Chapter Fourteen-Altadena:1943

Bringing forward a few items from Ontario, we often came to Pasadena for one reason or another, usually to eat. There were then located two concerns, The Arcade and the Merry-go-Around Café, both of which establishments we patronized. The first named was an upstairs affair, where things were spread out on a long table self-serve like a smorgasbord, and a mighty good meal for little money. While sitting at a table, quite by coincidence, a lady approached us and said, “Are you not Mr. and Mrs. Line, from Howell, Michigan?” We acknowledged that we were guilty, whereupon she said “I am Mrs. Carlisle, wife of the milk factory superintendent there.” She remembered us from 25 years ago!

The other eatery was on Colorado St. near the post office, and it sure was a dandy. The general form was an endless belt with a 2-foot wide top, circling around a large oval, carrying on its top a full assortment of everything good to eat, in front and past the adjoining seats with guests who selected what each wanted as it passed by, and all for 50¢. Both folded up, I guess because they gave values they couldn’t afford. At time Daisy and I took as many as 8 or 10 guests to the Merry-go-Round.

In this era, we had made an auto trip to Michigan spending most of our time at Northport on this occasion. Incidentally, we sold both our Sibley house and Chemung cottage.

Francis was going to move, and we wanted to get somewhere near him, at the Eagle Rock, if we moved. A real estate dealer for a long time had been importuning me to sell, but so far I had resisted, but now I will tell the immediate cause of selling, which accorded with desire to be near Francis, if we moved at all. One day I ran across this dealer on way home from town and he asked me if I would sell yet. He said he had a hot prospect that would pay $9000 cash. That sounded OK, as inflation had not hit the country then as it since has, so I told him that if my wife said so, I would agree. So, as we came to our house, he stopped and I went in and consulted Daisy, and to my surprise, she said to sell, and we would look elsewhere for a home. We were on a corner, and if you know anything about such a location it will not surprise you when I say that very morning Daisy had had 4 boys and 5 dogs to cope with, with the noise and litter that such a combination makes.

Therefore I agreed to sell, with the following three conditions to be met: first there should not be a string of would-be buyers coming in to look the house over. The dealer said no danger of that as he had his buyer already. Second, I would not leave the offer open longer than one week. Thirdly, if sold, I wanted three months in which to move out and get re-located. So it was left.

I t was nearing the end of the 7th day and we had not heard from the parties, so Daisy and I concluded the deal had fallen through and didn’t know whether we were pleased or otherwise, for we did really hate to give up our house. Well, a few minutes before the bank closed I got a telephone from them that the deal was made, all but the final transfer and would we come down at once to sign, seal and deliver, which we did and the ownership passed from us to a hospital attaché from Henry Kaiser’s Fontana steel plant. We got $9000 less sales commission, so the income tax was not hard to figure out on the net profit.

Then we were on our own, to look around, which we did, in Monrovia, Arcadia, the Eagle Rock district (to be near Francis) and Alhambra. The latter place I put $1000 down as a retainer on two separate houses, only to have them cut out from me through a previous sale and my money refunded. Queer how fate shapes our lives, unknowingly; it couldn’t have served us better to reserve our fate (?) for a later and better solution. There is where I stood after 4 to 6 weeks had gone by of my 3 months reservation period, when Francis thought he would take hold. Archie Fournier had come out from the East to look for a house and Francis said we would all go out together and look, which we did.

We boys all bunked on the floor on one of Francis’ Eagle Rock houses, as he hadn’t moved from Ontario yet, and right away when we started house hunting, we found one that just suited Archie and he bought it, paying $1000 down, and less than 2 miles from Eagle Rock. Then continuing, we came across a neat little place on Harding Ave., in Altadena, with a furnace in the basement and otherwise some nice features and otherwise not so desirable, especially the size. I bought it for $6,950. When I got home that night Daisy thought the place was totally unfit for our needs and I agreed with her and we decided to give it another try.

In the meantime Vernon Wiltse and wife were on the edge of moving out here from Howell, and we thought the Harding place would just suit them. By reason of fast work by wire and interchanges, they bought it and rushed $200 to bind the bargain. They bought it at just what I had paid with monthly payments from thereon of $70 a month, which he maintained for 5 years, then, sold out and moved to Arcadia, and paid me off in full. However, I didn’t wait for the consummation of above deal, but started right out next morning to come to Pasadena and look further. By the way, I found that the wife had refused to sign in Archie’s case and he had to take his $1000 back, and left “holding the sack”, but however he got another place in Altadena, before he had to go back, on Marengo Avenue in Altadena, of which I took care of in watering etc. until he could move out with his family.

That morning I came down to Pasadena on a bus, with 7 prospects in mind, and went at once to my dealer, who took me in turn to 6 of the prospects, all of which I rejected, with only the 7th left, at 2327 Santa Anita, Altadena. When he stopped here I said to myself “this is the place”. It is 60 feet in front with a huge lawn, 6-rooms with two toilets, gas furnace heat, double garage, with a turn around apron. There is a nice guesthouse, 15X20 feet, which could be used for storage. It had been built 2 years ago with lots of trees and desirable in every way. It was even convenient to grade schools and a high school. A quarter mile from shopping centers and at the end of the bus line main line. It was priced at $9,900 with immediate possession. We moved household goods from Ontario, and occupied the house July 9, 1943. We have lived here since and come next July, we will have lived here 16 years (longer than any other house we have had).

Grace had been corresponding with her sister in Korea, Kyung Shyn Song Yoon, and her family, about coming to America, and a few months after we had gotten settled, the family arrived and the first night we bunked them on the floors before they departed for the East, to make their future home in Howell. The couple has an interesting family, of five children, all of them are either graduates from Howell High School, or to become such each succeeding year. The oldest son finished Howell High last year and now attending MIT near Boston. The second son graduated from Howell High this year and now is enrolled at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The oldest girl leaves Howell High next year, and so on, step-by-step, each child will acquire an education. The father runs a music store in Ann Arbor, and does piano tuning. The Mother, aside from household and child duties has a class of students in music at home. Grace and Winfield have sponsored the family in all their undertakings in this country, and all have long ago become American citizens of which they are justly proud.

As time rushes on, there is little to tell. After a bit, I sold my Buick Special, and for a time was without a car. In 1944 I bought a used Ford with 44,000 miles on it, for $1000 and ran it for two years until sold it to the Berggrens in Long Beach. Whereupon, I, with Al and Minnie Berggren took the Santa Fe out to Howell to pick up another V8 Ford there and drive it back. We made headquarters at Winfield’s Lake Chemung cottage visited all the stores, ran up to Northport, over to Dearborn and various other places and attractions, before biting the back track, which we made without incident other than a blown out tire, which held us up at Mesa, near Phoenix, for a day.

That was in 1946, and I am running that car yet, and going strong, with only 65,000 miles on it.

Soon after we had located in Pasadena, or Altadena, several things happened: we made numbers of short trips like over to Knott’s Berry Farm, Oceanside, Palm Springs, over Angel’s Crest Highway through the Antelope Valley and to Lancaster and other objectives.

In all our numerous long trips previously made, I had worked my colored slide camera to the limit, for which I have a boxful of colorful slides to show for it. Not needing my camera much now, I sold the outfit for $70, under wartime pressure for just what I had paid for it. Winfield has my box of slides and the record book.

As soon as we got located and put Mrs. Parr in charge of looking out for our premises we took the Santa Fe East and was bothered so by floods and more floods that by the time we got to Ann Arbor, where Winfield was to meet us, it was 3 o’clock in the morning, so we had to phone him and get him down to Ann Arbor to run us up to Chemung. Upon trying to return west later, we found that the floods had closed the Santa Fe and we must shift our rail system. Therefore I went to Don Van Winkle’s office at 9 o’clock at night to arrange for cash, that he had in his safe, for any shift we might find necessary, when we got to Chicago. However, upon arriving there our tickets were changed to read via Union Pacific, with no red tape at all, and so we went through OK.

I heard of a new 175th anniversary of Encyclopedia Britannica for sale by an agent at cost and I bought it from a man in nearby Alhambra for $150, and afterward added 9 volumes of the annual supplements at an average of $5 per volume.

As to our bird life; Winfield had given Daisy his prize store Dickey bird, a male canary, which had gone through the travails of travel from Howell to Ontario, and thence to Altadena, and proved himself a good trouper. We got him a fine female associate, and then, over here they both died from gas fumes (of an un-vented heater, most likely), unbeknown to us, and they nightly insisted upon roosting on the upper window ledge, where they got the full effects of the impure air. For some years after that we were bird less until Minnie gave us a parakeet, which eventually got away, by perching on my shoulder as I went out. We had called him Peter, and he was almost like one of the family. Francis gave Daisy another beautiful bird and that too got out and took off for parts unknown. Latterly, we captured a white parakeet roaming loose in our yard, and thereafter Francis captured one likewise loose in their yard, and brought it over in a 3-foot high ornamental cage in which we now have both birds with freedom of the house like members of the family.

In addition to the vitamins that Grace had prescribed and that we had taken regularly for years, we had also when we moved to this area added vegetable juices as an added health measure, and soon after locating in Altadena, we bought an approved juicer, and have used it since.

In 1951 Daisy and I had bought tickets via American Airlines for a trip to Detroit and thence to Howell, by meeting Winfield with his car at the terminal. However all plans of mice and men, etc. on strike of the pilots knocked out our plans and we had to switch to the Southern Pacific Railroad, and likewise return west later the same way. In our limited stay in Michigan, Winfield took me on an auto ride to Linesville, to visit old haunts, and we had a nice trip and one last chance to photograph the old homestead in Linesville, before its later demolition.

In 1948 Francis threw an anniversary party for Daisy and I on our 50th wedding day. A lasting memento of the occasion was the presentation of a volume entitled Enjoyment of Living and inscribed on the fly leaf by Francis, On your Golden Wedding Day, August 22,1898-August 22, 1948; and autographed by each of the 19 guests.

The signers were all either relatives or close friends that were available for the occasion, and Francis had each guest make a short talk or more extended remarks if desired, and registered same on his wire recorder, to be available for reproduction for all time. Helen sat us down to a banquet that would have distinguished my gathering. Francis had gotten records of old songs such as we and our mothers used sing, quite effective, like “You and I Were Young, Maggie” and such.

Francis and Helen repeated this gesture upon our 60th anniversary, August 22nd, 1958, last year, citing my old original diary of 75 years ago; and reading some out of my book of poems written 1891-92. One feature of this occasion was his reading of the entire wire recorded speeches made by the guest on the similar occasion 10 years previously.

Both the celebrations noted were held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Francis R. Line, at their home in Eagle Rock, the guests from farthest away were Winfield, eldest son and wife, who flew out from Michigan to attend the ceremony. It was strictly a family affair. Among the guests was Adrienne Line, the couple’s only granddaughter. Events of the Gay Nineties were portrayed in a March of Time skit.

In 1952 Winfield and Grace gave us a black and white television, on my 80th birthday, to be exchanged 5 years later for an R.C.A. colored unit, Living Color.

To make life more bearable in this hot climate Winfield at the start of the New Year in 1955 installed a cooler unit in our front window, which has proven of great benefit.

In 1953 we paid our pro rata share of installing big main sewers along Santa Anita, 12 or 14 feet deep, cost us $361 and worth it. Last year we abandoned the cesspool and hooked up with the street sewer with Paul Roberts, who knows his onions when it comes to sewer work, and did the job for the nominal sum of $218.

In former years an inclined cog railroad ran form the head of Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, to the top of Mount Lowe. It was our privilege, just about the time we moved over here to have a ride on this fearsome line, one of the last runs it made before being abandoned. The nighttime view from the terminal house at the summit was beyond description, where could see the lights of 56 cities gleaming over the valley below. That was B.S. (Before Smog). By the way, our home is 2 miles from the base of the mountains, and in this particular part of Altadena, we have little or no smog. The natural reason for this is explained as follows: Opposite us, is the notch in the Sierra Madre Range, and the theory is that the impure air is sucked through this notch and dissipated over the plateau desert across the range, thus missing this section by bypassing over us!

Here is a bit of bird lore: After the great San Antonio Canyon flood of 1937, Francis took his and my family to the Mt. Baldy settlement by a roundabout back route and then took the rest back over the same route, but leaving me, by my request, to walk the 9 miles down the ravage washed out road through the desisted canyon. I made it and along the route retrieved a dried out knurled root, 3 or 4 feet long and an inch thick, and brought it home, as it was a curiosity. Our bird family adopted it, and over the years used it for a roost and a tidbit to nibble on, until now, through the course of time they have eaten it through and bit by bit have broken it off so that nothing but 3-inch sections remain.

Now, as heretofore, I get annual invitations of the Linesville school reunions.

The Wisteria Vine at Sierra Madre is an occasion for an annual festival and a source of wonderment, especially for tourists. It has grown, and grown, and grown, until now it covers two acres in its wide spread beauty, when in full bloom.

Winfield has always been plane minded and started many years ago with the little Bellanca, in which he and Grace had crossed the country some 25 or 30 times, and even flown up into Alaska. However, after the last world war he sold it and has been without his private plane until recently. Less than two years ago he bought the larger and improved Navion, with which they are pleased, and Grace has taken lessons and learned to fly it. On a bus trip to Palm Springs lately, Winfield took me on a 50-mile flight around the Coachella Valley district and the All-American Canal.

With plane and short car trips, social and civic life in Palm Springs and running up here occasionally, plus looking after his place, Winfield and Grace do not find that time hangs heavily on their hands during the winters there. One year he was president of the Desert Museum, which is a real institution in the area, to which Winfield has given of his resources and time to its development, just recently enlarged to embrace a much greater scope of work. Of course all during the summer season it is a man’s real work to oversee his real estate and leasehold properties, with the ever-wanted improvements, enlargements, or just plain reconditioning. For complete relaxation and rest, Winfield and Grace are now off on a boat tour around the Cape Horn tip of South America to be gone two months.

Francis and Helen would not find a 24-hour day too long to compass their various activities. Besides the demands of the filming and lecture business with its manifold mechanical processes, they have become affiliated with the inter-racial church know as the Lincoln Avenue Methodist to which they are giving not only financial support, but in addition such physical help as the demands on their time permits.

Up to 5 years ago when traffic got so bad it was hazardous for me, I regularly every week and oftener if necessary took my car to run over to Hollywood to deliver film to process or get it after processing to save Francis limited time, for which service he made me generous allowances on a mileage basis.

It was through his good offices that I was privileged to see “Marineland”, two different versions of Cinerama, and Windjammer. These latter productions were on a wide screen in specially built theaters.

In 1956 I made a plane trip east via American Airlines, and had a wonderful flight. Francis took me over to the International Airport and saw me off at this end, and Winfield met me at the Detroit Airport and whisked me to Howell and Lake Chemung to bunk at their cottage. Winfield convoyed me all around to his various store locations, over to Stockbridge to see Herb Dancer, then up to Northport. On invitation we went out to Hubbell’s in Highland for a real farm supper with Ephraim and Rose. Winfield took me with him to his weekly bank meeting at which the board courteously asked me to sit in with them. Winfield made an appointment with Bill Ladner, an officer of the company, to show me on a guided tour around the plant of the new site and newly built and enlarged Citizens Mutual Auto Insurance Company. It is a marvelous institution, employing locally 300 people, with hundreds of agents all over the state, the largest commercial enterprise in Howell. To Joe Brady I am especially indebted for personal favors. Aside from this, I was particularly impressed with the new schools, a grade school at each corner section of the city, along with the centrally located and enlarged high school. For our auto trip to Linesville before returning west, we went calling on friends.

Winfield and I, leaving Chemung, in his big Chrysler, of a bright morning at daylight, we went through Toledo, thence Fremont, bypassed Cleveland, then up to the lakeshore, Plainville, Ashtabula, the scene of the tragic Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad disaster in 1876, Conneaut, East and West Springfield, to Lines Hollow, adjacent to the latter, the Academy in the town displaced by a modern school building, a trip to the cemetery and our circular family lot, everything changed in and around the hollow, and not recognizable as my old boyhood haunts; on to Girard, where we photographed the Soldiers and Sailors Monument; and the Battles National Bank; then out on way to Linesville, passing old Crosses Station, now abandoned and moved away.

Arriving in Linesville, we checked in at Kerman’s Tourist Homes, for two nights. Next day we called on Vern Wallace, and through him presented to the town an enlarged picture of Amos Line, the founder, in a large heavy frame, to be hung in the council chamber. Sunday we attended the services of the Universalist Church, and their coffee hour afterward, and in Pennsylvania ran over to Meadville to call on Cousin Ida Knapp.

Called on Richard Farley and family. Farley is president of the local school board and he took us on a tour of their million-dollar school and premises. We visited the newer installations in and about the village, including the spillway, the big fish hatchery, state park and game refugee etc. Called on Blanche Stratton, one of the oldest living citizens, ready for our departure next day, first, next morning, and running 7 miles over to Penn Line.

Leaving Linesville, we crossed Pymatuning Lake over the long bridge, into Ohio, and then followed a course laid for stopping off at New London, where we had a noon dinner appointment for 12 o’clock sharp with Marvin and Etta Hibbard. Getting there o little ahead of time we called on M.E. Graves, who, with his wife, was just departing to make a new home in Florida; met Paul Kirkton, who furnished lumber when I built the new block in New London, 50 years previously; called on Ross Seiler and Frank Childs, the former a barber, and the latter a pharmacist, my competitor in the old days. Both these last named had been in New London in their respective businesses for 58 years.

Viewed our house and the business block I had built, and of course having made our date with the Hibbard’s, when we pulled out for the trip to Howell, arriving after dark.

I forgot to insert it where it properly belongs, but I don’t want to omit the incident from this life narrative, so I will make a separate story of it, and that is my climbing Pikes Peak, so, here goes:

Stopping off at Colorado Springs and proceeding out to Manitou, at the base of the mountain, I started up the cog railroad right-of-way at 9 PM of a hot day in August, carrying my light overcoat, my coat, and my vest on my arm. The national convention of letter carriers were in session at that time in Colorado Springs, and 20 or 25 of them essayed to climb the peak the same night, the idea being to get up there to see the glorious sunrise in the morning, from that vantage point. However the postal boys had started up at 8 o’clock, an hour ahead of me. In less than 2 hours I overtook and joined them.

So we continued until we got to a roadside house, where they all went in to tank up. After waiting some time, I went on and never saw them again. Not one of them made the top, though all young fellows, but liquor and the mountain climbing don’t mix. After a bit I put on my vest, later my coat, and then my overcoat, and lastly, got gloves from coat pocket and put them on. It was by then hours past midnight and getting cold. I was taken short, and sick to my stomach besides, and stopped behind a big rock to relieve myself and then to save my life, I couldn’t button up again. Therefore I had to hold my pants up all the way to the top. By the way, I passed a few hardy people, and one man, who lay behind a rock, deathly sick, exploded that “if a friend of his was going to make this foolhardy attempt, he would beg of him on his bended knees to not!”

Passed a frozen lake, so most of the time, and eventually made the last 1000 feet to the summit, just as the sun peeped above the horizon. By then I didn’t care for the sunrise or anything else, but to got outside the warm shelter there provided, and vomit until relieved, and then paid the attendant 10¢ for a cup of cold water and later 15¢ for a cup on hot water, and laid down close to the fire and slept the sleep of the just (?). There was a few that made the grade that night including one woman, but not a single one checked in after I got here, they had all fallen by the wayside.

After waking up, the whole world looked rosy and I really enjoyed my walk down, only it hurts ones toes jamming into the points of shoes. When I got down to the halfway house, a little print shop was there, and I picked up my copy of that night’s edition @ 25¢ with my name in it from notice given them on the up trip to send back east to show what Mountaineers we folk be! Fred and I made the same ascent in daylight in later years, and even then as comparatively easy as it was, Fred very properly said that anyone making such a fool trip as that should have his head examined. It is a 9-mile trip, and over 14,000 feet high, but starting at the base with 8,000 feet. A fine gravel highway with easy grades but plenty of curves, 22 miles long, was later constructed, up which I and the family toured one time, and enjoyed the experience, even saw a coyote outlined against a high rock at the side of the road.

The annual letter Francis and Helen send out to some 500 of their friends every Christmas was headed thusly last year: biggest news since our last annual letter is that our daughter Adrienne was married and has become Mrs. Gordon Knute. She has been residing at Belmont Shores in the Long Beach area, and been working for exactly one year as a service representative of the Pacific Telephone Company. Having graduated from Occidental College, she is going to continue studying for a Teachers Certificate, at the University of Southern California. She is still pursuing the intentions expressed in the foregoing letter. However, a son has since been born to the couple, Jeffery Alan, January 8, 1959. Jeff is doing well, and coming to be a bright and husky boy.

Current: a file of clippings sent me by Cora Caverly, of Howell, from the Detroit Free Press, records the wrecking of the ornate 75-year old Newberry Mansion, to make way for modern improvements. Newberry was the founder of the D. and C. Navigation Co. long since a victim of the automobile age.

Another item related to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is probably the most significant event toward shaping economics of our two countries than any other happening of this century.

In the Line dynasty, Adrienne will be next in direct succession, followed by Jeff, who, as time goes by, will have to assume the responsibility of upholding the Line tradition as established by his great-great-great-great-great grandfather, in other words, his grandfather 5 time removed, Amos Line.

I here close this autobiography, but hope to add a postscript in the crucial year of 1960 that lies ahead, with the latest census; and the nomination of our next president and his election.

Note: a copy of this file is being reserved for Jeff when he shall be of an age to read and appreciate it.

Charles Smith Line