Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana

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Ruth Bollinger Leinenbach

Her Story

June 2001- Age 87

I was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1914. There were no airplanes to be seen. Very few cars on the roads- most roads were not even paved. No radio stations to listen to and no television.

I have always loved Christmas and loved to have the family come to my house on Christmas Eve night and open presents. Working hard to make the tree special was always a lot of fun for me and my husband Frank enjoyed it too. When I was a girl 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 placed what they made into the living room. They had the blinds down so we couldn't see and it would be a surprise.

One Christmas I shook hands with my Dad disguised as Santa. I said "He isn't Santa- that's my Dad! ". I 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. 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 husband Frank Leinenbach and I bought a duplex house at the top of the hill. One day when I was very young my family got worried that it was late and I hadn't come home. Finally my Dad remembered that he had taken me to my Aunt and Uncle's house that day for a visit.

My beloved sister Marie 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. We also roller skated. 

We 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.

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 homemade fireworks.

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. 

Sometimes Marie and I would go down the alley and collect discarded rags and metal. We would sell it to the ragman and take the money to by tickets to the movies. Sometimes we would have enough to get our brothers in also.

Since Mom worked us girls had to wash the dishes. Marie says when it came time for me to dry them I always had to go to the bathroom. Finally she figured out how to remedy it- she just left them for me when I got back. I'm not sure that's the way it happened but I still really don't like doing dishes.

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 we would do the neighbors wash. I don't think we boiled her whites.

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.

When I was about 11 Marie would go to Grandma's log cabin over the weekend. . Our Grandma was full of wrinkles but we thought she was the prettiest in all the world.

When I was a teenager I was in a bad auto crash and badly hurt but I recovered. Once my brother was in a bad accident on his motorcycle and he recovered also.

I married a wonderful man Frank Leinenbach. His mother died when he was young and he grew up in a Catholic Orphanage and had a terrific sense of humor.

He seemed to have people laughing everywhere he went. We enjoyed Evansville ( we sometimes called it E-town ). We lived across from Mom and next to Neal on Elsas Avenue near Heidelbach. Earl and Marie weren't far away so everything was handy. Sometimes on hot Summer days we would make homemade ice cream. Earl had a motor driven freezer. We all really loved ice cream.

We also lived on the top of Stringtown hill near the Country Club. We had a duplex and lived in one side of it. The back yard had a grassy hill that the nephews would like to roll down. There were beautiful weeping willow trees also. Once Walter played a trick on Frank. He sneaked into the driver seat of Frank's car parked on the hill and when released the emergency brake and let it roll for a while. Frank was all upset. But he got a big laugh out of it when he saw what was going on and his car wasn't getting hurt.

We would go to Garvin's Park on 4th of July to see fireworks. Sometimes in the Winter we would play on the ice at Garvin's Park Lake.

In 1946 we moved to California and lived for a long time in Monrovia. We came to California in our little old black Ford with my Mother, Sister, and 2 Nephews and one little Niece. We also had our beloved little dog Spotty. We came out on Route 66 and had to take a detour when we got to Albuquerque.

We came into California through Palm Springs which was a small village then. At one motel stop Frank had to nail the door shut because there was no lock on the door. Motels were called cabins in those days . In spite of the anxiety of moving so far away and the cramped quarters there was not a cross word on the whole trip. My Mom was sitting next to little Harold who was only 5 years old. I guess her lunch didn't agree with her or something because Harold said "I smell a skunk" - then in a minute he said "I really smell a skunk!". We rolled the window down and kept rolling along enjoying a big laugh.

In Monrovia we lived on Mayflower Ave, Stedman Place and Acacia Ave . Frank drove a milk truck for McShane's Dairy and delivered Dry Goods to the Cleaners and back. Sometimes on the dry goods route I would ride with him and we would have lunch together.

When television first came out they were black and white with very small screens and were not very reliable. My Brother Neal was the first to have one and since we all lived close to him we would often go over to see this new gadget. He had just moved to Monrovia and didn't have enough furniture to seat all these relatives so we laid a mattress on the floor and everyone was comfortable. Eventually we all got our own sets.

About 1950 we moved to La Casita Lane between Monrovia and Bradbury Estates. Sometimes my Nephews Bob Bollinger and Howard Williams would ride their bikes to visit me. I would usually be able to fine some cookies for them. 

Once I had the misfortune to be standing on a cesspool cover at my mothers trailer when the cover gave way and I fell in. My Mother laid on the ground to try to pull me out. Finally we managed to get me out and it felt good to get a hot bath. I don't know who has the most fun telling that story - my Sister or me.

In the mid 1960's we moved to Hemet where I now live in a trailer park. I have nice friends and relatives but I will always remember Frank. He loved to make people laugh- especially his nephews and niece. He would pretend to take their nose off and hold up his thumb saying " see your nose?". Sometimes he would pretend to remove the end of his thumb.

My Brother Earl and two sweet Sisters-in-law also live here in town and we get to visit from time to time. I have enjoyed the good climate here in Hemet for a long time now. I have a good friend Louise who lives next door. She often reads my sisterís letters to me because of my vision problems with macular degeneration.

When I was born the country was 138 years old. That may seem like a long time and maybe it is but a few 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 just months before I was born. There have been 15 presidents during my life so far. There were only 25 presidents before my birth. Sears Roebuck was only 26 years old. Annie Oakley was 53.

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 in the future.

Event My Age

First Commercial airlines 1

Henry Ford's first Model T 1

Panama Canal opened 2

First movie with sound 14

World depression started 16

I saw first television program 36

Man on the moon 56

First Polaroid camera 60

End of the Cold War 76

Families can store full encyclopedia on home computer

and send pages of it over the phone to others 80


Copyright © 2001 Williams Family from Evansville, Indiana