About My Dad

I was watching Sunday Morning on CBS earlier and they were talking about the anniversary of the death of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria as the beginning of WWI in 1914.  That made me think of Dad, he would have been 100 last march.  I realized I have a list of things to write about him, especially since my sister wanted to hear things about him she didn’t know.

I remember when his parents came up to visit from California – Grandmother slept in my bed and Grandfather in Candy’s room.  Ellen had her room downstairs in the basement and Candy & I slept in the rec room.  I remember going upstairs to kitchen early in the morning and sharing tea with Grandmother while she told me stories about Dad.   I’ve always wished I could have known her better, but she died when I was 14 – those early mornings were special to me.  I wish I had written down the stories at the time, I’m having trouble remembering them.  I know she talked about the time  the kitchen porch roof caught fire, not sure what started it.

She had a very nice apartment in Buffalo when she and grandfather were married.  Shortly after she had her first baby, Grandfather and her sister Elizabeth went out and bought a farm in Orchard Park – then present it to Grandmother.  The problem was that it has no electricity, running water or any amenities – not the best place to have a new baby.  She was left alone with the handyman during day while my Grandfather went into Buffalo to his Interior Decorating studio.  Eventually they had running water and electricity – by then my Dad’s other sister Emmie was born and then Dad.

In 1926 Grandmother went out to visit her brother in Southern California – he was building houses in Palos Verdes at the time.  There weren’t too many but there was a committee that had to approve the plans.  They wanted only old style Spanish houses, red tile and stucco.   So her brother was building them and Grandmother decided she wanted to move there.  So she wrote Grandfather to come out and see what it was like.  Unfortunately, the day he arrived on the train, it was pouring rain.  However, he agreed to move there and he would help with the interior decoding of the new houses.  He used fine draperies, oriental rugs and antiques in his designs.  He would have his studio in Malaga Cove Center.

So back they went to Buffalo and packed up three kids, Gertie and all they could carry in two cars and drove across country to California.  My Dad was about 12 or 14 at the time, the youngest child.  He remember he was in the car with his dad and sisters and they stopped somewhere. There was a river and one of sisters nearly drown – I doubt they said anything to Grandmother.

They made it to California all in ne piece and Grandfather bought an old Spanish style house near the golf course in Palos Verdes.  My Dad and his sisters went to Palos Verdes High School and Dad had made a lot of friends.  Some were a little shady but Dad was not about to be talked into anything he didn’t want to do.  He couldn’t be shady or do illegal stuff if his life depended on it.  He used to work at the swim club as a lifeguard and in his high school annual, several girls wrote “To the Dancing Sheik” – he had a slow easy way of dancing the girls loved.  How odd he and my Mom were never able to dance together – haven’t figured that out or thought it smart to ask.

He loved cars and dance music, his mother  wondered if he would ever share her love of classical music.  He told me one day that he heard a piece and it clicked with him and he was a classical music lover forever after.   He still enjoyed dance bands and other kinds of music – I’ sure his mom was delighted to see how much he enjoyed classical music.  He used to say that when Grandmother bought a gift for Grandfather, she would buy a piece she loved.

He spent a lot of time with his guy friends and working on cars, he did know a rum runner in those days but I don’t know if he ever went out with Dick or not.  In the late 30’s before he went into the aircraft industry, he worked for Dick building boats in Wilmington, Calif.  It was by the water and one day he dropped a tool into the water.  He didn’t really want to tell Dick he had lost a tool, but he knew he had to anyway.  When told Dick and apologized, Dick told him”I’m so glad you told me, none of the other guys ever tell me”.    That has always stuck with me.

In 1941, Dad went back east to visit with an uncle and ended up getting a job at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Conn.   He rented a room from a woman who lived in Glastonbury and she just happened to live next door to my Mom’s grandmother.  Mom had seen him but hadn’t been introduced, but the families arranged a blind date for them.  Dad once told me neither of them asked the other marry, they just assumed they were getting married.  Three months later, Dad went to her father and said he wanted to marry his daughter.  Grandfather Sherman told him  “Go back to California and establish yourself.  If in three months you still feel the same, I will give my permission.

In Late December of 1941, just after Pearl Harbor, Mom went to California.  her family thought she was crazy, the Japanese were going to invade California.  Only one aunt supported her and Mom often said it took all her courage to fly  to California by herself.


To be continued  . . . . . . . . . . .


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2 Responses to “About My Dad”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    I remember hearing your dad tell some of these stories, Liz! I particularly remember about your grandfather buying the farm and “presenting” it to your grandma, and about your dad’s meeting and marrying your mom!! Thanks for bringing them back to my memory.

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