So after a few years we again went back, but this time we just couldn’t find a house to live in. We had to buy a farm. Dad and the boys did a lot of work on that old farm. While we lived there Jim, our youngest, 12 years, then had appendicitis. It was so cold and icy. Several times we started for the hospital and couldn’t get there. He fell out of a tree. He tried to make fire in the stove and burned his face. George Jr. was home then. It was so cold there. Then George got word from the railroad foreman that if he didn’t come back to work he would take his name off the roll. We had two weeks to sell farm and furniture, ready to go and they all wanted to go, so George knew a man looking for a farm. He went to see him. He bought it. People came to the house and bought our furniture. So there we were ready to travel again. This was in the spring. Well George Jr. and Blair had gone several months before us. They had a room rented in Los Angeles. Blair and Norma was married the day after we got there and they had a place rented, so the landlady where Blair and George Jr. lived allowed us to stay there until we found a place. Well this time we looked outside the city. We found in Garvey, bought the house ready furnished. There we had a garden. Jim had pigeons and rabbits. But it was a small house. We heard of a couple that wanted a smaller house, so we made a trade after we lived there a year or more. In the meantime, George got his work back in the railroad shops. George said the boss said that was the only way to get him back to work. He said the men were all glad to see him.
While we lived on Cimmeron Street, California, Carl, Nellie, their two little girls and our Blair went back to Yellow Creek, Pa., to a farm where they farmed. They came back to California later. While Harry and Kathryn lived on the farm in Pa., their son Ronald was born. They later came back to California. While George worked in PRRRR shops he got hurt but never got a settlement for it. George Jr. came home on leave before being sent on ship to Japan. Well we stayed in Woodbury for about a year then back to California. We had sale of our household goods, came back. Before we left to go to Pa., Mrs. Hall, the lady we rented from told us if we ever wanted to come back to let her know and she would find us a house to live in. Well, we wrote to her and she said she walked up the street where a house was for sale. There was other people there looking at it, but she said she looked around, gave the agent the down payment and it was hers. She went home and wrote to us she had a house for us to move into partially furnished, so back we came. When we got there it was just about half a block from where we lived before. Well the neighbor kids seen us coming and our kids had set so long they were ready for fun and they just had a time till the neighbor lady, Mrs. Snow, came out and made an awful fuss. She thought they were all our kids. When I told her how far we had come and that they knew these other children, well that helped and she became a good neighbor then.
Well, we got what furniture we needed and George went right back to the SPRR shops. We had brought Mary and Sammy along and we had four home yet. While we lived there Bob came home from the Army and he and Mary bought a car, took their boy and went back to Woodbury. Before Mary left, George and I was going to Washington state on the train. Well we got to Portland, Oregon and I couldn’t walk. We got off the train and stayed overnight and came home. I had to go to bed with a blood clot in my leg. That got better. Then while we lived there the War ended and again George was told he would have to rest awhile. So again we thought it would be better to go back home awhile.
Well we stayed at 41st Street till the owner sold the house. Then we had to look for another place, and the war being on, houses were hard to find and what was empty they wouldn’t take children and we had four home yet. Mary had gone to Texas to her former boyfriend from Woodbury and got married. Well even the man that sold that house helped to find a place for us to move to. Well George seen an empty house and he asked next door about it and told her about us. Well, God bless her, she said she would move in with her sister and we could move in her house on Cimmeron Street, partly furnished, and we could store the rest of our furniture in the garage. While we lived there George Jr. enlisted in the Navy for he was 18 in January, then he went to camp. That summer Mary came back home in September. Her son Sam was born. We lived there till the next spring when the Dr. told George he would have to take a rest. He had been working hard at the railroad shops. Well, we decided to go back to Woodbury.
After we were there awhile and George got rested he went to Altoona railroad shops and they hired him. Mary had gone back to Texas to Bob, but now he was being sent overseas so we had to get her and Sammy on our way to Pa. That was the days we had to have gas ration stamps. We got as far as Washington, Pa. There our gas stamps got all wet. It was raining. We got there just before closing time but Mary and her Daddy went to the ration board and the men there was very nice and gave them more than we needed to get to Woodbury.
The next Spring, 1942, we again moved, to 41st Street to a nice big house that was close to the coliseum. There we paid $35 month. Then the three youngest children had to change schools again, but they all found new friends and we all liked that place. We could walk to the coliseum and look around, enjoy the rose gardens. Harry and Kathryn were still with us. When there were games at the coliseum everyone on the streets that had room for to park cars did so. Well Mary and Kathryn parked cars on our lawn for $1.00 a car and had a lot of fun doing it. Jim, then 6 years old got a rash on his body so he and I went once a week to the White Memorial Hospital for his tests. We would always start in time to stop at a small eating house and have a bowl of soup and ice cream before going to the hospital. One day I said to Jim – let’s get on the street car and go to the end of the line. We ended up in Lincoln Park. Then one day Dorothy and me went down town to the General Market. We shopped around awhile, then we went to get meat and a lady said do you know your purse is open. I looked and my money was all gone. I said we don’t have even enough money to get home. She then gave us street car fare to get home. That was some experience. Well, we had no meat for supper that day. I said to George, see we have no meat, then started to cry. When I told him what happened he said forget it, we have plenty without meat – it’s just good you two got home safe. Well there were plenty of little incidents like that happened. While we lived there Harry and Kathryn went to housekeeping across the street in a furnished apartment. While there, their first baby was born, Connie. Kathryn’s mother came to be with Kathryn. Her Dad flew out, stayed a week and flew back, but her Mother stayed till Connie was five weeks old. Then they all, including Paul, went back to Woodbury. Harry was going to our farm which we had rented since we left.
Harry and Kathryn, with three of our other children in his car, George and me and three more in our car, we left from our son-in-law Ira and Thelma’s farm. I remember so well our first motel. It had two rooms and bath, but the owner didn’t know there were ten of us. We took our bed clothing and made a bed on the floor for the boys. We stopped several nights in motels, then finally came to the California state line and the kids sang “California Here We Come”. Jim was six, our youngest one. He always seemed to be the life of the gang for we all did get tired riding so far. When we got to the desert, here we met my brother Lester and son Carl with his little two and a half year old Mary coming to Meet us. So we stopped and talked awhile, then Carl took over driving our car for his Dad was so tired. After we left the desert and started in on the wide streets lined on both sides with palm trees and seen the big grape vineyards and everything looked so beautiful, to us we thought we found the promised land.
Carl took us to his place and, Nellie, his wife, had a nice meal ready for us. Carolyn, Lester’s wife was there, who we had never met. Carl and Nellie had a new baby girl, Joyce Ann. Lester and Carolyn had a baby girl too, Charlene. We got there on a Friday and till Monday we found a three bedroom house on 56th Street for $45.00 month rent. We soon had furniture to go housekeeping. Harry and Kathryn had one room and we all got along fine. Soon after we came to California we felt our first earthquake. We were all in bed and everything began to shake. Harry came to our room and said it was an earthquake. We got the children to school. It was George Jr’s first year in high school, so he went to Manual Arts High School. Blair went to Jr. High. The other three went to grade school, where a lot of black children went. Everything was different for each one.
George looked for work, finally was hired at a garage. He was given a truck and told to go to certain streets. Well he never drove a truck and didn’t know the streets, but he said he sat in the truck, tried everything till he knew how it worked, then started. He got along alright. Then just a month from the time we arrived, Pearl Harbor, then the War, and lots of work. He went to SPRR yards and being a railroad machinist before he was hired at once, so there he was for many years off and on.
We lived on that farm for 19 years. We had good times and bad times, our ups and downs, our health and sickness, mostly colds and croup with the children, whooping cough, mumps, me included with mumps. We would all sit down to the table to eat and we would take a bite and grab hold of our necks. Dad would look around and laugh at us, but he had the worst part. He had all the outside work to do, milking too. Of course the children would get hurt, but none serious, and they always had plenty to eat and enough clothing. Oh, there were plenty of times they would want something we couldn’t buy them. George and me took them to church when we could, but they walked to Sunday School. Most of the time their Dad would with all of us around the table at meal time teach them from the Bible. We always trusted God to watch over all of our family. Carl and Harry had guitars before they left home and we all did a lot of singing, and so I think we had a normal country life. Then there was the times when my sister Edna, Charlie and family came from Altoona to stay over the weekend. They had a big family and we all had a lot of fun. Then for many years we would have a Labor Day picnic in our orchard. Relatives, friends and neighbors all would come for big meal that each one brought. Then it seemed the year my mother died in August, after that we never had our picnic again. Now we were ready to leave for California.
Carl was 20 years old and had graduated from Cove High Agriculture School. Thelma graduated from Woodbury High and was married to Ira Amick. They went to housekeeping close by us. My brothers, John and Lester Baker, had gone to California. They both came home and kept saying what a wonderful place it was. John stayed home and got married, but Lester went back to Los Angeles, California. It wasn’t long till Carl wanted to go. He found out of another boy from the Cove going, so Carl’s dad sold chickens and gave him the money to go. So they went together. They got to Los Angeles where Carl got with Lester and Carl got work in the bakery where Lester worked. They roomed together. In less than a year Carl came home, was home awhile, then went again. This time he had money to go. He went on a bus and worked at the same place. While Carl was home Ira and Thelma went. Ira worked at the bakery too, so when Carl went he stayed with Ira and Thelma. A cousin of theirs was close by – Marie Ringler. She was a registered nurse. She had a friend and neighbor girl from Vicksburg, Pa., Aldine Aungst, who was married to Rev. Paul Baughman, who was the pastor of the Grace Brethren church in Los Angeles, where they all attended. Carl stayed almost a year that time, then came home and got married to Nellie Miller. In the meantime we kept farming, the children getting bigger, going to school. Harry graduated and had girlfriends, Mary had boyfriends. Her and Kathryn Morgan were good friends, run around together and we all kept talking about going to California.
Almost two years went by, then Carl and Nellie decided to go back to California. By then they had a baby girl named Mary. She was eight months old when they with Harry, our next son, went with them in an old car. They left Christmas Day 1939 – no heat in the car. They said later they had to take clothes to put around the doors to keep warm. They got there safe and went to Lester’s, who had got Married and had a house, where they took them in. They soon found a place to live. Carl got his old job back, but Harry walked the streets till his shoes wore out. He had to send back several times for some money for Carl wasn’t making much. Then finally Harry got work in a cafeteria. Well Mary graduated in the Spring of 1941. The boys still wrote for us to come to California. Well we started to plan to have a farm sale and give it a try, George and me both not knowing anything about city life or what we would get into. We still had six children home to support.
In January 1926 George Jr. was born. By then there was three going to school. When it was cold and rough weather their Daddy would take them to school. Other days they would walk half a mile to the bus. When the boys got older, George and the boys planted a big strawberry patch. Then the next year when they were ripe he hired extra pickers. Our children helped. Their Dad paid them the same as the others. That money they kept for picnics. About twice a summer we went to Lakemont Park and several times to other picnics. George Jr. was two and a half when in April Blair Robert was born. The winter before we got our first radio. That was 1928. It used a car battery for we didn’t have electric or running water. We all enjoyed that radio in the evening.
In December 1930 Paul Howard was born. We didn’t have a hired girl. Our girls were bigger and could help their Dad some. He made bread while I was in bed and he got hives so bad he would go hold snow on to give him relief. So time went on. There were times when it was cold the car wouldn’t start. Then Dad would get one of the horses and hitch it to the car and I would lead the horse to the top of the hill. He would then run the car down the hill to start it. George had an old Ford tractor that was hard to start. He had to crank it. He would sure get mad at that. I had a gasoline engine for my washing machine and sometimes I couldn’t start it and would have to get George in from the field to start it. Oh! Them were the days. Now we push a button and our machinery goes.
By this time, besides the regular farm crops and strawberries, George had watermelons and cantaloupes for sale in the summer and had a good sales trade. When Dorothy Mae was born in September 1933 we had a sink with a pitcher pump in the kitchen which helped a lot with my work. When James Lester was born in December 1935 we had nine children.
The Spring of 1922 we sold our home at Vicksburg for $2,400. We paid $800. We rented an old farm close by in the Spring of 1922. George was working in Altoona by this time. We had a Ford auto. Charlie Ringler, my sister Edna’s husband, was the first in the family to get a Ford auto. Not many people had autos yet. One Sunday afternoon he took his family, George, me and family to Hollidaysburg. Then the roads were still just gravel and dirt. We were on our way home when a drunk man in another car hit us and the car turned against the bank. My sister Edna had her arm hurt. A neighbor came along and took us women and children home. The men came later in Charlie’s car. That was my first car ride. Well that Spring we bought two horses, wagon, farm machinery and cows. I made butter that summer from the cow’s milk. George tried to work in the shops at night and farm day time, but it was too much, so he hired a man someone told him about. Well when he put this man on the corn cultivator George watched and he plowed out half the corn. He called the man and said he couldn’t have that, so he fired him. We got along for awhile. Not long after that there was a strike at the railroad shop, so George wasn’t there when the men walked out, but he never went back to work.
Then he and his Dad started to look for a farm to buy. They got one close to Woodbury in November 1922. We moved there, put our furniture on a wagon. There was others helped for they drove our cattle all the way from Vicksburg to Woodbury, a distance of 20 miles. They started early in the morning and it was late at night when they got to the farm. So there we were the good and bad for 19 years. We had our kitchen in the basement of the house for several years till we took out some partition for the second floor. We moved our kitchen to the second floor. Later on when the one-room school became one central school at Woodbury, we bought one room of the school house, took it apart, brought it home and built a kitchen and back porch and a big chicken house. The year after we moved there in July Mary Hidessa was born. We had an old lady with us to help with the house work. She was a good Christian lady. She had come from Denmark when a child. They were always very poor. We called her Grandma Anderson. She stayed with us for several years. When we moved there George was told he would starve his family there, but we worked, bought more cows and shipped milk. He planted a big apple and peach orchard, and we didn’t starve, but we sure didn’t get rich.
We lived next to the Vicksburg Grace Brethren Church, which we were members of. We could walk to the church and we lived a Christian life, had our nightly prayers all our lives to live and believe that Christ was the head of the home and our belief. George and some other men had a Bible class at noon at the shop where he worked. He would then tell me all when he came home. So the next year Walter Roy, our first boy, was born. He was a pretty baby, dark hair and blue eyes. He was our joy then. Our yard went downhill so George put a cement wall 4 feet high around two sides. He would work after he came from work and I would hold a lantern for him. Sometimes he would work till midnight. It sure was nice when done. He filled the yard with ground. We then had a nice yard. Next we had a big front porch built and he painted the house, and it was nice. We had a big porch on the back side too. Once when there was a heavy snow on the roof of the back porch, George got up to sweep the snow off. Walter and me ran up the steps inside. We got there just in time to see him slide off. Then we run back down but he landed in a snow pile and wasn’t hurt.
One summer when we had a cow I was feeding her corn chop and getting lots of milk and nice yellow butter, but I gave her too much. One morning when I went out to milk she was laying there still and dead, so I took my baby and went down home crying. As I went to tell my Daddy, well good old Dad he took a horse, went and told George’s Dad, and then took our cow to her pasture field and buried her, so when George came home I cried when I told him. All he said was to be thankful it’s just the cow and not one of the family. When walter was two years we had another boy, Carl Elmer, so then there was four. The summer Walter was four I would give him a small bucket and I would send him thru the field to my home for milk. I would watch from my house till he got there. Then my Mom would watch from their barn till he got home. But he got in the habit of stopping along the way and drinking some of the milk and spilling some too. We had a lot of fun with him about that. But the next winter in February he took pneumonia and died. That was so hard to give him up. His Daddy never did quite get over it. We had two little ones in Heaven. Then we knew they were safe with the Lord. We still had Carl. When he was two and a half years, Thelma Ruth was born, so then we had a boy and a girl.
We had a good christian neighbor who lived across the road, Mrs. Mentzer. She was my midwife and I could go to her for help if I needed it. Then on the other side of the church Dively’s lived. They had some boys and Carl got to climbing the cemetery fence and going over there. We would have to go and call him. One day his Dad called him and he had some water in a bucket and when he got across the fence his Dad throwed the water on him, and sure scared him. It broke him of running off. Thelma Ruth was two and a half years old and Carl was five years old when Harry Luther was born in November. That was during the first World War days. Everything was scarce and high priced then.