Yvonne Lindores Ferguson
Born 1931, Victoria BC. I wrote this in May, 2000. I am 69 years old: Actually I'm still 39! When I was a child, we lived out in the District of Colquitz. We had to take a bus in to the city of Victoria. It being in the depression time, us kids only got to go a few times., or when we had to go to the dentist. My mother couldn't afford to have her teeth looked at and so when I was 8 or 9 she got really ill from her teeth and was in the hospital for a year and nearly died. Dad never told us how bad off she was and the only time we went to see her was in the hospital, all her family and friends were there and I think they thought she was dying. But she made it and when she first came up the stairs to our door...there was Tyrone Power's name written 20 times all around the door frame. I loved Tyrone Powers! She laughed, but I had to clean it all off. Also I wrote her a note that Dad took to the hospital, and I complained of a sore toe. She asked him what was wrong with my toe. Dad kept that note in his wallet until the day he died.
We lived in a small house, but it seemed big to me. Mom bought the house for $25.00 down and $25.00 a month until it was paid off, then she bought the next door lot - for taxes - we couldn't tell anyone for a year - after the year was up it was ours. She then proceeded to tell Old McMutt to keep his darn cows off it!! and he couldn't believe it was ours! Dad fenced it in and we had a lovely big yard. He put a huge Portcullis up to divide the front from the back.
I had a wonderful childhood. We had a lot of chores to do, especially in summer. As that was when mom and dad bought wood and sawdust for the winter. But mom would give us time off to play with our friends or to wander. Our favourite place was Colquitz Creek, even though it was getting polluted from the mental hospital. We weren't supposed to get in it. But we caught tadpoles and bugs. My very favorite place was up in Austin's woods. I always went up there by myself, I would climb trees and sit on huge mossy boulders and ponder how lovely the world was. I would eat a green soft plant that tasted like lettuce, and berries for my lunch.
Our kitchen was nice and big and it ran all the way across the back of the house, with a bathroom on the north end. In the winter sometimes mom would open the bathroom door and let us skate back and forth from one end to the other. We had no refrigerator, we had a cupboard on the north wall with vents to keep things cool and in the summer, ice went in the bottom. We had a sawdust burner, which was a wood stove, converted with a big hopper which fed sawdust to the fire. When mom baked she put wood in the wood part to make a hotter fire. We had a sofa at one end of the room. On the back porch, were all the sawdust buckets. We had to keep them filled for mom, so she wouldn't have to go to the storage bins in the basement, which we filled up all summer. We had a clothesline off the porch. Bu in rainy weather mom had a wood rack/spool thing that lowered from the ceiling over the stove and the clothes dried on that. She made our clothes and I remember 2 dresses especially, that I loved. She sat up all night sewing them, so I could wear one to school the next day. My dad worked at the mental home, which was a short walk for dad, across the field at the back of our house. We called it the "nuthouse" and we had friends there. There would send stamps for us to put in our stamp albums. Dad would come home with buckets of stamps. And the kitchen men would send big pitchers of vanilla ice cream. They didn't know how to make any other flavor. And after a long time I couldn't eat vanilla ice cream. We were not allowed in the grounds - it was also a huge farm and the patients worked outside, unless they went up the Pole. Then they would have to go inside for awhile. My dad was the hydrotherapist and also did medical treatment under a doctor who came out from town every few weeks. He gave them water baths and ultraviolet and red ray treatments, as they didn't see the sun when inside. Dad took us kids over to see his office and treatment room. And I asked if it hurt the patients to put them in the warm water baths. So he put me between the two rubber type sheets which keeps the patients from flailing around and hurting themselves. Then he lowered me slowly into the moving warm water, it was wonderful, so soothing, I didn't want to get out. this is how they calmed the patients. It was a good hospital and it was for the worst of the mentally ill. They had one Indian chief from the Queen Charlotte Islands. He couldn't stop eating people! But we loved him, he would sit on a bench and play a flute and all the little guinea pigs would come running and of course he fed them. It was delightful. Then they had a pyromaniac - and one time when we were playing pirates in the trees by the mental home, we heard him planning with another patient, how he as going to set the home on fire. So we hightailed it home, when they left the area. And told my dad. They watched him really carefully after that.
Mr. Proctor was the cowman and he takes the cows to browse in the back field. We were sitting with him one day and shared our lunch with him. And we asked him "how come you're a nut? You don't act like a nut!" He grinned. Then he told us, "when I was a young man, I worked for the railroad. Laying tracks. Have you seen those big heavy hammers they use to put the bolts in?" "Yes", we said. "Well", he said, " the mosquitoes were bad that year up island, and I felt a mosquito bit my head and I forgot I had that big hammer in my hand and I swatted it, hitting my head. That's how come I'm a nut." We bought it!!!
When we told my dad, he laughed his head off! Then he told us that Mr. Proctor was cured, he'd been sent home to live with his only relative, a niece. And he couldn't stand them, so he came and begged to be put back in the home. So, he was allowed in and out of the gates. There were several like that. We used to fish with one of them.
Mickey and her friends would try and see who could get from the barn gate (at the home) to the bear cage, without Pat Cummings, the farm superintendent, catching them. There was a real bear in the cage. I tried once and Mr. Cummings caught me. He would tell my dad and we would catch hell for being inside the mental home. At Christmas the patients would send us candies and cookies. I think they loved watching our shenanigans. From our kitchen window we could see the vegetable gardens of the home. We could see the patients working and the attendants watching. You could always tell when one of the patients went "up the pole". The attendants would come and surround him and get him inside the big building which was built like a castle with crenellated edgings! They took him right to dad, who put him in that soothing bath.
When it was Dad's birthday, Mom, Mickey and I would make stuff and a nice cake for him. But Leon, we had to keep him in as he wanted to give our secret away to dad. He usually managed to slip away and before we knew it, he was at the back gate telling dad all the stuff we'd gotten him and all about the cake.
Halloween in Colquitz was fun. After we went trick or treating, there was always fireworks. And friends would come in and visit. We'd bob for apples. The big boys always put the outhouse on top of the Brownie and Scout Hall. Everyone would go down the next day and look at it. These boys also, didn't like Mr. Davis our next door neighbor, because he'd shoot bbs at them. So , this one year, Mr. Davis had planted pansies up and down his path. The boys went in at night and dug them up and then planted them all upside down. So all you could see were the little roots up and down the sidewalk. It must have taken a long time for that trick. I felt sorry for Mr. Davis, even though he was a mean man. My mom saved his life once, giving blood for his transfusion, when no one else would. But he repaid us with unkind rumours that dad was bringing home from the hospital. It could have cost dad his job. The people who delivered meat to the hospital, would bring meat that dad had ordered and paid for, so he wouldn't have to go all the way into town to get it. So after the Davis' unkind remarks, dad had to go into town and get the meat from then on. Mom found out about the rumours from a nice lady on the bus one day.
Christmas was great and we always prayed for snow, but we seldom got it on this part of the Island. Dad would give out the presents on Christmas morning, one at a time. We each kept a list of who gave it and what it was, as next day (boxing day) was a holiday also and we had to write all our thank you notes. We also went on boxing day to my uncle George's place. He'd come and pick us up in his truck or car. We usually ate at his in-laws place , the Saddlers. He was a good hunter and there was always bear and caribou to eat. Mrs. Sadler was a good cook. We always had a bola-bat contest. The one who could keep the ball going the longest got a chocolate bar. Mickey and I usually won. It was hard to beat Mickey!
Uncle George had caribou, moose and big deer heads mounted all around the room. He loved cowboy songs, just like I did. And we would sit down to listen together and aunt Lil couldn't stand for that, she'd make me go outside and play. Just once, I wished uncle George would tell her off! She was mean to us. "Children should be seen and not heard, nor anywhere near Uncle George". And we adored uncle George. Before Uncle George married Aunt Lil, we'd go and stay at the farm with him. It was fun! We'd slide down the haystacks for which he would give us a bawling out. And we'd aggravate his big old bull. And we ate the bran he kept in lockers for the cows. He finally had to put locks on. We also chipped off pieces of the salt blocks. So we sucked on them. In the evening we'd sit on the barn gate waiting for Jim to bring the cows home from pasture. Mickey, Leon and I would sit and sing "won't you wait, wait, wait, by the old barn gate, won't you wait til' the cows come home!"
When Mickey was little, Uncle George came over to visit and Mickey wouldn't quit her bawling. So Uncle George got a gunny sack and put her in it and threw her over his shoulder and started out of the house and he told her he was taking her to get her cry bawl taken out, if she didn't stop! That scared her straight. She shut up and never did it again. I was too little to remember that. Mom and dad loved to tell that story. Also Mickey managed to get our cat, Gilmore. It was a little baby stray. Mickey was 3 and they said she couldn't have it - so she ran away with the kitten, they found her sitting a block away, in the middle of the street, sitting, holding the kitten and cry bawling. He was a good cat, he was orange and looked like a lion. He lived outside mostly. Gilmore was responsible for our second cat "Wimpy". (He loved hamburgers) and loved to smell flowers! We should have called him Ferdinand! (the bull with the delicate ego). A stray grey cat had shown up, expecting kittens & it was a very, very cold winter, so mom let it stay in the basement. One night after dark, we heard a loud scratching at the front door. Not the backdoor, mind you, where we fed Gilmore. Mom went & opened the door and there is Gilmore with a tiny orange kitten in his mouth & he drops it into the hall & then leaves. And we kept Wimpy. We never saw the grey cat & kittens again. Wimpy looked just like Gilmore. They would sit on the posts on either side of the gate & looked like mini-lions.
We also had a wire haired terrier name Terry, he was a nice little dog but got killed accidentally by Mr. B. Payne in his car. My mom had a police whistle & we knew that when she blew 3 blasts on the whistle we were to immediately stop what we were doing & come home. And we obeyed or got a licking. We usually deserved our lickings! Terry thought he was one of us kids & when mom blew the whistle this day, Terry came running across the Interurban Rod without looking first and that was it. Mr. Payne felt terrible & brought him home & we buried him in a shoebox in the back yard & put flowers on it.
Then mom got a Pekinese, who'd been abused by it's owner-you had to put your hand slowly to its nose so it could smell you & approve or disapprove of you. If you petted him too fast he would bite you. Aunt Lil & Sadlers came to visit one day & Aunt Lil started chirping-oh what a cute little doggie! & us kids waited with baited breath to see if she got her comeuppance. Sure enough she lunged at the Pekinese & he bit her & drew blood. "You nasty little bugger" she said. And it was all we could do to stop from grinning. We took Peke out & gave him a treat. He was our kind of dog. I can't talk about dogs without mentioning Brownie a water spaniel. Big & brown. He was Bill & Pam Payne's dog. He came very so often to see my dad, who would cut his toe nails & make sure the pads of his feet were okay. No briars in them. Once day on the North Hill, Brownie got hit by a pickup truck & had brain injury done to him. Everyone loved Brownie & people chipped in to help pay for his brain operation. It cost $500, even back then in the late 30's. Brownie recovered was a little slower than before though!
We three kids went to school at "Strawberry Vale". The 1st grade was separate from the big 2 room school. It was in a nice bungalow, with a cloakroom, for our coats, rubber boots and lunch buckets. My dad made us beautiful wooden lunch boxes with leather handles. My first grade teacher was Miss Simpson. I loved school. All the books! I couldn't wait to read. In 2nd grade I moved over to the big school, where there were 3&4 grades in each room. The principals office was in the middle of the 2 rooms. When I first got there, there was a man principle & I tried to avoid him. I was a tiny kid & when he saw me he'd grab me & ask how I was & then threw me up in the air. It embarrassed me a lot. For years I was called "quarter pint". There was a big basement, where the restrooms were & in bad weather we congregated down there. The water fountains were down there also. One time Mickey was feuding with a girl named Joan Gardener. So, I though I'd help Mickey by getting even with Joan. So I took a big swig of water from the taps and as she came down the steps, I cam behind the door and squirted it on her. She went & told Miss Davis our then principal. I had no excuse & I got 5 hits on the palms of my hands with a ruler. I deserved it! But Joan was now thought of as a tattle-tale, as she was 2 years older than me.
In 1939 King George and Queen Elizabeth came to visit Victoria, and the school hired buses to take us over too the Gorge Rd., where we all lined up to wave at their limousine. And all of a sudden I saw my dad, who was supposed to be at work. He was talking to my teacher. Then he came over & got Mickey, Leon & I and said he had permission to take us off to town for town & boy, he rushed us down to a bus stop & headed for the Empress Hotel. He said we'd get a real good look at them & their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret there! And we did. We were right in front on the sidewalk as they came down from the hotel. They were right in front of us when the crowd pushed against us & Leon fell down right in front of the Queen. And she bent down & put him back on his feet. She said something to us, but the noise was so great I couldn't hear what it was. Wasn't that nice of my Dad to go out of his way to give us a wonderful experience.
In the 1940's dad worked an extra job at the "Lagoon". It was on the ocean. On the lagoon. There were huge logs all over the beach. During WWII were told "Loose lips sink ships." So one night when dad was getting off work, at the lagoon he saw a huge ship anchored offshore & the longer he looked, he knew it was the Queen Mary. No one ever knew it was there! Dad told us that if we could keep our mouths shut & tell no one, not even Uncle George, he would show us the secret. He took Mickey & I out on the bus to the Lagoon where we could see the Queen Mary. It was a thrill & wonderful that dad trusted us to keep quiet. We never mentioned it to anyone until the 1960s until Mickey told Aunt Lil, who was visiting us in CA and she called Mickey a fibber. Mickey brought me over and I told her exactly what dad had done & I think she realized it was true. She'd seen the Queen Mary in Long Beach (Ha! we saw it 1st!)
Uncle George, Lil & the Sadlers took us all on picnics once in a while. One was out at the Lagoon, they lit a fire for hot dogs etc, behind a log. And after swimming & playing in the water, those big logs were great to lay behind to get warm out of the cool winds off the ocean. Some we pretended were houses or boats & we had a great time. One time, the Sadlers came in their car & they both went in to the house to carry out all the food, my mom made. Towels, swimsuits, etc, but Mr. Sadler left the car motor running. Us kids were being good & sitting quietly, when all of a sudden the old car, which had a crank starter, jumped out of gear and started going around backwards in circles on our front lawn & getting closer & closer to the ditch. Mr. Sadler came running & was chasing us around until he finally managed to reach in & turn the motor off. We just loved it, but he was sort of short with us, I think he thought we had done something..no, we didn't. The seats were so high & big we didn't even think of climbing up front. He had to crank it up again to start if & we were all on our way to Saseenos, to stay at a cottage on the beach with Aunt Lil & Uncle Geo. The doctor let Mom out of the hospital, and said she needed sea air. So that's what we did. Dad & Uncle Geo had to work so they only came all the way up there on weekends. This was a grand adventure! The cottage was right on the beach, we had to take a long bunch of stairs to get down to it. My mother slept outside on an open beach porch. Sand floor. The ocean came up at night right under the house & under my mom's bed. I wanted to sleep out there, so mom let me, but as soon as the tide came up, I yelled to get back in the house.
Aunt Lil and Mrs. Sadler were good at telling ghost stories every night. One night, a Wednesday, they were in the middle of a gruesome story about a hatchet murder - when "whack" on the front door, we all looked at each other & Aunt Lil got up slowly & opened the door. There was a red hatchet sticking in it. We yelled, "shut the door & lock it". She did! Next thing we hear is a whacking & thumping on the back door. Boy, we were scared. Our goose bumps were standing on end! Aunt Lil went to the backdoor, though we begged her not to! And all of a sudden, there came Uncle George and my Dad, laughing their heads off. They weren't supposed to be there in the middle of the week!
This time at the beach made us realize that Aunt Lil was okay. The Premier of Canada lived up the beach from us and we played with his grandkids. O course there were wealthy. Those kids started bragging about their maids & butlers. So Mickey told Aunt Lil - so Aunt Lil concocted a story for us. She would be our maid for the rest of our time there. And we told those kids that and they believed. She would bring us lemonade & cookies. We told them it was her holiday too.
Aunt Lil decided that I needed to learn how to swim. So she took me out to the raft that was anchored out in the sea. She swam out with me and left me and said I had to swim to shore or miss supper. The waves looked awful high to me. So I stayed out there til supper time, when Mom made Aunt Lil come and get me. I've always had a high sense of self-preservation. One night we had a bonfire on the beach, had marshmellows & hotdogs. Mr. Sadler, said it was time to go to bed & he was on the side of the fire nearest the water, he picked up the bucket to get water to drown the fire. He was walking out towards the water & kept saying, "Boy, the tide is way out tonight". When, blub, blub, blub--- and we realized he'd been sitting in the water for quite a while. Aunt Lil went & rescued her dad. The tide put the fire out for us. Mr. Sadler got teased all week about that, "Boy, the tides out far tonight, Sadler." He was always a good sport! He took us 3 kids out in a rowboat to go across the Gorge. And he had Mickey watch for rocks, & she was to guide him as he was rowing. One time she missed a big rock & we hit it with the bottom of the boat. It didn't put a hole in it, thank goodness. But Mr. Sadler sure yelled at Mickey. We also went crabbing there & we had crab for dinner. The big kids had a rope, with a big knot on the bottom, tied to a big tree. This was right at the edge of high tide. They could climb up on the high bank, someone below would swing the rope up to them. You hung on & shoved off & your were over the ocean & you let go & you were swimming! When we got home to Colquitz, our district out in Saanich, I told mom, "I need to learn how to swim." So she sent me to a class in Victoria, at the Crystal Gardens. I went by bus downtown, I would take my class, then go upstairs, near the ballroom to a snack bar & have a hot buttered crumpet & coffee & then bus back home in time for supper. The pool was all glassed in, with Palm trees all around upstairs, there were seats to view & the ballroom. It was nice to sit & watch from upstairs. I loved this place. The water in the pool was heated sea water. The salt made it more buoyant for swimming. I also was enamoured of the hot showers they had & 1 day I stayed in the showers too long even after the instructors told us to get out. I missed my bus!! I knew mom & dad would be worried. It was dark outside. They were waiting at the bust op when I got off. Boy, did I get it. If I wasn't on that bus, dad wouldn't of been on it to go looking for me! The buses only came out to the country once very hour. I did learn to swim. I then knew that Aunt Lil couldn't strand me again.
In Victoria it stays light outside until about 10pm, in the summer. We used to see the aurora borealis a lot. Northern lights. It's beautiful. We threw baseballs around with dad, we didn't have gloves, but our hands were tough from hauling sawdust. We played aally-alls-in-free. Where we hid and the "it" man had to find us before we made it to the base before he did.
I worked in a Chinese greenhouse when I was 10 or 11. We made 10 cents per hour. We plucked suckers from between the leaves of the tomato plants. I did this for a couple of months. I also worked in the gas station convenience store for awhile. The men would come & gas up & then they would tell Mrs. Parree that they wanted Yvonne to check their oil. Those old cars were so big & high, I had to clamber up practically on top of the engine. They thought it was funny. Sometimes they'd tip me a penny or 2. A penny meant a lot in those days! I made $5 a week there. I bought my first suit & blouse with this money.
One day Uncle Geo brought a man who wanted to sell his car. It was a model A or T. It had a rumble seat, it was yellow. He wanted $10 for it. He left it for dad to try out. So on the weekend mom packed a picnic & we headed out for Todd Inlet. We had 2 flat tires before we arrived & dad was not in a good mood. We rowed boats & dad fished & Mickey showed us a secret entrance to Butchart Gardens. And we had to be careful not to get caught, as they charged for people to see this garden. It is a beautiful place. We made it home okay. But dad said he just didn't want a car. He was too nervous to drive it. I offered to buy it as I had $10, but he said no. It was probably the upkeep & insurance and he knew we really couldn't afford all that. Of course, as a kid (10), I didn't know about that - I just wanted that damn car!!!
Across from our house there was a small chicken farm & one day Mr. Hill gave me a baby rooster, it was sick and dying. So, we kept it in a box on the oven door, the stove was always burning, we fed it with an eyedropper. Then added cereal bit by bit. And he got stronger. That was my rooster, Joey. He was a beautiful rooster. And when he was old enough we put him in the pen with the hens. When Mr. Hill saw how nice he was, he wanted him back. But mom told him no. He lived a long time. Finally he turned cannibal & started pecking the hens to death. So, mom & I decided he had to go. So, mom caught him & I tried to hold him & she chopped his head off. He ran around for a few minutes without his head. This was fascinating to us kids. Anyway Joey ended up in the stew pot. Gosh, we all said "Joey, sure tastes good". That's country life & in a depression you appreciate anything that comes your way.
Back to our house. The living room had a bow window with a window seat. It opened to hold books etc. It had cushions on it. Dad also had a fireplace put in & one of the hospital patients made a mantle piece of hardwoods, it was very pretty. There was a narrow staircase off the front foyer, it went up to the attic. Where we stored food during the war & other junk. Dad made Leon a beautiful room at one end, where a window was. It looked like a captain's cabin on a ship, all tongue & groove wood. Leon had a captains bed with drawers. The whole house had beautiful hardwood floors. Mickey & I had our own room, with twin beds, a lovely old type dresser. We had 2 windows. The front window had a small window seat, with cushions & storage inside for our games & toys. Outside, under our window, Mom had planted a "Talisman" rose. And when we opened our window, the smell was heavenly & the roses would pop in over the windowsill. There were always kids to play with, but after supper (5pm) we were never allowed away from the front of our house.
My mom always called me her little God-send, as whenever she needed someone to go to the store or something, the other kids would complain about it. So I usually went without a whimper. Mainly, because I figured I'd find an adventure somewhere along the way. One time, coming out of the store & up a ways, a pack of dogs came after me. I had a bag of groceries & Mom's change in my hand. One of the dogs knocked me flying & I rolled into a big ditch. Which was good, as the other dogs lost site of me. Old Grandpa Paree had seen this from his yard & got his daughter to come & help me. (They ran the store). I was trying to find my mom's money, I knew she needed every penny. I stayed until I found it all. And Mrs. Paree put the groceries in a new bag. I knew I'd find adventure!!
At the beginning of WWII, a Mrs. Eliot & her son, John & her husband moved into the cottage, across the old interurban road. They became friends of our family. Mr. Eliot was not there very much. He was a commander in the English Navy & he was out at sea a lot. I would baby-sit John, sometimes and Mrs. Eliot would ask me to go with them on little jaunts in her car. (They had a "car"!) We'd go to Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, where they had ponds & gardens & walkways, Playgrounds. I loved it there! When they had to go back to England, Commander Eliot gave me a lovely clip broach, from China. It was silver & depicted the fox & the grapes. The grapes were little jade balls. When it started to disintegrate about 25 years ago, I put the little jade balls on the pearl necklace that Jack bought me in Japan. I thought they'd be safe there. I still have the clip. Somewhere! My mom was an R.N. & during the war, she was in charge of the Red Cross Shelter. When the air raid sirens went off-she went to the shelter & we went next door & stayed with Mrs. Barker. Mr. Barker was a head cook at the mental hospital. He was the one that trained Dad as a cook when Dad started work there. They were a nice couple, they had no children except us.
Another nice couple who lived in back of us- at the end of the big field. The Pennycooks. It was a terrible shack, but she kept it very clean. What happened to them was that they owned their own home in Victoria, and lightening struck their radio antenna & burned their house down. They had no insurance and were too old to work anymore. So they ended up near us. Mr. Pennycook took to drink. And Dad & Mom would have to go over & help Mrs. Pennycook with him. Sometimes she couldn't handle him. But they were both jolly people & they were kind to us kids. We were sorry when they died. I missed them-milk & cookies over their fence. Mom & Dad tried to help them with food as they didn't have much. I always felt guilty eating their cookies, but mom said it gave them dignity.
Our milk man was Mr. Austen, but when their son Pete was old enough he brought our milk. On Sunday mornings mom brought him in & gave him coffee, as he would have a terrible hangover from drinking the night before. He was a handsome kid & always joking & laughing. When we were leaving for the States-he was going to buy me a chocolate bar at the store as a going away gift & I asked if I could have a banana instead. He said, "You are an expensive girl!" "But you're worth it." and I got my banana.
At the end of 7th grade, Miss Davis got married (she was my teacher & principal of Strawberry Vale School). We got a new teacher and he said our class was too big & some of us would have to bus to the high school. He asked for volunteers, most of the girls put up their hands. NOT ME! I'd never had a man teacher & I wanted to stay. So, he decided all the girls would bus, and when it came to me, I just out & told him, I didn't want to go. So, he said, "You wouldn't want to be the only girl let here with all these boys?" and I said, "Yes, I would!!!" After the laughter died down, he told me that I had to go with the other girls to high school. I didn't stay there too long, as Dad got his visa to go to the states. It was my dad's life dream come true. He, mom & we kids had decided that Los Angeles was the best place to get a job. It was a big city, and he had to get a job before mom & us kids could go down & join him. One thing I should mention, Sandy was born when I was 12, and we spoiled her. Played with her like a baby doll! She was about 14 months old, when dad sent for us. Mom sold our house & most of our belongings; she shipped the rest to our new home on Greensward Road, Atwater, District of Los Angeles, right next to Glendale & Griffith Park.
Here was another big adventure!! We didn't need galoshes or woolen clothes anymore. Dad discarded his wool suits and started wearing Hawaiian shirts. It was hard for me to get acclimatized to the hot weather. My nose started bleeding & wouldn't stop, so Mom & Dad had to call the doctor. They came to the house back then. I was to stay in bed for a week & I took this awful tasting medicine. But it worked & I was ok again. But I had to stay out of the heat of the day. I still get ill if I'm out in the hot part of the day for long.
My dad was always bringing new kinds fruits & things, from Central Market in L.A. It was wonderful, pomegranates, limes, you name it. Pastrami, who ever heard of it! And coffee--little frozen boxes - the first instant coffee. Oranges - I could have all I wanted. Once on my 9th birthday, I asked for a few oranges for my birthday. And I got a whole bag. There were scarce & expensive in Canada. Avocados-guacamole. Going to Olivera Street to get tacos. Bananas, so cheap, I wished Pete Austen could see them! Back then they had electric trains that came out from L.A. and through Atwater right to Burbank. They came every 20 minutes & you could go either way. There was the Atwater Movie House, just a couple blocks from home. We went every week with Mom &Dad. It was a joyful time. The boulevard (Glendale Blvd) had a lot of stores; Clark's drugstore was next to Beaches Market where Mom & Dad did their grocery shopping. I loved a root beer float & felt so big ordering our floats. I liked going to Glendale, it was closer to home & was more compact than L.A. I went to Irving Jr. High School for a year & then entered John Marshall High School.
I was in the volunteers in 10th grade, then another service organization in the 11th grade. When there was a fire drill we had to make sure everyone was out of our section of the building. This one man teacher refused to go. So, I just said, ok, Burn up then & left the building. I was also in the French club & I earned my letter sweater & the letter, through GAA. On weekends, I'd meet the twins in Glendale & we go to a movie & the go to Bob's Big Boys for a burger. Then I'd get on the bus. There was a curfew of 10p & I was usually on the bus by 10! I also had a friend Nina & Angela Loo. We went to see Occidental College; Nina had her dad's car. They were deciding which college they wanted to go to. I had hoped to too. Then in 1949 Mom & Dad packed us up, and sold the house, as the Parees wanted them to go into a grocery store business. It was in Cadboro Bay. It had a big house right on the store. We were just 2 blocks from the beach. Leon & I slept upstairs in the attic, Dad, Mom & Sandy slept downstairs. Phillip & Geo Paree & daughter Judy slept downstairs & Granpa Paree slept on a couch in the living room. I learned how to clerk in a store & on weekends served ice-cream cones to people who came up from the beach.
On the train going from L.A. to Seattle, I met your Dad, Jack L. Ferguson. We exchanged addresses and wrote infrequently.
The church put on dances & I learned the schottische & some round dances. I went to Victoria High School to finish up the 12th year. I met Pat Yip. Then I got a job with the govt. health services as a clerk. It was rough, because the store was open from 9-8 at night. Every day of the week, mom and Phil worked every day & as soon as I got off the bus, I put on my apron & served all the people I was on the bus with. The bus stopped at the store, made a loop, then came back to the store & then back to Victoria. I worked Sundays to give mom and Aunt Phil a rest. After a year and half, they sold the store & we went back to Los Angeles & bought the house on Glen Manor Place. It was a nice house; it had 2 bedrooms & a nice guest house in back, off the garage, with its own bathroom. I got a job at National Security Bank, they trained me as a bookkeeper and I was pretty good at it. Dad & I had started writing to each other more & more. Then he proposed through the mail & sent my engagement ring, through the mail. And when we got married, I quit my job. We went to Ft. Ord & were at Camp Roberts for a few months. Then they sent us to Ft. Huachuca in Arizona. I couldn't stand the heat. So dad put in for a transfer & this is when we went to Reno for the first time. We met Ray & Cathy at this time. Holly was born in San Francisco at the Army Hospital, Letterman. And we took her home to Reno over the Sierras.
Then the army sent Dad to Las Vegas to look after the Army Reserves. After 8 months we went to Monterrey to the language school & took "Chinese" for a whole year. Scot was born at Ft. Ord. Then Dad went to Korea for 16 months, and Holly, Scot & I went to LA and stayed with Nana & Pa. When Jack got home we bought a truck & the army sent us back to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. Then when we re-upped, we took our leave time & we went to Reno & Dad re-upped at Ft. Ord. Rod was born in Salinas. Dad taught Army Administration here. Then Dad got us sent back to Ft. Bragg, because the chance for a promotion was a lot better back East. And he made Warrant Officer which is a wonderful grade to be in. It takes an act of Congress to riff a warrant. Then we were sent to Germany. Heather was born just a few months before this. We stayed with Nana until we flew to Germany. During this time at Ft. Bragg, my dad died of heart disease, he was 58. And we drove all the way to LA for his funeral (in his wallet was my note about my big toe and a note from Holly to him). And while we were in LA, we used our savings & took the kids to Disneyland, before heading back to N. Carolina.
Dad was stationed in Germany 3 years. We had to buy Dad all new officers’ uniforms, coats & hat. So for a couple of years money was really tight & we paid Nana money every month, as she lent me the money to fly me and the 4 kids to Germany. It was over $1,200.00 that was a lot of money to us & to Nana also, she didn't get any Social Security. She was too young for that. We still managed to go camping & to see castles. When Dad got a bonus from our insurance company, we all drove down to Los Palamos, Spain (on the Mediterranean). It was neat camping there. We loved Holland; saw the tulip gardens & Maduradam (the miniature city), visited the couple we met in Spain. They had an apt. in Den Haag. We saw the North See & the Zyder Zee. We went to Holland many times it was our favorite country.
We went to Heidelberg Castle, Wurtzberg Castle, Rotenberg Castle where Ronnie the pig lived. We also saw the fairy castle that Ludwig built (Neuschwaanstein Castle). We also camped at Eibsee, where Crabby Appleton German lady ran the campground (boy was she a meanie). We went on a boat over the lake. They blew a flugelhorn, so we could hear it echo off the mountains. We went to Konigsee also in Bavaria!
We got another bonus from our insurance company & took you kids to St. Moritz, Switzerland where we stayed in a fancy hotel on a lake. At 7pm at night everyone put their shoes outside their doors and they would be polished overnight. Everyone went to bed early as they'd go hiking early in the morning. We went on a Klag train up the mountain, to where we got the sky car that took us a mile over valleys & up to a restaurant on another mountain. It was a nice restaurant & the waitress let me put Heather in her room as Heather was sleeping. So we ate in peace & collected Heather on our way down. I bought a nice clock there. Holly and Scot got sick from the food at the hotel we stayed at. It was so rich. We headed for a USAA base in case the kids got worse. They were happy to get American food & started getting better.
We lived on the economy for 5 or 6 months when we first got there in a town called Klein Krotzenberg. Otto & Katha lived next door & we became good friends. They couldn't speak English & we couldn't speak German. They helped us a lot, with all the neighbors and our landlord. They had a garden plot outside of town & Otto would put Rod on the back of his bike & take him along. Rod got his foot caught in the wheel one day & it must've hurt. Otto felt so bad.
Holly & Scot were chasing each other the day we went to Switzerland and Holly ran into the bathroom and shut the door on Scot. His hands went through the glass door & Holly got cut when the glass door slipped out and cut her wrists. Dad had to take you both up to the army base & get stitches in your wrists. I put clean diapers around your arms, you were bleeding all over. Dad was up at the base, signing out to get our leave to go to Switzerland when this happened. Dad took the stitches out himself while we were in Switzerland.
We moved to Hanau into an Army apt. Otto & Katta would come up & have supper with us every few months and they'd invite us over to their place. We also got a maid, Ottie. She wasn't a very good one. She just wanted to be near Americans. She's been trained as an executive secretary. She had one boy who was spoiled rotten. After a year I knew her well enough, to talk her into going back to being a secretary. I told her Americans weren't so great and she was only getting twenty-five cents per hour. Her husband was so happy when she quit me & went back to working as a secretary.
At Christmas the bachelors loved coming to our apt. They would try & help us put your toys together. On Christmas day they usually broke some of them too! You got shorty skis one year. We took you to the Taunus Mts. so you could try them out. We had Rod on a sled and we turned our backs for one minute & Rod was going down the hill straight for some spike bushes and barbed wire. We finally got to him and he was scratched up a lot as he hit the bushes. When we lived in Klein Krotzenberg, Holly worked at a feed store just a block down from the house. The people (the Koch's) who owned it had a daughter, older than Holly. Holly learned good German there. When the daughter got married, we were invited to the wedding & reception. Holly was a flower girl or something. (Note from Holly, I carried the train) That was a unique experience.
In the middle of our apts. was a big play yard. I could watch the kids play. Scot always liked fighting games & wrestling. He & Holly picked blackberries one year & sold them. Enough for a blackberry pie in each box & the recipe. They called these fishbowl apts., as you could see straight through from the living room and out the dining room window.
When our time was up we went by train to Hamburg (the Port). We were put on the ship called "The Patch" and spent the next 9-10 days on it. I got seasick. They had movies & bingo etc on there.
When we arrived at the dock in Brooklyn, we could see all the luggage being unloaded. And all of a sudden we see our bags & then snap, the line broke & our luggage landed on the dock a few yards from us. I ran over because I didn't want to lose anything. We got our stuff, though those Brooklyn dock workers kept yelling at us to sue the company. We collected our car & drove to PAA & picked up a Scotty trailer, and headed for Ft. Bragg. We got housing pretty quick, though, because the Viet Nam war was on. Jack decided to retire, because he knew his unit was going to Viet Nam and he figured his luck couldn't hold out much longer. It was December when we left Ft. Bragg & going over the Smokies we ran into the worst snow of the Century. We got to Reno & rented a neat old 2 story brick house on Nixon Ave. Then we bought a 4 bedroom house in a subdivision out In Raleigh Heights. Jack went to the Univ. of Nevada to get his teaching degree. He worked as a bouncer at the Nevada Club and at Harrah’s.
When he got his degree, he was offered a teaching job in Winnemucca, Nev. We didn't like it much out there & we left for L.A. We moved to San Clemente, hoping for a teaching job. None showed up, so we packed up again & headed for Florida & he got a job in Pensacola. We stayed 6 years there then I was homesick for Calif. so we moved back out here & ended up in Newcastle, near the Sierra Mountains. nb: This year they moved to Booneville, MS to be near Rod and April.
Yvonne Mabel Lindores Ferguson