Alvin Ernest Arnold Memoirs – Back Home

Alvin Ernest Arnold Memoirs – Back Home

We are very fortunate to have much of the story of Alvin’s life preserved for us in his own words. We present his memoirs in six segments:

Part 5 of 6 . . .

Back In My Arms Again

I arrived in Muskegon early one morning and could finally have Charlotte in my arms again. The first couple of days we went shopping for food and I had to buy some civilian clothes and we dropped in on a couple of friends.

Now I was in a whole new world again. G.I.’s were supposed to be offered their old job back but I didn’t know how that would work out because if the place closed down or didn’t have work they sure couldn’t hire you back.

Charlotte took care of foster children most of the time I was overseas but gave that up when I got home. We were now with a very low bank account and no job.

In a couple of days I went to my former employer and he assured me that they would take me back in a few days. They were hurting also as all the government contracts were being cancelled.

I told them I would take a few days and go visit our parents and would check in later. We took about a week and I checked in again and a couple of days later I went to work. That was sure a relief and we settled into a routine again and little by little started to get our feet on the ground again.

Apprenticeship Program

There was a multitude of things to catch up on and getting accustomed to being a civilian again but things began to fall into place. I soon enrolled in an apprenticeship program for tool and die making. It was sponsored by the Government under the G.I. bill for veterans. That meant four years of night classes (1 to 2 nights a week) besides the day training. It seemed like a long time and it was until completion.

Family Business

It wasn’t too long till we found out that we were going to start a family so we had to start planning and preparing for the event.

By this time we were getting pretty well reacquainted with all our family. After all, three years is a long time to be out of circulation and away from family.

Brother Allen came down and stayed with us a few weeks until he found a job at J.C. Penney. After he got settled he found a room by himself. Laban was still with the folks at home. I didn’t think he had shown much interest in moving to the city but he was only about 17 at this time.

All too soon we welcomed Carol Lynne Arnold into the family, born January 28, 1947. Charlotte’s aunt came to our house to stay for a few days to help out; she was a big help and appreciated. She was happy to do it although she already had three or four grandchildren.

House Building

Sometime in 1947 Charlotte’s brother and wife started to build a house and had it just started when they decided they were going to get a divorce. Through a mediator we were asked if we wanted to buy the property and the house that was started. I wasn’t real eager as it would be a lot of work with school and working overtime, etc.

We ended up paying each of them off and proceeded to move on with the building but it would be some time before we could move in. I began buying lumber a little at a time and nailing it down. Where we rented in Lakeside there was an old barn/garage that I got the lumber for tearing it down. That was a big help as there was a lot of lumber in it as it was a two story building.

I still wonder yet how I managed to demolish that two story building without getting hurt. I did it all by myself with a crowbar and axe.

We kept building on the house and it seemed it would never get ready to move into but in the summer of 1948 we moved in. It was far from finished but it was livable and I could spend more time working on it. My brother-in-law, George Heckathorn, helped me a lot and we started trading work from his place to mine. He was a terrific help. We also traded our tools back and forth.

This was also the beginning of exchanging babysitting and we were together a lot. Seems we got together to socialize for awhile at least one night a week. Carol and Jim were almost the same age and liked each other and still do. We were blessed to have George and Margaret and family as our friends and relation.

We also spent time with Charlotte’s sister and her husband, Walter, and we stayed with them a few weekends as they lived in Whitehall.

Also we spent time with Charlotte’s sister, Arline, and her husband, John.

Quite often two or three families would drive to the Hart area where Charlotte’s parents lived and spend Sunday afternoon with them for potluck, etc.

My apprenticeship was going ok but at times it seemed it would be forever with long hours at work and school. I was also still building on the house but we were getting along ok.

Sometime in 1949, Sally Green came from a broken home to stay with us. She fit right in and we loved her as our own. She and Carol got along good and Sally was a big help in the household. She fit into the local school and made new friends very soon.

Like a Mole

After I had the house pretty well finished, I decided we needed a little more room and the cheapest way to do it was dig a basement under the house. I started digging like a mole. I didn’t disturb the footing or foundation as I only put blocks about three feet from the foundation. It was a long hard project but it added a lot of extra room for washing and drying clothes, etc.

Laban had come down to Muskegon some time in 1949 and got a job. He didn’t stay with us but he spent a lot of time with us. I think he went back up home almost every weekend to see the folks. He came over and helped me with the basement and that was a big help. He ate a lot of meals at our place and he liked Charlotte’s cooking. I don’t think he thought too much of the food where he boarded. We had good times together.


About this time, mid 1949, TV’s were coming out and mid year we bought our first TV. It was a far cry from what we have today but it sure was a wonderful thing then. We enjoyed it a lot and we had a lot of company for awhile as we were the only one in the family that had one but we enjoyed the company.

Grand Rapids was about the only station we could get. Once in awhile we could get Chicago. I had a high antenna and I had a pole that ran down into the basement entrance so I could rotate it for the best reception. It worked well.

Allen and Doris

I think Allen (brother) probably married his first wife (Doris Johnson) about this time. We saw them off and on. They had a nice little place out east of town and he worked for Norge for quite awhile. Prior to that and after he left school he bummed around the country for awhile. I don’t know where all. For awhile, he and Bob Heckathorn were running around together. They had both been in the military; at least they had that in common.

Easter Snow

One spring about Easter time we started out for Honor to my folks after work and we got a few miles north of Whitehall and a snow storm stopped us in our tracks. I saw a farm house about a block away and I went and told them I was in deep trouble and if I could come in for the night. They took us in and fed us in the morning and wouldn’t take a cent – wonderful people – I was extremely lucky.

Apprenticeship Done & More Family Business

The year coming up, 1951, was an exciting year. I finished my tool and die apprenticeship in January, we adopted Sally on July 17th and Roger Alvin Arnold joined the family on November 7th.

I was quite relieved when I finally finished with my apprenticeship as it was rough with building a house, etc. During the rest of the year I was able to put the rest of the finishing touches on the house. I continued to work at the same place (Sargent Specialties) on Laketon in Muskegon.

We wanted to adopt Sally and she wanted to be adopted and that was made final on July 17th, 1951. It was a mutual agreement. She became part of the family and we loved her as our own.

By this time Charlotte had been pregnant for awhile and was expecting Roger in November so we were doing the things that had to be done for the occasion.

When I was in California in the military, I was sure that I wanted to come back there to live someday. It seemed like paradise compared to the long cold winters of Michigan. Charlotte didn’t think too much of the idea but I never completely forgot about the idea.

The summer and fall sort of dragged on as Charlotte wasn’t feeling too great. Finally on November 7, 1951, we welcomed Roger Alvin Arnold into our family.

Roger was premature and it was a week or so before we could bring him home. He was tiny but seemed to start gaining weight and all seemed okay. It was a hard cold winter that followed. Carol had a lot of trouble with asthma and breathing and several nights we would have to take her to the hospital for help.

Travel Bug

In the spring I kept telling Charlotte about going to California for health reasons and better job opportunities. Finally she relented and we started to make the arrangements.

Continued . . .

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