Used Car Salesman
In January of 1953 (I'm pretty sure this is correct) I left Singer's and lined myself up with a new/used car dealership, Paul Yarrow Motors. The new car showroom was in La Grange, but the used car place was in Brookfield. I spent most of my time at the used car place, but I occasionally went to the new car place to take used car customers, trying to convert them to buying new models. I'd become so "lucky" with such visits to the new car showroom, I'd earned the title of "Lucky" from the new car staff. Everything seemed to be working well for me. But that didn't last long!
In the used car place on Ogden Avenue I soon learned there were tricks being used I'd never heard of before. For example, the salesman would get on the phone as though talking to the manager at the new car place to swing some kind of deal for the customer standing there listening. Arguments would follow as though the salesman was having his job endangered by offering the customer "this unbelievable deal" against the manager's wishes. This "arguing" would go back and forth as the potential customer listened. It seemed to work pretty well.
One thing, though. I learned later that there wasn't anyone on the other phone, and this call was as phony as three dollar bills! It was supposed to be something that was commonly used as a sales stratagem, though I thought of it as a hoax and didn't like the idea at all.
When it came to cars, I didn't feel I wanted to sell anything I wouldn't want to buy myself, and that eventually harmed my sales performance. It got so bad, I finally told the used car manager I was seeking other employment. But I made another mistake in so doing. I stayed in the new/used car sales business, moving to Tom Harrigan Chrysler, Plymouth on Madison Street and Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park.
My sales ability didn't increase, though at this dealership there seemed to be more to offer in post sales car service, and that did help some. But in time I learned that every deal that's made isn't really a deal until "you see the rear end of the car pulling away from the lot" as one old professional salesman told me. And in time I also gave up the ghost at that dealership.
There was one thing which happened while working at Harrigan's I want to mention, and that's an accident I viewed right from the show room windows.
Ridgeland and Madison was a busy intersection. I'm sure in statistics it held its place for overall totals. And the one I witnessed was a real banger!
I don't know which car had run the stop light, but a tremendous crash occurred right in front of our window between two cars. I saw the driver from the one car (which had spun clear around the opposite direction) fly out of the door as though he were doing a swan dive into a body of water. He landed head first into the pavement, and I was sure he was a "goner." But as he was being tended, he spoke to those around him, eventually getting up from the pavement.
The ambulance came and took him away "for observation" at the hospital. We later learned that the guy had died either just before reaching the hospital or right after that. Internal injuries, maybe a massive concussion, must have taken his life, though to see him there at the scene you'd never have guessed his life was near its end! I felt real bad about hearing what had happened to that man!
Working at Division
From Harrigan's I moved to Division Chevrolet in Chicago where the former used car sales manager at Paul Yarrow's was working. He invited me to come work for him and the company in the used car lot. If I didn't mention it before, this guy was a Jew who had no inhibitions whatsoever, a high-powered salesman.
As I learned the setup there, I found the procedure went something like this. "If you sell a used car, and the buyer comes back later to complain about the financing terms he received in the mail, you just 'blow him off,' never sending him to the new car sales room to confront higher up bosses." In a couple sales I'd made I couldn't believe the figures customers brought to me as the finance charges imposed upon them. I didn't like what was going on at all, and when this last customer came in, I directed him to Jerry (the boss over my boss) at the new car show room.
It wasn't long but what my boss told me what had happened. The customer made a big fuss to Jerry, and Jerry was out to get whoever sent the guy therethat was me! I was fired immediately.
Before I get off this sales job, I must tell you what I learned of these Jewish salesmen. They couldn't do enough for their kids, giving them almost anything they wanted. Yet when it came to loyalty and faithfulness to their wives, that was something else. They all kept other women, those they supported financially and to whom they could go whenever they wished sexual favors. It made me sick to see and hear what went on. And, no, I'm not being prejudiced toward the Jews, it just happens that's the way they were with women, at least any I ever worked under or with.
Back to Paul Yarrow's
Well, you'd think that by now I'd have had enough of auto sales, but I went back to Paul Yarrow's used car lota new location in South La Grange. A guy named Irv who I'd worked with on Ogden Avenue was now the manger there. I was a glutton for punishment!
Things went fairly well for a short time, but that was mainly in new car sales again. The used cars were overpriced, some being in lousy condition, too. And when a person would drive up wanting to try out a certain car, I'd ask if he was thinking of trading his old one in. Then when I'd learn what he owed on his present car plus the difference he'd have to pay on the one he was looking at, I'd lose heart to encourage such a sale. And this was especially true when I knew the car he was interested in had too many mechanical problems, and he'd probably be better off keeping the one he had. This, of course, didn't help my sales volume at all. Even worse, the word got around about my modus operandi, and I was fired from that job, too.
A little about Irv, the manager. He was a porky, roly-poly type individual who spoke often of a girl he had been having sex with. He'd tell how ugly she was and that he almost wished he could cover her head with a bag when with her. She'd call often to speak with him, and sometimes he would act as though he wasn't in. I don't know how his wife wouldn't have suspected something by that time.
His reasoning? She was ugly, but she had a body that wouldn't quit! She gave him what he needed as a "spare." Do you see the ugly thread of what transpired among men (and women) in so many of the jobs I held? And I'm not even touching the tip of the iceberg of the many other such incidents I was aware of in the years I worked at various places! It is not a nice world out there, in general!
Well, here I was without a job again, my Honey keeping us eating with her jobs, as usual. My father-in-law learned what had happened with my last job, and he spoke to me about maybe going back to work for him. It seems the guy who had been working for him left and he was now alone again. ([He'd] learned we were both without jobs at that time; Eleanor too!)
Back to Auto Parts
When I left my job with the Boss [Eleanor's father], he was on North Avenue just west of Menard (5800 West). After that he bought the building he'd had in mind to one day buy even before I worked for him. The new place was just east of Menard and on the north side of North Avenue at 5750 West. It was a three story building, the first floor part being the business floor, and the other two were apartments.
The invitation to return to work was more cordial than it was in 1947 when I left there, and I needed work and an income. So I accepted the offer and went back to work for Austin Automotive Electric Company (my father-in-law's).
I spent all my time inside the store handling sales and filling stock and listing merchandise needed. The Boss went out calling on his accounts which were mainly gasoline service stations, automotive repair shops and small wholesale-retail auto parts stores. He did most of the paper work and paying of bills at home after hours and sometimes at the store.
In time the Boss decided to split up one of the one floor apartments into two apartments at the building which housed his business. Eleanor, Bob and I were paid a little extra cash to help with the job. Most of the work was done after supper and our regular day's work was over. It was hard work, but it was fun, too.
[At some time around 1952-1953,] I taught Eleanor to drive. We had an old De Soto, a '46 I think.
Our Second Son
This change in jobs took place in about October of 1953, the same time Eleanor realized she was pregnant for the second time.
Then [in] May of 1954 Eleanor experienced a bad day of stomach aches all day, finally delivering Timothy the next day at 8:00 a.m. at The Women's and Children's Hospital in Chicagothe same one at which Daniel was born.
Timothy was a low-weight baby, coming into the world with yellow jaundice. This kept him in the hospital for an extra couple or few days, but he did come home in good physical condition after that.
The years 1954 and 1955 weren't too eventful, though I did keep buying and selling [my own] cars as before. That was nothing new for me to do. Everything else was going along well, and I plugged away at my job with the Boss (remember now, I'm using that title for my father-in-law).
Daniel Rushed to Hospital
Oh, there was one incident in about 1954 somewhere. Daniel was up around two years old about then. He always tended toward inquisitiveness. He was constantly checking things out. This particular day he discovered the fan which was kept on top of the television set, and he wanted to examine it. He pulled it down toward himself, and it came flying down onto his head. He probably had in mind to check out the fan long before that day.
The fan, though only about a 12 inch model, had a very heavy base which must have weighed ten pounds or more. When it came tumbling down, it struck him in the head, opening a nasty gash which caused blood to flow freely. I happened to be home at the time, and we rushed him to the Berwyn Hospital's [already named the MacNeal (Memorial) Hospital by 1942; 3249 S. Oak Park Ave.] emergency room. Quite a few stitches were required to repair the cut. We were scared to death, as it appeared to be a lot more serious to us than it turned out to be. Not that it wasn't bad enough as it was!
[Editor's Note: Not only did it have a very heavy base, but the fans back then did not have any blade guards; it was like pulling down a small (all metal too) boat motor propeller! They must have left the power cord plugged into something on the floor out in the open where I pulled on it! Too many adults of that era often left babies and small children to simply 'fend for themselves' rather than watching them every second, or better still, preventing disasters from ever happening. Staircases, pools, small appliances (like fans), AC outlets and power cords, plastic bags, small objects lying around (jewelry, gum, pens, game pieces on and on), etc. were too often never thought about as being a danger to small children. By the way, I vividly remember seeing that same fan; still working, when I was told many years later what had happened. That together with the fact that as an infant they would leave me in the care of chain smokers, I can't help but wonder how much brighter and healthier I may have been otherwise. And that was not the only time I received a head injury.]
So many things happen in one's life it's difficult to know what "less-important" things should be omitted. But I [should have mentioned] that in 1952 (early) Eleanor's brother Robert was inducted into the U.S. Army and served his basic training at Fort Sheridan on the North Shore near to where I'd been at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center some years before. He later had gone on to Germany, stopping in New Jersey for a time before going overseas. There he met a girl named Mary Lou, a girl of German descent, one with whom he then corresponded for the duration of his stay overseas and whom he saw again later.
Bob Back from the Army
When Bob got back from the army in 1954, he got a job at Hotpoint, a manufacturer who made a lot of electrical appliances. The plant was located in Chicago, just over the Cicero border, on Central Avenue and Roosevelt RoadCicero was on the other side of the street actually. It was real close to where Bob lived with his folks.
Mary Lou later came to Illinois to visit him and the family. It appeared a match was in the making. It was probably late 1954.
One thing happened which I recall. And that was when Bob bought a 1955 Chevrolet Tudor. He bought all kinds of kits to enhance its looks and performance, doing the work himself for the most part. He allowed Mary Lou to drive the car (or he was trying to teach her to drive), and an accident occurred which was Mary Lou's fault. Before the police arrived, Bob took over as though he had been driving. It seems he wasn't insured to have others drive his car, and Mary Lou didn't have a license, either. After the report was completed he may have wished he had admitted to having Mary Lou at the wheel; as I think it got rather costly for him when it was all over.
Once back at the father-in-law's auto parts store, I began taking several religious courses at Concordia Teacher's College nights. It led me to the desire for more education, though those courses merely led to certificates of completion which had no college credit value.
Morton Junior College
So I then enrolled in some correspondence courses for college credit at Concordia, taking a few such courses. This then led to night school attendance at Morton Junior College in Cicero (this is where Morton High School was also).
Through 1955 and 1956 I took two semesters of rhetoric and one semester of psychology. I'd only take one course at a time, as I worked full time. The only reason I didn't go on from psychology to philosophy was that I feared it would cause controversy with my religious beliefs.
The rhetoric semester which dealt with writing papers (in high school we called them "themes") was my favorite. I'd do my work at the typewriter at work when it was slow in the store, often times knocking off a paper in a single writing without review, revision or re-writing (the recommended three "R's").
One night we turned in papers as required. Then in that next class the professor was to comment on them. As he began reading the first paper on that next class night, I soon realized it was my paper he was reading. I wondered how he was going to tear it down.
But instead of tearing it down, he began using lofty words of praise about the way the paper was written, saying "This is like honey poured from a golden pitcher. It's obvious this writer used the three 'R's' and took much time to complete this work. Notice how he's tied the thoughts together from one paragraph to another as he linked them beautifully."
He then addressed me as the writer and asked more or less for confirmation of his statements about the three "R's" I supposedly employed. I didn't know what to do. I figured if I told the truth of just sitting down and writing it in one sitting with none of the suggested methods used by good writers, he'd be made a fool in the presence of the entire class. "Better I use a 'white lie' and say it went the way he said." I must have slipped well back down into the seat as I made the statement he wanted to hear. And I've felt guilty about that incident ever since!
By the way, in the Dedication of this book, there was mention of Mr. L.G. Hutchison, my Rhetoric I & II professor. He's the one of whom I've spoken in the paragraphs above. We in later years became close enough for my wife and kids to visit him at his home. Mr. Hutchison really made an impression upon my "late in life" educational pursuits, not that anything much ever came of that, either.
My Last Indy 500 Trip
For a number of years we made an annual trek to Indianapolis to attend the Indianapolis 500 races. Traffic was everywhere, and waiting was a prime requisite to make that trip. Besides that, it was almost always hot and humid at that time of the year to add to the discomfort. And washrooms were crowded, smelly and sometimes impossible to get into. The noise of those powerful engines grinding around the track was enough to awaken the dead, too.
Accidents were not uncommon, some which resulted in driver deaths. It was kind of eerie to be present to witness these accidents. But the clincher for me was the year of 1955 when Bill Vukovich spun around from an accident and ended up on the track right in front of us. His car had turned over, and his left arm was visible, pinned under the car. The race was held up (yellow flagging, I think it was called) as the emergency vehicles approached. The first one to go out to apply CO2 to a possible flame that might erupt was found to be without gas or just inoperative. A second did the same thing!
Imagine if you can, a place where millions of dollars are spent in advertising various products each year, and yet a simple thing like CO2 bottles which don't work to help save a driver's life existed!
Eventually the engine's fuel ignited, and the car burst into flames. That drove the crew back temporarily, so when they finally did get the fire out, Vukovich had perished from being pinned under the car [Note: Not true]. That's as I saw it! Maybe someone can disprove something I'm relating here, but I doubt it.
On December 1, 1956, after nearly six years living in the Kotrch's basement apartment, we found an apartment for rent in a large apartment building at 2745 S. Ridgeland Avenue in Berwyn. It was on the second floor, apartment number four, and the front of the apartment faced Ridgeland Avenue.
Two kids and a husband and wife finally became too much for a husband and wife and two dogs, and our departure from the Kotrch's was by mutual agreement. We really appreciated those people!
Our 10th Anniversary
On December 27, 1956, Eleanor and I went to downtown Chicago to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We parked near the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park and walked to State and Madison, quite a distance. We found a well known restaurant where movie stars are said to have entertained regularly, and we went in to splurge!
When the maitre d' seated us and the waiter arrived, we stared at the menu in disbelief at the prices listed. But we were there and were not about to leave, so we ordered as sparingly as we could.
Approached about dessert I don't know if we ordered any or not, but I do know when the bill and tip were paid, we didn't have enough left to take a bus or street car to get back toward Grant Park. It was now late, dark, and we were in no condition to walk that far, but we had no choice!
Another Unsolved Murder
In August, 1957, There was a grisly murder case in Chicago where a young lady's body had been discovered. She was murdered and then her body was dismembered and placed in a [cut-down] 50 gallon [and a 5 gallon] oil drums. Because we were in the auto parts business, we and other auto parts store owners and workers were questioned about the container[s] and the brand name on [one].
And then a well known columnist came calling in our neighborhood, Ann Landers. She had heard (and it was [possibly] so) that the girl, now identified, was last seen [in public] at the ice cream parlor/snack shop next door to our store. I must say I didn't think she looked like the pictures I'd seen for so many yearsAnn Landers, I mean.
Full Semester at Concordia
My appetite now whetted for more education from those Morton Junior College courses, I decided to try enrolling at Concordia Teacher's College for a full curriculum while also working full time for my father-in-law.
In applying for entry at Concordia, I realized I was already 34 years old, almost twice the average student's age; and that did make me feel hesitant at first. But I overcame those fears and went ahead with enrollment. I was accepted for the fall quarter in 1957.
My classes included a course on the new math, but math in high school had always been my best (that and English), so I figured this would be no sweat for me. The second was a history course dealing with the medieval or Middle Ages. This was one I wasn't too sure about.
Another required course for all students who would one day become teachers in the Lutheran School System was piano. It was required that everyone know the basics of the piano, and I knew absolutely nothing about it.
It seems there was also a fourth class, but I can't remember what it was. In any case, what I've listed above was enough of a headache in themselves.
The math class turned out to be entirely foreign to menothing like the math I had in high school. The new math used terminology which seemed ridiculous to me as compared with the old, and it gave me headaches.
The history class was fully lecture in form, and the professor was one who spoke in a monotone. There was something like a hundred students in that class. I didn't dare ask questions of others as to what this guy was talking about.
Oh, the fourth class was a religious study course in the Bible. That professor began saying that this and that book and this and that passage wasn't necessarily from the original, and he began putting doubts into my mind. If I'd have torn out every part he challenged as possibly not being genuine, I'd have had little left when he finished. I was thoroughly disgusted with that class!
The piano lessons were mostly self-teaching ones, though also included in that class was voice. I remember when I attended the first class, the teacher asked that I pick out any hymn I liked and to sing as she played it. I never could sing, and you may remember my experience while in that eighth grade play at grammar school. This was totally embarrassing, but I did go through with it. If I remember the result, the teacher acted as though I'd done well; but I knew she was only trying to save me from selling myself short and to build confidence.
The stack at the left contains Roget's International Thesaurus (Crowell), Davis Dictionary of the Bible (Baker) and other works on top.
At the right, A Summary of Christian Doctrine (Concordia) is over the Book of Concord on a Bible. We're not sure what book is on top.
Against the wall, under the flowers, we see Eleanor's rebound KJV Bible which she used most of her life. ["Skrudland NOV 57 Chicago 35"]
My studies kept getting behind, but I had in mind that when the Christmas vacation came (two weeks), I'd catch up on all the reading and study. I'd forgotten one thing, however.
It got to be traditional with my wife and kids (and myself) to always without fail develop influenza just before Christmas and to have it linger right on through the holidays. This year was no different from the others!
When the high fevers came, followed by the sore throats and coughing, and my "study" ended up as sick time, I realized I'd not be able to continue at the school. It would be difficult to face people who knew I'd entered school, and I'd lose face. But I had no choice!
Bob and Betty
Right after I'd enrolled at Concordia, Eleanor's brother Bob was married to Betty, a girl he'd met at the church he was attending. The romance with Mary Lou had faded because of religious differences mainly (I think), for she was a Roman Catholic, while he was a Protestant. There may have been other divergent views which entered into the decision to part, but I'm not sure. I do know that for years which followed, Mary Lou still contacted Bob's mother, even being in touch with her before she died in 1990 (and two husbands later).
Left to Right: Clarence EDGREN, daughter-in-law Betty, son, Bob and wife, Erana. October 4, 1957.
Betty had been a Moody Bible Institute graduate, while Bob may not have finished high school (not sure). It always seemed to me to be a less than perfect marriage, but I may have carried that view because of the fact Betty and I didn't hit it off very wellfor whatever reasons.
They did eventually have four kids, a son David (who is a dead ringer for Bob), a set of twin boys, Paul and Peter, and one girl, Becky. She was and is a very sweet young lady, now married for several years at this writing.
Bob and Betty's marriage fell on rocky ground along the way. I never knew for certain what was at the root of their differences, but Betty eventually left Bob and David in Berwyn, and she moved to Wisconsin. Becky and the twins went along with her. At first it was just a separation, but she finally filed for divorce. I think Bob felt relieved to be out of anyone's control, though he had to have missed his kids (and maybe his wife, too). I felt sorry for him!
Bob was always kind of slow and easy going, as though he had a physical problem of which no one was aware. Evidently this was so as you'll learn later on.
In March of 1958 we invited a Gulbransen Organ salesman to come and demonstrate one of the recent models becoming popular in home use in those days. He did things with that organ which seemed near to impossible, and he surely did have a captivated audience. I don't know how the other apartment dwellers put up with all that noise (or entertainment?) that late night.
It must have gone beyond midnight when we had heard the last of his "pitch" and succumbed to his presentation. We signed on the dotted line, ordering a model in what I believe was called "blonde oak" or some such designation. It was a very attractive organ, and it appeared to offer benefits for the entire family, among which were the lessons offered with the purchase.
Naturally, when we got the organ, it just didn't do the things that salesman had been doing. Eleanor had piano lessons as a kid, but even she couldn't come close to duplicating the sounds that guy made on it. And when the lesson matter came up as to who would take them, I ended up as being selected. I guess the kids weren't that interested, and Eleanor had already had lessons in the past.
Knowing nothing at all about music, I first had to learn the position of the various keys and cords. I did all right when it came to one finger stuff, but as I was being led into using cords with both hands, my teacher lost me. It wasn't a total loss, however, because playing the one key stuff on an organ and using cords for the other hand, it sounded pretty good anyway.
Our Big Trip out West
[With] the tension of school over, we had begun to plan for our 1958 vacation year. We'd been corresponding with our friends in Utah since 1949, and we decided this would be an ideal time to take a trip out to see our old stomping grounds in Price. Little did we know how wise it would be to decide to take that vacation in 1958 because of what took place in 1959.
Our trip to Utah was planned, and the day came to leave. The kids were ages 5½ and 4, not fully in appreciation of what we were undertaking. Nor were they looking forward to meeting people Eleanor and I knew from years back when we lived there.
We left home about May 30th [on a train], and we probably arrived in Salt Lake City two days later. There we rented a car and drove southeast 150 to 175 miles to Price [125 miles according to recent maps] where we rented a motel room. I think we planned to stay for a week if I'm not mistaken.
The first thing I wanted to see was the airport where I'd taken flying lessons and where I'd worked. The drive out was interesting as I explained to the kids how I used to drive that route daily to and from work. I also explained about having a gun at that time and about shooting from open windows at jack rabbits and other things. In time we arrived at the airport.
That 5,000 foot asphalt runway now had weeds growing through cracks in it. Monarch no longer was in existence, having been bought out by Frontier Airlines, and they dropped Price as a stop. The flying services once owned by Ivan and Dick had gone out of business, and the other flying services were barely doing any business. It was as though I'd attended a funeral rather than to experience a joyful remembrance.
I did learn from those who were around that the plane I flew in Price most of the time had crashed into the runway in an attempted takeoff. And that was supposed to have happened the very week we left Price in June of 1949. The pilot was killed instantly. Sad! It could just as well have been my demise had we stayed on there in Price. But it wasn't meant to be!
In Price we visited those we could, mainly the Jensen family with whom we'd spent so much time when we lived in Price. They had us over for dinner, and it ended up that we drove the mother of the family to Provo on our way back to Salt Lake City, dropping her off at the requested address.
We'd learned that one of the two Brown families we knew had moved to Provo, so we looked them up and had a real nice visit with them. Lafe and Agnes were a young couple a bit younger than Eleanor and I, and we loved to visit with them. Lafe drove us around the mountain area near to where they lived. They had a view of a mountain right behind their house. It was a real scenic setup.
Continuing on to Salt Lake City, we visited the other Brown family we knew, Merlin and Lillian. That couple had to be about ten to fifteen years our senior, but they had treated us well when we lived in Price and we wouldn't have thought of stopping in Salt Lake City without seeing them.
Merlin was working at an auto parts store, and Lillian was still coughing constantly. It was an illness she'd had for years, but being members of the Christian Science "church," she would never seek medical aid. It made Eleanor and me feel very sorry for her, but there was no changing their thinking on that matter.
There are many little details I left out a ways back. For example, the couple who lived behind us at our apartments (Fausett Apartments) were in our age categoryArt and Phyllis Poloni. Art was on the police force in Price when we were there, and when we visited in 1958; years later, we learned that Art had become the Chief of Police of Price City.
Then there was Jim and Verna Woods. We stayed at their apartments outside of town, a place called El Patio Courts. They were the people who introduced us to venison (deer meat), and it was delicious! In later years they moved to Roswell, New Mexico, and we were to visit them on the 1958 trip, but somehow our plans were altered, and we never again saw them. That town their apartments were in was Wellington, Utah. We lived there when first arriving in Utah.
In our trip back to Provo from Price we spoke with Mrs. Jensen about her concern she'd never see her departed husband again because of church (Mormon) doctrine which taught that anyone who smoked or drank (liquor), or those who were not married in the Temple in Salt Lake Citythese would never meet in the world beyond. We had such heartfelt feelings as she poured out her heart on the matter that we did something we were not supposed to do. We spoke to her about the Bible and what God had to say in His Word about that and other subjects telling her she should open her heart to the real and living God in the person of Jesus, God's only Son, the Second Person of the [Triunity].
Some time later when trying to resume correspondence with Lucille Jensen (the daughter we knew more closely than any others in the family), no answers were forthcoming. Evidently the mother had told the family everything we had told her and that severed our relationship forever.
Our visits over, we headed for the train station where we were to continue on to California and a visit with Eleanor's Uncle Wesley and Aunt Marie Edgren. They lived in a town called Venice, a place near the coast just west/southwest of Los Angeles.
I was going to turn the rental car in at the proper place, and Eleanor was to check on the train's departure, track number, etc. It was getting near to the time we were supposed to leave, and I was greatly concerned. Timothy was only four years old, and he dreaded the loud sounds of the train whistles, so instead of holding on to the small baggage he was holding, he'd drop them in order to cover his ears. This made for slow progress toward getting on board the train. I had to leave them as they walked toward the train, as the car rental outfit was nearby.
It took what felt like forever to get the car checked in, and I began running for where I'd last seen Eleanor and the kids headed. I didn't know if they were on board, or if they were, on what part of the train. And worse than that, the train began moving!
I ran and kept looking (the train was moving slowly) for an open doorway to get into, finally finding one and jumping on as it sped up. I was almost a basket case as I wondered if I was going to make it on board. And even worse, I pondered the possibility Eleanor and the kids wouldn't be on the train! "What would happen if I was on board and they weren't? Or," while running, "what if I didn't get on and they were on the train?"
Eventually we all met in one of the rail cars, and a joyous time followedwell, after the usual bickering as to who was at fault for the matter in the first place. A conductor had arranged our meeting.
The train ride from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas gave breathtaking views in scenic beauty, as did the ride from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. You must remember we were "city critters" who had never seen such scenery before (I had while in the navy, though it was years earlier).
In Las Vegas we just sat inside our rail car rather than getting out to see what was there. I don't recall how long we were there, but that city held a place in our minds as the replacement city for Sodom and Gomorrah, and we weren't about to get out and look it over. To this day we haven't held a much-changed view on that place, in spite of the fact there are Christians living there as well as those places of filth and gambling and sin.
Arriving in Los Angeles we took a cab to Eleanor's relative's home, not having any idea of how far it was from the rail station or how much it would cost. Having been a cab driver at one time, I knew how easy it was to spot those who had no idea of where they were headed or how to get there. As it turned out, it did just about cost an arm and a leg for the ride, but we had little choice in the matter.
Wesley had been suffering from a nervous condition, so we couldn't stay at their house, but they did give us one of their two family cars to use while there. So it was relatively simple for us to go out in search of a motel, eventually finding one closer to the ocean and about two miles from their house.
We drove all over the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, getting ourselves lost a number of times, mainly because of the new freeway construction all over the L.A. area.
We took one trip to the San Fernando Valley to visit a park where the movie industry trained its animals. It was located in something like Agoura just west of Woodland Hills. In later years one of those animals mauled a child either crippling or killing it. That ended that park's history!
Another trip we took was to Alhambra where Eleanor's Uncle Elmer and Aunt Corrine lived. While visiting them, we also saw Corrine's folks, Henry and Ida Kurth. They were well up in their eighties at that time.
Elmer took us for a ride into the mountains in his Hudson automobile. It had been hot in the valleys, but when reaching the upper elevations in the mountain, it turned quite cool. That was a real treat and something quite different from how we were accustomed to living in the Midwest all those years.
Just east of where the Edgren's lived was a shopping area where a bunch of international foods was available from this one area. The shops adjoined each other so that one could walk around and pick out the different types of foods he wanted, and then sit at tables set aside for all these places. It was actually lower in cost to dine there than to prepare meals at home. I guess the Edgren's (and a lot of others) ate there quite often.
[Then came] the highlight of the trip for our sons: We visited Disneyland [Click on these color photos showing how it appeared back in 1958 for better views: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] in Anaheim, California.
It seems we were in L.A. around two weeks (just about, at least), but they went quickly, and soon we found ourselves back on the train headed for Chicago. The route this time would be through Arizona and New Mexico rather than Utah and Nevada.
As the train got under way, it soon became noticeable that there wasn't any cooling in the rail cars. In time the conductor explained they'd encountered a problem with the cooling system and that it was doubtful we'd have any air conditioning the remainder of the trip. Going into Arizona in June was not exactly a picnic without the cooling system working. We all got irritable, uncomfortable and tired trying to put up with the condition which existed. With two kids under six years of age, it was difficult to explain to them why it was going to remain hot like that for the entire trip home, one which terminated on June 21, 1958, back in Chicago.
Trips to Wisconsin
Many vacations were spent in Northern Wisconsin, some in which we'd join the in-laws for a short time, and one or two where my wife and kids went along with them. Northern Wisconsin was my in-law's favorite spot, especially at Franklin Lake in the Nicolet National Forest near Eagle River and Rhinelander.
Clarence was an exacting packer when it came to loading his boat which he pulled behind his car. He had a list of items which had to go on every trip, and everything had to fit just exactly into a specified place. It'd drive me nuts sometimes trying to help him pack.
No Wall at Work!
There was one day when I opened the store and looked toward the back that it seemed very light for some reason. So I headed for the back room where we kept the tail and exhaust pipes. When I got there, I found the whole back wall had been pulled out. No wonder it was so light!
Evidently some potential thieves had attached a chain to the iron bars covering the window and to their truck or car and tried pulling the wall down. They were successful all right; but when those pipes came tumbling down, it must have made one of the world's loudest noises! And they took off without ever entering the storefearing they'd awakened the entire neighborhood (there were residential homes behind the alley).
I got on the phone to call my father-in-law and told him what had happened, asking if I should call the police right away. His answer, "No way! Just do what you can until I get there!"
When he came to the store I'd already begun trying to straighten out the mess of pipes all over the place. He calmly told me if the police were called, it'd cost him more in "gifts" than it'd be worth. And besides, he had no insurance, anyway! We patched up the damage and continued as though nothing had happened.
Another thing my father-in-law did for us from time to time was to help us clean our apartments and to move. We also helped at their house on occasion as well. And when we'd go on our annual trek to Wisconsin, he'd usually be there to help us get ready for that, too.
Eleanor Working Again
On August 1, 1958, Eleanor started working at Preferred Business Services in Oak Park on a part time basis, mainly because of the two youngsters at home. [In the next chapter, you'll see why January 30th, 1959 was her last day there.]
Then in November (I was back working at my father-in-law's place after the vacation) my father-in-law celebrated his 58th birthday. And things looked as though they were going along well. But that didn't last!
1[Return to Text] Though a number of spectators believed this, Vukovich had in fact died while his car was still in the air, because his head hit the bridge over the race track! An article by Curt Cavin in the The Indianapolis Star (May 27, 1995), stated: "Word quickly spread that Vukovich, who was driving the Lindsey Hopkins car, died from burns, though that was not the case. Medical personnel confirmed that the two-time defending champion was partially decapitated during contact with the bridge. The fire that broke out after the crash had no bearing on his survival."
2[Return to Text] John was still at Austin Automotive Electric at 5750 W. North Ave. and the first link below mentions witnesses placing the girl at 5756 W. North Ave. at the Dairy King about 9:30 PM. Our author had also written about this crime: "Eventually, the murderer was found outI wish I could recall his name. He was serving a life sentence [not true!], but in time was freed to walk the streets just as though he'd done nothing. I can't say I understand our judicial system where some are put to death while others can roam the streets. And his was such a heinous crime at that!" In fact, no one was ever convicted of this crime, but the 2nd link below implies many (such as our author) believe one Barry Cook to be the killer since he confessed to some that he was (and had been suspected of and convicted in some other assaults against women). For further reading: Judith Mae Andersen, and from a 1987 article in the Chicago Tribune: A Murder That Time Can't Forget.
3[Return to Text] This 'man-made religion' is neither Christian nor scientific! It totally misrepresents and misinterprets Scripture (by redefining every significant Biblical term; such as God, sin and salvation to mean something entirely different) as well as being completely non-scientific; its foundation and practices having more in common with Hindu philosophy than Christianity: Not only sickness but all of reality (including death) is an illusion, and all your problems are simply due to not realizing this (which is why they aren't supposed to see doctors for any of their health issues, but rather convince themselves they really don't have anything wrong!). They have no personal God to pray to, no Savior who died as the propitiation for their sins, etc. This has led some US preachers to call it the 'grape-nuts® religion' (since that cereal does not have either grapes or nuts in its ingredients). Externally, by carrying Bibles, meeting together in a 'church' and singing from hymnals, they appear to some; especially children, as Christians, but they do not worship the God of Scripture and its leaders are in fact some of the "false teachers" Peter told us would arise (2 Peter 2:1).
4[Return to Text] Art Poloni was the Chief of Police from January 12, 1970 to February 11, 1982 (from the document Price City Police Department, Marshals and Chiefs, provided by the Price City Police Department).
5[Return to Text] The author (as do so many others), used the term "trinity" here. But that term (which only means '3') is a shortened form of that which should always be used: Triunity; which means '3 in one'. Note that the term Person when used of the "Father," "Son" or "Holy Spirit" is an inadequate term we use only to help humans in knowing something about God which we can never truly understand: That although there is only one God (e.g., Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 45:6, etc.), God has revealed to us that there are also three personal distinctions within His One Being (e.g., John 1:1, Matthew 3:16-17, Matthew 28:19, etc.). It has been said, It's important to know your limitations. In relation to God, it's very important to realize that His existence is totally unique both inside and outside the whole universe! There is none like Him, so we have no other being to compare Him to, let alone comprehend everything about Him. Humans who exhibit completely different personalities are mentally damaged (not to mention, those differences are manifestations within the same physical body), but God has told us there have always been these 3 persons (as we call them, since humans have no better term to use) within His Being, and that they not only communicate with each other, but have always loved each other (see John 17:24 in our essay, Why Did God Create Us?).
6[Return to Text] Otherwise known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or LDS) which is yet another 'man-made religion' that follows its own 'prophets' rather than the God of the Bible, into polytheism. For example, in spite of what numerous Scripture passages such as Psalm 90:2, tells us about God's eternality, their god according their first prophet, Joseph Smith, "...was once as we are now, and is an exalted man. ... We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). And even though Jesus told us in John 4:24 that God is spirit, their god "...has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's ..." (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22). Not only that, but if they live as good Mormons, it may be possible for them to become gods as well (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354) just as their god used to be a man who lived on another planet (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333). There's also a mother god (Articles of Faith, James Talmage, p. 443) to whom their god of this earth is married and they have spirit children (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516). So, although most Mormons are good people; which our author has well attested to when living in Utah and elsewhere, they are not Biblical Christians.