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:
- Youth and School Years
- Early Employment, Courtship, & Marriage
- War Declared
- Serving Overseas
- Back Home
Part 6 of 6 . . .
My mother had kept in touch with a friend, Ivah Butler, who had previously been married to an Arnold. She used to live in the Platte area and I believe went to school with my mother. Charlotte reminded me that my mother was still in contact with her. We wrote a letter to her and explained what we intended to do and to see if she could get an apartment for us when we decided to come. Housing was not too plentiful as many were already moved to California.
Ivah wrote back and said she would look for us and was sure that she could find something. In the meantime, I wrote a letter to North American Aviation in Inglewood, Ca. to inquire about employment. They wrote back and said that they had an opening in my work but that I would have to apply in person.
Ivah wrote that there were some new apartments being built and that we would be able to get one.
House for Sale
Now we needed to find a buyer for our house. We put an ad in the paper and sold it the next night. Two people looked at the same time and both wanted it. We again confirmed things with Ivah and all seemed to be “go”. The next day I informed my employer and he wasn’t too happy and offered more money, etc., but I told him I had already sold my house so he knew that it was for real.
I did work for two more weeks and during that time I had time to start packing and sorting things for transport. I bought a small trailer and built an enclosure on it so that I could carry most of our personal things and we planned to ship the rest by rail.
Telling our parents was perhaps the hardest thing to do as 2500 miles was a lot further than it is now, at least in the mind.
We took a week off before leaving to visit our parents and relation. All were sad to see us go but all wished us well.
Charlotte had an Uncle Andy that was a little pessimistic as he was afraid of the earthquakes and was sure that part of California was going to slide into the ocean. He was right, a lot did slide into the ocean but there is a lot of it left.
On the Road
After a week or so of saying our final goodbyes, we were ready to hit the road. It was the first part of April 1952 and the end of our first day took us to some town in Illinois. We found a motel and settled in for the night. I think the trains ran right in back of us about every half hour so we didn’t sleep too well that night but the rest of the trip we did better.
We carried an ice box with milk and lunchmeat and drinks that we used for our morning and noon meal. For the evening meal, we would find some kind of an eating place and hot food. Of course, Carol and Sally were into hamburgers. One night at the end of the trip we let Sally and Carol go alone to a little eating place right close, just across the street, and told them to get a good meal rather than hamburgers but told us when they got back they had hamburgers.
Roger was about five months old and was still taking the bottle. He was one of our biggest concerns but didn’t give us any trouble. After about five days we ended up in Banning, California, and only about one hundred miles to go. We called Ivah and told her we would be there about noon the next day.
The Butler Welcome
I guess we were a little weary of travel by now as we had the car really loaded and not much room to stretch out. We arrived at Ivah and Claude’s (Ivah’s husband) about noon and they were cooking a dinner for us. Their hospitality was beyond the call of duty. Our apartment was available but furniture had not arrived from the east yet. They insisted that we stay with them for a few days until we could get into the apartment. We did that and they were very helpful in getting us settled and showing us the area, etc. I can never forget how good they were to us. We became the best of friends and we traveled together and visited often. They were raising two nephews of Claude as their father had died at an early age. They were William and Larry Butler.
Finally our furniture arrived from the east and we moved into our apartment. We needed a few pieces of furniture that we didn’t bring along but Ivah knew all of the best places for bargains as she was very thrifty and I was glad for that.
Now I needed a job. I had planned to go to North American Aviation that I had previously contacted but I looked in the paper and there was a place very close that wanted my skill and I applied and went to work at once. The Korean War was on so the machine trades were going full blast.
We were settling into our new environment and were getting along fine. Our apartment was nice and plenty of room.
We hadn’t been there more than two or three weeks and we had a pretty big earthquake and that rattled our nerves a little bit but no damage was done. One couple, and this was in the middle of the night, said they were going back east in the morning and that was the last we saw of them. They were really shook up. It might be a surprise to some but about two months before we left Michigan, we had one big jolt that shook us up.
When we had been in California about two months we had a surprise visit from my brother Allen. He didn’t stay long as he and another couple were traveling through. It was a nice surprise to see someone from home so soon.
We hadn’t been in our apartment over a couple of months when we started looking for a house and by mid-summer we had found the house we wanted and again settled into a new place and friends.
We joined the local Presbyterian church and made a lot of new friends so we were not lonely.
We soon learned that we were just a short ways from the ocean beach and a short ways from the mountains and we spent a lot of time at both; sometimes just a Sunday afternoon drive or a weekend camping with our friends Claude and Ivah.
We were concerned at this time that Roger was not developing in walking and speech as he should be. After several doctor visits we found out that he had cerebral palsy and other complications. This was a tremendous blow but we determined to do whatever had to be done for him. It was a terrible lot of work for Charlotte with doctor appointments, etc. Over the next few years it would be a series of operations to try to straighten the bones in his legs. He was also subject to seizures and we made several emergency trips to the hospital. We thought we had lost him a couple of times but he managed to pull through. He was eventually diagnosed as having cerebral palsy and severe retardation but we all loved him and did everything possible to help him. Our friends and neighbors were all very considerate and helpful with him.
Margaret and George came to visit us a couple of times and we wanted them to move out here also but they were not too warm to the idea. We always enjoyed them coming.
On March 27, 1954, Charlotte’s sister, Lucille, was killed in an accident in Muskegon by a young person speeding. Charlotte went back and helped out as Walter was in the hospital for several days and the children, Kenneth and Donna, needed help. Ken was in the military and Donna was too young to do much.
Sally had to cook all our meals for awhile and she did a good job besides watching Roger and Carol while I worked.
The owner/manager of the place where I worked got killed in an airplane crash in Texas and the place started to go downhill. Checks started to bounce and that scared me. You had to be one of the first to the bank on payday or wait till later in the week. Over a period of about a year I quit three times and went back three times but it finally came to an end and I took another job that lasted until 1967. The pay here was ok and the checks didn’t bounce.
On March 19, 1955, Charlotte’s mother, Blanch Burrington, died after a long illness. Again, Charlotte went back to help bury her mother. It was again a sad time for us but she had suffered a long time.
This time Charlotte brought her nephew Jim Heckathorn home with her and he was to stay a few months until George and Margaret could find a place to move out here; so our family increased by one for awhile. Jim and Carol became real “buddies.” George worked for the post office and he was able to get a transfer to Long Beach and after a few months they bought a house right next to us and moved in. It was nice to have relatives right next door. We did a lot of things together, eating, etc.
News from Mom
My mother was very good at writing and giving us all of the news. Charlotte and her exchanged letters every week. Allen and Laban were not much for writing letters but we did talk by phone now and then.
Laban had married Doris Moore soon after we had moved away. Would like to have been at the wedding but it was impossible to get away.
Joyce Arnold was born in 1953 and Laban had started a family.
In 1953 we had my mother fly out from Michigan and that proved to be quite a treat for her and our family also. In the following years she would make more trips after dad had died. She didn’t mind flying at all.
Margaret and George decided they didn’t care for California too much and decided to move back to Michigan. I believe Margaret was homesick. They sold their home and with all four children, Robert, Edwin, Jim, and Joyce, they took off for Michigan. We were disappointed to see them go as we had many good times together. In the following years they did visit us at least once a year and that was real nice.
Our family was enjoying California to the fullest, however, during this time Roger had operations to help straighten his legs and he was in a cast a lot of the time. He was very brave and didn’t complain but we knew he suffered a lot.
Gaining a Son
Claude and Ivah Butler, including Bill and Larry (nephews) visited us often and Bill became interested in Sally as he visited quite often. They were soon dating and we were happy as we had known Bill since we had moved to California and was such a nice clean young man. During part of this time, Bill was spending time in the Air Force, stationed in California. He later went into the sheet metal trade where he would spend the rest of his working days.
It wasn’t too long until Sally and Bill became serious and set a wedding date and on June 22, 1957, Sally Lee was married to William Henry Butler. They were married in North Long Beach Presbyterian church by Rev. Richard Irving. It was a nice wedding and everyone was happy for them and wished them well.
They had a short honeymoon and established a home in the area. Charlotte and I had gained a son. The time for Roger to go to school came, and due to his disability we were not able to find any training for him in our area.
Long Beach to San Pedro
We did find a place in San Pedro, California, that offered a day program and Charlotte would have to work there to help out with food, etc. In a short time we put our house up for sale and bought a house in San Pedro.
We liked our new home and we soon had a group of new friends that were neighbors or from the church. We were just a short ways from the ocean (Pacific) and there was lots of activity at the Harbor and there was a nice beach, fishing, etc.
It was about the same distance from my work so that turned out okay. Our house in Long Beach didn’t sell right away so Sally and Bill rented it and some time later bought it.
End of Memoirs
DEA: We enjoyed Alvin for most of another 50 years after this, but do not have his wonderfully descriptive prose to help us relive his remaining adventures.
- Youth and School Years
- Early Employment, Courtship, & Marriage
- War Declared
- Serving Overseas
- Back Home