Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Don't You Try A Blanche Special?

While living in the house on Dutton Avenue,many things occured. Among them was my graduation from High School, entering Junior College, my very first car, and World War II. World War II had already been going on, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese started our involvement. I shall always remember that day. My father had brought two soldiers home for dinner and we were all sitting around the dinner table when the news came on the radio and ordering all military back to their bases. No time was wasted shoving chairs away from the table and getting ready to head out the door. My dad volunteered to drive them back to their base near San Francisco. I got to go also and it was such a sad journey to be taking them to war. In the days that would follow, Santa Rosa became home to a lot of service men. We had sailors, soldiers, and marines. They were stationed in camps, in buildings above stores, and even on the old Wikiup ranch in barns and old buildings. West of town was the Naval Air Base. Army trucks rolled through town like I had never seen before. Everyone's whole life changed. It was a bad time and it was a good time. I met a lot of service men and very few who were not so nice. Most all of them were great guys. Night life took on a whole new meaning. The town never went to bed until the wee hours of the morning. Restaurants were still buzzing at two and three in the morning. I worked at a soda fountain that also served food and I met many service men in there. I remember one time an officer came in and I was on a break. He asked what I was eating and I told him it was something that was not on the menu. I just put some stuff together for a sandwich. He asked what, so I told him, deviled egg, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. He said, Can I have the same?" I asked our super great boss and he said go ahead. He put a price on it also. Well, from that time on the officer came in and always ordered a "Blanche Special." (Uh Oh! Now you know my name.)The war memories I have are so many, but actually too many to tell, because there are other stories to tell also. Maybe when I finish all this I will go back and tell war stories. While working at this place called Bordens Creamery I also met and waited on people who became town celebrities. There was Joan Pedersen who was once Miss America and there was Everett Shapiro who became a well known lawyer in town. Everett used to come in when he was a teenager and always before he left would leave a penny for a tip in a glass of water and turn it upside down on the table. he was assuming we would get all wet when we tried to pick it up or turn it over, however this is such and old trick that we were always prepared for these kids. We just brought our bucket over, scooted the glass to the end of the table and swoosh went the water. If they had stayed around to watch, they would have been very disappointed. The Shapiro kid always went out the door yelling "MMMMMM Blanche" I love these memories.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Madam Was A Lady!

I said in one of my comments that I did not write today, but this very special person is looking forward to having her coffee in the morning and reading my blog, that I am going to do a short one just for her. It is 10:30 P. M. but what the heck, I have no place to go and can sleep as long as I want. Well not really, but it sounds good, doesn't it. Every time I decide to sleep in, I wake up at my usual time and can't get back to sleep. Excuse me! I sure got off the track, didn't I? Sorry about that! We left Tenth Street and Healdsburg Avenue to move to Davis Street. Our home on Tenth is long gone and business buildings have taken its place. You really do not see old Santa Rosa at all anymore. That is a story down the road. Nothing much to write about from Davis street. We moved on to Dutton Avenue where I have lots of memories. I was going to High School then and one of my girlfriends and I used to stand on the corner near our homes and Sebastopol Avenue, (where she lived) look across the road to Roberts Avenue, and try to figure out what all went on in that big house that was ominously sitting there. You see, it was a house of prostitution and we were not all that knowledgeable back in those days, and it held a great fascination for us. We used to guess at what we thought was happening there, and although we were not completely stupid, details, that's what we wanted. It remained a mystery until we grew a little older and wiser. I never mentioned earlier on that I also attended a grammer school called Lewis school. (today it is an adult school that teaches a lot of subjects for adults, willing to learn. Especially the computer) Well, at that school was the daughter of the madam at the prostitution house. Her name was Dolly and she had as blonde a head of hair as you can imagine. I think back now and wonder if it was actually bleached. Regardless, I befriended her and my parents welcomed her to our house for visits with me. I met her mom once and she was a great lady. She was blonde also and very pleasant and kind to me. My dad had always said that he would not raise his girls in a town without prostitution as he felt they would be safer. At that time it made great sense. I do not think in today's times that it would make much difference. That was long before we moved to Dutton Avenue. I know the friendship was short and I do not remember why, but I would guess because we were moving around so much and I was changing schools. Anyway, that is it for now and I will be back soon. Enjoy that coffee! You know who you are! Love ya!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

An Affair With A Cup Of Coffee.

Our next move was to the corner of Healdsburg Avenue and Tenth Street. I attended Junior High School and some High School at this address. I also earlier had attended a grade school called Freemont which was on the corner of College Avenue and North Street. It is now a Junior High School. On Humboldt Avenue I attended a Junior High School which is now something else also ,but am nor sure what. At this school is where I had my first crush on a boy. he came and walked me to school everyday until some other girl caught his eye and he dumped me without so much as a "See ya!" I don't recall being upset for very long, but I do recall being somewhat embarrassed. I did not have any good comebacks when kids asked, "what happened between you and Noah Meade?" Lots of fond memories from this school and I still reminisce with school chums who are still around to chuckle with. I am loaded with High School memories. Santa Rosa High School is where I went. But first about my dad. He went to work for the W.P.A. working on the road crew. It was hard work, but he had a family to care for and he never complained. Someone saw potential in him and he was taken off the road crew and into the office. Everything was fine until a scandal hit the front page of our local news paper. My dad was accused of having an affair with a woman in the office, but his defense was she fainted and all he did was to catch her. His picture and hers was on the front page. I am not too sure of the whole story as it was kept secret from me, but I do know it was the most embarrassing episode for me at school. Somehow we all survived and my dad went on to get into politics and run for County Clerk in our town. He did not win, but declared there was something "hanky panky" going on with the voting results. He must have been right as the man who won, whose name was Sanford, took off on the run somewhere and the sheriff was looking for him. There was a joke going around at the time that the Sheriff was in the coffee business. He was "chasing Sanborn." For those of you who do not know, there is or was a brand of coffee called Chase & Sanborn. Don't choke on that one when you swallow. Well no one caught Mr. Sanborn because he up and committed suicide. I have no memory of why or any of the details, but apparently my dad was right. However, the next person, who was said to be the next person in line for the office, was elected to the office. His name was Walter Nagle. What a great man he was and he became a very good family friend. It might be interesting to search and see what the whole story was. Or....maybe I would not want to know. Hmmmm!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Every Saturday night there was a dance and food at someones house. Each family took its turn. The ladies usually brought sandwiches, salads, and deserts to be served at midnight. The music they danced to was a violin and a guitar. I do not remember about other peoples homes, but when it was our turn, the furniture in the living room was moved out onto the front porch and the rug was rolled up. I do remember one family held theirs in an old chicken coop. That one is very clear in my mind as there was a very large lady there who sat me on her lap. Oh my goodness, that lady was so soft and comfy, just like a feather bed. I loved sitting on her lap. The dance usually broke up at 2:00 A.M. except when they were at our house and it went on until the wee hours of the morning. It finally got so big, with more and more families joining in that they had to hire a hall and charge a fee for getting in just to pay for the hall rental. The music crew got larger and became a band, which included a piano, violin, guitar and drums. The first hall they rented was in Pleasant Hill, just west of Sebastopol ( a small town west of Santa Rosa). More people and a bigger hall was needed. They moved to Monroe Clubhouse in Santa Rosa. I got to attend all these function, but due to my age, I was made to lay down on one of the benches and covered over with someones coat. It was not long before I was asleep. I remember one time this very tall man and thin as could be came and got me to dance with him. Boy, I thought I was important out there dancing with the grown ups. They tell me that he got a big laugh out of saying to me that it had not rained in a while and was indeed rather warm, to which I responded, "Yes, and we farmers need rain!" There were two or three times when a fight erupted between guys, but they were quickly handled. It always scared me t0 death when ever that happened. I remember one night my brother and some guy got into it over a girl, (Of course!) and they were too close to the bank's edge and my brother tumbled over and down into the ditch. Dad broke that one up although he was one who loved to get into it himself. I guess that is why I was so scared. It involved my dad sometimes. There was one time when trying to keep order in the dance hall, my dad had to face off with a guy who was at least six foot four. My dad was five foot seven, but he was determined to keep peace. Well, unless it involved him, that is. He faced off with this guy. Dad pulled off his glasses and with his tongue clenched between his teeth, and his fists up, he invited the guy to a fight. However the man realized that dad was so much shorter than he was and he would not fight him. Someone said, Joe, that guy is a lot bigger than you!" My dad replied, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall!" All this time I was hiding behind the curtain on the stage. I was so terribly frightened.The man was so impressed with dad's moxie, that he came to our home the next day and brought a big sack of apples from his ranch and remarked how he admired dad. Well from that dance hall we moved on to a hall on Sebastopol Road to a place called Midway. My folks ran that one until it became too much and some one else took over. It was by then open to the public and we eventually quit going at all. It was there a long time and I attended when I was in high school and even beyond. It was years later when it ceased to be.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Whole Lot Of "Banging" Going On!

Fulton, if you blink your eyes you have already passed through it. It still remains small to this very day, but even this little town has changed some. The church where I used to attend is gone. The two story, two room school house where I went to school is gone. I am not sure, but I believe the only bar where a great tragedy occurred is also gone. I go through Fulton quite often and do not recall seeing it. A very beautiful woman, (and she knew she was) married to a small man who was called “Shorty," became flirtatious with a very large man who was called, "Bones." Some say they were having an affair. A lot of men hung out at this bar and one night as Bones was sitting in the bar, Shorty walked in and "bang, bang" he shot him. Killed him! It was big news back then as everyone practically knew everyone else. The local paper had it's headline! I went to school with their two daughters. It was so very hard on those poor girls. I don't want to dwell on that so on to the wonderful old two-story farm house where I lived on Barnes Road. It still stands today and has been restored. We had a couple of cows and pigs and dad grew a vegetable garden. Well, I had to go to work again. When my dad watered his garden he would put the hose on the ground, squat and watch the water flow until each plant had sufficient water. I was placed some feet back and at his command I had to pull the hose backward to the next plant. He would stand, then squat again, watch the water flow, holler at me to pull, and so on and so on until the whole garden was watered. I could never figure out why this was necessary as I felt he could have done both jobs himself with no effort. I am guessing now that it must have been some kind of lesson for me to learn. Whatever! I wanted more exciting work though and begged to lead the cows to pasture where they could get more greenery. I was told I could do it if I would promise not to let the one cow walk under any of the trees as she would buck and run if branches touched her. Well, I proudly marched her across the street and into the orchard. I tried my darndest to keep her away from the trees, but gee, she was bigger and stronger than me. I was just a little kid! Sure enough, she bolted, bucked, scared me to death, and I released the rope. Away she went. Dad was pretty upset with me but found her and took her back to the barn. Another memorable incident was when my dad had made homemade beer and also homemade root beer. He had stored it in the attic where it was quite warm. One day we heard this bang, bang, and my mom raced up to the attic to find bottles exploding. Now the attic did not have flooring. It just had rafters going across. Mom in her haste, missed one of the rafters and all of us kids standing in the living room below, saw this leg come shooting through the ceiling. We screamed, ran up the stairs hollering, "mama, mama," opened the attic door to find my mom sitting on one of the rafters in a fit of laughter. What a relief, and how great to see she had such a sense of humor. All of us kids began to laugh also. Mom was O.K. Dad had to repair the ceiling fast as company was coming that night. It was our turn to host the weekly dance for all the surrounding neighbors. That's another story for tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do You Know Santa Claus?

Hopping away from the hop fields was a move into Santa Rosa to a lovely old house on 13th and St. Helena. We were right on the edge of Santa Rosa's elite. The house was owned by a doctor who was the kindest most generous person I have ever known He was so kind and giving to our family in a time of need. At Christmas time he presented us with a very large basket of food. His name slips my mind right now, but I will always remember his kindness. At this time my father was working selling radios door to door. It was called the "Kemper Kompak." Interesting reading about this radio and its beginning can be found on the internet. My most vivid memory of this home was that I was told at Christmas time my folks could not afford the tricycle I wanted for Christmas. However there it was Christmas morning sitting under the tree all colored bright red and just calling out for a ride on the sidewalk out front. What a joy that was, and how fast I flew along on that beautiful little tricycle. I can still see the great big smile on my dad's face as he watched me peddle down the street. My memory is a bit foggy as to why we left there and moved to Santa Maria. What I remember about Santa Maria is the beautiful beaches. Not much else. Our stay there was very short until we moved back to Santa Rosa to a house on the corner of Orchard Street and Cherry Street . I have a few memories of that stay that are a bit amusing when I look back. Across the street was a big church that had a railing all around the middle of it. The railing was maybe a couple of inches wide. We would climb up somehow, hang onto the siding indentations with our fingers, put our feet onto the railings and scoot along as far as we could to see how far we could go before falling off or getting caught and told to get down. I also remember one time I was standing on the side walk watching cars go by when I picked up a rock and threw it at a car. I did not know my mom was hanging curtains in the kitchen window and saw me. Boy, did I get it. I never threw rocks again. Cherry Street was where I learned that Santa was not really who I thought he was. He was my daddy! That is because my dad played Santa at the old Rosenberg Store and when I was taken to see him, there was no denying who the guy with the big brown penetrating eyes was. I never told that I knew until Santa Claus was mentioned one night and I blurted out, "Oh my daddy!" All eyes turned to me and the dreams and beliefs of a little girl were gone! Well, here we go again. Another move.
This time we moved to Fulton. Fulton is just a small town North and almost connected to Santa Rosa.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Can Be A Jerk With A Hickey!

When I was a kid there were no fast food places to work to earn money for school clothes or kid activities. In fact, myself and most of my friends had to work in the fruit fields to earn that kind of money. Our parents just did not have money to restock our clothes closets if we wanted new clothes for the new school year. We therefore picked prunes, grapes, hops, walnuts, and cut pears. By cutting pears I mean we had a box of pears put alongside of us as we stood by a very large wooden tray (about 6 feet long by 3 feet wide) and cut the pear in half, scooped out the seeds and laid the open pear face up on the tray. When the tray was full, the farmer took it and stacked it on other full trays until it was high enough to be put into sulfur sheds to dry. As you got older you might be lucky enough to get a job at an ice cream parlor, or as they were called, a soda fountain. Working there you became a "soda jerk." I was lucky enough to be a soda jerk at a place called Bouks. I remember we made a concoction with orange sherbert, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry and it was called a "Hickey." Upstairs from the soda fountain soldiers were stationed. It was during World War II. I believe they were the 17th Infantry. More about that later. The other job I was lucky enough to get was an usher at the Tower Theater. I really thought I was something in my two tone blue satin uniform with all the rhinestones gleaming from it. Flashlight in hand, strutting up and down the aisle telling smart alecks to get their feet off the seats in front of them or I would whack them with my flashlight. We could do that back then and nobody sued or yelled foul! Our manager would back us up or "throw the bum out." It really was not all that bad. I am just having fun and taking writer priveleges. Kids did not use dirty words nor were they ever that mean. At least not that I remember. I could walk home from work at midnight and never be afraid. Well, I am getting a bit ahead of myself so will continue this a bit later and get back to the hop fields and what came after.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Go Ahead And Hop To It!

We actually went to the Woodward Ranch and were prepared to live in the camp ground while picking hops. Mrs. Woodward, the wonderful lady who owned the ranch, decided we should not be in the camp ground and directed us to use one of the cabins on the ranch. That is where we stayed during the duration of the season. To those of you who do not know about hops I offer this information. They are used in the making of beer. Polls are set in the ground several feet apart and wire strung from pole to pole. Up and down vertically heavy string is placed so that the vines can climb. I do not remember if it is string or wire across the bottom from pole to pole, but once they have reached the top and maturity, it is time to pick hops. First and very important is is the necessity to wear long sleeves and gloves. The vines are not kind to your skin and there are small insects that do not hesitate to initiate you for disturbing them. You have a tall and very large basket like container that you put your hops in. You grab the vine above your head and pull hard until it comes loose and falls to the ground. With your thumb and forefinger you strip the small little puffy objects off the vine and let them fall into your basket. They are green, a bit larger than an acorn, and the leaves are layered similiar to an artichoke. When your basket is full, it is weighed and recorded because you are getting paid by the pound. You then start all over again. The funniest incidence that I remember is the field boss telling us to be sure and not get "dirty hops." Being new at this my mom appointed me (Since I was probably 7 0r 8 at the time and really not strong enough to pull the vines down) to be the one to gather all the loose hops that had fallen on the ground and brush the dirt off and then put them in her basket. No dirty hops,right? Well when the field boss came by again he asked what in the world I was doing. Mom explained and he nearly came unglued with laughter. He then told us that by dirty hops it meant no stems and large leaves in the basket since we were getting paid by the pound. Also important was rising early in the morning and getting into the fields early while the dew was still on the vines and would weigh a bit more. A good day was probably a 200 t0 250 pound day. If I recall correctly the going rate was 3 to 4 cents a pound.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eat The Street

I do not remember too much about living in Petaluma except for the time the street repairman came and poured hot tar onto the street to fill in holes and when they left and it was cool enough to handle, we would pull the tar up and out and chew it like gum. It must have been all right to do as we did not get sick or die. I don't think we died as here I am writing these crazy stories for you, and saying kids today are not much different that kids of yesteryear when it comes to mischief. Mom and dad both worked in San Francisco at the Funsten Fish factory. The Funstens were related to us in that Florence was my dad's cousin. She was married to either the owner or the son of the owner. I am not sure which. Anyway that is where the wonderful rocking chair came from. Florence Funsten handed it down to my mother. Florence's mother was Inez Wendling who was married to George Xavier Wendling. George founded the lumber town known then by the name of "Wendling." It is North of Santa Rosa, which is North of San Francisco. The town later changed its name to Navarro. According to the internet, it has a population of 130 people. I have never visited there, but am told that they have kept a history with many photos and stories of Wendling all located in a local business. Our local paper, The Press Democrat, has done stories about it also. We did not stay long in Petaluma and when the hop season began we moved to Santa Rosa to work in the hop fields. Mom quit her San Francisco job to be with her children and dad continued on in the city. Above is a picture of all the kids that came in the Star to California . Back row: brother Glenister, sister Maruja. Bottom row: Me, Sister Barbra, and sister Arvilla

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The "Boogy Man" Cometh

We were invited to stay at my father's sister's home until my dad could get back on his feet. He had had a nervous breakdown in Oregon and his doctor advised him to move to a warmer clime. So here we are at Aunt Lucille and Uncle Roy's home. My cousin Frances, ( who was really my niece because Aunt Lucille adopted my half sister's child SHHH! Nobody is supposed to know) and I used to make the trek every night from the back door to the front porch to retrieve the milk delivery. This one night she said we should go into the small alley- like opening between their garage and the neighbor's garage. I went in first and she followed. Half way in she gave me a shove and screamed, "Look out there is a Boogy Man.!" She fled to the back door with the milk and left me there screaming my head off. Everyone came out to see what was the matter and I was panic stricken. To this day I am afraid of the dark. Was I mad at her? You bet, but I did not hold a grudge. You know how children are, they get over their "mads" pretty easily. We remained friends up until the day she left for good. We stayed in Concord until the school year ended and then moved to the town of Petaluma. New adventures await us there.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chicken On The Fender

My dear mother sat in this chair before me and told me wonderful stories of her trip across the Old Oregon Trail. I look back now and wish I had recorded what she related to me. I do remember some of the things she said, but they will not be as interesting as they would if you were hearing them from her. She lived in Kansas, but she caught the wagon train out of Nebraska. She talked of the cold winters and the cows standing in the fields frozen. Fire was made by burning the dried animal chips they found along the way. Sometimes she walked and sometimes she rode. When she sat in this old rocking chair (which is from the turn of the century, the late 1800's into the 1900's) I would sit on the floor at her feet, arms crossed and resting on her knees, as she told me many of her stories. Now I sit in the old rocker, but am getting off my rocker to tell you some fascinating tales of my own. I came from Portland, Oregon to California in 1929. We came in an old car called "The Star." Many stops were made along the way to put water in the radiator as the old gal was huffing and puffing and putting off steam because she was too hot. My dad carried containers of water for such occasions. He also made a makeshift pen for old Bessie (my sister's bantam chicken) who was sitting on two eggs waiting for them to hatch. There was no way my sis was going to leave her Bessie behind, so that is why she ended up in a cage on the fender of the old Star. We arrived in Concord, California in January, 1929.

Bessie & me and sister & bunny

Dad & old Star car

Old Star car