SHERMAN CHANDLER HARRIS

AND

MYRTLE OLI VE LILLARD

(a biography)

By

Phillip E. Harris, Jr.

 

 

 

Sherman Chandler Harris

 

Sherman Chandler 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 on October 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 to 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, 1902.  Great 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 Union College 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 hops.

 

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 much longer.

 

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 excursion.

 

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 Mission Field

 

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.

 

Nina Elizabeth 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 “Nina”. 

 

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 Ave., which was near Penny Lane 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 years before.

 

In the 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

(Granddad’s version)

 Written By: Unknown

I went to the animal fair,

The birds and the beasts were there,

The big baboon by the light of the moon

Was combing his auburn hair,

The monkey, he got drunk,

And fell on the elephant's trunk;

 The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees,

And 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 anyway.

 

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 care.

 

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 needs.

 

Another incident 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 heroes.

 

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 Francisco 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, Dora.

 

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.

 

At 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 house.

 

For 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.

 

Grandmother 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 again.