Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana

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Earl Bollinger

Passed away:  February 1999 (Earl) and April 2001 (Ruth)

Written for them by loving relatives

I (Earl) was born in Evansville, Indiana in August 1908. Ruth was born a few years later. There were no airplanes to be seen. Very few cars on the roads- most roads were not even paved except for some being brick. No radio stations to listen to and no television.

I remember some things about my childhood - things were much different than they are now. At Christmas time my Dad would make toys out of old wood. He worked hard at it and we really appreciated it. I remember he made my sisters a doll bed. Mother made dolls and clothes for them and things for my twin brother Neal and I. We would have to wait outside until they put what they made in the living room. They had the blinds down so we couldn't see in and it would be a surprise.

One Christmas my sister Ruth, who was six years younger, shook hands with my Dad disguised as Santa. She said " He isn't Santa- that's my Dad! ". She noticed half of his little finger was gone due to an accident when his ring caught on a nail. Dad didn't try it again. For Christmas we usually had hard chocolates and oranges with homemade presents.

Our Dad worked in a coal mine and would eat his lunch sometimes up on the tipple framework where it was relatively clean,safe and quiet. Sometimes my brother Neal and I would hear the mine noon whistle and go running to have lunch with Dad. He would kindly share his soup with us. He was a good Dad. He made his own beer in the bathtub like many did in those days. Sometimes he would enjoy it a little too much maybe.

My Dad had a Model T Ford that had side curtains for when it rained. Sometimes on Sunday we would drive the Ford around the "5-mile loop" and visit his Mother, my Grandmother, where she lived in a log cabin. My Dad was born in that log cabin. To get up Stringtown Hill we would have to get a good running start with the model T for a block or two so we could make it up the hill.

We sometimes played "follow up" in the gutter to and from school when we were very young. We went home for lunch each day. It was about a mile each way so that meant four miles of walking each day. Our church was across the street from the school. We would walk that distance again on Sunday, mostly to get an orange and a box of chocolates. We played ball in an empty lot. We also made a hoop and rolled it down the street to try to keep it going.

When we were very young we also made "lighthouses" out of shoe boxes. We would cut designs out of the box and paste red tissue paper over the cutouts. Then we would put a candle in the box and turn the lights down. We would attach a string and pull it around.

On the fourth of July we didn't have fireworks. My brother and I instead put carbide into a tin can with a match stuck in the end. We would light it and it would make a big bang. I believe we also had sparklers to go with the homemade fireworks.

Mother worked hard at the cigar factory. She was very good at hand rolling cigars. There is a real art to it and it takes several years to fully learn. She was the one who pushed us boys to learn to play musical instruments. She and Dad saved to buy instruments. Neal played the coronet and I played the violin and the French horn. We played our horns in the church orchestra in Evansville for many years. All our family went to that church - it was across the street from our school. I took accounting at Lockyears Business College.

My Aunt had a store and she would bring Grandma groceries, cookies and candy. Grandma would have the four of us get in a row and she'd go from one to another of us to pass out the candy and cookies evenly. After she passed away we would have parties there. She had a well and they had to drain it to get a rat out. She had an outdoor toilet about 50 or 60 feet from the house. There was a grape arbor on both sides of the pathway from the house to the privy.

My brother and I liked bicycles and motorcycles. He had an accident and was hurt but he recovered ok. We liked mechanical things a lot. We collected enough odds and ends of car parts at the junk yard to make a running car. My sisters remember it well. We didn't have a body so we made up a simple wood one. There were no seats so we sat on the gas tank. We painted it yellow. It actually ran and we enjoyed working on it.

My brother and I were curious and interested in many different things. Most of our lives we were interested in amateur radio broadcasting. Off and on, up until recently I would use my "Ham" radio to talk to people over most of the country. Sometimes I would listen in on general calls. Sometimes I would talk to particular people that I had talked to before. There were many interesting people that I talked to and in many different places. When I was a young boy there was no radio but the Marconi wireless became very widely known for sea rescues. One young man saved the lives of 1500 in a collision of two ships at sea by tapping out the letters "CQ" in Morse code. It was short for "seek you". He became very famous and that popularized ham radio.

I have been a Mason practically all my adult life. It is a very old and honored organization. I have been proud to be in it and have enjoyed it a lot.

In Evansville we had many family traditions. One was a "Burgo" picnic in the park with a good beef stew that was made with ground vegetables. This was mainly a tradition that was kept up by Uncle Ben. We also would get together in the summer and make home made ice cream. We did it enough that I bought a motor driven freezer when there weren't many of them around. It made ice cream more enjoyable.

We would get together on Christmas Eve night to open presents. Also Evansville had several restaurants that made very good barbeque, especially sliced pork. Our family enjoyed it a lot. Some of them used to get it when they went back to visit E-town.

I started working for Swift and Company when I was young. They are one of the largest meat packing corporations in the country. I have always worked in the accounting office and have been able to help others in the family get jobs there.

As a young man I met the love of my life, Miss Ruth Banta. She became Mrs. Ruth Bollinger and we have been happily married about 2/3 of a century. Ruth was a secretary in a lawfirm in Evansville and was effectively the office manager. She was very competent and the firm depended on her organizational skills. We have been a great help to each other. The family all love and appreciate her very much also. Since there was another Ruth in the family, she became known as "Earl's Ruth" and my sister became known as "Frank's Ruth". My wonderful wife Ruth and I have never been apart even in our retirement home (until it was medically necessary).

About 1948 my brothers family, plus Ruth and I, moved west to California. The year before our two sisters moved there and my mother. Long before that my aunt Lena had moved to El Monte and step father, Clyde Burns, had lived there for many years before the war. We moved to Monrovia and lived for a little while with Ruth and Frank until we got settled. About 1949, when Neal got the first TV in the family, we would go to his house to watch wrestling and parlor games on it. That was all that was on since it had to be live. The screen was black and white and about 8 inches. When all the relatives went over we would sit on mattresses on the floor.

Eventually our whole family lived in the northwest area of Monrovia. Ruth's brother Raymond Banta and his family also moved out. He worked in the procurement department at Aerojet in Azusa, the same plant that Walter and Howard Williams and Bob Bollinger worked in the 50's and 60's. Monrovia was a beautiful and peaceful place to live in those days. Mom lived in El Monte a while, then Hollywood, and settled in Duarte which is close to Monrovia. Ruth and I lived on Primrose Avenue and later built a new house on Stedman Place. It is the newest one on the lower block of Stedman. The kids would all know they would get a candy bar on Halloween when most gave out one stick of gum or less.

Swift and Company finally gave me a transfer to the Los Angeles plant after I told them I was going no matter what. One of my special recollections of working for them is when I did the payroll. It is so different from the way it's done now that kids nowadays won't understand. Things were simple in those days and in some ways better. Today the payrolls are handled by checks or by direct electronic deposit. There are problems of getting checks cashed that we didn't have when we paid everyone in the whole plant in cash. The armored car would bring the stacks of bills and rolls of change to my payroll office and I had a list of the men and their pay. I would sort out the cash for each as they stood in line. It was a big responsibility. Thinking back now, the company trusted me a lot.

After retirement we owned, lived in and ran trailer parks. We settled in Hemet for the climate and the peacefulness. Several of the relatives live here. At one time we had all four brothers and sisters and their spouses living here. Now it's only sister Ruth and us that are in Hemet since Lillian passed away. I used to drive the two Ruth’s and sometimes Lillian to Sacramento to visit relatives. We would take two days and not rush it. I have always had good health and have kept in shape. My brother and I have always liked sunbathing at the beach. They say it was like a ritual how we would lay out our towels and turn just right to get an even tan. Often for several hours at a time. We liked Long Beach in the late 40s. I had a bout of shingles that dept me from sleeping for a while. I’d sleep in a easy chair till they went away.

Ruth and I now live in a beautiful retirement home in Hemet which has everything we need. It's just across the street from sister Ruth. My other sister Marie writes a lot to keep us in touch. She calls me on the phone and sometimes I have been up to talking. Harold and Beryl visited in recent years when I could barely whisper. I whispered in Harold’s ear that Clinton is no angel. And that Walter’s 8 days younger than me. I told him "I could sure feel those 8 days".

Because of our long lives, my sisters and I have get a special perspective on life and a special overview of where this world is heading. It's wonderful in some ways and it's not so in others . Things are changing fast and time sure flies.

When I was born the country was only 132 years old. That may seem like a long time and maybe it is but some people have actually lived that long. The country is now 222 years old. That means Ruth and I have witnessed over 40% of the country's life. We have witnessed both world wars and hope I don't have to see another. Teddy Roosevelt was president when I was born. There have been 16 presidents during my life so far. There were only 24 presidents before my birth. Various events and when they occurred in my life are recorded in the table below showing how fast the world has changed.

My timeline (Event and my Age)

First Commercial airlines 6

Henry Ford's first Model T 6

Panama Canal opened 7

First movie with sound 19

World depression started 21

I saw first television program 41

First credit cards 42

Man breaks speed of sound 44

Man on the moon 61

First Polaroid camera 65

End of the Cold War 81

Families can store full encyclopedia on home computer

and send pages of it over the phone to others 85


Copyright © 2001 Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana