As I Remember, Chapter 16

This entry is part 16 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      A few weeks later, Dell came home on a visit. He told me; “There is lots of good jobs down there. You could go to work in most any garage and they pay a lot more money than here.” We left his car with the women and took off in my big twelve cylinder Lincoln Zephyr. He had been staying at an old hotel in the town of Benicia. Then commuting over to Mare Island, where he was working. We both got a room there at the Benicia Hotel. I didn’t know that it was a house of ill repute. But it didn’t take long to find out. The place was full of hookers. Dell went back to his old job and I got one working as a mechanic at The Benicia Garage.

      Helen and I had planned that after I got a job, her and the kids would come down and join me. I began looking for a place to stay. I sure couldn’t take them where I was parked. This place was booming and living quarters were scarce. Then one day, I got a letter from Helen. She said they were coming down on the bus. And be sure and have a place for us to stay! I was desperate. I just had to find something and I did. A house boat. A floating barge on the bay right next to the fish cannery. There was a big sign over the front door that said: TUG BOAT ANNIE…WELCOME.

      There were sea gulls roosting all over the place when we moved in. It sure wasn’t much but our family was back together again and we were happy. At least I was. While they were unloading boat loads of sardines with a big net, a lot of them escaped back into the water. Half dead they would swim around. Nothing went to waste. The gulls had sharp eyes. They would dive down and pick them right out of the water.

      There was another house boat right next to ours. A couple of men were staying there. I guess they worked at the sardine factory. On week ends when they were not working, they found it great sport to play with the seagulls. I guess they would bring home a bucket of sardines. With about two foot of string, they would tie the heads of two of them together, throw them high in the air and let out a yell. Before the fish hit the water, each would be swallowed by a different bird. Then the fun started. End over end they would go. Each refusing to give up his dinner. I guess it takes all kinds of people to make up this old world.

      Then come that memorable day, Dec. 7. The sardine factory, which was owned by Japanese people, never opened again. In fact, you couldn’t find a Jap anywhere! And I understand why. If they had showed their faces, they would of been killed by the angry mob.

      Then one Dell said to me. “I have a chance to go to Alaska, Dutch Harbor. I will make double what I am making here.” I wished him a lot of luck and I hated to see him go. But the next day, he pulled out.

      Early in the spring, we moved back to Oregon. We still had ten acres of strawberries to take care of. It was good to be back. We had lots of friends there. To us, this was home. That summer when the harvest was over, I went to work at a saw mill, which made railroad ties. The H.B. Johnson Tie Mill Co.

      Then Dell returned from Alaska. I guess he had all he wanted of that place. Also he had contracted some sort of a bug. His knees and ankles were badly swollen. He could hardly walk. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing his trouble. They still had the house rented in North Plains. Paying rent and no income was no good. We had them move in with us. Besides, Lillian was pregnant. Then sweet, little Annie was born.

      Then Phil, who was about three years old, fell off the back steps and broke his arm. I guess trouble comes in bunches like bananas. At the mill, I slipped and fell from a pile of logs and broke my back. I was taken to the hospital in Hillsboro. There I was x-rayed and put in traction. The third and fourth lower lumbar, split right down the middle, was what the doctors agreed. After I was there for about a month, they let me go home. By wearing a steel brace on my back, and with the aid of crutches, I managed to get around a little. The doctors weren’t sure that I would ever walk again.

      Many of our friends come to see us. The Dewey Hospital, they called our big house. Dell and me shared one room and two beds. Lillian, who still wasn’t well, another. Then there was Phil with a big cast on his right arm.

      If anyone ever gets credit for being a savior, it certainly will be Helen. “I don’t know what to do about Phil and Bill. They are always fighting and Phil keeps hitting Bill over the head with that big cast on his arm. Bill is black and blue all over.” She showed me the lumps on his head. Bill was a little older than Phil, but they were about the same size. Quite evenly matched. But Phil had the advantage with that heavy cast. It was a problem alright. I decided I had better do something about it. One day while I was making my way out to the three holer, I was just passing the woodpile, and there was Bill and Phil. They were having a heated argument. Phil, was threatening Bill with the heavy cast. I looked around and picked up a heavy piece of bark from the pile. I handed it to Bill. “Take this.” I told him. And grip it tight in your right hand. This he did. “Now,” I told them, “I want you guys to fight. Phil, you use your cast and Bill, you use this piece of wood. I want both of you to keep hitting each other until neither of you will want to fight again.” I drew a line in the dirt with my crutch. “Both of you stand up here and when I say go, get with it.” The boys both stepped up to the line. “Go.” I told them. The piece of bark in Bill’s hand landed first. Right on the side of Phil’s head. Phil tried, but Bill hit him again. Then Phil began to cry.

      I took the bark from Bill’s hand and threw it away. Then, I had a good talk with those two boys. I guess I convinced them, that fighting with cast and a club was no good. Anyhow, that was the end of that. From then on, these two boys were the best of pals.

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