease and desist order, whereby they could not touch any of our accounts for six months. B that time, we had time to regear and plan, so they never hurt us after that. They did put a plant in, and a little later fired George, after picking his brains for al! the info he had. I called or wrote all the printers in this part of the country warning them about George, and he couldn't get a jo in printing, so eventually moved way, I know not where. It seemed they had another salesman, a gentleman with a big "G", named Wayne Douglas, who called me out of the blue on day and said he'd like to come to work for me, but had to have a little time. I met him in Dallas, and told him I'd be glad to hire him, as I made inquiries, and found he had a good reputation. One day he ailed, ; was ready, so came over. They, of course, sued me, but got nowhere with it. Wayne was strictly a loner, and brought in some first-class jobs, who paid their bills on time, gave us no trouble, and didn't have heart attacks when it was necessary to boost their prices a bit.
We eventually had five salesmen, including Wayne Doublas, Don Roessler, John Robbins and Tommy Tomlineson, Incidentally, all are dead now. We also had a lady saleswoman, Sharon Womack, a really classy lady, and eventually she got a job in Dallas in another line. Sometimes we'd not see Wayne for a week at a time, but his jobs cape coming in, more and more all the time. Some of the staff, particularly the other salesmen griped that he could be working for another printer, could be home with his legs on the front porch railing, or at movies. I tld them that if they could sell like he did, they'd be able to go home and act like him also. I've never particularly been interested in sales figures, but was always extrelely interesteed in the monthly bottom line. But I kept sort of a secret set of books on the individual selesmen, listing their salaries, expenses, commissions, etc., and coming in with a bottom line of what it cost us each month for each of them. Wayne was also the least costly, hovering as low as 3 percent most of the time, with the others costing us as much as 5 percent. Wayne also made much more than I did, but I never resented that, as he was a jewel of a salesman, and a real genteman. The year 1968 was a particularly bid year, for my mother died that year, at the age of 93 I believe. Also my mother-in-law, Mom Pittenger, whom I dearly loved also. and it was a bad year for the company in other ways. But we survived. As work increased we needed another press and then another and another, getting them from the Harris Corpor; who had bought out Cottrell in Kannedale. We worked cdiosely with them, as we had only their equipment then, and they'd send up people no and then to spend from a day to a week oberving how we operated. They did us a lot of favors also, like the time they asked if we wanted to try out a "third world press" they had come out with. The ordinary press they build had four cylinders per unit, two plate cylinders and two blanket. This press had three cylinders, ine a plate, one a blanket, and the thii another plate, with the plate etched with reverse type, and it printed directly on the web. Their theory was they could save money by cutting down on the cylinders.
But we soon found it had severl drawbacks. For one thing, a certain amount of lint was on the paper web, and they scoured the image off the plate by having it in direct contact with it. Then, it was found that a different kind of ink was needed on the single plate cylinder; and thirdly, negatives have a certain thickness, and are normally buy woth the emulsion against the plate, resulting in an exact image being transferred fom the negative to the plate. But with this odd cylinder, the negatives had to.be flopped, with the thickness of the material between and emulsion and the plate, resulting in a flare, making it in the final analysis a poorly printed copy, particularly with pictures. We gave up on the press, and after a few months, they said we could have it, one unit, and we ended up using some of its parts on our other pesses. Returning to Wayne Douglas a bit...as said before, he was a gentleman and a scholar, and it cae out bit by bit that the reason e he quit the Dallas/Dalifornia printer was their ethics. He said they had no morals at all, and I had noticed they were shady operators, but didn't seem to hurt us any. They had at least three money-making schemes they epployed, totally crooked and unethical The first was that they'd find a purchasing agent in a customer's organization, and gradu; this p.a. would find a new Mercades in his driveway every year, leased in his name. Or his daughter in college had her tuition and expenses paid by some mysteiuous entity. There were dozens of ways this game could be played. The second way to cheat the customer was to print a job, then bill it the usual way. In some of the really big outfits, their bookkeepig is totally screwed up, so this printer would send a second bill a week or two later for the same job, whether the original ha been paid or not, with some detail or number slightly changed, am probably three e times out of seven the bill would be paid again. If caught, they'd fake rage with s u e proverbial employee, careless and stupid. .(-TWO EEEKS LATER!_ One smusing incident that could have been really serious; was that boxcars of paper would b e delivered to a side dock two or three times a week, and it was my , chosen job to unload them, as I loved to drive the forkliftrclamp truck. As the boxcar was somewhat misplaced at the dock, a couple of enterprising employees, David Shipps and Mitch Mitchell, got u on top and loosened the brake, intending to run it downhill a few feet. But the boxcar had a mind of its own, and started a ponderous journey down the street, with me watching horrified, and the two twisting the wheel that ostensibly would apply the brakes. A block away a small fleet of pickups were parked with their noses out into the street, being loaded, probably four or five, and this boxcar just struck them one by one, and turned them around, crushing them slightly. I rushed and got in my car and trailed it down the street, perhaps a half mile, where it finally ended on the main line and came to rest. Of course the police were called, and various persons of authority showed up to cluck and give their opinions of the situation. Fortunately there was no bloodshed, and apparently our insurance took care of the damage to the pickups, for we heard little of the incident, but it lived long in our memories, and after awhile got funnier as time went on. One time, I ws told, a prospective employee was being shown through the plant, and observed me tooling by on the forklift. He asked his guide how much I made, and the obliging employee said "around $50,000 per year." The prospect said, "I'll take that job."
Ever since the bod old days in Mansfield, I had been connected in one way • • • i i . ..-,.-.-i,. ~^„^n*.„•,•„n t h T^nrt Worth Mind and -p
my old friends, Wise and Melton, in particular, they soon saw the advantages of getting rid of their ponderous equipment, and started printing with the Printing Center There was also another Negro paper, LaVida, and the Lake Como Weekly. It was difficult in those days to sell ads in these publications, and they had a hard time paying their bil Periodically, we'd review their outstanding indebedness, and as periodically would write them off, as these individual publishers were fine men, and had a hard time of it. At some point the old publication, the All-Church Press, where I had worked, had an offer for their property, on Fifth STreet, I think, and got a new building out on Berry Street in exchange. But times changed, and they didn't take ddvantage of offset soon enough, sticking with their old tubular press; so finally purchased a 15A Cottrell press. But we heard rumors from time to time that they wereen't using it, and I called Lambeth Tomlinson once to make an offer for the press, but he turned me down, citing great plans for its use. Finally, as times worsened for the enterprise, I got a call from a third party that the press was available, andwe bought it, a fine piece ofequipment. As the use of these presses grew nationally and internationally, competition set in for the the publication of small papers, so our base dwindled gradually. With the addition of two or three four, five and six-unit presses, we got into the colored circular business, gradually taking on Sears and Wards, among others. At one time, as regional headquarters of Montgomery Wards was out on Seventh street, we did quite a bit of work for them; and one day the advertising manager approached us with a new idea. They had at that time, a great many small stores and these stores wanted their own custom-printed circulars, as calls for different items differed widely from store to store. We accepted ths scheme, with the understanding that we deal directly with these store, and they in turn were responsible for paying their bills. They indluced stores in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas mainly. This went famously for a while, then the balance owed began to mount up, some up to six months. I'd complain to the sales or regional manager, and apparently he shrugged it off. So when the balance crept up to ome $40, OOCJ,- I finally Wrote- a- better- to the .number, threat mart, in Chicago, who lived in Fort Worth, and who*e -jet-'depoisited h l r weekly; at home con F a r o Worthy, -j,; ie .rt
I immediately got some action from national headquarters, and was asked to verify the amounts, which I easily could. We got our money, but that was the end of that scheme, and the local advertising manager had quite a large vacubulary concerning my immediate and distant forebears. It seemed they had the habit of chaniging the managers in these small stores every six months or so, and if their six months were profitable, they'd get a bonus, then they'd move on. So it was to their interest to ignore invoices, and thereby increase their bonuses, I'm sure t practice soon took on new rules. INSERT BACK TO RIGHT AFTER GETTING LINOTYPE: One of the main customers for the new (?) Linotype's production, was setting ads and want ads for Staley McBrayer's publications over in Grand Prairie. The typewriters on the market at the time were fine, but they had their limitations, and these limits made it still practical to set these items on Linotypes, then pull a proof, and go on from there. So I'd get their copy somehow, and work all night a couple of times a week, then get in the car and drive at the crack of dawn over to Grand Prairie to deliver the product. The tool road was just in, but I couldn't afford the 60c toll, so I took the old highway, stops and lights and all. Finally, we came up with the idea of meeting alady called Delilah Cook, who lived in Fort Worth, and drove every morning to Grand Prairie. I'd go down near the toll'booths, wait for
her, give her the proofs, and then do a &-turn and head back to Fort Worth. This soon caught the attention of the highway patrol, and I got a ticket, all the time protesting that the toll road was a private enterprise, and a government body could not give tickets. But a short session before a judge soon cured me of that thought, and the practice stopped. I got a lot of ribbing over these rendezvous with Delilah, but she definitely was not my type, it was broad deylight, and I was bushed from sitting at the keyboard all night, and just wanted to go home and sleep. : o-i: . 3 -e-i: u 'Haul
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During the 60's, with the addition of more capable people and more equipment, mv load lightened and I could pass responsibilities on to capaable people. So my hours shortened, and Martha and 1 and the kids started taking trips, like to California and the Grand Canyon, and many trips to Galveston, where we'd either park the little trailer on the beach, or rent a cottage and let the kids play in the sand and suft We also invested in a boat, 14-foot I think, with an outboard motr, and took to riding and water skiing on various lakes. Rick instantly took to it, and soon was an expert skier, but Bobby could never get the hang of it. A matter of balance, I guess. Martha wanted to ski, but she'd get in the water and wouldn't let loose of the side of the boat. I threatened to hammer her on her hands, but she told me that if I wanted to live on and be fruitful, to desist. So I did. One time, being overweight, I was skiing, and the wooden hand of te rope broke, and the slivered stick went entirely through my hand. We rushed to the emergency ward, and I soon recovered, and don't remember even now which hand it was.
Another time I was demonstrating some feature of one of our presses, and stuck my hand a bit close to the folder, which unceremoniously grabbed it and wouldn't let go. But that ended with a complete cure, a real blessing and miracle. Times changed, and we continued to grow, now getting into independent telephone book printing. This required binding equipment, and I gook a trip or two to various places to look at apress and binding equipment. Rick had somehow grown up-, on us,.-and al at.once was: a grown man.-. After working at the drivein theater on Felix, he worked a bit at the printing office, and tried to go to college also. 1 deeply regret begin hard on him, but I guess I was looking back at my own experience, tnat a lot of work didn't hurt anyone, so he didn't do well in college; and at that time the draft was in effect, and any college student not getting good grades was subject to this draft. So he took matters in his own hands and enlisted in the Air Force. At the same time, he decide. marry Rosemary, and the Air Force hustled him off to Chicago for computer training soon after boot camp. This was at the tal tail end of the hard times, and soon after we were able to afford some of the nicesities of life. So Rick missed out on some of them. Rick and Rosemary had Laura in 1968, I believe, a particularly bad yer and the little girl was a big ray of sunshine in our lives. Later on, after Rick and Rosemary were stationed in Okinawa, he wrote that Rosemary was pregnant with another baby, and I immediately wrote him, asking if he wanted his mother to come over to assist. I told him that she didn't know anything about my offer, and he was free to say either yes or no. If no, she wouldn't hea of it; if yes, she'd dome. His reply was "yes, yes, yes," and Martha took on the ling difficult trip by herself to Okinawa. I was one of the brightest occasons of her life, and she came back with eyes gleaming and fulll of delighted stories. In the meantime, Nancy was 15 in the summer of 1970, and she and I decided we'd match the trip of Martha's, b going to Europe. So we booked a Mediterranean cruise on the "Canberra," a beautiful British ship, and flew to London. There
1 - i . c 1 J-J_„ u„„f->-^ K^o*-H-ino f-hp shin at Southhampton. . ..
u n * * oractice soon abandoned, but we went ship was two-class at the time, * V ^ & d u p l i c a t e p r o gr; :am second class. Entertainment was P r ° * J d £ ^ ^ % from was done in the other class. T h « V h * ° » * " J a r o u n d , a nd would often mingling with the other, but we oon ^ « * * JJJ w e s o o n l e a r n e d that second sneak up to first class «°J • " I ^ ^ ^°inly a bunch of stuffed ofd geezers and d a s s was much more fun with ^ class j a i n ^ ^ ^ had
second year, 1,71, we had no ^ a n b e r r a
^ > ^
^ ^ ^
again on the C
fell in love;with shps and flying,
rnd'wrcouln^rreft.fi'herlrom then on to stay home.
The two cruises on the Canberra awakened both our adventuresome urges, and with better and better management at the Printing Center, we were able to travel more and more, all over the world. Noy only did we take cruises, but early on we decided to take a camera safari to Africa, mainly Kenya, but also covering parts of Zambia and Senegal. Later on we visited South Africa, Mozanbigue, and other exotic countries. The African trips were delightful, traveling mostly in Jeep-like vehicles holding four people, and with a pop-off roof whereby one could stand up, brace himself, and take pictures at heart's content. We got close enough to lions and other exotic creatures to see flies buzzing on them. Never fell single feeling of danger. But one time when going down a narrow road a big bull elephant came chargine at us, trumpeting; but the guide told us he was merely putting on a show, and there was no danger. Nevertheless, we got out of there in a hurry. I soon got into the habit of taking a Polaroid camera along, ad would take a picture of some unique person, and give h it to him or her, and te they'd gladly pose for pictures on my good camera. I got a long zoom lens finally, and could get close-ups of exotic creatures. One time we saw an impressive group of native dncers, dressed to the nines, and wanted a picture, but one objected and made it known he wanted us to wait. A few moments later he appeared in really exotic regetta and it seems e he wanted a picture of himslf. In 1973 we took a long voyage on the France,-which 'was very formal, and required a long dress for ladies, and tux for men almost every night. The meals were outstading, usually lasting two hours each, and up to six or eight courses. My diet feiled me utterly on that trip. That particular ship was a pet of DeGaulle's, but the jet age had come, and onhis departure, it was doomed, and retired to the mud flats in LeHavre. We visited it once there, and were at last glad to hear it had been bought by the Norwegi cruise line, and was to sail as the Norway. We were on the inaugural cruise, and naturally some things went wrong. For one thing, some of the cabins were not ready, and a gang of German laborers were on board to finish up the cabins. We noticed they were in no hurry, as they danced with the girls and ladies every night, and usually got drunk. The cruise line apopolized, and awarded us a complimentary cruise on another ship, which we gok later. In 1975 we embarked on the cruise of a lifetime...around the world in 88 days, on the Rotterdam. It was a wonderful trip, and we enjoyed it hugely; among other things, visiti China on the footsteps of Nixon, who had just opened tat country up to tourists.
We spent two or three days in Canton, but were kept extremely busy, allowing us no time to wander around. We were not prisoners, but it was apparent they didn't want us wandering . Big crowds of Ci Chinese in Mao suits kept off at a distance eyeing us as curiosities, ad when I'd approach them to take their pictures, they'd dispurse, almost in panic. I don't think they really knew what cameras were. I made the mistake of taking some pictures of darling little girls as they put on dances for us in a school, with two or more in the picture, and gave it to one of them. But they immediately fought over the picture, and finally tore it apart, to give each of them her picture. 1 wrote someone at home every day of this voyage, then on arrival home, put all te pages t a and made a little book or it, of which I still have copies. We also took trips to the inland sea of Japan, to Australia and South Pacific islands. On one of these cruises, we met and ran around with a couple, and he was one of the lecturers on the trip, a hypnotist; a very fine fellow. Martha had for years subje migraine heaadaches, which would make her throw up and have to take to her bed for a coup] She usually felt these coming on; so one morning we appeared for breakfast and she said a; course that she felt one of these coming on. This fellow told her to stand up, and he got in back of her and held his cupped hands about an inch from her hair, and she gave a sudden jerk, saying that the symptoms had disappeared. I was two or three feet away and observed. She didn't get the headache, and told him we wanted adopt him and his wife and take te home with us. On one trip from the South Pacific, we left the ship at some point and flew to Western San my old stomping grounds during the war. We had a wonderful time there, renting an old To) and tooling around. When I was there during the way, and have already mentioned this, mac acquaintane of Aggie Grey, a Samoan lady who ran a hamburger and sandwich shop in Apia. Apparently she had made a fortune durng the war, for on our visit in 1975 she had a beautirul sort of hotel/motel, with a big headquarters building and lunch room, then Samoan type cottages acattered around the grounds, all air-conditioned and with their own refrigerators. Banana bunches were hung from trees here and,there, and one could eat; all one wanted. It was a wonderful expe that exotic island again. In 1976 we were acooompanied by my brother Ernie and his wife Dorothy on a voyage of discovery, I think 33 days, on the Queen Elizabeth II. It was a wonderful trip to Rome, Athens, Cairo, Istanbul, etc., and a visit to Odessa, Russia. We had a wonc time that was the subject of discussion and mmory for the rest of Ernie and Dorothy's lives. At one point we were approached by a real characted named Sam Hawks, out of El Paso, inquiring if we wanted to sell out. It seemed he worked for a man there who happened to be the major of El Paso, a very rich man, who owned two or three printing plants, and these plants were not as productive as they wanted them to be. Sam was a real character, rather blustery and always smoking a cigar, and full of stories of his adventures and mis adventures. He evidentally had been married several times and at the moment to a Mexican girl, who bore him kids a the legal limit. To visit these various plants, his company had a two-motor Cessna, and had the neat idea of parking an old Caddy at each of their airports they frequented in their company calls. David and I accompanied Sam on a visit to El Paso, complete with a tour of neighboring Me> and were somewhat impressed by the layout of this plant. Apparently they wanted us more i our ability and knowledge than in acquiring Printing Center. They profered a deal, which presented to our lawyer, but he said it was fill of loopholes, and advised us to turn it down. Upon reflection later, this lawyer, Richard Glaser, was more influenced
by the thought of losing our business, then by looking at the broad picture of whether it would be good for Printing Center and us personally. In later years 1 regretted the decision to decline, for the El Paso company also owned vast amounts real estate around El Paso, a growing city, and owned the Clrkle K chain of convenience stores. If this transaction had gone through, I would have been the second largest stockholder in those enterprises. But "spilt milk..." Richard Glaser was a young Dallas lawyer, and my memory is erased when I try to remember why and when he came on the scene. But at the beginning of the company, we were approached by an evangelist, whose name escapes me, and if memory returns, will insert it later. Anyway, this guy had a fairly locale of the metroplex, but had dreams of going national, via radio and a huge mailing list. And he wanted us to print his monthly publication, which we agreed to do It seemed he would periodically set u out with a couple of vans full of tents and seats, and set up in predominantly Negro neighborhoods. He's set up some sort of prize thing and get the local people to give him their names and addresses, then he'd have them on his mailing for life. Upon scanning his publication, it became apparent that he wanted them to tithe to the amount of at least $7 per month, at which time he'd send them a prayer handkerchief. His message was not salvation or the worship of the Lord, but the acquiring of wealth and prosperity. He'd picture some black skinned lady in front of her new cadillac or new home, and that was his lure for these poor people. (GENE EWING) His mailing list grew rapidly, and we had a hard time getting him to pay his invoices, with me visiting his fancy headquarters in Arlington, and later in One main Place, a beautiful building in downtown Dallas. There he had plush carpeting with a nap two inches deep, a beautiful mini-skirted se clored butler who'd offer drinks and snacks while one would wait to see his maj esty. At one point, they got so desperate to get thier publication which I was holding up for money, that they proferred their "children's home" in Arlington, the title that is. I visited this place, and it was aplain wooden house, which he 1 inherited from his mother, and nary a child was in evidence. We were also in on the gossip that they had a big plane, something line a DC=3, which held some 20 peoj and wont to go on shopping jaunts to New York City. And a "hospital ship" off Los Angeles, which as far as I know was only used as a fishing vessel for Also, at one pint they offered to bring over the daily receipts, a mail bag full of envelopes containing envelopes of cash and checks, and some coins. It was onerous to count, but I never objected to counting money, so we did o so. Some of the $7 checks bounced, also. At one point we were offered the plane as colatteral, later on, but at this time it was parked at Addison airport, and had been attached by some hangar there for rent and repairs. We were told by an expert that we didn't want it anyway, as it was a lemon, a gas and oil hog. At the last I was approached by them to come over and listen to a proposition they had, concerning the use of computers which were then just comin on the scene. They had big wall charts proving that if they
put out 100,000 brochures they'd get X amount of dollars, a million some more and so on. I listened, and they offered to go into partnership with me, includl Printing Center, and would make it grow into the largest religious publishing printer in the country. I drank my Coke and ate my cooke cookie, and', exited, a lau to myself. To bring this d saga to a close, all at once GEne Ewing withdrew his operation lock stock and barrel to a fancy building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angales, leaving owning a small fortunr. At this time we hired Richard Glaser, and by some hook or crook, bluffed them into paying their bill, 1 think with a court order allowing us to examine their books. I basked in admiration for a while from ot and mailers in the metroplex for my ability to extract money from this charleton, as they were unable to do so. My friendship with Richard Glaser extended for many years, one of the closest in my life, and we exchanged many confidences through the years. I still miss him. I wlways kept a close eye on finances at Printing Center, and reigned most of the time as chief collector of bad accounts. I must emphasize that the vast majority of bills were paid, with perhaps one percent ging bad, but this one percent was a great worry and arounsed anger in me through the years. Lots of well-intentioned people came and went, some unable to pay their bills through no fault of their own, but now and then a real crook would show up with the intention of getting into our wallet, and I'd enlist the abilities of Richard to go after them, in court if necessary. One such was the publisher of phone books in the St. Louis area, who brought in some books for a year or two, and paid his bill satisfactorily. But at last he showed his true colors, by running up a tab of some $40,000, and refused to pay this. So we hied up to St. Louis, hired a local lowyer, spent a week n court, the the villain beat us, due mainly to the fact he was a local boy and we were outsiders. Another time Richard wasn't involved, but a Dallas printer had had us do some work for him, and wouldn't pay. So one day I took a book to read, visited his office, and politely asked him to pay his bill. He came up with the usual pletora of excuses, so I just smiled, sat down in his office and read my book for a couple of hours, being polite and agreeable all the time. It made him nervous finally, and three or four hours later came up with the amount of his bill. Partly, he didn't want me to know any more about his business than he could help, and he sort of regarded me as a spy, I guess. Richard had had an unhappy marriage, and divorced his wife, leaving her to raise their two kids. She persuaded him to re-marry her, and he said the second time was far more worse than the first. Anyway, in pursueing his profession, a really gorgeous girl came in and asked him to get her a divorce, and he finally did so, while falling in love with her. She was an exceptional beauty, and it came out that she had been one all her life, appearing in beauty pagents and contests while growing up, and being spoiled by all publicity. Man groveled around her anywhere she went, and this bothered him, but it seems she had never learned the value of a dollar, and managed to ge rid of whatever money came their way even charging needless items, running up bills, writing checks and any other way she could get rid of money. It got to the point where they were in danger of losing their home, and him going into bankruptcy, when he finally decided to seek a divorce. This about killed him, for he truly loved her. But it seemed a necessity.
Richard Glaser handled several cases for Printing Center, and as I recall lost about seven, which distressed me. These were mostly petty ante cases of people not paying their bills, but one proved a real disaster, and virtually ended my relationship with him. A printer named George Levitan had for many years published several Negro publications, distributed nationally. Now we had a fairly strict code that we would not print anything pornographic, advocating the overthrow of the government, oranything that seemed offensive to us. George Levitan reigned over his company for many years, but finally passed away. His widow and brother-in-law kept up the business for a while, but then the city of Fort Worth condemned part of their building along Highway 35, for a new widening of that throughfare, which necessitated shutting down its operation. They had two big web offset presses, called heat-set, in that enamel paper could be printed and after printing the web passed over gas flames which hardened the ink. We had ambitions to enter the heat-set market and do some finer printing than our Cottrell and Harris presses could do, so started negotiating with George's estat< namely most of time the brother-in-law. After a year or so of off and on talking, we came up with a plan that we would acquire the presses (which were in very shape by this time). In return they would give us a contract to print the magazines at a profitable price. I still don't know where we parked our brains during all this, but finally settled on a price for the equipment far in excess of what it was worth, in exchange for a two or three year contract to print the magazines. By that time, the highway department was breathing down our necks, so we hurridly got our maintenance people down there to move the equipment ahead of the wrecking ball, which we did. We hurriedly printed one issue of the magazines with great difficulty, and presented the Levitans with an invoice. We had no reply fom them, and heard nothing about printing the next issue, when a phone clll told me they had sold the magazines to a New York publisher, and we were out in the cold. Then, they started getting nasty about paying for the equipment, priced far moe than it was worth. We finally had to settle after obscene legal costs, for some $400,000, and the equipment was worth about $lt0,000.
NOTE TO MARGARET: Please slip this above in the manuscript later on, as I by mistake embarked on this tale out of sync timewise. What broke my back with Richard, started of with us having a bookkeeper for years I trusted totally, and finally found he had been in total control of the check book, and was paying himself more than I ws making, plus had a daughter on the payroll that we never saw except at the Christmas party and summer picnic. I had grown up with a schoolmate, John Riley, already referred to, and had kept in touch with him and his wife Phronzie, who lived in a lttle town near Wichita, Kansas. He was a bookkeeper or bean-counter, and was always dissatisfied with his lot in life, working for a series of banks. So I approached him about coming down here, and offered to move him, to become our secretary-treasurer. They settled in, and it worked for a while, but soon there was agitation in the ranks of the females on the staff, as he was reported to be harassing them. Not sexually, but by nagging needlesly and complaining constantly, not to me, but to them in front of witnesses, embarrassing them no end. They'd come to my office crying, and I'd sooth them, and send them on their way
In addition, I was in the habit of getting a monthly progress report monthly by te tenth c the next month, and if that month was profitable, we'd slip in some little expenditure we'd been holding off and on. If the month Droved bad, we'd postpone buuyng items of improving something. John would flat refuse to get me those reports. Also, he spent most of his time in far-off projects he thought necessary for the company, in realms that were not of his business, and he intruded on the toes of some department heads in doing so. So when I get these tearful visits from female staff members, I'd call John in and talk to him about it, which he indignantly denied, and said he didn't know what I was talking about. It finally got so bad I was again losing sleep over the p and told him on two occasion that I'd have to fire him if these complaints continued. They did, and after a particularly frustrating conversation with him, gold him he'd have to go...but I could see he was on cloud nine and didn't listen to what I was telling him. So I sent him a telegram one weekend, offering him severance pay for six months, and saying I was sorry to have to do this. Over a period of weeks, he got a young hot-shot lawyer and sued us for age discrimination, althought I was older than he was. He also sued Richard Glaser, so Richard couldn't try the case. Richard had an associate named Johathan Pace, who took on the case. A trial laster a week, in front of a jury, and I was extremely frustrated through this trial, for it was obvious they were trampling us into the ground. Johathan wouldn let me call any of the women as witnesses. I had fired a gruck driver who drove one of our 18-wheelers, for drinking on the job. And this character showed up at the trial, drunk, and testified that I had fired him because he was getting old and I replaced him with a cheaper, younger driver. Again, Jonathan wouldn't let me get the driver's supervisor to testify. I short, it was a disaster, and the jury found me guilty and it ended up costing us around $350,000. I found our later, but couldn't' bring it up at the trial, that John Riley had written checks to himself out of the blue now and then, in effect stealing from the company, and I had the checks later in my hand. I may have given the impression up to now, that in the 6-'s and '70's I really had my nose to the grindsone, but wih the addition of competent and able people on the staff, Martha and I wr able t- enjoy life and travel to a great extent. We purchased a house at 6013 Sheridan and there is a story to that. While printing some real estate company brochures, I happened to pick up a sample off the press and noticed a house that looked desirable, as we had been wanting to move. So I took this brochure home, with the ink still wet, and showed it to Martha. She immediately was interested, so we called the real estate agent and made a date to see the house, astonishing her as she said it was not on the market yet. But anyway, we saw the house, and Martha immediately fell in love with it. As the previous owners were in the midst of a divorce, and both desperately wanted to leave town, we got it for a song, and happily moved in. It was our home until Martha's death in 1983, but that is getting ahead of the story. Again in 1979 we took an 88-day around the world cruise, this time on a Norwegian vessel, and really enjoyed it, but towards the end were suffering from homesickness. One enters a new world on these cruises, geting to know people from all over the world, some very well, and establishing friendships with fellow passengers and crew members
that sometimes carry over after returning home. Buteventually, they all fade away into the past. The name of this vessel was the Sagafjord, a trulyfeeautuful ship; and it was a job wo get up every morning and either see us at sea, or parked in some exotic port, gazing out at the wonders as we daddled over breakfast, and talking about plans for sightseeing during the day. Growing more independent by now, Martha and I most of the time elected to go out on our own, sometimes accompanied by friends and or crew members. We'd usually rent a car and after studying brochures, we'd explore to our great delight. One time in Hong Kong we rented a car, and bravely drove up to the Chinese border, when guards glaring at us. But on our return to Hong Kong we returned the car to the rental agency, as there was absolutely no place to park anyplace because of the traffic glut. About the same thing happened in Rio. People universally were nice to us and very helpful, and obviously all over the world they liked Americans. One exception was Manila, where the populace seemed to be in a snit and glared at us. We later learned that someone had killed an American officer that same day out in the boonies. But I can nver remember feeling fear anywhere we were at. We caould always locate someone who spoke English, who'd kindly direct us when we were lost. One time we couldn't find a tazi driver who spoke English, so adopted pidgeon English and went "woo woo" and "toot toot" to imitate a ship. Th guy nodded and took us to a ferry terminal. But there we could easily find our way back to the ship. Not only did we take cruises, but went to Europe now and then, and one time determined to spend a week or ten days in England, starting out in London, renting a car, and take the byways, y bypassing the dual carriageways, and see the country, starting at Wales, driving up to the Midlands, and ending up in Scotland, then back to London. We found Wales so intriguing and interesting, that we never gt out of that province. Among other things, we visited a slate mine that dated back centuries, as they used it mainly for roofs and blacV In huge chambers, men and boys would work 12-hour days by the light of a candle, chipping slate and sending it up to the surface. Deaths were frequent, and the boys were used to get into crevices too small for men. When one got crushed, they'd take the body out, and find a line of other boys waiting to take the deceased's place, as there was ha hunger and famine in the country. As said e before, I never particularly liked unions, but was converted then as to their necessity. Also in Wales, I remember, we rant into a port where they were restoring an old sailing vessel dating two or three centuries old. And a junk yard filled with worn-out submarines being dismantled for their metal. And old railroad machine shops, long closed, but preserved as museums, powered by water-wheels and jack-shafts lining the ceilings, to power the various machines. And old steam engines plying the moors (if they had moors in Wales?_ I remember a ride, sitting up front with the engineer, a slip of a girl about 18, who proi engineered the old engine, which was unique in that the engineer and half a dozen passengers sat up in front of the boilers and propelling gear. A big hotel chain in England had dozens of small Christopher Wren hotels scattered around, with low ceilings and creaking floors, immense flower beds and ponds, and beautiful dining areas out like picnics if the weather permitted. We'd spend the night in one, get a delicious English breakfast, then start out adventuring. That afternoon, we'd locate another one on the map, and spend the night there. I'd like to do that trip again, if available. We also did a cruise up the Nile, from Cairo, and ended up at the Aswan dam, but not all
fh0 the wa
y by boat.
1 vividly rember that area...just sand, not a vistage of any growth any place. And it was infested with flies, and 1 remember a native kid with flies going up his nose, and eyeballs, and he didn't even blink. The poverty in Etypt was horrendous, with an immense dump in Cairo housing hundreds of desperate people, grubbing out a living eating and using the garbage other people had discarded. And peeking into huts off the main drags, made of mud and dirt, with hardly a piece of cloth for bedding alone anything to cook vr.th or make life livable. It was sickening. And visiting a carpet factory, where boys of eight or ten were working furiously at weaving machines under poor light. It was touted to us as a school for the boys, but not being stupid, we all knew the boys were slaves and would be discarded when they grew up, half blind. We also took a Hrine river cruise, and it was a jot. The busy, busy viver, was populated by thousands of various vessels, all made long and narrow, and low, to go under the bridges and up the locks that appeared now and then. We boarded at Rotterdam and went up th Bern, Switzerland. Th boat had every comfort, and was a joy to take. 1 remember one night in Heidelberg, when we went on a tour to nightclubs and beer halls, and listened to umpa=pa-pa music to our great delight. We had an old lady as guide, who 1 thought at first would be a zero, but she ws the life of the party. On the bus back to the boat, we passed a old building, and she said it was the ugliest building in Heidelberg, and had been spared somehow by American bombers in the late unpleasantries. Someone from the back of the bus said, "We'll get it next time." Trips to London were especially delightful, for they had dozens of live theaters, and w< loved them, sometimes seeing thre or four shows in as many days. I had my pocket picked on night while boarding abus, but the thief got the wrong pocket and got my American Express checks, which we easily replaced in a day or two. At some point, 1 got a phone call from Staley McBrayer that he had sold our his eight or so newspapers, as well as his central printing plant, to the Dallas Morning News. That was the good news. The bad news was they he had to sign a non-compete agreement, which necesitated him riddinghimself of Printing center stock. For some reason I can't remember at this time, we foolishly didn't come up with the reasonable money he wanted for his stock, so the Tomlinson boys over at the Shopper bought him out. Thus getting 5- percent of the company. They had an entirely different operation, which referred to by us as a string-saving operation, while we were growing all out, and ta-ing chances to feed this growth. This soon turned out to make them nervous, and they were wont to have meetings concerning our operatious. But in my opinion, they had no concept of business, as they had inherited their business from their father, and had stuck to the old ways, not adapting to the changing times, and growth we were experiencing. I don't remember how longthis relationship lasted but it wasn't pleasant. We had had explosive growth, adding presses and equipment, and were soon operating out of seven buildings clustered around the central building at 210 Jones. We usually had forklifts and clamp trucks roaming the streets, and someone ran us up, whereby we had a visit from the city, and they demanded we get street licenses for the vehicles. They were ignorantof how to do it, so finally 1 came up with the idea of taking a picture of each vehicle, painting a large number on it, and giving us licenes for all seven or eight. That seemed to please them, and the issue died.
So for a fee of $250, this worthy went down to city hall, and magically all the red tags disappeared. I must pa.se here and give tribute to the maintenance department over a span of yers. They were three of the finest individuals I have ever known, and could fix anything from inserting a new light bulb to tear down and rebuild the intricate printing presses. One time we bought a perfect binding machine, th was more or less worn out, and one of these individuals mated it with another machine of different parentage, the result was a good, working piece of equipment we used for years. One of these di individuals was Jimmy Turner, loved by everyone and a pet of the company. Unfortunately, he had physical problems after a numbr f years and had to retire. He eventually died, much to our sorrow. I'll Digress a bit here, for he had a son Randy, who worked in the job shop, and was well thought of, except he had a running fued with one of the girls stemming in part to the ownership of a certain chair. They had scuffled a bit over it, and it soon reached my ears about the problem. So I told them to cool it. Then the girl, Marie Miranda, showed up one day with a gun, and I fired both of them. I told Jimmy I regretted it, and hoped it would not hurt his feelings, but he told me that Randy deserved firing, and it disappeared into memory. I remember Maria coming to me, and telling me it was for the better also, as she had figured she could make more by drawing unemployment, welfare, food stamps and child care, than be working. I understand she and her husband went on to buy an ice cream truck that prowled neighborhoods, a so-callled Good Humor truck, and had a good cash income from fihat. Two other maintenance men were brothers, Ralph and R.D. Lewis. Not only did their work benefit the company, but they both were the source of daily humor and jokes, and kept those of us in the office in stitches most of the time. One time Ralph came to me, in a very bad humor, and said he was going to quit. I told him he couldn't, as he was such a necessity. The crux of the matter was that people were stealing his tools right and left, and he spent most of his time hunting lot tools, and/or getting new ones. I thought about this a while, then told him I had the solution, and asked him to make me up a list of what tools had been taken in the lat six months. He came up with a surprisingly large list, which I had copies made of, and told the day shift foreman that I had a little speech to make before work started one morning. I told the assembled employees, after givine them copies of the list, that I didn't really care who had stolen the tools, but it had to cease here and now, and to facilitate that, we were laying traps of tools laying around, and watching who would pick them up. Then after consulting with the maintenance crew a few minutes, the thief would be taken to the emergency ward by the police and fired. I made the same speech to the night shift, and that apparently solved the problem, at least for a while, and Ralph stayed on for years. Getting back to the move in 1980, we had gotten along reasonably well with Homer and Ted Tomlinson, but they were unhappy with the way we ran the business, as we were growing like mad, and couldn't always take the cautious approach. Also, apparently the expenses were running a bit more than they anticipated, and which they had agreed to pay to get us off the property at 210 Jones; so one day they announced they wanted a meeting with us, and our lawyer.
In 1980 Home came to me saying he had had an offer for the block Printing Center was on from the Bass brothers, as they wanted to build a parking garage on the site. As I racall, it was about a million and a half. 1 asked what this meant to us, and he finally came up with a plan whereby they'd buy a piece of property for us, finance our move, and we'd at last own our own real estate. We had had our eye for some time on an old abandoned train freight : : e e h : ; ; ; n E a S t ^ S t r e e t , but is was far too small, so we determinedto build some buildings snuggling up to the original structures. We had already in the apst erected two big Dave Bloxom tilt-wall warehouses at 210 Jones Street, and I came up with the idea of using these tilt walls to be part of the new complex. They demurred, but finally said it might be done so I got in with a paint gun and put a number on each of the wall segments identifying them, and an architact got up a plan whereby this would work. So we did it and it worked. As the old depot was built partly on 22-feet of landfill, we had a problem with the floors, which had to bear the weight of immensely printing presses, so we had to drill down over22 feet to rock and build on the piers. (piers . ' The property on Fifth STreet was unfortunately long and narrow, some seven acres, so we had to modify the plans to fit, and it was not as convenient from departmet to department as we would wish, but we had no choice.
It so happened that the move was scheduled in the busiest time of the year, October 1980 I believe, so we had to plan carefully. We went down to the new building and drew with chalk the location of the equipment, up to nine web presses as I recall, plus four or five sheet-fed presses in the Job Department. We got in all the wiring and preliminary work, then one by one moved apress an got it running before putting another one out of commission. We had bought an old fork lift, a dualie, that refused to run some of the time, as the carburetor would choke up, and we had to prime it now and then to keep it running. Anyway, I trusted noone else to move the heavy equipment, so I made some 33 trips down about seven blocks to the new building. We'd get a press running there, than dismantle the next one and so on, getting them running one at a time, all the time having customers bringing in publications to run; and it all worked out somehow. We had contracted with Dave Bloxom to build a shell of a building, and our maintenance de fitted out all the things we wanted, like offices, a second floor stripping department, etc. I came in one day and they were busy constructing a wooden stairway up to this facility, and I made them tear it out and put in a steel one, in case of fire. There happened to be a fire one day in the press department, with some paper catching abl from a welding torch, but the boys quickly extinguishe it. But someone called the fire department, and here hordes of firemen, policemen, and functionaries from the city, equipped with red tags, as they discovered all the partitions and second floor offices and working departments. It seemed we had not gotten the proper licensing from the city. It so happened that we had on our staff an amateur politician who knew the mayor, and he and I made a call at city hall. This helped a little, but one day a colored individual showed up and said he had heard we were having trouble with the city, and when we assented, he said he had worked p there for years, and knew a few people. But emphasized that he no longer worked there.
They then showed up with their lawyer, Jenkins Garrett, who had hammered out the original deal with him and Staley McBrayer and himself. He appeared somewhat embarrassed; as it toon came out that they intended to take over the company, as they didn't like the « 1 was running the place. Tempers flared and harsh words were spoken on both sides, but between the two lawyers, with Richard Glaser representing me, it was pointed out that they had no authority to take over, and that we had followed the letter of the law and agreement. So a figure was finally mentioned, that if I could come up with that amount, they would sell out their part. By that time we had cemented relationships with several banks, so had no trouble in getting a loan and I owned 100 percent of the company again. I never had any use for the Tomlinsons after that; but the son of Ted, Tommy, came to work for me and proved to be a fine and valued employee. Unfortunately, he died a couple of years ago, in his 40's. Homer is also dead.
So far in this narritive I've somewhat neglected much mention of our family life. As stated before, I had managed to survive the long and hard years of struggling, and had reached a plateau whereby I could work reasonable hours, have anormal family life, and enjoy my family. On the whole, Martha and I got along fine, with a few ups and downs, but hugely enjoyed raising our three fine offspring, Rick, Bobby and Nancy. Rick had returned from the overseas duties i Okinawa and was posted in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we managed to get over there every month or so, or he and Rosemary, along with Laura and Dan, coming to visit us often. Sometime in the late '70's Rick announced he was going to divorce Rosemary, which was a huge shock to us, but it was his choice and we lived with it. We had grown very fond of the grandchildren, and when Rick went to court to attempt to get custody of Laura and Dan, the judge apparently didn't like servicemen and didn't a] of men getting custody of the children. So ina compromise, it ended up with Martha and I getting custody of the kids, for seven months, it turned out. Luara was at a rebellmus age it seemed, and when we came home from the courthouse, I asked her to get out of the car and go open the door, or some similar request. She replied she didn't have to, as I had no authority over her. So for the only time I ever spanked a crandchild, I picker her up and adminstered a few good licks. It was courtesy city after that in our household. Of course, she grew up to be a fine and upstanding adult. Baoc iln 1966 I had had occasion to rent a Fort Mustang, and had fallen in love with it. So bought one, and drove it a number of years, putting over 100,000 miles on it. I finally sold it for a mere 4600 to a friend, much to my regret, and tried to get it back to no avail, as I intended to restore it. Frustrated on this front, about in 1977 I was flying in from somewhere and spotted a beautiful sport car spotlighted in an airport; a kit car, that could be bought and assembled by the owner. It required either a Volkswagen or Fort Pinto as nucleus, so I ordered the kit, and bought a '76 Pinto out of a junk yard, that had been totaled...but the moter and running gear were in perfect shape, with only 8,000 miles on the odometer. I towed the old wreck home, and a neighbor promptly came over and inquired if anyone had been hurt in the wreck. I stripped the Pinto, and for two or three years patiently assembled a an imitation of a 1939 Mercedes sport car, a very rakish primrose yellow, whth bo brown fenders. Somehwere in this process, I christened it the "Doodad," and after getting it running delighted myself and the grandchildren in rides mostly weekends, to various spots they wanted to go. I also get a list of parades
rth, and we wneered many of them.
Some we'd be allowed to threow candy out, so I'd buy big sicks of sweets, and the kids would throw a piece, eat a piece, and throw a piece, until they got sated. Fortunately,we survied these gastromic outbursts. I ended up driving this little car 14 years, with various groups of grandchildren, friends and neighbor kids. Smeone gave me a horn which emitted 72 tunes, at the touch of keys on the dashboard, but I had to limit its use to out in the country, and the kids finally wore it out. The little car got attention wherveer we went, and people were always disbelieving when I replied to their question as to its make, when I told them it was a '76 Pinto.
In the '70's, Nancy had also grown up, and got married. unfortunately, this didn't turn out well for her, but the result of this marriage was a wonderful little grandson, Sul Saul. One of the things that both Martha and I deeply regretted, was that we had signed u up for the trip around the world on the Rottei and the date for Saul's entry was about the same time as the sailing. We delayed the joining of the ship from New York to Fort Wauderdale, but had to leave and soon thereafter Nancy gave birth, with Jane and Si serving as surrogate grandparents. We got a telegram at sea that she and the baby were fine, and couldn't wait to get home to meet him. Nancy subsequently met and married a fine man, James Sawyer, and they added to the list of grandchildren by the birth of a son, Dustin. Living in Fort Worth as they did, Saul and Dustin became an intimate part of our lives, as Laura and Dan were sometimes here and sometimes there. Bobby, In the meantime, had elected to attend the University of Texas at Austin, and we were surprised when he soon married a girl named Diane. She came from Austin, and both her parents worked for the Internal Revenue Service there. About 1981 Bobby and Diane had a little girl, our final grandchild, and for some reason they didn't name her Tonsing, but Diane's maidne name of Newman. Bobby didn't graduate from the university in Austin, but landed a job with Texas instruments, n in researh and development of computers, and this grew to be a good job, and he finally got his degree. Martha and I saw them occasionally, going down there, an they came up here now ans then, but for some reason Diane became alienated with me, and wrote me a scathing letter that I had tried to dominate their lives, therefore she was severing all ties; and that has stood for over 20 years, and continues to this day. I've stated over and over that Martha was a wonderful person and a good wife, and we had a happy marriage; but she suffered from a series of illnesses. She had been a frail infant, with her mother telling me they had to feed her goat's milk to carry her through critical times in her early life. During our marriage she suffered from debilitating headaches, and in succession came a frightfully painful collapse of a disc in her back, resulting in a long surgery and recovery period. She also had some asthma, and had a growth on her arm taken off. I really feel now that she never really felt good her whole life, but she never complained and was universally cheerful. About 1981, she discovered a lump in her breast, and upon examination found it malignant. So she had a mistictomy, as well as a vassectomy, which about did her in. The took radiation and chemotherapy for a period of time, and finally steadily weakened, until she died on May 19, 1983, to the sorrw of all who loved and knew her.'
During the years in Hallmark, we had beome acquainted with a couple across the street, Joe and Glenda Champ. Some time bevore Martha death, I had talked to her, and that I wished I could find a practical nure or somebody to stay with Martha while I was at work, and she suggested a lady who lived down the street two or three blocks, Toney Kavanagh. We met with her, and she seemed a very caring person, and we both liked her, so she came over days and took care of Martha while she was slowly dying. She had been a nurse among other tings, and was very sympathetic and thoughtful with Martha, and this worked out fine until she died. It so happened that my brother Ernie's wife Dorothy had suffered from cancer for two or three years, and she died two days before Martha. I slipped away briefly to go up to Topeka for htis event, and came back in time to be at Martha sside, with all her loved ones, as she passed on. It was a very emotional ting, and we were all glad she passed on with little pain, as she was heavily sedated.
I was naturally grief stricken at Martha's death, and moped around for a period of time, when I decided to call Ernie and see if he was In the same category. He sale he was, in spades, and I came up woth t the idea of us taking off for a month or so and just roam through the country. He was retired at the time, and could get off, so I drove up to Topeka, picked him up, went by Atchison to our old haunts, naturally, then headed west and visited Colorado and relatives there. We then went north up o to the Canadian border and across Canada, visiting Cherry and Hap, thendown to Boston. Martha had specified in her will and verbally that she wanted to be cremated and her ashes spread over the ocean near an airport, as she loved th sea and loved to fly. We had a little ceremony under the flight path of Logan airport, on the beach of the Atlantic ocean for her, and then went on our way. It was a winderful time of healing for both of us. We were gone about a month, and covered some 10,000 miles. We had planned a cruise to Alaska the summer of 1983, with David and Maxine Shipps. A month or so before her death, I called the doctor and asked if Martha would be able to make that trip, and he replied, "Hell, she won't live that long." That threw me into a shock, such as maing me about to pass out in the office. I immediately called Rick, Nancy and Botty, and told them the doctor's words. We didn't know if Martha knew about it, and I sure wasn't able to tell her, but finally Nancy volunteered or was chosen, and loooking back, con't think it was a surprise to Martha. Eva Gertrude Kavanagh was a wonderful nurse and friend to Martha through her final sickness, and I was very, very grateful to her for that solicitude, plus the fact she was very attractive, with a million dollar personality, had a wonderful sense of humor, and loved children. She had an infant granddaughter, Katie, a few months old, and couldn't keep her hands off her. As a teen-ager she decided she didn't like the name of Eva Gertrude, so arbitrarily changed her nickname to Toney, by which all knew her from then on. I ws torn about the Alaskancruise aboard the Roterdam with David and Maxine, as I didn't really want to go alone, plus the tickets were non-refundable. So I came up wit the idea of asking Toney to go, platonically, as she would bunk with Maxine and I with David, and she finally assented. We had a wonderful time, worthy of lifetime memories, and along the way I fell in love with Toney, like a 15-year-old. On our return home I voiced my feelings for her,
and subsequently some time after our return, asked her to marry me. There was a big age gap, and it was way, way too short a time since Martha's death, but I was so afraid of losing her that my emotions overcame reason, and she finally assented to our getting married, which we did October 2, 1983, in a wonderful bakyard ceremony. Ernie came down to marry us, and Rick served as my best man. One of Martha's cousins came down from Denver to cater it, and it was a beautiful affair. After the ceremony, Toney and I got in the Doodad, suitably decorated with a trail of tin cans, and we drove off to a neighborhood McDonald's to spend two or three hours, before coming back to the reception. We had a wonderful honeymoon, flying first to Hawaii, then south to Samoa, where we spent a few days, before spending some time in Hawaii. Whileon our honeymoon, some thieves broke into the house at 6913 Sheridan and cleaned out most of the wedding gifts, plus other items. The guy next door, Elmer Gordon, saw them in the driveway loading up, and when they left he waved to them, and they wave back. We decided we didn't want to live in either of our houses, and had our eye on a house across the street, 6908 Sheridan, which was originally a beautiful place, with a big swimming pool and paved basketball court. But some people had lived there 13 months without making a payment, inspite of having the utilities long'since shut off, and had wrecked the place. WE made a bid for it, and got it, but had to paint, carpet, wallpaper an d overhaul almost every! nch of it before it was habitable. The back play room even had the ceiling sagging, and rain coming in. The back yard was a mess also, as it was sunken, and we had several big truck loads of dirt brought in, then sodded with grass. I took it upon myself to put up 7" fences around three sides of the back yard, screening the pool from view. Our connection with the Carswell Sentinel made us eligible for joining the Fort Worth Civic Leaders Association, by old friend Stanley Cole, being second in command, so to speak; as it was headed by Dr. Gene Woods, an orthodontist, who had been a fighter jock during the unpleasantries in World War II, and who loved to a; with the service brass. He also was chummy with Jim Wright, then speaker of the house of representatives...a very powerful man. The idea of this association was to basically go to Washington every year and thank the people at the Pentagon for letting us have Carswell Air Force Base, as well as numberous other facilities. Also, it was great fun to have a very dressy Military Ball every year, attended by brass from all over the world. In addition, we took numerous trips on Air Force planes, with us paying our way, like flying several times on KC135's, basiacally 707's used for refueling other Air Force planes. They had a big snorkel in back, where planes would nuzzle up, and then they'd pump gas while in close proxiimidity. This necessitated having two big horizontal windows in the tail, where we could take turns laying and seeing the world go by four or five miles under us. Then 14 trips to Washington over the years, and I went on 13 of them. We usually threw a big barbecue one evening, with members of Congress and military brass attending. They sometimes got a little boring, and one night while engaged in conversation with a VIP couple, I noticed her slipping one foot after another out of her shoes, which obviously hurt. At one juncture, when she was not looking I bent over and hid her shoe behind a pillar. Se never knew I did it, but blamed her husband.
It took Coakley a year and a half to ruin the company. We had had perfect credit at the beginning, and he ran up millions of dollars in debts, and the sharks were baying at the doors. We had a new secretary-treasurer, and named Charlie Brown, and I give him and David credit for holding the wolves at bay; but to my intense regret I was not much help, for any number of reasons I can't identify oow. I got at cross purposes with the bank from the geginning, and when I threatened to pull out from them, they said they'd close the company up the next morning, and throw 225 people out on the streets. I certainly didn't have the heart to do this. And they said to the effect that I was the pimple on an elephant's rear, comparing Printing Center to their bank. We hired some high-priced "experts" to help us out of our quandry, but they turned out to be stupider than pet rocks. So I pulled out. Eventually I got madder and madder, and paid a visit to yet another lawyer, but by that time he said itwas too late, and that I had had a good case if 1 had pursued it in the beginning, against the bank mainly. Coakley, of course, was long gone. The bank hired an ex-FBI agent to get evidence and track him down, but this proved to be futile, and he beat not only them out of millions, but Interlnal Revenue as well, and remains unpunished and unpursued to this day, I presume. He truly raped and ran, and probably is doing his magie now. A dear friend in years past had set his son-in-law up in the ar-cinditioning business, and the young man had succeeded far better than expected or predicted. So I had this example in mind, with some of the cash flow from the sale of Frinting Center, and decided to set up Nancy in business. For some time previous to the sale, we had printed an international magazine, "The Leathercraftsman," and the publisher had failed to meet his obligation when owing us money for the printing bills, and had finally left town. So I kept this publication out when I sold Printing Center, and Nancy undertook to publish it. It so happened tthat the Tandy Leather Company was the world's largest leather company with world-wide customers. And the second largest such company was also in Fort Worth. These companies had advertised in the magazine in years past, so Nancy and I went over and hit them up for advertising. This was not forthcoming, for whatever reason, and after some omnths of publication, we were forced to close it down. Likewise, Toney's son, Jim Kavanagh, had gone to school to become a plumber, but he disliked the business, and was in the midst of starting up a photographer's studio. So I financed this project also. Nancy and Jim had had separate locatons, but I got the bright idea of buying a nice building on Grove Street, some 5,000 feet, and divided it in half, with Jim in one half and Nancy in the other. When they both went out of busines, we were stuck with the building, and finally rented it out to two or three enterprises, and finally sold it to a church, and I am still carrying the note. As noted before, I was always a car nut, and harbored a love for old cars all my life. So I succomed to an urge and went out to California and bought a 1928 Pierce Arrow, a real classic automobile. It didn't run, but I thought with a few minor repairs it would be in Al shape. This proved to be wildly inaccurate, and ended up investing a small fortune in this vehicle. Among other mistakes, a so-called Pierce Arrow "expert" in Dallas talked me into letting him overhaul the engine, fo a set fee. This proved to be fiction, of course. And I had hired a young man two restore the frame and body, buying lots of tools and equipment, and renting a building to house this enterprise.
In due course, after financial overruns, finally brought the engine over, and westarted it up, but it didn't sound right. So tore it down, and found the rings and bearings had been scoured by sand. It turned out the "expert" had had it sandblasted seve times. So had another firm start from scratch, and they finally got it going. When it right. driving when we the tow was finally running, used it in some parades with the grandchildren, but it didn' Toney and I had had visions of dressing in 1928's garb and merrily it to car meets, and having a good time,. But the few times we took it out, mainl) went to lunch, the thing wouldn't start, and we got on a first-name basis wth truck driver who had to come get us.
I finally took it to a classic anr auction in Dallas, and lost my shirt on it. In another act of insanity, I had purchased a 1955 Packard, a beautiful car, that also wouldn't run. So hired another firm, and used my young man some, in tearing it down completely. This firm kept it about a year, and then the owner left town, with the car in a corner in a 1,000 pieces. By this time I was getting disgusted with the whole thing, and called an acquaintance I had met at the Packard club, and asked him if he wanted the Packard. He asked what I wanted for it, and I told him I woulc him a special deal. He was to come get it, free, and promise to never call me again. He got it, and I've never heard from him since. Way way back in the '70's, I had met a Dallas couple, NOrbert and Ruthie Ewers, who start* off small with a mailing business, and we took som of our printing over there and they mailed it. They also distributed hadnbills door-to-door, mainly using winos, and we printed a lot of stuff they hand distributed. I helped them a bit in their strugg] years, andwe became good friends. They grew and prospered, and we started taking trips wj them, all over the world, and it proved to be a delightful arrangement, as we all got along famously. They also liked to go to Las Vegas, and we arranged trips with them there three or four times a year. I had become somewhat addicted to blackjack, and to Las Vegas shows. I was never a big plunger, and never lost much money, sometimes bringing more home than I had taken. But we had delightful times on these trips. We took one trip to the South Pacific, covering Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, and other destinations, taking some 13 flights in all. Also had a trip with them to Russia via bus, and covered France, Germany, Poland, and other countries, including going through the Chunnel from England to France. Another trip was on bard the Copper Canyon train through Mexico, and ended up in Cabo San Lucas for several days. Through the years Norbert and Ruthie's enterprise had grown, and they had brought in their two sons to help manage it. One time the subject of selling out had arisen, and I told them whatever they did, to get CASH only...no notes or payments. So several years they announced they had sold out for $18,500 million for cash, leavin their boys behind on their own with contracts for several years. No one ever deserved such luck as this, for they were wonderful people and wonderful people. One thing , among many others, that had attracted me to Toney,was her love of gravel, and we did lots of it. In 1990 we decided we wanted to kae in the Obergammau)?) in Germany in the beginning of summer, and the Scottish Tattoo in Edinburgh at the last of the summer. At first we condidered going over twice, but decided to just move to France and settle in like natives. We picked one of the most delightful villages in the world, Honfluer, on the Seine where it empties into the English channel, and we purchased an old Peugeot for $800 in Englamd, with fight hand drive, an old station wagon, with some 200,000 miles on it.
This old shabby ccar proved to be a jewel, and we tooted all over fnandv in it for a month, but Found even June to be chilly and rainy, and after a month in the villac-', Stru out for somewhere warm, perhaps Spain. But saw a sign saying "Berlin," and as the wall had just came down, we took, this road and ended up in East Germany. It was shabby and penniless, but we loved it, and had a good time there, tooting around. We visited other countries, and finally took the ferry over to England, thence by ferry to Ireland, where we picked up Norbert and Ruthie, and visite briefly in Northern Ireland, before coming over to Scotland and seeing the
ta ttoo . Another delightful trip was aboard a Russian ice breaker, to Antarctica, and had a wonder time going ashore in kodiaks three or four times a day to this bleak atmosphere, seeing millions of penguins, walruses, seals, whales and icebergs. Along the way visited Chile and the Falkland islands. wEveral years ago, I was accosted by an organization who sends out retired executives all over the world, and te wanted to know if we were interested in going to Peru, where I was to counsel a printing firm there on their problems. We ended up going there, and took a week off to visit Cos.ca, the highest city in the world, and Machu Puch7(?). It proved to be a wonderful printing facility, and hts main problem was not enoueh business. But I dutifully typed up some 64 pages of suggestions, and hopefully they took some of them. We spent five weeks there, and koney had a delightful time running around the immense city talking to people and shopping.
Also at the time of the sale, I had been inspired into writing a book, entering a contest to write such a tome, outlining the worst prolem of the world, and then taking 20 years to solve this problem. I wrote the book and turned it in, but was disappointed that I did not win. We sent it to half a dozen publishers, but had as many rejection slips, and it remains on the shelf. Later on, I 1 had my literary juices roiled and wrote a little paperback book on how to get into a small business, and how to succeed. It turned out to be mostly suggestions on things should not do, as I have had plenty of experience along that line. We had it printed, but the selling of it was a flop. In 1988 I heard of a printing museum in HOuston, and when visiting it talked to the director, and he said a good history of printing presses had never been printed to his knowledge. Sever were printed, but they covered segments of the industry, and the latest was one dating 1976, with presses coered up to 1940. Since then there hae been many drastic changes in the industry. The director said he would help me in this project, so I started writing sucha book, and made several trips down to the museum in Houston, going hrough their thousands of pieces of literature, books, and printing press manuals; plus made a week-long trip to a printing association library in Pittsburgh, who kindkl let me use their library. Tehresult was a book, "the Power of the Press," which I had printed on enamel paper, some 400 pages, and 405 picktres of presses, dealing with Gutenberg inventing the press and movable type about 1448, some 350 vears ago at the time of writing. We tried various means of peddling this book, but it turns out distributing and sales are far different animals. S i it ended d several hundred of these books remaining in the garage at this the writing the research and the xperience, and would probably that printing and up that I have date. But I thoroughly < do it abain.
During the writing of this book, while I was doing the glossary, I noticed my eyesight failing, and immediately sought out an eye doctor. He immediately referred me to a specialist, who diagnosed that I had Inncoular degeneration, the wet kind, and incurable at this time. My left eye soon went completely blind, and the right eye about half, with my vision like looking through a fog. I can get around all right, and infact have traveled extensively after contating this affliction, but I can't really see faces, or read, or drive a car. The Lighthouse of the Blind was wonderful, and through several state agencies I have been provided various seeing aids which permit me to scan my mail, write checks, and do various other tasks. In addition, they send me talking books, available through periodical catalogs which list thousands of titles; and I also get several weekly and monthly talking magazine tapes. Up to date I've visited six eye specialists, with a couple of dozen visits, and will continue to do so as long as needed. Geting back to the book, it was a delight to write it, and I had little trouble getting it edited and printed, but the selling of it was another matter. We tried several mediums, including the Internet, but they all proved in vain, and at present I have several hundred stacked in the garage. In May, while I was in Canada Rick called me one morning and told me his beloved son Dann had been drowned in Sacramento. I hurriedly flew out there and attended a very touching mamorial service on May 19th, by chance the anniversary of his grandmother's death in 1983. We'll always miss Danny, as it's such a tragedy that a young person has his life snuffed out before experiencing the delights of life and savoring all that a long life can provide.Next month I'm visiting California where I'll meet for the first time my wonderful Great-granddaughters, Katelyn and Jessica Plants, the daughters of my granddaughter Laura and her husband Jim.
A real tragedy was the disintegration of our marriage of some 17 years, between Toney and myself. We had 15 wonderful years together, but Things started to unravel the last two years, and adjusting to it proved impossible, so we finally agreed to a divorce, which took effect July 13, 2001. To this date, I've been living by myself and my dog Alex, and thank God every day that I still have my health, can see to get around, and have such wonderful friends, relatives and strangers who have proved so kind to me. Looking back on my long life, I know I've had a guardian angel looking after me, for how could I have survived and prospered without some divine providence looking out for me. And I"m praying for many more years.
As witness these many pages, I've had a grat life with interesting events and adventures, and no doubt when I review this script sometime later, I'll think of other events and happenings that I have omitted. Amen. -30-
It's "macular degeneration" on page 90.
INSERT: I've always loved music, and the family seems to be musically inclned. So About 1980 I bought a Baldwin Cinema II organ, and determined to take organ lessons on it. It was a beautiful instrument, and I started out with a young teacher in Wedgwood. We got a "fake book" and I was soon playing tunes I loved, but it was halting and not too musical to listeners, I'm sure. As usual, Martha put up with the practicing with no complaints, but I wasn't too diligent in practicing and was getting nowhere. We had season tickets to Casa Manana, and a young organist there delighted us with his playing of the big Wurlitzer. I asked him to recommend another teacher, and he did so. She lived out in River Oaks, and had been a professional musician all her life. So my problem with her was that she insisted I start out at the beginning and learn the fundamentals of music, which I saw a tedious and boring, so I flunked with her. I always got the idea that she was tempted to hit my hands with a ruler, but she restrained herself. I got to play the big Wurlitzer at Casa Manana one day, but made an utter mess of the performance, as it had a delayed reaction to the keys, and I'm sure all listeners were snickering to themselves. Finally, I gave up on the lessons a few years later, and eventually sold the organ to a s r i church. INSERT" Back in the early Fifties, as stated before, we had a 14-foot trailer, and delighted in taking trips with it; taking many to Possom King Lake to camp out weekends, where they had a pad and picnic table. And Lake Texoma as well. We also delighted in pulling the trailer down to Galveston and camping near the beach. And one memorable trip to New Orleans, where I got caught out on a one-way levee, and had to disconnect the car, turn the trailer around by hand, and hitch it up again, to the delight of the boys. We also made two-da trips up to Atchison with it, stoppedg every hour or two to let the kids out to get rid of their pent-up energy and relieve the boredom, usually at a school playground or park.
November 24, 2001 Dear Margaret" I'm taking advantage of Rick's visit to give him this manuscrapt, as I finished it the other day. I REALLY, REALLY APPRECIATE your offer to go over it, and hope you don't find it too mixed up and jumbled. It was written over a period of several months, and no doubt I've told the same stories twice, and omitted others that should have been included. Even today I wonder if I have included this and that Presume when I get the finished manuscrapt I'll have someone read it to me, and fill in any blanks I feel at that time I've left out. I think I've omitted, for a start, about the family reunions we've held in recent years, starting in Houston about five years ago, and progressing; and the wonderful people who have attended those reunions, and others that I never dreamed existed who turned out to be relatives. I regret the lost years that I could have found them and strengthened my life by their presence. I also think I've included Laura and Jim and the babies, but I can't be sure...sure want to mention them in capital letters. I'm sure very few people, family members, will see this manuscrapt in the future. If it were to be published on a wider scale I'd want to change some of the names to be sure. I'm looking foreard to the visit out there to see yall and have about done all the details entailed in that trip, and am now working on going somewhere in November. Rick made some copies of the start of the book. I had ended up with some 9x12 paper, and being part Scotch, hated to waste it, so typed mart of the manuscrapt on it until those sheets ran out. My copier is acting up in that it doesn't want to reduce properly, so pages 1-46 are smaller than I had wished. And...I seem to have mixed up page numbers in the 60's, an seem to have duplicate page numbers But I think if you keep the pages in the order they are in now, they'll be in sequence. You might renumber from 6- on in the margins. And...anere is no page 6, but two 7's. Love, Paul
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