Thelma was born in Long Beach, California in 1909. She passed away in Roseburg, Oregon in 2001 at the age of 92. The first part of her life was interesting. You remember what the Chinese say about an interesting life, huh?
At a early age (8 or 9) Thelma had seizures in the night with severe chills. Grandma Knowlton was a member of the Christian Science church. She took Thelma home for three years to try to heal her. She did. They say that Thelma left home a sickly skinny little girl. In three years she came home a beautiful young lady. With a mind of her own. At 15 she ran away and married a young man. She soon left him and came home. Where she gave birth to my nephew Donald 21 days after I was born. There I was an Uncle and did not know it.
Thelma had a lot of milk and would breast feed me when my Mom was at work. When I was told this I was a little shocked and embarrassed. Later I warmed up to the novelty and was kinda proud of it. You might say that Thelma and I were bonded. (I do not remember it)
Thelma soon married Marion Mott. (a great guy) They moved to Taft and Marion started a lifetime job with Standard Oil of California. Several summers after a visit to Pomona the Motts would take me home for an extended visit. I loved those summers. The Motts home was one of several homes in a Standard Oil camp. Pleasant homes with lawns in the middle of a sage brush covered desert with rows of wooden derricks pumping oil. It was an exciting place after Pomona. Years later I would work in those oilfields.
Donald was my age and eventually had two brothers and two sisters. The oil camp had a clubhouse with a swimming pool. Donald taught me how to swim. Thelma liked cokes. I tasted cold Coca Cola for the first time. So cold and crisp and a new taste. Over the years I have lost my taste for coke. We had Coke Floats! The ice cream was home made. I remember smashing ice held in a gunny sack with the side of an axe. Marion put a motor on the freezer. When the motor lugged down under load the ice cream was ready. Marion was so smart.
Later Marion transferred over the Valley to Weed Patch. (southeast of Bakersfield} The Motts lived in a stand alone company house. I remember a foot high dike all around the lawn. They watered by filling the diked area with water. Marion built a home made swamp cooler that helped in the heat.
I remember playing in the yard and over the radio hearing the people at the Republican convention yelling; WE WANT WILKIE, WE WANT WILKIE !
Don and I used to swim in the Kern River. A dangerous river also called the Killer Kern. 7 or 8 people drown in it every year. It looks so peaceful flowing out of Kern Canyon. But there is a strong current below the surface. Down the river there are rapids with huge boulders. Don and I got caught in the rapids and barely got out. I am sure that we came close to being a statistic!
I arrived at the house one time and the boys took me to a weir in a nearby canal to go swimming. A weir is a restricted area in a canal used to measure the volume of water flowing. A pool would be created down stream of the weir. They dived in (I thought normally), I dived in and was scoured from head to foot in a bed of sand made up of sharp glass like particles. I was a bloody mess and a mass of scabs for some time.
One time I was at the Weed Patch house and had my bike with me. I decided to ride my bike home to Pomona. About 130 miles and over many mountains. Tejon Pass summitt is about 4200 feet. I pushed a lot going up, but rode like the wind going down. There is a five mile grade coming into Saugus. What a ride! Then skirted the San Fernando Valley and rode through Pasadena and on Foothill Road to Pomona. It took me 22 hours.
One time I helped Thelma make fruit cake. She mailed one to each of my brothers in the service. George in the Marines and Warren in the Navy. Later when I was on Guadalcanal in a casual camp I received a fruitcake from Thelma. It was so appreciated.
Early in the war the US Government planted many acres of guayule in the Lamont area. Guayule is a brushy shrub of the Aster family. It is native to the Southwest and northern Mexico. Latex rubber can be extracted from guayule. Don and I got jobs in the government surveying crews that were laying out the guayule fields. We were chain men. It was interesting work. The guayule project was stopped when the war ended.
Thelma was a jolly perky person. Nice to be around. I was around her a lot before the war.
Thelma spent her last years with her daughter, Dorothy in Roseburg, Oregon. I can not imagine a more different place from Taft and Weedpatch.
Thelma was always a generous and thoughtful sister. She took me in many a summer. I love her.
Three sisters and three brothers to go!