Just a word of preface: It was in the mid-thirties that Daisy and I had our first airplane ride. Francis took us over to the Glendale Airport, and Winfield had gotten advance notice to meet us upon arrival at Chicago. We took off in the forenoon, and by the time we got to Amarillo it was raining. The outlook seemed so bad that they gave us our choice to stay at a local hotel until morning, or take a train to Wichita and catch our plane again there. We chose the latter. It was after dark, and they drove us to the Santa Fe depot to take the train, and fussed along all night, amid a veritable flood, both sides of track just like a lake, and stopping often. However, we got to Wichita eventually, and were driven to the airport, and hopped the plane, and Winfield and Grace met us, even though we were hours late, of which they had had notice.
In these years we made many trips to Death Valley, with and without the boys, once with Al and Minnie, and once with Winfield in his airplane.
In the late spring of 1939 Francis and Helen took a boat trip to Europe to film pictures for a forthcoming lecture, and they proposed that Daisy and I come over later and meet them there.
A Worlds Fair had been held the previous year in San Francisco, which Al and I had attended. The forthcoming Fair at New York was to be three times larger, and it occurred to us that we could combine a trip to the fair and take the boat for Europe at the same time. Therefore we took a train to New York, and upon arrival checked in at the Madison Square Hotel. We didn’t do much about the fair until we should have gotten back from Europe.
We had enough to do to secure our visas for England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. To bring us up-to-date on changing character in the big city, we patronized the subways, which were new since I had last been there. They replaced in part the old Ls. Charles Broadway Rouss was gone. He corner post office on Mail Street was also gone, replaced by a modern structure uptown. We toured the Empire State Building and were whisked to the 102nd floor at a cost of $1 each. The view at the top was worth it, from the attraction up there to the magnificent view. We could see the five bridges now spanning the East River. We went to the RCA Music Hall, with its top performances, and saw the Rockettes. The Rockefeller Center, that great institution, with their roof gardens requiring 60,000,000 pounds of earth to make 2 acres of soil. All the time we had our meals in the Automats.
May 13th we boarded the Queen Mary. A pilot boat came around with 6 letters for me in the New York harbor. It took 9 big tugs to warp the boat out form its pier. We carried 1700 passengers and 1200 crewmen on this trip. We had good accommodations throughout with all the equipment and attractions that make these big boats so desirable.
Francis met us at Southampton, and helped us through the formalities of landing. He then convoyed us all over the city on the double deck public busses, fare 2¢, before taking us out to their living quarters at Golders Green.
Thereafter, Francis and I went in 50/50 for $25 for a week on a little Austin and toured Northern England, Scotland, and Wales. A total of 1304 miles, and we saw more than we could have in any other way. We stopped and sometimes stayed over night at such centers as York, Coventry, Banbury, and Lincoln-Chester, etc. Not forgetting the Cotswold Country, here Francis did a lot of filming. It was here that Henry Ford removed an entire cottage to set up in his Greenfield Village, numbering every stone, to be put together in Dearborn, Michigan.
Mrs. Silcocks School in Bexhill was put in charge of the two children when Francis and Helen were gone to Scandinavia. They turned over their quarters in Golders Green to us until their lease expired. We gave up the place after 3 weeks and moved into Kensington, where we got quarters with a Mrs. Whitehurst at 42 Warwick Gardens. We had struck Stratford-on-Avon, while out on tour with Francis and Helen. From 42 Warwick Gardens, we ranged all about London and the area thereabout to Madam Tussaurd’s wax Works, Selfridges (a great mercantile mart), Hampton Court (40 miles round trip to see the 1000 room mansion of the Royal family), Kew Gardens (288 acres), Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Gate to the Palace. There we saw the changing of the guard. Further on, we saw Marble Arch, the entrance to Hyde Park (the scene of so many soap operas with near fist fights), the Tower of London, 10 Downing Street on Whitehall, Fleet St. (with its newspaper row) and St. James Park.
About this time I got a letter from Winfield that they had given their Korean lecture 120 times (that number being tripled thereafter). We gave that wonderful Underground, as their subway is called, a good workout while we stayed in London. We had letters delivered us as late as 9:00PM and sometimes found letters slid through the slot onto the carpet. Another custom in travel was buttered bread, cut thin, with tea, and served wherever we stopped.
One time we went to the bottling plant of the Express Dairy Co. Which is said to be the largest in the world, bottling half a million bottles every day, and even losing 8000 per day, in lost or broken bottles not returned. Our guest hostess after a 2-hour guided tour, ushered us into a private tearoom and served a dainty, complimentary lunch.
We stored our excess baggage with the Cunard people, and got our mail at the American Express Co. We also depended upon these folks with confidence to perform any kind of service required. We went to them to arrange an all-expense tour of the Scandinavian countries and they fixed us up with coupon books covering all travel, with meals and overnight hotels, with 10 or 12 side trips thrown in, for an estimated total of $500, which they billed me net just $475, and we felt we got good value.
Starting out from the same estuary, we crossed the North Sea to the coast of Norway, then up that coast, stopping at Stavenger, Bergen, Trondheim, Tromo, and to Hammerfest, the most Northern city in the world. We were accorded stops at each of the ports noted, and usually long enough to have a ride around the place and surrounding countryside. From Hammerfest we rounded North Cape, where we anchored long enough to ascend to the peak of the cape, a mile or so, up the ice and rock stairs, to the summit, where nested millions of sea birds. In the meantime the passengers fished and caught some big ones that they later shared with us aboard ship. It was in this latitude at this season, and for many days thereafter, that we saw the Midnight Sun. Then around the outlying islands to the bay of Kirkiness where we began our journey south by bus and railroad.
Next we took a bus to Roviena where we found a hotel room reserved for us by Francis, and transferred to a railroad to Helsinki. He re we had a 5th floor room on the Esplanade, a 300-foot wide avenue with landscaping. We had met Francis by appointment at Riikonen, on the Great Arctic Highway, or was it Ivalo? Anyhow I phoned to make the contact, 90 miles for 6¢. He we met Eva, who lived at Helsinki, and spoke English. We arranged to meet her below in the lobby. Our hotel at Helsinki was very modern with electric lights, but we did need them with 24 hours of daylight. Eva took us on a 1-1/2 hour taxi ride to tour the city. Next day we took her on a travel boat ride to the out lying resort islands. When we left she met us at the depot with a basket of fruit. With tears in her eyes, she said good by to us. For years after that she always wrote to us until the Russian invasion forbade it. The morning we left we visited the fish market on the waterfront, which must be cleared before 12:00N.
Then over to Stockholm, 600,000 on July 2, 1939, Hotel Anglais, 5th floor, as usual. Great sights, went to exclusive picture shows, and viewed the 5 million municipal buildings started in 1911 and finished in 1923.
Somehow I skipped Oslo and Bergan on the way up the coast of Norway. Oslo is a fine city with many museums and worthwhile sights. In Bergan, we took a ride up the inclined railway.
At Stockholm we took the Gota Canal across the countryside to the opposite coast, at Gothenburg, a distance of 347 miles. The canal is 80 feet wide, engineered to its present perfection in 1810. The trip takes 56 hours, and it accounts for $30 each in our total itinerary. It runs through the finest rural sections to be found in the country. It has 65 locks, some of them close enough together that one can walk from lock to lock for exercise. This was one of the nicest legs of our trip.
Now taking the boat over to Copenhagen, here we found bicycles so thick that one wonders the traffic can be controlled. There are 400,000 on the machines in the city, and at one bridgehead there were 50,000 bicycles pass within one hour. The Carlsberg Breweries, employing 4000 people, its main industry. It covers 64 acres and bottles 2 million gallons daily. Tourists are taken to the Festival Hall where dozens of tables were set with every sort of beverage that the concern makes is served on any and all to the limit. It is a big cooperative. Automats are on the streets where a meal can be had for 18¢, but any drink therewith is 5¢ extra. Daisy, not feeling well in the evening, I went to the Tivoli, an attractive park where the gate is as many as 50,000 of an evening are not unusual.
Arrived at Kensington at Mrs. Whitehurst’s on July 16, we attended The Albert and Victoria Museum and saw Goodbye, Mr. Chips, one of the best shows I ever saw, recommended by Mrs. Whitehurst.
Next went to American Express to arrange a quick trip over to Paris for me only, 3-1/2 hours by plane. Made the limited time of only two days count, as visited the Louve, and spent some hours there; the Church of the Madeline; the Arch de Triumph, with Napoleons Tomb therein; Notre Dame; Eiffel Tower; Les Champs-Elysées; the subway with a 26 mile run only costing 5¢; and many other sights. The American Express organized a night tour of the cabarets. I stayed at the Henry VIII Hotel, and don’t think they beat me out of more than 25¢. By great good fortune, I changed my time of departure, so got one of the newest flights, with 6-foot landing wheels and the plane was 114 feet long and had a span of 127 feet.
Getting home from above, we ran over to Holland for a quick trip, hitting Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, with many interesting sights. We made a quick tour of Windsor Castle.
Francis went out to Mrs. Sillcocks and brought his girls in and we met at Whitehurst’s. From there we repaired to the boat train embarking on the Queen Mary. On account of impending war we had our boat sailings set ahead two weeks, which was lucky, else we might have been stalled, for this was the last trip the Queen made before being painted a battle ship gray, and converted into a troop ship, as it was but weeks before war broke out.
Arriving in New York, we checked in at The Madison Square, and hied out to the fair a few days, Ford had a $225,000 exhibit, Billy Rose had a good aquatic show, and other Number One exhibits that I can’t mention. There were 225,000 attendances that day.
We had sent word to Winfield to meet us at Ann Arbor, by rail, which he did, and fortunate to get home O.K., for our boat carried many refugees. The foregoing has only been a skeleton on the things we saw and experienced. My packet of letters, written to Allie, before he died, from which the foregoing facts were culled, is in the custody of Minnie, and complete data is contained therein, in the most detail in particulars. Archie and Edna were in New York, and helped us through customs. Francis and family rode to destination with them.
So, in 1937 our house was finished, we furnished it, and moved in, leaving it in the hands of the Rodens through the summer as to watering, mowing, and collecting junk mail along with general supervision. Winfield had graciously set aside an office for me, labeled President, where I had certain light deskwork and inconsequential duties to give me confidence that I was useful during the summer before going back to California, and repeating the process for a few years. Winfield, long since, had taken over the business in his own name and had repaid me every dollar I had supplied in the original investment. Was clouds hung heavy over the land, and the conditions this situation induced stimulated trade, in defense orders and inflation, with the result that Hitler saw the ending of the depression in sight, that Roosevelt had not been able to achieve during the many past years, with ever-mounting unemployment.
In this general era Winfield and Grace took Daisy and me to Michigan in the Bellanca, and taking little Sooney with us. I recall that when we took off from Palm Springs in the heat of the day. It was 110 degrees. Mom was not seasick at all, and enjoyed the ride much more that in the big plane several years previously. We made two night stops en-route and got through without incident.
So passed 37,38, and ’39: Came 1940, and old England saw its darkest hour, when it looked for a time as if Hitler might triumph over the world.
In 1941 Winfield and Grace were looking for a home site in California where the winters would not be so severe as in Michigan. We took them down to Laguna Beach, but that didn’t seem to fit their requirements; next to Palm Springs and rented a place, but with indifferent satisfaction. About that time a real estate agent was showing them a property that was for sale at 571 Indian Trail, and the up-shot of the matter is that they bought it right off the bat, and not ever been sorry. They spend every winter there. They have since acquired a cottage at Northport and hunting lodge in Paradise.
About this time Addie, my cousin, wanted to move to California. Her fiancé brought her from Meadville and left her at Fort Wayne for us to pick up, which we did, within the quarter hour, and took her to California, where she located in Pomona, and still lives there. Her man Frank Curtis, married her sometime after, and himself moved out, but he is a long time passed away, so Addie is now living with her daughter.
In August 1941, Daisy and I picked up my cousin, Ida Knapp, at her home in Crawford County near Meadville, for a weeks outing through Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South as far as Staunton, of sightseeing and photography. I will just run over our route and designate some of the places we visited and photographed. First, going over the Meadville and taking scenes about Allegheny College, then crosswise in Pennsylvania, at times on the Turnpike, then through the interesting Mennonite Country, with their well kept houses and barns, herds of Holstein and Jersey cattle; Kenneth Square Park near Philadelphia, where had free entrance to Longwood Park, maintained by the Dupont’s; took many pictures here; “Lititz Animal Trap of America” sign, I used to buy mouse and rat traps from them; beautiful “Skyline Drive” running along the Blue Ridge; Gettysburg Battlefield; John Browns stamping at Harpers Ferry, junction of 3 rivers; group of race horses, which I was allowed to photograph; water-wheel mill at Strasburg; Washington headquarters at Winchester; Sheridan ditto; C. B. Rouss mausoleum at Winchester; and so on, covered the lovely Shenandoah Valley, and got a fine assortment of colored slides for projecting. Return home, and picture scenes about the Knapp place.
The economic picture with us seemed improved, until the year 1941 dawned, when it looked, in anticipating the future, as if the Christmas of that year would crown the best business that Winfield’s little chain had so far enjoyed. Then came Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, followed by the coming of the New Year, which, as it advanced, showed promise of yet a better business.
The blow struck with no warning whatever. To precede, with a few explanations: Winfield for many years had owned his private plane, the Bellanca and had become as experienced aviator with pilots and navigators license and since the war he had taken advance training and was given an instructors rating to qualify him for his present responsible work. He was, at this time giving a class of some 30 young men regular lessons in flight technique, and, in so doing, he thought he was doing his share in the war effort, particularly as he was just under 40 years of age.
It seems that the government as an accredited field, and, like a bolt out of the blue did not recognize the Howell flying field; the local draft board notified him that he would have to either transfer to the East Lansing field or else, implying a draft. This was in July 1942. Winfield, without any argument, thought it was up to him to do something.
Thereupon happened the first of a series of related events that occurred in quick succession within the next 12 mouths that changed the course of the three Line families.
Winfield contacted the D&C, at Stockbridge, with 33 stores, and they were receptive. He, Grace, and myself had a conference. I wanted to run the stores until after the Christmas harvest, for the benefit of Winfield, but was afraid I couldn’t stand the gaff. So we decided to sell, and sell quickly.
As they were desperate at Lansing for instructors to teach the army boys how to fly, Winfield had to go forthwith, and it was up to me at this end. By appointment, I met the D& C boys the next Sunday to discuss matters and show them around. I did so, and I could see they were impressed. Winfield had outlined the terms etc., and, as per my power of attorney, I agreed to sell, and, in part, to meet their terms. They would pay no bonus, with a war on, and taking a big risk anyhow, but said they would not insist on an invoice, but would base the price on inventory taken the previous January 1st, brought up-to-date. That was done. Their auditors were in our office a month, but we had a perfect understanding and 100% cooperation. Mabel Newman, our office manager and head bookkeeper, was of great help. Grace had had to go to East Lansing right off, to keep house for her husband and take care of his health. They worked him hard day and night, too hard and unsafe for any aviator, but anything goes in love or war, especially by the government. They rented a place near the field, but Winfield never got over to Howell the whole month. When we had all prepared to close the deal and papers made out for stock sale and underlying long-time leases covering all sites, we sent word to Winfield. He and Grace, with myself, Mabel, a group from the D&C, with Don Van Winkle and secretary, gathered in Don’s office at 2AM, and papers signed, sealed, and delivered.
It was the only hour Winfield could get away and not be on call. After Don had read all the documents and actual transfer had been made (August 5, 1942), The Line Stores passed into the hands of the D&C, with the utmost good feelings on the part of all interested parties. That cordial relationship was to continue for the long time in the future in which they were to remain related in business upon the most intimate terms. It was an unearthly time of night in which to consummate such a transaction, and Don said it was the second largest deal he ever had. The atmosphere was rather spectacular, and there were 13 present, which had always been my lucky number, we started our store in Howell on Friday the 13th! It did not require much more than an hour to wind up things to let Winfield and Grace go back to the regular grind at the flying field.
By the way, Winfield met one of his old students over here in Pasadena years ago, and has kept in touch with him since. It was Willard E. Wood (Woody), now living in Altadena, and driver of a city bus line car, in Pasadena. He is yet a plane enthusiast and off and on has his own plane.
The years slipped by. We are located on Harvard and Francis and family on Rosewood. Francis very often took me out to his Toastmaster and Lion Club meeting. On one occasion he, with Mrs. Wilmer White, went over to the city with us, as his and Helen’s guests, to see Will Rogers, in “Ah, Wilderness”, the last time I ever saw him before his untimely death in the Artic plane crash. We had seen Amelia Earhart before her ill-fated flight. This was in the Claremont Auditorium. Wilmer White was cashier of The Citizens National Bank, the bank with which I became affiliated in Ontario. Speaking of the White’s, I recall that in one of our auto treks East, Mrs. White put us up a nice package of fruit, cake etc., to munch on en-route.
Our oldest granddaughter, Barbara, died January 19, 1941, and her funeral was held on the 22nd, Francis conducting the services in person. The tribute he paid his little daughter was touching, embracing, as it did, a series of wonderful remarks concerning Barbara’s brief life with them as a family, and how she entered into activities with such zest. I have asked Francis to officiate likewise at my demise, shall he be available. Barbara was born November 28, 1932; died as noted above, with burial in the lovely Mountain Avenue Cemetery, in Ontario, under the shadow of Mount Baldy. Upon her grave was placed a glazed processed photo that seemingly is non-fading by time as it is just as bright now as the day it was placed. It is a photo taken in those happy carefree days while on the European trip.
As time rolled on, it became clear to Francis and Helen that their present home was not large enough to accommodate their requirements, with ever expanding fields of filming and lecturing with the exactions of space and convenience that such operation entailed. And further, it was necessary to get closer to the center of the industry in Hollywood. Therefore they began to look around for a new home location, after selling the Rosewood home.
Francis had become associated with George Tiberg, a real estate operator, and worked closely together. He and George had pulled off various deals between them, where by they had benefited jointly, or each individually. About this time an estate that must be settled promptly through the death of the former opulent and active owner, of the city of Eagle Rock, now a part of Los Angeles, and just over the Pasadena line.
Francis knew of the famous Eagle Rock, and its historical associations, and, as it happened, this was in the general area in which he thought they would like to relocate. The end of the matter was that Francis bought 13 acres, the tract embracing the Eagle Rock itself, later adding another 7 acres to his holdings, making 20 acres, all these transactions of course being made under wartime conditions, wherein the prices paid often had no relation to the intrinsic values of the properties involved. Upon the tract, as described above, were 6 nice houses, four of which Francis sold to contract, keeping the two on the hill, for his own use, later joining them; and adding a large exhibition room there to making over all a commodious unit, just what they needed. In time he has sold off different parcels and otherwise changed the premises.
In the meantime, he has carried on the filming and lecture business as a continuing joint business, with self and wife. They have slated a trip around the world this fall (1959), in search of material. Their latest production now receiving its finishing touches is based on Lincoln Anniversaries, to continue through the next 2 or 3 years. The Lincoln colored film lecture will be given in Pasadena Civic Auditorium February 12, 1960.
He has lectured in all the cultural centers of America, in most of them several times repeat and repeat each season. Among his most prominent subjects of the past are: Lapland: Finland, Circle of Fire(a story of the Pacific), This Is Your America (war picture), Sheep, Stars, and Solitude (made into a shorter version for use of schools on a royalty basis called Morningstar), The 7 Wonders of the West, and Navajo.