Chapter 5 - Yes, Mom, I do Remember
From a Tent to a House
Migrant was the polite word; most just called them Okies even though these "Okies" came from all over the Midwest, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The Oakies were coming by the thousands, by the tens of thousands. In beat-up old cars, trucks, anything that would move, they came. They lived intent cities called Hoovervilles (mocking the President many felt had brought on this Depression). If they were lucky, they had that day’s food; if they were rich, they had maybe five days food. In years to come, it would be said of the migrants, "Even though they had so little, but they always had enough to share with those that had less."
My sister, Phyllis never seem to regain the self-confidence or the out-going personality that she had previously. She now seemed to need approval from others more than she did before the fire. Phillip went on his merry way with no apparent changes. Mom haggled for quite a while with the insurance company and finally made a settlement with them.
Our little dog, Poochie, has been acting as if she was in mourning ever since the twins got burned. She had tried her best to stop them by barking and running around in circles around them and jumping up and down all the way to the store. The twins kept saying, "what's wrong Poochie," not realizing what tragedy awaited them.
Ed has been discharged from the Army, after spending most his time in Hawaii. Mom has decided she wants to by some land and built some houses with the Twins insurance money. She, Ed, Esther and Laury finally decide on some property in an area called, "Woods Addition." It was previously an alfalfa farm and is being sold off in acres. Mom buys enough land for six houses, but only builds one for the present time. Esther and Laury buy enough land for two houses and also build just one house.
We are all excited. Ed and my dad are busy hammering away and sawing all these different boards they call two-by-fours to build this wonderful house that will have (hallelujah) an inside shower and toilet, a sink and drain board, a stove with an oven and linoleum on the floor, a dining room, living room and two separate bedrooms. They are making stacks of rocks to rest the floor joist on (I guess there wasn't any building codes in that area at that time).
Ed and Pop (we called my Dad, Poppy until we got embarrassed, we thought everyone would know we came from Arkansas so we shortened it to Pop) were not getting along very well working together. Ed was losing his temper because Pop couldn't hear what he was saying most of the time. Pop had been a riveter in the oilfields and his hearing had become impaired. Ed lost his temper one day and threw a hammer at him. That was the last time I remember them working together. Pop went to Santa Paula to stay with friends and work in the fruit orchards and left from there for Arkansas.
He decided to stay in Arkansas and eventually married a lady he should have married in the beginning. I only remember Pop coming back to California twice after going to Arkansas and Esther and I went back to see him in 1954. That was the last time I saw him. We weren't informed of his death or his funeral.
Ed began going with a real nice girl, we all really liked her. Lois Sturgiss was a niece of Nurl and Lacey Coffman (Lacey was a girlhood friend of Moms and daughter of Jess and Nanny Campbell). Ed built a house across the street from us on the corner and had it furnished with all-new furniture for his new bride. I think they got married in 1941.
We are also finally in our house somewhere along the line Mom has gotten rid of the old feather mattress that I thought was the family treasure and gotten a Beauty Rest for her bed which she keeps for twenty-five years. We eventually get a Maytag washing machine and kept it for twenty or so years, same with a six-cubit foot Fridge dare refrigerator.
Our family has gotten smaller, now it is Eavlee, Phillip and Phyllis, Mom, and I. Evalee has taken me under her wing and is calling me honey all the time. When I think about it now, I think maybe she was trying to keep me from getting little “strong minded Glenda” (my name) from getting so many spankings.