Chapter 2 - On to California

California I don't remember very much about the trip to California. To a seven year old it probably seemed long and the deserts of the west were boring and little to see (I thought then). In those days motorists drove across the deserts in the summer at night when it was cooler. The Willys Knight had a long icebox strapped to the left running board. It was low enough that the door would open above it. It was iced up to keep food and we ate some of our meals along the road. We entered California, probably at Needles and crossed the great Mojave Desert. Thru San Bernardino, Riverside, Corona and south through the winding old Santa Ana Canyon road. At the south end of the canyon there was a "Y" which is still there on the north side of Olive. It did the same thing as now where the "91" curves west towards Anaheim or you can go south on "55" to Orange. The folks had heard from some one about Anaheim and planned to take a look at that town for a place to live. However mother missed the right fork and went straight south thru Olive on down the present Orange-Olive Road and ended up at the plaza in downtown Orange.

This little town looked good to the folks and they decided this was the right place. It didn't make any difference where they settled. They stopped at a Realtor who had an office in the Orange plaza and rented a two story house on the west side of South Glassell between Palmyra and Culver streets. The house is still there and presently (1996) is still a home. Most of the other houses are now business offices.

Chapter 3 - Orange 1929-1935

In the South Glassell Street house, I had the front upstairs room for my bedroom. The Lennert family lived next door to the north. Their house was the corner of Culver and South Glassell. They had a son and daughter a little older than Marilyn and I. During summer the folks were out looking with a real estate man named Mr Swazye for a home to buy in Orange. By August 1928 the folks found and bought a red tile roof, cream stucco three bedroom house on a city lot (50 feet byabout 200 feet) at 143 S Waverly, Orange, California. In 1928 the 100 south block of Waverly was all there was of South Waverly. A carpenter, Mr Ben Larmer lived directly across the street from us and he had built our house. He was in the process of building a third house just south of his house and across the street from our house.

Al and Betty Eisenbraum would buy this house. Al Eisenbraum worked in the Orange Tin Shop on North Orange Street. He was a very talented artisan and every Christmas he would bring over a present he had made. I remember a little miniature copper wash tub to be used as an ash tray. One Christmas he had painted a picture of the folk's Waverly Street house and gave it to them. I still have the picture at my home. On our side of Waverly street there was an Valencia orange orchard that extended south from West Chapman around our house farther south to the end of the 100 Wavery block at Almond street. There were some large English walnut trees on the south end of this orchard. For a number of years I had this orange orchard to play in and every time they would irrigate, I would have all these plowed ditch rivers of irrigation water to boat in, much to the consternation of Ben Larmer's brother? Larmer who took care of this orchard and who, I think owned it.

The house north of the folks house was owned by the Halmans. It faced north on East Chapman Street. There was a empty lot (filled with orange trees) between Halmans, west toward Waverly street. The back end of the Halman lot was the north side boundary of the rear half of our lot. On the back of Halmans lot was a huge two story barn. It had been a stable at one time and had a huge hay loft up stairs. We soon found how to sneak into this barn. Also I use to climb up the back side of the roof to a small cupola that was built on the top ridge of the barn. I nailed slats on to theshingles for climbing up the steep roof to the top. I don't think the Halmans ever said anything or maybe didn't even know about us playing in this building. It was well built and after my folks had moved from Waverly Street, this barn was refurbished inside to a fine two story up-scale home. In September 1928, I started third grade at Maple Street primary school with Marilyn in the second grade. This school was just two and half blocks north on the corner of Waverly and Maple Street.

When we first moved onto Waverly Street, they did not deliver mail to our house, so we put a our mail a half a block north on the corner of Chapman and Waverly. Dad use to walk with his cane up to the mail box and get the mail every day. Later it was delivered thru a mail drop in our front door. At the south end of Waverly and on the cross street, Almond Street, Charles Williams lived. He was also in third grade but was a year older. He had been held back a class some time before we moved to Orange. His father was a steam engineer at the Orange Water Works plant on Water Street which is one block east of 100 block of South Waverly. With Charles, I would get to visit this pumping plant with it's two huge steam engines and one large natural gas engine. They were used for pumping Orange's city water. The city's water tanks on huge towers were also here. I remember the enormous fly wheels that these single cylinder monsters drove. Charles was my best friend up thru the mid-1930's. Next door to Charles and to the east another, no relation William's family lived. Bernice Williams, who was in my grade, a 2 year younger brother, Jerry and a year or 2 older brother Billy. Jerry was killed in a jeep accident during WWII.

I've seen Bernice during the late 1980's at a school reunion. A couple of my other friends were Eugene Crane who lived om South Cambridge. His father was a clerk at the Orange Post Office and after the war (WWII) Eugene also went to work for the Orange Post Office. John Pannell, a year younger lived straight west of our house on Cambridge street. We had lots of vacant lots and orange orchards to play in. The vacant lots would have waist high grass and wild oats during the spring and summer and we could make paths and secret rooms thru the grass. We did lots of kite flying in the open fields. Another past time was digging under ground tunnels and rooms. We didn't actually dig tunnels but dug trenches and then used boards to cover them and heaped dirt on top of the boards. Every so often my folks would decide we were through using them and all the trash, etc. would be used to fill them in. We always had lots of projects and things to build. We use to go to the library and get books on things we could construct ourselves. At one time Charles and I had our private telephone wire strung along the telephone poles for the half a block between our homes. During the thirties, which was depression times we would go down along the Santiago Creek bed to where South Lemon Street and the Railroad and the Orange-Santa Ana street car tracks crossed the creek. The depression "Tramps" lived there and they all had crystal set radios. We would copy their circuitry for building one for ourselves. These sets need a long antenna and mine was always from a pole outside my bedroom window to the top of Holmans barn. I remember we could pick up radio stations KFI and KFOX. We built tree houses 30 to 50 feet above the ground and never had an accident hauling up these heavy boards to build a platform on the cross branches high above the surrounding houses.

Our favorite afternoon on Saturday was to hike the half mile south along Cambridge Street to the Santiago creek bed. On the way along South Cambridge there was a alley way that had purple grapes free for the eating. The creek in those times always had a little water running down it and there were the occasional pools where we could catch crawdads and minnows. Make rafts and even swim. It was shallow and I didn't learn to swim until I was in high school (a later story). In the these years we had a Ice Box and a built-in cupboard in the kitchen with vents thru to under the house and vented to the roof. This was called a cooler. This is what we had to keep our perishable food. There were quite a few daily delivery truck businesses in those days. Mother had a cardboard card with numbers like 10, 20, 30, 40, which was placed in a street side window with the number on top for the size of ice block we wanted for our ice box. Also there were Webber's Bakery and other bake goods and vegetable trucks, the milk man and in summer we had the ice cream wagon. When the folks moved into Waverly Street, the back yard became a farm that is around the edges. We had a big back lawn with a swing and a cement patio behind the garage. There was one full grown orange tree left in the front yard from the orange orchard that our house was built in. In the back yard was a large avocado tree that had some how been planted early on in this Orange orchard. After the folks moved into this house they planted a couple more orange trees, a English walnut, persimmon, fig, lemon, another avocado, grapefruit and a pomegranate. At the rear of the lot they put a chicken pen and run. Behind the chickens was mother's garden. I used to earn my allowance digging up the Bermuda grass/weeds to make more garden. Every spring mother would plant a chiote vine that would grow up the rear side of the garage and cover the whole top of this flat roofed garage. We would have fried chiotes, baked chiotes and probably other ways. Also all the neighbors and friends would be well supplied with chiotes.

Mother buried all of the kitchen garbage in our yard. That was my job to dig a hole to put the garbage in and sprinkle a little lime on top and cover the hole. I'd leave the shovel next to the last hole to mark my next diggings. With this and the droppings from the chickens she had wonderful soil for growing her plants and vegetables. Later they bought a 20 foot strip of land along the rear edge of their lot from Mr Bills, the farmer behind us and the garden became larger. They added a barbecue grill to the patio behind the garage. I remember the good T-bone steaks that were cooked there. They had Ben Larmer built a screen house in the back yard and mother and dad spent a lot of time in it. I remember mother often reading stories out of the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Country Gentlemen, and others books and magazines to Ewald and often with Marilyn and I listening too. These readings went on all during my life at home. Two blocks east of Waverly Street on Chapman Ave. towards the Plaza was Pine Street. On the corner was the Immanual Lutheran Church. This was a break-away church from the Saint Johns Lutheran church on Shaffer Street. I learned only last month (January 1996) from Mark's mother-in-law Velma Patterson that the break-away happen after the married Pastor Rev. Jensen - had an affair with the wife of Mr Ehlen of the Ehlen and Groete Groceries on South Glassell St in Orange. Some of the parishioners were unhappy that Rev. Jensen would not bow out of the pulpit so they left and a new Lutheran church was formed. After we moved in, Reverend Weberking of the new Lutheran Church called on my folks. That resulted in Marilyn and I enrolling in the Sunday school classes. Mother would go to church and dad would occasionally have a beer or a glass of wine at our house with Rev. Weberking. He never went to church. I don't think he even went when Marilyn and I and the rest of the Sunday School membership had to recite at the yearly Christmas programs.

I remember once getting caught eating penny candy in Sunday School class. When the collection plate came around during Sunday School it seemed that I had lost my nickel earlier for the Sunday collection. Folks were informed of my loss. At this Sunday school class I met a George Heuck. He became one of my best friends during the mid-thirties. His father worked at San Pedro harbor as a Coast Guard Quarantine Inspector. He was a doctor. In this capacity George's father would meet the incoming ships for health inspections. Several times George and I got to ride out on the tug boat to meet these large ships with his father. George was one grade ahead of me, but we were about the same size and seems that we were forever wrestling in his or my backyard. At this time my folks thought and probably rightly so, that bicycles were too dangerous and never bought me one even though all my friends had their own, including George. I use to ride his home to my house occasionally so my folks relented and I soon had my own. I soon learned how to disassemble every thing on it, grease the parts and reassemble them including the "new- departure coaster brakes.

With wheels, our area expanded, south to the north edge of Santa Ana, west to the Santa Ana River, North to Olive and east to Lemon Heights and once to Orange County Park (later named Irvine Park). George, probable due to his father job, was interested in boats and started building a kayak. This is when I started building small boat models. My first one was from plans out of the Popular Mechanics magazine. In the thirties they use to publish scale model boat plans periodically. My first one was the "heavy cruiser Pensacola". I still have this model. The actual ship was sunk in a Pacific WWII battle. George had an eye put out by a BB gun prior to me meeting him. Because of this he was declared 4F for the draft. I lost track of him after I enlisted in 1942. I heard he "over did it" with drinking and wild driving. He killed himself in an auto accident in the early forties.

The family took a trip to Port Townsend. Washington to visit dad's cousin Clarence Wegner and his wife Eleanor. Clarence was a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army, Coast Artillery, based at Fort Townsend. Mother drove the Willys Knight. While we were there we got to go "gooey duck" clamming on the Puget Sound and at Fort Townsend I got to stand behind a big 12" artillery cannon when they were target practicing. I remember that when they fired the shell it was so big you could see it going towards the targets, some 6-7 miles out in Puget Sound. Clarence and Eleanor had 10 or 12 children so Marilyn and I had plenty of playmates while we were there. The folks occasionally took several trips without Marilyn and me. When this happened to the neighbor across the street, the Larmers would take care of us.

Some Friends of my folks:

  • Will and Rose Alexander- Blind vetran living Fullerton
  • Bert and Myrtle Randell Blind Vet living in Pomona
  • Frank and Rose Shammey Blind Vet living Baltimore,MD
My Friends
  • William Burchell - High School
  • Donald Krueger - High School
  • Forest Oakles - Gammer and High School
  • Richard Webster - High School and Jr College
  • Eugene Crane - Grade school thru High school
  • Charles Williams - Grade school thru High School

Balboa Island