Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Adventures in California

I believe my grandmother Evelyn may have created her address book, featured in the previous post, in anticipation of a trip she planned to make from Michigan to Hollywood, California, where her younger daughter Mary (my mother) was living and working at the time. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed Mary's California telephone numbers listed in Image 11. Her home number was HOllywood 2320, and her number at work was STanley 7-1241, ext. 1453.

In the summer of 1993, my mother wrote the following memories of her California experience:

In 1943, a co-worker named Pat asked if I would like to go to California to work in one of the aircraft companies. Her two sisters had an apartment and were willing to share it with us. It seemed a wonderful opportunity, so I agreed. Mom was apprehensive, but I was approaching my 21st birthday and felt it was time to try my wings.

Daddy said, "It will be the best thing in the world for her."

Mom said, "You're not even 21 yet."

I said, "Okay, I'll wait until I'm 21."

I boarded the El Capitan on October 23rd--one day after my birthday--for my journey across the country. I had received a personal invitation from Pat's sisters when she decided not to go after all, due to chronic appendicitis attacks.

My new friends' apartment was on North Esplanade in the Hollywood Hills. I gazed in awe at the arched entrance leading to a large courtyard. Palm trees lined the street, and exotic flowers were in full bloom everywhere I looked. Each apartment had a private entrance, and came completely furnished, with a cleaning lady who came once a week.

Eleanor and Helen worked in offices at Disneyland. They insisted I take some time to become acquainted with California before starting a new job, but I was eager to settle into my new life. I wanted to try something different from data processing, but soon I discovered that the pay in other jobs was not enough to handle my share of the expenses. We had each agreed to contribute fifty dollars a week to cover rent, food, and telephone expenses. So I arranged an interview at Lockheed Aircraft, presented my letter of recommendation from Chrysler's, and was hired on the spot.

I loved California. Just walking down the street was a new experience. Perfect strangers would smile and say hello as we passed each other, and people were so kind, friendly and helpful.

In May of 1944 Mom wanted to come and visit but had no money for the trip, so I cashed in my return ticket (my insurance in case things didn't work out) and sent her the money. She too loved California, and kept putting off her return to Michigan. Then I received a telegram from my former boss at Chrysler's, saying that a job was waiting for me if I would just come back. I began to feel pressured from all sides. Mom had been with us for a month and I felt such an extended visit wasn't fair to Eleanor and Helen; and there was my Dad back in Michigan alone; and Chrysler's needed me in the new department they were forming, so I gave notice at Lockheed, Mom went home, and I followed her home two weeks later.

Going to California was something I wouldn't have missed for the world. I grew up that year, and I learned a lot about the cost of living on one's own, and making a budget work.

Many years later on a trip to California I decided to visit our apartment. Much to my dismay I was faced with a cloverleaf expressway winding through the area. Not only had North Esplanade disappeared, but all the flowers and trees as well. My Garden of Eden had been totally destroyed. Hollywood Boulevard, once a street of beauty lined with first-class shops, had deteriorated into a sleazy thoroughfare with neon signs, porn shops and tattoo parlors.

In seeming conflict with the story above,
my mother identified her companion in this photo as Pat.
Perhaps Pat resolved her appendix issues and then went to California?



Juliane's granddaughter said...

Now I know where you get your wandering spirit from. California was a long way from Michigan in those days and I am sure your grandparents were apprehensive letting their daughter go off like that. Sounds like your Mom did enjoy the experience, though.

T.K. said...

I think she would have liked to stay there, Jul's, even though she often said she liked having four distinct seasons.

She didn't write anything about her trip back to Michigan, but I remember hearing a story about travelling by bus. The main features of that story were dirty bathrooms and big hairy tarantulas at a bus stop in Texas!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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