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Marie Louise Williams
Her own Story
June 2001- Age 90
The Lord has been good and
merciful- Bless His Holy Name
I was born in Evansville, Indiana on March
14,1911. 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 had a namesake in Chicago who sent me a
pretty doll with joints. I loved that doll and carried it around
so much it wore out and finally came apart. 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 me a doll bed. Mother
bought a pretty doll head made of painted glazed china ceramic.
She then made a body and clothes for it. 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
One Christmas my beloved sister Ruth, who
was two 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.
Once I was bad for Christmas- I got a stuffed doll in the mail
from my Aunt and I put it on top of the outhouse and threw
snowballs at it.
Our Dad worked in a coal mine and would
eat his lunch sometimes up on the tipple framework where it was
clean and quiet. Sometimes my two brothers Neal and Earl would
hear the mines noon whistle and go running to have lunch with
Dad. He would kindly share his soup with his boys.
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. Many years later my sister
and her husband Frank Leinenbach bought a duplex house at the
top of the hill. One day when Ruth was very young we got worried
that it was late and she hadn't come home. Finally my Dad
remembered that he had taken her to my Aunt and Uncle's house
that day for a visit.
Ruth and I played "follow up" in
the gutter to and from school. We also went home for lunch each
day. It was about a mile each way so that meant 4 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. Once we jumped off of a stack of coffin lids and got
into trouble. We also made a hoop and rolled it down the street
to try to keep it going. We made "light houses" 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. We roller skated sometimes.
On the fourth of July we didn't have
fireworks. My brothers instead put carbide into a tin can with a
match stuck in the end. They would light it and it would make a
big bang. I believe we also had sparklers to go with the
Mother worked hard at the cigar factory.
She was very good at hand rolling cigars. There is a real art to
it. I would visit her at the factory sometimes at noon from
school. She would buy me a bowl of soup for lunch. I would try
to make little cigars and said I wanted a job doing that. She
said "No you are not!" and she meant it. Later she
sent me to business college so I wouldn't roll cigars. I'm sure
it was very difficult work. Since Mom worked us girls had to
wash the dishes. When it came time for Ruth to dry them she
always had to go to the bathroom. Finally I figured out how to
remedy it- I just left them for her when she got back.
Every Saturday I had to take all the
dishes, pots, pans and cups out of the cabinet and put down
fresh newspaper. I told my Mother that if I ever had a daughter
she wouldn't have to do that. I did have a daughter and
she didn't have to, at least while she lived with me. Sometimes
my sister and I would walk down the alleys and collect discarded
rags and metal. We would sell it to the "ragman" and
use the money to go to the movies. Sometimes we would pay for
our Brothers tickets.
On Mondays we built a fire under a big
black kettle and washed clothes on a wash board. Also we would
boil the white clothes. Sometimes Mom and I would do the
neighbors wash. I don't think we boiled her whites.
I missed school some. I skipped Grade I-A
but took 8th Grade over again in summer school. Mom and Grandma
made me dresses out of old ones so I would go to school. The
teacher made a remark about the pretty dresses. Mom bought me a
bicycle so I could get home faster from school and get supper
started. I liked fried potatoes and would fix them often. One
day Mom said "Can't you fix something different?".
It's over 70 years since then and I still like to fix them and
eat them. Now that I'm over 80 I get frozen ones.
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. At our house sometime
in the winter we would sweep snow off before we could use our
privy. It was a two-hole job so that two people could use it at
one time if the need arose. Maybe it was while sweeping snow to
get to the privy that one day I decided to move away from the
snow. I'm not sure.
When I was about 13 I would go to
Grandma's log cabin over the weekend. I would go to church down
a gravel lane about 3/4 mile. She would tell me that when we
would hear the church bell ring that would be time to leave for
church. Someone would always bring us home. Our Grandma was full
of wrinkles but we thought she was the prettiest in all the
I went to Lockyears Business College in
Evansville and completed the 9 month course. I still have the
diploma. It only cost me $95 but that was a lot of money then.
For example, after grandma died we could have bought her house
and 3/4 acre for $500. After graduating they sent two of us
graduates out for an interview at Plumbers Supply. I was 17 at
the time. I got the job. There were a lot of rich plumbers that
came into the store but they seemed very old. I worked 9 years
there as a stenographer. The first 3 of those years I was
single. When I was 20 years old I married a wonderful guy,
Walter Williams. God lead him to me through a neighbor that
worked with Walter at International Steel. Several of his
sisters also lived on the same block but Walter and I had never
met until after Doug Johnson mentioned me. I guess there are
many people who are glad that he did. I certainly am one.
After getting married I worked 6 more
years at Plumbers Supply. We lived with Mom over a year before
buying a home of our own. Whenever there was any discussion on
any subject at Mom's she would always stick up for Walter.
We paid $12 a month rent and I wanted a
home of my own paid for before we had our first child. We bought
a two story house for $1700 across the street from Mom. We had a
stove and range before we bought this house. I put extra money
in a little magnetic keyholder until we had $550. This box was
put under the ash can in the stove that we didn't use. When the
house was all paid for I was ready to have Howard. I can
remember Walter coming around the corner on his bike with the
deed in his hand. I filled up a cedar chest and bought a
bassinet. In four months I quit work . I started there at $10 a
week and ended at $19 a week.
Walter and I became parents to three
lovely children Howard, Harold and Janet. We lived on Lafayette
Avenue in Evansville. We had a central coal furnace in the
basement and there was no air conditioning in those days. On hot
humid Summer nights we would often take our mattresses to the
screened in porch to sleep. Whatever breeze there was seemed to
help. When I was ready for my first to be born we didn't have a
phone to call the doctor. Dad went across the street to use
Uncle Ben's phone- it was about 6:30 AM. I told him not to tell
my Mom next door but as soon as she was up he told her anyway. I
guess he was excited. The whole process took most of the day.
My Aunt Lena in Southern California would
write us about going to the ocean and enjoying the warmth of the
sun even in Winter. We were cold and shoveling snow and always
cleaning the kids boots. In 1946 I told my Sister and Mom ( they
were neighbors and lived 3 blocks from me ) that I wanted to
move to California. They said they would go if I would. We
planned it all out and Walter left first on the 2300 mile trip
in our car with Clyde Burns. Walter stayed with my Aunt and
Uncle until he found a house to buy and got a job. There was a
shortage of rubber after the war so they took 4 spare tires with
them. Wouldn't you know it they didn't even have one puncture.
Clyde had lived in California and had been an actor in the
movies before the war with Tom Mix, Errol Flynn, Gabby Hayes and
many others. He was helpful in telling us what to expect. The
kids ages 3, 5 and 8 ) and I followed six weeks later with Ruth
, Frank and Mom. Frank drove all the way in the four cylinder
Ford. Janet's Taylor Tot was kept under Ruth's feet. In the
meanwhile I sold the house ,took money out of the bank, had some
furniture crated and bicycles shipped.
Walter had found us a house in El Monte
California and we bought half interest in the Ajax Rug Cleaning
Company. When we arrived at the house Walter was away and when
we went in we weren't sure of being in the right place until we
saw our own photos on the wall. The house had a room across the
back with two beds in it. It accommodated all of us until Frank
and Ruth could find a place to live. The two boys had bunk beds.
I tried to get WGBF, my favorite Evansville radio station, on
the radio but couldn't. We liked the home Dad picked out. A
couple of blocks from us were fields of flowers being grown for
seeds. Harold had to ride the bus to school and on the first day
the driver kept driving him in circles and wouldn't believe
Harold when he pointed out our street. Soon my two Brothers Earl
and Neal and their families moved out also and we were so
pleased they did. Neal's son Bob was a good buddy to Howard.
Earl and Neal bought homes near Ruth and Frank in Monrovia.
Walter cleaned and repaired rugs. People
didn't have wall to wall carpet in those days so they could get
their rugs picked up for cleaning. It was a lot of work and they
had to be hung up by an edge to dry. Later we moved to Bassett a
few miles east on the other side of the San Gabriel River where
we owned a motel which had a river-rock facing and a section
designed for the owners family to live. My Mother lived with us
for a while in a little trailer.
We later moved back to El Monte to a
comfortable home with a vegetable garden, workshop, chicken coop
and a nice yard. I finally had room to grow a nice garden
including potatoes. We had a couple chickens. I took care of the
neighbors three children across the street while she had an
operation. We went to the Church in the Barn up to 1949 where I
taught Sunday School and Junior Church.
We moved to Monrovia in 1949 and lived on
Stedman Place above Foothill Blvd. Ruth lived just down the
street one block and it was easy to visit her. There was a bank
president on one side and a lawyer on the other. One neighbor
asked the real estate lady not to sell the house to us because
it was a quiet neighborhood and they didn't want three kids
there. The other neighbor said they would build a six foot fence
but they never did. The first neighbor later gave 7 year old
Janet 3 years of free piano lessons and the second would often
have one of the boys over to see things in their house and even
gave a mandolin to Harold. We were all very friendly. Walter
would drive them anywhere they needed to go.
We became active in the Monrovia
Nazarene Church. I still have friends I write to that we met
there 45 years ago. I taught Sunday School, took care of little
children during service, and helped run the Daily Vacation Bible
School. Walter worked for McShanes Dairy delivering milk and
then for Aerojet- General Corporation in 1951. We liked to take
rides into the mountains on Sunday afternoons and the kids would
play in the streams. We had many good times in Yosemite since
the very first trip with the kids about 1948. We would take a
tent and stay with the kids in a campground . Often it would be
crowded. Generally, Walter would take the kids on hikes and I
would stay in the camp and cook. I could still enjoy the beauty
and it would be a good vacation for me. We would often see the
firefall when they would push burning wood over the cliff above
us. They don't do it anymore.
After we retired in 1967 we moved to Hemet
and then Chula Vista near San Diego.
Sometimes we would travel with Ruth and
Frank. We went to many beautiful spots in California mostly. We
would stay in motels. Once Walter turned off the hot water at
the outdoor valve while Frank was taking a shower. We all
laughed hard at Franks reaction. Once we were going to Yosemite
with them pulling Mom's trailer, the trailer started swaying and
we thought it would roll over. The Lord was with us and it
In the mid 1970's we moved to Rancho
Cordova where we currently live very comfortably. We live on a
beautiful street with lots of trees and good neighbors. We also
live close to the American River and I used to enjoy walks along
the river. I hope I don't have to ever move again. I'm like a
tree standing by the water - I shall not be moved.
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 . I hope to
pass on some of this perspective by the information below.
Things are changing fast and time sure flies.
When I was born the country was 135 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 218
years old. That means I have witnessed nearly 40% of the
country's life. I 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.
Sears Roebuck was only 24 years old. Annie
Oakley was 51.
Various events and when they occurred in
my life are recorded in the table below showing how fast the
world has changed.
It makes me wonder what more will happen
during the lives of my great grandchildren.
Marie L. William's Timeline (Event, my
First Commercial airlines 3
Henry Ford's first Model T 3
Panama Canal opened 4
First movie with sound 16
World depression started 18
I saw first television program 38
First credit cards 39
Man breaks speed of sound 41
Man on the moon 58
First Polaroid camera 62
End of the Cold War 78
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Copyright © 2001 Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana