SHERMAN CHANDLER HARRIS
MYRTLE OLI VE
Phillip E. Harris, Jr.
Sherman Chandler Harris
Harris, known as “Chan” was the third child born to Franklin Guy and Melissa
Elmira (Adams) Harris. According
to his father’s journal, he was born in a “dugout on a 40 acre preemption claim
in St. Paul Precinct, Howard County, Nebraska, October 27, 1884”. Chan was named
after his mother’s brother, Joseph Sherman Adams. Melissa’s
father served under General Sherman during the Civil War and named his
first-born son after him.
Howard County is situated in the fertile Loup Valley near the geographical
center of the state. It is made up of
undulating grasslands with cottonwood trees lining the North Loup River and the various streams
that join it. Although most of the
country is very fertile, much of the soil is nothing more than “sand
hills”. Originally, this area was the
hunting grounds for the Pawnee Indians with occasional inroads by the
Sioux. The first settlers came to this
country in 1871. Chan’s grandfather,
Charles Albert Adams, came in 1872 and established a 160 acre farm near Cotesfield. In April
1873, a terrible three day blizzard killed seven people. In 1874, a grasshopper invasion forced Chan’s
grandfather to temporarily abandon his farm.
At the end of the Civil War, the Union Pacific Railroad built their
transcontinental roadbed through the southern part of the state, with Grand Island being the closest junction
to the Howard County area. By the 1880’s, there was a rail connection up
to St. Paul, the county seat, and on up through Elba and Cotesfield.
Franklin Guy Harris,
after reaching adulthood in Waupaca, Wisconsin, came to Nebraska and was living in his future father-in-law’s home while
teaching school at Cotesfield. There, he met Melissa and they were married
10th, 1879. Chan was one of fourteen born to Melissa,
eight of which lived to adulthood. His
sister, Sarah Matilda, known as “Mattie”, was the oldest. Also born in Nebraska, were Lelia May, Orsemus Adams, Oscar, Seth Floyd and Franklin Otis. Oscar died at childbirth. Lelia
died at age fourteen of Rumantic Fever and is buried
in the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, near Carrolls, Washington. Franklin Otis
drowned near the mouth of Owl Creek, where it empties into the Columbia River at the north end of Cottenwood Island. The drowning site
is now covered over by Interstate Five, where it passes by Carrolls,
Washington. Note, Carrolls was originally a river waterfront town, but is now
cut off from the river by both the interstate highway and the railroad roadbed,
both of which have been built out into the river, between Carrolls
and Cottonwood Island.
In about 1891 or
1892, his father became tired of farming the “sand hills of Nebraska”, and moved the family to Carrolls,
Washington with the intention of working for the railroad. Franklin homesteaded 40 acres about five miles northeast of Carrolls, which was named “Fern Hill Farm”. There being almost no level ground on the
property, it certainly was well named.
At the present date (year 2002) all that remains of the original
homestead is a burn-out foundation that could have been their home or may have
been a barn. Thus, at the age of about six or seven, Chan became a pioneer of
the Pacific Northwest. Helping his father
build a home, he learned logging first hand on their own property. Having enough food on the table being a
constant challenge, Chan became an expert hunter and fisherman. He claimed that all his deer shots were to
the neck with a 22 rifle and that he never needed more than one bullet. In
later years, he would tell his grandchildren many exciting stories about
hunting deer and bear in the mountains just east of their home or fishing in
Owl Creek and the Columbia
River, which were
nearby. Even though they were Seventh
Day Adventist, they were never vegetarians.
Being the oldest son of a large family, in a wilderness, it was never a
sport. It was always about putting
enough food on the table.
When Franklin Guy Harris came to this country, Longview did not exist. Kelso was nothing more than
a train stop north of Carrolls. Kalama, just to the south of Carrolls, was the county seat of Cowlitz County. Carrolls, then
known as Carrollton, was a thriving little town, the “gateway” to the
rich logging country of the upper Coweeman River. It was also the center of activity for the
farmers from Shanghai (now Rose Valley), Mt. Pleasant and Goble Creek. This country is made up of valleys, hills and
mountains which are timbered and densely covered with shrubs such as
huckleberry, salal and devil’s club, all of which is
typical of western Washington and Oregon. In the 1890’s, the train from the east would
come to Portland, and then travel along the Columbia River to Goble on the Oregon side of the river. From there, it would transfer by train ferry
to Kalama on the Washington side and travel past Carrolls
on its route north to Kelso, Toledo, Tenino, Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle. In 1911, A railroad
bridge spanned the Columbia from Portland to Vancouver and the route was completed
north to connect with Kalama. The train
ferry went away and the town of Goble slowly died. It wasn’t until 1923, that an all-weather
highway (the Pacific Highway, US 99, now replaced by Interstate 5) was opened,
connecting Carrolls and the other towns of Cowlitz County
with the outside world. Up until then,
serious distant travel was by boat, ship or train. All other travel was either by foot or
horseback, there being no decent roads for a wagon or buggy to travel from town
His brother, Sylvanus was born on May 14, 1893. Medley was born on August 11, 1895. Fernanda was born
November 2 1897 but died of whooping-cough before reaching her second
birthday. Florence was born on May 23, 1900. Ted was born on August 21,
Uncle Ted’s wife, Aunt Bessie is still alive and living in Yakima. In 1903, the family
moved to the Brookside Farm. Charles died at child birth, April 11,
1904. William was born on January 2,
1908. On March 17, 1911, he was killed in a barn fire.
Upon reaching adulthood, Chan took nurses training at the St. Helena Sanitarium,
near St. Helena, California located in the upper Napa Valley, in the foothills
leading up to Howell Mountain.
There are three sites located in this
area of interest to Seventh Day Adventist’s. The first was the Sanitarium,
which was establish by the Adventist
Church as a health reform and
recovery institution. At the top of Howell
Mountain is located the Pacific
and the town of Angwin. This is their main west-coast liberal arts
college. Within sight of the Sanitarium
is Elmshaven, the last home of Ellen G. White. She was one of the founders of the Seventh
Day Adventist Church
and is considered by her followers to be a prophetess. At the time of Chan’s nurses training, she
was still alive and living at Elmshaven. Her home and the surrounding grounds is now
preserved and registered as a national historic site.
Myrtle Olive Lillard
Myrtle Olive Lillard, the eighth of a family of eleven children, was born on June 25, 1890 in Fulton, Sonoma
County, California (now merged with Santa Rosa) in the home of her parents, Newton Abraham and Nancy
Elizabeth (Haney) Lillard. Her family then moved to Santa Rosa. Later still, the family move to the city of Vallejo. Her siblings were Phleta, Shelby, “Dot”, Dora, Jewel, “Marie”, Florence, Nancy, Nina and Mark.
Her parents grew up
in Benton, Tennessee. They were married
and then migrated to Texas about 1880 and then on to California in about 1884,
first living in the Lake County area before moving to Sonoma County. Later still, they moved to Vallejo.
Sonoma County, especially the area in and
around Santa Rosa is made up of rich valley farmland surrounded by
rolling hills which are covered with oak, fir and redwood trees along with a
great variety of lesser trees and shrubs.
The climate, moderated by a daily ocean breeze, is very mild. Farming is now dominated by the wine
industry. However, the area is also famous for its production of apples and was
once a center for the growing of hops for the beer industry. In later years, Grandmother would point out
the many abandoned hop towers and explain how they were used to dry the fresh
Myrtle would often
recall, with vivid detail, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. After
all, the whole region was shaken including their own home. Virtually everybody was involved in the
rescue and rebuilding effort that followed.
It was one of those events where everyone recalls where and what they
were doing when it occurs. She would
also relate how it was an all day trip over the hills to the Napa Valley. There being things
such as a petrified forest or geysers to see along the way, a trip could take
The city of Vallejo is located in Solano County at the north end of San Pablo Bay, where both the Sacramento and Napa Rivers enter into the bay. Vallejo is a navy town, being the
hometown of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.
In those days, with no bridges, travel to any of the cities of the bay
meant going by ferry. Going to San Francisco would normally be a two day
Myrtle told how her
father had a five acre farm in town and was a fisherman. She and her sisters had the job of peddling
vegetables, eggs, milk and fish on the streets of Vallejo.
Being in a Seventh
Day Adventist family, Myrtle also chose the St. Helena Sanitarium for her
nurses training. At this point, it is
worth mentioning that her sister, Florence, and Chan’s brother, Floyd, also came here for nurses
training. Betty, their third child,
received her nurses training here. Aunt
Betty worked here for many years, living nearby with her parents before moving
up the hill to Angwin. Florence, met and married Alfred Fowler here.
Marriage and The
Chan and Myrtle met,
courted and were married at the Sanitarium on May 9th, 1911. Myrtle often mentioned that one of her
wedding gifts was from Ellen G. White.
Chan graduated, but Myrtle did not, and it was off to the mission field
in Shanghai, China. The trip over by
ship served as their honeymoon. Sherman
Chandler Harris Jr. was born on February 21st, 1912 and Phillip Eugene Harris was born on March 17th,
1913, both in Shanghai.
In 1911, the Qing Empire and the last Manchu
emperor, the child Puyi, gave way to the revolution
which led to the establishment of the Republic of China, led by Sun Yat-sen. There was a coalition between Sun Yat-sen and the commander-in-chief of the imperial army,
Yuan Shikai, with Yuan becoming the provisional,
military style, president. His rule was very dictatorial and this led to
continued civil strife. In the summer of
1913 seven southern provinces rebelled against Yuan and the Beijing government.
Chan and his family
were caught outside of Shanghai working at one of the outlying clinics when the fighting
erupted all around them. Myrtle tells
the story how both sides held their fire while they evacuated out from between
the two armies. She would tell this
story when teaching me about our guarding angel.
A Growing Family
Since the fighting
restricted the missionaries to the International Settlement in Shanghai and Myrtle was pregnant again, the mission board decided it
was time to send Chan and his growing family back to the United States. The reasoning being
that they were filling up the nursery with to many of their own children.
Harris, who was known as “Betty”, was born in Sonoma, California on Dec. 31st, 1914. She was named after her Aunt Nina Lillard. Nina Lillard,
was born in her parent’s home and her mother stated that she would be named
after the first girl that kissed her.
This happened to be a school girl from across the street whose name was
Next, Chan moved his
growing family to Glendale, California where Shelby Justice Harris was born on Dec. 28th,
1916. Although not known for sure, it is probable
that Chan was a nurse at the SDA’s Glendale
Sanitarium. The sanitarium was the
original reason for the rapid growth of this city.
In early 1917, the
family moved by ship up the coast to Goble, Oregon, where Chan worked as a logger. They moved into a cabin at the Columbia
Timber Company Camp which was located about five miles inland from Goble. Sylvanus and Adams,
Chan’s brothers, also came here with their families and worked as loggers. His brothers, Floyd and Medley, came and
logged for a short time but did not stay.
Chan’s parents, along with Ted and Florence, came over from Carrolls and
moved into a home which was located behind the Beaver Homes Grange, about three
or four miles from the timber camp. The
surrounding countryside, especially Shiloh Basin, is among the most beautiful country in the world. Even though mill camp life must have been
hard, it is apparent that Myrtle loved it here.
Whenever she talked about the “Harris’ up north”, she would encourage me
to go to Goble. It appears that this was
the first gathering of the Harris Clan and would evolve into an annual event.
The logging camp was near the end of a logging railroad at the present
day intersection of Orr Road and Highland Road. Orr Road did not exist at that time,
and Highland Road extended due north to
connect with Nicolai Road where it veers north. Just across the creek on Highland Road is where Uncle Adams raised
his family. Their home is still
standing. From this area, the logs were
loaded onto flat cars and transported down to the Columbia River. From there, the logs were rafted north to the
mill at Prescott. The mill is
long gone but, the
Trojan Nuclear Power Plant is located near the mill site, along with many of
the homes that were built around the mill.
Shortly after Chan left, the Columbia Timber Company was bought out by
the Clark-Wilson Logging Company and the roadbeds were extended all over
Columbia County. One spur ran behind Florence and Fred Anliker’s home and Ferne Melissa
(Anliker) Costley has
memories of playing on the tracks and nearly being run over by a logging
train. When the logging railroad era was
over, the last remaining trestle was used in the movie, “Ring of Fire”, where
it was destroyed by the fire that ended the movie.
David Haney Harris
was born here on Oct. 14th, 1918.
Chan’s sister, Florence, married one of the locals, Alfred Anliker,
in 1922 and moved into a log home located on Anliker Road, near his father, Gottlieb.
Chan’s mother, Melissa, died in 1923, at the home of Florence and Alfred Anliker, and is buried
in the Koble Cemetery, located in Shiloh Basin. Chan’s brother,
Adams, bought one of the logging camp buildings from Ed Orr, moved it across
the creek onto his own property and raised his family there.
Chan then moved his
family to Carrolls, Washington where Newton Howard Harris was born on July 28th,
1920. The 1920 Federal Census shows that they were
here by Feb. 1920. While there is no
proof, it is possible that this could have been his father’s farm named “Brookside” which was located in Shanghai, now known as Rose Valley, at the end of Duncan Road where it crosses Owl Creek.
After that, they
returned to Sonoma, California where Sherman Jr. was sick with scarlet fever. Next, they moved to Mt. Veeder, which is west of Napa. In all probability,
Chan was logging the redwoods which are located on this mountain. After that, we find them living in Vallejo, located on one of three adjoining lots on Idora Ave. This was near
Myrtle’s her sister, Dora, who was married to Frank Ezra Barker. Phil Sr. learned to drive his Grandfather’s
truck and used it to deliver his Grandfather’s milk orders. Richard Dean Harris was born in Vallejo on Feb. 13, 1924.
Next, they moved to
the outskirts of Napa, on 4th
which was near Penny
and where Myrtle’s sister, Nancy, lived on a chicken farm. Her sister, Florence, owned and operated a nursing home, at the corner of Jefferson and “B” Streets. The
site later became a Dairy Queen.
Chan was primarily
employed as a private nurse but could have been working at the Napa State Hospital, which was located nearby.
Thomas Ramond Harris was born on June 30th,
1926 and Harold Oliver
Harris was born on June 18th, 1931, both at the St. Helena Sanitarium. What with the coming of the Great Depression,
Phil Sr. dropped out of high school and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps
before going into the Army Air Corps.
Aunt Betty stated
that Chan worked as a private nurse. How
I found out about this is an interesting sidelight. When my father died, the funeral director
asked me to name my own price and accepted an extremely low fee for what turned
out to be a fancy funeral, with all the extras thrown in for no added
charge. When I mentioned this to Betty,
she stated that the mortician had been one of Chan’s patients and that he was
honoring an old debt for saving his life.
It really impressed me that someone, that I didn’t even know, would do
something for me and my dad in response to what my grandfather had done many
mid-1930’s, Chan moved his remaining family to Cherryville, Oregon and returned to the logging
trade. Cherryville is located in the foothills of Mt. Hood, along the route of the Barlow Road. The Barlow Road was the last leg of the Oregon Trail, which officially terminated at Oregon City, Oregon. While living here,
Phil Sr., who had just gotten out of the Army Air Corps, met and married Violette on Sept. 30th, 1939 in Portland, Oregon. Shortly after that,
Chan and Myrtle’s home burned to the ground and they lost everything. Myrtle made the claim that this was the
second home that she had lost to a fire.
It is not known where the first was located. After that, they moved to Greshem
and then to Sandy, where Phil and Vi moved in for a
short stay in July of 1940. After that,
they returned to Cherryville before moving back to California.
On returning to California in late 1940, they moved into a home behind the Pacific Union College in Angwin. Chan stayed behind to finish up the logging
season and arrived on Christmas. The
idea for being here was to make it easy for their younger boys to go to
college. Later, they moved down to the
Sanitarium, where Betty was trained and now working as a nurse. By this time, Chan was suffering with heart
trouble and Betty became the sole support for her parents and younger
brothers. I (Phil Jr.) remember my first
Christmas (1945) here with Uncle Harry playing the part of Santa Claus. At the
time, we were living a short distance away, in the city of St. Helena. In early 1946,
their home, again, burnt to the ground.
My own memory of this is when Uncle Tom came knocking at our door and
asked for some clothes to wear because he had lost everything in the fire.
At that time, Betty
owned five acres in Angwin located at 340 Tobin Ave. Her brothers rallied
together, and built her and their parents a home on this property. They also built a chicken house and Chan went
into the business of producing eggs. One
sidelight to this occurred when I entered into the chicken house and destroyed
much of his egg production. Granddad
came close to disowning me. Fortunately,
he got over the egg lost because this is the time when he told me his many
stories about growing up in Nebraska and Washington. He also had a large
garden which included several kinds of berries.
Dad and his brothers attempted to set things up in the garden so their
dad wouldn’t have to work to hard and bring on another heart attack. He had an English made “Roto-Tiller” that
was forever breaking down in the red-rocky volcanic soil. When working the soil, it was easy to
remember that Angwin was built on top of an extinct
volcano. Dad could never seem to keep
the tiller running right. The local
water company didn’t have a large enough water line for the Tobin Ave. area and when Chan attempted to irrigate the garden, there
wasn’t enough pressure to run the sprinkler heads. One of dad’s brothers installed a booster
pump and the problem was solved. Only trouble
was, it took most of the water away from the other homes and there were loud
complaints. Chan didn’t mind that sort
of thing and kept right on watering. I
help Uncle Tom dig the hole for the septic tank. The house was built on a concrete slab and the
outer walls were constructed from basalt blocks. It was extremely hard to heat and everyone
used foot-warmers in their beds during the cold winters
nights. I remember when Uncle Tom and
Uncle Harry put on the roof. Each took
one side of the house and the race was on.
Tom was rush rush rush
and a “professional” carpenter. Harry
was a slow moving methodical planner, but won hands down. Grandma would tell this story over and
over. It was her version of the “Turtle
and the Hare”.
One day, I went out
to the garden where Granddad was sitting on a chair watching the sprinklers
irrigate his corn patch. It was here
that he taught me one of his favorite little ditties, “The Animal Fair”. Here is
the way he would sing it:
The Animal Fair
Written By: Unknown
went to the animal fair,
birds and the beasts were there,
big baboon by the light of the moon
combing his auburn hair,
monkey, he got drunk,
fell on the elephant's trunk;
The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees,
that was the end of the monk,
‘ka monk, ‘ka monk, ‘ka monk.
A story that Grandma loved telling
concerned Uncle Harry when he was attending the Pacific Union College. Even though his home was nearby he was
required to live in a men’s dorm on campus.
It was a tradition, once a year, to raid the girls
dorm and make off with their undergarments.
What Harry did was to take the panties with the owner still in
them. Alas, he was caught going down the
fire escape carrying a half-naked girl.
As the saying goes, there was “trouble in River
City”. Only through his mother’s influence was he
allowed to continue school here.
At one time, Chan was
teaching several of his sons the logging trade.
One of them being Uncle Sherm Jr. Anyway, what I remember is that he was using
an old dump truck to haul logs which lost an axle, going around a hair-pin
curve, on the road near the Sanitarium, coming down from Deer Park. Several years later
the same truck lost another axle on the highway going up to Lake Country, out in the middle of nowhere between Middletown and Lower
Lake. On both occasions, dad took me with him when
he went to their rescue. The first
incident occurred after they had moved up to Angwin
but before Granddad was to sick to work.
One habit of
Grandmother, that I never quite understood, was her practice of throwing all
her empty cans and jars out the kitchen window which gathered into a rather
huge pile. I always wondered why she
didn’t use a garbage can and have someone haul the trash away like normal
folks. Everything Grandmother did in the
kitchen was performed in a certain way.
She taught me how to peal a carrot or potato with a rolling motion in
one hand and outward cutting strokes with the other. As a special stunt, she showed me how to peal
an apple so that the peal came off in one continuous ribbon with no
breaks. Two of her best main dishes were
Spanish rice and baked beans. Pies were
made in mass quantities when we were having a family get-together. She claimed that oil, not shorting, was the
only way to make good crust. Her mince
pie was always made using the best candied fruit. Some of my uncles would eat a whole pie at a
time. She didn’t object, there were
plenty for everybody.
In the summer of
1947, Grandmother came up to Oroville, California, where we were living at the time and returned to the Bay
Area with Shermy.
He was very sick and we soon learned that he had leukemia. The rest of us followed shortly and we moved
in with our grandparents. This is when I started school at Howell Mountain
Elementary. I used a trail going out the
back of the property to take the direct route to school and discovered that
there was a wild apple tree out past Granddad’s chicken house. Grandma insisted that it was planted there by
Johnny Apple Seed during his travels across the country. At the time I believed her. Now, well, she could have been right. Anyway, the apples always tasted green, no
mater how ripe they had gotten. She
would warn me that they would give me stomach cramps but I would eat them
Whenever we were at
our grandparents place Grandmother would take me to church. In those days, church was held in Irwin Hall
at the college. It held well over a
thousand people and was always full. I
loved sitting in the balcony because that was the best place to view the
massive pipe organ and feel it vibrate the building.
Right after my brother Shermy died,
mother was in the Sanitarium, sick with a serious illness. My sisters and I were farmed out in various
directions. The treatment at the foster home were I was
staying was extremely harsh. When Grandmother
found out what was going on, she raised some major havoc and took me under her
Chan loved story telling
and knew a lot of the history of the indians
of Napa Valley. One story, I
remember in part, had to do with an indian
princess. We were traveling down the
Silverado Trail, heading to Napa, when he pointed out that the outline of the hills across
the valley, towards the west, resembled a woman, the princess, sleeping on her back. It was somewhat like the story of Sleeping
Beauty and had the same kind of ending, only she is still sleeping there
waiting for her hero-warrior brave to come and wake her up.
One of Grandmother’s
stories was about the building of the
Silverado Trail. According to her,
Chinese coolies built it of several layers of stone so it would be sturdy
enough to handle the weight of the quick silver ore wagons that traveled from
the mines, including the Oat Hill Mine, near Aetna Springs to the court house
in Napa. Up in the hills,
where the wagons started from, the wheel ruts cut as much a foot deep into
solid rock, giving an indication of how heavy the loads were. For the sake of accuracy, it should be
mentioned that this road originally start in the town of Silverado and a silver mine located on the western slope of Mt. St Helena. The town and mine
are long gone. To this day, the
Silverado Trail is still one of the best built roads in the valley. She then added in how the Chinese also
constructed the stone fences which are scattered all over the valley and dug
the limestone caves in the local wineries.
On my birthday, July
4th, 1948, Grandmother and Aunt Betty came up to Mt. St. Helena
where we were living in a tent and took me on a trip to visit Uncle Sherman,
who was interned at the Napa State Hospital.
Grandmother said he was suffering from his combat experiences of World
War II. He didn’t talk about any of that
sort of thing but we had a great visit.
At the time, the old buildings dating back to the 1800’s were still
standing. Shortly after that, Dad’s lath
sawmill went bankrupt and he went to Lake County looking for work.
Grandmother said she heard a voice inside her say that something was
wrong. She and Betty filled the car up
with food and came to our rescue. My
mother, sisters and I were literally starving and hadn’t eaten for over a week. This is one of the reasons I loved
Grandmother so much and believed her about guardian angels looking after our
occurred during the Christmas holidays while we were living in Lake County. I believe it was
1950 or 1951. We were traveling to our
grandparents place in our Model-A Ford when it lost a timing gear right in the
middle of a creek near Pope Valley on a clear cold winter night. It coasted up and out of the water where we
were able to step out onto dry land.
Mother and I hiked five or six miles to reach a ranch. The rancher collected the whole family and
took us up to our grandparents place.
The next day, Christmas Eve, the car was towed to Angwin
and then it snowed. This would have been
the same Christmas when our cousin, Ann, ran her tricycle through the front
room door which was made of glass. I was
in one of the back rooms when I heard the crash and her screaming. To this day, she wears a scar on her lip as a
reminder of this accident. On these
visits, we normally slept in the back, northeast side of the house. However, I preferred the upstairs because
this is where Uncle Tom and Uncle Harry had their rooms and they were my
We had moved
away, but came back in early 1952
because Aunt Betty needed help in looking after Granddad. At this time, Betty had a milk cow and used
the excess milk to raise a heifer. My job, whenever we were over at their
place, was to feed it a mixture of milk and mash. I could never seem to complete this chore
without the heifer butting the milk bucket all over the place. I can remember
many a time where Granddad would be out in the berry patch listening to a New
York Giants ball game. The Giants were
getting ready to move to San
and he seemed to think that was a great idea.
We were living a
short distance away and dad was at work, at Mare Island, when on July 29th, 1952,
Chan had his final heart
attack. He had locked himself in the
bathroom while taking a bath and Myrtle could not get to him in time with his
heart medication. His mortal remains now
rest in the St.
Helena Cemetery, along with Myrtle, my brother, my dad, Uncle Sherm Jr., Aunt Betty and a cousin, Robert Feldkamp.
The Final Years
After granddad died,
we moved again, spending a year each in Vallejo and Vacaville. In Vallejo, we were several blocks up and over from grandmother's sister,
our great-aunt Dora and her extended family, the Sid Barker tribe. Sid Barker had a farm up in Lake County that grandmother use to love visiting with her sister,
Our whole family spent several consecutive summers
“cutting apricots” at the Hardesty Ranch in Pleasant
Valley, west of Vacaville. They were long-time friends of Chan and
Myrtle. In fact, when I was born, Mrs.
Hardesty became my unofficial God-mother, making sure mother had plenty of baby
clothes and other articles required to care for a new-born. So, working here was like a family
affair. Aunt Betty and Grandmother would
come over from Napa and join
us. Grandmother couldn’t move around
much because of her great weight but had lightning-fast hands. So, she made a deal with me. I would keep her supplied with fruit to cut
and take away her full trays. In trade,
I got a share of her earnings which was far more money than if I was doing all
my own cutting. For the curious, the
apricots were the over-ripe fruit that couldn’t go to the cannery. They would be cut in half and placed on large
redwood trays, cut-side up. Then, they
were put in a sulfur shed for several hours and set out to sun dry. The sulfur smoke would seal in the juices and
keep the insects away.
about the time that we moved away from Angwin, Betty
sold her property and purchased a home in Napa, located at 2530 Butte Street, so she could be near the Napa State Hospital, where she now worked. Both Betty and Grandmother spent the next few years catering to
the needs and wants of all the grandchildren. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas
gatherings were held at their place. In
the fall of 1955, we moved to Napa, so we were living near
Betty and Grandmother during those last few years. I did many chores for Aunt Betty and Grandma
and in my senior year in high school, I repainted the entire outside of the
several summers running, Grandmother and Aunt Betty took us to the yearly
Adventist Campmeeting. This would be a time for old fashion revival
and there would be activities for all ages.
In those days, most people would stay in a tent, this being long before
the advent of motorhomes and RVs. The one in Monterey was my favorite. The one in Lodi was always to hot. One year, probably 1956 or 1957, they took us
up to the one in Lauralwood, Oregon, which was held at the Lauralwood Academy. The Florence Anliker
Family lived nearby and the Art Weaver Family came along with Grandmother Ruth,
so this was sort of like having a family reunion.
loved camping at the ocean. Having spent
her early life in Sonoma County, she spent much of her
youth at the nearby beaches. On one of
our campouts, we were all sitting around a campfire, when I complained of the
smoke getting into my eyes. She responded
with, “Then, you don’t want to sit next to me because, smoke always follows
beauty“. Whenever I build a campfire, I
invariably recall her saying that.
For Grandmother Myrtle (and Aunt Betty), her boys and her
grandchildren were her life. She was a very
outspoken person and was known to be very critical towards her
daughter-in-laws. Mother often claimed
that Grandmother spoiled me. I saw
things much differently. With Grandmother, there were rules and standards of
conduct. It was Grandmother who taught
me about Jesus and encouraged me to go to church. She would talk about her time on the mission
field and taught me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” in Chinese. She talked
about morals and what was right and wrong. Because of her, my brother Shermy knew Jesus and knew he was going to heaven. When he died, I was happy because I knew I
would see him again. Myrtle died on March 5, 1962 at the St. Helena
Sanitarium, while I was away at Camp Pendleton,
serving in the Marine Corps. She was my
anchor and her passing was a great loss in my life. But, I have joy because I know I will see her