1 University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections E. E. Rawlings Memoir R199. Rawlings, E. E. ( ) Interview and memoir 6 tapes, 360 mins., 84 pp. Emery Rawlings, native of central Illinois, discusses life, family, and his frequent moves between Illinois and California: jobs as machinist, railroad worker, and cabinet maker; WWII and work on the A-bomb; and life near Springfield, raising animals and growing fruit. Interview by Sara Moore, 1984 OPEN See collateral file: photocopies of photos Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL , University of Illinois Board of Trustees
2 E. E. Rawlings
3 Preface This manuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducted by Sara Moore for the Oral History Office in November Linda Jett transcribed the tapes and Ms. Moore edited the transcript. Mr. Rawlings, born in Petersburg, Illinois, is a retired cabinetmaker. He discusses his job experiences in California with the railroad company and working on the A-bomb during World War 11. He describes his family life and his various jobs. Sara Moore, raised in Petersburg, Illinois, spent twenty-five years in Chicago, Illinois, as a social worker, teacher, humane officer and paralegal. She spent some years abroad studying and teaching art and theatre. She returned to Petersburg due to family needs and is completing her MA in Public History at Sangamon State University. Readers of the oral history memoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sangamon State University is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the memoir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in &ole or in part by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois,
4 Table of Contents Family Background... 1 Leaving Home Harvesting working for Southern Pacific The Roundhouse Mr. ~awlings' Marriage to Elizabeth The Machine Shop The First Daughter The Depression Moving Back to Petersburg The Move to California PearlHarbor Moving Back to Illinois Mare Island Working With His Father TheA-bombJob The Cabinet Shop Working at New Salem State Park Georgia's Life Animal Stories Mother's Family LynnRawlings '
5 E. E. Rawlings, October 1984, Springfield, Illinois. Sara Moore, Interviewer. Q: Okay. We begin. We are recording now and I will be asking you a few questions in regard to your background and your feelings about your l$ee and times. The first thing I'd like to go over with you is exactly *ere you were born. A: Exactly. Q: Exactly. A: I was born on the Wilms place about three miles east of Petersburg, Illinois. There's no longer a landmark there, all the buildings are gone. The shed that formerly was there a few years ago, St's even gone. So there's no history about much where I was born. Q: That would be Menard County, wouldn't it? A: That's right. Q: All right. Now tell me, what do you remember about your parents? Let's take your mom first. As a child I'm speaking now. A: Well, she was a big easy-going type of person. I guess we'd say and she was put upon very much by the fact that we didn't have very much to do with and she worked hard and she did all the washing. I can remember back when I used to help her with the washing, with the old hand powered washing machine. she'd have me to help her. Maybe she'd say, "Just $0 it 50 licks and I'll let you go." That was before we had any electricity, of course. And I did that and she did all the housework, and all the cooking, all the baking of the bread that we used so much of, and the laundry and the repair work that she had to do on the clothing. And all. that. Dad worked hard, he was a farmer. He didn't get much out of what he did because he wasn't a happy person. He was kind of like myself. He wasn't very outgoing. Q: But you say your mother really was the core of the family? A: hat's right. Q: She was more outgoing than your father by far? A: Oh, much. Much more.
6 Q: Now, you had two brothers, is that correct? A: That's right. One of them died in the flue epidmeic. In It was and on that particular night that he passed away I remember... (crying) Q: Would you like for me to stop it just a minute? A: (indicates no) Q: That's okay. These things really do upset us sometimes, don't they. A: You bow, there's that old saw that they have about the dogs ahowling when death approaches. That particular night there was a dog that came in our front yard and howled, and I ran him out and he came back three times. (crying) Q: It wasn't a dog that you knew? A: (indicates no) Q: I have knowledge of the fact, and this may too be painful for you, but your brother, his medication, some way it was mixed up, is that clear? A: That's the same brother I'm talking about, yes. The doctor who wasn't the very best there was, he took a so-called culture as I understand. I remember it and it was supposed to go to Urbana and the postal authorities got it mixed up somehow or other. Whatever means they used to send their information by, they sent it to Havana and it came back finally after the death and that was... It would have been futile anyway, I guess, because of the fact of the critical situation. We had relative to his sickness. It was worse than the flu and it got into his lungs to such an extent that he just wouldn't have probably survived anyhow. Even tho gh the mistake was made. P Q: Was it diptheria?! A: Yes, I think so. Q: There is another piece of information that I have. Something about your mother, to change her dress. A: I don't recall that. Q: This was in my notes. To say that she had on a dress that he disliked. A: No, that's beyond my remembrance. Q: I see. All right. That would have been what--how old was your brother when he died? A: He'd been one year at school, I think he'd been past six.
7 Emery's father ~mery's mother Rawlings family Anna John Emery Clark Lynn Emery Rawlings
8 E. E. Rawlings 3 Q: And you had another brother. A: He was nine years younger than I and he suddely developed a lump on the back of his neck and it got out of hand before it got to be diagqosed as cancerous. And so he ended up in Chicago before he lost his life. They did research on him, he was, I can't remember how old he was when he went, but he was nine years younger than I. And I don't recall how long ago that was that he died. Q: Well, I have it here that it was A: That could be. Q: And that was of cancer, is that right? A: That's right. Q: Getting back to when you were a child, how do you remember your life? A: Well, I remember one time in particular, when I went to school which wasn't far away. At that time we lived in Sangamon County near Loami. We lived in a great big house and we were tenants for some people by the name of Shepard and anyway, I was very reluctant to go to school because I was scared. It was a country school, of course, and although it wasn't over a mile away I went under duress and as I can recall I came home during that day because it was too much for me. So I finally got organized enough that I went back and I guess I was in the first grade there as I recall, but anyhow I went back to that school. I remember one time in particular, I carried my lunch every day, and one time in particular some smart-aleck kid got hold of a big old wolly wrm type of caterpillar and put it in my sandwich and I bit into it, of course, before I knew it. That wasn't very pleasant. 1'11 never forget the trial, it was for me to try to get the bristles, bristly hair out of my mouth. But I remember another time when we had the end of school and they had a picnic out on the lawn in the early fall or spring rather. I don't remember how old I was, but they had food there and I remember my mother telling me to use my handkerchief. I misunderstood what she meant by use my handkerchief and I dumped some of my food in my handkerchief (1aughs)and used it as a plate. How asinine I was. hat's the reason I'm so green now I guess. One of the reasons. I didn't catch on quick. Q: Well, maybe it just wasn't clear. You seem to remember things that have a tendancy to put yourself down. A: Well, that's normal, I guess. For me. I never was very optimistic. My wife was the optimist in my life and I was the pessimist. She overcame a lot of my pessimism by her optimism. Q: You made a good pair then? A: Yes!
9 Q: Getting back to what your father did. You said he worked as a farmer? A: Yes, he was a farmer, and he worked hard at it. Q: Did he at one time have a grocery store? A: Well, now. In later years after we were off that particular farm and we had moved close to Loami with some people by the name of McGredy, I mean the owner was McGredy and he lived in Chathem, the owner did. Anyhow, we lived in this palce in an old house and he liked Dad's work as a tenant so well, he voluntarily built a new house and it was built in front of the old house and my brother that died with cancer was born there. Q: And where was this now? A: That was near Glenarm and I can't remember that exactly, I should say Loami I think. By the way Load got its name by the fact of an individual who had some property there burn down. He lost it all and his expression was "Low am 1" and that's how the town got its name. That's the truth. Q: Is that right? hat's a very interesting fact. All right, now did you have, did your parents have big families? Either your mother or your father? A: My mother. Yes, both of them did. But my father came from an environment that was kind of backward and his father drank considerably due to the fact that his mother was prone to ride him considerably everytime he got in his liquor and he went and got some more. But he had a wonderful reputation as being a good farmer and an honest person. He actually could go to the bank and borrow money. (crying) Q: Now that would be your grandfather Rawlings? A: (indicates yes) Q: All right, now, I'd like to ask you about the Rawlings. Were they in this part of the country? Did you get to see many of them? A: There were very few Rawlings in this part of the country. They originally, as I can recall, came from the eastern states somewhere, maybe in the Carolinas somewhere. There is supposed to have been three brothers and only one of them came this way as I get it. Q: That would be your grandfather Rawlings? A: That would be Grandfather Nate Rawlings that was so given to venting his frustration with liquor. Q: I see, and then your mother's relatives. Were they more jovial? A: Oh, yes, very, but quite primitive. And there was a big family OF them. Only two boys, but several girls.
10 Q: Explain primitive to me. A: They made do with a lot of things that a lot of people didn't seem to come readily by. Q: They didn't have a lot of material things? A: They didn't have material things, but they had enough to eat I guess. And my grandfather was quite famous, that was Grandfather Elmore, my mother's father. He was quite famous for giving people advice. They had a saying going in the neighborhood that people would come to him for advice and then go home and do to suite themselves. Which was, I guess, true. He was a kind of patrician type apparent fellow. Stuped very much, with a Van Dyke beard and white mustache. Tall. He died blind. Q: I guess you take after that part of the family with your tallness and your white hair. A: That could be very well. Q: Was your father a big person? A: No, he was very, very average. I wouldn't say he was big, no, he was actually a small person for the energy that he had. He had the reputation of being a very strong man for his size. Q: Did your father have a stroke some place along the way or heart attack? A: Yes, when we were living in this last place that belonged to the McGredy's in Chatham, he went out one morning to do his chores and he came back in the house later and he couldn't talk. So he had suffered a mild stroke. But he was given to being a little bit, should I say, uncertain about himself and he advised his landlord that he couldn't keep the place and keep it going the next year. In a few days, he got back his voice and he was normal. It was just a mild stroke he had had. But he went then to the landlord and the landlord had already rented the place to another... somebody else because it was a very popular piece of property and in a good location and well kept up. Q: How old was your father then, do you remember? A: I don't remember how old he might have been. Q: How old were you? A: I would say that I had started school, probably had been in the sixth grade maybe, no later than that. Q: So what happened to your father then? Where did he go from there? A: He went from there to Tice. Tice is on the black top between Athens and Petersburg now, and bought a little four acre place that had a g store on it and he opened the grocery store and being a poor busines
11 E. E. Rawlings 6 he practically gave away what he had there at that grocery store. me reason he went to Tice was because my mother's folks lived nearby and they thought being popular with the family, they might make a succesg out of the store. This old place was known as the Hartly place in Tice. The house is atill standing, but the building is long since gone. Q: Okay. Getting back to your upbringing, your relationship with your father and mother, do you have any rituals that you can remember? You how, Bible study... A: No. Not in particular. Dad was very close mouthed and he didn't have much to offer. He was a good parent, but he didn't have much in the way of expressing himself. He wasn't much in the way of what you would call a wann outgoing person. But my mother, on the contrary, was the reverse of that. Q: She made up for this lack in him. A: Yes, seems Like she did. Q: All right, tell me a little bit about the surviving brother, as a child. What was your relationship with him, do you remember? A: Well, of course, him being nine years younger, he was just in school when I left Petersburg, and I was in the company of a childhood friend and we decided we would go out to Iowa to the wheat harvest to a certain member who was expecting us. Q: I want to stop you there and go back. How old were you when you left Petersburg? A: Eighteen. Q: Had you finished high school yet? A: No, I had only gone three years and I was discouraged with it. I wasn't a student. Q: 1 see. A: I was more given to make some money for myself and get out with them. With people. Q: You wanted to get out of Petersburg? Too small? A: Oh, not that particularly, but that I just seemed like I wasn't getting anywhere, I wanted to be out where the action was. Q: I see. Now, go on with the story about going to Iowa. That sounds interesting. A: Well, we got out there and it turned out that the harvest didn't amount to anything and in the meantime I joined my cousin who lived Bedford, Iowa whose name was Jerry Gunson and he was one of my
12 E. E. Rawlings 7 sisters--he was a son. So we went to this area and I finally ended vp on a dairy farm in Mitchell, South Dakota. And I could not stay because they had artesian water and it affected my stomach so that I could not keep it down. The environment was all right, but I couldn't cut it with that. He was disgusted with me because I didn't stay and he was able to survive it. Q: That was your friend? A: That was Jerry Gunson, my cousin. He went back to Iowa separately from me. I went on from there awhile and finally ended up coming back to Petersburg. Home. Q: How old were you then? A: I can't recollect that part of it. Q: How many years were you gone? A: I wasn't away a matter of years, it was just months. Q: All right, did you leave home another time--somethin railroads?.g about the A: Oh yes. But this time--i got out of school--1 got a new suit of overalls, jacket and overalls, and put them on over my good suit. And a boyhood friend of mine by the name of Watkins and I left Petersburg to go to the harvest in the state of Washington. Q: Do you want to stop there a minute? (tape stopped) Q: Okay, you were talking about going to the harvest in the state of Washington? A: Yes, but we hadn't actually anticipated going to Washington itself in the harvest, but it happened in that time that we were, we had stopped in the state of Iowa and worked on aome kind of a construction project and we got a few dollars ahead and we decided we'd go west from there so we used what we used to call the side-door Pullman, which is a box car. Q: Now these were two different trips? A: Yes. And anyway, we went on like that and we went on and on and on and we went by the way of Minneapolis and St. Paul and I can remember, it was summertime, how cold I got in Minneapolis because of the wind off of the lake. Q: Can we go--i'm very interested about these box cars. Tell us just exactly what happened as you went out of Petersburg. Were you on foot? Did you get on the railroad cars? Just kind of give me a narrative about that. A: Well, actually no, we didn't go out of Petersburg, in the box cars, That came much later. I can't recollect exactly how we did get out of
13 E. E. Rawlings 8 Petersburg. As I can get it, as near as I can, 1 would say we had sqme fare to go to a certain place and after we got there, what I mean by,fare is the money to buy our tickets to go to a certain area, probably in Iowa. And so after whatever we were doing out there got done we said, I said or he did, "Let's go on out west and see how things look," and so we did. At that time, we were sleeping out and working on this project where we finally made a little money and so we left there and went on by the way of the so-called side-door Pullman, that and riding the blinds on passenger trains. The blinds no longer exist in the present type of passenger train. It was a ledge about eight inches wide where you could sit or stand between the coaches in the doorway, so to speak, of the coach. And we made out like that till we got up in Montana and on through there and we got into Seattle and we were riding on the blinds standing up on this ledge in front of this passenger train car and went through the big tunnel out of Ellensburg, Washington. And the steam from the locomtive came down on us as we stood there and made us very, very warm and then when we got out of the tunnel, which was two miles long as I remember it, through the Cascade Mountains it is, and probably still exists, but anyway we like to froze. Finally we ended up in Seattle and we stayed there a day or two. Went on down the west coast on the Southern Pacific. The Southern Pacific Railroad runs from Seattle to New Orleans. And they also at that time, this was later, that I worked on their paddle wheel steamboats, the Delta King and the Delta Queen in Sacramento. - Q: You worked on those yourself? A: Yes. Q: What did you do? A: I worked on them as a machinist I remember. Repair work. They had a franchise, whereby, they went down the American River. One went down to San Francisco this evening at six o'clock with passengers aboard and dinner and the whole thing and the other one came up from San Francisco and they passed in the night, and when we got up the next morning, we were tied up to one of the slips in San Francisco. Q: Let's go back. I'd like to ask you where you learned the machinist's trade. Now how did that come about? A: Well, when I finally ended up and we got out of Othello, Washington where the--i don't remember now the date, but it was on the... in July 1940 maybe. (narrator is confused, date is too early) 1'm not sure. I'm a little vague on that. But anyway, the railroad strike came into affect and it isolated us in a little one horse town in the wheat country of Washington. And the little old town had a butcher shop and a grocery store where everybody got their... ranch hands came and filled their wants from blankets to groceries. And so at this butcher shop, we made acquaintance with the butcher and we were living in the little old stockyard where they loaded cattle, this friend of mine and I, and it was known by the butcher that we were looking for work and we would do odd jobs for him and he in turn would give us something that was edible and we would cook it at the place where we lived and we slept at nighttime in a boxcar at that same place.
14 One day a man came down and wanted to know if we had any idea of goink to work in the wheat harvest. He had been sent down by that butcher whoiwas a friend of ours. So we said yes, we wanted to go to work, nothing s~id about price or anything about it, but this was in July 1922 as I remember. But we went on our way but this man that came down and wanted us to go to work for him, his name incidentally was Fred Schuex, S-C-H-U-E-R, and he lived way out in the country. Be came with a spring wagon-type conveyance, two horses and he loaded up that wagon of all kinds of vegetables and fruits and tobacco for himself and I just thought we were getting into quite a place where we were going to be amply taken care of. So anyway, we went home with him and stayed there and worked in the wheat harvest until he got through with his. And all at once, one day a man appeared in a big old Buick and he wanted to know where we were going when we got through there, and we didn't know of course, and it turned out that he wanted us to go to his ranch and help with the wheat harvest there. End of Side One, Tape One Q: You were saying that this well-to-do man in a Buick, evidently wellto-do man in a Buick came. A: Yes, and as I remember, how quaint it seemed to me there were no roads and when he wanted to get where he was going back to his ranch, his name was Wycoff, by the way, I can recall that. He would come up to this wire fence and take out a pair of pliers and cut the fence, drove through and turn back and repair the fence behind himself. he took this friend of mine and I to his place and he had a kind of delapidated home where he lived but there was a bunk house that the help lived in and his wife did the cooking. And when we had meals, we had to be very, very quick about filling our plates and getting our wants taken care of. But anyway, we worked there and in the wheat harvest there, I don't remember how long, and it turned out that one day there was some dissatisfaction amongst the men and we all decided that we weren't going to stay there. They had an unwritten law in that part of the country, whereby, if you quit a job, you furnished your own way of getting to a railroad or wherever you attempted to go. So we had to walk out of there, and we walked from there to Pasco, Washington. Now I was back in Pasco, Washington after the A-bomb job got well underway, course under other circumstances because I was hired for the A-bomb job as a machinist in Petersburg. Q: So Pasco, Washington was where you were as a young man and you ended up there after the Second World War again. Is that right? A: Just temporarily, I just passed through there. Q: As a kid? A: I went actually to the scene of where the employment was being furnished which was by the name of Hanford, Washington. And that was where the A-bomb was being constructed and so there, they had everything to do with grocery stores, barber shops, fire department, the whole thing was a?
15 sponsored by... a big concern that had an option to furnish all this workmen so on and so on as I understand it for a dollar and plus expanses, as they did through the wars. It was called, now that name escapes me, but it's a very well known name. Dupont, I believe it was. Q: But that was during the Second World War, right? A: Yes. Q: All right, getting back to. we still don't have you as a machinist yet. 1rn' interested to know... A: Well, I finally ended up after I left there, that wheat harvest in Washington, I ended up by leaving Pasco on the train. And my buddy and I got separated out at Sacramento, California on the Southern Pacific Railroad and we were bumming then. And I had what we called a bindlestiff. In that day and age, they had what they called bindlestiff. And they had all their possessions in a knapsack that they fastened on their back and that was their bindlestiff and I had all of the stuff of his and mine too because he wasn't very aggressive and I was the leader. And it turned out that we went to catch a train, a freight train, and he got on one side of the track and I was on the other and he went to catch his--he caught his train, the side of the boxcar as it went by, and I didn't catch one on account of I was carrying that bindlestiff. And I saw it was going to be a hazard and I might get hurt so I didn't get on. So I ended up the next day in Sacramento, California, down on Second Street where all of the labor boards were that advertised for help and where you could buy a job for whatever the outfit was looking for help charged. And it ao happened that I wanted to get this job as a watchman in Calfax, California. It's in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the Southern Pacific Railroad. So I have six dollars and a fellow that I knew had two and the job was four dollars and so I gave him two. Q: Now tell me why does that evoke tears or is it too painful to tell me? Was it a good time or a bad time? A: No. I got this job and I went up there and they had a cook's shack inside of the roundhouse at Calfax that fed us steaks and everything that there was going because they wanted to get this railroad to going again. It was a national strike. Anyhow I was well fed. I remember the first night, I'd been kind of run down and first night I went to work. I went to sleep on the job and I was a watchman. I was supposed to be a watchman to keep anybody from trespassing on the property and causing damage to any of the locomotives in the roundhouse or anything like that which would be very expensive to the company. I was under the employ of the Southern Pacific then. So I stayed there until the strike was settlad and then I went on down to Sacramento again and I looked for my buddy, but I couldn't find him. And folks said he went on to San Francisco and I found this out in later years. He went on to San Francisco and wired home for money and he got on his feet a little bit and joined the marines and took foreign service. And when he took foreign service, he could get out in three years. So happens that he went ahead in his career as a marine and he got out of the service in Hawaii and in the meantime he found a girl over in Hawaii and married her and had children by her. And
16 E. E. Rawlings 11 I later learned that before he was able to get himself together, he contracted some disease and died. He was a Petersburg boy and his ntme was Laning Watkins. Q: Well, he went very far coming from small beginnings. I'm fascinated by how far you've come. I think we're a bit sketchy and I'm probably missing things that you would like to tell. You must stop me if I'm going too rapidly, or if I'm missing things that you want to talk about. A: Well, the thing about it is, I'm given to that kind of a thing. [forgetting] You see, I stayed there on that job as a watchman and the supervisor or the watchman came along and found me asleep. He said, "You better go, and go to so and so, and go to bed. And come back in the morning." So he was very sympathetic Q: Well, that was very nice. I wonder if that would happen today. They'd probably just fire you today. Is this interviewing very distressing to you? A: No. Q: Do you find it... A: No, it's all right. But anyway, I stayed on there until things were settled. And I went to San Francisco in the company of some of the other individuals who had been there, as watchmen, and we all had a lot of fun down there. And suddenly I realized I was about broke. I decided to go back to Colfax, because I had made the acquaintance of the boss of the roundhouse. The roundhouse foreman is actually his name. He had been an ex prizefighter and he was quite an individual. Q: Tell me about roundhouse. What does that mean? A: Roundhouse don't always designate the fact that is sometimes square. But a roundhouse, as a rule, has a turntable that locomotives are driven unto and it is circular and as it turns the locomotive and headed to a certain stall it goes into the stall and that whole building is round. And it has slots in it with railroad tracks on it, in which, they put the locomotive. And that's how come the name roundhouse. Q: Is it a storage situation? A: No. It is a temporary storage situation, yes. And anyhow after I got there, I was only getting $1.47 an hour then. Remember, that was in the twenties. I used to fill in as the roundhouse foreman, when the foreman was off, get his wage. And also got to the place where I knew my way around pretty well around locomotives and I actually ran some of the big mallet compound. Mallet is a name given to these big locomotives which have eight driver wheels on each side. And they have the smokestack in the back of them due to the fact that they go through tunnels. And I had actually been on the train, these type of locomotives on them, when they'd get stalled in a tunnel and you'd have to get down on the ground out of the cab of the locomotive to be able to breath because of the gas. You see, these locomotives burned oil. The gaa in the tunnel would npt condense fast enough for you to get pure air. And so as a consequence,
17 E. E. Rawlings 12 that part of the train would have to be cooled out by another locomoqive. And then you could go on. But that didn't happen but only rarely. Qnce in a while, I made an emergency trip as a fireman. But one day, I had decided that I'd been there long enough and wasn't getting anywhere. So I got in connection with the division supervisor at Roseville, California, whose name was Wilson Levine, he worked for the Southern Pacific. He was the executive type. He knew who I was. I had when, I was in Colfax, had charge of calling the crews for certain locomotives, certain trains. You see in Colfax it was called a helper's station. That was the beginning of the grade over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They'd had extra trains come up there and they'd have to have another locomotive put on. So as a consequence, the trainman would be slipping in somehow that catered to that sort of thing. And I would be the callboy. I'd go and call that crew and tell them they were due out at so and so, and so and so. They'd would have to accept the call verbally before I would leave because I'd have to wake them up a lot of times. So anyway, I got enough of that kind of thing. It didn't seem that I was getting anywhere. And this Wilson Levine got me on in Sacramento, California, which was the terminal point. And where they really built locomotives. They casted the frames. And they had a brass foundry and a steel foundry and a cast iron foundry. And they did all the work to make a locomotive. So I worked there as a helper apprentice for three or four years, three years rather. Then the boss came to me one day, and I had charge of putting in the wheels under the locomotive, huge crane would come along and pick up the body of the locomotive, the boiler and all that, lift it up and we'd roll the wheels underneath it. Let the locomotive properly down on the wheels with all the driveshaft and all that that was connected to each wheel together. I had charge of putting the springs on. The springs are made just like a buggy spring, only there are, of course, four times as wide. They are about four inches wide. And that was my job to install the springs. The boss came to me one day, and he said, t'would you take a lower rate and go to work as a machinist?'' I said, "No, I want to finish my apprenticeship and be a fullfledge machinist." Had I taken the job it would have been $.72 an hour. A real machinist made $.75 and he had a paper to show that he served four years apprenticeship which I strove to get. Anyway, when I was about out of my time, in the meantime, I had learned to run some of the bigger machines like lathes and milling machines, so on and so on to get my education as a machinist. Q: Can you give me a year now at this time? A: Well, this would be, probably in 1924 or 1925, when I first went there. And anyway when I come here my termination of my time, I got ambitious and I went to Vallejo, Calfornia, which is on the San Frau cisco Bay and at Vallejo, Calfornia, they have a navy yard called Mare Island. Q: And this was in 1923 or 1924 or A: Yes, I would say so. Anyhow by that time, I was... she was working for the state and I got that job as a machinist down at Vallejo on Mare Island, Mare itself you know means sea. An island was surrounded by water. San Francisco Bay area... and at that time for the state in the licensing bureau in Sacramento. Of course, I worked for the gov They had what they called California Blue Law that kept drunken sail that was the alibi they had for the silly law, from marrying some 01
18 on some of their leave time. So it turns out that both individuals being of the same mind had to appear before the county authorities and declplre their intensions. Three days it was advertised in the paper and then if there was no protests, you were permitted to go ahead and be married. So I had this job and I got acquainted pretty quickly with a man who owned a court of apartments, series of apartments that were in a court. This old man's name was Frank Fowles and he got to be quite a good friend. So 1 rented the apartment and had it stocked with food and it had one of these old time GE refrigerator with a monitor on the top, the round contrivance that the monitor that made the thing perculate.... around here by that time I was pretty popular with him. He volunteered to drive us to Reno where we could get one of those instant marriages that they have so readily.... preacher in Reno in Q: You say you were married in My notes say A: That's right. Yes. Q: Right. You were in Reno you say, but can you remember the day and the time and tell us a little about that day. A: Well, it was at the end of the month and the wedding was to fall on my birthday which is the 31st of August. Which it did. Q: Did you plan it that way? A: Yes. Q: Did you go to Reno then with her father, with Elizabeth's father? A: Yes. We stayed in the Golden Hotel that night with her sister and Oma Harney, a friend. Q: I see. Was this then the honeymoon, just the one night? A: hat's right. You see I had a job with the government in the San Francisco Bay area and she had a job with the state in Sacramento. And we got married on money that I had borrowed from a Jew loan shark in Sacramento. And at that time, I was working two jobs in order to get along. You see, I didn't get much money from my work. A little over a dollar an hour. About $1.47, I believe it was. In any event, we had no money to get married on. Q: I see. But she was working for the state of California at that time, is that right? A: Right. In Sacramento. And you see I was a hundred miles away from her. And according to California law, we had to meet at a given place and we had to both declare our intensions and it had to be advertised, publicized that is in the paper for three days. If there was no protest, we went ahead with it. Q: Yes. And you didn't want to do that since you were so far away.
19 A: No. We couldn't afford to do it. 1! Q: How did you meet her being a hundred miles from her? i A: Well, primarily I lived in Sacramento, when I worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad in their big shops where they built locomotives and 80 forth. At that time, she worked in a malted milk shop and I used to gravitate toward there for an egg sandwich and malted milk and we just got acquainted that way. Q: How long did you know her before you got married? A: I don't recall that. Q: Okay. So after you married, you went back to this Mr. Fowles' apartment court. A: Yes. I had previously engaged the apartment and it was furnished. I even had food in the house. We were a11 set. Q: I see, I'm not clear on this. Is this Sacramento that you were or was that Vallejo? A: That was Vallejo in the Bay area opposite my work. Q: And she quit her job then in Sacramento, is that right? A: Oh, she stayed for awhile till I got laid off. Which congressmen are proned to do, you bow, if they run a little short on money, they don't allocate money to build ships. So that was the situation I found myself in at that time. So I went back to Sacramento and we lived with her folks for a time. And I don't recall what the circumstances was to cause her to get laid off. She was in the license bureau of entity that she worked for. The government of the state. Q: So after you got laid off and she got laid off you were living in Sacramento, what was the next move? A: Well, then my father-in-law found a job for me in a little country town called Davis, that's where the University of Agriculture and all that is. Quite famous. Q: What kind of work was that that you were doing? A: Machine shop, contract shop where the contract work for whoever brought it in. We at that particular time had a contract to build some almond hullers in that area there around Davis, California and so forth they grew almonds and other things that required mechanical help to process it. Q: How long did that job last? A: It didn't last long because of one individual there who made a poor job of welding and it finally simmered down to where they decided it was
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