As I Remember, Chapter 11

This entry is part 11 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      Just across the road from where we lived, was an old abandoned house. The old Earl Bishop place. Boxing was fast becoming one of our leading sports. I think that the reason that it was so popular at that time, was on account of so many people being out of work. A bunch of us young fellows put a ring and some punching bags in the old building and began training. There were several guys that lived around there that were real pros: Lance Earp, Bill and Auto King and others. The boxing course I had taken years before and the many battles in holding my street corner as a news boy in Boise, gave me quite an advantage over the other amateurs. I guess I was pretty good. In a short time, I was fighting professionally. I didn’t have a real knockout punch but was a good boxer. I fought some of the best light and welter-weights in the country. Even some middle-weights. This didn’t pay much but kept food on the table. It was a damn hard way to make a living. I kept looking for something better. I kept thinking about what Buddy Frank had told me. I was getting desperate. There was one fellow that I had known all my life that was a moonshiner and boot-legger. His name was Emmett Parks. He had been in and out of jail so many times that he lost track of the number. I went and paid him a visit.

      This guy owed me a couple of favors. Like the time that he had broke jail in Caldwell and had come tearing down the road to the ranch, broke and out of gas. Also he had a flat tire. I had an extra spare for my car. I gave it to him along with a ten dollar bill. I didn’t want to see the guy go back to jail. Yes, I figured he owed me one. I asked him. “Shorty,” which was what everyone called him, “I know that you have made and sold a lot of whiskey these past years. Some of it good and some pretty rotten. At least that is what everyone tells me.” Shorty nodded, “And you have been told right.” “How come,” I asked him, “that it isn’t all good?” “Why do you want to know?” “Because,” I told him, “I want to make up a ten gallons for myself. I will not be a competitor of yours. That I promise.” “The reason that I get a bad batch once in a while,” he explained, “is because it hadn’t been taken care of properly. Making good moonshine is just like making a good batch of bread. Everything must be done just right at the right time.” The guy gave me a good lecture and showed me his still, which was at the present time, in his bedroom. When I left there that night, I knew how to make whiskey, good whiskey.

      Even in these tough times, I had managed to hang to some cash. I could still scare up a couple of hundred dollars. I told Helen about Buddy Frank’s offer. Also, about my meeting with Shorty. She had only one comment. “Why don’t you do it. But promise me one thing. After you fill this order, you will call it quits.” I promised. Then I started work.

      First, I bought a copper wash boiler and fifty feet of half inch copper tubing. Soon my still was ready. One hundred pounds of cane sugar, two pounds of bakers yeast, plus fifty gallons of warm well water, put into a fifty gallon oak barrel, put two inches of bran on top and wait. In about seven days, the bran cap will sink. Now is the proper time to fire up the still. By setting a batch to brew every day for a week, I soon had one of those big upstairs rooms in that old house filled with mash barrels.

      Shorty told me of a bootlegger supply house in Boise, where I could buy ten gallon white oak kegs, charred inside. I bought several to start with. Also a hydrometer for testing the booze. As Shorty had told me, on the seventh day, barrel number one was ready to run. I fired up the Coleman gas stove that night and before morning I had a ten gallon keg of 100 proof moonshine, plus about two quarts extra. I carried down all the waste and dumped it into the drain ditch which run by the side of the house. I pumped water from the well and carried it upstairs, warmed it on the stove and set another batch. So every night for about two months, I repeated this performance. And where did I keep all this booze? As I said before, a drain ditch ran by the side of the house. A six foot concrete pipe had been installed at this point. For about a hundred and fifty feet, the water ran through it. So every morning, I would take a full keg and carry it down to the upper end of the pipe. Float it down the pipe that was about half full of water, then find a joint between the sections. With railroad spikes, steel hooks and ropes, I tied each keg to the wall. It would lay there in the water and roll gently in the slow moving current. According to my teacher, in a month’s time, this would age the stuff equivalent to ten years standing still. It kept the stuff moving through the charred wood inside.

It wasn’t exactly what you would call an easy life. But I kept training with the boys across the street; Now and then facing some opponent in the ring. Then summer was over and in that big pipe running by the side of the house, was about seventy ten gallon kegs of moonshine! We had spent all our money for supplies, plus using up all the credit we could muster. We decided to call it quits. I smashed the still. Took it out in the foothills and buried it. When I started this project, I told Buddy Frank, “Don’t look for anyone else, I will supply you.” There had been nothing more said between us. Then one day, I crawled down in the pipe and cut one of the kegs loose. When I got it out in the sunlight, it looked dark with age. I removed one of the stoppers and took a sample. It was dark amber in color and no longer smelled like the raw material I had put in there. I tested it for proof. It was right to 100. He said it should be at least ninety. Well he could probably gain a gallon and water it down. I put the plug back in. I filled a gunny sack, part full of chopped hay, then dropped in the keg. Finished filling it with chopped hay and sewed it up so as to look like a sack of grain. I threw it into the trunk of my old car and we headed for Boise and Buddy Frank.

      I left him the keg for sample, assuring him that it was all the same. Then we took off for home. We sure held our breath for a few days. Then through the mail, come a plain post card. On it was printed; Bring over the forty nine. Signed, B.F. It took me a few days to get them put in sacks like the sample. But I finally got it done. I rented a truck from one of my neighbors and once more headed for Boise. That night I come home, with a check in my hand for the sum of three thousand dollars.

      Our first thought was to get a decent car. The old one was getting pretty well worn out. We went to Emmett and looked around. At that time, Howard Eaton was working for the Murray Bros., who owned the Chevy garage. He showed us an almost new model A Ford sport coupe with a rumble seat. We liked it very much. He told us to take it and try it out. Suddenly an idea struck me. These guys always have booze around, and there is still a bunch of kegs left floating in that pipe. I told Howard. “There is lots of ducks in the ponds just back of the house. Why don’t you guys come down early in the morning and we will go hunting. If we like the car, I will offer you a deal.” As I remember, it was on a Sunday and a whole car load of them come down. The hunting was great and we got a lot of ducks. Finally, we ended up in the shed back of the house. Everyone was all smiles. “What have you decided about the car?” Howard asked. “We like it.” I told him. “But I got to get rid of something before I can pay for it. Something that I took in on a bill from a guy over in Jordan Valley. While I had that service station in Caldwell, he run up a big bill. He finally paid me off but not in cash.” “And what did he pay you with?” “Moonshine.” I lied. “It was either that or nothing.” “And how much have you got?” At six dollars a gallon, ten kegs would just pay the difference between the two cars. “Ten gallon kegs.” I told him. “Have you got a sample here?” He asked. I pointed over to the drain ditch. “All ten of them are all up inside that big pipe. You got on your boots, wade out in there. I will crawl up and cut one of them loose.” In a few minutes, we come back with a keg. I went into the house and brought out some glasses. Before the day was over, we owned the Ford and still had all the money.

As I Remember, Chapter 12

This entry is part 12 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      About the next thing we did, was to lock up the old house and take a trip to Canada. We took Barrett Dick along with us. A very good friend of mine. As kids, we had gone to school together. We were gone a couple of weeks and had a wonderful time. When we returned, I got busy. We made great plans.

      Down the road about a mile, was an eighty acre plot of land that could be bought by paying up the back taxes. Most of it was still in brush and there were no buildings. We bought the place. Like the place we were living, a drain ditch ran through it. Unlike the one where we were living, there was no pipe. It was all open and ran lots of water. Just south of where the ditch crossed the road, we built a new house, drilled a well, built a barn and a chicken coop and moved in. I will never forget all the raised eyebrows among all the neighbors. The big question was; Where in hell did he get all his money! And I guess right up until this day, they never found out.

      After we moved in, I bought ten head of milk cows. I think I paid an average price of thirty dollars each. Also, I bought a cream separator. There were no rural electric lines at this time. But I fixed that. I put a water wheel in the drain ditch, attached it to a six volt car generator, backed up by a couple of storage batteries, and we had electric lights all over the place. Plus enough to run our radio. We were sitting pretty.

      Then along come little Gertrude. She was so tiny and frail that we weren’t sure she was going to make it. But she did. And not only did she survive, but turned into one of the prettiest girls that ever lived. Also the sweetest. Then along come Bill. A big ten pound boy. And I was proud. He had a chest on him that looked like a full grown man. Many a time I proudly displayed his magnificent form.

      We were now in the worst times of the big depression. But I was never out of a job. In the summer times, I irrigated the Obermeyer orchards. Either that or run a spray rig for the J.C. Pulambo Fruit Co. I got a job with F.H. Hogue, which took care of the winters. I run the night shift for his big apple drier in New Plymouth. I could write a book on what happened during this period, but will go on to the next step.

      We now had a new president. Franklin D. Roosevelt. He tried to put people back to work. The P.W.A. was formed. Many projects were going on. Men standing around with shovels in their hands, doing nothing. There was some relief. I have often thought, maybe I did break the law a bit when I made that big batch of moonshine, but I never went on any form of relief and my family never went hungry.

As I Remember, Chapter 13

This entry is part 13 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      In the spring of 1937, we moved to Oregon. The apple drier had run all winter. Some people by the name of Green, had worked there for the last several winters. They had told me, “Why don’t you come up there and spend the summer? I am sure that you can get a job at the same place that we work.” They painted a beautiful picture of the country up there. We talked it over and decided to go take a look. If we couldn’t find anything there, we could always come back.

      We sold our cows and chickens. I made a deal with Mel Vickory to look after the crops. We locked up the house and took off. I had a 1936 Ford sedan. Also a small trailer. In a couple of days, we reached our destination, Banks, Oregon. This little town was about thirty miles beyond the city of Portland. It was a pretty little place and the surrounding hills were literally covered with strawberry plants. Hundreds of acres of them. Most of them owned by Japanese. We moved into a small cabin owned by one of the growers and the next day, I went to work. It was quite a come down, from foreman in a big apple drier, to a hoe handle. But I didn’t mind and the country was beautiful.

      I worked at several different places that spring. Finally, we ended up near the town of Hillsboro. More and more we fell in love with this country. We thought we would like to spend the rest of our lives here. Then one day, I got a letter from Mel Vickory. Floyd Whitely had just got married. He wanted to buy our farm. His dad had the cash and would pay for it in full. We had been looking around, found a place and fell in love with it. It was just a few miles north of North Plains. Almost on top of Pumpkin Ridge. There was twenty one acres. Ten which was cleared and ten in old growth fir timber. And there was also a big two story house. And what a fantastic view!

      We didn’t hesitate. We sold out in Idaho, bought the place and moved in. Then the strawberry season was over with. I would have to find some other kind of job. And it didn’t take me long. North Plains was a town of about a thousand people. It had a nice store, a couple of beer joints, a garage and a small saw mill. I decided I would go there and look for work. It was on a Saturday afternoon that I will never forget.

      I was alone when I arrived in town. Everything and everyone seemed to be at a place called Jack’s Tavern. Yes, they were all there. Harold Anderson, Herb Johnson, Gunner Bergrand, Charley Hess, Jonnie Meeks and all the rest. Of course I didn’t know any of them at the time but certainly would later. It looked like a good place to inquire about any work that might be going on. Besides, a good, cold beer would taste mighty fine. I stepped inside and looked around. The place was packed. I stepped up to the bar and ordered a bottle of Bud. Sitting at one of the tables was a couple of big guys Indian wrestling, turning arms. They were really grunting away. Part of the crowd yelling for one, the other half for the other guy. I stood there and watched.. I guess most everyone in there had given it a try. Then, someone spotted me. It was Jonnie Meeks. He yelled, “Hey, we got a new one here. Look at what just come in.” The big guy at the table looked up. (Gunner Larson). He said, “Want to try me?” I grinned and shook my head. “No thank you. You are too strong for me.” I learned later that most all of these guys were loggers. Just having a little fun on their day off. After a little bit, a new face appeared, (Charlie Hess) the local blacksmith. In his hands were several horse shoes. Then become a real show of strength. Twisting those heavy steel shoes with their bare hands. This and other feats of strength went on for quite awhile. I just stood there and watched.

      Separated only by an archway, was a barber shop. A barber was cutting someone’s hair. I was badly in need of one myself. I would go in when my turn come. Then there was the big blacksmith again. Tearing up a Portland telephone book. He pushed it toward me. His voice was loud and nasty. “Here, see what you can do with that.” Someone snickered. All eyes were on me and none of them looked very friendly. I shook my head. “No thank you. That is not my line.” Charlie laughed and turned to the crowd. “This feller,” he said, “just stands around and looks on. Don’t take no part in anything.” He turned and glared at me. “Is there anything you can do young man!” I made a quick decision. If I was going to live around this town, I must stand up for my rights. Even God hates a coward. I stepped close to the guy. He was a big man, probably in his late forties. Strong as an ox and probably just as fast. I answered. “Yes, there is something that I can do. One more insult out of you and I will knock you flat on your ass!” For a few seconds, you could of heard a pin drop. Then as I knew he would, he threw the wild haymaker with his right. I was ready. I let it go over my head and smashed him in the mouth with my right. I could see blood spurt from his lips. He grunted as I buried my left fist in his stomach. He dropped his guard and his face was right out in the open. I hit him several times more before his knees buckled and he sank to the floor. Out cold as a wet Herring. I stepped back and looked the crowd over. “Anyone else want to try?” I asked. No one answered. A couple of them were stooped over the big blacksmith. It was hard to believe what a couple of bare fists can accomplish in a few seconds. They drug Charlie into the other room and propped him up on the barber chair. Several of them went to work on him. I took my time about leaving. When I was ready to go, I gave them a big smile. “Good day, gentlemen.” One guy followed me out the door, Jonnie Meeks, he said. “I am the bull buck for Johnson Logging Co. You just wouldn’t happen to be looking for a job would you?” I grinned. “I sure am.” And that was my first day in the town of North Plains.

As I Remember, Chapter 14

This entry is part 14 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      I always had a job. If not for someone else, I would fall one of the big fir trees and cut it up into cordwood. In those days, everyone in that part of the country burned wood. When summer was over, we made a trip back to Idaho. There were a few things that we wanted to pick up. Things that we had run off and left.

      We had a good visit. Brother Ray was still living in the little house that Helen and I had built. Brother Dell had really grown up. Now over six feet tall and a really handsome guy. He was engaged to be married, to a pretty young thing, Lillian Hath. He was building them a little house on the west corner of the prune orchard. It was quite nice. I wondered how long it would be before brother Ray run him off. I told Dell. “If anything ever happens here, that you want to get out, come on up to Oregon.” He promised he would. We gathered up our belongings and went home.

      The next spring, we planted our ten acres of cleared land, to strawberries. We got a contract with the cannery. We would be paid five cents a pound, delivered. That was the going price. We paid one cent a pound for picking, plus a quarter cent bonus if the picker stayed all the way through. Then one day, we got a new member of the family, Old Jack! A big beautiful German Shepherd dog. It was sort funny how I happened to acquire the magnificent animal. I will tell about it…

      There was a fellow that lived on the edge of North Plains that was a dog trainer. He made his living selling seeing eye dogs also some went to the army. One day, I was in North Plains. I went into Jack’s tavern for a beer. The dog trainer was sitting there. I spoke to him and set down. We were having a social visit when into the room walked the sheriff and another guy. The guy with the sheriff, pointed his finger at the fellow beside me. “That’s him. That’s the guy that got away with my dog.” The sheriff had out the hand cuffs. He put them on the guy. The guy looked guilty alright. He asked the sheriff. “Would you mind if we drove by my shack? I want to lock it up.” He turned to me. “Ted, do you want a good dog?” “What kind of dog?” “A two year old German Shepherd, fully trained. He will do anything you tell him.” “Sure, why not! I love a good dog!” We drove out to the guy’s shack. I followed them with my car. He locked up his little house, then cut loose with a shrill whistle. Then from out of apparently no-where, come the most beautiful dog that I have ever seen… Old Jack.

      Together, we walked over to my car. The trainer said to me. “Open the door on the passenger side.” This I did. The trainer looked down at the dog, then up to the door. “Get in.” He said. The dog jumped inside. I got in behind the wheel. “After you get aquatinted with him a bit, he will do anything you tell him.” Then he spoke directly to the dog. “Go with him. He is your new master.” For an instant, the big fellow looked sort of puzzled. Then suddenly he turned and licked the side of my face. He had understood.

      When I say that this dog had become a member of the family, I mean just that. I could write a complete book on this guy alone. He helped raise our kids. He was the baby sitter. He carried the strawberry hillocks from out of the field. He done everything he was told. Then some. Like this one that I will tell about.

      One of our closest neighbors was a young couple by the name of Oly and Lola Weaver. They were our best friends and we spent a lot of time together. Jack seemed to accept them as one of the family. One day, it was late in the fall. I had taken the family to Hillsboro. We would do our shopping, then take in a movie. There we run into Oly and his brother Shorty. Oly said, “Sure glad we found you. Shorty and I are going pheasant hunting. The season just opened today. I don’t have a shot-gun and I want to borrow yours.” “It is up at my house, hanging on the wall. You are welcome.” “Is your house locked?” “No, but Old Jack is there.” Oly grinned. “He won’t bother me, he is my friend.” Then the two of them took off.

      It was late in the afternoon when we returned to the ranch. Oly’s car was parked out in front and in it sat Shorty Weaver. And he was a very angry Shorty. I asked him. “Where is Oly?” He pointed at the house. “That damn dog of yours let him in.” Then he shouted. “And now the dirty son of a bitch won’t let him out! And I can’t go anywhere because Oly has the keys to the car! And we have been trapped here all afternoon!” Well, that was just the way Old Jack was. He could certainly be trusted. It was a sad day about fifteen years later that we had him put away.

As I Remember, Chapter 15

This entry is part 15 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      Time passed quickly. Every day the kids were growing like a bunch of weeds. We were sure proud of our little family. But it was going to grow. In the spring of 39, Dell and Lillian come driving in. We had plenty of room and sure tickled to see them. Dell said; “Couldn’t stand it any longer. Ray is after everything and it looks like he will get it.” Then he grinned. “He wanted our new house, so I gave it to him. After it caught fire and burned to the ground.

      Dell had a little cash saved up. Also he owned a brand new Hudson two seated car. We shopped around and found a place for sale a couple of miles farther up the ridge. He sold his new, then bought an older one, made a down payment on the property, then moved in.

      By now I was an expert at falling and bucking the giant fir trees. We made a good team. When we couldn’t find a job, we would cut wood down in my lower ten acres. We were always busy. Dell and Lillian had one child and another on the way. Phil, the boy, was first. Annie would come along later. We were a happy group and lots of good times together. Then in the fall of 39, things began to change. Adolph Hitler’s armies invaded Poland.. The first phase of the terrible war that was to follow.

      In the spring of 1940, German planes were bombing England. Almost destroying the great city of London. France had fallen and many other small countries. The U.S. began helping England. Our dormant munitions factories become alive. The ship yards began building ships. Our president began building up our army and navy. Getting ready just in case.

      Jobs were no longer scarce. Most everyone was working. The price of everything started going up, including wages. There was a garage for rent in Hillsboro. I considered myself a good mechanic. Dell and I rented the building and hung out our shingle. DEWEY’S GARAGE. WELDING. Dell was also a pretty good mechanic and under my careful supervision, he got by real good. But we weren’t making nearly as much money as the guys that were working for the shipyards. Even a woman welder was taking home more pay than we were. In the fall of 41, we closed the thing. Dell moved Lillian and the kids into a house in North Plains, then took off for Vallejo California. He had been offered a good job working for a construction co.

      Oregon Shipyards were advertising for welders. I always said that I could weld anything but a broken heart. I went down and applied for a job. Men were crawling all over those ships.

Hanging from ropes. Now there is one thing that I had always been allergic to and that is height. Even getting up on top of a twelve foot fruit ladder scares hell out of me. After I had taken my tests and passed with flying colors, I told the man in charge. “I will take the job but I am scared.” I went on to explain. The guy took notes of this and assured me that I would be kept near the ground level.

      I will never forget my first night at Oregon Shipyards. I would be working nights on a Liberty ship that was almost completed. When it was time to go on, a guide took me and about a dozen more up that big stairway to the upper deck of the ship. So far, so good. Then he led the way to where I was to work. Which was clear down in the bottom of the thing. Not only did I have to crawl down a ladder for about a hundred feet, but the darn thing was on a declivity. Like a tall step ladder leaning over backwards. It took all the guts I could muster but I made it down to the bottom. I am sure that my hand prints are still on those bars. I was terrified, to say the least. I had told the super that I had a fear of heights. He said that I would not be off the ground level. Of course where I was working was O.K. It was getting up and down that high ladder that scared the hell out of me. As the night wore on, my fear increased. Somehow I knew that I would never make it back up there. I would either freeze to the thing and yell for help. Or come tumbling down and land on that steel floor. Either way, was suicide.

      There was one more guy that had about the same feelings as myself. I could see him looking up that tiny steel ladder every few minutes. I asked him. “Does getting up and down that darn thing bother you?” He nodded. “It scares me about half to death and I told them I was like that. I wish there was another way out of here.” “Me too.” It was good to know that I wasn’t the only one. Then very slowly, an idea began to dawn on me. I looked the situation over. Then I had the answer. About two minutes before quitting time, I picked up the cutting torch, lit it and cut a hole about tow feet square in the side of the ship. Me and my new found friend crawled through and walked away. Needless to say, this was my one and only night there. And I made no attempt to collect my night’s wages.

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.

As I Remember, Chapter 17

This entry is part 17 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      Our strawberry crop that summer, didn’t amount to much. After a few years, weevil get in them and that is the beginning of the end. A couple of months went by. I was getting around a little with my crutches. The doctors had fixed me up with a corset. Much like what my mother used to wear. If I cinched this thing up real tight in the morning, and kept it that way all day, it would help keep down the terrible pain that would shoot down my right leg. It was like a tooth-ache, only the tooth was as large as a leg. I guess I have gone through hell already. Then gradually, the worst was over. The pain was not quite so bad. I threw away the crutches. But poor brother Dell. That bug in his joints was sure giving him hell. His legs looked like stove pipes.

      Then one day, one of his doctors told him; “I think that if you would move to a hot, dry climate and lay out in the sun a lot, you might get over this.” One morning Dell said to me. “Ted, Lillian and I have talked it over and we are going back to Emmett. We have bothered you enough. Poor Helen is about worn out.” Then he grinned. “We will put our feet under our folk’s table for awhile.” I will never forget that morning when they all got into their car and were ready to go. It took Dell quite awhile to get in and get under that steering wheel. Dell had lots of guts. But somehow, I didn’t think he would ever make it. Lillian was also in bad shape. I turned to Helen. “I’m going with them.” There were tears in her eyes. “Oh Ted, I am so glad.” I walked over to the door of the car. “Get over.” I told Dell. “I am going to drive.”

      It took us three days to get down there. Then I returned by bus. I knew that my hard working days were over with. No more sawmill work, no wood cutting. At least for a long time. I knew that I must get to doing something. I was a good mechanic and welder. If I only had a little shop of my own and had it paid for, surely I could make a living. We decided to sell the ranch. There seemed to be quite a lot of buyers around. Also, I began looking for a little spot to go in business.

      Finally we accomplished both. We sold the ranch on Pumpkin Ridge and moved over to a little town called Pratum. It was about five miles out of Salem. Between Salem and Silverton. It was just a small town. One general store, a big feed store, and what had been another store and filling station. Also there was a nice apartment upstairs. We paid all cash for the place and moved in.

      I went to work and put large garage doors on the front of the place. It was big enough for two cars plus all my welders and other tools. I painted a sign above the door; PRATUM GARAGE…WELDING. I told Helen. “We got a little money left and I am going to take it easy. Won’t do any advertising for awhile. Maybe a few will come in. And they did. For miles around they come. Soon I was working from daylight to dark. I even hired a helper. A young man by the name of Frank Woodzwoda.

      Our oldest daughter, Bertie, was now in school. One day she said to me. “Daddy, buy me a piano. I want to learn to play the piano….Please.” Unlike my dad, when I wanted to learn to play the violin, I told her, “sure, we will get you one. A good one.” Helen and I went shopping and found a beautiful up-right Grand, a Baldwin. It was solid oak and looked like it weighed a ton. We bought it under the conditions that they take it upstairs to our apartment. And that they did and Bertie began taking lessons. And at the same time, she was passing on what she had learned to her sister Gerty.

      My back was getting a lot better. But I would wear that corset for many a year. Anyhow, we were making a good living and we were a very happy family. At least I was.

      Then we had another blessed event. Little Joe was born. I was about a nervous wreck before this was over with. Helen had got the warning signals and I took her to the hospital in Silverton. This was in the middle of the night. I come home and tried to get some sleep. But there was no use trying. I kept calling the hospital every few hours. Nothing. I drove over there and took a look for myself. Helen seemed to be o.k. But there was something that wasn’t just right. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon of her second day there, that our little boy was born. Little Joe. Named after my buddy Joe Woodzwoda. The guy that baby sat me during this trying ordeal.

As I Remember, Chapter 18

This entry is part 18 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      We stayed there for three years. Every fall, we would lock the place up and go down to Idaho for a visit. We would leave Old Jack home to guard everything. The back door of the shop, leading up to the stairway was his home. Through the main door, I had cut a small one. Hinged from the top, it would swing either way. He could come and go as he pleased. When we would get ready to leave, we would make sure there was plenty of dog food in there. Also a faucet of water was left dripping into a bucket. When we were already to go, I would set down beside him and tell him.. “Wait here, Jack. Wait right here until we come back.” Then he would thump the porch with his tail and lick me on the side of the face. Then I knew that he understood. Usually we were gone about ten days. But when we returned, he would come bounding off that porch barking with joy. I believe he would of stayed there until he starved to death if we had not come home.

      Then one day late in the afternoon, a car drove up in front of the shop. And tied to the back bumper, sticking straight up, was a great big sage brush. I wondered what the devil was going on. But soon I found out. The grinning face of brother Dell was behind the wheel. Beside him was Lillian. Dell had completely recovered from the ‘bug’ or whatever it was that he had caught in nodded. “Don’t it make you homesick for good old Idaho?” Note. Sagebrush don’t grow on the west coast. I sniffed and nodded. “I guess it does, just a little.” Dell took the big sagebrush off the car and leaned it up by the garage door. “Keep smelling it.” he said. “Because we want you to come back to Idaho. We need you down there.” Then Dell told me. Financed by Dad, he had started up a small box factory at the Dewey packing shed at Little Rock. It was making nothing but money. But when the fruit harvest come, he would have to move out of there. Dad would sell me his half interest for just the amount of money he had invested. We would build a new building. Dell was a good talker and soon had me convinced. After all, there is no place like home. I knew a fellow that wanted to buy me out and he had the cash. In a short time we were back in Idaho. Good bye Pratum.

As I Remember, Chapter 19

This entry is part 19 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      Before fruit harvest time in the fall of 1945, we moved into our new building. Dewey’s Box Factory at little rock. We bought a nice little home in Emmett and moved in. Everything was going great. There were lots of orders coming in and we were making lots of money.

      Then come another memorable day, Sept.2, 1945. The United States dropped the first atom bomb. Soon that long terrible war would come to an end.

      Then along toward spring, one cold, dark night, the box factory caught on fire and burned down. Only cinder brick walls were left standing. All the saws and everything was burned beyond repair. We had taken out some insurance on the building but not nearly enough for us to rebuild. Dell and I were both out of a job and had to figure out something. Close to the main box factory, we had built another building, a cabinet shop. It had not burned. After cleaning up the mess, we decided to see what we could do in there. We had small saws, shaper jointers, sanders and a lot more things. This had been more or less, our play house. In this we went to work.

      We built knotty pine furniture. Our best sellers was a hope chest and a gun cabinet. We built a lot of them. But we were hardly making enough money to survive. Dell was a very ambitious guy. Always dreamed of making millions. And Lillian was just like him in that way. She loved that money. One day, Dell said to me; “We got to do something. Every day we are going behind.” Finally we come up with what sounded like a great idea. Turn this cabinet shop into a night club. Everywhere they were opening up and doing a big business. This is how they operated. In Idaho at that time, liquor could be bought only at State owned liquor stores. Selling it by the drink, was illegal. To get around this, you formed a corporation. For members only. The member would bring in their own bottle and you mixed their drinks and charged for the service. Of course if the guy’s bottle went dry, you could always pour him one out of your own. Dell really went for this idea. “Why don’t we open up two of them.” he said. “You run one and I will run the other.” We decided to do just that. We would call them PINK ELEPHANT. No. 1 and 2. This location was ten miles west of Emmett, the other one should be the other side of town. We bought a lot out beyond the cemetery and started building. We would build the thing where it could easily be transformed into a regular house. Just in case something happened.

      Then we had our grand opening. The one at Little Rock was first. The other one would open a week later. That was one hectic night. One that I will never forget. There was hundreds of people showed up that night. We couldn’t get them all in the building. Among them, was a group of trouble makers. Toughs, that worked at the Emmett sawmill. They decided to wreck the place. One of them kicked a hole in the wall. Another, upset a table covered with drinks. We threw out the trouble makers. Then outside, all hell broke loose. A big fight started. Women were screaming. We run everyone out of the building and locked the doors. The big concrete slab where the box factory had been was in a turmoil. A regular mad house.

      There was a light switch on the pole that had the yard light on it. I decided to turn that light out. Put them in the dark. I opened the door and made a run for it. But I had not been quick enough. A man in front of me, come stumbling backwards and landed on the back of his head on that concrete slab. It sounded like dropping a ripe watermelon. Several women screamed. Inside of a minute, the place was vacant. Cars pulling out in every direction. Dell and I picked the guy up and rushed him to the hospital in Emmett. He was pronounced dead when we arrived.

      So our career as night club operators lasted exactly one night. We never opened again and the other one, we began changing it into a house the very next day. We had all of this that we wanted. I made a deal with brother Dell. He would keep the house, I would take the club house at Little Rock. I bought ten acres of ground down close to New Plymouth and moved it down there. I remodeled it and it turned out to be a nice place. One that we would move into later.

As I Remember, Chapter 20

This entry is part 20 of 39 in the series Ted Bio


      A lot of things happened about this time. One of them was something very nice. Our little Sandy was born. A little sister to grow up with little brother Joe. And she was a darling. Now a few words about the Dewey ranch.

      Several years ago, Dad had bought out Feldman. He now owned the whole thing. He had gone into politics. Had been elected to the office of State Representative a couple of times. He drove a big Packard. The road coming from the highway to the ranch was paved after him. DEWEY ROAD. Also the road from the ranch to the packing shed at Little Rock was paved. He was a very successful man. And a lonely one. He wasn’t a church goer. He spent a lot of time hanging around the beer joints in Emmett.

      Brother Ray was still taking Mother to church every Sunday. Then one day Dad told Dell and me. “Your mother and I are going to get a divorce. Someone has been telling her that I am out with other women all the time. Which is a damn lie. But I think it is best that we part.” He wanted Dell and me to build him a house up at the old Dewey Grove. Grandpa’s old place. Which we did. When Dad left the ranch, he gave Mother a clear deed to the whole thing. Plus a fat bank account

      Sister Jenny had been sick. She had been hit with an attack of Multiple Sclerosis. But apparently, got over it. At least for a while. Then she got married. To a real nice guy, Joe Patterson. Brother Bob got married and moved into the old Bollinger place. This was now owned by the Dewey orchards. After we finished Dad’s house, he told Dell and me. “I have made out a will.” and he showed it to us. “This lot where you built this house, I have willed to you two. Sixty foot frontage and one hundred feet deep. Also, you will get your share of the rest.” He put the document in the back of a big old safe that he kept in his bedroom. “I don’t usually keep this thing locked.” he said “But it is fire proof.” Then he grinned. “In case something happens to me and the thing is locked.” He pointed down on the side. “The combination is scratched right here.”

      Oh yes. Brother Ray was now in complete charge of the Dewey orchards. There would be some big changes made. Like him a big, beautiful new house. Now back to my family. We moved down to the house down by New Plymouth. The old Club House. We were completely out of business and I had to do something. My back still wouldn’t allow me to do hard work. But I knew that I must find something. Finally I got a job tending bar at a club in New Plymouth. I worked for Jack and Ilene Harwell. It wasn’t hard work, but this sort of life was not for me. I kept looking for something better. It seemed to me like this place had more than it’s share of plumbing troubles. Every few days a sink would plug up or one of the toilets. The old plumbers friend, sure got a workout. Then I began to study this thing. Surely there was a better way. I went to work on it.

      The only action you got out of the plumbers friend, was from the cup itself. I thought I could make a great improvement on this. So I got busy and built one of my own. It was quite an undertaking. First was the rubber cup. I would need a mould. Dell had a little wood lathe, I borrowed it. From a piece of wood, I made a pattern. This cup I made looked like a regular suction cup. Seven inches across the face. In the top of the thing, was a hole an inch and a quarter in diameter. Into this hole, I would put a double action pump made something like a tire pump, only double action.

      I took my wooden model down to the foundry at Weiser and had an aluminum mold made. I bought some raw tire re-sapping rubber, filled the mold, put it in the oven and baked it for a couple of hours. Then I took out my first rubber cup and it was a beauty. I bought a piece of aluminum tubing, an inch and a quarter in diameter and sixteen inches long. I used an O ring on a piston fastened to an aluminum rod. Cemented the barrel of the thing into the cup and I had my first model. And the thing really worked! All you had to do was fit that cup over the hole and pump the handle like a tire pump. It would suck up and blow down. And get the job done in just a few seconds. Of course, I run to show Dell my great new invention. I can still close my eyes and hear his voice. “On this, we will make millions!:

      We still had the ground at the box factory. The four brick walls were still standing. We put a roof over part of it and we once more had a place to work. Before we would invest in machinery to make these things, we thought we had better make some sort of a market survey. We made up several models and headed for San Francisco. To demonstrate the thing, I put a sliding lock on the pump handle. I would put the face of the cup on any smooth surface, pull out the handle and lock it. There wasn’t a man in the world that could pull the darn thing loose. Table tops would come loose, refrigerator doors would come off, sinks would be torn loose, but that thing would hang on!       The first and only place that we stopped was at a place that we picked out of the yellow pages of the telephone book. They were manufacturers agents. We put on a demonstration. They were really excited. “How many you got on hand?” they asked. “And how much a thousand are they going to cost us?” We told them we would come up with some figures, then come back later. We got out of there and headed for home.

      By now the war had been over with for about a year. Hundreds of small defense factories were closed down. There was a lot of government surplus machinery that was for sale. Somehow or another, Dell got hold of a big list being sold back in Detroit, Michigan. All kinds of lathes, welders, etc. People that come representing schools would be given a very special price. We still had our Ford truck left over from the box factory days. Dell and Lillian got in it and they were on their way.

      I believe that Dell is the most amazing fellow I ever met. In about ten days, they returned. And on the truck was a big piece of equipment. A huge Warner Swasey, turret lathe. It looked like new and must have weighed at least five ton. I had never seen one like it. I was amazed. “How much did you pay for that thing?” I asked. He grinned. “Fifty bucks. They were practically giving them away to the schools. I bought two of them. The other one is being shipped by railroad.” I couldn’t believe my ears. “How in the world did you manage all this?” “That was easy. I called the super here. He is an old friend of mine. Through him, I bought the two of them. Then I bought them back. Had to give the school fifty bucks profit. So they really cost a hundred each. Then there will be the freight.” I think the original cost of these lathes was about $20,000 each.

      We were rearing’ to go! We bought drill and punch presses. Also an electric oven for baking rubber. We made a trip to Portland, Oregon and bought enough material to make up ten thousand of the things. Then we went to work. Those new lathes were really something. We finally figured out how to run them. They were almost automatic. In a short time, we had them all made up. But to conserve space, we did not cement the rubber cup on to the barrel. This was a simple operation and could be done anywhere. Now we knew exactly what it cost to make the things. 45 cents each. We bought a Dodge panel job, loaded it up and headed back to San Francisco.

      Oh yes. On the barrel of each was a stick on label. THE HANDY GEM. In smaller words below, sink and toilet cleaner. We figured if we could get a dollar fifty each for the things, we would be sitting pretty. At least that was what we would ask. Then we got our first disappointment. The brokers that we had contacted before had gone out of business. At least they were gone. We contacted another, put on a demonstration. They were quite impressed. They asked our price. Then we began to learn a little bit about marketing a new product. First, there was the transportation charge. Then the brokers fee. Then a certain amount for advertising. Then a markup of about forty five percent for the retailer. When it was all added up, the thing would have to bring about five dollars. A plumber’s friend could be bought for around sixty cents. Quite a difference. One of the guys explained. “Suppose your sink got plugged up. You go to a store looking for a tool to unplug it. There is a tool for sixty cents and one for five dollars. Which one would you buy?” Of course there was only one answer. And we couldn’t figure out any way to make the darn thing for less money. Boy were we disappointed. But we didn’t give up. We contacted Sears, Western Auto and others. They all come up with the same answer. We finally give up and headed for home.

      We had ten thousand of those darn things on hand. Surely there was some way of getting rid of them at a profit. I was not going to give up. Not just yet any how. I told Dell. “Maybe we can peddle them. Most any business place should buy one. Hotels, barber shops, restaurants, clubs, service stations and a lot of other places. They should have one.” Dell had lost all interest. Our million dollars had flown out the window. “You go ahead.” he said. “I am going to build myself a new house. Also one for Roy Arnstedt. I can make more money at that than I can peddling those darn things.” So I loaded up a bunch and headed for Boise. I hit all the above mentioned places. By the end of a long day, I sold about ten of them at two dollars each. This was about the limit. This was all they would bring. I worked around there for two or three more days. By the time I bought all my meals in restaurants and paid for a hotel room, plus the car expenses, there wasn’t much left by the end of the day. I was very discouraged. I would be better off holding down a good job.

      I was just about to give up. Then I wandered into a garage. As usual, I was carrying one of those things in my hand. I knew one of the fellows working there. Paul Parks, a body and fender man. He was standing there, looking at a caved in door on a Cadillac that had been rolled. He spoke to me “Hello Ted, what are you doing over here? And what the devil have you got in your hand?” As I stood there staring at that caved in door, some cogs in my head fell into place. Why hadn’t I thought of it before! I grinned. “Paul.” I said. “I have here a great new invention. Bring the other guys around and I will demonstrate.” And that he did. I put that suction cup in the middle of that caved in door and pulled out the handle. It was on thigh. I took a firm grip on the barrel and gave it a mighty pull. With a bang, the dent turned inside out. Outside of a few scratches, the door was like new again. The fellows were amazed. Paul took the thing from my hand and looked it over. “How much?” he asked. “A special price for you.” I said. “Three bucks.” He handed me five. “Here, keep the change. And thanks for fixing that door.” The other guys dug into their pockets. Each bought one.

      For the rest of the day, I called on nothing but the places that did body and fender work. I didn’t miss a sale. And each time, I raised the price about fifty cents. When it got up to around seven fifty, I quit. They were still buying but kicking about the price. By the end of the day, I had quite a sizeable roll in my pocket. I knew that I had found a way out of this mess. I went home. There was several things that I must do to help the cause. Number one, the label must be changed. Over the bottom part where it said; sink and toilet cleaner, I put another. It was now : THE HANDY GEM… dent remover. And there was something else that I did. I caved in both doors of the panel delivery. I worked on them until I had them perfectly trained. With my shoulder, I could cave them in. With the tool, I could pop them out. Now I was ready. I loaded up the thing and took off. I had never been a salesman before. But I must of been good at this. I rarely missed a sale.

      It took me most part of two years before I got rid of them all. I was in every town west of the Mississippi river. And a lot on the other side. I wholesaled a lot of them to specialty salesman. Guys that called on garages and body shops. One time I traded a bunch for a Hudson straight eight. Near the last, in Cicero Illinois, I traded a whole bunch for an almost new, Chevrolet sedan.

      I only had a few left when I ended up in the town of Ottawa Ill. The sand capitol of the world. A big sign said as you entered town. There was a huge sand processing plant there. The one that set the standard for all sands. Sand for making glass, foundry casting sands, sand for making sodium silicate, a widely used glue and many other uses. Train loads of it left there every day. The name of the company was Ottawa Silica Co. This place was of great interest to me. I knew where there was a whole mountain of sand near Emmett Idaho that looked better than this when it come out of the ground. I spent a couple of weeks there. They gave me guided tours of the place. I took them all in. I looked that place over from one end to the other. And the more I looked, the more I wondered about that big mountain of sand back in Idaho. I could hardly wait until I got back.

      I could write a whole book on my experiences while I was traveling around selling those Dent Removers. But I won’t. However, there is one that I think I should write about. It was on that last trip home. When I had traded that car dealer in Cicero, my old Dodge panel delivery, plus a bunch of machines for that Chevy, I had one problem. It had no license on it. There you must pay your sales tax, then buy a license for the car. The car was valued at about a couple of thousand dollars. This meant, that I would have to pay about a hundred and fifty tax, then buy a license. Then when I arrived back in Idaho, I would be stuck buying another. This seemed like a waste of money to me. I took the Idaho license off the Dodge and put it on the Chevy. I figured I could make it home alright. There was just one problem. In Idaho, they issued a special license to people who lived on farms. That is, for trucks, pickups, panels, etc. Also they are much cheaper. On. the Dodge I had one of them. And they were different. On them was no potato. And over in one corner, were printed letters. F. R. Which meant this was a farm vehicle. I was headed for home, anxious to get back. I was coming through the state of Iowa when suddenly I was caught in a long line of cars. All of them being run through a checking station. Making sure everything was in order. I took out my pocket book. My driver’s license was for Idaho and up to date. I also had the title for the car. But it was an Illinois title. I began to sweat. And there were those Idaho plates with no potato and that F.R. in the corner. I could be in a lot of trouble. But there was no way out. I didn’t dare turn around and run. I just sat there and slowly moved along with the rest. Then an officer in uniform was there beside me. “Your driver’s license please.” he said. I handed it to him. He took a look and passed it back. Then once more, he walked to the front of the car and for a moment stood staring down at that license plate. Then once more he come back to my window. “Hey Bud.” he said “Where is your potato? And what does the F.R. mean?” My mind was in a turmoil. But I blurted out. “The F.R. is for Forest Ranger.” Then I gave him a big grin. “We state officials don’t have a potato on our plates.” I held my breath. Suddenly he grinned, then saluted. “Yes Sir. That will be all Sir. Go right ahead.” Talk about lucking out. And after I crossed the border into Idaho, I stopped at the first courthouse and bought an Idaho license with a potato on it! What a relief!