Dad’s 100th Birthday Continued

Mom and Dad had a very small wedding, they were married on the red rug in Grandfather’s house.  It was quite a change for my Mom, she had grown up in a small town with family all around; in California it was just Dad’s family.  In the beginning they had a small apartment on the beach in Redondo – a one room where they were on the beach as they came out the door.   Dad was never drafted, though Mom told me once they sweated it out every time.  Dad was working for North American as a Field Service Rep – when there was a problem with a plane, he was there to fix it.  He was sent to three different bases and Mom went with him.  They were married on January 16th right after Pearl Harbor and after a few months, he had to drive to Meridian, Miss. –  not the garden spot of the world.  A year later, my older sister Ellen was born.  Throughout the war they lived in Albany, Georgia and Newburn, North Carolina as well.  They rented houses and all that traveling back and forth to California with a new baby wasn’t easy.  I remember Mom talking about taking the train and the three of them sleeping in a berth.

I remember Mom saying in later years, it took all of her courage to fly out to California to marry Dad.  In a way, I understand a bit because when I went out to Australia to marry Eddie, I was very young – I certainly grew up in a hurry.  There was a time when Dad had to leave and he had to teach Mom how to drive so she could use the car.  I think that was why Mom never liked driving, but she did it.  When they went to the DMV office, it was raining and the examiner asked Mom who taught her to drive.  She said, “My husband”.  Then he asked Dad, how does she drive? He said she does well.  The examiner looked at mom and said “Lady, if your husband thinks you can drive, you have a license”.  The day Dad left, he went by train and Mom drove out of the station with Ellen and found herself in the middle of a parade.  Maybe another reason she didn’t like driving.

She did have a chance to take the train to Glastonbury to visit her family – Ellen was the first grandchild and I think Mom was glad to show her to her family as well as have a lovely visit.  I think she missed them a whole lot, but she loved Dad more.  I remember she talked about one of the rental houses that had chickens running underneath the house – guess one don’t have a lot of choice during wartime.  Some of the North American people weren’t all that welcome either.

After the war, they moved back to Southern California and eventually rented a two bedroom house in Manhattan Beach.  No, it wasn’t on the ocean, it was way back from the beach.  I was always surprised to find that all three of us girls were born in San Pedro Hospital, especially with all the traveling during the war.  I came along  4 years after Ellen, so the Manhattan Beach house is what I first remember.   6 years later Candy arrived, then 18 months later Dad got a job with Boeing.  He had taken us up here on vacation and he and Mom liked it so much, they decided to live here.  Dad’s brother-in-law helped him with job at Boeing – though until they figured out they thought Dad was his father, he had a hard time getting hired.

So in 1954 we moved to Seattle, spending the first year and a half in a rental in the Central District while they looked for a house.  He wanted a view, Mom wanted four bedrooms and it took a while before they found this house.  About June 1955 we moved in and they have lived here ever since.  Dad worked for Boeing as a Job Analyst until August of 1970 – they told him could take early retirement or no longer have a job.  this was the time the billboard went up about the last person out of town, please turn off the lights.  His job ended the end of December, but with four months notice, they had a little time to plan.  They went into business with another analyst who worked in Dad’s office – he was the salesman and Dad was the craftsman.

They started out with the hobby business making decoupage boards, but the bottom fell out of that a few months later.    His partner knew someone in a marine shop and went to talk to the guy – they brought a binocular holder to him; unfortunately it had too many doodads – the sailboaters wanted things plain.  Plus they finished the items themselves, so Dad made them sanded and ready to be finished.  At one point, his partner went to work for the University and then sudden;y died, so Mom and Dad became partners.  Dad was a lot happier working with wood; almost back to building boats as he had in Wilmington, California.    He and Mom worked together – the only times Mom didn’t was Monday mornings at Traveler’s Aid at the airport and when the hookers came on Thursday.  Spending 24 hours a day together suited them and the business grew and thrived.

They started out using mahogany and then some teak until it was all teak.  They went to deliver on Fridays to several marine stores and they trusted Dad not to overload them with product.  Mom kept the books and took care of orders and paperwork.  On some of those delivers he would have someone ask if he could build something – that’s often how they started new products.  along with the standard line, Dad did custom work – people either met him in a store, saw one of his products and took off the label or called him.  He met a lot of people and made some unusual things – he always loved talking to people.  He could talk to anyone very easily, didn’t matter who they were or what they did.

To be continued.

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