Index | Walter | Marie |
Earl | Neal | Ruth L. |
Betty M. | Howard |
I was born in Evansville,
Indiana in August 1908. 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. Lillian was also born in Evansville a little later.
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 Earl 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 Earl
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
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. I played the coronet and Earl
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.
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 as a teenager. I had an accident and was hurt but
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, we would use
"Ham" radio to talk to people over most of the country.
Sometimes we would listen in on general calls. Sometimes we would
talk to particular people that we knew or had talked to before.
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 and radio in general.
I went to Lockyears Business
College as did my brother and my sister Marie. It cost $200 a year
and it seemed like a lot of money then.
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.
As a young man I met the love
of my life, Miss Lillian Frohbeiter. She became Mrs. Lillian
Bollinger and we have been happily married ever since. Lillian and
I have one son Robert (Bob) Neal Bollinger and we are very proud
of him. We let him have a collie dog in Evansville. The back yard
was large and with a high fence. He could jump and nearly jump
over the fence. Lillian would work hard at home keeping everything
ship shape. People that visited in the day remember Lillian
ironing and sewing a lot. Often she would listen to "soap
operas" on the radio. They were called that because it was
mostly women who listened and they would advertise soap a lot.
They were stories that went on and on for weeks like an opera
story goes on and on. She liked "Stella Dallas" and some
others like "All My Children". We let Bob play most
anywhere he wanted and do anything he wanted because we could
trust him. At home we required he not be too loud or boisterous.
At the dinner table we didnít allow talking so people (mostly
me) could eat in peace after a hard day.
About 1948 my brother Earl and
his wife Ruth, plus Lillian, Bob and I, moved west to California.
About a 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 I got a job in Monrovia near
Huntington Drive and Mountain Ave. with a leading and pioneering
industrial television company called Conrac. They are still in
business. About 1949, when I got the first TV in the family, the
family would come to my house to watch wrestling and parlor games
on it. That was all the programming that was on since it had to be
"live" with no way to record it. The screen was black
and white and about 8 inches. When all the relatives went over we
would sit on mattresses on the floor. That included Walter, Marie,
their kids, Ruth, Frank, Lula, Earl, Lillian and the two Ruthís.
Sometimes we would stagger them.
Eventually our whole family
lived in the northwest area of Monrovia. 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. Lillian and I and Bob lived on Concord Avenue and later
we moved a few blocks to ______.
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 Earlís Ruth in Hemet.
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. Iíd sleep in a easy chair till they
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
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. I witnessed over 1/3rd of the country's
life. I have witnessed both world wars. 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
First credit cards - 42
Man breaks speed of sound - 44
Man on the moon - 61
First Polaroid camera - 65
Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana