Thursday, November 18, 2010

In May 0f 1980, my son Richard divorced his wife Penny, leaving three orphaned girls, Beth, Lynn and Terri. He was driving an 18 wheeler coast to coast and could not keep them and the man Penny was living with would not take in the two older girls. Instead of putting them in an orphan home and taking a chance of splitting them up, he brought them to us. They arrived on my birthday, 1981. Terri started her first year of school here. By her starting school and being away from her mother, the first time she became so homesick we all agreed it best for her to return to her mother. After a period of time, Penny's parents Dee and Betty, offered to take Lynn who kept her until she graduated. Beth lived with us through high school and her year at Indiana University. After her first year at I.U. she has been pretty much on her own with a lot of help from us. During the summers since she came, she has worked with me on construction and remodeling. She liked this work, especially the carpentry and electrical part and made as good a hand as any man I ever worked with. She was the only girl we raised and I consider her a daughter rather than a granddaughter. We finally lost her in marriage to Kurt Parsley in 1990. She got her B.S. and is now working at Bloomington Hospital.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sometime in the early winter of 1968, we were working on a job for Ann, when a nail ricocheted off a wall and put out my right eye. This was the beginning of eye problems that have plagued me ever since. Shortly after this accident I developed glaucoma in my left eye. It finally became uncontrollable with medication. In May 1992, I went to a specialist in Indy who put in a pop off valve. This keeps my pressure down but I developed a cataract soon after and was legally blind until July 1993 when I had the cataract removed and a new lens put in. I can now see to read, write, and drive in the daytime. It is like being let out of jail. Every time we needed anything we had to ask family or neighbors to take us.

Everyone knew our position and would say, "If you need anything, just let us know!"

I don't remember anyone ever saying, "I'm going to a certain place...would you like to go along?"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alan Short was managing Ermal's Lumber and building business at the time. He asked me if I would like to work for them. I was glad to get a job with a paycheck every week. At the same time, I turned the houses over to Bill Bailey who was in the real estate business and was selling Ermal's houses. During the next thirty days, Bill had sold both my houses. I started out working for Ermal on a crew that was finishing the Hillcrest Christian Church parsonage. When this job was finished I was given a crew of my own. We, two other crews and Mike, built several in the New Edgewood Addition, several in the Oak Manor and the Bill Quigg home east of the golf course. This Quigg house is a story in itself, putting down ranch plank floors, then staining them so black the walnut plugs in the oak floor couldn't be seen and finishing a large family room with old barn wood without losing any of the moss or vines that clung to it.

While we were working at Oak Manor, Ermal died. This created quite a mess. His daughter, Ann, by his first marriage and his wife Dorothy, who was a likeable person but Ann was a horses' behind, were at each other's throats over what he left. I suspect the lawyers got most of it. Dorothy did have a lot in her own name that Ann couldn't touch, so it came out pretty good. We were working our last day on a house in Oak Manor, a Friday when in the middle of the afternoon Kermit Williams came by and asked if we would work for him, that the crew he had was unsatisfactory and he had let them go. This must have been the spring of 1969. Ermal had died in '68 and Ann was overseeing his building business.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In 1961-62, I was doing the heating, plumbing and electrical work on the new parsonage at the Southland Church of Christ. I just had a few days left on this job when I was at Leonord Pavey's lumber yard buying materials when Leonard asked if I would like to work for him when I had the parsonage job done. I told him I would. I worked for him for a year or two, until he decided to retire from the lumber and building business. He talked me into going into the building business on my own. He knew a party in Mitchell, IN who would let me build on their lots and pay them for the lot after I sold the house. And Ermal Fultz agreed to furnish building materials the same way.

I had the first house about three fourths done when a couple looked at it and decided to take it. They were getting some kind of VA and FHA loan. The house had to pass both VA and FHA inspections. Their inspectors nearly ran me crazy. One would come in and say this had to be done, then a different one would come in and say something different had to be done. The last one that came in I told him for him and all the others to get their heads together and let me know what they wanted that I was tired of fooling with them and was ready to sell to someone else. I never heard anymore of them. I think they were just keeping each other in a job. After this, if anyone mentioned getting a government loan, I would tell them I was not interested. Selling this house before it was finished gave me high spirits and I poured the foundations for two more. I finished one and had the second almost done and had not had a good solid bite on either one. Although I had paid off all my bills when I sold the first house and the landowners were satisfied, Ermal began wanting to be paid. He never said anything to me but would make remarks to my son Richard, who was working for him at the time. I went to the bank and got a 6 month loan and paid off all my bills. With two unsold houses and a bank loan, I was afraid to start another one. I did not know at the time I could have renewed the loan by adding the interest to the loan and then add the interest to the price of the houses. If I had known that at the time, I could have filled the whole addition with homes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Business kept falling off and in 1960, Frank sold the Buick Agency to Bruce Land who had a Pontiac Agency at 5Th and Lincoln, and Frank took over the Chevrolet Agency on 5Th Street. I went to work for Bruce because Buicks were my trade. I jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Bruce had Pat, a huckster wagon salesman (one who sells groceries throughout the country), as service manager. He spent most of his time writing incomplete work orders and hiding. I was still working on commission and again low man on the totem pole. Business had fallen off to the point I was only working three hours a day. After sitting on the bench most all day at the garage, I would go home, eat a quick supper, and then go to work installing appliances for Sears or Montgomery Ward. I soon decided it was foolish to sit on the bench all day then work until midnight. I quit the garage and started working for myself still doing Sears and Wards work along with some remodeling, painting, etc. I picked up work on my own and referrals from people I had worked for.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I went back to Clark & Rile and stayed until 1952, when I went into business buying wrecked autos, rebuilding them and selling them at auction. I was working alone one night when fire broke out on the paint bench. By the time the Fire Department got there, almost everything was gone. What the fire didn't destroy the firemen did walking on top of hot cars. I then went to work for Noel McIntosh who was then a good friend. Noel had a Shell gas station and Pontiac dealership. He said his health would not allow him to work the garage and he could not find anyone in Orleans that was qualified and dependable. If I didn't help him out he would have to give up the repair business. He would pay me $50.00 a week plus 50% of all I took in above a $100.00 a week. I worked two weeks and was paid no bonus. I asked him about it and he said he would pay it monthly at the end of the month. He said he had been too busy to figure it up. I would get it next month. The end of that month, his wife who was his book keeper was sick and hadn't gotten to figuring it up. After the third month, I asked him if he had any intention of paying my bonus. He said he thought he would average it up over a year and pay me then.

I said, "No you don't. You either pay me as we agreed or I'm gone."

He asked what I thought he owed me and I told him I had kept record of all I did and showed him what my bonus was.

He wrote me a check for a little over a hundred dollars.

He handed it to me and said, "I think this evens it up."

I looked at it and it was just a token of what he owed. I handed it back and said, "Mac, you need this worse than I do."

After this lesson in human honesty, I went back home to Clark & Rile, where I stayed until they sold out to Paul Chase. At the time they sold out in 1960, I had advanced from wash boy in 1939 to service manager. We moved from I St. to J St., where Paul had a Plymouth Agency. The two were combined and turned over to his boy, Frank, who didn't know @#*! from apple butter. Don Jackson was his service manager and with no need for two service managers, I was hired on as a mechanic. We were working straight commission, which I like, if given the work. Don gave his old men jobs first and I got what was left. I still made more than anyone in the shop because I had air operated tools and could put out a job in half the time, and I generally got Buicks, which I knew inside and out, to work on. My speed caused hard feelings between me, Don and Frank on one occasion. A tourist came in just before lunch with a Buick that was pulling from one side to the other. Don asked me if I knew what was causing it. I said I knew exactly what it was. He then said the man was in a hurry and asked if I would work on it through the lunch hour. I told Don what parts were needed and started tearing it down. Everything went as it should have and in little over an hour, I had him ready to go, which should have made him happy. But he complained about the labor cost on his bill. That I had only been on it an hour. Our shop and most others in town worked on a "flat rate". We had a book that told the time each job should take. If we beat the book we made a little more. If we didn't do it in the time the book said, we lost. Don came to me and said he was complaining about the labor cost.

I said, "You have a book to go by. The charge would have been the same if it had taken me all day."

Don said, "We have to keep our customers happy. I'm going to cut the labor in half."

I told him if he wanted to give something away to give him some parts, or a discount on them. Or if he had to give away labor to give away Frank's half. I was working for 50% of the labor I took in. Frank didn't go for that so I ended up working through my lunch hour for nothing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I learned I had a replacement and a ride on a destroyer escort that was heading for the states. This ship had a "V" bottom and since I was used to a flat bottom ship, I took a day or two to get used to it. We made one stop, at Pearl, on the way home. We anchored at San Diego, where I got a troop train to Chicago where I was discharged. From Chicago I got a bus home by way of Indianapolis. The bus passed two blocks from the house and I was in such a hurry to get home, I had the driver let me off there instead of going on to the Depot. I would have seen Alberta and Bob sooner if I had gone to the depot as this is where they were waiting. After this union we have not been separated for forty-eight years, except for a week she and my sister Dorothy went to Florida to visit my brother Bill, a week I spent with our son Tim in St. Louis to work on his school building, and a night a few times I went to auto mechanic school in Cincinnati.

I loafed a week then went back to work at Clark & Rile Buick where I worked before I went to Crane. I worked here about two months and learned I had made a big mistake leaving the Navy. I was making $250.00 per month in the Navy and was now working for $40.00 per week. I tried to get back in the Navy but all they would offer me was second class and that didn't pay anymore than what I was making now. I stayed with Clark & Rile until they retired in 1958, except two short periods of time. One in 1949 when I bought a gas station with joining garage with our Navy savings. I did too much business on credit and had to give it up. I did learn a good lesson here. The poorer a man is, the more likely he is to pay his bills. The ones who don't pay are preachers, professionals, and businessmen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

...While here, we loaded up for a trip to Korea. We had the tank deck about half full of pontoons. These were steel boxes about 15 ft. square and the same high. We also had them attached to the sides for most of the length of the ship. It would have been impossible to turn us over. We were wider than we were high and unless we were blown to bits, we would not sink. We were trying to finish up our load with road and dock building equipment but the waves were coming in so high we had to give it up and head out to sea for Korea. Sometime before midnight we found what had sent us out to sea early. We ran into a typhoon that tossed us around as if we were a bottle cork. I really think those pontoons saved us. We kept our bow into the storm and rode it out anchoring at Inchon, Korea. We were one of the first Americans in there and the natives came out to where we were anchored. They would give almost anything they had for a cigarette or a wormy chocolate bar. I went ashore there and traded cigarettes for a tea service and vase. After we unloaded, we sailed back to Okinawa. From where we anchored in Buckner Bay, I counted fourteen ships on their sides, grounded in shallow water, and some high and dry on the beach.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Toward the end of the war, they were sending men home on the point system. So many points for so much service. I had more than enough points to go home and had my things packed and ready to go. But I had to have a replacement before I could leave. We were anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, I think it was September 13, 1945. I was standing watch in the boiler room for a boy who wanted to go to a movie on the tank deck. I never did tell you my ship was an LST (landing ship tank). It had a huge area below the top deck, about 30 feet wide and about 3/4 the length of the ship. Here we carried bulldozers, road graders, trucks, and anything they could get on. It had huge water tight doors that swung open, allowing a steel ramp that was hinged at one end to be let down for entering and exiting the tank deck. It was sometime around midnight, I heard shooting and men running. I thought we must be being attacked by a bunch of Jap planes. This was not supposed to happen as this area had been secured for sometime. We had a nuisance radar that came over at 3 AM every night, but we never paid any attention to him and he wasn't due yet. When one is standing watch they are not to leave their post for anything unless relieved by another responsible person. In case of emergency or General Quarters, the man I relieved was to go to his post and I was to go to the main engine room.

My relief didn't show up and I went to the top of the ladder connecting the boiler room to the main deck. Just as I reached the top an officer yelled at me, "Get those men inside!"

What had happened was the radio men on every ship in the harbor had heard over their radios that the Japs had asked for peace and could not keep it to themselves. As soon as the word got out the gunners headed for their guns and started shooting almost straight up. Of course, the whole crew headed for top side and were in danger of being hit by a spent shell. It was a wild and pretty sight. The sky was filled with tracers of different colors. I've never seen a 4Th of July celebration that equaled it. This stopped the bomber runs and I missed the 29's coming in low on their flight pattern to land a short distance inland...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I never saw a Marine that had any good to say for McArthur. He was known in this area as "Dug out Doug" because he slipped out at night by submarine and left them to face the Japs alone. One marine told me about when Doug came back they spent half a day searching the beach to find a spot he could wade ashore for the news people to take his picture and not get his knees wet. I think these boys were of the second marine division. They were a tough bunch. Anytime they were not eating or sleeping, they were cleaning guns and sharpening knives. you never saw a Marine without his weapon, but I can understand this because his weapon was all that stood between him and death, or worse if a Jap took him. One boy carried a bottle of gold fillings he said he stomped from dead Japs' mouths.

When Okinawa was invaded, the Marines and Army landed near the middle of the Island. The marines were to go one way, I think North, and the Army was to go the other. The marines took their end and came back to find the Army bogged down almost where they started. According to this boy, the Marine General told the Army to get out of their way and go home, that the Marines would get the job done. Which they did.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Well, I guess we are ready to set sail again. We left the canal and made a beeline for Pearl Harbor. Actually, we zig zagged. We were traveling by ourselves and I don't remember how many days it took us, but we averaged a little over eleven knots per hour and the top speed of our ship was supposed to be ten. I don't remember how long we stayed at Pearl Harbor. We topped off our fuel tanks and took on more ammunition. The gunners checked their guns every day and had spent several rounds. Someplace, I don't remember if it was in the states, at Pearl Harbor, or sometime latter that a small ship was loaded on our top deck. I don't remember when or where we picked it up or unloaded it....I must have been on liberty both times. It was unloaded by pumping ballast water from one side of the ship to the other causing it to tilt to one side. Their ship was cut loose and slid over the side into the water. At Pearl, we joined a convoy to Saipan. One could look in any direction and see a ship of some kind. After we got to Saipan, we began a shuttle service moving supplies, equipment, and Marines from Island to Island. I don't remember the sequence of our runs, but we made port at Pearl, Guam, Saipan, Eniwetok (the island that was blown out of the water after the war testing the A bomb), Okinawa and Inchon, Korea. We made several trips between Saipan and Okinawa taking supplies and equipment up and Marines back.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

We were returning from a training cruise which consisted of taking 2 green crews out in the Chesapeake for 2 weeks and letting them operate the ship under our supervision when a thermostat that controlled the flow of cooling water to our port engine stuck shut. This caused the engine to overheat. When you are coming in for an anchorage or mooring, one screw is reversed to help maneuver the ship. Men in the engine room 3 decks down have no way of knowing the position of the ship. Red lights came on and horns started blowing. A quick check showed the thermostat stuck. We tried to bypass it with manually controlled valves, which also turned out to be stuck. The engine was getting hotter all the time. We called the bridge for permission to shut it down 2 times in quick succession and got no reply either time. I finally got a hold of the telegraph and moved it from one extreme to the other. Anytime it was moved it rang a bell on the telegraph in the wheel house. This was all entered in the engine room log. We received no reply from the bridge so I shut the engine down. Shortly after this we received the command to stop and secure all engines. Our watch was over so everyone went top side except myself and one man whom I kept down to help remove the thermostat. This took about a half hour. Since this was not an item carried in our spare parts, I went top side to get permission to go ashore for a replacement. I no more than got topside when men of the crew asked me what the old man wanted that he had been calling for me ever since we had tied up. I had no idea what he wanted but when I opened his cabin door, I knew something was for sure wrong. Every inch of his neck exposed above his shirt collar and his face was as red as it could be.

He did not even return my salute, he just said, "Why did you shut that engine down on me? I had the pilot on board and we almost hit the dock!"

I explained how we had a hot engine, had asked permission to shut it down to keep it from burning it up and that all this is in the engine room log book.

He finally said, "Well, you did the right thing but you sure embarrassed me in front of that pilot. If I had known we only had one engine, we could have maneuvered differently."

When he asked why I had shut down the engine, I knew why his face was red and thought, "Here go my stripes."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Panama Canal is something to see. I don't think anyone I know could explain it without photos. How the ships, some of them so large they can barely squeeze in, are raised and lowered and towed. The cuts that have been made to accommodate ships are unbelievable.

I need to back up here and tell you a couple of things I missed. One of which I thought for a few minutes had cost me my chief's stripes. On completion of my training in Detroit, I was promoted to MOMM 1st class, and soon after we got our ship, I was promoted to Chief. I was second in command of the Engineering Department. I was actually in charge because our engineering officer was a 22 year old kid who got his Ensigns rate because he had quit college to enter the Navy. I don't think he could screw in a light bulb unless 2 deck hands turned the ladder he was standing on. He was scared to death of the old man and would not go to him for anything. When I would ask him to go to him for anything he would say, "You go ahead." In the Navy you are supposed to follow the chain of command but I soon began to leave this link out. The Captain, for some reason, took a liking to me while we were waiting on our ship and I could talk to him and get anything within reason. This may have saved my hide later on.

Friday, August 6, 2010

We left Norfolk for the Pacific with another ship like ours trailing a few hundred yards behind. The trailing ship kept falling farther and farther behind and was soon out of sight. The reason for this was the "old man" captain was running emergency flank. This was 800 RPM on our engines. The governors would shut the engines down at 840 RPM. I don't know what his hurry was, if he was trying to burn up our engines, he had a girlfriend in Panama, or just wanted to lose the ship supposedly sailing with us. After running emergency flank all this time, we received the command to run at 1/3 speed. We received this command at 2 AM. We ran twenty minutes and got the command to stop the engines, then to reverse, then stop. Those of us in the engine room had no idea of what was going on. We soon got the command to secure all engines. I went top side and found we were sitting in the harbor. Late the next day, our trailing ship came in. He had missed the harbor during the night, sailed too far south and had to turn around and come back. I think our old man did this on purpose to show the other captain (a 90 day wonder) who knew what they were doing. Our captain was an old chief who was on the Maryland at Pearl Harbor. He had 27 years in.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I received my initial Naval training at Great Lakes Naval training station in Chicago, Illinois. I left there with the rate of fireman third class. I was given 90 days leave and sent to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, for a crash course in diesel engineering. I studied Physics and Chemistry as it pertained to diesels along with diesel fundamentals. I graduated 13Th in a class of 250, and promoted to second class Motor Machinist. I also learned during this time I was to become a father. I was given another short leave, then sent to Gray Marine school, a division of General Motors to specialize in their Marine engines. After completing this training I was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, to work at a Naval Repair base. Here we rebuilt engines sent back from the African invasions. I was here when our son Robert Eugene was born. I got a nine day leave for that joyous occasion. In early November, I was sent to Boston, Massachusetts, to wait on my ship that was being completed at the Quincy, Massachusetts shipyard. Our ship was turned over to us the last of December, 1943. We headed out to sea, down the east coast, on the shake down cruise. On New Year's Day, 1944, we encountered a hurricane off Cape Hatteras. The ship would break over a big wave then the screws (propellers) would come out of the water causing the engines to rev up for a second. Then the governors would slow it down. They really got a work out that day. Sometime around dinner we had an engine problem, I don't remember now what it was, but I stayed in the engine room through dinner until the problem was solved. I went to the galley for dinner and all I could find was cherry pie filling. I made my dinner on this and went back to the engine room. Shortly after getting back down there I became as sick as a horse. I gave up all the pie filling, my breakfast, and part of my stomach lining. The crew said I was sea sick as most of them were, but I know it was the pie filling because I was okay until after I ate. Anyhow, I still don't care much for cherry pie.

The ship and crew proved their sea worthiness and we returned to Norfolk. Here we were assigned to training other crews on the Chesapeake Bay for six months. On completion of this training duty we were assigned in the Pacific theater of war. During this training mission our gunners had become crack shots. They sent many sleeves and buzz (radio operated target) planes into the drink. I had several 72 hour passes while on the east coast. It took 19 hours by train each way. This gave me about a day and a half at home with Alberta and Bob. Bob took his first steps during one of these trips home. During this time on the coast, Alberta made a few trips to Norfolk and one to Baltimore, Maryland.

On one of her trips, we rented a room, that after we went to bed we soon found out had bed bugs. They wouldn't bite her, too sweet I guess, but as soon as the light went out they would pop me. We decided to sleep with the light on but that didn't help either. They would watch for me to shut my eyes and here they would come again. I finally gave up and went to my ship. Alberta rented another room the next day.

Note: K.C. and Aunt Kathleen found out the name of the ship for me (it's a ship, not a boat) to add here. Grandpa was on the LST-1008. Scroll down and you can see a few photos of the ship, one being taken in 1946. Grandpa may have been on there when the photo was taken!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On August 17, 1940, I married Alberta Flinn, the girl whose attention I got with the snowball and had dated ever since. She was two years short of graduation so we had to keep the marriage to ourselves and my Uncle Lowell Akin and his wife Marie, who stood up with us and witnessed our wedding. Married girls could not go to public school at that time. Now a mother, wed or not, can go and take their babies with them.

I don't remember if it was before the Japanese' sneak attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, that work began at Crane in Burns City, Indiana, Charleston Proving Ground in Charleston, Indiana, and Allison Engine at Indianapolis, but by mid 1942 most every able bodied (some not able) man in Bedford was working at a high, approximately $2.00 an hour paying job. The mechanics at our shop went to Crane. I was the only mechanic and body man in the shop for a month. This gave me the opportunity to ask for more money. I was reluctantly given a $3.00 raise to $18.00 a week. After working one week at $18.00 I was called to Crane. I worked as a mechanic working 7 1/2 hours a day instead of ten and made over $81.00 a week and about $115.00 the next (take home). I worked thirteen days and off one. I was really in nigger heaven, making more money than I had ever dreamed of. We bought furniture and had it stored to furnish a house we intended to build on a two acre lot I had purchased earlier in 1940. This big money didn't last long. On October 15, 1941, I enlisted in the Navy to help defend my country from the Japanese.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It is now spring of 1939. I have traded cars and have gained more knowledge by experience. I bought the car from a loan company and they financed the difference on the trade. The payments were reasonable but after a few payments, I multiplied the payment by the time I found out I was paying 1/3 interest. I paid this off as quick as I could and learned to save my money first, then buy, and if I had to have something I didn't have money for, to do my borrowing at a bank where interest rates were much lower. I was still passing papers around the square and the first thing I did after getting my papers was check the want ads. One afternoon I saw an ad by Clark & Rile, the Buick dealers, wanting someone to wash cars and clean up around the shop and used car building. When I left their paper, I asked about the ad and was told I would have to see Mr. Clark but he was out on the farm. I finished the paper route and went to Mr. Clark's home here in town and waited for him to come home. He came in about sun down. He asked about my experience and wages expected. I told him I would have to give up a $9.00 job and couldn't change jobs for any less. He said he would think about it and let me know the next evening. The next evening he showed me a list of about seventy-five men and boys who had applied, some offering to work for $5.00 a week. I told him I couldn't work for less than I said, and got up to leave.

He said, "Wait a minute! I didn't say I wouldn't hire you. I just wanted to see how you would react. Come to work in the morning."

I heard later he hired me because I was sitting on his front step when he got in from the farm. I had wanted to be an auto mechanic for a long time. My uncle, Harlon Akin, had been a mechanic since I was eight or ten years old and had never missed a days work. This was before the day of the apple tree mechanic and people were starting back to work and making a down payment on an auto with their first paycheck. I saw this job as a door up for me into a secure future. I quit the NYA and was happy with my new job. The mechanics in the shop took a liking to me and soon started giving me small jobs washing parts and disassembling some minor parts. I was soon spending so much time in the shop that the job I was hired to do was falling short. After Mr. Clark coming into the shop several times and taking me off a job in there to clean up a used car, the shop foreman told him he would have to hire another man for his used cars, that he needed me in the shop. I learned the engine and body repair fast and was soon given a job to do without supervision.

Monday, August 2, 2010

After graduation, I went to New Castle where I got a job changing beds in a greenhouse. There were three beds about five feet wide and the length of the greenhouse with aisles between them. My buddy was about four years older and a hundred pounds heavier than me. Our job was to remove the top six inches of old dirt and replace it with new from a large pile outside. We had two wheel barrows. While one was filling one the other would push the loaded one out and dump it. We started out him loading and me dumping. I would get back with an empty wheel barrow and have to wait on him to finish loading. He decided I had the easiest job and wanted to trade. This was okay with me because we were getting four dollars a bed and no money was made while standing around. By the time he got back with an empty wheel barrow, I had one loaded and waiting for him to get back. he complained about me loading them so heavy and I told him if he got back quicker I would not have time to load them like that. He decided dumping was easier than loading so we spent the summer this way. We only wore pants and shoes. It was only 135 degrees inside and after a half hour our pants were wet and dripping into our shoes. By late summer or early fall we had all the beds changed and our job was finished. I had been staying with mom's cousin Martha (True) Chastain and her husband Elbert who had stayed with us in New Castle when he was a young man. Now that my job was done, I drew my money out of the bank (I hadn't done any running around and had saved most I had made except for the little I paid for room and board) and started home. As I was walking through town I passed a car lot that had a Model "A" Ford roadster that caught my eye. I ended up buying it and drove it home instead of hitch hiking as I had planned.

Shortly after getting home I started passing papers around the square and a block each way off it. Shortly after I started this job, as I left a paper at the Val-U dress shop, the manager asked me if I would be interested in any job and took it. After the store closed it took about an hour and a half to clean it up. It paid $8.00 a week and I could do it after I completed my paper route. Sometime during this fall, 1937, I started delivering Sunday papers through the country. They call these Motor Routes now. This route took me to Budah, Rivervale, Lawrenceport, Bono, Tunnelton, Fort Ritner and Sparksville. I earned enough at this to buy gas for the week. Sometime in the early spring of 1938, I went to work on the NYA, a government youth program similar to the WPA. If I remember right, we worked 24 hours per week and was paid $18.00 every 2 weeks. I was lucky in that I was holding down four jobs and none of them interfered with the other. My first job on NYA was to plot all the veterans' graves in Greenhill Cemetery. After this, another young man was sent to the Avoca Fish Hatchery to paint the large 2 story house there. After this was finished I was sent to a large grout pile (huge blocks of limestone that was not good enough for building stone. This was before the time of veneer.) between Oolitic and Avoca to cut these blocks into small building stone for the shelter house at the Fish Hatchery. These blocks were split by drilling holes, about ten inches deep, by one man holding a drill upright and turning it while another would strike it with a sledge hammer. After a row of holes were drilled across the block slips (a tapered piece of steel) was put in each hole then a steel wedge inserted between the slips. These wedges were driven down by sledge hammer lightly at first for the length of the block then go back and drive them a little more after a few passes down the row. The desired portion would break off for the depth of the block. This portion was cut up into the approximate size the same way. Each stone had a size and number. These smaller pieces were then finished to size by holding a stone chisel in one hand and hitting it with a heavy wood mallet in the other hand. After a short time I was made foreman, receiving a $3.00 every two weeks raise.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I better get back to my senior year of school. We WUS PORE in them days. Dad was working WPA for $48.00 a month. After he fed and clothed the family (except me...I had clothed myself since I was 12) there was not much left for books. I bought my math books, solid geometry and trig, and borrowed the rest from students who were not using them at the time. During this school year I worked for the school on some kind of Government program that paid $14.00 a month. I don't remember ever being broke. From the time I started passing a paper as a child, I could always lay my hands on a few cents. I learned early in life not to buy on credit. If I wanted something, I would save until I could pay cash. I found saving money this way was easier on my back than working for it. I have bought on credit but it was always 30, 60, or 90 days same as cash to establish a good credit rating in case I should need it. It was during my senior year I noticed the prettiest girl in school sitting across the study hall from me. At the time I don't think she knew I existed. The school bus slid off the road on the way home one evening and while they were getting the bus back on the road I got her attention by hitting her (not very hard) in the back with a snowball. This somehow did the trick. We just finished 53 years of married bliss this year.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer was soon over and time to go home. Only two eventful things happened on the way home. I came home the northern route. I was wearing Southern California clothes and as we went over one of those mountain passes in Colorado, I think I would have frozen if a brake man had not felt sorry for us and opened a box car for us. The other time was in KC. I was sleeping in the ice compartment of a refrigerator car when I was awakened by someone yelling, "Do you want me to throw this ice down on you?"

I arrived home three days after school started.

I forgot to tell you about the summer of 1934. School got out a little earlier than it does now. As soon as school was out I started working, plowing a river bottom farm in preparation to plant corn. This field was large enough that it took an hour or more to plow around it. Of course, that steel wheeled Farmall didn't move very fast pulling two 14" plows. I had never driven anything except a Model "T" before. Spain Armstrong, the owner, had plowed the first furrow around the field. He said, "Just keep your right wheel in the furrow and keep going until 6 o'clock tonight when you will be relieved by a driver who will drive until 6 o'clock in the morning." The only thing that tractor stopped for was fuel and to change drivers. We were over a week getting this field ready to plant. My job here was done. I was paid ten cents per hour which was the same family men were getting at the stone crusher and they did not sit down. When I finished this job I went to work for Dale Anderson clearing buck brush from his farm. There were no bush hogs in those days. Six or eight men and boys (I thought I was a man then because I did as much or more work than any one on the crew) would line up with grubbing hoe in hand and work our way across the field digging out buck brush by the roots. Sometime during the summer I was taken off this crew and put to helping an old man (about the age of dad) who was building a stone fence on the farm. I don't know what this fence enclosed, unless it was an old cemetery, although I don't remember seeing any grave stones. Mr. Anderson paid us $.75 cents a day for ten hours work. I never had a five dollar bill in my hand all summer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

...They lived about a block from a restaurant they ran on the corner of Holliston and Green. After cleaning up and changing clothes, they took me to see Dale. He was running a small gas station up in the hills of La Canada. He had an army cot and a hot plate and was living in the station. I came home with Dale's friends and spent the night with them. The next day I found an older couple who rented me a sleeping room and three meals a day for seven dollars a week. The same day I got a job in a car wash which joined the restaurant. This wash consisted of a building with a large circular moving track about eight feet wide with approximately five foot aisles on each side. The track, when full, would hold fifteen to twenty cars. My job was to chamois dry the side next to me, put the chamois in a washing machine in my area, get out two (one for each hand) clean ones, run them through the wringer, and dry the next car. We were paid by the car. I made $18.00 to $25.00 a week. I worked two or three weeks and saved $25.00 to make a down payment on a 1928 Chevy Roadster.

During this time, Dale had traded his station for a four room house with gas pumps in the front. I moved in with him and drove to work. I would get out and drive around on Sundays. The only places of importance I remember is going to the national Air Races in LA and going aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania anchored off San Diego.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

While living on the farm I graduated from Shawswick High School majoring in math. My buddy and I cut wood with a cross cut saw evenings and Saturdays for spending money. During the summer of 1935, I dug mussels from the river, walking from the river to home and back, sometimes camping where I cooked out the shells. As soon as school was out in 1936, I headed for California where my buddy had gone the year before. I had to promise mom and dad I would come back in the fall and finish school before they would give me permission to go.

Mom sewed a pocket in the waist band of my boxer shorts where I had ten dollars. I packed a duffel bag with a couple extra pairs of pants, underwear, socks and a razor, and was ready to go.

I started out hitch hiking and by mid-afternoon was in Washington, Indiana, forty miles from home. I decided I would never make it at this rate so I went to the B&O railroad yards and hopped a freight train to St. Louis. I had ridden trains before. Some of the neighborhood boys had ridden trains to the Indy 500, the State Fair, the Kentucky Derby and several trips to the races at Salem. I knew a train always stopped before crossing another line's tracks. I knew that if the engine was flying white flags she was heading down the line and not a local that would leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. I knew to get in a box car if I could. They were cleaner and warmer. I also knew if I had to catch a train on the run, to catch the ladder at the front of the car in case I lost my grip because I would bounce off the side of the car and not fall between them or under the wheels.

I got in an empty box car in Washington, Indiana, and was on my way again. I was awakened in East St. Louis, Illinois, by a RR worker shining a light in my face and ordering me off the Railroad property. As I left the yards, I met another young man in his early twenties who was also headed west. We decided we would have a better chance picking up a train on the other side of the river. We walked across the bridge and was walking down the street when the cops stopped us. After emptying my duffel bag and no gun or knife was found, they told us the Missouri Pacific yards were at the end of the street we were on and that we could catch a train west there, but for us not to stop until we got there. By the time we reached the yards it was midnight. We found a clearing by a small stream where we laid down and went to sleep.

We awoke about day break. I saw a building a few blocks in the distance that had "Bakery" written on the side. I knew our breakfast was waiting. My knew traveling buddy carried coffee grounds in his pocket. He would make coffee while I was gone. I had learned how to eat on the road long before. Back then there were neighborhood meat markets. One could go into one of these meat markets and ask for a bologna heel (the first cut from a roll of bologna that people wouldn't buy) and the butcher would give it to you. If he had to cut a new stick, sometimes he would cut it a little heavy. Bakers would give you day old bread and pastries. I came back with a large bag of sweet rolls. He had the coffee ready. He had found a suitable can, got water from the stream (this was before all the pollution we have now and one could drink from most any stream you came across) and boiled it over a small fire he had built. From here we got a ride to Texarkana, Arkansas, then to Ft. Worth and El Paso, Texas, Yuma, Arizona and to Needles, California. Water was the hardest thing to come by. A restaurant would not give you water unless you bought something. While we were riding we could usually find a refrigerated car and get ice. In those days a refrigerated car had a space about four feet wide across each end of the car for ice. They had doors about two feet square they used for filling the ice and we used for climbing into the ice compartment when we found one empty. It was one of these ice chests I was riding in when I arrived in Needles. At this time California was trying to keep all transits out. They would pick up hitch hikers and would "shake down" trains coming into the state. They overlooked me and one other fellow I met on the street shortly after getting off. I went to a gas station to use the restroom and while there overheard a fellow who had a truck load of cantaloupes and a broken axle. He was waiting for another truck to transfer his load for a ride to LA. He was as happy as I, for the temperature was over 100 degrees. We arrived at the market shortly after midnight. I don't know where he spent the rest of the night but he let me sleep in his truck until morning. I took a street car from LA to Pasadena. Here I located friends of my buddy, Dale Cooper....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the early fall of 1931, we moved to Bedford, Indiana. Mr. Pittman, who was renting room to Mom's two sisters, Helen and Nancy, put us on a small 37 acre farm he had bought southeast of town. It was Dad's understanding (there was no paperwork) he was to take care of the place for his rent. We cleaned out the property lines and built woven wire fences around the farm and cross fences dividing the place into four, approximately even parts, Mr. Pittman furnishing the material and us the labor. Dad bought a cow for milk. The cow gave more milk than we could use so he bought a pig to help get rid of the milk and to butcher in the fall. Mr. Pittman was out most every weekend checking on his investment. When he saw us raising that pig on surplus milk and a little ground corn, dollar signs began to flash in his eyes. We should have another cow, three breed brood sows, purebred, of course. This called for a new barn and a tractor to till the land for corn and hay. Dad was working on WPA (Works Progress Administration) at the time and with the farm was quite busy. This happened gradually over a period of five to seven years. When dad finally found out what was going on, he took Mr. Pittman a check for a load of hogs and Mr. Pittman gave him a receipt. Dad asked what that was for and was told it was on his account. When the truth came out, Mr. Pittman was charging dad for every penny he was putting into the farm, while dad was thinking all the time he was just paying high rent. Mom and Dad soon moved to town.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eastman Kodak was giving every boy that was twelve in July this year a new Box camera. I don't know how I got to town (Terre Haute) to pick it up, but I do remember keeping and using it for several years. It was during my sixth grade, at Glenn, that I learned to like and appreciate math. We had a teacher by the name of Combs who had his left arm off at the elbow. He had a way of teaching math that all his students learned and liked. Math has been my favorite subject since then.

It seemed times got harder by each day. Dad worked for the grocery store owner to buy what we couldn't raise. Mom did ironing for some school teachers. I had a paper route. But we couldn't raise enough money to make payments on the mortgage on the difference when he traded homes. At this time you could live in your home for a year after foreclosure while you tried to redeem it. This was just a year's free rent because there was no money and everyone knew it. A few days before we were to be set out we found a house in Seelyville, a few miles east, owned by a widow who let us live in it just to keep it from sitting empty. We lived here one summer and about a month or so after school started.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We moved from New Castle to Glenair, a small coal mining community about eight miles east of Terre Haute, Indiana. Dad had traded his place in Clinton on three acres and an eight room house here. Here we really had some hard times. We raised a big garden and picked berries that mom canned. We picked strawberries, apples and peaches and took fruit for wages. We picked up enough coal that had fallen off coal trains to keep us warm through the winter. We lucked out on coal many times. I had a morning paper route and had to go to the Inter "Unban Line" (a large street car that ran from Terre Haute to Brazil). They would throw my bundles off for me to deliver. There was a rail line that went back to the mine about two miles away. They would park a line of coal cars on this track I passed every morning. When I would see parked cars, I would check them out for coal that had hung to the car. When I would find coal, I would inform dad before I passed my papers. Many times we would find four or five hundred pounds this way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It is now 1925 and John Lewis is stirring up trouble among coal miners, encouraging them to strike against their employers. He had son pitted against father, brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor. He eventually persuaded enough men to strike that they spent more time on strike than they did in the mines and as a result, Clinton died. These strikes affected dad's business in two ways. One, the people either did not have the money for decorating or at least were afraid to spend it. Two, as soon as the miners would "go out" many of them would pick up a paint brush and work for less than dad did. If dad would go to the mine and offer to work for the going wage, these same minors who were undercutting him called him "scab". Anyone who tried to work in the mines were subject to beatings, arson, and sometimes murder. The attitude of union men has not changed in seventy-five years. If a plant is struck today, many of the workers will pick up a paint brush or saw and hammer and work for less than a tradesman and call the man whose job he takes a "scab" if he tries to work in the plant being struck.

It is now November 1925. Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a boom town. One of the church members and dad decide to move their families to Florida. Dad was driving the lead car, a Model T touring car, with mom and Dorothy riding with him. I, with the other two children, were with the friend following dad. The only thing I remember of this trip was at an intersection in Rushville, Indiana. I saw dad's car laying in its top with the wheels spinning. Now some quick decisions had to be made. Mom and us four kids were put on a train or maybe a bus to mom's sister in Bedford, Indiana. Dad went ahead with the friend to Florida where he worked for some time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Aunt lived on 21st Street between "N" and "O" Streets. At the time, 21st Street was an unimpressive crushed stone street. We walked to school at "Central", a red brick building on 16Th Street between "N" and "O". During the spring and summer of 1926, 21st was paved with concrete. The grading was done with pick and shovel. The excess dirt was shoveled into a box (approximately one yard capacity) on the back of a stripped down Model T Ford. They dumped this dirt around my Aunt's basement walls. The house was street level but due to the slope of the land, most of the walls were exposed. The concrete mix, sand, and crushed stone was shoveled from the back of one of the small trucks into a hopper on the ground then winched up and dumped into a rotating drum, turned by a gas engine, where water was added. Then the mixture was dumped on the street where it was leveled off by a crew using hand tools. The foreman took a liking to some of us kids, or maybe he felt sorry for us, but everyday he would take us to the store on Washington Avenue and let us pick out a few cents worth of candy. Another thing I remember about this summer is that the New Dixie Highway (State Road 37) Bridge was opened.

Sometime in the fall of 1926, dad returned from Florida, and got a job on a painting crew in New Castle, Indiana. At this time, New Castle was a booming auto (Chrysler) steel milling town and work was plentiful. It seems like every place dad went, the union was on his heels. In just a couple years or so they were striking Chrysler and the steel mill and scabbing dad's work. During the four years we lived in New Castle, I learned the town pretty well. I collected junk to sell, had a paper route, sold magazines and Cloverine salve house to house. I remember selling "Extra" papers on the street when Charles Lindberg crossed the Atlantic and again when Louie Meyer won the Indianapolis 500 race.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I remember us raising fryer chickens at one time. We had a nice new chicken house. At one end was an incubator where the eggs were put to hatch. Next to this was a brooder where the newly hatched were put till they grew to a certain size. These pieces of equipment were operated by Kerosene as we had no electricity. The chicken business was short lived because they got diseased and more died than were sold. We burned the dead in a four plate laundry stove and I can still smell them when I think back to this time.

My sister Eunice, brother William and sister Dorothy were born here in Fairview. The only one I remember was Dorothy. Mom's fourteen year old brother was staying with us at the time and the job fell to him to keep us three children in the front yard. We saw the Doctor going in the house carrying a black bag. When he left we were allowed in and there was a new baby. Of course, we all, including my uncle, thought the doctor brought her in that little black bag.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The only thing I remember about going to worship there was I was given the job of passing out the song books and New Testaments that were kept on a lower shelf of a stand table that was also used as the communion table. I was also allowed to hang onto the end of the bell rope as it was being rung. At this time I was seven years old. Families sat together. The best I can remember were there was a minimum of six families I can remember by name. There could have been more as the building was a fair sized little building. They didn't have a fall time preacher. Different men would read a scripture or give a short talk. When prayer was had, everyone got on their knees. Services were quite long then as compared to now, but no one seemed to mind, as that is what they were used to and they did go to learn. Where as now I wonder why most people go, that do.

I went (walked) to school here my first year and from the beginning of my second year until November. The only education I remember was not too pleasant. My sister Eunice started her first year when I started my second. I know this was her idea because I did not do this during my first year...we would go to a grocery store across the street from school and buy candy on dad's grocery bill. This practice lasted only one week as dad paid his bill weekly. Our education was with a razor strap instead of a pencil and paper. That's why we remember it so well.

As I said before we had no running water so dad shaved in the kitchen. We had a medicine cabinet on the wall between the kitchen and bedroom. He used the mirror on this cabinet to see to shave. He used a straight razor and had two razor straps hanging on the door trim next to the mirror. If dad wanted to teach us something we were not to forget, he always used this strap (mom used a switch). Before he would whip us he would take these two straps by the ends and separate them by pushing the ends toward each other then jerk them apart making a loud pop. This popping really scared us more than the strap on our bottoms hurt but it did get the message across.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another memory I have is of the public well at the end of the street. There was no running water or electricity in town and those who did not have wells of their own carried water from the well. Wells in this area were dug by hand to a depth of 25-50 feet, the top was covered with heavy boards and water was drawn by bucket and rope or a hand pump. This one had a hand pump. I probably would not remember this well if some neighborhood boys had not thrown a snake and some frogs into it. I remember dad and some neighbor men cleaning them out. A rope was tied around one man's waist (I don't remember which man) and let down by the other two men.

Dad carried the water before and after work. We had a "wash stand" which was a table about four foot square. We set two buckets of water on it. One had a long handled dipper in it for drinking and dipping water into another container. Mom also used this table for preparing food. We always, except on A Avenue in New Castle, had a garden. What we didn't eat fresh, mom canned by cold packing. I don't know where this name came from because she put a wooden rack (strips of lath) on the bottom of a copper wash boiler (an oblong container about 16"-18" deep). She set filled canning jars on this rack. The rack was to keep the jars off the bottom and absorbing heat too fast and breaking. She filled it with water just below the lids. This would boil for the required time, then lifted out with wire tongs and the lids tightened while still hot. When the contents cooled it caused a vacuum and as long as the seal was not broken the contents would keep for months, sometimes two or three years, or more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My parents were very religious and during a gospel meeting at Stonington Church of Christ in the fall after I was born, a visiting preacher, by name, Cook, talked them into moving to Clinton, Indiana. Clinton was a booming coal mining town at the time. This gave my dad a perfect opportunity to ply his trade as an interior and exterior decorator.

They bought a small place in Fairview on the edge of Clinton where we lived until November of 1925. I remember little of those seven years. I do remember seeing my first airplane there. A WWI plane flew down the street. If you could call it that. It was composed of cinders, no curb, no side, no walks. But it did keep the horse drawn vehicles and once in awhile a model "T" from sinking axle deep in the mud. This plane flew approximately 50 feet above the street and as it passed all the towns people came out of their houses and ran down the street after it. It landed in a pasture about two blocks from our house. The towns people encircled it leaving a respectable distance between them and the plane. After the pilot climbed out and leaned against a wing, two or three of the braver men went forward and talked to him.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I, Emerson Vince Row, was born July 12,1918, in Stonington, Indiana, a small stone mill hamlet in the southeastern part of Lawrence County, to Odos Bellman Row (1886-December 6, 1969) and Grace Cletius (Akin) Row (September 30, 1893-April 23, 1973). They were married September 29, 1917.

Odos was born to William Henry Row (birth date unknown, possibly 1850 and died in 1886) and Rhoda (Krutsinger) Row (December 22, 1852-December 20, 1904). Grace was born to John Henry Akin (December 3, 1862-November 24,1934) and Dorothy (Lee) Akin (18_-December 14,1942). They were married December 27, 1888. Both are buried at Lawrenceport.

I never knew Dad's parents. They died while he was young. I know very little about Mom's parents except what I have heard. We lived away from Bedford when I was small and only saw them on rare visits.

Mom's Grandfather Addison Akin came from one of the Carolina's. The Pickett family (Mom's Grandmother's family) joined a wagon train out of Carolina headed west. Addison rode a horse. It seems he was the only Akin in the train. I don't know if he and the Pickett girl kept company before they left or if he met her on the way. Anyhow, fate brought them together. It seems as if the whole Pickett clan settled around Lawrenceport, Indiana, since I have heard Mom talk about different Uncles and Aunt Picketts.

John Henry, Mom's dad, was one of Addison's children. Mom's mother Dorothy was a Lee. I don't know anything about them except they must have been a prominent family as there was a Lee School at Stonington. John Henry was a farmer according to Nancy, Mom's sister. I never knew him to do anything except help his neighbor make apple jack and peach brandy. When I knew them they lived in a three bedroom house located where the Grissom Airport is now. The house was on the edge of a large fairly level field that has been used for an airfield for as long as I can remember.

After WWI men (boys) who were pilots during the war would acquire a surplus war plane and go about the country and take up people for a ride over town. I think they
got three dollars a person per ride. This was three days pay in those days. The plane was a biplane. It had two open cockpits and the pilot operated the plane from the rear seat, or cockpit. They were started (the engines) by one man getting hold of the propeller and spinning it by hand. I've never seen it happen, but I have heard of men losing an arm or head by not stepping back quick enough when the engine started.

The first time I remember at my Grandparents was on the 4th of July of '23,'24, or '25. There were three planes there taking up passengers. During the afternoon they put on an airshow. They would dive, roll and loop the loops. They had parachute jumps and men walking on the wings. A real good show for what they had to work with. My grand dad I thought was a little on the lazy side and liked to be babied. I remember it being told on him, he was sitting in front of the fireplace and the fire popped. Hot coals flew out into the room and he said, "Doad", a nick name Grandma went by, "Do you reckon that went down my shoe?" He always wore low top boots and when he sat down his pant legs were above his boot tops. Grandpa had chin whiskers a little longer than his hand was wide. He would sit on the front porch in a caned bottom chair. He would tilt the chair back on two legs with the top of the chair touching the house. He would stroke his beard with one hand and swat flies with the other, spitting tobacco juice once in a while, most of the time clearing the porch.

Grandma was a little on the short side and fairly plump when I first remember her. I don't think she gained weight by licking the spoons after a meal because the chickens that ate the scraps that were thrown out were never fat. But that woman could always fix up a meal out of most nothing. She made what she called "dog bread" biscuits made from flour and water, flat as a pancake but edible while hot, water gravy, actually hot wallpaper paste, and a vegetable if she had one. None of them starved. My two Uncles Lowell and Albert were living at home at that time. They would bring their girlfriends in for dinner. They didn't seem to mind. May have been they didn't have any better at home.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is a story that my Grandpa wrote several years ago. He wrote it with paper and pencil for his family to enjoy. Some are sad stories and some are funny stories. I will pass the stories on to you just as he wrote them with the exception of correcting spelling here or there. I don't want to change too much, then it wouldn't be his story. As I read the way he has written some of this I can almost here him telling it....

I thought this would be the best way to share it with our distant family. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!