Husband Joseph was born April 12, 1889 in Oakland, California, and died December 2, 1973 in San Jose, California.
Mother completed high school at San Diego High School. It galled her that she was not given credit for History classes that she had taken in Saint Louis but they did not seem to meet the California requirements. What made it particularly upsetting to her was that the St. Louis classes were much more thorough. In both of her high schools and in her two years of Normal School, she received a more extensive liberal arts education than I received after four years of college.
In high school Mother had four years of French, History and English as well as Algebra and Geometry, Physics, Art, Music, Sewing, and Manual Training. Both she and my father were thoroughly educated in a classic sense and could call upon this fund of knowledge at the drop of a hat.
While Elsie was in Normal school she was on a rowing team. They had large life-boat style boats that held a team dressed in proper white middies and skirts. There was a regular drill that they went through with a coxswain giving the orders. They raced in San Diego Harbor against other teams. I don't know if the teams competed against other schools.
Mother graduated from San Diego Normal School with an elementary teaching credential. She helped earn college expenses by being a live-in house keeper companion for a Miss Silsby. Miss Silsby was a proper Bostonian who appreciated Mother's love of books. She left her library to Mother in her will, but after she died all that remained for Mother to pick up were a photo album and an antique 1884 cook book, Mary Lincoln's Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Little Brown & Co. Mrs Lincoln had the first cooking school in the country. She later turned it over to her assistant principal, a Mrs Fanny Farmer! The early editions of the Fanny Farmer Boston Cooking School Cook book have some of the same steel engravings that are in the Mrs Lincoln book.
Mother boarded with the Clerk of the School Board in a cottage not far from the school. Mrs Vasey was from the south and frequently served corn meal mush, corn bread or corn pone. Mother could hardly bring herself to eat foods made of cornmeal afterwards.
Country schools were primitive by our standards, but those attending them often received excellent educations. A young earnest, well trained teacher could get a start for advancement in education by teaching "out in the county".
The teacher had to be prepared not only to teach the three R's but to be janitor, school nurse and handle any emergencies that might arise in an isolated pocket where there were no phones nor means of transportation.
One warm week in late spring, the class began to be distracted by a disagreeable odor--it seemed to be coming from under the floor of the school house. Mother told Mr. Vasey about it and asked him to go under the crawl space and remove whatever it was that had died there. He said that she should do it. Mother firmly drew the line--that was not one of her duties as teacher; and furthermore, if the source of the smell was not gone by the next day she would dismiss school until the matter was corrected. Well, Mr Vasey did crawl under the school and pulled out a rabbit that had been shot and had run into one of the vent holes where it died.
When the superintendent came out for his scheduled inspection of the school and of Mother's teaching, she asked him if she had done the right thing to make such a threat. She assured him she had every intention of following through on it. The superintendent thought that it not only was correct, but praised her for her putting the health and comfort of her students ahead of the possible loss of her job. (To her it was called "sticking to your guns.")
One very hot Sunday, the doors were left open to catch the breeze. Fritz sneaked into the choir just as the offering plates were being brought up to the alter. Papa was one of the ushers, and Fritz seeing Papa with a plate, ran over and sat up in front of Papa. This broke up the soloist who was providing the special music for the offering and embarrassed Papa who picked the dog up by the scruff of the neck and escorted him out the back door.
Elsie worked briefly for the Scripps family. Several members of her family worked for the Scripps, and that story can be found here.
Some of the soldiers attended the local churches or their young adult activities. Mother and her friends became acquainted with a number of them. They went to the local points of interest together, among the places was the beach at La Jolla. There were special parade days when they visited the camp.
Dad was among those who attended the church that Mother and Aunt Esther went to. It was there that he met Mother. I attended a few reunions of the 158th Ambulance Co. with Mother, after Dad died in 1973. Each member or wife was asked to tell something about his experiences with the company. Mother's contribution was about the entertainments that were put on at the church; how Connie Baker recited humorous stories and poems. He was a particular buddy of Dad's and it was through him that Mother met Dad at Miramar.
Then, according to Mother, Dad arrived in San Jose on his last leave before going overseas. He no sooner got off the train than Emma began to berate him over his appearance--"Look at you, you're always so rumpled, and that hat--it looks like you sat on it, etc, etc, etc,-----."
When she finally stopped, Dad threw his hat down on the ground, stomped on it and said, "You can keep it". And that was the end of that relationship and the beginning of the courtship of "the Twelker girl".
Dad carried Mother's picture with him in France and they corresponded while he was overseas. He was particularly fond of Mother's long hair which she wore braided and wound around her head. Her Normal school portrait with her hair in this style was Dad's favorite picture of her. After they were married he had it framed and kept it on his dresser.
Mother's ready smile and enjoyment of good stories is a part of our heritage. But as she was always such a "lady", the pictures of her hamming it up in farmer overalls or acting flirtatious down on the beach in a daring bathing suit are startling to me. Just as seeing proper Aunt Esther wearing an army helmet and saluting in mock seriousness -- or catching a fox, much less skinning it out, adds a whole new dimension to their personalities.
Mother tried to teach us kids to swim, but she never wore a bathing suit or went into the water after we came along. She played handball against the side of our barn with us. Once, -just once- she let me try to teach her to ride a bike. She just couldn't get the feel of balance necessary, and her whoops of fear as I pushed and steadied her down our street brought the neighbors to their windows. About then we gave up. She valued being a good sport.
She had it cut into sections for each of her daughters, or daughters-in-law, for wedding presents. Mother wore the cameo on this chain. When her granddaughter, Ruth Mosac, married Jack Bornstedt, Mother passed the cameo and chain heirloom on to her.
It seems that before he left for his wedding, Dad gave the sisters the key to the house and told them to settle among themselves who was to get what and to have their items out of the house by the time he got back. Anything left in the house by then would be his. Happily there was quite a bit of furniture left in the house to start housekeeping; including dining table and chairs, sectional bookcases, bed, dresser and a lovely French Victorian parlor set.
Their honeymoon trip was the drive up from San Diego to San Jose. It was late at night when they arrived at the house in The Willows. They drove into the driveway and around to the back of the house, where Dad had Mother wait in the car. He got the key from its hiding place, went into the house and turned on some lights. He then got back in the car, backed out of the drive and parked out in front. He opened the car door, assisted her from the car, and with a gallant sweep carried Mother over the threshold of her new home.
Dad was given the house with the proviso that his father would be able to live in the house as long as he desired. Mother loved Dad's father--she called him a kind old gentleman who always had a twinkle in his eye. He stayed in the home with Mother and Dad until he remarried and moved to Los Angeles.
Such a gracious old home. After we moved to Hollister, the place was sold. It went through several changes of ownership. At one time, some years after they were living in Hollister, Mother said she revisited it, and was saddened to see how it had been abused by lack of care. She said the hardwood floors were all gouged by shoving furniture around.
Sometime in the late 1950's or early 1960's, the house was torn down to make way for a parking lot behind the stores that fronted on Lincoln Ave. Dad just happened to be driving by at the time and rescued a rooting of a tree-peony shrub that had been brought from China by his mother's house boy, Ah Sing. I have an off-spring from that peony in my own garden here in Evergreen. It's a lovely pink lavender color that blooms right about Easter time.
Dad was a farmer with an orchard on Los Gatos - Almaden Road in the Union district. He also did contract tractor work on various ranches in the south of San Jose area. Mother learned to drive by taking a lunch out to Dad wherever he was driving tractor at the time. Some of the locations are still place names in urbanized San Jose: the Union District has been incorporated into the City of San Jose or the Town of Los Gatos, and its name now only refers to the school district. Los Gatos Almaden Road is a major thoroughfare, and Blossom Hill and Snell Roads are now called Avenues.
Dad taught Mother how to drive after they arrived in San Jose. It gave him great glee tell about one early driving experiences where she drove over the Mission San Jose Pass. This was a fairly steep, winding road at that time. On the way down, coming into Mission San Jose, she did not have a low enough gear and the car started to run away on her. Her ride was a wild one; and according to Dad's telling of it, with her beautiful long hair streaming out behind in the wind.
I have heard many other tales of high adventure with their cars. There was one called the Clover Leaf Overland, and also the Wire Wheel Overland. Could one of these cars have been that famous one?
During the war, someone had recommended to Dad a young man, Rudy Hoerler, as being good and reliable to work the Union District orchard for him. After the war Dad hired Rudy and Rudy's brother, Elmer, to help work the Rideout Ranch. There was enough work that Mother's brothers, Vernon and Walter, came up to drive trucks too.
Dad said that the sky was the limit on what could be hauled on those early trucks. These photos attest to that notion. Also a weaker place in a readily accessable location (such as the drive shaft) was built in by the manufacturer. This place would always be the first to break. This concept was called a "fusable link". The only problem was that the truckers would reinforce the link in order to get bigger loads, thus defeating that neat idea. Those early trucking days were filled with heady optimism.
This was so slow going that the men could walk along side the truck and jump up on the running board from time to time to steer. On the way down they also kept it in low, but needed to use all the brakes they had to hold the load back. They even put old hot water tanks on the running boards with lines to the back wheels, so they could drip water over the brake drums to keep them cool. The brakes were only on the back wheels in those days.
At night the headlights on the truck were acetylene lamps known as Presto Lights. The men also carried kerosene lanterns. When they came to switch-backs that were too sharp to get around, the helper would walk down the road with the lantern and the driver would back the truck down toward the light until he reached the next turn where he could then drive on in forward gear. As they crossed the bridge just outside of town they started honking the horn to waken the team for the next shift.
The crew was Dad, Rudy and Elmer Hoerler, Dad's brother-in-law Ransom, and Mother's brothers Vernon and Walter. They worked three eight hour shifts every day but Sunday, which was the day they relined the brakes.
They lived in a house that had been a brothel. It had three living rooms--Living Room A, Living Room B, and Living Room C.--as well as bed rooms and a kitchen. The house was located just on the southern outskirts of Boulder Creek, overlooking the lumber yard and the San Lorenzo River. In 1984 the house was still standing.
Mother and Aunt Charlotte were the cooks and house keepers. Aunt Charlotte also had the care of her two year old, Ernie. Aunt Esther also was up there at least part of the time. If for some reason there was no loads for the day, they would enjoy hikes and picnics in Big Basin. An especially favorite spot was a canyon in the Butenau (their spelling) which was covered with five fingered ferns.
We kids called Santa Ana our paradise. We had the whole valley as our play yard; we could hike in the hills, play on hay piles, climb the pepper trees in our front yard, make believe we were driving the tractor --it was a time of complete freedom. We had a dog that could help us bring in the cow. We had chickens and numerous cats that lived in the barn.
We used to play a hide-and-seek game called "follow the arrow". One person was "It" and laid out a trail with arrows marking the spot where the trail turned. We used chalk to mark on the fences or a power pole, and scraps of wood if there was no stationary object to mark the trail. When "It" got near to where he was going to be hiding, he would make a double arrow like the one on the back door in the snap shot. Mother was really angry with us when she discovered we had defaced the house, the wood being so dry that the mark could not be erased.
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