Chapter 3 Section A
Here we are in Western Kansas standing in front of our 1932 Ford.
Left to right: My cousin Ted Shaw, who lived with us during those years; My brother Junior; Me; My Mom and then my Dad.
My sister Helen died before we moved west
Go West, Young Man
In the summer of 1932 we moved to Hanston, Kansas. Everyone is familiar with Horace Greely's "Go West, young man." In a way our move came about because of similar advice from M. G. Osborne. This is how it happened. In 1931 my brother had graduated from the high school in Partridge, a little town west of our Hutchinson farm. During the next year he was still dating a Partridge girl named Lena Ruth Osborne. One time when he was visiting in her home, her father, Melborn G. Osborne (M.G., as he was known) told my brother about a terrific opportunity that he had to move away from Partridge and head west. M.G. painted a rosy picture about the wide-open spaces and cheap land. He was trying to purchase a portion of the old Hildebrand Ranch just south of the town of Hanston.
"Why don't you convince your folks to go to Hanston with me?" he asked. "I am anxious to move, but I can't swing the deal unless I get someone to take part of the land off my hands."
The Hutchinson farm belonged to Dad and my two aunts, Florence and Myrtle. There had been some discord in the family for some time. Frankly, my aunts didn't think my Dad was doing a good job farming the land. To make matters worse, the country was in the middle of the depression of the early 1930's when the price of wheat dropped to 25 cents a bushel and the stock market tumbled. My aunts, and my great Uncle Charlie, thought we would all be better off financially if we would sell the farm and pay off the mortgage. Of course, as that would leave my parents no place to live, they were opposed to selling. When my brother came home all excited about moving west, it sounded like a good opportunity. We could move and let my aunts do as they wished with the farm. So, after much discussion with M. G., we signed a contract in which we promised to farm one and one-half sections of land and pay him a stated amount each year until eventually the land would be ours.
I might just add here that very soon my aunts found a renter, and even
as we were in the process of moving, in he came to start preparing the
land for next year's wheat crop. We were never sure just what changed their
minds. Maybe they couldn't find a buyer, or maybe they just wanted to get
my Dad out of the way. In any event, as time went on, it was our good luck
that they did keep the farm. But I must not get ahead of my story.
Decision to Move and Packing
The minute Dad and Mom decided to move to Hanston in Western Kansas all our waking moments turned to plans for the move. Although the distance from our Kansas farm to the Hanston farm was only about 125 miles, in those days of Model-T trucks such a trip was no small adventure.
The logistics were complicated. The old family farm was to be abandoned completely. The trauma caused by the situation was major. Dad was not a particularly forceful person and Mom, with her Deal family heritage, felt defending Dad was her responsibility. The pressures of the ordeal effected her greatly. Many times I watched my mother have violent stomach upsets and very bad headaches.
Apparently Dad and Mom had previously signed over their rights to the farm to keep my aunts happy about things. However, that was not enough. They wanted Dad to sell everything, "lock, stock and barrel" as the old saying goes, to pay all the bills.
My aunts kept the road hot from town to the farm. They kept hounding Dad about selling the farm and Mom continued to defend.
"You can't do this to your brother! His entire life is on this farm and you know your father would roll over in his grave if he knew what you are doing to his son."
"Don't you know we are in a depression and everyone, everywhere is in trouble!"
"What will we do if you sell the farm? Your brother knows only farming. What can he do to start again?"
"Don't you know we would never have deeded our part of the farm to you if we thought you would dump us?"
I was only 14 years old, just finishing the 9th grade at Sherman Junior High School, when the decision was made to leave everything to my aunts. My loyalties were mixed. In fact the old adage was really true. I was "between a rock and a hard place." I knew that I loved both my folks and my aunts. My aunts thought I was about "it!" I tried not to take sides in the chaos, but my folks had the edge. Listening to the hot arguments was demoralizing to me. "Why?" I would think. "Why, oh, why are my aunts and folks arguing so much?"
On the other hand, the final decision to move kept me in a state of excitement. We're going to Western Kansas. What a thrill! Just like in the old days when families left their homes for unknown places in the prairies. These and other thoughts kept my mind occupied.
Moving was no piece of cake! The schedule was set. Ted and I would have to be in high school in Hanston by the first of September. Every movable piece of farming equipment and, indeed, every farm animal had to be moved during the summer months. Fortunately, there were four able-bodied men and Mom to do the job. I should have said five able-bodied people did the job, because my Mom, except for carrying the heaviest items, did as much as anyone.
There were hundreds of items to be moved. We stripped the house of everything possible. Even the electric lights were taken down and packed. Mom and Dad had purchased and installed nice fixtures, and they felt they had a right to take them.
Funny, I can't quite remember what we did with the electric stove in the kitchen or the electric refrigerator. All I know is that they were moved from the house. We knew there was no electricity where we were going.
There were several buildings to be stripped. The barn had such things as horse harnesses and all the milking equipment, including the milking machine. All the tools from the machine shop and loose iron items were either moved or sold for junk. The electric lights were removed from the chicken houses. Even the usable sage hedge posts were gathered into stacks to be loaded into the truck.
Our decision to move from the community was not only traumatic to us,
but it was also a shock to all our friends. For many, many years the old
farm was dubbed as the "McMurry Farm," and the family had deep roots. We
were leaving all the treasured relationships gathered there, friends, neighbors
and, yes, relatives. We were leaving the Elmer Methodist Church where the
bedrock of our religious faith resided. We were removing ourselves from
the surrounding community of Hutchinson where all our familiar stores were
Managing the Old Model-T Truck
The old Model-T Ford truck carried the bulk of the stuff. Machinery needed to work the new land was moved first. Much of it had to be disassembled so the parts could be loaded on that old truck. It was very hard work for us. Every corner and crevice in that truck bed was filled with usable stuff.
The Model-T was far from a speedy device. If we got 25 miles an hour from it, we were lucky. Most of the time it made only 15 to 20 miles an hour. That meant the trip of approximately 125 miles took over five hours, and then we'd have to make the return trip with an empty truck.
We had lots of trouble keeping the old truck running. The tires were a problem. We kept having blowouts and that slowed the move even more. Patching a tire on the edge of the highway was not easy either. In the first place, it always seemed trouble came in the most unlikely places, far from the nearest service station. Even then when we got to a station, we'd have problems acquiring the right tire or tube to keep us moving. Most of our trouble was with the front tires. The rear tires were designed for carrying weight, but those front tires were like bicycle tires. It seemed everything sharp was destined to puncture them, and if any such item was anywhere near, it seemed our front tires would always find it.
To make things worse, we had no money to rent a motel or hotel for the night. We had to make our trips without the pleasure of rest. When we had trouble and darkness came upon us, we would either sleep in the cab of the truck or on the ground until morning. We usually tried to pack our lunches so we would not have to use money unnecessarily. We had only enough to buy gasoline and oil, and that was it.
Something should be said for the old Model-T Ford that moved us to Western Kansas. In one way it was a very simple car to care for. A pair of pliers, a screwdriver, and a few wrenches would keep a Model-T going for months, along with gas and oil and a good set of tires, of course.
First, I must mention the planetary transmission arrangement that let the driver control the direction of the rear wheels. A set of three foot pedals and a single lever did the job of moving the car forward or backward, or bringing it to a stop.
The lever at the driver's left was a combination emergency brake and high gear arrangement. When pulled toward the driver's seat, it acted as a brake. One had to be sure it was pulled taut while cranking the engine to start the car. If something went wrong and the lever slipped into its forward position, the car immediately went into high gear. That was somewhat of a hazard, to say the least, to the person in front of the car using the hand crank. The left pedal moved the car forward, the middle one moved the car backward, and the right one was the brake. That braking mechanism had its handicaps. Both rear wheels had to be firmly on the ground to do the braking job. Should one or other of those wheels slip, the differential gears would keep the brakes from working. Wow, what a mess!
The electrical system was unique. Since our car didn't have a storage battery and starter, we had to depend upon a series of v-type magnets affixed to the flywheel to supply the electrical charge. As the flywheel rotated, an alternating current was generated and stored in four large condensers. The high-tension spark was then distributed to the four plugs by a timer arrangement. To start this whole system, one had to use a hand crank. This was a ticklish job. In order to fire the spark plugs, the hand crank had to be turned fast enough to charge the condensers. If the timer were not set correctly, the engine would backfire and kick the crank in the opposite direction. The common expression was "it kicked like a mule." My grandfather broke his arm trying to crank his car. I had the experience of being "kicked" many times, but I must have been lucky. I learned that holding the crank firmly was important. Not only could you break an arm, the thumb and wrist were also in danger if the grasp on the crank was loose.
"You've got to take that bull by the horns and let him know who's boss," Dad would say. That's exactly what I had to do when cranking that Model-T. I had to overpower the darned thing! Let it know I was going to twist its tail, or else. Well, will power didn't always work and I often had near misses. I think that Model- T knew I was afraid of it, and it did everything in its power to take advantage of me.
The Model-A Ford sedan was used to move lots of the small items. When
we used both cars, we tried to stay close together so we could help each
other if there was trouble along the way.
The pigs, chickens, cows and horses also had to be moved. The larger animals were the biggest problem. We had to dig a hole in the ground to lower the end of the truck so the horses and cows could get in. The same procedure had to be followed upon arrival so they could back out. Another difficulty was keeping them tied inside the truck so they would not move about enroute.
We had about 30 pigs at the time and several sows about ready to give birth. We didn't have a boar so I often wondered why Dad had arranged to breed the sows when he did. All those baby pigs just added to our difficulties.
Crating the two dozen laying hens was not too hard, but keeping them
from injuring themselves during the ride was not so easy. Chickens do not
like to be disturbed. When they arrived and found themselves in a strange
environment, they produced very few eggs for several weeks.
Arrival and First Home
Melborn Osborne, the person who engineered the entire project, was anxious to have my Dad and Mom get settled and start farming the land. The Osborne's were living in an old rock house on the side of the Sawlog Creek. This house had been the headquarters for the Hildebrand Ranch. When Mrs. Osborne realized that my family had no place to live, she graciously opened her home to us. Junior, Ted and I used the largest basement room for a bedroom, and Mom and Dad had an upstairs room. All our household items had to be stored somewhere else. Mr. Osborne told us about the vacated elevator in town, which was a part of the Hildebrand estate, and we got permission to use it temporarily.
The old rock house was interesting to me. The limestone rock used in building it had been quarried from the nearby hills many years ago. When the limestone rock was first uncovered, it was soft and easily cut into pieces of whatever sizes you needed. Within the rocks were thousands of seashells. That was fascinating to me, and I gained an appreciation of how the earth had changed over the eons of time. It must have taken a very long time to cause the water to recede, and/or the land to rise.
Since the house was not far from the creek, the basement was usually damp. The dampness was just what various bugs and creepy- crawling things liked. One morning Junior forgot to check his clothes carefully and quickly let out a howl as he felt something on his back. It was a centipede. What a horrible feeling that must have been to have one of those four-to-six-inch long many-legged things crawling up your back!
That basement was susceptible to flooding when the creek rose. After a heavy rain upstream one night, the water had risen so quickly and quietly it nearly engulfed my brother. He was awakened by water running into his bed, and soon discovered his clothes were floating out the door.
I remember hearing that one time when the Sawlog Creek flooded, the
Osborne's had three or four feet of mud in their basement. We were lucky
that we had moved out before that happened.
There were three churches in town--Methodist, Baptist and Catholic. On the outskirts was the Mennonite church. Later on my association with members of the Mennonite Church provided me an opportunity to attend Bethel College. Since my family had been life-long Methodists, we immediately joined the small, struggling Hanston Methodist Church. We certainly had no reason to change to become Baptists, and the Catholic Church, at that time, was quite separated from us Protestants. I am happy to say that now Catholics and Protestants get along together much better.
Rev. Sam Staley, the minister, and the congregation at the church really helped us get acquainted. Of course, there is always a bond of fellowship among members of the same faith community wherever in the world one may be. I have found that true in every place we have lived, and also in our travels, both in the United States and in such far away places as Germany, Japan, and Hong Kong. In the Bible, Paul tells how the Christians in Galatia extended "the right hand of fellowship" to him. Truly I have had that experience many times, and that is what happened to me and my family when we left our old home and moved to quite a different life in Hanston, Kansas.
When a new family comes into a small community like Hanston, at once everyone is curious about you. In our family were my Dad, who had been a leader in his church back home; my Mom, who was active in all the women's organizations; my older brother, who was an attractive eligible catch for some girl; my cousin, Ted; and myself. As I explained earlier, after his mother and father were divorced, Ted had come to live with us. Ted and I were the "exciting" new boys in town who would be going to high school. Yes, our family fit into the community fine and found a welcome everywhere we went. All in all, we were excited and happy that September, 1932, beginning life anew "Way out West in Kansas."
Ted and I, the "exciting" new boys in high school
Before long, however, our enthusiasm was dampened by the conditions we found. Actually, the move to Hanston was like going to the frontier. We had no electricity or running water. We used out-door toilets you'd never believe. Mother would wash clothes in an old iron kettle. We were real pioneers, just as described in books and movies. We lived through the worst of the depression, and endured drought, dust storms, grasshoppers, locusts, rabbits, and rattlesnakes.
During the nine years we spent in Western Kansas, our wheat farming experience was disappointing. Our land was tilled and planted year after year with little or no harvest! Rains were few and far between, and the dust always seemed to be blowing. Insects began to multiply, especially the ones that damaged the crops.
It didn't matter whether you were a good farmer or a bad one. If you had lots of land, you had more to blow away. Year after year the seed was planted and nothing much more than seed enough for the next planting would be harvested. Work was plentiful provided you didn't expect much pay. I worked on the farm to help Dad--hour after hour, day after day. To a teenager, it was forever! Later in life I have wondered just what went through my Dad's mind as he tried to provide for his wife and three young men. We had some unprofitable land to farm, a little machinery, two cows, some pigs, and a few chickens. Fortunately, we were able to sink an irrigation well which was financed by a sugar beet company in Garden City. With water from the well, we always had a good garden of potatoes, beans, peas, tomatoes, and corn. During the off season, however, food was hard to come by. One addition to our diet was jackrabbit butts. Rabbits were plentiful. As a matter of fact, the country was overrun with them. The front end of the rabbit wasn't worth eating. After skinning the rabbit, we would cut off the hind part just back of the front legs. The meat had to be inspected very carefully for grubs. Insects would deposit their eggs on the skin of the rabbit. In due time, the eggs would develop into worms. As the grub worms grew, a round bump would show in the flesh of the rabbit. We had to check carefully to be sure we had removed all the grubs before eating the meat. I have no idea how many grubs we missed. I'd rather not guess!
Raising the garden was one thing, but trying to raise farm crops was not so easy. The soil, if it could be called soil, was so dry that the well water would soak into the soil so fast it could not get to the crops. The water table at first was about thirty feet from the ground level. The more water we pumped, the lower the water table went down. Finally the water level got so low that the pump would not work. This was a heartbreaking situation for my father as he tried to raise crops on his farm.
Yes, those were hard years. But were those eight years in Western Kansas
completely wasted years? No, they really weren't. Despite all the disappointments
and heartaches, we still experienced many blessings. I know I had many
interesting experiences there, through both good and bad times, and I am
glad that we did "Go West." Had it not been for those years, I would not
have so much to write about and my story would be a lot shorter.
HANSTON, THE TOWN
The town of Hanston is situated in the middle of the Western Kansas
plains between Dodge City and Larned. When we moved there, it had less
than 200 inhabitants and in 1985 when I was in Hanston to celebrate my
50th high school class reunion, it still had about 200 inhabitants.
The Methodist Church
I have already explained the welcome given to us by the church. That Methodist Episcopal Church remained an important part of my life the years I lived in Hanston. Ted and I were both active in the youth program and I soon became the substitute pianist for the church services. The ministers were always inspirational to me throughout those years. Rev. Sam Staley was the minister when we arrived. He was a single, young man, and I believe Hanston was his first charge. He was the one who did so much to make us feel welcome. We all grew very fond of him, and as luck would have it, some years after we moved back to Hutchinson, he came there to preach. That way he was our minister two different times. He also helped us get our trailer home after I was married, but that comes later in my story. Truly, he has been not only our spiritual leader, but also, just a good friend for many years.
One of our ministers, believe it or not, was Mrs. Alexander, the widow of a minister. She was great! Unlike today, in the '30's it was very unusual for a lady to be a minister. Her son was in Ted's class. He was always raising heck and giving his mother a problem. The last time I heard anything about him, however, as is so often the case, he had become a very responsible guy.
The Rev. Howard F. Smothers, another of our ministers, had a great influence on me during that time. Rev. and Mrs. Smothers came from a conservative church, the Free Methodist, and Rev. Smothers would always say, "I chose to be a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church because there are lots of sinners in it and I want to minister to sinners." He told that story everywhere and we all enjoyed hearing him tell it. Rev. Smothers was very interested in the youth program and spent lots of his time organizing all kinds of activities for us kids. The Epworth League congregated every Sunday evening before the main preaching service. These youth programs were very meaningful to me. There would be singing, reading the scriptures, discussing spiritual and moral values, and then, a good time of fellowship to close the evening.
Sometimes, after church some of us would make various other plans. I just have one memory of missing my ride back to the farm and having to walk home. It had already been a long day and I was tired before I started that three and one-half mile walk. I really thought I would never get home that night.
Rev. Smothers always tried to take us to the annual Epworth League Institute, which was held at, some larger nearby town. I remember one such institute being at Pratt, Kansas, about 70 miles away. Since it lasted several days, that meant lots of planning for everyone. As I recall we had two or three cars full of kids. Smothers, as we usually called him, always drove his old "Whippit" car and five or more of us would pile into it. That car had a loose driving mechanism that made steering a big problem. Rev. Smothers could hardly keep it on the road, let alone stay on the right side. One time I remember sitting in the front passenger seat when the right wheel dropped into the ditch. I was really scared and was also worried that I would wet my pants. That was a situation I was nervous about, anyway, and rightfully so, because of my bed-wetting problems through the years.
Going to Pratt was not so bad as coming home. During the ride there, it was daytime, but we came home after dark. Those darned lights on that old "Whippit" pointed practically every direction, but toward the road. It seemed that Smothers was constantly trying to turn his car to the right to drive into the rays of the lights. I'm sure the front end of that car was badly out of line. We were certainly thankful when we arrived safely back at Hanston that night.
Other memories of the church are related in stories about Mom, Dad and
my brother. My family was always grateful for a faith that saw us through
the difficult depression and dust bowl years. It was a time when material
things took a backseat, and love, support and sharing among family members
and friends, especially our church friends, became all important. As I
think back through the years, I realize I was taught that general philosophy
from my early childhood, and I hope it has stuck throughout all my life.
Each time we went to town, we had to cross the one and only Hanston railroad track. Twice a day, once each direction, the train passed through town. Although there were no warning lights or barriers at the crossing, it was not especially dangerous. After all, it stopped in Hanston goin' and comin.' The crossing was on a curve and very rough. The main danger was in crossing the track too fast. Hitting that track at the wrong angle or too fast could leave a person "all shook up."
Even though crossing that track was an inconvenience, folks were glad it was there. In those days, the railroad was the lifeblood of small towns like Hanston. Trucking, as an industry, was just getting started. True, some trucks were used for moving cattle, pigs, sheep, and other livestock to market. However, most of the heavy merchandise, such as lumber and machinery, was carried by train. At this time the automobile makers had not developed the trucking industry enough to compete with the railroads.
By the way, it took me a long time to figure out how a pair of train wheels was able to cope with a curve without jumping the track. I finally understood it this way: The surfaces of the wheels are not exactly flat. There is a gradual slope to them. They are placed on the cars so that the outside radius of each wheel is slightly larger than the inside. On a curve the outside rail is also slightly longer. When a curve is encountered, the car is forced to the outside of the curve. In this way the larger part of the wheel rolls over the longer rail.
I doubt if I have explained that phenomenon sufficiently. A book about trains describes it much better, I'm sure. If I had been smarter, I probably would have read a book instead of spending so much time trying to figure the whole thing out by myself.
To continue with my story of the Hanston railroad, I must describe the condition of the tracks and ties. Because of the age of the wood ties and the dirt washing away under them, the section hands were kept busy. They had to replace the rotting ties and shore up the rail bed to keep the rails level. The wood ties would eventually begin to rot even though they were treated with asphalt. Gradually, the sun and vibrations of the train on the track would loosen the iron spikes that held the ties to the rails. The rails themselves were also beginning to cause problems. Small rails had not yet been replaced by the larger sized ones, which are now used. To make matters worse, the bridges across the gullies and running creeks were also beginning to age, and caused concern. Nevertheless, the people in Hanston were glad to have a railroad to tie them to the rest of the world.
Watching that train pull into town was always fun for me. It wobbled along like an old horse doing its best to keep its balance as it pulled its load. Maintaining a decent speed was a thing of the past. The cars would even jump the rails from time to time. I would always be worried that the engine and cars would tip over.
Paul Porter, the depot manager, was always there to greet the train both ways. He had the hand trucks ready to load and unload mail bags, freight and miscellaneous items. Also he had to take care of all the paper work it took to keep the company happy.
I'll always remember Mr. Porter as a big man and a devoted Christian.
He could play the piano like a pro and always played for services at the
Baptist church. Man, when he played that piano, he played it with gusto.
The hymns he played sounded different. He put something besides the basic
written notes in his playing. That's the way I like to play. I tried to
play like Mr. Porter played. Sometimes I felt that God had given both of
us something real special. I wonder. Oh yes, Mr. Porter could also sing.
He had a terrific tenor voice and always sang with the congregation. I
liked to do that, too.
The State Bank
Across main street from the depot and north a bit was the Hanston State Bank. Mr. Lloyd Olson was the bank president. The bank was owned and operated by some of the local farmers who had become financially successful from their wheat and cattle long before the depression hit the area.
"Dad, why don't you put money in the bank? The bank owners all seem to have nice homes and big cars. Maybe that's what we should do to get rich."
"We don't have money to invest. When we go to the bank we're there either to cash a check, make a loan payment or borrow money to pay other bills. I try to stay away from the bank. It always causes me trouble."
I got the point. We didn't have any extra money to put into any bank,
and the way things were going for us, we would never have that pleasure.
Heimer's Grocery Store
Lou Heimer had owned and run Hanston's grocery store for years. He really sold lots of things besides just groceries. His store was actually more like a general mercantile store. He would brag that he had ten thousand items on his shelves. Frankly, I wouldn't have been surprised. That store was jammed from floor to ceiling with stuff to sell.
"Yep, I'm still open for business," Heimer would always say when I tried to get ads from him to announce before and during the roadshow I operated. He was a short stocky fellow and had a rather gruff way about him. He gave one the feeling that all people in the area owed it to him to buy from his store. Nevertheless he was a good guy and respected by all.
His whole family were members of the Methodist Church and they were there every Sunday. They lived a short way from the church and always walked. As I remembered Heimer, he always sat on the left end of the third pew on the right side of the sanctuary. I could never tell whether he was asleep, listening to the sermon or thinking about business as he leaned slightly forward, holding his head with his left hand and with his elbow on his knee. I am sure his motives and thoughts were honorable and unquestionably Christian.
His nephew was his clerk helper and meat cutter for some years. Finally, when he left the store, Heimer had to run the entire business by himself. He continued to operate his establishment for many years after I left Hanston.
Heimer had competition from time to time. Sometimes a younger guy would
try to run him out of business, but Heimer would hang on. His main competition
was with the store in Jetmore about 11 miles to the west. When we had to
go to Jetmore for various farm items, we bought our groceries there because
the store was bigger and prices were lower. They also would let us buy
on credit and we always needed that.
Johnny Lingenfelder's Photo Shop
Across the street from Heimer's grocery store was Johnny Lingenfelder's photography shop. South of this were the bank, the barber shop, the post office and an empty building. I was always interested in that empty "store." As I would walk by I would peer into the windows and dream how I could make that empty room into a place to show moving pictures. The thought remained only a dream. That store was empty for all the years we were in Hanston.
Johnny's photography shop was a nice little yellow brick building made specifically for him. It had a small display room in the front, and a large room behind housing his big all-wood camera. The basement was full of his materials and supplies for processing film. I liked to watch him take time exposure pictures. After warning his subject to be very still, he'd remove the large lens cap from his camera and count one, two, three.
Everyone loved Johnny Lingenfelder and he loved people. He was a devoted Mennonite. I considered him not only a good friend, but also my mentor. As a photographer he was tops and had a large following. He did a big business with the schools about graduation time taking portraits of the seniors. Then there were weddings and special portrait settings. After all, he had been in Hanston for many years and he had a very good reputation.
Johnny had quite a large mail order business. Folks for miles around sent their unexposed film to him for processing. Naturally his daily sack of mail was important to him. He would pick it up as soon as possible. He wanted to get the film processed and printed, ready for the next day's mail train.
Johnny was an artist, as well as a photographer. I still have a pen and ink landscape picture Johnny gave When appropriate, he would add little pen and ink furbelows to his pictures to make them interesting. He was skilled at retouching. That was something that I never got the knack of doing.
"How'd you like to run the shop while my wife and I go on vacation for two weeks?" Johnny asked me one day. "It will be a good experience for you. I will teach you how to take care of the mail, and how to mix chemicals, develop film and print pictures. I'm sure you can take care of everything while I'm gone."
How surprised and pleased I was. Johnny Lingenfelder was offering me a job. He didn't really say anything about money, but I knew it would be a terrific experience. Just think, I would be working with photography. That wasn't exactly the same as motion pictures, which were my real love, but at least it was related. It didn't take long for me to accept. As I look back I don't have any unpleasant memories of that two weeks, so I must have done OK.
He made a couple special pictures for me that I still have. One was a great picture of me with my motion picture projector to use as an ad for my "MCM TALKING PICTURES" company, that is, my road show business. This started during my Bethel College days so that story and picture will be in the next part of my story. The other was this portrait-type picture.
In both these pictures I even had hair on my head. Unfortunately, my hair and I had parted by the time I was 25. For awhile when we first moved to Washington, D. C., encouraged by my boss who wore one, I tried a hairpiece to protect my head from the cold, the hot sun, and bumps. I wore my wig when we returned to California for my daughter Jean's wedding. As I walked down the isle with her, my friends who hadn't seen me for awhile were surprised. I could just imagine they were saying to each other, "Look! Glenn has a wig!"
Jean always says she liked it. Do you suppose she really did? I know I enjoyed it for awhile. However, after so long a time, putting one on and taking it off gets to be a nuisance.
One day I discovered that Johnny was a matchmaker, as well as my friend. He kept dropping remarks about Mabel, such as, "Don't you think Mabel is a wonderful girl?", "Mabel is certainly a fine Christian girl." or "Mabel loves music, you know, just as you do."
As is so often the case, when people make such remarks, you do not want
to take their advice. I'll have to admit, however, that such matchmaking
took place when we started to attend the South Hutchinson Methodist church
where Darlene went. The minister, the choir director and other friends
hinted that we would make an ideal couple. In that case, somehow I didn't
mind the advice, and, in fact, I acted on it.
The Post Office
The post office was just south of Johnny's photography shop. Even before the train came in the morning, people would be arriving to pick up their mail. As soon as he could pick up the mail sacks, the postmaster, Harry Hunter, would slam down the service window and sort the mail.
Sometimes the people waiting would get impatient and one could hear such remarks as: "Hey, when are you going to get that mail sorted?" or "I'm expecting an important letter and I'd like to get it as soon as possible."
Mr. Hunter and the rural route delivery man, George Cunningham, worked together to get everything ready. People in town had post office boxes and some would just stand and watch to see if anything was put in their boxes. I used to think it would make me nervous knowing people were just waiting for me to finish sorting all the mail, but I suppose the postmen got used to it.
Click Here For More Of Chapter Three