A local trucker by the name of Burt Christiansen volunteered to take the brand new Chevy he had to transport the basketball team to a game at Irwin. This was 1933. They all piled in his car. There were six or eight of them. It was pea soup fog. Just a little north of town, he ran into one of his own trucks loaded with grain and all of them were instantly killed including his own truck driver. The bad part of it was when they had commencement exercises the next spring, they handed out diplomas to all of their parents. I didn't really approve of that. It was sad and it angered me.
It was in 1931 that my folks decided they would accompany our neighbors Phil and Helen Knutsen and their three little kids and we would go clear out to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado because the Knutsons had lived there for a short time and we had never seen a mountain. We left in two cars and headed west. I remember the state of Nebraska. To me it was the longest state in the union because we drove all day in about 105 degrees and we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. My dad kept looking for the mountains. He said "you know they say they look like clouds when you see them in the distance." That day we didn't see them. However the next day we saw what looked like clouds all over the horizon out west. We had a ripping time getting to the mountains and visiting my mother's Aunt Katie. Aunt Katie Schaak (pronounced "Shack") was mom's dad's (Grandpa George Anderson) sister. They were five brothers and sisters who came together from Denmark. Aunt Katie had two daughters named Florence who was married and Blanche who had a boy friend. She also had two sons, one had the neatest gas station in Greeley that I had ever seen. The other son, Walter, had just bought a new 1931 Chev with freewheeling and was running a taxi service from Denver to the World's Fair in Chicago! We went to Red Rock Park . We visited Buffalo Bills Grave. We went to big Thompson Canyon, Estes Park, Grand Lake, Silver Plume, and Idaho Springs. We went to the top of Mt. Evans. The road goes all the way to the top and is about the height of Mt. Rainier which is unusual because it is over 14,000 feet. We bought a mounted deer head. All in all it was a fabulous vacation.
As the folks had two boys and no prospects of any more kids, they decided maybe they should adopt a little girl. They wrote to different adoptive agencies in three or four midwestern states. All kinds of replies would come usually on a post card with a description of the father and the mother. I remember several where the mothers were in their forties and the fathers were teenagers! We had gone to a place in Council Bluffs, Iowa, called the "Children's Home." Every time we went there all the little kids begged us to take them. Then we received a card from this place stating that a baby girl had been born to a young woman from Nebraska, just across the river from us. She was up for adoption. The folks went there and took Aunt Ruby (Uncle Marks wife) along. Mom was undecided. Aunt Rudy said, "Why not take her because she was born on my birthday." So they did. I was a sophomore then. Mom had fixed up a basket painted pink with satin inside with pillows, etc. I came home from school and saw this little all skin and bones in the basket on the dining room table.
The mother had apparently starved herself so her parents would not know she was pregnant. The officials at the home said the father had brought his daughter to the home in a terrible angry mood. I said, "Mom, surely you could have found a baby better than this one!: "What's her name?" Mom said I could give her a name if I wanted to. So, I named her Patricia Louise. In about three weeks she turned out to be a very happy little fat butter-ball. As she grew older she looked like a member of the family.
After this time my Grandma Hansen decided we should move off the ranch or the home place to allow Aunt Mabel and Uncle Harold to move out because they really didn't have anything going for them. She was a registered nurse and they were going to start a hospital in Audubon and but it went belly up. So we moved off of that place and onto a place we will call Cooney's. If you saw the movie the Grapes of Wrath it will give you an idea of what Cooney's place looked like. This was an old two story perfectly square farm house. And we moved in and of course there were holes in the kitchen floor where the rats came out of the cellar down below. They had gnawed around there and we didn't realize there were rat holes, but we decided we would decontaminate this old house so we bought a bunch of sulfur candles and taped all doors and windows. We let the candles burn for three days. When we moved in we tore all the old wallpaper off and some of the plaster and we decided to replaster and fix the floor. Pat was just a baby in a wicker baby buggy. We had been in there a week and bed bugs were biting her. They got in the baby buggy and they were in all the walls behind all the old plaster. I think it was a year before we got rid of all the bedbugs. But that wasn't all. In the barn, one end was lower than the other. The gutter in the cow barn ran down that steep hill too. At the bottom of it was the windmill and the well. Everytime it rained all the cow manure water ran down the gutter into the well and when we turned on the windmill and pumped the water up to the supply tank at the top of the hill. It looked like you know what. That was our only water supply and we used it for everything! We washed clothes out under a tree with a horizontal gas engine hooked up to the old Dexter Washing machine. We did that on Mondays. It was just indescribable. The outdoor toilet had no roof. And an old hen had been in there hatching out some chickens. I rebuilt it. We had no garage for the car or the tractor. It was horrible. The rats had taken over most of the buildings.
My cousin Bernard up west of Kimballton had a nice little Harley Davidson 45. It was really a beautiful thing. My folks would let me go up and visit Bernard and Harold . They had everything!
I always liked to go there because they had all these things to play with. Cars, motorcycles, what have you. Anyway, I went up there one Sunday, Bernard and I were riding on his motorcycle on the Lincoln Highway (#30) which went past their place. At that time it was paved but a very narrow two lane road. There was pretty heavy traffic on it for a Sunday afternoon. It was my turn to drive it and he was going to sit on the rear fender which he did. We started out and I had just barely got it in the last gear when I felt like the rear end was whipping a little bit. I had to see-saw with the handlebars. And I heard him yell "flat tire". And he said "release the clutch" which I was trying to do and over we went. We hit the concrete pretty hard. At least I thought we did. I just closed my eyes as we skidded about 100 feet but the motorcycle skidded a lot further. I could hear it roaring down there. The throttle was wide open. The bike was lying in the middle of the highway and the cars were barely missing it and when I stopped skidding I felt my head and it was still there. I opened my eyes. I had been wearing a big wide leather motorcycle belt which saved my hip but my clothes were all torn off on my right side. I looked for Bernard but I couldn't find him. I had to get out of there because the cars were coming by so fast. I finally got the thing shut off and drug it over in the ditch and just left it there . This happened right in front of a big farmhouse where some girls were having a party out in front. I was walking back and I looked over in the cornfield and here was Bernard picking himself up. The accident threw him 200' into a cornfield. So we walked in this driveway of the farmhouse and the girls came running out and I remember one said, "oh look at the meat" and I felt like saying "yeah, don't you want some" or something to that effect. Anyway I went home and got doctored up and everything seemed to be all right. Six months later I had blood poisoning in my left leg, not my right. The doctors felt this was a result of wounds not being cleaned properly. Right above the ankle, a great big bump appeared like a goose egg, dark blue in color. The doctor said you had better come to the hospital right away. They opened the bump and scraped the bone and put some material in there to drain it. A few days or about a week went by and another bump is forming higher on my leg and then another one on the ankle and then one comes up in the groin and each time they have to open it . My doctor decided he was going to give me a test with three drops of horse serum and if this worked he'd give me a big dose and this would localize the poison and stop it from spreading. Well, he gave me three drops and told the nurse he was going down to his office and about that time some thing was wrong. I grabbed my buzzer but I was vomiting so hard, my bowels were moving and I couldn't get my breath. It seemed like it lasted about three hours. Finally that was over with and then I started breaking out with hives every thirty minutes. They'd keep giving me shots for that in both arms and legs for four days and finally that stopped. With all this going on my weight was down to 95# and I'd weighed 175# when I came in and they said "you've got to eat". There was no way I was going to eat. I had no appetite. I was drying up because I couldn't drink. My Uncle Neal brought in a case of beer and told the nurses to put some on the night stand. One glass sat there for about two days. I was just drying up-I had no moisture. My tongue was getting dry so I sipped a little beer through the glass stem. I don't know what happened but all of a sudden I started drinking that stuff and I got so hungry I could have chewed wood and eaten leather. I guess that is why Uncle brought the beer to bring back my appetite. Eventually I started helping the nurses. While I was in a wheelchair I'd carry bed pans for them. Then they said "well you'll never walk correctly again. You'll probably have to use crutches the rest of your life." I got home after twelve months and my dad says "you'll never be able to do any farming the shape your in. What you should do is get a school to teach." Well, we are in the middle of the depression and a lot of the one room rural schools have been boarded up but we had a couple in our neighborhood that were still open so he and I both went over to see one of the school directors. The director said " you are just what we want. We had a lady teacher here last year and the kids just ran wild and we'd love to have a man teacher." I got my crutches and a suitcase, got on the train and rode all the way up to-they called it Iowa State Teachers College-now it is the Northern Iowa University at Cedar Falls. I took a street car up two miles until I got to Dog Town which is what they called the college town and I had made reservations at 2610 College Street which was the Alpha Delta Alpha house run by Mrs. Spears. I came hobbling down there on my crutches with a suitcase dangling on my arm. Guys were sitting on the front porch in their shorts trying to cool off. I went to school that summer and came back and started to teach school that year. My salary was $40.00 per month. Friends called me old money bags!
After we had gotten Cooney's Farm all fixed up so we could stand to live in it, we had to move again to another farm which wasn't quite as bad. We had some very severe winters. By that time I had my Model T Ford with a Muncie transmission with eight speeds forward and four speeds in reverse. I had to go to school if I could make it. One fall I was trying to get home. It had really been raining and I came to the bottom of the hill. The car wouldn't move any more. I got out and I could see that I might as well leave it because the radiator was pushing mud and there was two big rolly pollies of mud on either side of both front wheels. I abandoned the car and it froze that night and I let it sit there all winter. The horses with the bobsleds and wagons went around it on both sides. I just left it until it thawed out in the spring.
That last winter I had two miles to walk to what we called Hansen Heights School and I had twenty-two pupils all grades and all subjects. The little ones couldn't speak English, they spoke Danish. They would learn English in about six months. They were doing fine. But it was winter and all of a sudden it got down to about thirty below and it didn't get any warmer. It just stayed that way and it just didn't stop snowing which was unusual. I remember one morning my mom wrapped everything around my face and I walked backward to school to keep the wind out of my face. I started out real early but I never knew if I was going to step on an old snow or new snow. If I stepped on old snow I'd stay up. If I stepped on new snow I might sink in up to my nose. I walked backward, the wind was blowing awful hard, and you couldn't see too well and after about three quarters of a mile I went by a farmhouse. The people in the farmhouse saw me-I heard a noise like somebody yelling. Finally I could tell it was them. They said "where are you going?" I said "I'm going to school". They said "Are you crazy? There is not going to be any school today". Well there were no trains going across the state, no transportation at all. Our storage battery ran down so we couldn't listen to the radio and the phone lines were down, the roads were blocked and it was one miserable winter.
For six years my dad would go out and plow the field up and plant everything. It was dry. It had been so dry the well was always going dry. About the fourth of July we'd have a cloudburst and it would wash all the seeds and the dirt away and we'd have no crops. Finally we had one waterhole left down in the ditch in the creek. We had about 36 Holstein milk cows. We'd take them down there to get a drink twice a day. The minute they could smell that water they'd get so excited they'd run and get down in it and get mired in the mud and be unable to get out. Then we would have to pull them out with a tractor, by tieing a rope around their neck. One day I think we lost three cows after we pulled them out. They just died from starvation and thirst!
It was about this time that we heard through the phone party line, that the whole north side of the main street in Brayton was on fire. This included Handy John's Harness Shop, Jake Anderson's grocery, the barbershop, city hall, Kate's Restaurant, the post office, and the theater-bazaar hall, plus Larson's Meat Market. The town never did recover from this catastrophe and the business area more or less died as many other small towns during the next few decades. Rumor was that Nils Larson, the butcher set the fire purposely. Times were tough and there was not future economically.
We didn't have any of our own feed. We had to buy it. And that consisted of some wild slough hay that was baled from Nebraska which they had watered to make it weigh more so they could get more money and it was all moldy. It was $10 a bale and we were using thirty to forty bales a day. You could see we were just losing our shirts. We couldn't sell our pigs. The government paid us fifty cents a pig for 250# pigs if we killed them and buried them. We had twenty loads of potatoes we couldn't get rid of or give away. I went to summer school again and when I came back my mother said "we are giving up. This is the 7th year that we'd had this and it is no use. We are giving up." I said "well, what are you going to do. Where are you moving to?" Mom decided on Seattle. Well all I know is Seattle is by Puget Sound in the state of Washington and there is Mt. Rainier and Bellingham, and that is all I knew about it. I wasn't going to go with them. I was going to stay. But about two weeks before we had our sale I decided that if I didn't get out of there I never would. I found a girl who could take over my school. We had two auctioneers for the sale of our property and the sale lasted two days. We sold all our livestock; horses, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and machinery, cars, household goods, and tools. We got $1800 dollars. All we had left were two cars and a trailer. We made a tool chest and packed some dishes, and our clothes and set out to move to Seattle. All our relatives came down and they said "well , you'll be back in thirty days." We took off. We enjoyed every minute of it. It took seven days to get here and I've written a story about it.
It was just like arriving in heaven. We smelled the sea which we had never smelled before. And there was an unknown aroma-we smelled cedar smoke. My dad was 45 and I am a rural school teacher. So we moved in with some distant relatives of mom's for a week. Their name was Anderson and they agreed to take us in for a couple days which they did. They lived in Fremont. Then we found a house to rent at 6111 Fremont north of Woodland Park. So now we were living in a house and my dad had to get a job. And I was going to teach school. First off my dad couldn't get work because he was 45 and he wasn't in the union. And he couldn't get in the union unless he had a job. Well I go to start looking into teaching out here and I find the requirements are a little higher than they are back in Iowa. So I go over and spend a couple of days at the University of Washington with the Dean but it came to me that if Dad can't get a job and I can't teach school right away, what are we going to do? Well we joined the co-op down in Duwamish where we would go down and work two days hoeing cabbage and onions and we got our vegetables this way.
Dad worked out a deal where he had a couple of specialties. One of them was the boxing in of old bathtubs and the other was building rooms on to houses. I was doing the wiring and we would sneak in when we thought no one was looking-with our tools because we weren't in the union. We didn't want to get in any trouble. But once in a while I'd go downtown to see if I couldn't figure out how to get a job of some kind. One day I was down there on 5th Avenue. Out in front of a theater was a fellow about my own age who had a pair of striped coveralls on. I walked up to him and said" Do you know of any place around here a fellow could get a job?" He started talking and he had a real New York Manhattan accent. It was pretty hard for me to understand him. It turns out he was a maintenance man in all the theaters on 5th Avenue. He said if I talked to the cashier and she ok'd it, I could go up and see the manager. I might get a job as a theater door man. I didn't know what a doorman was. The result of that was exactly what I did. I became a doorman at the Blue Mouse Theater. All you do is stand there all day long and people hand you their tickets. You tear it in half and give them the other half and put the first half in the box. Good job, big deal. The theater managers name was Dan Redden. He had graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He had majored in foreign trade And here he wound up at the Blue Mouse Theater as the manager. Well, I had no idea what show business was like. I got acquainted with all these little dolls working there as usherettes and cashiers. All of them are real pretty and cute looking. All of them were living way above their means because they weren't paid much and they were living in apartments downtown and wearing fine clothes. Of course I was just fresh from the corn fields of Iowa and I had a date every other night and drove a nice car. Pretty soon I met one of the girls I might want to team up with and we went a few places together. We had a deal where we were going to go to Mt. Baker on my day off which was Tuesday. And on Monday she came down and said she didn't think she could go with me skiing on Mt. Baker Tuesday. I said "thats ok, we will go some other time." And the next day I heard she went to Bremerton because the Navy was in . She went over to see some sailor. It didn't bother me too much. She'd been trying to get into the movies down in Hollywood and she had a lot of letters of recommendation. Finally she was ready to go she told me. So I took her down to the train depot and she headed to Hollywood. She was going to crash the movies. And about three months later I heard she married a sailor in San Diego. Well, I always knew that someday she was going to be back which I was not looking forward to. And I knew I was going to talk to her when she came back. About a year goes by. I am at work one day, I turn around and there she is looking just as nice as ever. She tells me her divorce is going to be final. She wonders if we can't take off where we left off. And like my old German friend said "something snapped in my brain." and I told her everything I could think of. But one of the things was her father was the secretary/treasurer of the Great Northern Railway. He was a real nice guy. Not too many years ago I saw him up in his office. We used to get together once in a while for a cup of coffee.
A lot of interesting things took place during my stint at the Blue Mouse. The Hamrick-Evergreen Theaters otherwise known as the Evergreen State Amusement Corp. was headed up by John Hamrick and his wife, Fanny. In Seattle they had the 5th Avenue, the Paramount, the Blue Mouse, the Music Box, the Coliseum, the Orpheum, and the Music Hall. They also had one or two in Tacoma as well as in Alaska. Ron Kelley, a young manager at the Music Box across the street, decided to sign up in the Naval Reserve rather than be drafted. He attended school two nights a week with pay and advised me to do the same. After Pearl Harbor he was called to active service and lost his life off Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when his destroyer was torpedoed.
Some of the doormen I worked with were Len Richardson, Lionel Carrier, and John Bardue. John, who later became a school teacher, could play the pipe organ. A lot of times when we closed the theater, Jack Jewell, the Janitor and a Scotsman, would light his auditorium cleaning light and John would remove the console cover and play sometimes till 4:00 A. M. in the morning which I really enjoyed.
Lionel was a young man with no family or relatives. My folks agreed to take him in while we were living g in Kolstran's house on 18th and Jefferson. Payroll day was every two weeks on Tuesday. Lionel always needed to borrow a buck the day after payday. "Say, Don, you got a buck?" After about a year of this, I refused him one day which made him real angry. Another time he wanted to borrow my car to take out his girl friend.
Jack Jewell, the Janitor, and his wife lived in a little white bungalow up on Olive Way. He had a new Ford Sedan with small diameter wheels and big fat tires like aircraft use. He and his wife had no kids and were nice folks. They had come from Scotland before the last King George's Coronation. They had a powerful radio which enabled them to hear the coronation. Jack kept saying that he and his wife would love to have me come for dinner some evening. I finally relented and was glad I did. After dinner and things were cleaned up we sat around enjoying ourselves, but Jack had a surprise for me. He had a mannequins head that he needed before he went to bed. I didn't realize that he had a glass eye. He left the room and came back in minus his one eye, his hair, and his teeth, which he had placed in and on the mannequin. I didn't recognize him. They had a pet Tom Cat that was pretty big and they wanted to get it castrated but were worried about the cost. I suggested that maybe he and I could do it. He asked how we could go about it. I told him to let me know when. He needed a rubber boot and I would bring the knife. One evening in the upstairs bathroom we got the cat stuck head first in the rubber boot which was quite a struggle in itself and Jack is struggling to hold everything. I was just starting to cut with my knife when the cat exploded out of the boot, flew down the stairs and out of the open front door on to the Olive Way traffic. The cat never came back and may have gotten run over.
While the theater was open there was an usherette at the head of each aisle and the head usherette was inside the main entrance. Also the cashier was in the locked booth. Sometimes we would have too much cash in coins and I'd have to make a quick run to the bank. Have you ever tried to carry three thousand dollars in coins? It weighs a ton.
Some of the usherettes I remember are Vera Mae McAdams, Vera Whaley, Beth Reed, Edna Ellestad, Betty Woolever, and Martha Rautio. Martha was a dancer from Montreal. Cashiers were Dawn Dixon and Ruth Lessenger. Lillwyn Mitchell was one head usherette. Beth liked to go down the aisle pretending to faint and lie on the carpet waiting for a doorman to pick her up. Edna had a perfect figure and all the clerks at Bests wanted to wait on her where she went at least once a day. We kept ammonia capsules in the table in the foyer for people who fainted which happened once or twice a month. When the phone man came to collect the money from the pay phones about twenty percent would be Washington State Aluminum tax tokens which we had then. The mens rooms was downstairs and several times when the toilets refused to function, we would find the tanks stuffed with ladies purses with no room for any water. One time a well dressed couple tried to get in without buying a ticket. He said, "Do you know who I am? I am Vic Meyers, the Lt. Governor." He asked the cashier to call the manager. Dan came downstairs and said "It is OK Don." The ladies restroom was upstairs and had five enclosed stools. About once a month an usherette would yell for Freddie Robinson, the maintenance man to hurry because the "Ladies" was overflowing and running down the carpeted stairs onto the foyer. Freddie said most ladies thought a toilet was the garbage can. He was always threatening to quit.
John Barrymore was in love and chasing a woman by the name of Elaine Barry. One of his films was to be premiered at the Paramount. He and Elaine arrived for the occasion. There was a crowd of about a thousand out in front on Pine Street. They whisked John and Elaine out of an exit in the alley to the Blue Mouse by cab. I was the one that hid them in our loge section. They appeared to me as though they had been on a weeks brawl. They both looked pretty bad.
Shirley Ross, another actress, premiered one of her movies at the Blue Mouse. We had a party for her and her agent.
One time a lady and her beautiful daughter came in and sat so the daughter was next to a close-to-middle aged male. After watching the feature on the screen for about twenty minutes. The daughter became ill and almost incoherent. The man, a stranger, was carrying her into the foyer and said he would take care of things and get a cab, etc. The mother became very angry and upset and asked me to call the cops. A regular cop on 5th avenue, Clarence, happened to be right outside. He shooed the man away and took care of everything. He told me the next day that the man had stuck a needle in the girls arms.
Mr. Trippy, a furrier across the street next to the Music Box, had an idea that he might do some advertising in an indirect way. He called Beth Reed and two of our usherettes who were extras that I don't remember over to his emporium one afternoon. He told them that he had a plan that would work for them as well as for himself.
He would have each one pick out the fur coat of their choice to wear for six months and pay what they could like rent. At the end of the period they would re-evaluate the plan. Beth came over and spun on her high heels and said, "How do you like my new coat, Don?" It looked like a three thousand dollar fur to me. The next day the other two girls didn't show up for work. A week went by and word came that they had skipped to California. At that time there was no law that allowed Mr. Trippy to recover his loss which he never did. He was a very unhappy man. The girls were never heard from.
There was a Mrs. Baumgartner who was at the head of an organization that screened movies to see whether people, and especially children, should patronize certain pictures in different theaters. She had absolute power we found out. Our Halloween billing would be a double feature. One was "Frankenstein and Dracula" plus another one I don't remember with sound effects of screams, growls, blackouts, and lightning. Mrs. Baumgartner pulled up under the marquee in her chauffeured limo the first day, bought a ticket and went in. Forty five minutes later she came out and called for manager Dan Redden. She informed him that his theater was closed as of now or until the billing was changed.
I think it was about this time of
year that four news paper hawkers from the PI came walking abreast of 5th
Avenue. One on each sidewalk and
two in the middle of the street yelling, "Amelia Earhart found!"
Every one rushed to buy a paper and that was the headline all right.
Right underneath in the right corner was one paragraph saying that some
natives in the south pacific thought they had heard an airplane engine!
The first New Years Eve that I worked I found things
were much different in the city than the farm. The people on 4th and 5th Avenue
went completely crazy. Eight U of W
football players piled on top of a cop right underneath the stoplight at 4th and
Show people have their own crowd. I got to the point where I didn't wake up til 4 in the evening. At 2 am in the morning I was really alive. So were all the rest of them. They had their own parties and so forth. But this was not going to be my thing; being in show business. I started going to night school. First I enrolled at Wilsons. And then I enrolled at Orswalds Accounting and Secretarial school. Orswald was a big German from Spokane. It was a pretty good school because every time in college I had taken typing. I could never get over 45 words a minute with my cow milking fingers. I made a lot of mistakes. Miss Watson down at the school put me on a rhythm exercise for two weeks and I had a test and I did 90 words per minute with no mistakes. Well one day Orswald came in and it was raining and cold outside. "Hey what are you doing?' he says. I said "I was just getting ready to leave." "Get your coat on," he says. "Your coming with me." So we hop in his car and we go down to Swift and Company Meat Packers and walk in the accounting office and he introduced me to Mr. Crary the boss. "Here is your new man", he says. Mr. Crary said, "What do you mean? I didn't even tell you I needed anybody". Orswald says "but I know you needed someone so here he is." So I went to work in the accounting office of Swift and Company as a ledger clerk, running the posting machine. This was very interesting and I really began to enjoy it. This was what I was doing when they passed the Selective Service Act which didn't bother me too much. Lyle and I were very active in the church up on east Spruce Street and the one in Tacoma and the one in Enumclaw and we always got together with all the young people. The girls in the church had gone over to Indianola one Saturday night, and we were going to come over one Sunday. I was glad when there were four of us. We drove over the new Narrows Bridge. I remember when we came home we stopped and climbed up and down in the tower. I think Monday morning I was at work down at the Swift and Company when they announced the Narrows Bridge had collapsed. I just couldn't believe that. But it was a fact As time went on I got my draft notice. And my boss said you haven't got a worry. Finally I had to go down to Denny Regrade and be welcomed by the Green Lake Funeral Home undertaker. He had been in the 1st world war and he was welcoming all the draftees who were going into the service. Didn't sound very good to me! The next thing I knew I boarded an old double decker bus and rode to Tacoma and was there all day and from there I went right out to Fort Lewis and suddenly I am in Uncle Sam's Army. I don't know where I am, what I am doing. It is a different lifestyle, different language, different everything. I sat out there for two weeks and then started taking basic training and this was something I resented greatly-such as bayonet practice, learning how to fire different guns.
At this point I'll have to back track somewhat as my life was undergoing some important changes and having to make decisions that were unfamiliar with no experience to fall back on.
While in the hospital at Atlantic, my main nurse was Verda Olsen from Elk Horn. Her father was the butcher for our "meat ring" The meat ring was a group of farmers who joined together and had a butcher slaughter a hog or beef every month. Each member had a meat box and the butcher would divide the meat putting an equal portion in each members box. When I was a sophomore in high school, Verda's brother Don was a Freshman. She also had a baby brother, Neal. I would call Don a prankster as he was always up to something. We moved to Seattle in October of 1936 and the first year was a "killer." I was so homesick for my buddies back in Iowa. I wrote a letter every day to someone. In 1937 I finally convinced Mom that we should take a trip back there. (she was a little homesick, too.) Maude Anderson wanted to go, too, as afar as Council Bluffs. I was the only driver and wanted to go straight through without stopping. There were no freeways but the Lincoln Highway #30 was a good road and the '36 Chev two door would cruise at 70 per mile with no problems. With Pat, Lyle, Mom, Maude and our luggage packed in we left Seattle at 4:00 PM Thursday afternoon and arrived in Boise at 7:30 AM for breakfast. Two days later around 2:00 AM, we were in central Nebraska and I noticed a big sign with an arrow pointing to the right which said "turn right here and save eighty miles to Wahoo." It was a dirt road that had been regraded before a thunderstorm. We immediately became stuck in a bottomless quagmire. Mom said that I should try to rest while they would all walk barefoot down the road a piece. The mosquitoes zeroed in on me with a vengeance and rest was impossible. We installed tire chains after a big struggle and resumed our trip. We rolled into Council Bluffs, Iowa, Sunday morning to let Maude off. I couldn't wait to get to the Kimballton Swimming pool which is where my old gang would be hanging out. The first person I ran into was my old buddy, Everett Johansen. I ran up, gave him a hug, and said, "How are you?" He looked at me, slightly surprised, and said , "Oh, it is you , Don. Well, we've got to get going as the old lady wants to get home!" Talk about a big disappointment,. I was ready to head back to Seattle right then. I had promised an old friend, Agnes Peiterson, that I would look her up if I ever came back. So, I stayed at her folks house which was across the street from Don Olsen's folks. I had brought an album of Seattle pictures and showed them to Don, who was resting in the grass on the shady side of a tree while his little brother, Neal, was washing the car. "Yeah," he said, "it sure looks great out there all right." I did go up to Cedar Falls for a couple days. Coming back to Seattle we took a different route at a more leisurely pace. I was still working at the Blue Mouse and I had heard that Don Olsen and my cousin, Harold Brown, had gone to work for Rattenburg Trucking hauling livestock to the stockyards and they were hanging out in Omaha. They were getting cash by cashing the bosses checks.
I am going to skip the three years experiences at the Blue Mouse except to say that it wasn't a vocation that I cared to pursue. I had a date with Betty Woolever and was expecting a call when an usherette said I was wanted on the phone. I picked up the receiver and said, "Hi, Betty." A gruff male voice said, "This isn't Betty." It was Don Olsen. He had gotten a hold of an old car and with three young women from Omaha to help pay for the gas. They had arrived in Seattle without a dime. He was one step ahead of the Federal Marshals. He stayed with my folks for a while. He had an Uncle living at Green Lake but he wasn't too interested in being with him. He finally got a job selling vacuum cleaners.
About this time was when I made the decision that I would never even consider getting married. But, in case I should change my mind, I would have to be making at least $50.00 per week because by this time I had acquired a buddy who was making that amount and he lived like a millionaire...golf one day, horseback riding another day, ate in all the best downtown restaurants, etc.
One day when I was at home on Green Lake, Don Olsen rang the doorbell about 11:45. AM and he said, "Change your duds and go with us to Everett." Us? Who is us? He said, "I've found the girl I want to marry. She is out in the car. Hurry up, we've just got an hour" We went to the Everett Court House and they gave fictitious addresses because married women where not supposed to hold jobs in the banks during the depression. This made me so nervous. I could just barely sign my name as a witness. Her name was Doris.
Some time later he came by and wanted me to come with him to meet her family of which I was most hesitant. As we entered the front door there were six females sitting in a semi-circle, including Doris, besides the mother, which was overwhelming to say the least. It followed, then, that in my association with Don and his wife, I would be paired off with the next oldest sister, Gladys. You might say my feelings toward this occasional arrangement were neither exciting or boring.
As time went on we had a date now and then. I was working for Swift and Company Meat Packers when the Selective Service Act became law. I was drafted for one year, beginning January of 1941. Everything was changing so fast around the world that you wondered what would happen next. All of the girls that I knew meant nothing to me and I meant nothing to them. It is just a state of mind that any normal person is naturally aware of.
I had to go on sick call with a strep throat and Gladys came with the folks to see me. From the look in her eyes I was aware that she was seriously interested in me, which effected my attitude too. More to follow soon...
THIS PART IS CURRENTLY BEING REWRITTEN.
DON IS WORKING ON THE AUDIO TAPES.
I wasn't sure they were even going to let me get married, because I didn't even know if they'd let me come to town.
I got into town about 2:30. We had it all set to be married at St. John's Danish Lutheran Church. We were married by Pastor Alfred Sorensen. We had reservations at an old hotel down on First Avenue, downtown Seattle. I don't remember the name of it, but I don't know if it'd still be there, today. They gave us a room up in the attic.
Sunday morning we went out to breakfast, then we went up to Grandma Gabe's house and a whole bunch of people were there to celebrate with us. When I was ready to leave, get back on the busy, Toughy was trying to hold me back. It wasn't his name, that was a nickname he adopted because he was a "fighter kid," as Rick would call the bullies when he went to school. When I was halfway out the door, he tried to close the door on me and I skinned my ankle.
Then, I didn't get to town, on leave, for awhile. One time, she was able to meet me down in Tacoma. That was about it. Couldn't do much when you were in the service, you had to abide by the rules.
Then, I got real sick with strept throat. That was when her folks and my folks came out to see me and I knew she really cared for me.
I had told her all along I wasn't going to get married, and she was starting to believe me. I told her that I wasn't going to get married if I wasn't making fifty bucks a week. I had a buddy that was making fifty bucks a week and he had one day set aside for golf, one day set aside for horseback riding.
All he ever seemed to do, was play. One day, we went out to lunch at the Dinner belle Cafe, on 4th Ave. I had 65 cents in my pocket. We had menus and I looked at the prices and got a little shook up. He said we ought to start off with a good salad. The salad he ordered was a dollar and a quarter. I didn't know what to do. Anyway, he paid for my lunch. I kind of decided I ought to stay away from those restaurants.
And what did I do? I got married when I made 24 bucks a month. And they took my cleaning bill out of the 24 bucks, so I didn't even get the 24. Best move I ever made.
So, we went on like that. Summer of '41, I was gone for three months in California, for maneuvers. Still at Ft. Lewis. Once in awhile I get to Seattle.
Then we helped build the Mt. Rainier Ordinance Depot, now called the Logistic Center, just east of Fort Lewis.
While I was down in Camp Butler, North Carolina, we were told we were moving to Atlanta. Wives were allowed, so she got on the train, herself, and came off to Atlanta. We got a nice little apartment in a northern suburb of Atlanta. We really enjoyed that because Ed and Aggie Olsen were also down there. She drove all the way out there.
Old civil war house, upstairs. The stairway was like a ladder, and it had rats, and a leaking gas stove up there. I had a warehouse covering 13 acres, full of parts for military machines. I had hired a bunch of "Georgia crackers," a native of Georgia who is on the poor side and you can't reason with him because there ain't no place like Georgia. They all talked like little girls, with a southern drawl.
Gladys was looking for apartments and ended up finding a place where we could stay, in the attic. Downstairs, they kept the word and the furnace was downstairs. Sometimes you could smell the gas upstairs.
When I came home that day, Gladys says to me, 'Aggie and I found the best meat, at the market today.' So she started getting them ready. So we had kitchen chairs and red checkered tablecloth.
When she was getting ready, I noticed it didn't smell right. We got ready and sat down. I took the first bite. My eyes almost watered. It was an old bore pig. We couldn't keep it in our mouths. We didn't eat that, that night.
I always got on the bus about six, to get on the bus to go out to the depot. There are always a couple of blacks on the bus and they always had to ride in back. One says to the other, he was accusing him of giving some young lady a fir coat. One says, "I don't know, I might of given her two fir coats!" They argued for awhile and then the other one says, 'Man, I couldn't sleep last night. I just couldn't sleep. I go out to the tombstones and lay down. You's really gettin' somewhere when you do 'dat."
One afternoon we hear that we got a new commander, down at the depot, a man that taught Elizabethan Literature down at SanFrancisco University, and he's made a commander, right off the bat. He's got his new uniform, looks real flashy. Kept whispering to the first sergeant "what do I say next?"
One of the boys was named Schott, from Cincinatti. His folks owned Cincinatti Amusement Park. He was loaded with money. He had a brand new Oldsmobile.
He rented the sweetest rooms in Briar Click. That thing was like a hotel, open 24 hours a day. All kinds of girls going in and out of there.
We'd be driving out to see him and
He married Marge Schott, who owns three Oldsmobile dealerships and the Cincinatti Reds, down in Ohio.
Anyway, we lived down in Atlanta, had a good time. Then, we get word that we're moving down to Pomona, CA. The girls get together and say they're going to wait because it'll probably take us later. They left 2 days later. Sure enough, every hour and half, we'd have to get off the train
The quarantined us for 3 days, in Los Angeles, because we were having a lttle racial problem. Some other G.I. outfit were going out at night on the streets. Some Mexican girls were out front and their brothers were selling them as prostitutes. After we got unquarantined, we had been there about a week.
Then it really started raining. Holt street, the main street in town. It was raining so hard, that Gladys hopped on the shoulders of some guy to cross. Then, Aggie did the same thing. Just to cross the street.
At that time, one of the weatlhiest families in Ca was Antony. They owned the radio station. I was running the parts dept. This one kid kept calling me every day saying, "Don, you gotta take a cruze with us some weekend."
I didn't go with him, but we did go to Knotts Berry Farm. Gladys was pregnant, so we're going Hollywood. "You need some exercise," I said, "we gotta walk." It must have been about 30 miles. After awhile, Gladys says she can't walk anymore, so we got on the bus and rode for an hour to Hollywood.
On a twenty-four-hour pass to Seattle we were married at the Danish Lutheran Church on 24th and East Spruce Street by Rev. Alfred E. Sorensen. I got married while making $21.50 a month. It was the best move I ever made! This was kind of bad because all of a sudden the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened. My one year service would have been up in one month!
Things happened fast
after that. Everybody was alerted,
everybody was restricted to their area. But
somehow we managed. I came in one
weekend and had to go back Sunday night. I came in and got married on Saturday. I was out at Fort Lewis for quite a long time.
I came to Seattle most weekends and then we moved from Fort Lewis to what
they call the Mt. Rainier Ordinance Depot ,to what is now called the Logistic
Center. We built this place first.
We put up buildings and made
streets and what have you. We
started its operation. I think I
was around Fort Lewis for almost three years until they said "now we are
going to split up, you guys are going out on Cadre, here are the names of the
guys going different places. And
the 1st place I am going to go is Camp Butner, North Carolina.
Well, I was on guard duty one night and I woke up and my arm was on fire.
There appeared to be little pinholes in my arm.
I looked on the floor and there is a giant spider walking along.
I took my cigarette lighter and burned his legs off.
My arm was on fire from my fingers clear up to my shoulder and getting
red. The next day I went on sick
call and they put my arm in a sling and put baking soda around it.
I had to leave for Camp Butner, the next day on the train.
I was sitting in the diner going through Montana. A lady at the same table said "where did you get
hit?" She meant hit overseas
like in the Philippines or some place. I
said in a tent at Fort Lewis. Anyway
we got to Camp Butler, North Carolina, and by this time we had some buddies
there who later became good friends such as Ed Olson, Curly Treadway, and George
Cox. Camp Butler was right outside
of Durham where the big cigarette factory was.
It was kind of an education to go to town. Going into stores and
listening to how people talked. I
went into the barbershop there. I
thought I would get a civilian haircut. But
he gave GI haircuts which is what I had to have.
Anyway he says "where you all from?" (this is spoken with a southern accent) I said " Seattle, Washington."
"Man-must get pretty cold up there."
I said "no, it isn't as cold up there as it was here last
night" He just looked at me as if he thought that wasn't so, I