Dr. Lea Vella MPH, PhD
F, #1, b. 1980
Family: David Clyde Byrd b. 13 Apr 1980
- Marriage*: Dr. Lea Vella MPH, PhD married David Clyde Byrd on Aug 5, 2006 at First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA.
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Corresponded with author||?|
|Birth||1980||Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Note||between 2001 and 2002||UC, Davis, CA, USA, President's Undergraduate Research Fellowship|
|Graduation||Jun 14, 2002||University of California, Davis, Yolo Co., CA, USA, BS, Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior, with Honors|
|Address||Jul 23, 2002||3149 Broadway, Apt. 6, New York, New York Co., NY, USA|
|Marriage||Aug 5, 2006||First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Education||Aug, 2007||University of California, San Diego, San Diego Co., CA, USA, began her Ph.D. progam in Clinical Psychology|
|Occupation||Jul 1, 2016||San Francisco Veterans Administration Hospital, San Francisco, CA, USA, began a 2 year Veterans Administration Quality Scholars Fellowship in Dept. of Geriatrics researching quality improvement|
|Biography||Lea had an elevated bilirubin at birth and stayed in the Kaiser Hospital intensive care unit for 10 days. She lived at 16th St. apt., then at 140 Moffitt St. home from 1981 to 1992. Lea did the dead man's crawl, then for 5 months knee walking from age 10 months (Topel her pediatrician said she didn't want to but could); she was walking at 15 months. Lea was a very active child (compared to her sister Maya's early calmness). She loved to jump on beds. She went to Susan Cuevas's preschool, and Pat O'Conner's preschool, then to Miraloma nursery school from two and half until KG (Leonore Slattery and Moira; Jan Bear were her teachers). Lea was known for her singing there. She was number 6 in the Rooftop School campout to get into Rooftop. She went to Rooftop elementary school through the 5th grade (Ms. Nagatome, Ms. Sanford, Ms. Coragon, Ms. Moloff, then Ms. Watkins/Ms. Henry, Mrs. Condon; principal Nancy Mayeda). She then went to Everett Middle School (4.0 gpa) (teachers were Judy Logan, Frank Foreman, Ralph Manak, Nicole Gottfried, Jim Steele, Kristen DeAndres; Mr. Duffy who lost the class reports, Mr. Berkowitz who looked like Nixon and showed lots of movies; Lynnette Porteus, principal). Her first dog was Brandy, a mutt (lived for 13 years). Lea named the next family dog, a Tibetian Terrier, Chewbacca (Chewie). She started baby sitting at age 12. She joined the Singing Rainbow choral group with Candy Forrest and recorded one tape (Head First and Belly Down). Started reading voraciously at age 13. Had braces put in first time in 3rd grade (9 years old) then had them off beginning of 5th grade, then again in 6th and off in 7/93 with retainers. Backpacked for first time in summer of 1992 with 35 lb pack alone with Dad to Wildcat camp at Point Reyes. Then again with Amy, and Maya and Dad in 1993. Lea's room is exceptionally messy at age 13; she is not moody, good socially, keeps confidences. Graduated from Everett Middle School with a perfect 4.0 for 3 years in June, 1994. In winter of 1993, applied to 3 high schools: accepted at Lowell and Urban. Lick Wilmerding put her on their waiting list. Decided to go to Lowell High School. Lowell was a totally different experience. Was accepted into acclerated math and got her first D and F. But by the end of the semester was pulling B's at one of America's premier high schools. She finished her first year with a 3.67 gpa. In June, 1995, she tore some ligaments in her right knee and had knee surgery in the last week of August. In April, 1996 she took her first PSAT and got a score of 1140 (580 Verbal, 560 Math). Had all 4 wisdom teeth out in Aug. 1996. She scored 1240 in her third PSAT. She scored 1280 in her first SAT, 1350 in her second. She got a 3.72 gpa in her last quarter as a junior at Lowell. Her friends included Emily Richards, Amy Weiss, Sandy Siffs, Jenine Low, and Louise. As a senior, ranked 51st in class of 651. She applied to UC San Diego, Santa Cruz, Davis, and Berkeley, Cal Poly, and Cornell. She was accepted at UC Davis and Santa Cruz. She graduated from Lowell High School on June 8, 1998. She worked for Summergate Summer program that summer. She was accepted into the Honors Program at the University of California at Davis. She went to UC Davis in Sept. 1998, and declared a microbiology major. |
She received a 4.0 her first quarter, ending with a 3.87 gpa her first year. She worked for Kaiser nursing support in the summer and volunteered in the Physical Therapy research lab at UCSF of Dr. Nancy Bly (inducing dystonia in monkeys and testing dystonic patients). She moved into a townhouse apartment in Davis on 9/18/99 for her second year of college with 5 other women. During the summer of 2000, she was hired in Barbara Horowitz's neurophysiology laboratory (where she had volunteered all year) to do a research project. The majority of her lab work was spent examining cytokine levels in brains and serum of in rats. She presented her first poster paper in 2001 on her first research project, and was invited to New Orleans to present her second poster paper in 2002 on her second research project. She volunteered for Yolo County Suicide Prevention for several years. She also volunteered for an epidemiology research project. She was inititated into the Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society in 2001. In Dec. 2001 she applied to 5 graduate programs in epidemiology. She was accepted at the University of Michigan and Columbia University. Her GRE (Analysis 780/96%; Quan 690/72%; Verbal 560/76%); final Davis GRE was 3.51. She graduated in June 2002 with a B.S. in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. She worked for an epidimeology project (SHARE: Study of Hispanic Acculturation, Reproduction and the Environment). She received a Howard Hughes SHARP fellowship (Effects of aging on brain levels of TNF-a and IL-1B); a President's Undergraduate Fellowship (Effects of Aging and Serum levels of beta endorphin); and a Howard Hughes FIRST Fellowship (Circulating levles of TNF-a and IL-1B in F344 rats). Honors included: Gamma Delta Chapter of Phi Sigma; Dean's List for 2 years; Davis Honor's Challenge; and California Scholarship Federation.
She left for New York on Jul 21, 2002. She found an apt the next day. She started graduate school in public health/epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University in Sept. 2002. In May 2004 she submitted her master's thesis in epidemiology ("Are Social Circumstances at Birth Risk Factors for Schizophrenia", a study of 19,000 Kaiser patients; she found that low parental income doubled the risk for schizophrenia). She graduated with a Masters degree in Public Health/Epidemiology on May 19, 2004. In Aug. 2004 she was hired by Dr. David Moer as a biostatistician in a UCSF study of multiple sclerosis, working at the Veterans Hospital in San Francisco. She and David Byrd got their first apartment together in Sept. 2004. They got engaged in May 2004. She took the Psychology GRE and scored a 750 (95%) in Apr 2006. She was married to David in Aug. 2006. In 2007, she applied to 20 psychology graduate programs and received a fellowship offer (with yearly tuition and stipend) at the University of California, San Diego, which she accepted. They bought their first house in San Diego in April 2007. She started her Ph.D. program in Neuropsychology at UCSD in Aug. 2007, with a yearly stipend of $25,000. She presented a poster session in New York in June 2008. She started her first clinic therapy cases in July 2008. She became pregnant in 2011 and gave birth to Noelle in Sep. 2012. Dissertation proposal: Cognitive Assessment in Homeless. In November of 2012 she sent out 15 APA approved predoctoral internship applications and got 13 interviews around the country. Her current publication list includes almost 30 coauthored journal studies. She got selected, by matching, with her first choice, an APA approved neuropsychology predoctoral internship at San Francisco VA. She moved to San Francisco in June 2013 and started predoc in July 2013. In April 2014, Lea and Dave bought a house at 2496 23rd Avenue. In July 2016 she started a 2 year postdoc at the San Francisco VA Hospital. In 2018 she was hired in UCSF's Quality Assurance Dept. In Oct. 2020, she was promoted to Supervisor, Quality and Patient safety, Regulatory Reporting/External Ranking.
|Author||Lea Vella has published 33 peer reviewed psychology journal studies.|
Dr. Maya Vella MD
F, #2, b. 1987
Family: James Michael Richard b. 9 Feb 1987
- Partner*: Dr. Maya Vella MD was the long term partner of James Michael Richard in 2022.
|Corresponded with author||?|
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Birth||1987||Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Note||1997||On Halloween of 1997, Charlie & Maya carved 10 pumpkins and he did his first Mona Lisa pumpkin. in 2016 we did 100 pumpkins and had a published article on our pumpkin carving in SF Chronicle.|
|Graduation||May 19, 2015||UCSF, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, Doctor of Medicine|
|Note||Jul 1, 2015||California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, 1st year medical residency|
|Occupation||Jul, 2021||UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, USA, full time Cardiothoracic Radiologist|
|Biography||Maya spent her first 3 days of life in the Intensive Care Nursery for polysythemia (too many red blood cells) and had a belly button water transfusion. The family dog Brandy died the week Maya was born. Since Lea had chicken pox, she stayed at Grandma's house for a week before coming home to 140 Moffitt. Maya sat up between 4-5 months, and loved to sit in the middle of front room with a basket. She did backward butt scooting and never crawled except once. She walked at 13 months. She was late teething (none til 1). She attended Wind in the Willows (Pat and Margarita; flower school), Eureka Learning Center (with Bill, Linda and Leslie), and Rooftop Elementary School (Ms. Nagatome). Sang Puff the Magic dragon at Camp Mather when she was 3 on Talent night in front of 300 people. Had Ms. Nagatomi in kindergarten. Had Ms. Casey for first grade;Ms. Korrigan in second; Ms. Moloff in third. She loved Barbies and Little Bear (lost original when 4). Class representative in 1st grade and 3rd grade. She loved puzzles, especially hard ones. Dr. Mogerman was her pediatrician, then Dr. Topel. She had multiple ear infections and finally had ear tube surgery in May 1993 (just when she was becoming an avid swimmer). First backpacked into Point Reyes with family in 1992, then alone with Dad (with a 5 lb. backpack in 1993), Amy and Lea. She was in her first RIP play performance in 1995. She had to have her 4 lower front teeth extracted in the summer of 1995. She got front braces. In the fourth grade, she had Mrs. Zidek and Mr. Pringle. She took modern dance with Marybeth Galont at JCC. She had Ann Henry for fifth grade and went to Valley of the Moon for 3 days (all wet). Vacationed in Felton the summer of 1998 and really began to read. In summer between 5th and 6th grade, she attended a Math camp for girls at CSU Hayward. Had Ms. Attard and Ms. Raina for 6th grade at Rooftop School; took swing with Tiffany and modern dance with Julia. She got Lea's room when sister went to UC Davis. She received a 4.0 grade point average. She competed in track in 1999, and in May, 1999, she was in the All City Finals in track, coming in last in the relay (with Sophie, Laura, Mays). She attended an Off Broadway Girl Scout Camp in Soquel in Aug. 1999 (performing Lion, Witch and Wardrobe). In the 7th grade she had Amy Colt and Sean Donahue. She got her braces off in Sept. 1999. She was in several performances of Sondheim's "Into the Woods". She got a 4.0 average in the 7th grade. She did long jumping in athletics (jumping 10'8''). She was a junior counselor at Silver Tree Camp in Glenn Park in the summer of 2000. On SAT9, she got 93-98th percentile scores. She went to Calaveras County for vacation with the Hoods. She carved 5 pumpkins that Halloween. She made 4.0 Honor Roll in her first semester of 8th grade. She graduated from Rooftop Middle School in June 2001. She carved 15 pumpkins in Oct. 2001. She began Lowell High School in Sep. 2001. She got a 660 (74 %) in PSAT Ecological Biology in 2001. She earned a 3.81 gpa her first year. She went to Vermont to visit Sophie for a month, visiting Maine and doing a canoe camp in July 2002. She began weekly Flamenco dance lessons. In her second year at Lowell, she began volunteering at Open Hand (food service for HIV patients, elders, etc.) and joined the chess club. Carved 15 pumpkins at Halloween. Got interested in Japanese graphic novels. In 2003, her Flamenco group danced at the Petaluma Ethnic Dance festival and did several open dance nights at Azkenaz in Berkeley. She got a 5 on her first AP course in European History. In July, she spent a month with Sophie and Nora in Vermont. In August she started bellydancing. Moth in ear episode on Thanksgiving night 2003. PSAT Dec 2003 was at 98%tile. In Mar 2004, she took the SAT Reasoning Tests, receiving a 1460 (Verbal, 780, 99%; Math, 680, 91%). In Apr 2004, she was a semifinalist (top 500 in US) in the first USA Biology Olympiad. She won $1000 Governor's Scholarship. She took the SAT2 Molecular Biology (730, 84%) and US History (710, 84%) in May 2004. She took the SAT2 Writing (740, 89%) and Math I (700, 84%) in June 2004. She got a 5 in her Biology AP final. She spent 3 weeks in Vermont with Sophie that summer. She was asked to participate in the Biology Science Bowl in 2005, a national science competition. She got accepted in Mar 2005 into SFSU, LASU, Humboldt, Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, and at the University of California at Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and San Diego! She graduated from Lowell HS on June 8, 2005, with a 4.00 GPA (1 of 109 out of 600 graduates) and got 3 AP scores of 5. She accepted UC Davis for college, where she was in top 3% of entering class and was offered entry into the Honors Program. She went to Malta with family in June 2005. She volunteered for 2 months at UCSF's Virology lab (Dr. van Rijn), learning about RNA (extracting it from fruit flies). She went to Vermont for 2 weeks.|
In 2006-2008 she maintained a 3.99 gpa and had been continuously on the Dean's List. She volunteered in the cancer research lab of Dr. Jose Torres from 2006 to 2009. She started tutoring biology in 2007. She broke her nose in Aug. 2007 in a bike accident. She was inducted into Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society (Gamma Delta Chapter, UC Davis) on May 29, 2008 (this is an invitation only Honor Society for those who maintain high gpa and have done biological research). In June 2008 she went to Europe with best friend Sophie, then to Vermont, and then to Cancer Institute in Northern Mexico where she ghosted an oncologist for several weeks. She graduated from UC Davis on June 12, 2009 with a BS in Microbiology. She was awarded a Citation for outstanding academic and research achievements in her major on behalf of the College of Biological Sciences. She received the sole 2009 College of Biological Sciences Undergraduate Student of the Year Award! This award is given to a graduating senior who excels in academics, research activity and service to the campus or the community. She went to Vermont for a month to be with Sophie and the 2 of them went to Europe for 2 weeks (London, Paris, Dublin, Venice). She went to Oaxaca for 2 weeks for Meisha's wedding. In Sept 2009 she started her volunteer job at Kaiser San Francisco in infection control under Dr. Debbie Gold. In Feb-Mar 2010, she did a Kaplan MCAT course. On May 25, 2010, she got her MCAT score of 43 (out of 45) (99%)! She applied to 25 medical schools. She got interviews at Michigan, Mt. Sinai, UC Davis, Columbia, Univ. of Pittsburg, UCSF, Johns Hopkins, UCLA & UC San Diego. She got accepted at UCSF, Mt. Sinai, wait listed at Michigan, San Diego. She accepted UCSF Medical School and began medical school on Sep. 6, 2011. She had her white coat ceremony on Sep. 9, 2011. She received a Regent's scholarship award for 2011. (6700 students applied, 450 were interviewd, 150 were accepted into her class; the Class of 2015). She had her first journal publication on clubfoot genetics in June 2012. She has been regularly doing belly dancing in the tribal manner with the Fat Chance Belly Dancing group. In April 2013, Maya took her Step 1 Medical Board Exams and scored 252 (94%). In 2015 she interviewed at 30 medical centers for residency matches. On March 19, she was matched for 1 year in medical residency at CPMC in San Francisco and for 4 years in diagnostic radiology at UCSF, her first choice. Of 7 fellow classmates who applied in radiology, she was the only one chosen for UCSF. On Maya 19, 2015, Maya graduated from UCSF Medical School with a Doctor of Medicine Degree. She is now doing her fourth year residency in radiology. In Aug 2019 she passed her 1st of two exams and is now Board Elgible in Radiology. In Nov. 2019, she published her first peer reviewed paper as first author on the use of PET-CT in diagnosis of lung cancer. She graduated from her 4 years of the UCSF Radiology Residency Class of 2020 from 4 years of residency. She was awarded the Medical Student Teaching Award for her group for teaching activities with medical students and residents. She has been part of the T32 Training Grant - Research Training in Biomedical Imaging for 2019-2020 in abdominal imaging. She starts a one year Radiology Fellowship at UCSF in July. In Oct. 2020, she was offered and accepted a full time position in the cardiothoracic imaging section of the Dept. of Radiology at UCSF! On June 11, 2021, she graduated her Fellowhip and was chosen Fellow of the Year by her group.
Extracurricular interests: Dancing (American Tribal Style Belly Dance, victorian social dance, and anything else I can find), carving pumpkins, knitting, hiking, watching movies, reading
Dr. Charles Joseph Vella PhD.
M, #3, b. 26 December 1944
Family: Marilyn Uran b. 14 Jan 1946
- Marriage*: Dr. Charles Joseph Vella PhD. married Marilyn Uran, daughter of Marshall Milton Uran and Rosalind Herschin, on Aug 19, 1972 in at San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA; at the Unitarian Church on Geary Blvd with Hans Bertsch, OFM, officiating.2
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Corresponded with author||?|
|Birth||Dec 26, 1944||Naxxar, Malta1|
|Immigration||Jun 16, 1950||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, The Brasil stopped at Halifax on June 14, 1950 and unloaded over 100 passengers. It arrived at New York on June 16th. We took the train to San Francisco.|
|Marriage||Aug 19, 1972||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, at the Unitarian Church on Geary Blvd with Hans Bertsch, OFM, officiating.2|
|Author||1977||Temporal perspective: Validation and psychosocial correlates among college students (UC Berkeley, dissertation, 450 pages).|
|Graduation||Jun 18, 1977||University of California, Berkeley, Alameda Co., CA, USA, PhD in Education (Counseling Psychology)|
|Member||American Psychological Association; National Register of Psychologists in Health Care; International Neuropsychological Association; National Academy of Neuropsychology; Northern California Neuropsychology Forum; Regional Psychological Society (Kaiser Permanente)|
|Occupation||between 1988 and 2005||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, Chief Psychologist, Dept. of Psychiatry, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, supervising 20 psychologists, and was Director, Neuropsychology service|
|Notable||between 1992 and 2022||is the compiler of the Houghton Surname Project and the originator of the Houghton DNA Project. He compiled databases and websites for the Houghtons, Morgans, Vellas, and Havens. He also compile the Maltese Immigration to the San Francisco Bay Area website.|
|Note||1995||First Pumpkin Year: We started our first pumpkin carving: 4 pumpkins (Micky Mouse at door); it rained.|
|Note||1997||On Halloween of 1997, Charlie & Maya carved 10 pumpkins and he did his first Mona Lisa pumpkin. in 2016 we did 100 pumpkins and had a published article on our pumpkin carving in SF Chronicle.|
|Gen. Soc.||between 1998 and 2005||New England Genealogical and Historical Society, New York Biographical and Genealogical Society, California Genealogical Society|
|Letter||Dec 22, 2002||Subject: Hoghton Ancestry and Genealogy. |
22 December 2002.
Dear Mr Vella,
Many thanks for your two emails to me both here and at Hoghton on 30/10 and 16/11.I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to both of them but have been very busy both at Hoghton and in London with a variety of serious issues hence my correspondence has suffered,both letters and computer. The de Hoghton ancestry here in England has been well studied and deeply researched from today back to the period 1000-1080.Though prior to that date, quite alot is known of the two Saxon Branches[de Busli and de Lea] but little or nothing of the Norman branch prior to Herve de Walter`s coming and his grandson Hamo Pincerna marriage to Warin de Busli`s daughter.The surname de Hocton later converted to Hoghton only began around 1180 with the sons Richard and and William using it.
The idea of inserting all of that documentation from the period say 1000 to 1600 into your study would be massive and time consuming but it could be done I suppose.
Taking the 1912 Houghton Genealogy as the starting point we here have always felt that probably the two major upheavals that the family suffered, namely the Reformation and then the English Civil War, were the causes /reasons for jnr members of the family emigrating to the N. American continent. I have sent some brief resumes of individuals to Allan Houghton in Marshfield Mass. which I hope you can obtain from him and find useful. Plse let me know and if I can help will try.
Otherwise I am aware that there are three other branchs one in Sussex, another in Hampshire and a third that settled in East Anglia.This one was founded by William around 1200,and could have been in or around Stamford, Lincs. Sadly I do not have much info on any of these sets of Hoghtons but again perhaps we can find out more.
Must go now but will come back shortly possibly in January 2003.
A very Happy Christmas to you Charles.
Yours, Bernard de Hoghton Bt.
|Jan 6, 2004||Dear Charles Vella,|
Thank you for this message of 16 December. I have in fact printed out my lecture notes of the American Tour only yesterday and have emailed them across to Allan Houghton this morning.I assume he then will distribute them to all the Regional Coordinators at his convenience?
I cannot remember if we met or did you attend any of the 7 Lectures I gave in the USA last year? If we did not that was a real shame since I tried to get right across your country but to be frank some venues were very well attended and others were very poorly attended.
Turning to your two requests I can answer them as follows.
1.The Coat of Arms.
This Honour is very jealously guarded by all Arms bearing families and is subject to the rules and regulations of the College of Arms in London.The Earl Marshal would be very angry I feel if this was lightly treated in this case as in any other similar one. Basically therefore I cannot give permission and would not wish the de Hoghton Coat of Arms to be used. However should the website be correctly nominated as the de Hoghton family website then of course the Coat of Arms could be used and in a proper manner. I am sure that you will understand my sensitivity and reluctance to grant that permission in the form requested. However the Logo of the Hoghton Tower Preservation Trust could be a worthy replacement should that fit better with your plans? Please refer back and let me know how we can proceed with your ideas and request.
Turning to the second request there are two ways forward here.
1.Do you have a copy of George Miller's book HOGHTON TOWER published in 1947/8 since that will give you an accurate and solid basis for what you need?
2.Presumaby you do not have copies of the two pedigrees I brought over and used in the lectures? Plse let me know and if practical I could get them photocopied and sent over to you but I fear at a cost.
Very nice to hear from you again, cannot understand why nobody let you know of my coming and the various dates and places of my lectures?
In the meantime I wish you a very happy New Year and look forward to hearing from you. Sadly I can only dedicate a proportion of my time to this matter so sometimes I may be a little bit slow in coming back. Finally are you a member of the HAA?
Best Regards Bernard de Hoghton Bt
I'm an Historian, a Social Scientist and a Military Science chap in terms of degrees but in terms of work was involved in Industrial Materials prior to spending 30 yrs in investment management retiring in 2000. I now keep a small consultancy going in that field but my major thrust is in keeping the House going and likewise the surrounding landed estate- quite a struggle.
|Compiler||Jun 24, 2004||Houghton Vital Records in Vermont 1760-1980 (A 400 page handwritten compilation of every Houghton surname vital record of Vermont from 1760 to 1980 at the Middlesex VT Division of Records in June 2004). He donated it to the Sutro Library in San Francisco in 2010.|
|Newspaper||Oct 26, 2006||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, San Francisco Chronicle:|
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
Gorgeous gourds/A San Francisco psychologist carves elaborate pumpkins in Halloween ritual
Arlene Silverman, Special to The Chronicle
In a cozy family kitchen in San Francisco, a man with a sharp blade is on a mission. The man is Charlie Vella. The mission: to bring ancient history to the common Cucurbita pepo. Vella, whose day job is director of neuropsychology services at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, is about to carve a handsome 1-foot-tall pumpkin into the likeness of an Egyptian pharaoh.
He is embarking on an annual tradition that started eight years ago, when he and his younger daughter, Maya, now a sophomore at UC Davis, became attracted to the art of pumpkin carving. We're not just talking about smiley jack-o'-lanterns with those goofy triangular eyes. This father-daughter team has carved Harry Potter, Mr. Smith from "The Matrix," intricate African masks, Escher-like Irish knots, the Mona Lisa (whose enigmatic smile comes out just a little different each year), all those presidents on Mount Rushmore, King Tut and that other king, Kong.
Each year, Vella goes to Safeway and buys 10 or so pumpkins at a time. Then he and Maya, working over three or four days, carve 40 to 50 pumpkins. (They once tried to start five days ahead of Halloween, and the first batch "just melted away" before the big day.) When the pumpkins are ready for display on Oct. 31, they are lit from within with votive candles and placed on the porch and stairs in front of the Vellas' Glen Park home.
Pumpkin carving itself, says Vella, is not difficult, but it does take a good eye for design, including the right combination of foreground and background, and the proper tools. In addition to using templates found on Internet sites featuring pumpkin-carving ideas, Vella is always on the lookout for fresh ideas. He's found African masks in museums. He's taken designs off T-shirts and Japanese postcards. He generally avoids political subjects (no Osama bin Laden here) but did break his own rule once with a "Vote for Kerry" pumpkin during the 2004 election campaign. All the designs are applied freehand.
Although Vella is carving his Egyptian pharaoh on the kitchen table without his daughter (she's away at college), he and Maya usually carve in the living room while watching one of his large collection of horror films. They start by carefully cutting off the top of the pumpkin and scooping out the seeds and pulp with a wooden scraping tool that Vella made himself. (Disposing of seeds and pulp from 50 pumpkins is no small feat. Sometimes the insides have to be taken to the dump lest the odor scare away trick-or-treaters.) Using small cutting tools -- Vella describes them as "cut-off band saws" -- he cautiously saws away at the pharaoh he has already penciled on, using the inside of the pumpkin as a temporary trash receptacle for the carved-out pieces. The tools are designed, Vella says, so that the carver cuts the pumpkin and rarely himself.
From his biography, the 61-year-old would seem to have been an unlikely candidate as a husband, father and pumpkin artist. Born in Malta and raised in San Francisco's Bayview district when it was a "Maltese-Italian" neighborhood, Vella attended a Franciscan seminary for 10 years. He changed his career path, however, when he met his now-wife, Marilyn, and decided to put his pastoral bent to use as a psychologist, receiving his doctorate from UC Berkeley in 1978.
He says he's had no formal artistic training, although he once "built a pretty nice dollhouse" for his daughters. (Older daughter Lea, who
recently married, is a biostatistician for the Veterans Administration. Marilyn, who is an avid quilter, works at UCSF.) Vella says that he loves his day job at Kaiser. He also loves seeing "piles of kids" -- often as many as 100 -- come by his Sussex Street home on Halloween to see the creations. Like most city folks, he is sad to see that parents' concerns about safety have cut down on the number of trick-or-treaters. Nonetheless, the pleasure that passers-by get from seeing King Kong and Mona Lisa in the same place seems to compensate. And even though the pumpkins last just a few days before they collapse like fainting divas, the cycle will begin again next year. "It's tradition," Vella says, smiling at the finished Egyptian pharaoh, who looks as if he just may smile back.
Copyright 2006 SF Chronicle
|Retirement||Nov 19, 2009||from the Psychiatry Dept. of Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco after 34 years of work. He was Director of the Neuropsychology Service, which he founded, and a Behavioral Manager II, after having been Chief Psychologist for 24 years.|
|DNA Project||2016||I-CTS11871 haplogroup (subgroup of I-M438); 23andme results: double ApoE3 (most common) and had Klotho VS variant (high IQ and longevity)|
|Biography||I was born in Naxxar, Malta at 3 Castro St., Alley #3. I was baptized Carmel Joseph Aloysius Vella on the 28th of December, 1944, at the Catholic Church in Naxxar (sponsors: Aloysius Micallef and Mary Vella; godparents: Frank and Marianna Sceberras). Mom told the story that Charlie was such a beautiful baby, that a woman gave her a flower for people to look at instead of him, because being looked at so much was not be good for him. She also related that they used to pad my head with cotton because I was always running into things. My two earliest memories was of seeing the water flowing under the windmill on my grandfather Carmello's farm and of seeing my father breaking the necks of some puppies. I apparently spoke fluent Maltese until I came to the United States.|
My family immigrated from Malta on the liner SS Brasil, which left on June 4, 1950 from Valletta, Malta. I have a picture of me and my brother Lou being carried up the gang plank of the ship by 2 sailors from front page of the Malta Times. We arrived at Halifax Canada and then New York on June 12, 1950. We arrived in San Francisco on June 16, 1950. The school district changed my first name from Carmello to Charles. My mother always called me Chaly; while I signed my name as Charles J. Vella, I was always known as Charlie.
We grew up as kids in the Bayview district of San Francisco, which in the 1950s, was the Maltese ghetto of San Francisco. Being called a "Mali" was the equivalent of the Italian "Wap". I attended Burnett elementary school in the Bayview District from kindergarten (9/50) through the third grade. I spent one day at another school, then attended St. Boniface Catholic School from the third (repeated for 3 months, because of 'too few religious classes') through the seventh grade. I attended St. Paul of the Shipwreck Church, the Maltese National Catholic church on Oakdale St. in the Bayview district. Father Theophilus Cachia and, then Father Benny Bavaro, were the pastors. The fact that they were both Franciscan brothers influenced my later vocation to the Catholic Franciscan religious order. The family lived first at 1409 Galvez; then in 1951, at 1500 Kirkwood in the Bayview; then in 1956, 1951 Quint St. in the Bayview; then finally moving to 1348 Montrose Dr. in San Leandro in 1962. I was a Catholic altar boy at St. Paul of the Shipwreck school in the Bayview from age 8 through my seminary days. I once calculated that I attended daily Mass from the time I was 10 to the age of 24 (1953 to 1968). I served manyy marriages and many funerals (and early on witnessed my emotionally distraught women trying to open their husbands coffins for one last look). I later on contemplated whether seeing my father kill puppies and all these funerals influenced my interest in studying temporal perspective (my dissertation topic) and the shortness of life. Life in the Bayview centered on St. Paul of the Shipwreck Church, with its daily mass, marriages, baptisms and funerals. Boys were expected to be altarboys. Catechism class happened on Saturday morning, with the obligatory baseball game afterwords. Dad would give me and my brothers our 5 cents of weekly allowance before class and we would spend it immediately at the corner store on candy. There was also the Maltese Social Club, with its annual Christmas party and summer Maltese picnic.
I became a naturalized citizen of the United States on Dec. 4, 1956 (with my father). I experienced the San Francisco earthquake of 1957 (recalling the ceiling cracking during it while he was attending a vocation to the priesthood talk at school). I delivered newspapers for the Call Bulletin for years, at Civic Center and in Silver Terrace (near Quint St.) At Father Benny's urging, I accepted "a calling to the Franciscan religious life"; the Catholic Church frequently selected the brightest boys in their schools and urged them to become priests. My mother opposed this at first but eventually gave in. I skipped the eight grade, and went to St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara for four years of high school (1958-1962) (receiving a gpa of 3.2 at a very tough school). I started smoking in my senior year (Lucky Strikes).
I worked for two summers at St. Paul of the Shipwreck elementary schools in 1960 and 1961 (sanding and varnishing desks; teaching summer school). In 1962 I made my film debut in a Franciscan vocational film. In summer of 1962 I worked for R. Spear and Co, making plastic baby diapers, with mom as my supervisor. In the summer of 1963 I worked as a part time caterer at Jack London Square in Oakland.
I attended college at San Luis Rey College in San Luis Rey, CA (in the Old Mission) from 1962 to1967, with one year (1964-1965) for novitiate at Mission San Miguel (I first wore the Franciscan habit there). I received my Bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1967 (scoring in the 99th percentile in the Graduate Record Exam in Scholastic Philosophy).3
|Research||Gorgeous gourds A San Francisco psychologist carves elaborate pumpkins|
in Halloween ritual By Arlene Silverman, Special to The Chronicle, Published: Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Alzheimer's and the other dementia
Letter to the Editor (San Francisco Chronicle) Mar. 26 2007
Dr. Charles Vella, director of neuropsychology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, responds to Katherine Nichols' article, "The Other Dementia," Chronicle Feb. 25 on frontotemporal dementia (FTD): "Great article on FTD! I believe public awareness is hugely important and your article was articulate and compassionate. We diagnose many FTD cases at Kaiser and have a joint conference with Bruce Miller at UCSF to help identify FTD cases for him."
Massog, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 2009: Henry Travers of Newbury and James Travers of Brookfield, Mass. by Martin Booth Tracy, Ph.D.: p. 24 "The author would like to express his gratitude...to Charles J. Vella, Ph.D. for multiple documentation on the Travis-Haven family lineage."
Brain-Based Therapy with Adults: Evidence-Based Treatment for Everyday Practice by John B. Arden, Lloyd Linford
Lloyd Linford, 2009: authors acknowledged my review of their chapter on memory
Planning for the Future
By Timothy J. Halloran and Simon L Snyder
August 12, 2009
"Although there is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof that all persons have the capacity to make and be responsible for their own decisions, a prudent practitioner can take precautionary steps to document an elder client's mental state at the time he performs whatever act the practitioner feels may later be challenged. Interview information alone is unreliable when formulating a diagnosis and is not enough to form the legal basis for competency under the California Due Process in Competency Determinations Act. According to Dr. Charles Vella, director of Neuropsychology at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, "An individual may have normal verbal problem-solving capability, but be utterly impaired in real world problem solving. Impaired measures of nonverbal problem solving are significant predictors of loss of functional independence and need for increased level of care." This is supported by a study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, which found that significant disagreement existed when physicians are asked to judge the capacity of patients suffering a mild level of Alzheimer's disease. Courts look with favor upon neuropsychological evaluations as evidence of capacity and these evaluations routinely satisfy the statutory requirement. "
Outlook (KP's senior magazine, Fall 2009), CJV interviewed and quoted for article "Memory loss"
|Research||2012||Houghton Surname Project & Website, Houghton DNA Project|
F, #4, b. 14 January 1946
- Father*: Marshall Milton Uran b. 7 Nov 1911, d. 30 Aug 2005
- Mother*: Rosalind Herschin b. 2 Apr 1918, d. 14 Mar 2011
Family: Dr. Charles Joseph Vella PhD. b. 26 Dec 1944
- Marriage*: Marilyn Uran married Dr. Charles Joseph Vella PhD. on Aug 19, 1972 in at San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA; at the Unitarian Church on Geary Blvd with Hans Bertsch, OFM, officiating.3
|Corresponded with author||?|
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Birth||Jan 14, 1946||Stanford University Hospital, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA2|
|Note||Aug, 1962||Riceville, IA, USA, visit to grandmother Imogene|
|Graduation||Aug 27, 1971||San Francisco State University, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Marriage||Aug 19, 1972||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, at the Unitarian Church on Geary Blvd with Hans Bertsch, OFM, officiating.3|
|Research||2018||J2b1 maternal haplogroup; RM269 paternal haplogroup; Ashkenazi Jewish 37.1%; British & Irish 36.9%; French & German 8.7% Broadly Northwestern European 13.9% Broadly Southern European 0.7% Broadly European 2.6%; APOe 3/3 C/C,T/T|
Marilyn did both Ancestry and 23 and me.
|Biography||Marilyn was born at Stanford Hospital in San Francisco. She lived in the Potrero projects until she was 4, then at 840 Niagra until age 13, then at 2219 30th Ave. in the Sunset. Her schools included Potrero Hill childcare, Farrigut, high second at Freddy Burke on Market St. State campus, high third at San Miguel, James Denman Middle school, then Lincoln high school, then San Francisco State University (with a BA in history), graduating in 1971. In 1967 she was on trial for 1 month for a student demostration arrest (800 people were arrested for refusing to disperse, illegal assembly and making noise); she was aquitted and her record was expunged. She went to Europe (on the Sitmar liner, Genoa) for 5 months in 1965 . She was politically active in her freshman year of high school, involved in the Ban the Bomb, Auto row demonstatrations, SF State Strike, and Vietnam War protests in Oakland. She participated in the AFT strike when she worked in childcare. She worked in insurance and main library (periodicals and info line), and then in childcare (Commodore Stockton Annex in Chinatown) for 5 years until 1973. She worked at Miraloma Nursery School (1973-1974), and then as a Kaiser secretary in the Psychiatry Dept. for 5 years (1974-1978). Lea was born in 1980, and Maya in 1987. She did at home word processing and was the administrative assistant for San Francisco Psychological Association for 2 years. In 1993 she went to work for the Health Psychology department at UCSF as their secretary/word processor. In 1996 she went to work as the secretary at Rooftop Middle School. She had a passion for quilting and exhibited at quilt shows. She was very active in her daughter's schools with quilt projects. In 1997 and 1998 her class quilts were the top Rooftop Auction money bids ($1100 in 1997 and $1450 bid in 1998). In June 2000 she quit her secretarial job at Rooftop and worked a few temp jobs, eventually returning to work at the UCSF Health Psychology Program as an administrative assistant to Nancy Adler. She retired in 2008.4|
Noelle Rivka Byrd
F, #9, b. 2011
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Corresponded with author||?|
|Birth||2011||Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Infants, San Diego, San Diego Co., CA, USA|
|Biography||Noelle was born at 4:07 PM at Mary Birch Hospital, at 27 weeks, weighing 2 lbs 4 oz. She was placed in the NICU and was put on a respirator and given a blood transfusion. She had a full head of hair and blond eyelashes. Three brain scans were normal; she had multiple blood transfusions (common in premies). She came home on 12/1/2011. At 15 months old, she received a 2 hour cognitive and motor assessment which she passed with flying colors. She loves to walk holding on to 1 finger. Her favorite word is "Done!". By 23 months, she is saying "Que pasa?" Sleeping with Elmo and Gato. Blanca was her monolingual caregiver for a year. Was in a Spanish immersion preschool for summer. Had a severe peanut reaction when 2 but was cleared of being peanut allergic when 4. She attended T kindergarten at Junipero Serra Elementary School for last year. And in Aug 2017 she started kindergarten at Diane Feinstein Elementary. She is already reading.|
Susan Gail Uran1
F, #13, b. 22 August 1951
- Father*: Marshall Milton Uran b. 7 Nov 1911, d. 30 Aug 2005
- Mother*: Rosalind Herschin b. 2 Apr 1918, d. 14 Mar 2011
Family: Martin Edward Evind b. 2 Jan 1950
- Marriage*: Susan Gail Uran married Martin Edward Evind on Jan 12, 1980 at San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA.3
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Corresponded with author||?|
|Birth||Aug 22, 1951||Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Oakland, Alameda Co., CA, USA1,2|
|Marriage||Jan 12, 1980||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA3|
|Residence||2009||Santa Rosa, CA, USA|
|Biography||Susan went to San Miguel and Robert Louis Stevenson elementary schools; High School at Lincoln (grad. in 1969); College at SF State between 1969-1974, majoring in theatre arts. She went to Maharishi University in 1975 to study transcendental meditation. She worked for Calif. State as a clerk and went to Europe for 6 months. She had different jobs at Levi Strauss, SF State College, UCSF Medical School (3 times), and at Macy's. She married Marty in 1980. She did twenty years of community theatre, acting in countless plays. She lived at 1973 Belmont Ct, Santa Rosa; and at 2138 Hidden Valley Dr., Santa Rosa, CA. She passed the state teacher's exam in 1995. She reedited and published "A California Cook Book", originally published in 1916.|
|Note||DNA: mtDNA Haplogroup J (subclade J); Ancestral line: "Eve" > L1/L0 > L2 > L3 > N > R > J; The letters designating the bases ACTG of your mtDNA differ fromCambridge Reference Sequence (CRS) at each of the following positions: 16069T, 16126C, 16193T, 16362C|
M, #14, b. 7 November 1911, d. 30 August 2005
- Father*: Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran M.D. b. 3 Oct 1877, d. 11 Nov 1958
- Mother*: Vivian Imogene Morgan b. 10 Apr 1891, d. 17 Mar 1970
Family: Rosalind Herschin b. 2 Apr 1918, d. 14 Mar 2011
- Marriage*: Marshall Milton Uran married Rosalind Herschin on Sep 5, 1942 at Reno, Washoe, NV, USA, Per Marshall, they had known each other for 9 months. Marshall had lost his wallet and Roz paid the $15 for the judge. Returned to San Francisco and rented a flat.4
|Corresponded with author||?|
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Birth||Nov 7, 1911||Wellsburg, Grundy Co., IA, USA3|
|Graduation||1929||Riceville High School, Riceville, IA, USA|
|Marriage||Sep 5, 1942||Reno, Washoe, NV, USA, Per Marshall, they had known each other for 9 months. Marshall had lost his wallet and Roz paid the $15 for the judge. Returned to San Francisco and rented a flat.4|
|Occupation||in the Merchant Marine from 1940 to 1949, and afterwards a stationary engineer for San Francisco Housing Authority, from 1956 to 1973|
|Residence||1953||840 Niagara Ave., San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Address||between 1959 and 2005||2219 30th Ave., San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Note||Jul, 1979||Visited his sister Ellen Wilson|
|Medical||Aug, 2004||He got pneumonia twice and was in nursing home in Nov. 2004|
|Research||2005||R1b haplogroup; DNA: Marker DYS393 DYS390 DYS19 ** DYS391 DYS385 DYS426 DYS388 DYS439 DYS389I DYS392 DYS389II ***|
Value 13 24 14 11 11-14 12 13 12 14 13 30
|Death||Aug 30, 2005||NobHill HealthCare Center, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, at 8:15 AM|
|Obituary||Sep 1, 2005||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, URAN, Marshall Milton - 93, passed away on Aug. 30, 2005 in San Francisco. He was born on Nov. 7, 1911 in Wellsburg, IA, the son of Joseph A. Uran, M.D. and Vivian I. Morgan. He grew up in Riceville, IA, eventually teaching a one-room school for four years, and taking classes at Iowa State Teachers College. He moved to San Francisco, CA and on Sept. 5, 1942, he married Rosalind Herschin, who has been his constant companion and love for 63 years. Marshall worked as a Merchant Marine from 1938 to 1949. He was politically active in union organizing until 1953. He worked for the SF Housing Authority as a stationary engineer from 1955 until he retired in 1973. He was a brilliant man and an avid reader of history, philosophy, science and politics, collecting a large library in these areas. He published Sea-Say, a book of sailor slang and lore, at the age of 84. He belonged to the Marine Firemen, Oilers & Wipers and the International Union of Operating Engineers. He supported causes that worked for social justice and equality. He is survived by his wife, Rosalind Uran; his daughters, Marilyn Vella, and her husband, Charles; Susan Evind, and her husband, Martin; and granddaughters, Lea and Maya Vella, and Rebecca, Amy, and Natalie Evind; and his sister, Ellen Wilson; and many nieces and a nephew. He was preceded in death by his sister Margo Lovelife and by his brother Donald Uran. He will also be remembered by many friends and acquaintances. A Memorial will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St. on Sat., Sept. 17, at 2:30 PM. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Grey Panthers, the San Francisco Food Bank, Project Open Hand, or the charity of your choice.|
Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 9/1/2005.5
|Burial||Sep 17, 2005||Unitarian Church, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, with 60 people present. Susan read a memorial of his life. Charlie created a slide show of 180 photos of his life.|
|Biography||He was born in an apartment over a garage. He went to the Second English Speaking Christian Reformed Lutheran Church in Wellsburg, IA as a child. He finished grade school at Waterloo in 1924 and entered Riceville High School in 1925. He worked picking gladiolas for 12 cents an hour one summer when he was 12. He played football (as a guard) for three years and basketball in high school. He worked before and after school doing farm work at home (cows, chickens and pigs). He was a boy scout and was valedictorian of his high school class, graduating from Riceville High School with highest honors in 1929 (scoring 90 to 96 in all his courses). He recalls riding with his father on his medical house calls in his Model T. He won the American Legion award for 2 consecutive years for having the highest scholastic standing of any boy in the high school. He was influenced by the Congregational minister who was a scholar and lent him books (his mother got the minister expelled). In 1929 he achieved second place standing for a Civil Service appointment to West Point Military Academy for Congressional District #4. He entered West Point 7/1/1929, and was discharged 1/14/1930 with an honorable discharge for "deficiency in Mathematics" (math was his best subject; he did it deliberately to get out). He believed that West Point had both poor teachers and severe racism. He visited the Robertsons (Aunt Genevieve) in Minneapolis, MN for several summers. He worked as a drug store clerk for 9 months in 1930 and as a janitor in 1931. He entered Iowa State University at Iowa City on 1/14/1931 in chemical engineering for one semester (17 units), but then ran out of money. He returned to high school at Riceville and took the Normal Training Certificate course for teachers from 1932 to 1933 (earning an average of 93) and was a teacher in rural Iowa schools for four years (1933-1937). He attended summer school at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, IA, for 12 weeks in 1934, 1935 and 1936 (for 31 units). He taught at Jamestown Pleasant Hill school 2 miles west of Riceville in 9/1935 and then for 2 years at Round Grove for 55 dollars per month (and would be terminated if he married!). He was on the honor roll at Iowa State Teachers College, Oct. 1935. During his last year of teaching, he used skis most of the winter to get to school. He started reading politically radical, leftist literature in 1933. He read Karl Marx's Capital in 1937 and went to Long Island, New York in 1937 and 1938 to join John Lovestone's group, an independent Communist party. He considered himself a socialist from then on and was part of the Socialist Party until he was expelled in 1953. In 1938 he worked at a Trenton, New Jersey, General Motors assembly line for 3 months, for $16 a week, and than at Standard Motors as a battery cable maker for 9 months from 1937 to 1938 in Long Island City, NY. At his father's request (to deal with his brother Don's "wild behavior"), he accepted his Dodge car to go to the West Coast with his brother Don in Oct. 1938 (through Idaho to Los Angeles). He worked in an auto cushion factory in Maywood, CA, from 1938 to 1939, as a testile machine operator until he was fired for his union activity. He then joined the Merchant Marine in 1939-40, making 45 dollars a week. He shipped mostly through the Panama Canal to the east coast and once to Shanghai. He shipped out of L.A. from 1939 to 1942. He would ship out once a year and do political work for the rest of the year. He was a fireman on the Olympic and the Edward Luckenback, and an oiler on the Klamath and the Virginian. He was also on the Iowan, Santa Cruz Cement, Victoria, the Cricket, the Northland, the North Sea, and the SS Alaska. He worked as a wiper, electrician's mate, fireman, oiler, and watertender. He worked until 1949 (when his daughter Marilyn got ill with appendicitis) in the Merchant Marine (in the engine room, with the exception of one year as an electrician). He traveled to New York via the Panama Canal, Alaska, and Hawaii. He met Rosalind 1941 in San Pedro, CA at a SWP meeting. They moved to Seattle from 1943 to 1945. He lived at 840 Niagara Ave., San Francisco, in 1951. He had a job with Swift Packing Company in mechanic maintenance for 4 years, then in a cookie factory , then at Marin Dell Creamery in 1951 as a stationary engineer, then at Best Foods for 4 years from 1952 to 1956 as a stationary engineer. He worked for the San Francisco Housing Authority from 1956 until 1973, when he retired as a maintenance heating engineer (having belonged to the maintenance heating engineer/stationary engineer union). He always kept up with the technical journals in his field. He attended City College from 1955 to 1957, earning 10 credits, and then San Francisco State for 23 credits from 1957 to 1961. From 1958 to 1965 he attended John O'Connell taking 45 hours in gas appliances and controls, 84 hours in basic electronics, 80 hours in intermediate electronics, 39 hours in automatic controls, and 60 hours in techniques of teaching. He applied and received his lifetime teaching credential. In 1981 he was readmitted to San Francisco State as a philosophy major, and attended until 1985, accumulating 44 units with a 3.5 gpa. He eventually resided in 1959 at 2219 30th Ave.. He had a back injury and was hospitalized in 5/16/63. He received $7000 for worker's compensation and bought his second home in Felton, CA in 1967.|
He belonged to the Socialist Workers Party from 1939 to 1953. He used the alias of Marshall Houghton in his political activity. He attended monthly meetings when not at sea. He attended two national conventions as a SWP delegate, once in 1939 in New York and once in the 1950's in Chicago. He was the head of the maritime fraction of the SWP in San Francisco. The local chapter of the SWP in San Francisco had about 40 members. In the early 1950's the law was changed requiring Merchant mariners to have a passport. He was refused one because of his political activity (until his mother and her friends intervened with the State Dept.) He was expelled wth friends for opposing party policy (they opposed the emphasis on fighting the Communist Party and refused to sign a loyalty oath to James B. Canon, the SWP head) in 1953. This group published four volumes of the American Socialist. He owned a very labor library of labor, Socialist, and philosophy books. He eventually donated his labor library (books, journals, internal documents) to a Berkeley Labor History organization. His son in law, Dr. Charles Vella, considered him to be among the brightest individuals he had ever met, a truely self taught intellectual.
From his retirement in 1973, he attended classes at S.F. State University, especially in philosophy and literature. He had a world class personal library of Marxist/socialist philosophical/historical and economic works. Between 1991-1995, he wrote and self-published a dictionary of seaman's terms (entitled Sea-Say: A Book of Memories) with maritime stories from 17 contributors (who were seaman, longshoremen, sail boaters, and shipwrights). He and Roz sang in the Jewish Folk Chorus for many years. In 1996 he had a second hip replacement.
There is a 3 hour autobiographical videotape in the possession of Charles and Marilyn Vella.
Autobiography written by Marshall Milton Uran
I was born November 7, 1911 in a small apartment over a garage in the town of Wellsburg, Iowa, a town of 200. My father, Joseph Alfred Uran, was an MD, a general practitioner, physician and surgeon. Born in Illinois, he had been trained as a pathologist at a college of physicians and surgeons in Chicago, Illinois. On graduation he became chief pathologist at the State Insane Hospital in Illinois. For some unclear reason, possibly because of friction with his father, who wanted him to go into joint medical practice, he left this post and went to Holland, Iowa, a town with a population of 50, to practice general medicine. His father, my grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Uran, was a pioneer surgeon in Illinois, and located at Kankakee, Illinois most of his life. Here, my grandfather practiced both surgery and general medicine. He also gave general medical aid to the native Indians in the surrounding area. (see the bibliography) My mother, Imogene Morgan Uran, was a grade school teacher in Holland. Mother and Father were married here. There was an opening for a doctor in Wellsburg, Iowa, a town of 200, so they move moved to Wellsburg, where I was born. My Mother's mother, Lydia May Morgan, was also an elementary school teacher. My maternal grandfather, J.H. Morgan was also a teacher and most of that time spent as a school superintendent
My earliest memories were from the age of three. I remember being taken with my mother and grandmother Morgan to visit my great grandmother Clarinda Houghton, who was very old, in her late nineties. I saw a jar on the fireplace mantle which I assumed was a cookie jar. I asked my great grandmother for a cookie. She was sitting and with great effort got up and went right to that jar and took out a cookie and gave it to me in spite of my mother scolding me for asking. There was a picture taken during this visit of the four generations.
My next memory about this age was wanting to crawl under the first house we lived in to have a bowel movement. The house had a porch with a space above ground so you could crawl underneath. But my mother, missing me, found me before I got very far underneath. I suppose I was scolded for this escapade.
Kitty cornered, diagonally, from this house, lived a boy the same age who was the son of one of the local bankers. This boy, Virgil, and I ended up being rivals. We would meet outside the back of our respective houses to play together with toys we would bring outside. He would often take one of my toys along with him to his house and try to keep them. This happened once with a toy fire truck I had. When I complained to my mother, she would then call up the neighbor and get the toy back. We would both often go into my house and ask for a cookie or something to eat. My mother would give it to us and we would go out to play some more. But it didn't work the same if I went over to his house to get a bite of something. His mother would always indignantly refuse.
Early on, probably around the age of four, my mother wanted to start me to read as soon as possible. She began with phonics, first teaching the sounds and then using a picture and a story about a letter and later syllables and much later simple words. I remember vocalizing the letter C as sounding like Johnny with a bone in his throat. In this manner towards the end of age four I was beginning to read a few connected words. At the same time she was having me start to print down what I learned. By age five I was able to read in books for children.
About this time we moved to another, our second, house further on the edge of town, which of course was not very far, but further away from the center of town. The town of Wellsburg, population 200, consisted of a main street with grocery store, drug store, post office, pool hall, clothing store, hardware store, blacksmith shop, stables for horses and a stud farm. There was one garage, and possibly two, as cars became more common. At right angles to the main street was the elementary school. The Rock Island Railroad ran North and South the West side of town. Here was the Railroad Station, grain elevators, and a lumber yard. Individual houses were scattered around the outskirts of the main part of town. The size of the houses varied according to the wealth of the owner. Some houses were rented, as were those my family lived in during the years in Wellsburg.
In this second house we lived while I was four going on six years old. Here I made friends early on with a neighbor boy. We had great fun together. One project we had was building what we called bridges in the garden next to our house. My father was a great gardener in his off hours. In the garden we would get pieces of wood, lay them down together parallel and call them bridges. We finally had to lay off too much more bridge building because my father complained that too much room was taken up in the garden.
In the back of our house was a cornfield of sweet corn. One fall when the corn was high my friend and I decided we wanted to go swimming. And since there was no pool around, we took off our clothes anyway and ran through the cornfield. It was great fun playing hide and seek in the cornfield. And running through the corn plant rows we were caressed by the long leaves and the silk sticking out of the ears. But our "swimming" was called to a halt when neighbors complained about naked boys running around. I was severely lectured by my mother that nice boys did not take off their clothes where anyone could see them.
While we lived in this second house there was a house brought in to be set down on one side of ours. Our house had a vacant lot on one side and on the other side was father's garden lot and further on that side had been a vacant lot. This latter lot was
where the house was to be brought. This house had been elsewhere in the town. The whole process of moving a house I found fascinating. I watched every bit of the whole process. The house came down the street on what looked to me were little wagons with big wheels. That house of course had been raised up and put on those "wagons" elsewhere. What made it move along the street was a large iron drum on end on a platform with the platform held to the street with big stakes. The street was actually a dirt road. All the streets in Wellsburg were dirt roads. Wound around this big drum was a long cable. One end of the cable was attached to the drum and the other end was hooked to the house on wheels. There was a long timber placed with one end on the drum and the other end sticking out into the street. A horse was hitched to the end of this timber attached to the drum. The horse was then used to go around the drum with the cable. The cable would then wind around the drum and the cable would be pulling the house toward the platform. When the house was pulled close to the platform then the whole platform would have the stakes in the road holding it pulled up, the horse would be used to pull the platform further ahead with cable unwinding to its end. Then the whole process would start over again until the house was finally pulled to where it was to be put permanently. (The "platform" described was a form of turntable or winch) I watched every part of this moving I could. I pestered the workmen doing the work of moving with questions about why this and why that.
Around the same time a new house was built on the other side of our house. This also was a source of fascination for me. I followed all stages of its building from the foundation to the completed structure. The foundation was made by having a team of horses tied to a large scoop digging into the earth. My mother at all times cautioned me about getting too close or I might get hurt. I also asked questions from the carpenters as the house went up until they got tired of having me bug them. Although once the house outside was finished I managed to get inside through an open door to see what was going on. But the carpenters soon put a stop to that probably complaining to my mother.
In this second house I had more sophisticated toys. I was given a roller coaster, a small 4-wheel metal wagon that I could pull around with things it. I soon learned about being careful. The wagon was out in front. I got into the back of the wagon and stood up. When I happened to lean a little forward for some reason the wagon started to move and I fell down face forward to the ground in front of me. I put my hands out to catch the ground and in so doing my right hand fell on top of a small board which had two sharp nails sticking up. The nails pierced the lower palm of my right hand and went through to the back side. I started screaming and managed to pull the board free from my hand. There was a lot of blood. Mother called Dad who came home from his doctor's office to take care of my hand. After stopping the blood he used little cotton covered probes like the Q-tips we use today. Dipping a Q-tip in tincture of iodine, Father carefully probed into each puncture, halfway through on each puncture in the palm side and the other halfway through on the back of the hand. I can't remember what pain killing solution he may have used. But the pain was terrible and I cried and screamed. However, Father was very patient and proceeded slowly and Mother stood by to give reassurance and to tell me why it was necessary to have this treatment. There was a danger of infection. The holes on the back of the hand were enlarged a bit during the treatment. There are two scars on the back of the right hand as a reminder.
My sister Ellen Vivian was born in this house just after my fourth birthday. Both I and my sister were delivered by Father. After Ellen was about a year old and began to walk she developed a limp. Mother, after asking Father what might be wrong and not getting a satisfactory answer, insisted that another doctor be called in for consultation. She may even have talked to this doctor herself since I am sure he was a nearby colleague of Father. When he came and examined Ellen and asked about her nutrition, he found out that my father had stopped buying milk because he thought it was too expensive. This other doctor than raised hell and from then on we had fresh cow's milk. This whole incident I only really learned about many years later. But instead of fresh milk most of the time we used canned condensed milk which Father thought was much cheaper.
Mother early on started treating me "manners". I was always required to eat everything that was put on the plate for any meal. I soon got tired of one dish - bread and warm milk. I disliked it so much that one time I refused to eat it. Mother insisted on my eating it telling me it was good for me. I shook my head NO. So she took a dish of dessert I liked at this meal and put it on top of a nearby shelf telling me that I couldn't have the dessert or any other food until I ate the bread and milk. I finally buckled, ate the bread and milk and got the dessert. Mother was always very stern but a quiet and loving mother. She was always conscious of trying to get the best nutrition for her children. Father, however, was always quite distant in comparison so far as guiding manners.
Whenever he had to go outside of town on a visit to a patient in a farmhouse he always wanted company. Before I entered school at the age of 6 and if it was daytime, he would take me along. I would stay in the farmhouse kitchen while he took care of a patient. Farmhouse kitchens were usually a combination of kitchen and dining room. There would be a large iron stove for cooking and heat as well, using wood and coal to burn in the stove.
In those days roads in Iowa were dirt. So there would be mud after a rain in summer and snow and ice in winter. In winter the roads were not cleared of snow. Drifts would pile up even 10 feet high. If there should happen to be a slight warming, or sleet, or unusually a bit of rain, the rain would harden the drifts. Then the only means of travel in the country would be with horse and sleigh Santa Claus style. In summer with heavy rains, if an early style car was used, and you got stuck in the mud, you would have to go to the nearest farmhouse and pay the farmer to pull you out of the mud. So traveling with Father into the countryside was an adventure.
One time Father took me along on a long trip by railroad to Cedar Rapids. He went there, as I learned much later, to invest (gamble) on the Chicago stock market. After we arrived by train he would take me with him to a hotel and rent a room. After a meal he would leave me in the room by myself while he went out to the stock market office. This particular time I got anxious because he was gone a very long time so I went outside the room, went down the stairs to see if I could find Father. While wandering around the lobby one of the hotel attendants got hold of me and entertained me till Father arrived. I was greatly relieved when he showed. After getting home and telling Mother about my experience she complained strongly to Father. So on such trips afterwards he would take me along to the local stock market and I would watch the strange goings on till he was through.
Most children in Wellsburg and the farmer's children brought into the town school started school at the age of five. Mother as an experienced elementary school teacher thought age five was too early. So I entered elementary school at age six. By age six I was reading everything - magazines, books, newspaper. So when school started in the fall of 1917 I was told I must start school. I knew where the school was, just a short distance from where we then lived. I walked to the school at nine o-clock but didn't want to go in. I was satisfied staying home. So instead of going in the school I hung outside around some bushes. My intended teacher, knowing I was supposed to be there, sent someone out looking around and found me in the bushes. So I was reluctantly escorted into the classroom.
This "hooky" was like a number of incidents when I was younger. I wanted to get away from discipline so I ran away from home. I never got very far. Mother found me right away or a neighbor told her where I was. As punishment for this I was put out in either a barn we had or an attached shed wrapped in a blanket and left a while. I eventually learned to stay home.
Since I was a year older than the others in my grade at school I had no difficulty with the subject matter and I often found myself with some free time. There were always two different grades in each classroom with one teacher for both. So when the other grade was reciting in the front of the room I would use my free time after studying by reading anything other than the text book that might be available. There were usually story books of some kind donated to the school.
The only thing I ever had trouble with in school, even through high school till my Junior year, was arithmetic and then algebra. Mother asked Father to help me at home with arithmetic since my arithmetic grades were not good. But he had so little patience with me that he was of little help. Nevertheless I struggled through.
The subjects through Elementary school ran about the same through the eight grades: reading, arithmetic, spelling, history, writing up stories on suggested subjects and occasionally a subject of your own choice.
History always had a special caste to it. In the early 1900s there was a developing socialist movement in the United States. The business community became greatly alarmed and quite deliberately took charge of education to make sure that all the children were indoctrinated in the "right" ideas as to what "actually" took place: Columbus discovered America; George Washington was the Father of his Country because he won the Revolutionary war against Great Britain and became the first President when the Colonies decided to make a new nation: Abraham Lincoln won the Civil War against the South so he could free the slaves; and so on and on. Near all the Holidays we often put on little plays in the schoolroom about that holiday or write stories and draw pictures about it.
One thing that was especially good was that multiple choice tests had not yet been invented. When you had tests the answers had to be written out in essay style so that you had to think first what you wanted to say and then put your answers out so the teacher could understand it.
When I went to school each morning I had to dress in a dress shirt and knee length dress pants "knickers" and long black stockings and high black button shoes because after all I was the doctor's son. The banker's son was dressed similarly. Shouldn't the town elite be all dressed up!? But all the other boys came in shirts open at the neck and denim overalls and whatever shoes they played around in and in Spring and Fall they would wear sneakers.
The banker's son, Virgil Clausen, and I continued our rivalry and had the only fist fight I ever participated in to this day. He took one punch at me and I took one punch at him and that was the end of it.
At recess we always had great fun. Everyone participated, girls and boys. One game was Pom Pom Pullaway. Everybody lined up on two lines facing each other. Each side would take turns at being "it". The "it" side would say in unison, "Come away or we'll pull you away." This was the signal for the "it" side to run toward the opposite and try to touch the person opposite. The other side would then run away to avoid being touched. Then the other side would be the "it" side.
One game played usually by boys was a game they called "cricket". They probably had heard that the English played a game where something was batted around. So they would dig a small trench a few inches deep. Then take a small 8 inch round stick, probably from a broom handle and place it in the trench so that laying against one end of the trench it would stick up above the trench about three inches. Then standing at one side of the trench and using a long stick about 4 feet long, he would hit the small stick in the trench so that it would jump into the air and land at a distance. The game was to see who could make the stick in the trench go the farthest.
At the age of 6, we moved to another house, the third house, near the grade school. At this house, before Margaret was born and Ellen was 4 years younger at age 2, we lived for two more years. This is the house from which I started school. Ellen was born in 1915, four years after me, and then Margaret was born in 1917. In this house, I came down with a combination of both scarlet fever and the mumps. Ellen had some kind of problem - German measles or something. I remember that when we were in the same room recovering, I would be in one part of the room and Ellen in another (I was 8 and Ellen 4). Since we were both in the same room, we would talk to each other. One of the things we would do would be to try to tell stories about something. And another thing we would do would be to make up what we thought were nonsense syllables and we would shoot them back and forth and then laugh about what we said. In the course of these years, and somewhat later, I'm not sure about the exact dates, we also all came down with chicken pox and German measles and whooping cough.
At school our recess was 15 minutes long. In the school whenever we would be reciting up front (we were all sitting up front the other desks behind us), the teacher would ask questions on whatever subject we were studying, there was always competition to see who could answer the question the quickest and the fastest. So whoever thought they knew the answer would stick up their hand and there would be competition to see who would really do the best job of answering. The teacher would then praise the person who gave the best answer. So we learned competition in this way. Of the children, the girls were usually much faster, but some of the boys especially one or two of them had great, great difficulty in doing whatever it was they had to do. So occasionally, when I had free time I would sometimes help one or two of the people and give them an answer. Of course, we weren't supposed to do that, so I had to do it carefully when the teacher wasn't looking.
About this time - this was around 1917 or 1918, this was the period when the women started to get their hair bobbed, and their dresses were getting a little bit shorter the boys were especially interested in seeing the fact that some of the women even had legs. Because up to this time, all the dresses were down to the floor and all the women wore long hair tied into one kind of a bunch or knot at the top. Women also wore corsets. Everybody wore button shoes requiring a button hook to tighten up the shoe. Men wore high stiff collars with long ties. And in 1919 the women's suffrage movement was successful with the adoption of the 19th amendment to the Constitution.
In this area of the country, we had distinct seasons. There would be winter, spring, summer, fall and winter again. In the wintertime, there was all kinds of snow, sleet and ice forming. It would be very cold, sometimes near zero or even below in the worst time of the winter. There would be what we would call blizzards in which it would be snowing and the wind would be blowing very strong. In the wintertime, of course, what we could do outside in the way of playing games would be making snowballs and snowmen. When we got older, we were given sleds. If somebody would pull it, we would have fun sitting on the sled. This part of the country had very few hills. Up to the time I was 8 years old, we didn't go to the nearest hills. What we would do, then, was play on the ground in the snow. We would have very warm clothes and warm overshoes (overshoes were shoes made out of rubber that would fit over our regular shoes so we would have shoes inside of shoes). We would have longer pants than what I wore to school. When we came home from school and it was a weekday, Monday through Saturday, boys would be allowed to wear overalls, then I was allowed to wear overalls, and the girls would have different kinds of dress.
As spring came along and the snow began to disappear and later in the spring it would start raining, we'd have lots of sunny days and the sun would melt the snow. Later we would have rain occasionally. When we went outside and it was raining, we had to wear rubbers, small rubber shoes that fit over our regular shoes. We could play outside much more than in the wintertime.
One of the games that we would play outside if there were neighbor children would be hide and seek. One person would be IT who would stand in a certain place, and everybody else would go hide. And then when the person who was IT would say Ready, I'm coming, & he/she would go and try to find people who were hidden. The first person who was found would be IT for the next game. Hide and seek, of course, is something that you could play on the inside as well as the outside. Ellen and I and when Margo began to walk a little bit and understand what we were doing, we'd play this game inside the house.
As Summer approached, weather became very much warmer. In the middle of Summer, of course, it would -`become quite hot and the only relief from the sun would be clouds. There would be rain and there would be thunderstorms and lightning. We were always cautioned when there were severe storms to stay inside because people could be hit by the lightning and they would be killed. So we had to be very careful when there were very heavy thunderstorms. We had to stay inside and all we could do was look out the window and see the lightning and how the clouds were forming and the wind was blowing and trees moving back and forth. In some severe storms sometimes a few trees would be blown over and fall to the ground.
Late spring and summertime and in early fall before the weather became quite bad again was baseball season. Father was a great baseball fan, and he liked to go to baseball games. He would take me along. After we got there, he would leave me to myself, but he would give me some money for popcorn and candy and whatever there was to drink. In all the years that he took me to the baseball games, he never at any time would explain to me what was going on. So what I did most of my time was to run around in the baseball stands without causing trouble or having people holler at me telling me to sit down. I'd try to occupy myself as best I could with the things I got to eat. Occasionally I would watch but I wasn't sure what was going on until much later. After I was 8 years old, I began to understand something about the game on my own and what I had read about it.
As we moved from one house to another, we had different forms of lighting and different forms of heating. The first house we lived in, we only had candles and lamps that had wicks that would go down into kerosene and get soaked up. When you lit them with a match, they would burn and give you some light, but not very much. So at night, we couldn't see very well. If you had a fireplace, you'd burn wood in the fireplace. That would help give light. But I don't remember fireplaces in the earliest house we lived in. What heat we did have inside the house came from the kitchen stove burning wood and coal. In order to be warm in the worse part of the winter, you would spend a lot of time closer to the kitchen or even in the kitchen. Then as the season changed and it got warmer, you relied less and less on the wood burning or coal burning stove.
In the first house, we had candles and kerosene lamps. It was only till we got to the third house, when I was between the ages of 6 and 8, that we got electricity. Electricity began to be put in one house after the other. Heating was still from the kitchen stove and later on we had small stoves made out of iron that we'd put in other parts of the house, but they would have to be fed small pieces of wood, which we called kindling, and coal. We'd start the fire with kindling. As the fire became higher, then the coal was put in because coal had to be put into something that was already hot.
At age 6, which was 1917, the war in Europe had just started. There would be conversation in the house; Mother would talk about there being war and Father would have a few things to say. Mother's brother, Maxwell, we called him Uncle Max of course, was called into the war because the government put out a draft, meaning that every man over a certain age would have to go to war if they were called. So Max was drafted and he was put in the war in Europe driving an ambulance. While this war was going on, Mother would always caution us: since Uncle Max was in the war, one of the things we had to do was to help him. And by helping him, we would not do some of things that we'd been doing before, because the people in the army had to have food and they had to have clothing. So we had to be very careful not to waste anything that we were eating. We had to eat everything up because this would help Uncle Max. And if you drank your milk, be sure to drink all of it because you wanted to be helping Uncle Max because you didn't want to throw things away because they needed things over there and this was one way that we could help them.
Mother had a brother, Max, who was younger than she was. She had a sister, Eloise, who was also younger. Max was the youngest. Mother had a sister, Genevieve, who was older than she was. There were four children in her family. Her mother was named Lydia Mae Morgan (Houghton was her maiden name). In my early years I didn't see too many of these relatives, although I did see some of them occasionally. I can remember way back the time I was 3 years old that my mother took me to see my great grandmother. She was in her 90=s, a very, very old woman. I went with Mother and her mother (my grandmother) to see my great grandmother. What I remember there was what I mentioned earlier. As I became older, we used to see more and more of the various relatives that we had.
At the time that I was 8 years, we moved again. This time we moved into a place in the business section of the town in a building that had been a department store. Where we lived there would be on the top floor equal to the third floor way up above. Father's office was on the first floor. There was a big basement down below. The basement was quite interesting because part of it, almost half of it, when we first moved in there was filled with some kind of machinery. Father found out that the reason for this machinery being there was that the person who occupied this department store before was trying to build a perpetual motion machine, a machine which would start and would never stop and you wouldn't have to feed it anything such as gasoline or whatever was used in those days. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get it to run perpetually so he decided to let it sit there. That was part of the basement. The rest, of course, was where Father kept some of his supplies. On the first floor where he had his office, he would also have the drugs that he bought and used to give to his patients. He also had a skeleton in his office.
On the upper floor where we lived, way on top, there was a kitchen, a dining room, a place where we could wash ourselves and have a bath in a tub. There was bedroom for Father and Mother, and there were two other places for bedrooms. So that we had much more room in this place than we had in the other houses that we lived in. The top floor was connected to the barn behind by a kind of a bridge way up in the air going from the house that we were in and over to inside of the top of the barn, the barn's loft. In the barn there was a ground floor for animals and also Father's car. Above this would be a hayloft filled with hay for animals. Also, in this upper part separated from the hay was where we had our toilet. This was a big chute from the level up above to down below the ground. So that when we wanted to go to the toilet we had to go out there or use the chamber pots which were used inside which you would put under your bed if you had to go to the toilet at night or during the day when it was too windy and stormy to go out to the toilet at the top of the barn. When Mother was concerned about us when we were small and couldn't find us right away, she would go over to the toilet at the top of the barn and shout down because she thought maybe we might have gone down inside the toilet. But fortunately, she would usually find us, and of course we weren't down in the chute.
In this house, we had electricity and for heat we had a much bigger stove in the living room which was kept going in the wintertime with wood and coal. There was a much better kitchen stove for Mother that was also fired with wood and coal. That was our source of heat. The problem with the heat was that the wood and coal would be delivered to the house in the basement, and in order to use it, it had to be brought up from way down in the basement up very high stairs into the top floor so it could be put into the stove in the kitchen and the living room. As I got older, one of the things that I was asked to do was to help bring up the coal from way down, down, down up to the top which was quite a job.
For our food at all times we had fresh vegetables. Since we were not in a position to have a garden, the vegetables and meat would have to be bought in the grocery store. These things were purchased by Mother. She would have to make out a list of what was needed and then ask Father for approval, because he ruled over what was to be bought and what was not to be bought and how much you should pay for it. Our basic diet was very good and had always been except for that time in the very early years when he was trying to save on milk. Now we had milk, and everybody had plenty of milk. The milk would be delivered downstairs. It had to be brought up the outside stairs after it was delivered by the milkman. (There were outside stairs as well as inside stairs.) So it was brought up the outside stairs up to the bridge and then goes into the house. The perishable food was preserved in an ice box. This was literally an ice box with an ice man delivering cakes of ice to put in the box.
Mother did all of the cooking, the baking of bread. One thing Father always insisted on was trying to save money on buying bread. So he occasionally would have patients instead of paying him cash, although he always wanted cash, he would occasionally get corn, for instance, which could be ground down at a grinding mill and then use the corn meal to make bread instead of the white bread. For desserts, we would have some fruit, especially as fresh fruit became available in the grocery store. But if we wanted any fancy dessert such as cake, Mother would have to bake cake depending on the limited amount of money she was allowed to spend for groceries. But for ice cream, you had to make it yourself. On one occasion Father got a full butchered hog delivered to the house. We had to cut it up and get the meat canned. I had to help in this process. Instead of beefsteak fried as steaks all beef was ground up and then fried. I even started learning how to cook. One time when Mother was sick she told me how to bake ham. Once there was a rumor that there was a tarantula spider on the loose. These spiders occasionally came along with the bunches of bananas from Central America. Since a bite from these spiders was dangerous we always looked at each banana for a spider.
In all the houses that we lived in, depending on the various ages of the children, there would be different kind of games that we would sometimes be given at Christmas times. We'd play those games. As I became much older, I was taught how to play checkers by Father. Only occasionally I would play with him. Of course, when I first played with him, he would let me win. But later on as I became older he became more serious, I was never able to win a game against him after that.
In this house in the beginning, I was 8, Ellen was 4 and Margo was 2. But as we became older we played more and more games, but Ellen and I (we heard about plays) began to put on plays of our own for Father and Mother. Another thing we had was blocks. They were given to us at Christmas time. Some were colored and others were of many different shapes. There were all kinds of things we would pretend we could do with the blocks: build houses or things that we heard about: castles or build trains. One end of the blocks piled on top of each other would be the engine, and the coal car and with the rest of them laid out as part of the train you'd push them here and there. Ellen and I became especially proficient in fiddling around with all of these blocks that we had. Around Christmas time Ellen and I would make presents for each other and Margaret.
I had a bedroom at the front by myself. On Wednesday and Saturday nights the farmers would come to town to do shopping. Instead of going to sleep at eight o'clock as I was supposed to, I would look out the back window and look down at all the activity on the street. I could also see from this window the parades that occasionally would take place on holidays. Here I could read my books sent by Grandpa Uran. Mother also showed me some poetry to read. And she also showed me a story about the mathematician Cantor. I was given the books Peterkin Pumperkin and Grimms Fairy Tales both of which I read through many times. I also looked through newspapers Father subscribed to.
Father at this time kept a horse in the barn and he also had a car. I can't remember the name of the car or what kind of a car it was but it might have been a Model-T. But the horse especially he'd use for transportation to patients in the wintertime, since the roads were not cleared from the snow and he would have to go out in a bobsled or sleigh, to visit the patients.
In the wintertime, we had great fun for some of us boys with our sleds especially on Wednesday evenings or late Wednesday afternoons and during Saturday. The farmers would come to town in big bobsleds with big long boxes to carry things in. There would be two sleds in the front and two sleds in back which were pulled by a team of horses. As each bobsled came to town and went from one place to another, quite often we would run with our sled, a Flyer and catch on to the back of
the farmer's bobsleds. So we would be hitching a free ride. Quite often we were told to stop it either by the farmer or someone else or by the only policeman we had in town. It was great fun to hitch on to a bobsled and ride around town.
At this time, I struck up a friendship with a boy who lived in the building next to us across the street. He lived on the second floor with his folks. His name was Johnny Boedecker, a German. In fact most of the people in the town of Wellsburg were of German extraction. They were called Low Germans in the sense that they or their families had come from southern Germany which in those days was called Low Germany. Many of them had been peasants in Germany. Johnny Boedecker's folks were like this. His folks didn't treat him very well; when they didn't like what he was doing they would beat him up, spank him with something beside their hands. In Johnny's building on a top floor there lived a young woman and her mother. The young woman was never able to marry because one of the well-to-do German retired farmers, although already married, kept her as a mistress. And whenever a young man became interested in her he was informed that she was a mistress. Mother befriended her but could not help her to break away.
But Johnny and I had all kinds of great fun together. He was a trifle older, a year older, and he was a little stronger than I was. One of the things that he liked to do was wrestle us down and then sit on us. Then he would he would let us off and we would do all kinds of things together. One of the things I managed to do was to hook up a round circle of iron down below beneath our bridge and tied it up to a post that held the bridge up and we used this to play basketball or what we thought was basketball by getting a bigger ball than a baseball and try to throw it through the hoop.
We played cowboys and Indians. In those days, of course, if you were a cowboy you were out hunting and beating up Indians. We were never told that that wasn't a good thing to do to people, especially to Indians. So when we played cowboys and Indians, Johnny would want to be the cowboy and he'd want me to be the Indian or whoever was playing with us. So we couldn't do very much else but let him be the cowboy.
One of the other boys that I played with, in addition to Johnny, was one whose father owned the hardware store. So we decided since big people smoked cigars and cigarettes and pipes, maybe we ought to try it. So of course here we are about the ages of 8 to 12, but especially when we were younger, this boy - whose father ran the hardware store, his father also sold little cigars, he would steal some of these little cigars and give it to us. We would get some matches from home. And where would we smoke it? We would go to the lumberyard that was nearby to smoke it in the lumberyard of all places. And then we tried to smoke these things a little bit but didn't get very far with them because they didn't taste very good. Then we would buy, if we had any money, Sen Sen gum at the drugstore or the grocery store so our breath would smell better so that when we got home our folks wouldn't say, what have you been doing? Smoking? You're not supposed to smoke. Don't you know better?
We had fun sliding down the hay in our barn, learning how to tumble. And we also would find empty bottles in the barn. They were left by local alcohol drinkers who would get various medicines at the drug store which had a high alcohol content or buy from a local bootlegger. They had to do this because in 1919 the Prohibition amendment was passed to the Constitution, which forbid the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks. So we would take the empty bottles and fill then with any liquid at hand. But none of these bottles were ever touched.
We also visited the local stud farm on the edge of town where cows and horses were bred and watched the activity. After one such visit I asked Mother: "Do people do that too?" Her answer was: "NO". But we all soon knew better. And one time when we children were jumping around in our nightgowns before going to bed me grabbed hold of Ellen's gown and peeked underneath. Mother saw me and I was given a severe lesson on privacy.
Wellsburg had a blacksmith whose job was to do all kinds of iron work. He made horseshoes and also put them on horses when asked to do so by the horse owner. I used to watch the blacksmith work.
We would go down to the railroad on the East side of town and walk on the rails. We would also get down on the rails and listen to see if we could hear a train coming. We would also watch for the track walkers and their carriage when they repaired the rails. The track walkers were called that because they would walk along a section of track to se what might have to be repaired. When they went to another section of the track they rode on a carriage called a gandy. The track walkers were called Gandy Dancers because they traveled on a carriage which was propelled by the workers pumping up and down on a device on the carriage making them look like they were dancing while the carriage was moving.
Mother made friends with the wife of the Rock Island Railroad Station Master. Chucker. One time their 3-year old daughter got loose, wandered onto the rails and was run over by one of the cars. Father attempted to do surgery to save her but was unsuccessful. I tried to watch the surgery but Father sent me out of the room.
Mother was very religious. So in the Summer we children who could read were sent for a period to Bible School at the local Presbyterian Church. This kept me from my usual desires to play around and I was always glad when the Bible school was over. At the Bible School we always had to memorize verses or chapters from the Bible. This ingrained in me an "ability" to forget as soon as possible anything such as poetry that many people usually remember..
People who grew fruit nearby were either townspeople who had gardens or farms that had land very close to the town. Whenever the muskmelon (what we now call cantaloupes) were ripe, some of us in the evening, when we couldn't be seen, would try to steal muskmelons. And they were very, very delicious especially when we'd stolen them and we were eating them in secret - very sweet.
Another thing we did was to go around to apple orchards and steal apples. We were always in a hurry to get apples to eat as soon as they appeared on the trees. That meant we were stealing green apples. And as punishment we usually ended up with first class belly aches.
In our wandering around the edges of town we would find small creeks running through the fields. So one game was to see if we could push the other boy off the side of the creek into the creek itself. The creek beds were not more than 2 feet deep. But what has always stood out in memory is the depth of the black earth through which the creeks ran, usually 2 feet. This was the depth of black fertile earth throughout the Middle West. Recently, about 1995, it was estimated that the level of black fertile earth was down to only a few inches, showing the dangerous mining of the soil with the use of damaging methods of agriculture.
There was a garage one block below our barn. From the time we lived in this last house I would go down to this garage and go inside the big doors where cars were being repaired. I was always curious as to what made a car run and how they were fixed. The repairmen tolerated me looking around as long as I didn't get in the way. Claus Ross owned the garage and repaired Father's car when needed. But my visits were cut short for the period when Claus Ross was drafted in the army but continued after he was out.
There were silent movies shown in the town. Movies then were in black and white. The mechanic who worked in Claus Ross's garage played the piano and would even sing while the silent movies were being shown. One movie I remember was Charlie Chaplin in Shoulder Arms.
There would occasionally be family reunions usually on some holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Grandma Morgan would be there, Aunt Eloise, Mother's younger sister, and her husband Merle Wade, and Uncle Max Morgan, Mother's younger brother. Uncle Max always took me aside and told me that when I grew up I should learn how to handle "control" people. Grandma Morgan at this time was teaching at elementary schools, and would have holiday time off. Max was going to Agricultural College at Ames Iowa. After he graduated he got a job as a county agricultural agent. He later married a Marion Fry whose father was a wealthy soap manufacturer. He gave Max enough money to buy out a creamery in Fargo, North Dakota. Merle Wade was a door-to-door salesman selling vacuum cleaners. Max on one Xmas reunion dressed up as Santa Claus and showed up with a bag of presents for us children. And since we believed in Santa Claus, we were overjoyed when Santa showed up. Father was an expert checker player. He taught me how to play so far as following the rules but I was never able to beat him. And when Merle was here he played checkers with Father at every possible moment but was never able to win.
We would have at least one big feast. If the main course had a turkey it would be bought by everyone chipping in, since Father would never buy a turkey himself. Occasionally he would get a goose from a patient as part of his fee. When we were celebrating a holiday with just our family Mother would then buy a two inch slice of ham and bake it in peach pickle juice.
On Halloween there was no Trick or Treat, it hadn't been invented yet, but we would play ghosts and scare each other in the house. On Thanksgiving Ellen and I would carve faces on the pumpkins Mother would hollow out for pumpkin pie. On April Fool we would try to fool each other not only at home but also at school.
One time Grandfather and Grandmother Uran paid us a visit along with Aunt Bertha, Father's sister. They were driven around the area. Grandfather Uran was a marvelous story and joke teller. He would tell us about his relations with the local Indian tribes. He also discussed his treatment of patients with Father. Grandfather's conversation was continuous and on this visit I stayed up to listen till 4:00 in the morning. He constantly kept me supplied me with books to read.
Grandmother Morgan was divorced from her husband Grandfather Morgan whom I never saw, since Mother and the others did not want to have anything to do with him. But Grandma M was a quite frequent visitor, especially when her school was on vacation. She was always filled with gossip about things that happened at her school. She never remarried but did have men friends.
Father never took a vacation. His reason was that he couldn't abandon his patients. Nevertheless we occasionally visited Mother's relatives in Marshalltown, Iowa: Fred Houghton's family and another Houghton family. At Fred's family the visit always meant a big feast. Quite often Frank Houghton, Fred's brother Frank, would show up. He was always the life of the party, full of jokes and stories. Fred was a real estate operator with up and down fortunes. Fred's son Rex was a teenager when we visited. He later became a dental technician. The head of the other family in Marshalltown, Martin Benton Houghton, had been an American Civil War veteran. This latter family we would visit separately.
We would occasionally make a trip during school vacation to Steamboat Rock 15 miles SW from Wellsburg. This area was so named because there was a long high hill ending in a projecting rock which looked like the bow of a steamship. On the ground below we would picnic as a family and sometimes with friends of the family. In the surrounding farmland area were walnut tree orchards. Some of us, I especially, would go around in the walnut orchards and pick up ripe walnuts which had fallen to the ground. Sometimes it was simple stealing and other times with the permission of the farmer. After we got home it was my job to take care of the walnut plunder. The walnuts had a heavy husk which had to be dried in the sun. So I brought some strips of wood up to our bridge, trellis between the house and barn, (see page 12 about the trellis, or bridge). I would throw the wood strips over onto the flat roof of the adjoining Department Store. This roof was level with the railing of our trellis but two feet away, a gap. So I had to throw a hammer and nails after the strips of wood over onto the adjoining roof, get up on the railing of the trellis and jump over onto the Department Store roof. There was no gap between the Department store roof and the barn roof. The barn had a peaked, slanted roof. I would fasten the strips to the roof of our barn which was next to the roof I stood on without a gap. Then If I had already thrown over the walnuts, I could line them up to dry on the slats. Then I had to jump back over the gap to the trellis. And when the nut husks were dry I had to jump over, gather the walnuts and heave them over to the trellis. Of course if I should miss the two foot jump from trellis to roof or back again I would have fallen three floors. Apparently I didn't miss! And then you had to take off the husks and hammer the walnut shells open for the yum-yum meats.
There were also County Fairs to go to. And for us children the fairs meant popcorn and candy and watching the clowns. In addition there would occasionally be a circus in a nearby town. From time to time a Chautauqua would come to town, which put on plays and educational performances. Chautauqua was a non-profit organization devoted to spreading cultural presentations to the general public nationwide. And even more, there were Medicine Shows which would put on clown acts in a tent and in between the acts try to sell patent medicines. Needless to say, Mother warned us against patent medicines but we enjoyed the entertainment anyway. There was a fee to get into the Medicine shows. But we youngsters would get in free if we ran around town shouting for people to go to the show.
At this time, radio first arrived in Wellsburg. One of the local technicians had a radio and Father took me along with him to listen to the radio.
I made one trip by myself on the railroad to the nearest town North. I can't remember at what age. But I was driven to the station, put on a freight train caboose with instructions to the trainman to watch over me and see to it that I got in the next train back. It was quite an experience.
On Armistice Day, November 11, 1917, Father took me with him to Waterloo to watch the parade. That was the end of World War I.
The school would sometimes have trips to nearby locations but the longest trip I made while in Wellsburg was a trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota with my Grandma Morgan to visit Aunt Genevieve Robertson. I was told much later that the actual reason for the trip was because Mother was pregnant with my brother Donald and they wanted me out of the house when Father delivered the baby. The Robertsons lived in a very fancy house. We were there until we got news that Don was born. The meals there were with very delicious food of a much greater variety than I was used to at home. And while there we were taken on trips to see Minneapolis and St. Paul. One bit of knowledge passed on to me by Grandma Morgan while we were there was that I should quit believing in Santa Claus.
Father delivered all of us children. He also did minor surgery. There were especially a lot of motorcycles accidents he took care of. Often at night when I was in bed I could hear Mother and Dad in many arguments. I didn't know what they were about. And occasionally Father would lock himself up in the bedroom and I could hear him walking back and forth and what sounded like cussing. I didn't know what he was doing.
After this trip the school was to put on a fairy tale play. I was to have one of the parts in the play. But I fell down while playing outside near home and skinned both knees which became infected. The infections became so bad that I could see white inside the veins on my thighs. There was a danger of lockjaw. Father had to go to a nearby large city to get tetanus for an injection. The injection was made in my chest but it did the trick. But my recovery came too late for me to be in the school play, I was to have been one of the elves So my first acting bit didn't take place.
About this time I had my first experience with the surgeon's knife. When I was about one year old, Mother took me to a well baby show. I would have had top rating except I had a penile defect that later in life would have prevented me from having an erection. Father knew about it but did nothing. What I needed was circumcision which had nothing to do with a religious practice. So on Mother's insistence, I was sent to a nearby hospital and the correction was made. All that goes to show is that "Shoemaker's children go without shoes!"
The Prohibition Amendment, forbidding the manufacturing and sale of alcoholic liquor was in effect. But there was bootlegging everywhere. Frequent raids would be made on places suspected of illegal manufacturing or sale of liquor. Father had many patients inflicted with delirium tremens (hallucinations and tremor from excessive use of alcohol). But physicians were allowed a certain quantity of various kinds of alcohol for medicinal use, whatever that was. One time while I was wandering around Father's office downstairs, I ran across his supply of alcohol. One bottle was Old Taylor whiskey. The cap was loose so I took a sip. It had a sweet taste. But I had been warned about the use of alcohol so I never tried that adventure again. Father and Mother never drank alcohol in any form.
Mother became sick fairly often. The work she had to do would be enough to make anybody sick. As I became older in this house she had me help around the house, cleaning, doing dishes, bringing up coal and wood from the basement, etc. One time while she was in bed sick she gave me instructions on how to bake a ham.
In this house the walls needed repair. They were covered with wallpaper. So in order to put on new wallpaper the old had to be removed. Since the house owner would not put on new wallpaper, and Father did not want to hire someone, we had to do it. So Mother, Father and I, had to use water and vinegar and scrape off the wall paper. And then Mother put on the new paper after I helped her brush on the wallpaper paste.
Mother early on learned to drive the car. In addition to all the other work Mother did she would take Father's car and go around the neighborhood selling subscriptions to magazines to get some extra money to buy things she wanted as well as buy things Father would not buy.
Father occasionally would send patients to a clinic in Waterloo, Iowa about 40 miles East of Wellsburg. Waterloo was a city of about 40,000 at that time. The clinic was headed by a Dr. O'Keefe. This Dr. was so impressed by Father's diagnostic abilities that he asked him to consider moving to Waterloo and joining his clinic. So that is what was decided. We packed up all we could get in our car. Things we couldn't take along with us were sold at auction. And we children made sure our toys, books and games came along. So we were off to Waterloo, Summer 1921.
We settled in a rental house in the Westside section of Waterloo, 1921. Waterloo is divided into two parts, Eastside and Westside, by the Cedar River. Father's office as part of O'Keefe's clinic was in the downtown area. The house we lived in had a very small back yard, hardly enough for much of a garden.
I entered the fifth grade at one of the elementary schools nearest home. I did not have too much difficulty in school. In this school in my grade there was a black student, a boy. This was my first experience near a Black. This boy was the brightest in the class. I was extremely impressed. Waterloo had a large Black population. They were largely in this section of Waterloo.
School introduced me to libraries. In addition to the school library Mother got me a card in the nearest local library. I found myself in heaven. I looked at all the magazines I could get hold of. I was most attracted to nature magazines. So to get near to nature I built a birdbath in the backyard, consisting of a pole with a small wooden platform and a bowl with water on top. Unfortunately not everybody appreciated a birdbath. The neighbor behind us consisted of a woman and a very small boy. This woman encouraged her son to run out quick and knock the bird bath off the post. I restored the bath each time but the same thing happened repeatedly. Finally Mother visited next door and apparently her warning stopped the events. I constantly looked around outside for any birds.
In the Summer when school was out I went with Mother to various events such as movies. But I eventually went by myself to movies. They were very cheap, only a few cents. There were also cattle shows at a Cow Palace. But in addition to cows and bulls there were racing horses, working horses, steers, Shetland ponies, sheep, donkeys, geese, turkeys, chickens. And there would be shows connected such as roping contests and what you would see on part of the Western Movies.
I joined the Boy Scouts. Most of the Boy Scouts dressed up in uniforms when they went to meetings. I didn't have a uniform at first. In this particular Boy Scout troop the Scoutmaster treated the troop as a military unit. Most of the meetings were taken up with military drills. The Boy Scout Manual we were all given didn't say anything about that but instead had a lot about nature study, camping and many other interesting things. The Boy Scouts also had the use of swimming pools. Here I learned to swim.
On the second year in Waterloo Father had an accident in his car and suffered a broken arm. Since he was unable to see patients in the clinic until his complete recovery, Dr. O'Keefe fired him from the Clinic and he was left without any income.
Mother again used the car to sell magazine subscriptions. In the Summer Father using his one good arm drove me out to a gladiola farm and had them put me to work weeding gladiolas at 10 cents an hour to help the family. I hadn't worked too long before many of the other children who were doing the same work decided to stop working unless they got more money. I stopped along with them. This was my first strike. When Father picked me up that day and was told about the strike he gave me a long lecture about being a faithful employee and that striking was very wrong and not to ever do that again.
On the third year in Waterloo we moved to the Eastside in a cheaper house on Parker street. I had to enter a different Elementary school as did Ellen and Margaret. I also entered a different Boy Scout Troop. This Scoutmaster was entirely different - no military drill. Instead there were many nature walks and walking trips.
Right after Father's injury and as he was recovering at home I had the first and last long talks with him about everything under the sun. As soon as he recovered well enough he started using the car to go around various towns in Iowa to sell medical books. On a few of these trips I went with him but conversation was always at a minimum.
In Waterloo at this time I had another one of the measles. The measles made my skin break out and itch greatly. So to ease the itching I had to walk around and around the house.
I finally graduated from Elementary School in Waterloo.
Father, going around selling medical books, also was looking for another place to establish his medical practice. He finally found a place in Riceville, Iowa, a farming town of 900. So we made another move to Riceville, Iowa in the Summer of 1925.
1925 to 1938
Riceville is located in North East Iowa about 15 miles from the Minnesota border. It is split between two counties: Mitchell on the West and Howard on the East with the county line running North and South through the center of town.
The main Street is also Highway 9 running East and West through the town. Riceville was a typical slightly larger town in an agricultural area. Its population was approximately 900. The residents were families, some with children.
Check the map for the places mentioned following: High School, Elementary School, 6 churches, 2 doctors (MD), 2 dentists, residences with those successively occupied by the Uran family, indicated as 1,2,3,4.
Various buildings: post office, library, 1 dept. store, 4 groceries, 1 meat market, 2 variety stores, 2 drug stores, 2 barber shops, 1 farm implement store, 1 agricultural feed store, 2 hardware stores, 1 machine shop, 1 ice house, 1 bakery, 1 clothing store, 1 tavern-pool hall, 1 hotel, blacksmith, 2 gas stations and one combination gas station and garage repair shop, 1 restaurant, a hash joint, a harness shop, a shoe and shoe repair shop, a second floor movie theater, a local band that would play just off Main Street, water tower, railroad station, grain elevators, fire department, city dump, horse barns, and remains of an old water mill, a City Council Chamber, a jail used largely for drunks to sober up. Transportation apart from the railroad was by horse drawn drays and later auto trucks for goods and services. Sewage was dumped in the individual out house connected with each residence and the out house also served for individual toilets. A modern sewage system was installed at a much later time.
The city government consisted of a Council, a Justice of the Peace who served as the court for small offenses, a policeman, a jail used largely for drunks to sober up. The town elite were bankers, lawyers, doctors, business owners, ministers and the local priest.
The town population was Irish, German, French Canadians, a few Jews, a few Blacks. There were retired farmers. The poor worked daily labor and house care. The local atmosphere was individualism, Puritanism, move up in the world.
There were local geniuses. The town would occasionally be visited by a wandering airplane. So one of the machine shop mechanic built an airplane. The Texaco garage owner built a car. And to top that his son developed and patented doors for airplane hangars.
I entered High School as a Freshman as soon as school started in the Fall of 1925. I started the College Entrance Course which meant English, Mathematics, History, Literature, Latin and various electives from year to year. School started at 9:00 AM Monday to Friday with one hour for lunch, 12 to 1;00, and let out at 4:00. During the school day there was one hour study period, depending on the specific schedule of classes for each student. I continued my previous practice of no homework. For each text except mathematics I immediately on the beginning of each semester, read through each text so that I knew in general what was going to be required by each teacher. It was only in the Junior and Senior years that the best teachers taught English, Literature, History and Mathematics. In these years Math. went from arithmetic to algebra to advanced algebra. We had the most marvelous teacher for algebra a Miss Meade, and I finally caught on to math. The English and History teachers also were quite good. But our Literature teacher was the best of all. Her name was Gertrude Weaver. She never married but she was in love with Shakespeare. Not only did we read some of the plays but she would also have us act out some of the parts of her favorite plays. The Latin teacher had us get up before the class and read off some of the famous Latin speeches. In English we also did some debating. In one debate I took the affirmative for a strong military!! Class grades were usually in percentage points running from 75 to 100. Most exams were of the essay type. Multiple choice was just beginning to be used but not usually with us. Half of each study period I spent looking up topics I was interested in. In the Senior year there was a class in Physics. I used part of the study period looking up scientific articles in the Encyclopedia. I even tried to get members of my class interested in asking the Physics teacher to help us carry out experiments but he didn't know what to tell us to do.
In the Senior year the class put on a class play. I was given a small part but I wasn't cut out to be an actor.
We also were required to take Physical Training. This was a prelude to sports. We were given a choice. I chose volley ball and became quite good at it. However if boys did not go out for football, basketball and track they were looked on as sissies. So I succumbed and in my Sophomore year I graduated from sissy to a "real man" and went out for football, basketball and track. I didn't like any of these sports but continued anyway. In my Senior year we had a new coach for football, Paul J. Frank. He had been on the first Yale football team to win games. As our coach he really wanted to have a good football record so he could get a better job. So he pushed us to play three games beyond the regular season We won all the games except the last one where we were outweighed 50 pounds to the man. He got a new job the next year but everyone on the team ended up with a permanent injury, in my case an injured left knee. Ben Buresh was a tackle on the team. He had trouble passing some of the courses. I sat next to him in the main courses and let him copy from me on the exams. If he failed he would have been held back and would not have been able to play on the same team. Ben and his brothers were excellent farmers. Here is just one case where testing as usually carried on and especially IQ testing convinced me even at that time that most testing didn't really test. Farming successfully was not an easy occupation physically and especially mentally. In Ben Buresh's case the IQ rating and grade ratings were really beside the point.
Locker rooms were where anyone participating in athletics of any kind would change clothes. The girls had theirs and the boys had theirs. In our senior year two of the boys who were brothers started harassing one of the other boys who didn't happen to go out for football but only took physical training. That's the reason I went out for football to avoid harassment as a sissy. These two brothers made life miserable for this particular individual to the point where this boy's parents complained to the Principal, who put an end to the harassment. This individual later thanked me for not participating in the harassment.
But back to the classes. I took a course in Manual Training working with wood. First we were instructed in how to use all the various tools. Then we had to have a class in drawing diagrams of what we wanted to make. I made foot stools and gave them to the family or relatives. Then I made an open bookcase out of walnut. The top was made of ¾ inch walnut glued side by side with dowels and then planed flat. In addition to the work at school I set up a woodwork shop in the basement with tool bench, tool rack and vise. I made toys for the young brother Donald, and as I remember, doll beds for Ellen and Margaret. The tools I bought myself by paid jobs I did outside of school. I graduated from High School in 1929 at the head of my class in grades.
From the time we moved to Riceville I got odd jobs and used the money I got to buy my own clothes, tools, etc. The principle job I had was as assistant clerk in Wells Department store. Here I worked weekends and during the Summer during some of the weekdays. One job was to help keep the store shelves full of supplies. One particular job was to pound the 100 pound sacks of sugar which had been wet on transport to the store. After a good pounding each sack with a wooden mallet to break up the clotted sugar, I then had to carry them into the store and fill paper bags for sale. I foolishly would carry a 100 pound sack under each arm into the store! After all, shouldn't a football player be strong?!
In all the houses we lived in during my stay in Riceville, I helped around the house. In the first house we had a large garden which I helped Father plant and cultivate. In the Fall when vegetables and fruit were available Ellen and I helped prepare them so they could be canned for later use. Mother even prepared some of the canning to take to exhibit at the County Fairs where other women would also exhibit. In the second house, which was on the North East outskirts of Riceville, Father took a cow as payment for a bill. It was a gentle brown cow. The farmer who brought it in showed me how to milk it. So now instead of helping on a garden in the new house I furnished milk. The cow had to be milked twice a day. It also had to be fed hay, oats, and water and let out to feed on a grass lot next to the house. There was a barn at the rear of the house. That meant getting up early in the morning, milk the cow, work some on the garden, and walk to school by 9 o'clock. Walking to school from here meant to walk South to the underpass under the railway and then Southwest to school. It also meant going to bed at 9 o'clock. Father took in a second cow, a wild Holstein. He figured we could sell the extra milk. When I milked the new Holstein I had to tie her hind legs to keep her from kicking me from off the milking stool. In addition, she was constantly patrolling the grass lot trying to get out through the fence. She finally jumped over the fence. I was able to catch her and lead her back, hanging on to the halter around her head. But in jumping over the fence she tore one of the four tits (teats) on her milk bag. Then began the job of trying to get milk out of a split tit. I had to use a milk tube to stick up the tit, put a blob of ointment in my hand and then slowly and carefully make a slight squeeze to get some of the milk out. I finally persuaded Father to get rid of that cow since there was little extra milk to be sold anyway. Father also took in a pregnant sow (pig). All these animals were put in a barn at the rear of the house. And since there was room for chickens we got some chickens so we could have fresh eggs. So my chores multiplied. There was also a small orchard of apple trees. A couple of trees had apples that were twice as large as our current so-called Delicious apples. These apples were the sweetest and most delicious of all apples I have ever tasted. But their size would have made them difficult to market.
The next and third house was back in the middle of town. Here we had one cow, a couple of pigs to let grow and then slaughter for food, and I started raising chickens. All these houses of course were rented. This house was in bad shape when we moved in. So my additional job was to paint the inside of the house. In the process I learned how this kind of painting was done. So usually my day started at 5 o'clock. Father also bought a small trailer to hook onto the back of the car. I taught myself to drive the car, a Ford Model T, by backing in and out of our garage connected to the barn and turning around in the driveway.
So with a trailer I was given an additional job - hauling coal and wood for the house to save having hauling done by the local draymen. I had to chop the wood.
In Wellsburg I had a pal to play around with. In Waterloo I had no such luck and largely went around alone. So in Riceville I latched on to one of my classmates - Charles "Red" McMaster. He lived on a farm close to Riceville and was driven by his father to school. I urged him to let me visit him at his home on weekends. He agreed but each time I went there his mother indicated she didn't like me. But Red paid no attention to her dislikes. Red and I palled around all during High School and kept up a relationship till old age. Another one was Paul Zilk who was in a different class. He was obsessed with police work. One expression of his interest was Sherlock Holmes. So he got me interested in reading detective stories, which is still a habit. Red and Paul and I would also go swimming in the local creeks. Also, since some of us had use of a car occasionally, we would go to either Osage or Cresco to see a movie we couldn't see in Riceville. In Riceville the movies were shown at that time up the stair on the second floor in the building opposite the shoe store on Woodland between Main and 2nd. The owner of the shoe store ran the movies. Other entertainment consisted off an occasional Medicine Shows where you could buy everything to cure everything, and what was better were the Chautauqua Shows which gave educational shows along with entertainment. These latter appeared in large traveling tents. Also there were visiting circuses. And further, there were the county fairs. Occasionally I went to a baseball game, but especially when the Negro Baseball League sent a traveling team through. The Black team always made mincemeat of the local team. More in the category of religion there were occasional religious revivals with a traveling minister and a tent. For the religious it was a serious occasion but for others is was a form of entertainment. Holidays were celebrated by the town: July 4th, Thanksgiving, Xmas, all with parades. Hallowe'en was celebrated largely by the young teens. Trick or Treat had not been invented yet. So one favorite trick was to tip over outhouses. One poor old lady who lived behind our third house would stay out in her out house until midnight and then leave and it would immediately be overturned. And one year a donkey was led inside a church and put into the church bell tower. Another type of entertainment was charivari, locally called it shivaree, which was putting on a celebration for a new wedding, usually put on by teenagers. The Town Band also played at town celebrations and quite often also on market days Wednesday and Saturday nights.
Riceville had 5 churches. And since there was no Presbyterian church, Mother had herself all of the children join the Congregational Church. Father joined only in name. He attended only around Xmas time when there were programs. I had become quite religious through Mother's teachings, attending Bible schools and reading in the Bible. I became active in the Church, not only in the Sunday School, but I also volunteered to ring the Church bell on Sunday. As time went on, I noticed people wandering around down town on Sunday. I felt envious that they could be free while I was stuck going to church.
I learned that the minister of the Church, Reverend Bonnell, had a very large library. I asked him if I could visit him. He readily agreed. His library many books on philosophy, and science. He bought the latest textbooks on science as they came out. He was an admirer of Darwin and the philosopher Spinoza. To him, as to Spinoza, God was the laws of nature. He did not proselytize me but reading the ancient philosophers and reading the college science textbooks I borrowed from him, finally convinced me to be an atheist. There was only one openly avowed atheist in town but I knew him only by reputation. Rev. Bonnell's sermons were mostly about mother love, family values, etc. He didn't preach on science or philosophy. But I held him in the highest regard. By the time my High School years were over I had gradually removed myself from the church, to Mother's disappointment. But I did not give her any of the reasons why.
The' minister of the Free Methodist Church visited Rev. Bonnell and borrowed books. But when his congregation found out about it they forbade him from ever visiting Bonnell again. There were also a few Christian Scientists in Riceville. Servoss ,the owner of the grocery on Woodland and Second, was the leader. An additional member was Mrs. Noble, who had the mansion on a hill in the Southwest corner of town. She created a scandal when she refused to have a doctor visit to treat her daughter when the girl had a ruptured appendix. Servoss, of course, prayed over her but she died a horrible death. Mrs. Noble herself died years later from a horrible cancer of her jaw.
I found other interesting books to read in addition to Bonnell's. Mark Sloan, the barber I went to for haircuts, was a great reader of French books in English translation, especially the ones that mentioned sexual activity. So I became interested in foreign literature and incidentally eroticism.
In my Junior year I decided I would like to try starting a Boy Scout Troop with boys from Elementary School. I got permission from Tyler, the school superintendent. So with a few boys we got together with me as Scoutmaster. Instead of Waterloo military style we started doing things mentioned in the Boy Scout Handbook. We also decided to go an a camping trip. We gathered needed equipment like pup tents, food and utensils, etc. I had one of the parents drive me and the equipment to the camp site in the surrounding woods. The other scouts were brought by their parents. All this activity from the beginning took place in the Summer. With one parent staying with us and me doing the cooking, after three days I had all I could take. So we all went home. And that was the end of my Boy Scout venture.
But my whole world changed right after I graduated from High School. I knew that Father would never give me money to go to college as I desired to. So I took a civil service test given by the local Congressman to determine who he would appoint to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. I came in second on the test. But since the one who came in first did not have a good enough record in mathematics I was appointed to go to West Point.
I entered the Academy in July of 1929 at the age of 17. The first year class members were called Plebes. There was a whole dictionary of terms used at the Point which I have lost. All the students at West Point were actually called cadets. So I will use what terms were descriptive.
We were all issued a bundle of equipment. This we put in our rooms. There were a number of buildings, or barracks, with three floors in each barrack. Three men were put in each room. In the barrack I was assigned to the top floor had one room with space for only one man. A young Black Plebe by the name of Oliver Parham was assigned to this room by himself. He was the first Black to go to the Point in the 20th Century.
As Plebes we all went through a period of hazing by the First Classmen (the Seniors). We also were soon initiated into lineups and marching. Whenever we went anyplace as a class we had to line up in front of our barrack and go in marching order. Each barrack was designated as a separate company.
When we went to eat, mess, the Plebes would be seated by company and sat at the tables opposite upperclassmen who would watch our manners. At first we were not allowed to talk except when addressed specifically by an upper classmen.
Later as the initial period of hazing was over we were given various programs to follow. One was to take camping equipment along and march in upper state New York. Oliver and I helped each other on this march, putting up each other's pup tent, etc.
Each time we lined up outside the barrack Oliver lined up with me on my left. We could talk to each other standing in line until the First Classmen called us to attention. So I would shoot the bull with Oliver.
After we had been at the Point about one month the First Classmen in my barrack called all the cadets in this barrack down to the basement except Oliver. They said, "We got to get rid of that black son-of-a-bitch, Oliver Parham. He is to be silenced. No one is to talk to him or have anything to do with him. Anybody violating this silencing will have the same thing happen to him." I didn't like this. I still continued to talk to him when we lined up in front of the barrack. But about a week after this when Oliver happened to get down in front a little later, the cadets on either side of me leaned over and said, "If you don't keep your mouth shut talking to that black bastard we're going to do you in and we don't mean silencing." I buckled and from then on I didn't talk to Oliver and continued the silencing. The Congressmen who had Oliver appointed apparently put pressure on the heads of West Point. The Commandant of Cadets, the top officer, called three separate meetings of the entire corps of cadets pleading with them to stop the silencing. But it did no good. The silencing continued.
The academic year started in September. The subjects were English, Mathematics, Language, History, Military subjects, Physical Training. I had assumed that all the subjects would be taught at college level. Bur quite the contrary. All the instructors "so-called professors" were actually men who rose from the ranks in the army. They were given absolutely no training. They used ponies, manuals telling them what to do and what to teach. If one of the cadets asked a question or raised a point or argued a question the "professors" had no answer and stumbled around. The only way you could get a real college education was to graduate as one of the top 4 of the class and then you would be sent to an outside non-army engineering college.
The whole atmosphere at the Point was what you would now call ultra-conservative. The conversation at the mess was violent, racist, and the height of ignorance. The combination of the silencing, the general atmosphere and the horrendous instruction situation convinced me that I wanted to get out as fast as possible. The only way you could get out was to fail in one of the principal academic subjects. So I deliberately failed in mathematics.
I was discharged from West Point with an Honorable Discharge! I was encouraged by the Commandant of Cadets to study hard and get back at the Point. At the same time Oliver Parham was also leaving. He was talking to his Congressmen when the Commandant was talking to me. Even then I didn't have enough guts to go over to him, attempt an apology, and wish to keep in touch with him. But I didn't!
Two years after I was discharged from the Point all so-called instructors were fired, and their place was taken by highly qualified professors from civilian, non-army, life, just as the U.S. Naval Academy always had. Also, no one was to be appointed to the Academy at West Point except one having at least started classes in some college. So in January 1930 I was back in Riceville, Iowa. While I was gone the family had moved to the 4th rental house, the so-called Carpenter house. This house was the largest we had lived in. The second floor had a very large general area with three separate rooms. I had one room, Donald another, and Margaret and Ellen another. In my room I stored all my books, clothes and other items.
Right after I came home I had no job, but Roche of Roche Drug Store gave me a job as a clerk. During this time Father mentioned to me once that there was a great future in bio-chemistry. Taking that as a cue, and knowing I wanted to get a college education, I bought a book on elementary chemistry and started a chemistry lab of my own in the basement. I then started to study chemistry. Also during this time Red got a job at the hardware store on the East side of Woodland. I mentioned to him that I was interested in going to college. He said he was also interested in that. So with the money we were earning we figured we could at least make a start and hope to get work to keep going. However in the late Spring I got an attack of appendicitis and had to have the appendix removed. Fortunately the appendix had not ruptured so my recovery was quite fast. However in the healing process I found that if I strained at the stool I experienced pain in the lower abdomen. Years later I found by reading Father's Journal of the American Medical Association that until 1932 the American surgeons used talcum powder outside and inside their surgical gloves. This caused adhesions in the abdomen in the area of any incision. In 1932 the Canadian surgeons told the Americans to knock off the talcum powder. So happy days two years later! That didn't do away with my adhesions.
So in the Fall of 1930 Red McMaster and I went to the University of Iowa in Iowa City and registered for various courses. I don't remember what Red registered for but I registered to take a course in chemistry. We both had to take college entrance exams. My grade turned out to be one of the four highest of those taking the exam. I mentioned this in a letter home. Mother then notified my Uncle Max who then notified the fraternity he had belonged to when he had attended college. This fraternity then called me up and asked me to visit them. So Red and I went to see them and listened to what they had to say. They then told us they might call us later.
The academic year started. I got along well in all the subjects I took, especially chemistry. One of the men staying at the same rooming house with Red and me was studying for a PhD degree in philosophy. Talking with him caused me to renew my interest in philosophy. But neither Red nor I was able to get work on the side that would help us to continue. The reason was that the Depression of 1929 was in full swing. I had not realized that when I was at West Point the famous stock market crash had taken place in October of 1929. So Red and I were caught and had to give up college. Just as we were about to leave that fraternity called me up and asked me to come around again. I told them I was not interested. From the time I was very young every time Uncle Max visited us he spent a great deal of time telling me that when I grew up I had to learn how to handle men. That gave me a good idea of what his fraternity was about. I didn't like that idea and so Red and I came back to Riceville. I now had no work and had to do odd jobs till I could decide what to do next. I learned that if I went to High School for a year and take a Teacher Training Course and passed and then took a special State test I could get a certificate to teach in Iowa rural schools. So I entered Riceville High School and took the teacher training from the Fall of 1931 to June of 1932, took the State test, passed it and then started the search for a rural school to teach. I had the recommendation of Tyler, the City School Superintendent, for a rural teaching job.
While I was waiting for a teaching job I landed a job as school janitor in Riceville Elementary School beginning in the Fall of 1932. This required sweeping each classroom after each class was finished for the day. The primary grades got out first, so that was where the sweeping started. And so on till all the rooms had been swept after each school day. During the day while classes were in session I would sweep down the hallways on each floor of the school. As the school year progressed and the weather began to get cold I had to fire up the school furnace to provide steam to the radiators in each classroom. When operating the boiler, especially when I first started it, I soon learned to watch the steam gauge on the furnace to avoid lifting the safety valve and blowing off steam. The furnace was a cast iron furnace, coal fired. The furnace would be shut down Friday afternoon after the students and teachers had left. Each evening during the week the fire would be banked on low flame till early morning and then fired up in time for the school to open for the day. That meant getting up early each school day. On Monday morning the fire would be started using paper and wood kindling and then coal, Near the end of the school year towards Summer, if it became too hot then fans had to be put in each room to help cooling off. Also the school toilets had to be kept in working order and the water fountains still running. Even with this work during the day I could find some time to do a little reading.
From time to time we would have family reunions - family gatherings, etc. There would be Grandma Morgan, Uncle Max Morgan from North Dakota, Aunt Elouise and Merle Wade her husband and occasionally Aunt Genevieve from Minnesota. And as usual Max would supply the turkey from his creamery business.
Until 1933 the country was under the alcohol Prohibition Amendment. But there were plenty of bootleggers around and "speakeasies" where you could buy liquor or "hard cider" as some called it. There were frequent raids by police. There were a few farms where liquor was fermented in the barns. They were raided. But in 1933 Prohibition was repealed and the drinkers celebrated.
In addition to my reading of some books mentioned above I began to read newspapers. Father took the Chicago Tribune. I subscribed to The New York Times. The depression had started with the 1929 stock market crash. I exercised my first chance to vote by following Father's and the newspaper's advice and voted for Herbert Hoover, the Republican in 1932. Trade unions were being formed and their strikes for union recognition were being attacked in the newspapers I read. I also took out subscriptions in magazines - The Nation and Current History. Both of these magazines were conservative journals. I became curious about the attacks on unions. I happened to pick up a magazine, The New Republic, at Richmond's Drug Store. It had an editorial on Karl Marx's theory of history. That hit me like a bombshell. And from then on my principal reading for some time was about Karl Marx. On this a bit later.
In my spare time beside reading, I did a lot of walking on weekends in the adjoining woods especially to the Northeast. My interest in nature kept me on the lookout for the fauna and flora on these walks - learning to identify kinds of trees, shrubs, plants, birds and animals. I remember I once followed a skunk for a ways to see what it did. My interest in science also got me interested in astronomy. I even got a cheap telescope and mounted it on a standard to look at the night sky. This interest in astronomy I shared with the son of the local editor of the newspaper Riceville Recorder. I also made a canoe with a wood frame and canvas cover which I carried out to the Wapsie on the Eastern part of town. And with home made oars I journeyed around the stream a bit.
Around this time some excitement was created by the visit of two traveling whores. They kept busy with the local males and especially husbands. The wives were in an uproar and finally after a while the local cop got them to travel elsewhere.
My method of transportation around town was with a bicycle Father had acquired on a medical debt. But when I started teaching school I at first bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with a sidecar and when that became too difficult I bought a second hand Model A Ford.
Toward the end of the school year in 1933 I learned that I had been chosen as the teacher in a rural school. The process of getting such a job required applying to a number of schools. The application would be made to the school board for each rural school. If they were satisfied with your qualifications you would then be hired for the coming school year. I was selected as the new teacher in the Pleasant Hill rural school. This school was located 4 miles West of Riceville on Highway 9.
Rural schools had all eight grades from 1 to 8. they were one room schools with one teacher. The teacher not only taught all subjects, but was required to supervise at recess time. The teacher was also the janitor: build a fire in the stove for heat and sweep the school floor when needed.
The school books were furnished for the teacher's use by the County Board of Education. But for each student the parent had to buy the books as they were supplied to the teacher for sale at cost.
In this school I had 11 pupils in 6 grades from second grade to seventh. The seventh grade pupils, near the end of the school year, had to pass a State test in two subjects, and when they were in the eighth grade a test on all the remaining subjects in order to be admitted to High School. The subjects were Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, History, Spelling. The school day started at 9AM, thirty minutes for the lunch each child would bring from home and then continue to 4PM. The parents of each child would bring the child to school and pick them up at the day's end. Children would go to a school in their district. Each district was determined by the County. The parents of children in rural schools were farmers living in the designated district.
During the day one hour would be spent on each subject. For each subject one grade after another would come up front and sit down and recite what they were scheduled to do in turn. And the other students when not reciting were to study that particular subject in preparation for reciting. There would be a 15 minute recess half way through the morning and again half way through the afternoon when all, including the teacher, would go outside to play a game. There would be a blackboard on which the teacher could make explanations or the student could write something asked about.
Twice a school year, near Christmas vacation, and near the end of the school year, I would have the children put on a play and invite the parents to attend. The play would be either something I found that was appropriate or something I made up. The children were also encouraged to put on an act of their own if they wished to. One of the girls chose to sing a song. She sang a piece of country music. This was my initiation into country music.
My first year at Pleasant Hill went along smoothly. I had no discipline problems. Students were allowed to go to the outhouse by request. They were allowed to whisper to each other if it pertained to their studies. However, the second year I caused my own troubles. I often had to pick up a neighboring teacher and give her a ride to school. She constantly lectured me on the necessity of very strict discipline. Listening to me how I ran my school, she cautioned me constantly that I was far too lax. In taking her advice, by the end of the second school year I managed to incur the hatred of all my students. After this, and thinking things over, I decided to try to get another school and get away from the mistake of a rigid disciplinarian. I applied at Round Grove School. This school was 4 miles East of Riceville and 2 miles North. I was accepted at this school for the 1935-36 school year. Before the school year started I was presented with a problem. Rural school children were supposed to be sent only to the school in their district. Districts were set by each county. A family of originally Norwegian immigration wanted to send their two daughters to Round Grove even though it was not in their district. Their regular school was much farther away from their farm. There was quite a row among other parents as to whether these children should be allowed to go outside their district. Finally, I was asked if I wanted to teach the two girls, which would mean I would be teaching 17 instead of 15 children. I remarked that I didn't care who I taught. So the two girls were admitted. I was instructed to be sure to go outside with the children at recess because there had previously been trouble at recess. That of course meant that being all dressed up was out of the question.
I soon found out that the previous teacher had done a very poor job. None of the children could even spell the simplest words. As at the previous school I had only the second to seventh grades. There were 17 children in all. But all the children were cooperative. I followed the same procedure as before with holidays. To help with their studies, I required each student to make corrections on papers handed back by looking up the correct answer in their textbook. Written papers and tests in all the rural schools were graded by percentages. A grade of 75 was passing, 60 was failing, and 100 of course meant perfect.
Traveling to Round Grove was different than to Pleasant Hill, Going 4 miles East on Highway 9 was OK in all weathers. But the two miles North to the school meant going on a dirt road. If it was raining there was danger of getting stuck in the mud. If you should get stuck, you would have to go to the nearest farmhouse and pay to have the farmer pull you out. In winter there was no snow plow service to clear the road. The first winter when the North road was blocked I rented a room in a farmhouse across from the school. The second winter I walked the two miles North on skis. This meant getting up about 5 o'clock. Once I even tried to go through the woods catty-cornered from Riceville wearing snowshoes. I almost didn't make it since the snow was not packed for using snowshoes. The second school year found the weather colder than the year before. One day in January 1937 the weather was 40 degrees below zero in the daytime. Because of the humid wind chill factor, 40 degrees below in Iowa was colder than I found a few years later at 60 below in Alaska, where there was a dry cold.
In the first three years I taught school, I attended Summer sessions at Iowa State Teachers College at Cedar Falls, Iowa. I rented a room and ate at restaurants. I took courses in further teacher training in a variety of subjects and added a course in philosophy.
Since the Summer Teachers College sessions took up only half of the Summer vacation, I went to work on farms doing farm labor. I learned how to harness and drive horses in a team to pull a hay wagon. I learned how to handle a scythe to cut grass for hay or to cut ripened oats to be bundled and stacked before being threshed. On some farms with machinery the hay was cut and bundled into bales. The oats would be cut and bundled but had to be stacked to ripen and then later threshed. In the process of threshing oats, a number of farmers making up a threshing ring would go from one farm to another to thresh oats. Each farmer with his team of horses and hay wagon would then go out into the field and use a pitchfork to throw the oat bundles into the wagon. When the wagon was full, the wagon driver would drive alongside the threshing machine, get on top of the wagon and pitch the oat bundles into the machine. After all the harvest had been threshed there would be a threshers dinner prepared by the farmers wives and everybody would eat their fill. Hence a Threshers Dinner is a banquet!
One of the farmers I worked for was hard up. One of his horses had a jaw infection so occasionally I would have to prod this horse in the rear with a prick of the pitchfork tine. This farmer was paying the going rate of $15.00 per month. Board and room would be furnished. This particular farmer did not pay me till I was on the West Coast. He paid Mother, who sent it to me.
I mentioned above my first experience reading about Marx. The editorial in the New Republic pointed out that Marx showed that early humans formed tribes, small groupings. As soon as they were able to accumulate a surplus of food and goods a class would be formed by those able to get more than the other members of the tribe. A ruling class was formed which always determined to keep what it had. Increases in agricultural means of production evolved into a feudal system with a few rulers at the top who kept their power by force. Attempts by those with less to take some power was a class struggle. Marx's contention was that all history was a history of class struggle. Beginning in the 1400s in Europe, a new class arose - the merchants, who increased their power by using new technology to develop factories to make goods for sale and trade. This class was the new capitalist class, which took power from the feudal class. Class struggle in the capitalist states takes the form of trade union struggles and the forming of labor parties to take political power from the capitalists. In one case, class struggle in Czarist Russia ended up with the working class taking power and forming a Communist Country in 1917. But because communism did not spread to other countries, Russia went back to being a capitalist country.
Going back to my discovery of Marx, I immediately subscribed to socialist and communist magazines and newspapers. The American Communist Party put out a magazine as did the American Socialist Party. American socialists had a long history, beginning in the late 19th Century. They had luck in Northern States where they occasionally elected local officials and occasionally were able to elect a member of Congress. I read these periodicals religiously. I also got hold of what books on either communism or socialism were available. I also purchased the three volumes of Capital by Karl Marx in English translation, published by Charles H. Kerr.
At the end of the '36-'37 school year I applied for another school that paid $75.00 per month instead of the $50.00 I had been getting. Board members of that school visited the Round Grove School but were unhappy because I didn't have a lot of material hanging on the walls that had been done by the children and they didn't like the way I dressed. So I decided that I had had enough of rural school teaching.
So that Summer I got a job with a paving gang that that was paving over Highway #9 and was approaching Riceville. My job was puddling cement in front of a paving grader, not an easy job. I was working a 6 hour day 5 days a week. The six hour day came in with the Roosevelt Administration as a result of newly formed union demands. I had decided that as soon as I could I would get out of Riceville one way or another. And I did leave.
But before leaving Riceville I shall give a picture of my family.
Father, before entering college displayed abilities as an artist by painting pictures. I had mentioned previously Father's training. He was a remarkable diagnostician. Quite often when a farmer came in to see him, the farmer would go into Father's office and sit down. And he would say, "Doc. I'm sick". Many times it would take Father an hour to worm out of that male patient just what was wrong. Father would make house calls and visit there whenever necessary for a patient who could not leave the house. He also made calls into the country to see patients at the farmhouse. He was on call 24 hours a day.
He diagnosed the first case of undulant fever in the whole area. He was constantly going to conferences on new developments in medicine. When the polio epidemic broke out in the 1930s he went and took a course with Sister Kenny who had developed a therapeutic method of treating patients lamed with polio. He did this in spite of the fact that the American Medical Association said Sister Kenny was a fraud. Father never belonged to the AMA but took the Journal. This was part saving money and part because he had a low opinion of the AMA and most members he knew of who were in it. He did minor surgery not requiring hospital care. He mixed his own prescriptions and bought in bulk all the medicines he prescribed. He also used some homeopathic methods and medicines, although he was not strictly a homeopath. He had unusual success treating patients with pneumonia and TB. But he didn't like to treat patients with either syphilis or gonorrhea because he thought they got it from whores. He treated Gypsies whenever they trekked through town. And he treated those with the DTs (delirium tremens) from too much alcohol. His stock market habit made it sure that neither I nor any of the girls, Ellen or Margaret or son Donald would ever go to college with his help. One time he said the best he could do would be to help me join the Masons, a club of business men. My answer was, "Not by a damn sight!" One thing he did teach me was how to swear.
But as a father the old saying goes - "Shoemaker's children go without shoes". He was addicted to playing the stock market in Chicago on the margin from a small town in Iowa. He very seldom made any money in the market and when he did it didn't last long. Sickness in the family went unnoticed as long as he could get away with it. One time Mother had a genital infection. Ellen was trying to take care of her. One day he stormed out of the house to go to the office without giving Ellen directions on what to do for Mother. Ellen came crying to me. I immediately went to the office, went into the door, grabbed Father by the neck and threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn't go home immediately and show Ellen how to help Mother. He went immediately. But after that he demanded that I pay rent if I wanted to stay home. But after a few months he relented and I paid no rent.
Mother was a very loving mother to her children. As her children grew older she was constantly giving advice on good conduct which she thought was best, But in later years this became too much for each child as they became adults. She had always wanted to be a writer. When she was young and at home she was constantly writing stories, so she told me. At one time when she was a teenager she had a box full of stories. She showed them to her father but he said they were no good and threw them away. Her father also made fun of her appearance. Because of a condition of hypothyroid she had a protruding lower jaw. He would say to her, "Why do you look like that?" After her marriage to Father she soon found out that he was constantly cross to her, especially when she needed money to carry on household affairs - food and clothing. In fact one time after I was a young man she told me that she wished she had divorced him early on but didn't have the courage. She had frequent illnesses. She was afflicted with various allergies. One illness required her visit to the Mayo Clinic hospital in Minneapolis. She occupied her recovery writing a pamphlet she called Klinicking through the Kayo Klinik. She had more than one hospital visit. While in the various hospitals she always radiated cheer and would tell jokes and stories to the attendants. She continued to write stories and would ask my opinion. But they were very much like the stories she read in the various women's magazines she took.
She would meet with women friends from time to time. She joined the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). This was due to her interest in genealogy which she passed on to her daughter Ellen. In later years after I had left Riceville her intense religiosity and conservatism in politics led her to do many things that I think were not good. Donald was a hair raiser in school. When the school superintendent Tyler had him expelled for a short time she used her great organizing ability to get him kicked out of his job. A young teacher in High School was very innovative. He got his students to write poetry about what they were doing. But when he gave them a book about how the great religions began she was enraged.
Because to her there was only one religion, Protestantism. She got him kicked out of the school and followed his career and got him kicked out of two subsequent jobs by turning him into the FBI as a communist - this was during the McCarthy era, when anyone turned into the FBI as a communist was usually fired from is job. As a member of the Congregational Church she took a dislike to the minister's wife, Rev. Bonnell's wife. Using her influence she got the other women in the church to kick Bonnell's wife out of the women's group. This convinced Bonnell that it was time for him to move on. The succeeding minister later on expressed an opinion that the U.S. should recognize Red China. Again Mother turned him in to the FBI and he had to move on. When I told Mother that I was not going to teach anymore, she wrote Max asking him to give me a job in his creamery in Fargo, North Dakota. She showed me his letter offering me the job. I wrote him and said that if I accepted the job I would have to join a union. He was enraged and wrote Mother back a 12 page letter damning unions. All the creameries except his were unionized. These creameries subsidized Max so he would keep out the union. So I refused the job. Later on she expressed dissatisfaction with my marriage to Roz by writing that she didn't understand why I always got mixed up with foreigners. The latter due to my mention in a letter that Roz was Jewish with Hungarian ancestors. And she wanted me and her daughters to discourage Don from marrying since the woman he wanted to marry was a waitress and all waitresses were whores! My mother was a very troubled woman and did not know how to handle her troubles.
Donald, my brother, was in a certain sense neglected. Being the youngest there was less attention paid to him. I treated him as a nuisance when he was quite young. Later when I used to take walks in the woods on weekends he always wanted to go along and I always said NO. This situation made him a troubled young one and he acted it out in school. He finally quit school when he was in High School. Don had remarkable technical ability. He went to work in the town doing odd jobs. He bought a car and made his own repairs. He did any painting and repairs around our home where he continued to stay.
Mention should be made of my Grandfather Uran. He was a highly skilled physician and surgeon. He also kept up with all the developments in science. He was a young man during the Civil War and managed to keep out of it by herding cattle in Texas. He was a great story teller. He also had a special relationship with the local Indian tribes. There is a book written about him and the Indians. In addition to furnishing me with books of many kinds, he gave me the Complete Works of Charles Darwin.
Grandmother Morgan after her divorce taught elementary schools until old age and lameness force her to give it up. She visited us frequently and was always full of stories and school gossip.
What convinced me to leave Riceville was my further interest in radical politics. In 1936 and 1937 there was a civil war going on in Spain. Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, and Populists combined as "Republicans" to overthrow the old Monarchy and new capitalists. The revolutionaries (Republicans) had conquered most of Spain but there was an invasion to put the revolution down which was forming in Morocco, which was a colony of Spain. The Communist papers were calling for Americans to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, go to Spain and help the Spaniards to put down the invasion. I decided maybe I should do just that - volunteer to go to Spain. Just as I was actually about to leave I received a pamphlet in the mail written by Jay Lovestone. Lovestone had been the head of the American Communist Party. But since he was sympathetic to Bukharin, one of the officials in the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, Stalin had him removed from the American Communist Party. Lenin and Trotsky had led the Russian Revolution of 1917. But after the death of Lenin, Stalin maneuvered to gain power and expelled Trotsky. Stalin thus became the actual head of the Communist International, the world organization of Communist Parties. Stalin started the Peoples Front Program - a proposal to stop directly opposing world capitalism but to negotiate with them. He didn't want to enrage the capitalist powers so that they might want to invade the Soviet Union as they had tried to do in 1917. Lovestone's pamphlet opposed this policy. In Spain he said this meant to give up the gains already made and in the end the complete defeat of the Spanish revolt. After reading this and agreeing with it, I gave up the idea of going to Spain. But I was still determined to get out of Riceville. So I decided to go to New York and join Lovestone's group called The Independent Communist League (ICL).
I arrived in New York and joined the ICL. One of the members helped me get a job with a man he knew who ran a business electroplating various items for sale. It was my job to connect a similar number of such items with wire so they could be dipped in the solution for electroplating. I worked a week at this job which paid little. I learned a lot about going around N.Y. on the subway and also how to get to nearby cities. In this group I now belonged to there was an emphasis on trying to get into big industry and get involved in unions. So I looked around and got a job in an auto plant, General Motors (GM) in New Jersey. When I applied they asked me what my experience was on my last job- I said it was wiring.
I was given a job on an assembly line checking the electrical wiring on the cars as they came down the line. I didn't know what I was doing so I tried to learn on the job. I was on a newly hired night shift, 6 to 12PM Everybody was learning on the job. The cars that came on the line were Chevrolets, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles, all sedans. I immediately joined the UAW, the United Automobile Workers Union. During this time the UAW was trying to organize the Ford plants. On one of my visits to the union office, I was asked if I would be able to give an organizing speech before a group of workers. Since I had taken a public speaking course in my Summer sessions while teaching school I agreed. So I gave a speech advocating joining a union before a large crowd of workers. But my job at GM didn't last long. The 1937 depression was in full swing and the whole night shift was laid off. This job lasted only a few weeks.
Lovestone's outfit had connections with UAW officials in various places. He opposed all officials connected with the Communist Party. But the officials he supported were actually all right wingers, conservative, given to making bad concessions to employers. In learning all this I decided I would get out of Lovestone's group and go back to Riceville. I got a job around New York in a small auto parts plant till I could get enough money to get home.
I finally left in Spring 1938. Since I didn't have too much money I had to do a lot of hitchhiking. I made it to Kankakee, ILL and saw Grandpa and Grandma Uran. Grandpa Uran had quit practicing and spent his time looking up local history. From there I finally got back in Riceville. I had no intention of staying there. Because it looked like a war was about to start in Europe, the U.S. Government was talking about starting a military draft. I had had enough of the army so the only way to stay out was to get a job where they would not take you. The West Coast looked to be about the best place to go. There was another impetus. Don had been dating a young Jewish girl, the daughter of Sam Wilner the grocer. Wilner approached Dad and asked him to tell Don to leave his daughter alone. So Dad told me about this problem and, since he knew I wanted to leave for the West Coast, he said take Don along and he would give me his car.
So Don and I hooked up our trailer and filled it with food, clothing and rain gear. We had enough money from odd jobs we both had done after I had come back from NY. And we headed West. We went directly West. After we hit the West Coast we drove down the coast till we hit San Pedro. We found a room to stay. Both Don and I looked around for work.
I managed to find a job in a nearby auto plant making seat cushions. I continued my membership in the UAW. My job, paying $16.00 a week, was to grind up jute to be stuffed into the cushions. Since they would not give me a mask and gloves I had to buy my own. In this plant there was a machinist who was German. With Hitler grabbing control of Germany and starting to invade various countries, the propaganda in the U.S. was beginning to affect Germans in this country. Fellow machinists in this plant got him demoted from his job as a machinist and he was downgraded to doing the same kind of work as I was doing. He and I went to the union to help him get his position back but they did nothing. When the U.S. entered the war this German was put in one of the U.S. concentration camps. He had been a Socialist in Germany. I was not allowed to see him but gave his wife cigars to give to him. She was not in the camp.
Don and I got a room together in one of the suburbs of Los Angeles. Don had been a chain smoker since a very early age and also a drinker, though I don't think he got dead drunk. I had never smoked cigarettes since on one try they made my throat sore. And I had never drunk alcohol since it was not around the house. But here Don convinced me to at least try a cigar. I did and the tobacco tasted good while I smoked the cigar, though I didn't inhale. I also tried dark beer and liked it. So I was hooked! While working at this auto plant` I drove the car we had to the job. Don also managed to find a job at the same plant and we rode together to the job. The car started to act up so I went and got another second hand car and junked the one we came from Iowa on. A little later when I sighed about the loss of the Iowa car, Don complained to me that he should have been asked first before I got the second car, because he said that he could have fixed up the old car. There is no question but what he could have. At home he always bought Plymouths and worked them all over. My overlooking his abilities is what I had always done without any justification.
On one of my trips to the union hall I got into conversation with the office secretary and indicated my radical views. She suggested I join the local branch of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). That is what I did. The SWP followed the ideas and writings of Leon Trotsky, the exiled Russian. When I was in NY I had bought a copy of Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution and read it there. the SWP was attempting to put in practice organizing for a Socialist government in this country.
With Hitler invading other countries in Europe this country started a draft for the army. A member of the SWP in Los Angeles, Murphy, told three of us that men could be exempt from the draft by joining the merchant marine. He gave us a week's lecture on what you would do if you were hired on a ship and how to act on the job as if you were an old timer. He promised to get all three of us into the Marine Firemen Oilers and Watertenders Union, (MFOW). He said we would be welcomed by the union leadership in the San Pedro branch of the union because they were fighting a takeover by members of the Communist Party. And since the SWP opposed the Communist Party (CP) we would be welcome. So we got into the MFOW.
A hiring hall was set up for each union in the main ports out of which ships docked. Each union member got a calling card with the date on it at the time they registered in the hall for a job. Each card also had a time listed for the exact date and time they registered. Then if a job came up on the bulletin board and they were qualified for that kind of job and had an earlier date then anyone else wanting the same job, they got it, Qualifications for jobs were granted by a government board which required the applicant to pass a test relative to certain jobs aboard ships.
My first job was a wiper for which no requirements were necessary. But qualifications were necessary for fireman, oiler, watertender. deck engineer. These were all unlicensed jobs. These unlicensed personnel all worked in the engine room, which was below the deck of the ship way down, and you got there by climbing down a very long ladder. The deck engineer, however, worked on the deck and took care of winches, which were machinery used to help load the ship.
The individuals who gave orders and were responsible for the operation of the ship had to have a license which they got at a government school. In the engine room the licensed personnel were engineers - chief engineer, first engineer, second, etc. depending on the size of the ship. There was a school for the unlicensed. I convinced Don to go to that school so he could then get into the union.
The first ship I got on, in 1940, was an intercoastal ship. It carried cargo from one coast to the other. I got on the ship in San Pedro and it went to New York. As a wiper my job was to keep the engine room decks clean and get rid of any trash collected in the course of operation. Wipers worked from 8 AM to 5 PM with an hour off for lunch. This particular ship was known as having a reciprocating engine. There were two large steam boilers 15 feet high which furnished steam into three steam chambers located 20 feet high over the engine. The steam in the chambers pushed down on large cylinders which pushed down on the long arms that were connected to a horizontal propeller which pushed the ship forward or back. This kind of engine was called an up-and-down engine since the cylinder arms connected to the propeller shaft moved up and down in turn to rotate the shaft. The propeller shaft was very long and housed in a tunnel-like affair. Wipers also had to keep the tunnel floor clean. There were two wipers on this ship, a handy man who gave orders to the wipers, three firemen, who took care of the boilers, three oilers who oiled all moving machinery, a deck engineer, a chief engineer, a first engineer, a second engineer, and a third engineer.
On deck, there were sailors and mates who gave them orders, a radio operator, and the captain who was in charge of everything. The engine room was below deck in the lower part of the ship. And since the ship was run on steam, the engine room was very hot from the boilers. Cool air came down ventilators from on deck, but there was only one ventilator on this ship.
The engine room crew, except the wipers, stood watches while at sea. An 8-4 watch worked 8 AM to 12 noon and again at 8 PM till midnight. The 4-8 watch worked from 4 PM to 8 PM and 4 AM. The 12-4 watch worked from 12 noon to 4 PM and 12 midnight to 4 AM. On arriving in port and staying longer than one day all the engine room crew went on day work, did not stand watches but worked 8 AM to 5 PM.
I got hold of books on seagoing and I spent some time seeing how firemen worked in the boiler room tending the boilers. A fireman regularly pulled out burners from the boilers, one burner at a time, cleaned it and put it back in. The boilers burned oil. At certain specified times the firemen would blow the tubes in the boilers with compressed air to clean them. The boilers were built so that burners would burn in a cylinder in the boiler and the heat would pass the through tubes higher up in the boiler and heat the water around the tubes.
Firemen had a dirty job using compressed air to blow the soot out of the tubes. As soon as I felt I could do the work I took a test at the Coast Guard and got firemens papers. As soon as the ship hit San Pedro after a couple trips to the East coast and back, I got off this ship and got on another and worked as a fireman. I also watched what oilers did and got oiler papers and got on a different ship working as an oiler. An oiler on an up and down job had to oil all moving machinery in the engine room, using an oil can to catch the main engine moving parts on the fly.
Some of the ships had different main engines to make them move. They used steam turbines. These were engines which used the steam directly to push blades on the ship's propeller to turn the propeller and move the ship. The up-and-down engines were comparatively quiet, but the steam turbines made a loud screeching noise.
I got jobs on both types of ships as an oiler. There was a slight difference in pay from wiper to fireman to oiler. An oiler got about $150.00 a month. The first ships I sailed on were cargo ships carrying various kinds of goods. I tried once sailing on a passenger ship going from the West Coast to Hawaii. Here the crews were very large. I liked a ship with a smaller crew.
On board the ship there was also a Stewards Dept. which made the meals and took charge of getting food supplies, mess (kitchen) utensils, and bedding supplies. Meals were served in the mess hall. The unlicensed crew had a different mess hall than the licensed. Regular meals were breakfast, lunch and dinner. But there was always food available in the mess rooms at all hours of the day. After dinner there was what was called night lunch especially for those on watch after the regular dinner time.
The MFOW members aboard ship, usually just called Firemen, would always get together aboard ship and elect a union delegate to take up any disagreements about the engine room that would be covered by the MFOW agreement with the shipowners. If the delegate couldn't get anywhere then that would be taken up with the union patrolman when the ship got to port where there was a union hall.
Since everybody shipped on board through a union hall, the unions would assist crew members to get any disagreements about any conditions aboard ship settled. For this purpose as soon as the ship would get into port where there was a union hall, a union patrolman would come aboard and take up any disagreements, beefs, with the First Assistant Engineer for beefs about the engine room. For beefs about food the patrolman would deal with the Chief Steward. If they still didn't get anywhere they might go to the Captain.
A common disagreement was over food conditions. The shipowners always wanted to cut down costs. And a frequent method was to cut down on food quantity and quality. Also some individual ships were worse than others. If a disagreement over food couldn't be handled aboard ship and further the union officials in the union hall didn't get anywhere, then sometimes a single ship might be struck and the crew refuse to sail the ship till the beef was settled.
About the time I started going to sea I became interested in language, both its general history as a human ability and the beginnings of the English language. I was also interested in slang. I knew that each human social condition had a specific language. And also there was usually a slang version. So as the saying goes - cuss like a sailor - I took along a small notebook and a pencil and started writing down everything I heard, technical terms, cuss words, conversation. In later years I used this notebook to publish the book SEA-SAY. But I also used as reading material books I brought along on language.
The SWP had a national group with small numbers who were going to sea. This included sailors, firemen, and members of the Stewards Dept. called cooks. They were all grouped together in a Fraction, a fraction of the party. The maritime fraction had a leader who was elected by the members of the Fraction but could also be appointed by the National Committee of the party. There would be a Maritime Fraction getting together in each main port, e.g. a San Pedro Fraction.
One of the reasons I was asked to go to sea was to further the cause of Socialism. I was expected to oppose the current Communist Party (CP) policies. I felt I should get hold of others who might join the SWP. They could also then be a part of the maritime fraction. When in port and I went to meetings of the union I would support or propose measures for the union to vote on which would further the cause of the union and also be favorable to Socialist causes. The head of the maritime fraction impressed on me the necessity of always opposing anything proposed by the CP and I should get up at each union meeting and denounce the CP and Stalin. The most active Stalinist, CP member, in the Firemens union was always praising Stalin at every meeting. I acted quite differently, I supported every proposal which I thought benefited the union even though it might have been proposed by a CP member.
As a member of the SWP I attempted to get new members. I stupidly assumed that all the older seamen who had been through the big organizing strikes of the 1930s would be receptive to radical ideas. I was dead wrong. By shooting off my mouth too much I soon gained a reputation of being that "screw ball Uran" and in addition alerting CP members the they had a "Trotskyite" in their midst. The SWP belonged to the Fourth International, inspired by the writings of Leon Trotsky. So it took me a while to learn to shut up and listen and then maybe do some talking where it was favorable.
After shipping on the larger merchant ships for a while I learned that the ships that fed the best were the coastwise steam schooners. They sailed up and down the coast from San Pedro to as far as Alaska. They largely carried lumber going South from Alaska. Lumber would be picked up in Alaska, Seattle and Portland and unloaded in San Francisco and San Pedro. Many of the sailors who sailed on the steam schooners were Scandinavians and the food we got largely mirrored the food they liked.
My practice in shipping was as a "one tripper". I would get on a ship and make a trip and then get off as soon as one trip was complete. I would pay off and then stay ashore till my money ran out and then make another trip. Ashore I would go to union meetings held weekly, attend Party meetings, do Party work and fiddle around.
In 1939 the war had already started in Europe. The U.S. was carrying on friendly relations with the Soviet Union as against the previous policy of hostility. This because the Soviets might be an ally against Hitler. The Soviet Union pleaded for financial and material aid especially as Hitler's army neared the Russian border. Ships going to Soviet ports, especially Murmansk, had to go through the danger of being sunk by German U-boats. One member of the Party died on a ship which was sunk going through the Caribbean. Another was on three different ships, one ship after another was sunk and the crews would be picked up by another ship also going to Murmansk. The ships at that time from 1939 to 1941 were not given protection by governments. 200 ships were sunk during this period, causing many American seamen to lose their lives. President Roosevelt considered Hitler as a friend. Since Hitler was fighting communists and at the same time Roosevelt kept friendly relations with the Soviet Union seamen didn't matter. Because of this situation the maritime fraction decided to sail only out of the safe West Coast ports.
In early November of 1941 I was on a steam schooner in San Pedro harbor. Just as we got out of the harbor on the way North up the coast, the radio operator, Sparks as we called him, received a message that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that a U.S. ship had just been sunk at San Pedro harbor by a Japanese submarine. When our ship got near San Francisco the lookout on our ship spotted the submarine further out on the surface charging batteries. The next day Sparks got a message that another ship had been sunk opposite the Oregon coast and some shells had been fired onto the land. After these episodes there was no such activity on the West Coast for the duration of the war.
When in Los Angeles between trips in 1940 I met a beautiful young woman named Rosalind Herschin, who was also a member of the Party. She had been in San Diego and the Monterey Area helping to organize the fish canneries from 1940-1941. In 1941 she moved to San Francisco where her parents lived and she got a job as secretary in a union office. I stopped sailing out of San Pedro and started sailing out of Frisco (San Francisco). Roz (Rosalind) and I then dated steadily. She was a graduate of San Francisco State with a teaching credential We soon found similar interests - politics, literature, entertainment and many other things. She took me to visit her parents - Abe and Belle Herschin. They had been active Socialists in younger days. Belle emigrated from Hungary in 1899. Belle was an accomplished seamstress and tailor before she came. Here she worked in men's tailoring until retirement. She also took courses for self education and enjoyment. Abe was a San Francisco native. When young he was a left wing hobo, railroading up and down the Coast. He was also a comrade of Jack London. He later sailed to Alaska to work in fish canneries. Abe later until retirement had a job as a wrecker demolishing buildings to make way for new buildings. But in his spare time he wrote stories for pulp magazines and he related the earlier days in San Francisco.
After Roz and I became closer we decided to get a room and live together. And shortly after that we decided to get married. The quickest way to do that to avoid all the routine marriage mill you had to go through in San Francisco was to go out of State to Reno, Nevada where they only required your identification and a small fee. I had just paid off a ship when we decided to go. The day before we had visited a bar for a drink. I had the habit of putting my wallet on the bar stool between my legs. I went to the toilet leaving my wallet on the stool but when I came back my wallet was gone. So I didn't have any money for the Reno trip. But Roz instead financed the trip. We got to Reno, paid the fee and were married September 5, 1942. After looking around Reno we came home to our room.
I continued shipping and Roz got work at General Engineering as a machinist. She had previously taken a short course in training as a machinist.
The Party had an active branch in Seattle. Also shipping out of Seattle to Alaska meant shorter trips on good ships and while the war was on it was safer. So we decided to move to Seattle in 1943 and rent rooms there. I sailed up and down the coast as well. Roz got a job working as a machinist for Boeing Aircraft 1943-1944 and in the union office part of 1945. In 1945 the hydrogen bomb was exploded over Hiroshima and the war was over. Roz and I decided to have a baby. She wanted to be near her folks when the baby was born so that help would be available if necessary. So in October 1945 we moved back to San Francisco. Roz gave birth to our daughter Marilyn on January 14, 1946 at Stanford Hospital. We found an apartment to rent in a housing project for essential workers (war, gov't, etc.) in the Potrero district.
When Marilyn was old enough to go to nursery school and we were able to get child care, Roz started to work as a secretary in union offices.
In 1946 there was a maritime strike projected. The Executive Committee of The Marine Workers Historical Association to which I belonged asked me for more material concerning maritime history. I submitted the following 1-13-1997 as a report of just one experience.
The Committee for Maritime Unity (CMU)
I sailed through the MFOW from 1940 through a good share of 1949, quitting going to sea in 1949 due to emergency surgery on my three-year old daughter and the exigencies of trying to raise a family ashore.
For a preliminary background: the Wage Stabilization Board of the Federal Government controlled wage and benefit levels during World War II. With the ending of the war, the labor movement became restive under the continuation of this control. In response, the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), the Marine Cooks & Stewards Union (MC&S, the National Maritime Union (NMU) and the Marine Engineers and Broadcasters Association (MEBA) met in Washington, DC early in 1946 and set up what they called the Committee for Maritime Unity (CMU).
The CMU was set up ostensibly to unify all the maritime unions in their struggles with the maritime industry. The original organization was set up with quite strict control from the top, not allowing too much for democratic procedures. The Sailors Union of the Pacific (SUP) and the Seafarers International Union (SIU) were approached but did not join the CMU. The MFOW took a neutral position.
Attempts were made by all the maritime unions to negotiate with the shipping industry, but with little success. Negotiations had begun as early as the Fall of 1945. With no progress in sight, the CMU unions took a strike vote in late April 1946 and called for a convention May 6 in San Francisco to prepare for strike action.
The MFOW took a similar strike vote in anticipation of the CMU proposed action. I was a member of the strike committee for San Francisco.
As the CMU was forming and the 1946 strike immediately ahead, I wrote a proposal, printed in the Marine Firemen's Reporter, that instead of setting up immediately an elaborate organization, all maritime unions should be approached initially for joint action on areas of immediate concern to all. Since there were organizations with antagonistic leaders, a fruitful means to attempt to make gains of interest to both organizations, and especially their members, would be for the organizations involved to maintain autonomy implied in joint action. The joint action did not happen.
Preparations were made by the CMU for the their convention of May 6. Since the MFOW did not join the CMU officially, it allowed a rank and file delegation to be elected to attend the CMU convention. I served as a member of the San Francisco MFOW delegation to the coastwise meeting of the CMU in San Francisco. Bill Bailey was the chairman of this delegation.
The convention had delegates from both coasts. At the convention, as the discussions of preparation went on, the final matter discussed was strike policy. The policy proposed was a very loose one so far as to how many ships would be allowed to sail during the strike. Proposed was: troop ships and those with military cargo would sail, relief ships to pick up sick and wounded, refrigerated ship, and such others as might be decided on would be allowed to sail. In effect, there would be quite a few ships that would continue sailing during the strike. One of the reasons for a loose policy was to avoid inflaming "public opinion".
I felt this policy would needlessly prolong the strike. As to "public opinion", the only public opinion that would be inflamed were the shipowners and those they controlled. I attempted to get the floor to amend the policy but I was gavelled down by Joe Curran, chairman. Because of the undemocratic procedure in not allowing me to propose an amendment, when the final vote came on the strike, I voted NO. Curran immediately demanded that I come up to the podium and explain myself. I went up and said, "I am IN FAVOR of the strike. I was not allowed to get the floor for amendments to the strike policy. I think this policy is far too loose and will only prolong the strike needlessly". My remarks were ignored and the new policy went on as adopted.
Immediately on taking my seat I was approached by daily paper newsmen who wanted me to talk to them. I refused to say anything to them and pointed to Bill Bailey, the chairman of the delegation. They then approached him and nothing came of their efforts.
The CMU entered negotiations with the Federal Conciliation Service in Washington, DC and came up with a proposed agreement for a wage increase of $17.50 per month with indication it would be acceptable.
The SUP hearing of this and not satisfied with such a proposal took stop-work meetings to force the employers to negotiate with them. After forcing the shipowners to meet with them, they got an agreement for a wage increase of $22.50 to $27.50 a month as compared with the CMU $17.50.
However, the Wage Stabilization Board turned down this agreement and demanded that the SUP accept the lower figure that was acceptable to the CMU. The SUP then went on strike with CMU unions observing the picket lines. The SUP tied up ALL the ships, with no exceptions. Shortly after the SUP went on strike, a meeting of the top officials of the CMU in San Francisco held a meeting in the office of the MFOW. I attended this meeting as a member of the local strike committee. The discussion was that public opinion was being inflamed by the SUP refusal to let "emergency" shipping sail. They felt the situation was so serious that it would be necessary to do something about it. And since the SUP was considered unapproachable, that it would be necessary for the CMU to join the picket lines en masse.
Considering the ill feeling between the CMU leadership and the SUP leadership, with their respective memberships constantly bombarded about the sins of their opponents, I considered this a rash proposal which would only end with bloodshed on the waterfront. I immediately notified a member of the SUP strike committee of this proposal. The SUP then plastered the waterfront with broadsides as an appeal to reason: saying in effect: We observed your picket lines, let us run our strike. They also sent delegations to all maritime unions to explain their strike policy. The CMU did not join the picket lines but observed them. The SUP strike lasted 8 days with the SUP gaining their original demands.
The CMU unions and the MFOW then went on strike. They allowed a few ships to sail, but with a growing protest from their members. The CMU and MFOW finally won their strike with the gains similar to the SUP. The gains, as a result, were a demonstration of what could be done by joint action in spite of leadership differences.
The MFOW by a vote of its membership refused to join the CMU, thus effectively ending it as a separate organization.
As a member of the SF strike committee, I was given the job to tour around all the shipping piers to see how the picketing was going. On one of my tours using my car I was suddenly stopped when Bill Bailey drove up, jumped out of his car, and yelled at me that one of my guys was causing trouble on the picket line and that if I didn't do something about it he would beat the shit out of me. Bailey was a front runner for the Communist Party (CP). I searched around but couldn't find out who he was talking about. But later on it turned out that that individual was a shipowners agent and finally kicked out of the union. Of course Bailey thought since I was a Trotskyite I was really a shipowners agent. The strike was finally over and the unions won some gains.
During this period there began anti-trade union activity. Gerald L. K. Smith, a Southerner, was touring the U.S. holding anti-union meetings. Smith was a lieutenant of Huey Long, the then ultra-right wing governor of Louisiana. He was a member of the ultra-conservative America First Party. Smith, in addition, was a Minister of the Disciples of Christ Church. To top it all he was a vicious anti-Semite. When Smith was scheduled to hold a meeting in S.F. I made a motion in a MFOW meeting to get together with other unions and picket his meeting. A group of delegates from various unions met to plan the picketing. I was at the meeting as one of the MFOW delegates. Harry Bridges, head of the Longshore union (ILWU) was one of the delegates. All during this meeting he kept his eye on me and during the meeting made remarks that we had to watch out for troublemakers like the Trotskyites. Since I was a known follower of Trotsky's ideas his remarks were directed at me even though I originated the whole idea of the picketing. The picketing took place without incident though the cops were busy with cameras taking pictures of everybody in the picket line. The activity of the unions put a stop to Smith's crusade. Bridges had followed the policies of the Communist Party members in the ILWU.
I sailed out of SF but continued sailing coastwise until 1949. Marilyn had to have an emergency appendectomy and this meant it was better if I stayed ashore. Marilyn's surgery was successful but Roz had to take special care of her. I then got a discharge from the ship I was on and from the Merchant Marine. Now I had to find work ashore.
A friend of mine, Frank Lovell, suggested that I join the Stationary Engineers Union, which I did. I then got a few jobs through the union hiring hall. One of them was installing small diameter piping in a plant so that liquid could be run a long distance in the plant. When the son of the owner of the plant complained to me that I was going too slow I told him to go to hell and I quit the job even though his father wanted me to stay. I then got a job on the midnight shift at Best Foods Corp. running their engine room. It got to the point that the midnight shift was getting me down. So I quit that job and put in for another. The plant manager didn't want me to quit because there had been breakdowns of equipment before I was there which should not have happened, or when the breakdown occurred they didn't even know it. When I was there I caught a carton filling machine going bad. I caught it the minute it started to go haywire and shut it down immediately. If it had continued the machine would have been destroyed. As it was, only minor repairs had to be made. They even called me on my new job, at the Marin-Dell Dairy, asking me to come back but I said NO.
At Marin-Dell I worked watching over machinery which filled cartons with milk, cream, butter. Coming home with fresh milk and cream was a "benefit" I took, unknown to the employer. In 1955 Marin-Dell shut down their San Francisco plant. So I had to get another job through the Union.
In 1951 our second child was born, a girl. We named her Susan Gail. We have belonged to Kaiser Permanente since 1948. But since the San Francisco Kaiser had not yet developed at that time an obstetrics unit, Sue was born at Kaiser in Oakland.
Inside the Party, dissatisfaction grew over the policy of doing nothing except fight the Communist Party. There were other things to do like building a party of labor to oppose capitalist politics. In addition there was a policy of carrying on fight in certain unions just to get rid of the Communist Party leadership. One case especially, The New York Painters Union, was a supreme example. The leadership of this union was replaced by a new leadership, but the new leadership turned out to be gangsters. In spite of the CP policy of compromise the unions led by the CP held most gains, as compared with those unions which had ultra-right leaders or gangster leaders. In the discussions that took, place the head of the Party finally told those who disagreed with what had been the previous policy that they could leave.
So in 1953 I and many of my friends did just that, leave, since we couldn't convince the majority of the Party that there were other things to fight for besides just fighting the CP. Those of us who were either kicked out of the Party or chose to leave attempted to form a radical group. A magazine was formed called The Socialist Review. But attempts to develop further failed and the magazine was discontinued. That was the end of my active participation in a Socialist organization. My ideas and further interest in Socialist ideas however continued.
In 1955 I was offered a job with the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA). I took the place of the man who previously held it but was dying of cancer. The jobs in the SFHA were ordinarily held by members of the Plumbers Union. But this man got the job during World War II because the Plumbers had no one to fill it. I got the job through the Stationary Engineers because they had no one else with my experience. And the Plumbers didn't have one either at the time I was hired.
My job was to take care of hot water boilers, hot water pumps, steam boilers, hot water and steam piping, check hot water and steam radiators in apartments, make any repairs necessary, and answer and satisfy any tenant complaints about heating. I was given a certain number of Housing projects to take care of. My title was that of Heating Engineer. I was supplied with a truck, tools, and a shop to keep equipment in.
Another Heating Engineer who had care of a number of other projects was asked to go around to the various projects to which I was assigned and break me in. My memory may be faulty but as I remember his name was Al Carroll. As we were driving around and talking about various subjects, not just about the job he made an interesting remark - "I see you don't discriminate."
What he was referring to was that I didn't reply in kind when he was constantly referring to the Blacks in the projects as "those god-damned fucking niggers". When he ranted about that subject I just didn't say anything because it would have been useless.
Carroll turned out to be a miserable bastard. Later whenever I was on a scheduled vacation he would steal my tools out of my truck and sell them. Then I would have to requisition new tools. But by then I had established enough of a reputation that I was believed when I reported the tools stolen. One of the early jobs Carroll asked me to help him on was to load small portable kitchen stoves onto my truck and take them to his shop. Only later did I find out that plumbers were allowed to take small kitchen stoves that had been removed from apartments and replaced by new ones to repair the old ones and sell them. What Carroll had done was to steal the repaired stoves and sell them himself.
Most of the boilers I took care of were hot water. Each boiler had an expansion tank connected to it. This tank was placed above the boiler. It was half filled with air and the rest water. As the boiler varied between off and on depending on the amount of heat required in the apartments where the hot water radiators were, the level of water would vary in the expansion tank pushing against the air in the tank. If for some reason the amount of air in the expansion tank got too low the boiler had to be shut off and the expansion tank drained so that there would again be a cushion of air. Carroll told me that you had to drain the expansion tank once a month whether it became full of water or not. I got a book from the library on hot water boilers. I learned that draining the expansion tank when it was not really necessary meant that you were really adding fresh water to the boiler when it was not necessary. When water is added to a hot water boiler it has dissolved oxygen in it. Eventually this oxygen connects with the iron of the boiler causing rust. If too much rust develops then the boiler may leak and require repairs. So instead of draining the expansion tanks each month as Carroll said to do I only rarely drained them. The real reason Carroll said to drain them monthly was that there would be more repairs and then there would be overtime involved in making the necessary repairs. And since we were given extra pay at time and 1/2 for overtime in addition to our monthly pay it would add up in dollars. Carroll wanted overtime but I didn't. Carroll was so anxious for overtime that he would pay laborers a small fee to go into a boiler room late Friday afternoon and shut down the boiler so he could be called out on the weekend so he could get overtime starting the boiler and restore heat to the apartments.
My boss, who was in charge of all unlicensed personnel, came to me on the job one day after I had been on the job a few months and asked me how come I never called in for overtime. I explained how I handled expansion tanks, kept the boiler pilot lights cleaned so the boilers wouldn't shut down, etc. He seemed satisfied with my answers. Later I had licensed engineers from the government visit me on the job and ask me the same questions my boss had asked. The next time I saw Carroll he asked me if I had requested to be transferred to his territory. I told him I made no such request.
The territory I had were housing projects of one and two stories. Carroll had two projects that were 12 floors high. There were five of these buildings with two large hot water boilers in each building. Apparently he was making a fortune in overtime. He claimed the pilots in the boilers kept going out. However, later I was told by my boss that I was to be transferred to Carroll's territory. Since every time Carroll would work with me on my territory he would always do something on that plant that would cause trouble and then call me up the next day and ask how that plant was running. I usually found out what he had done and expected it. So when I was told I was going to be transferred I asked the boss to just get me over there and then tell Carroll he was transferred immediately so that he couldn't pull a fast one.
I had no pilot trouble in the new territory. And I avoided overtime as much as possible. But the transfer didn't reform Carroll. I one time had him help me on a heating pump in my new territory. When I tried to put the pump in operation the next day it wouldn't work. So I had the laborers help me load the pump on my truck and take it to a pump repair place. The next day I received a call from the pump repair company and they asked me if I had a special friend helping me. When I asked them why, they replied that my friend had poured salad oil in the pump so that when hot water hit it the pump would freeze up. I told them I had such a friend and they knew who he was. Apparently Carroll pulled that one when I didn't happen to be watching.
My troubles with Carroll were over not too long after. Since my territory was larger than his I was given a newly hired young assistant, Harold Darbison. So I trained him on the job. On the job he was excellent but off the job he was an alcoholic. He was always sober on the job. A couple of times he got put in the can for being drunk and I had to go down and vouch for him to get him out.
The work I did for the Housing like the merchant marine was very heavy, heavy lifting. So by 1962 I had severe back pain. My own doctor diagnosed it as a narrowed disc but the chief orthopedist claimed I had nothing wrong. Kaiser was attempting to avoid job related injury benefits. If I had surgery to correct the problem I would be off work for over a month. Housing had a policy of firing anybody off work for a month regardless of the reason. So I got treatment outside Kaiser for a month and came back to work with a chair back brace (a steel covered cage around the waist). I worked till I was 62 years old and retired in 1973.
Since I now had free time I started walking for exercise. In each house we had in SF I attempted to put in a small garden with vegetables in the back yard. When I was working for the Housing Authority (SFHA) and injured my back I sued the SFHA and collected $7000 in disability damages. With this amount plus a couple thousand more Roz and I bought a small 3 room cabin in Felton, CA. This we used for weekend getaways while I was still working and for a number of years after.
Even while I was still working I took courses in the early evening, first at SF City College. I had always wanted to advance in mathematics beyond algebra and take up calculus but the course I tried did not help beginners. I switched to extension courses with University of California (UC) given in SF. Here I largely took courses in economics and history.
But one of the instructors named Victor Fink asked those in one of his courses if they would like to start a singing group. I joined this group. We sang mostly folk songs. After a couple of semesters he decided to stop the singing group. He announced that his other job as director of the Jewish Folk Chorus took up too much of his time. Since I liked to sing I called him up and asked to join that chorus. I said I was not Jewish but he replied that it didn't matter. So I joined the Jewish Folk Chorus and sang in the bass section. Roz also joined shortly after. The Chorus sang not only Yiddish songs but also English and other languages. There would be weekly rehearsals. Once a year there was a program open to whoever would come. And occasionally the Chorus would be invited to sing before some other organization. I sang with the Chorus for 15 years and quit when I was no longer able to stand because of weak legs. I found the whole experience very enjoyable.
After UC Extension I started taking courses at San Francisco State University (SFSU). I took a variety of courses: philosophy, economics, history, art, literature, Marxism, Socialism, and a few others. At first I took courses for credit. But later I audited only. Eventually I had more than a total to graduate but only if I took certain required courses in addition. This I did not want to do. I had no use for a degree. I had other things I was more interested in.
Even before I retired Roz and I started to participate in Elderhostel programs. Elderhostel is a program for people over 55. It offers programs usually at universities on many different subjects. You pay a fee and pay travel fare to almost any place in the world. When you get there you are then given board and room and you attend the classes you have chosen. We went to many places all over the U.S. One place especially memorable was at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Maryland on the East Coast. Here the most interesting part was an examination of the structure of Jazz. We learned that the structure of Jazz was as complicated as any of classical music. We also went to Canada, In Europe we went to England, Scotland, Italy, Hungary. Roz went to many more than I did. She also went to Russia. We always found these trips very enjoyable.
We also made trips as a family: California Parks, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Washington World's Fair, Canada.
Right after my retirement I got together with friends I knew in the SWP and those I knew when I went to sea and also friends of these. We would meet once a month rotating houses to meet. We would discuss the politics of the day and moan and groan over aches and pains. We called ourselves the OTHYC (Over the Hill Youth Club). Gradually, of course, the membership got less due to death or loss of interest. Occasionally at various meetings I would also run across other people I worked with in the SWP. I would often be greeted with, "Hy there Rooten-Tooten-Hooten!" That was my earlier moniker as a slang phrase from my use of Houghton as a Party name.
Even before I retired there would be reunions of my High School class in Riceville, Iowa. I either went by myself or with Roz. Going by rail or air gave me a chance to see Red and his wife especially. And I could talk over the old football games with teammates who were still around.
There were also trips to Riceville to see members of the family. Roz and I made a trip by train not too long after we were married. We made another trip with Marilyn along when she was small. It was Winter so Marilyn experienced snow for the first time. Sue and I made a trip together to see my parents, her Grand Mother and Grandfather. The air trip going was rough due to the air turbulence shaking the plane. Sue got a taste of Iowa countryside. I made a trip alone when Father died.
In each house I always lived in, in every place, I always built a tool bench and shelves or racks for tools to do wood work. I occasionally did some soldering and iron work.
From the time Marilyn was born till 1950 we lived in Housing Projects in San Francisco. In 1950 with a down payment of $2000 given to us by Roz's mother we bought 840 Niagara where we lived till 1959. In 1959 after the death of Roz's mother we sold both her house and 840 Niagara and bought 2219 30th Ave., the house we now live in.
At various times I have had surgery. To avoid boring details the record can be found in the computer file in Word Perfect under M-Med.
During the time I was going to sea I carried along a notebook and pencil and wrote down everything I saw or heard. So in 1995 I put down all the material I had gathered and with the assistance of 20 others put out a book called SEA-SAY. I couldn't get a publisher so I paid to have the book printed and then sold it myself. Marilyn arranged and printed out the manuscript so it could be sent to the printer to print the book. There were 200 copies printed. The book was sold out by 1997. Our computer file has all the records pertaining to the book.
In the year 2000 we sold the Felton house. We hadn't been using it for over 10 years. It had only been used occasionally by relatives who agreed we should sell it.
In past holidays we celebrated in our house: Thanksgiving, Xmas, Passover Seder, etc. For holidays the last few years we have gone to Marilyn and Charlie's for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. And to Charlie's folks in San Leandro for Christmas Day. On New Year's Eve and Day we stay home.
As soon as Susan was able to go to school Roz started teaching; first Early Childhood Development at Village Nursery School and at Miraloma Pre-school, then autistic and emotionally disturbed children at Oakes Children's Center and lastly children with aphasia and communication and language disorders at Lakeshore School. She taught from 1956 till she retired in 1982.
My brother Donald after going to a maritime school got into the MFOW and sailed as I did. Don was always able to be elected the Firemen's delegate on every ship he was on. Occasionally he would stop shipping and go back home and help either with painting the house Mother and Dad lived in and even after Dad passed away. He started going with a waitress he met in Seattle and later married her. On the 29th of August 1978 he entered the Marine Hospital in Seattle to have a cancerous lung removed. He died on the operating table because the attendants did not suck up the liquid that had collected so he literally drowned to death. His wife sued the hospital and collected. But this was small compensation for the loss of a wonderful man and husband.
After leaving home Margaret married a man whose last name was Longanecker. Not too long after marriage she gave birth to a boy they named Vaughn. When Vaughn was one year old Margaret's husband deserted her. She went back home to Riceville with Vaughn. She became quite despondent. When Mother informed us of her situation, Roz and I urged her to come to California. This she did and got a job doing office work in Oakland. She changed her name to Margo Lovelife. She joined an office workers union and became very active in this union as well as continuing her office work. She also helped organize seniors and was the President of the Oakland Senior Organization. She met with the City Council to get safer streets, street crossing lights, funds for senior centers. She lived alone in an apartment building in Oakland. We would visit her in Oakland and invite her to see us in San Francisco. She changed her political outlook from religious right to that of a free thinking progressive. Unfortunately in her last years she developed what is called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for which no one knows the cause and there is no cure. This eventually forced her to stay in bed all day. She also developed severe arthritis - knee joint pain, etc. As a result she took her own life. She was a most loving and wonderful woman. A memorial was held for her with large numbers of people attending who knew her and whom she had helped during her career, even including the then Mayor of Oakland and members of the City Council whom she had previously had worked with.
Ellen, four years younger than me, even in High School would help Father assisting with light duties while he did surgery on patients. The only time I tried to help I started to faint at the sight of blood and Father had to escort me to a seat to recover. But Ellen proved to be very valuable as an assistant. In High School she took training in office work. After High School she went with Margaret to Minneapolis where they both got office work for a short time in the Mayo Clinic. She quit that job and went to Des Moines, Iowa and took courses in bookkeeping at the American Institute of Business. When she finished there the Institute sent her to Georgia and she got work bookkeeping. There she met and married Bill James Wilson. They had four children. She later separated and continued raising her children in Riceville at her parent's home. In later years she took up searching family genealogies.
Our oldest daughter Marilyn after graduating from San Francisco State University married Charles Vella. They have two daughters Lea and Maya. Marilyn worked as a secretary after their children were old enough to be left alone. Lea graduates from the University of California at Davis in June 2002 and enters Columbia University in New York City in a Masters program in Epidemiology. Maya is in her second year in High School. She is very interested in dancing.
Our second daughter Susan after graduating from San Francisco State University married Martin Evind. They have three daughters Rebecca, Amy and Natalie. Rebecca is taking courses in Santa Rosa Community College, Amy will graduate High School in 2003. She is interested in swimming and surfing. Natalie will enter High School in Fall, 2002 She has been playing the flute and is interested in track.
I helped both of my daughters with their school homework, especially arithmetic, mathematics. Marilyn went to San Francisco State and majored in History. Susan also went to San Francisco State and majored in drama.
My closest friend when I hit San Francisco was Jim Osborne. He worked as a carpenter on the waterfront and was a member of the Carpenters Union. He was extremely active in that union and constantly active in maintaining democracy in his local chapter. I met him first as a member of the local branch of the SWP. He was constantly critical of the local branch of the SWP because they did not take up enough of the local issues but spent most of their time just discussing world issues. He lived in Redwood City but I kept in constant contact with him by phone, at meetings and by frequent visits to his home. We found little to disagree on. Unfortunately he developed prostate cancer just as he retired and this eventually caused his death.
Currently I keep in touch with Harry Press, a former merchant seaman, Joe Gladstone, a former longshoreman, and Allan Willis, a former radio commentator.
My current activity is reading books on science, history and fiction, many magazines on current political affairs, using the computer, driving the car, seeing movies, going to parties and celebrating holidays, birthdays, etc., with families and friends. I also read mysteries, listen to music: classical and especially the older type jazz bands.
This biography has been remarkably and competently edited by Roz, my wife. Roz is and has been a most loving and caring companion. She has put up with my stubborn nature and helped me with my various disabilities. She has been a loving mother of our children. I have her to thank for being able to complete this work.
Recollections of Harry Press (a friend of Marshall's; see references to Marshall)
— Carl Anderson, Arthur Brodzky & Dave Bers
HARRY PRESS, A veteran of the U.S. Trotskyist movement and the American Socialist current, died this year at age 94. In recent years he was a loyal reader and made several very generous donations to this magazine. These recollections of Harry Press were told to Carl Finamore for Against the Current. — David Finkel for the ATC editors
Arthur Brodzky is a former seaman, veteran socialist and close friend of Harry Press.
I WAS BORN in 1921 in New York City but grew up in London, England. I always liked the sea so when I had to go out and get a job at the tender age of 14, I started sailing.
Later, after the war started, I repatriated to the States. I had already joined a small Trotskyist Fourth International group in England so I quite naturally joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) upon my return to America. Politics was my whole life at the time. It was how I first met Harry and another good friend, Marshall Uran.
With war declared, I probably would have been drafted into the army. I decided to stick with the sea and signed up as a Merchant Marine. In fact, all three of us sailed, though not on the same ships.
Harry was a cook and member of the Marine Cooks and Stewards (MC&S, CIO), Marshall was an engineer and member of the independent Marine Firemen and Oil Workers (MFOW) and I was a deckhand member of the Sailors Union of the Pacific (SUP, AFL).
I last saw Harry in December when visiting him where he lived near Sacramento, California. We had a nice chat about old times and laughed about how so many years had passed since we first met. As a matter of fact, during my last visit, Harry gave me a copy of Marshall’s out-of-print book, Sea Say, to replace the one I had lost.
The book is a very unique and unusual collection of stories. It is more like a dictionary of sailors’ language, on the more colorful side I would say. When you are out to sea for five months or more and confined in those days to all male companions, the language can get pretty salty. This book lists many of the common, everyday phrases veteran seaman would never dare utter on land or in mixed company.
Marshall himself was quite an intellectual guy, he even went through Marx’s Capital and sent the grateful publisher a list of typographical errors. You had time on your hands while on ships and for us, it meant a lot of time for reading and talking.
The last SUP struggle in which Harry and I participated involved the expulsion of a militant charismatic Seattle member named John Maloney. Canadian seamen were on strike around 1951 when the Korean War broke out, and Maloney asked why the SUP sent members to scab. A big fight broke out over this thing. SWP members in the SUP, including Frank Lovell and myself, put out a newspaper and distributed it on all the ships. It made a big impact, especially within the Seattle SUP.
However, the Lundberg SUP leadership machine was able to crush the whole thing and anybody who signed a petition or showed any support to Maloney and wanted to stay in the good graces of the bureaucracy had to go down to San Francisco headquarters and in effect apologize to Lundberg. It was a real reactionary time in the country.
Harry was involved in all of this and more. He was an avowed socialist and militant. He even ran for City Council on the SWP ticket in the early 1950s. Harry, Marshall and I were all expelled from the SWP at the same meeting in San Francisco in 1953 but we continued to be active and put out a very good magazine, American Socialist, which lasted for several years.
Harry was a very quiet and unassuming guy who read a lot. He moved to Oakland after the war when my family and I were living nearby and we used to visit. Then I moved to the Sacramento area and he again moved nearby to me when he wanted to leave Oakland. I will miss my friend.
Carl Anderson is a former member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), later a supporter of American Socialist and long-time close friend of Harry Press.
I FIRST MET Harry in the SWP branch after WWII. We shared an apartment. He was very kind, very gentle and real soft-hearted. I don’t think there was anybody who did not like him. Harry took up sign painting on land and he was good at it because he was somewhat of an artist which he did as a hobby. He had some talent, I do not want to exaggerate, but did not seem to have the passion to devote to it.
Harry stayed a socialist his whole life, becoming a little cynical in his old age and maybe even a little frustrated with the way the world was going. History has passed us by. It will be quite a while before things turns in our direction and Harry felt this maybe even more than the rest of us.
I, like Harry, have not changed any fundamental ideas of my youth. I just think it will be awhile before the tide changes in our direction. Of my good friend, I will miss his intellect, I will miss his kindness, I will miss his gentleness and I will miss speaking with him every Sunday on the phone. Goodbye to my dear friend.
Dave Bers is a former chief steward in the Merchant Marines out of San Francisco from 1936-1946.
I AM 94 years old. I remember my good friend as the same age. Harry and I sailed together to lots of places, all along South America to Argentina, along the Inside Passage in Alaska and throughout Asia. I have a photo of Harry and myself walking together while we were on one of our five-month tours but 60 years later I can’t even remember in what city it was.
I was at sea on freighters for some 10 years. I was chief steward and Harry was second cook and baker. We were both members of Marine, Cooks & Stewards (MC&S, CIO). I lived in San Francisco where we usually shipped out.
We were in the SWP and looked for ships together. We were an anti-Stalinist group within the MC&S that was also an anti-Harry Bridges group, so to speak. It was an unofficial caucus against the leadership of the MC&S, which was both dominated by the Communist Party and under strong influence of the International Longshore union (ILWU).
There was a constant ferment at the time and we had a large number of Stalinists to compete with, but being on a ship for so many months you develop somewhat better relations than on land even with your otherwise most bitter opponents.
During long trips, you have time to read and talk and get to know each other better.
My personal policy was that this was a time to talk about socialist fundamentals because you are away from immediate factional struggles. You can spend time talking about capitalism, about fascism and how it came to be, about the role of the U.S. imperialism and about the role of Stalinism. You are away from union headquarters where the hot, immediate factional struggles occur and where the Stalinists were recruiting from their close relations with the powerful Longshore union.
Harry was quiet and reflective. He always read. He was also very loyal to the SWP but wasn’t pushy. I would say he was well-schooled in Marxist fundamentals and this came in handy on long tours. His relationship with other workers was good because he was also a good worker himself. He performed responsibly. People respected him for that, even the Stalinists.
Harry was effective in discussions because he was solid on fundamentals and because he was never demanding and was pleasant to be around.
After I had my second child, I left the sea and became a furniture salesman, later going into business for myself. I wanted to get a more stable family life. Even when I was no longer in the socialist movement, I kept contact with Harry. I am sorry to see him go.
Published ATC 147, July-August 2010
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 16, 317 #395.
- [S990] E. Beulah Hauser & Vivian Imogene MORGAN (28), Morgan Genealogy - V. I. (Morgan) Uran, p. 160.
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 317.
- [S26] Self.
- [S93] Newspaper Obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 1, 2005.
- [S401] Interview of Marshall Uran by Charles J. Vella, 1996-1997; Autobiography written in 2002.
F, #15, b. 2 April 1918, d. 14 March 2011
Family: Marshall Milton Uran b. 7 Nov 1911, d. 30 Aug 2005
- Marriage*: Rosalind Herschin married Marshall Milton Uran, son of Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran M.D. and Vivian Imogene Morgan, on Sep 5, 1942 at Reno, Washoe, NV, USA, Per Marshall, they had known each other for 9 months. Marshall had lost his wallet and Roz paid the $15 for the judge. Returned to San Francisco and rented a flat.5
|Corresponded with author||?|
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Birth||Apr 2, 1918||Yakima, Yakima Co., WA, USA, age 1 year and 8 months in 1920 census1,2,3|
|Graduation||Jun, 1938||San Francisco State University, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, B.A. (major in education, minors in sociology and music) and a teacher credential3,4|
|Marriage||Sep 5, 1942||Reno, Washoe, NV, USA, Per Marshall, they had known each other for 9 months. Marshall had lost his wallet and Roz paid the $15 for the judge. Returned to San Francisco and rented a flat.5|
|Occupation||circa 1957||a pre-school teacher and then an elementary school aphasia teacher|
|Address||between 1959 and 2005||2219 30th Ave., San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA|
|Note||Jul 1, 1974||Speech Pathologist license|
|Death||Mar 14, 2011||Kaiser Hospital, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, of dystolic heart dysfunction, age 92|
|Obituary||Mar 20, 2011||San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA, USA, Rosalind Herschin Uran Passed away on March 14, 2011 in San Francisco. She was born on April 2, 1918 in Yakima, WA, the daughter of Abraham Herschin and Isabelle Mittelman. Except for her first 4 months, she was a lifelong resident of San Francisco, CA for 92 years. She married Marshall Milton Uran, Sept. 5, 1942 in Reno, NV. He was her constant companion and love for 63 years until his passing in 2005. She graduated from Lowell High School in 1934, and San Francisco State University in 1938 with a B.A. in Education and a teacher's credential, and a MA in speech therapy in 1968. She worked for the State Relief Administration (California version of the WPA). In 1939, she worked in a sardine factory in Monterey and recruited for the Seafarers Industrial Union (SIU). During WWII she trained to become a machinist at SF City College and worked as a journeyman lathe machinist. After marrying Marshall Uran in 1942 she moved to Seattle, where she worked at Boeing Aircraft as a controls tester on the midnight shift and was there on VJ Day. Returning to San Francisco in 1945, she worked at the Millinery and Optical Workers Union's office. She was a cooperative nursery school teacher in San Francisco and Colma from 1957-1961; was one of the original teachers hired at Oakes School, a newly formed school for autistic children (1963-1970); and was a teacher of children with aphasia at Lakeshore Elementary School (1971-1982). She was a weaver, played piano, guitar, harpsichord and recorder, and was a member of a small classical instrumental group for many years. Along with her husband, she was a member of the Jewish Folk Chorus for 14 years. She volunteered for the Jewish Film Festival, and taught English to Russian Jewish families. Rosalind was a dignified, witty, bright and socially concerned woman, as well as a great cook. She is survived by her daughters, Marilyn Vella, and her husband, Charles; Susan Evind, and her husband, Martin; and granddaughters, Lea Vella and her husband David Byrd, and Maya Vella; and Rebecca Evind, Amy Evind Bertozzi and her husband Josh, and Natalie Evind. She will also be remembered by many friends and acquaintances. A Memorial will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St., on Saturday, April 16th at 11 AM. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Gray Panthers, the San Francisco Food Bank, Project Open Hand, or the charity of your choice.|
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on March 20, 2011
|Biography||She was born in 1918 in Yakima, Washington. She lived at 274 Delores St. until age 4, then at 3334 16th St. until age 8, then at 72 Sanchez for 4 years (she was there when accepted to Lowell High School in 6/1930), then at 1794 Hayes (off of Masonic) during high school. She described herself as a "latchkey" child. She began piano lessons at age 8. She went to Holy Family Day Home, a Catholic preschool, on Dolores and 16th., then to Freddy Burke (1924-1930), then to Lowell High School (on Masonic; she studied Latin and German) between 1930-1934 (graduating at age 16), then to San Francisco State College between 1934-1938 (majoring in education, and minoring in sociology and music (she played the piano)). She was a member of an A Capella Choir during college. During the Spanish Civil War, she joined the YPSL (Young People's Socialist League), in which she met her friend Lillian Elner. Her mother and father had belonged to the American Socialist Party (as did author Jack London); they spoke at public meetings. Norman Thomas, who was a presidential candidate for the U.S., was president of the ASP. From about age 18 to 23, she attended weekly Friday night YPSL meetings. She got her kindergarten-primary credential in 1938, and then her speech and hearing and adult education/parent education credential. She substituted as a teacher in kindergarten at $5 a day. She worked for the State Relief Administration (the California version of the WPA) from 1/1939 to 11/1939; she was a typist for $90 a month. In 1939, she went to Monterey, and worked in a sardine factory for 6 months and recruited for the Socialist Workers Party (for the SIU, seafarers industrial union). She met Marshall in 1941 at a SWP meeting in Los Angeles. She then went to San Diego until Oct. 1940, then to San Francisco. She worked for Butler Brothers (importers) doing office work from 1940 to 1942. During WWII she went to school at City College to learn to be a machinist and became a journeyman lathe machinist. She got a job as a journeyman machinist running a lathe until 1942. She married Marshall Uran and then moved to Seattle in 1943 (because it was less dangerous for Marshall to ship out from Seattle for ship trips to Alaska; the SWP pulled mariners off the east coast and sent them to Seattle for protection). Roz rebelled at party orders when she got pregnant. She did house to house selling of the Militant (the SWP paper) with Bev Rutsick. She was in Seattle until 1945. She worked at Boeing Aircraft as a controls tester on the midnight shift from 1943 to 1944. She was in Seattle on VJ day. She worked for the Boilermakers Union from 1944 to 1945. She returned to San Francisco in 1945. Marilyn was born in 1946. She worked for millinery and optical workers unions doing office work as an opt. tech. from 1948 to 1953, when Marilyn was in childcare. When Marilyn was 4, she got pregnant again. Sue was born in 1951. When Sue was 2, she went to OceanView nursery school where she was a substitute teacher in exchange for tuition until 1957. She taught at the Village preschool in Colma from 1957 to 1960, at Miraloma preschool as assistant in 1961-1962, substituted in childcare, then in 1962 to 1963 at Child Guidance as a secretary while she got her speech credential at SF State University, then at Oaks School between 1963-1970 in the disturbed children program, received a Master's degree in speech therapy at SFSU, 1967-1968, and finally worked at Lakeshore Elementary School (teaching aphasic classes) between 1971-1982. She retired in 1982. In 1975 she traveled to Russia (London, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Krackow, Leningrad, Moscow, Kalinin, and Kiev). In 1973 she went to Mexico (Zihuataneo). Since retirement she has taken up weaving, playing the piano and the recorder, and Elder Hostels (taking classes in Scotland, England; Austria/Hungary; Italy; as well as in Montana, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, the New England states and Arizona). In 1980 they sold her parent's Marin lot .|
She belonged to a women's literature book club for 27 years, the Jewish Folk Chorus for 14 years, volunteered for the Jewish Film Festival, taught English to Russian Jewish families, and played with a private recorder group for many years. She and Marshall attended 23 Elderhostels (Sonoma CA, Missoula, MT in 1979; Port Angeles WA; Humboldt CA; Monmouth, OR; England and Scotland 1983; Occidental, CA; CT and MA in 1986; Maine; Idylwild in 1988; Wellspring in 1989; de Bonneville in 1989; Santa Fe NM in 1982; Flagstaff AZ in 1985; Padua, Italy in 1990; Ashland OR in 1990; Baltimore MD in 1991; Austria Hungary in 1989; Wonder Valley, CA in 1992)4
|Medical||Atril fibrillation with pace maker|
M, #23, b. 3 October 1877, d. 11 November 1958
Family: Vivian Imogene Morgan b. 10 Apr 1891, d. 17 Mar 1970
- Marriage*: Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran M.D. married Vivian Imogene Morgan, daughter of James Hamilton Morgan and Lydia May Houghton, on Apr 26, 1910 at Glenwood, Mills Co., IA, USA, at her parents home.6
|Corresponded with author||?|
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||?|
|Birth||Oct 3, 1877||Kankakee, Kankakee, IL, USA, age 3 in 1880 census; age 23, 10/1876, in 1900 census3,2,4,5|
|Occupation||between 1904 and 1953||a physician|
|Graduation||Jan 3, 1904||University of Illinois, Chicago, Cook Co., IL, USA, with an M.D. degree from Physician's and Surgeon's Medical School. May 26, 1903 given by U of Ill Alumni Assoc in 1965|
|Marriage||Apr 26, 1910||Glenwood, Mills Co., IA, USA, at her parents home6|
|Immigration||1925||Riceville, IA, USA7|
|Will||Jun 2, 1948||named Imogene as executrix and inherited everything|
|1950 US Census||1950||Riceville, Marshall Co., IA, USA, age 72, doctor of medicine|
|Newspaper||1957||Riceville, IA, USA, Riceville's Venerable Doctor Still Practicing at 80 Years|
by Mrs. Theis Fox Globe-Gazette Correspondent
Riceville-Although suffering from a rare type of anemia which requires frequent blood transfusions, Dr. J. A. Uran, 80, continues his medical practice at Riceville. He says he "intends to do so as long as I am mentally and physically able."
Dr. Uran is the third generation of doctors in his family. His grandfather, Dr. Joseph Alfred Troup, and his father, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Uran, were pioneer doctors of Scotch descent. His father, a noted surgeon, gave up surgery at 65; retired from practice at 84. He lived only two years after retiring. This may be the clue to the active life which "Dr. Joe"leads.
Joeseph Alfred Uran was born in Kankakee, Kankakee Co., Ill., Oct. 2, 1877. He was the second of three sons and one daugther born to Dr. Benjamin and Susan Troup Uran. His father was called the dean of the medical profession in Kankakee County at the time of his death. He had performed the first appendectomy in that part of the country and was the first to use the diphtheria antitoxin. He served as president of the Kankakee County Historical Historical Society many years.
Joseph Uran finished high school in Kankakee. At 19, he accepted an appointment as laboratory technician in the Eastern Illinois Insane Asylum, Kankakee. He held the position three years. He received valuable training during this period. post-mortems were performed on every inmate who died, an average of one a day. His job was removing the brain at each post-mortem.
At 22, He entered Physicians and Surgeons Medical School, Chicago, now a part of the University of Illinois Medical School. He took obstetrical training under the famed Dr. Joseph B. DeLee, of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital and once delivered 12 babies in 10 days in the Ghetto district of Chicago.
It was the practice of the day to send young medical graduates to Europe for post graduate study. Plans were under way to send Dr. Joe but he was persusaded to remain in Chicago to enter competitive examination for the position of pathologist at the Michael Reese Hospital. His examination score was the highest and he received the appointment. He was in charge of the laboratories there, specializing in brain research, two years.
Dr. Uran was urged to become an associate in surgery. But he felt this was not his work and instead, purchased a country practice in Holland, Iowa, July 29, 1905. During his six years of practice in Grundy County he met Miss Vivian Imogene Morgan. They were married April 26, 1910. They moved to Wellsburg, a few miles away and he continued his practice at Holland as well as in Wellsburg. They are Marshall, a city engineer in San Francisco. Stanley who died at 10 days and is buried in Wellsburg; Ellen Vivian, now Mrs. B. J. Wilson, Decatur, Ga; Margaret, now Mrs. L. C. Longenecker, San Francisco and Donald, who has been with the Merchant Marines since enlisting in 1942. He lives in Seattle, his home port.
Dr. and Mrs. Uran have 10 grandchildren. Vaughn D. Longanecker, 10, who is spending the summer with his grandparents, is looking forward to becoming a surgeon, when he grows up. This brings a twinkle of pride to the face of his grandfather.
During World War I Dr. Uran volunteered for active service but was asked to reamain in private practice because of the epidemic of influenza.
Dr. John O'Keefe, a Waterloo surgeon, invited Dr. Uran to come in with him in 1924. He moved his family to Waterloo where he had an office in the Leavitt and Johnson Bank Building. Shortly after moving to Waterloo he was injured in an auto accident while riding with Dr. O'Keefe on a country call. It was impossible for him to continue on as an assistant because of his injury.
In 1925 Dr. Uran decided to go back into country practice. He chose Riceville as the community. He moved his family here Aug. 1, 1925. Dr. Uran has maintained an office on Main Street until about a year ago when he remodeled the sunporch of his home to serve as his office. The family had lived in three other residences before moving to their present home in January, 1939.
Dr. Uran is a member of the Congregation Church. He was a Mason in Grundy County and has been a Modern Woodman member since a young man. He joined the Lions Club when it was started in Riceville and has been a member of the Riceville Commercial Club and present Community Club. He is a charter member of the Riceville Golf Club.
"Doc," as he is affectionately known in the community, is an ardent gardener. He keeps his friends and neighbors supplied with fruit and vegetables from the huge garden at the rear of his home.
"Doc" says very modestly "My experiences have not been so very different than most other doctors..."
He has been a good diagnostician. If he felt uncertain of his patient's case, he would tell him so. He has sent many patients to the Mayo Clinic with his diagnosis. Not once was his diagnosis proved wrong. One patient spoke of this to her doctor in Rochester and received the reply, "We consider Dr. Uran a brilliant physician."
Though he is a quiet and modest person our "Doc" will hold the respect and admiration of the people of the Riceville community for many years to come.
All five of the Uran children were born while they lived at Wellsburg.
|Death||Nov 11, 1958||University Hospital, Iowa City, Johnson Co., IA, USA, of subdural hemorrhage8,9|
|Burial||Nov 15, 1958||Riverside Cemetery, Riceville, Mitchell Co., IA, USA, Nov 14 given in family bible8,9|
|Obituary||Nov, 1958||Obituary of Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran. Riceville Recorder.|
Joseph Uran was born Oct. 3rd, 1877, in Kankakee, Illinois to Dr. Benjamin Franklin Uran and Susan Weaver Troup Uran. He was the second of three sons and one daughter born to Dr. B. F. Uran and his wife. The other children are Howard Holt Uran, aged 83 years, of New Orleans, Louisiana; Benjamin Franklin Jr., aged 76 years, of Mattoon, Illinois; and a sister, Bertha Margaret, aged 79 years and now Mrs. Frank T. Bowles, of Richmond, Virginia. Both brothers visited their ailing brother in Iowa City before his death.
Joseph's father was called the dean of the Medical Profession of Kankakee County, at the time of his death, at the age of 89 years. Dr. Joseph Uran's Father had performed the first appendectomy in that part of the county, and was the first to use the diptheria antitoxin. His Father was the President of the County Historical Society for many years.
Joseph Uran's Mother died at the age of 86 years. She was the daughter of Dr. Joseph Alfred Troup.
Joseph Uran finished High School at Kankakee Illinois, then took a year of business training, planning to become a medical secretary to the famous Dr. John B. Murphy, a surgeon in Chicago, Illinois, who was a personal friend.
From the age of 9 years, Joseph Uran had assisted his Father in his office and driving for his father on long calls. At 19 years of age he decided to start his long career along Medical lines, and accepted an appointment as Laboratory Technician in the eastern Illinois Asylum at Kankakee illinois. He held this position for three years, receiving valuable training during this period. Post mortems were performed on every inmate who died, an average of one a day. His work was to remove the brain at each postmortem.
At 22 years he entered Physician's and Surgeon's medical School in Chicago, now a part of the University of Illinois Medical School. he took his obstetrical training under the famed Dr. Joseph B. Lee of the Chicago Lying-in Hospital, and once delivered 12 babies in 10 days in the ghetto district of Chicago. When Joseph Uran graduated from Medical college at 26 years of age, his father made arrangements for him to go to Europe for Post Graduate work.
A surgeon at the Michael Reese Hospital of Chicago, who knew Joseph Uran's ability, persuaded Joseph to enter competitive examinations for the position of Pathologist at Michael Reese Hospital. He received the highest grade of many other MD's who tried for the appointment. He was in charge of the laboratories there, specializing in brain research. His health failed because of long hours devoted to his works. He was urged to become an associate in surgery. he felt this was not his work, and instead purchased the country practice of Dr. Harold of Holland on July 29th, 1905. During his six years of practice in Grundy county, he met Miss Vivian Imogene Morgan. They were married April 26th, 1910. They moved to Wellsburg, a few miles away, and he continued his practice at Holland as well as Wellsburg.
All five of the Uran children were born while they lived at Wellsburg. They are Marshall Milton, a stationary engineer of San Francisco, California; Stanley M., who died at the age of 10 days; and is buried in Wellsburg; Ellen Vivian, now, Mrs. B. J. Wilson; Decatur, Georgia; margaret, now Mrs. L. C. Longanecker of San Francisco, California; and Donald M., who has been with the Merchant Marines since enlisting in 1942. his home port is Seattle, Washington. The daughters were here this past summer to visit their Father.
Dr. and Mrs. Uran have 10 grand-children, and two great-grandchildren. Their grandson Vaughn of San Francisco, California, has spent his summers at the Uran home and is looking forward to becoming a surgeon when he grows up. This brought a twinkle of pride to the face of his grandfather.
It was most fitting that Dr. Uran passed away on Veteran's day. During World War One, he volunteered for active service, but was asked by the draft board to remain in private practice because of the epidemic of influenza.
During World War Two, Mrs. Uran wrote one letter every day to some Riceville man or woman in service, and the last year of the war, every one of these persons were given a small gift by the Urans. Dr. Uran without a murmur, cheerfully paid for all these favors to others, as he has through all their 48 years together, paid for many favors to others.
Dr. John O'Keefe, a Waterloo surgeon invited Dr. Uran to come in with him in 1923. He moved his family to Waterloo, where he had an office in the Leavitt and Johnson Bank building. Shortly after moving to Waterloo, he was injured in an auto accident while driving Dr. O'Keefe to a country call. It was impossible for him to continue on as an assistant because of this injury.
In 1924, Dr. Uran decided to go back into country practice. He moved his family here Aug. 1, 1924. Dr. Uran maintained an office on Main St. until Jan. 1, 1957 when he remodeled the sun porch of his home to serve as an office. The family had lived in four residences before buying their present home, into which they moved Jan. 1, 1939.
Dr. Uran was a member of the First Congregational Church. He has been a member of several organizations, but had given all such activities up before his death.
"Doc" as he was affectionately called in this community, was an ardent gardener, and kept his friends and neighbors in fruits and vegetables, from the huge garden at the rear of his home, up to the time of his death. He was an ardent sports fan, enjoying all baseball. He was a devoted practitioner. The welfare of his patients came before anything else. During his last few days on earth, he continually spoke of his old people and was most anxious that whoever took over their care would be patient and kind to them, and that they were given the best of care. He saw his last patient at his home in Riceville on Oct. 25, but he wrote prescriptions for some of his patients from his hospital bed in Iowa City. He was a victim of a rare form of Aplastic Anemia.
All through his illness, he amazed others with his cheerfulness, and his thoughtfulness of others. He lived a long, full, life, and he would not want his friends to grieve for him, but he would rather that they be glad, that at last he is at rest.
Dr. Uran celebrated his 81st birthday Oct. 3rd, 1958. He has been afflicted with Aplastic Anemia for some time and was taken to the Iow City Hospital 11 days ago being accompanied by Mrs. Uran. Mrs. Uran returned to Riceville later.
Monday morning Mrs. Uran received word from Iow City that Dr. Uran's condition was grave, and she was driven to the hospital by Mr. and Mrs. Bert Duncomb, and was with Dr. Uran at the time of his death. Dr. Uran passed away Tuesday morning Nov.11 at 7 A.M. in the University Hospital of Iowa City.
Dr. Uran's body will be taken to the First Congregational Church Friday morning where it will lie in state until 2 P.M. at which time the funeral will be held with the Reverends Jonas Priestly and Walter Schillinger will officiate. Burial will be made in the Riverside cemetery. Th Champion Funeral Home of Oasge is in charge of arrangements. Riceville stores will remain closed during the hours of Dr. Uran's services.
|Biography||He attended high school at Kankakee, leaving in his senior year to attend a Kankakee business college from which he graduated. He had planned to become medical secretary to the famous Dr. John B. Murphy, a surgeon in Chicago, who was a personal family friend. From the age of 9 he had assisted his father in his office and drove for his father on long calls. At 19 he accepted an appointment as laboratory technician in the Eastern Illinois Asylum at Kankakee for 3 years, where he served as assistant pathologist. Post mortems were performed on every inmate who died, an average of one a day. His work was to remove the brain at each post-mortem. At age 22, he entered Physician's and Surgeon's Medical School in Chicago (now a part of the University of Illinois Medical School), for 4 years, graduating on May 26, 1903. He took his obstetrical training under the famed Dr. Joseph B. Lee of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital, and once delivered 12 babies in 10 days in the ghetto district of Chicago. He finished his medical studies at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in January, 3 months ahead of his class, at age 26. His father arranged for him to go to Europe for post graduate work, but a surgeon at the Michael Reese Hospital of Chicago who knew his ability persuaded him to enter competitive examination for the position of pathologist. He received the highest grade of 500 physicians who tested and won the position. He was appointed pathologist of Michael Reese hospital, Chicago and was in charge of the laboratories there, specializing in brain research for 2 years. His health failed because of the long hours, and he was urged to become an associate in surgery. He felt this was not his work and instead purchased the country practice of Dr. Harold in Holland, IA on 7/29/1905. He practiced medicine at Holland, Iowa for 6 years. He married Vivian Imogene Morgan in 1910. He moved to Wellsburg, Grundy Co, IA (for 13 years) and continued to practice in both places, as it was only a few miles away. All five children were born at Wellsburg. During WWI he volunteered for active service, but was asked by the draft board to remain in private practice because of the influenza epidemic. Dr. John O'Keefe, a Waterloo surgeon, invited Dr. Uran to come in with him in March 1923 (Morgan Gen.: Mar. 1925) and he moved to Waterloo (for 14 months) where he had an office in the Leavitt and Johnson Bank Bldg. Shortly after moving his arm was injured in an auto accident and it was impossible for him to continue as an assistant while he recovered. On Aug 1, 1925 he moved his family to Riceville and back to country practice. He maintained an office on Main street until 1/1/1957 when he remodeled the sun porch of his home to serve as his office. He took training from Sister Kenny in the treatment of polio. The family had lived in four rented residences before buying their home to which they moved in 1/1/1938 (bought it in 1944). All the children had left by 1938. He was a member of the First Congregational Church. He was a Mason in Grundy County and was a Modern Woodman member since a young man. He enjoyed gardening. He joined the Lions Club when it was started in Riceville; was a a member of the Congregational Church, Riceville Commercial Club and of the Community Club, American Medical Association, and Iowa State Medical Society. He was a charter member of the Riceville Golf club. He was known as 'Doc'. He was was an ardent gardener and kept his friends supplied with fruits and vegetables. One year he collected 436 quarts of strawberries. He was a sports fan, especially baseball. He ordered all his medications from the manufacturers and did not do business with the Jewish pharmacist who had his pharmacy next door to his medical officials. He did not like Jews or Blacks. He saw his last patient on 10/25/58. He practiced for 28 years in Riceville and had spent 50 years in medicine by 1953. He was an excellent diagnostician and sent many patients to the Mayo Clinic with his diagnosis and not once was it proved wrong. He had senile diabetes and angina. He had to have multiple blood transfusions for his anemia. He died at age of 81 of aplastic anemia at the University Hospital at Iowa City. He always voted a straight Republican ticket. Over 380 individuals expressed their sympathy when he died.|
He left his instruments and books to Mitchell Co. Historical Society in Osage, IA in 1967.5
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, #385, p. 308a-315.
- [S235] U.S. Census, 1880 Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL, Box 219, ED 30, p. 18.
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 308a-315.
- [S235] U.S. Census, 1900 Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL, Box 312, SD 103, ED 37, S 8.
- [S990] E. Beulah Hauser & Vivian Imogene MORGAN (28), Morgan Genealogy - V. I. (Morgan) Uran, p. 157.
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 308a.
- [S990] E. Beulah Hauser & Vivian Imogene MORGAN (28), Morgan Genealogy - V. I. (Morgan) Uran, p. 170.
- [S22] E.V. Uran, Family Genealogy, p. 9.
- [S1399] Unknown subject.
F, #28, b. 10 April 1891, d. 17 March 1970
- Father*: James Hamilton Morgan b. 31 Mar 1864, d. 4 Feb 1961
- Mother*: Lydia May Houghton b. 16 Apr 1867, d. 15 Nov 1938
Family: Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran M.D. b. 3 Oct 1877, d. 11 Nov 1958
- Marriage*: She married Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran M.D. on Apr 26, 1910 at Glenwood, Mills Co., IA, USA, at her parents home.4
|A Contributor to Houghton Surname Project||Y|
|Corresponded with author||?|
|Birth||Apr 10, 1891||Gilman, Marshall Co., IA, USA, Apr 1891, age 9 in 1900 census3,2|
|Graduation||1908||Sigourney High, Sigourney, IA, USA|
|Marriage||Apr 26, 1910||Glenwood, Mills Co., IA, USA, at her parents home4|
|1950 US Census||1950||Riceville, Marshall Co., IA, USA, age 72, doctor of medicine|
|Letter||Jan 19, 1953||She sent Imogene her family's genealogy.|
|Letter||Feb 17, 1953||Lancaster, MA, USA5|
|Note||Aug 30, 1953||"On Sun. Aug. 30, 1953 the First Baptist Church of North Springfield Vermont celebrated it's 150th Anniversary. A number of the descendants of Seth Boynton Houghton gave the Houghton 500 page History book starting with 1066 to the present day to the above church in honor of Seth B. Houghton who was its first church clerk and helped found this church. This was the book I wrote, my daughter to type, my brother helped with cash. If you wish any of the Houghton history you might go there and copy from it. It was given to them with that understanding. If the book is not in the church now it might be in the State Historical library."5|
|Letter||circa 1954||about Ralph Houghton descendants|
|Author||1954||Riceville, IA, USA, Author: "Houghton Genealogy - 1066-1953" by Mrs. Joseph Alfred Uran|
It took Imogene 6 years to complete; completed in July 1953.6,7
|Research||Jan 20, 1967||Letter to Imogene Uran: Stated her mother received a chart from Sir Cuthbert in the 1920s. Jeanne sent a 1 page copy to Imogene|
|Letter||Mar 1, 1969||He sent his Houghton line.|
|Death||Mar 17, 1970||Mitchell Memorial County Hospital, Osage, Mitchell Co., IA, USA, from congestive heart failure8|
|Burial||Riverside Cemetery, Riceville, Mitchell Co., IA, USA, She willed her body to the Medical School at the State University of Iowa. Ellen stated that she donated her body to the Iowa City Hospital for research and was then buried there.|
|Obituary||Mar 26, 1970||Riceville Recorder, Riceville, IA, USA, Vivian Imogene Uran, age 78 years, 11 months, 7 days, died March 17 at the Mitchel County Memorial Hospital in Osage, Iowa from a congestive heart failure.|
She was born April 10, 1891 in Gilman, Iowa to Lydia May and James Hamilton Morgan. She married Dr. Joseph Alfred Uran from Kankakee, Illinois on April 26, 1910. they lived in Wellsburg, Iowa until 1921. Moved to Waterloo, Iowa and lived there until 1925 when they located in Riceville. She taught at Holland, Iowa 1 1/2 years before she married. She was a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Wellsburg in 1921 through her brother's service in World War I, then changed to the Riceville unit when they moved here in 1925. She served as president of each unit and 1 year chairman of the Mitchell County unit. she was a charter member of the United Service Women of America in 1944 through Donald Uran's service in World War II. She served as unit and county historian until the unit became Amvets. Then she was a charter member of the Amvet unit and was also unit and county historian until the last year 1950 when the unit disbanded. Their last year she was unit president. After the unit disbanded she joined the Amvet unit in Wellsburg. The history work was turned over to her when the group was disbanded and is slowly being completed by her daughter Mrs. B. J. Wilson. She was a member of the Thimble Club, the second oldest study club in Mitchell County, until it disbanded when the members became too few in number. She served as treasurer for one year for this club. She was also a member of the General Federation Women's Clubs of America, the Vermont State Historical Society, the Marshall County Historical Society, the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Mitchell County Historical Society.
During World War II from Army Day, April 6, 1941, until the end of the war she wrote at least one letter every day to some Riceville person in service. She kept a record of each service person and kept all their addresses up to date and was instrumental in having churches and other groups write to those in services. She served as president of a group of 6 women of the Medical and Surgical Relief Committee working through a National group at N.Y.C. She kept records, ordered all supplies and personally packed one ton of materials that was shipped to New York and overseas. A pin was awarded for her efforts and the Riceville group received many national writeups.
She had several hobbies. Scrapbooks of various kinds and a collection of over 2000 bottles from 37 states and 15 foreign countries which were later donated to the Mitchell County Historical Society.
With the help of her brother and husband she worked with the family's genealogy and traced the Houghton side from 1066 to 1955 when it was typed into book form. She was still working on the Morgan history when she died.
In 1937 a Riceville Recreational Association was organized by Mrs. Uran. Boy and Girl Scouts were sponsored, a tennis court furnished, several soft ball teams organized, horseshoe courts made, city park made ready for picnics, croquet set bought, supervised play for children during the day sponsored for two summers. Money was raised for tag days, home talent plays, and carnivals to pay the expenses.
Mrs. Uran served on the Public Library Board for several years and on the Camp Fire Girls Board for several years. She has helped on Cancer and Red Cross Drives and was church historian for several years. She spent five years preparing the church history for their centennial in 1958.
She was a member of the Continuing Congregational Church.
She is survived by two daughters, Mrs. B. J. (Ellen) Wilson, Riceville; Mrs. Margaret Longnecker, Oakland, Calif; tow sons, Marshall M. Uran, San Francisco, Calif; Donald M. Uran, Seattle, Wash; one sister, Mrs. Merle E. Wade, Riverside, Calif; 7 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Dr. J. A. Uran in 1958, infant son Stanley M., one brother and one sister.
Mrs. Uran's body has been willed to the Medical School at the State University of Iowa in honor of her late husband to use for medical science. It was also her wish not to have any memorial services.
|Research||had an extensive correspondence. Their letters were kept by Ellen Uran Wilson. She researched many of the lines related to Seth Houghton.9,5|
|Biography||She was born in Gilman, Marshall Co, Iowa. She graduated from Sigourney High in 1908. She wanted to become a nurse but her father refused. She attended Drake University for 12 weeks in 1909 in Des Moines, IA. Her father would not pay for a high school graduation picture (because his sister Genevieve had spent so much on hers); Imogene paid for her own picture a year later from her teacher's salary. She received her provisional teaching certificate at age 17 and taught the lower 3 grades at Holland, IA. She did not like teaching. While teaching the primary grades at Holland, IA, she met and married Joseph Uran in 1910. They moved to Wellsburg Iowa in 1911 and lived there until 1921. All the children were born there. They moved to Waterloo and lived there until 1925, then moved to Riceville, Mitchell Co, IA. She taught at Holland Iowa for one and a half years before she married. She was a charter member of Ashing Post Unit #218 of the the American Legion Auxiliary in Wellsburg in 1921 through her brother's service in WWI, then changed to the Riceville unit. She served as president of each unit and 1 year chairman of Mitchell Co. unit. She was a charter member of the United Service Women of America in 1944 through Donald Uran's service in WWII. She served as unit and county historian until the unit became Amvets (of which she was a charter member, and unit and county historian until the last year of 1950). She joined the Wellsburg unit at that point. She helped compile WWII records for Mitchell Co. and Riceville. She was a member of the Riceville Congregational Church. She taught adult Sunday School classes there for for 2 years. She was a member of the Thimble club, and of the Institute of American genealogy, the General Federation of Women's Clubs of America, the Vermont State Historical Society, the Marshall County Historidcal Society, the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Mitchell County Historical Society. During WWII she wrote 1 letter every day to some Riceville person in the service. She kept up to date the county address file of all World War II service persons in Mitchell County. She served as president of a group of 6 women of the Medical and Surgical Relief committee. She kept scrapbooks, collected 2070 bottles from 37 states and 15 countries (which she donated to the Mitchell Co. Historical Society). She was a genealogist who traced the Houghton line to Ralph Houghton in the 1600's with the help of her brother Max and husband. She was a serious genealogist who compiled thousands of pages of data and wrote hundreds of letters to librarians, civil officials, and others in her hunt for her familiy genealogical lines. She sent many letters to people searching for her Houghton, Morgan, Knight, and Shattuck ancestors. She organized the Riceville Recreational Association in 1937. She served on the Public Library Board for several years and on the Camp Fire Girls Board for several years. She was the Congregational Church historian for five years and wrote their Centennial history. She was a member of the Vermont State Historical Society in 1952. She was listed in 1952 in the N.Y. State Historical Society of amateur genealogists; and in Vol. 7 of Compendium of American Genealogy published by the Institute of American Genealogy and in the Directory of Genealogists. She wrote 3 novels (none published) and a dozen short stories. She got lots of rejection slips. She spent 6 years with the help of brother Max and her husband's financial assistance on researching the genealogies of the Houghton, Tender, Morgan, White, and Knight families. In March and April 1955 she wrote the complete Morgan and Houghton genealogies for the 1955 Marshall Co. Historical Book. According to her daughter Ellen (who typed the genealogies), her mother did a lot of the research by letters. Her brother Max traveled doing research, but did not find much. In 1955 she finished her two volume genealogy (600+ pages) of the Houghton family. She was hospitalized for 2 months with heart disease in 1/1946. She died at age 78 years, 11 months and 7 days at Mitchell Co. Memorial Hospital in Osage Iowa from congestive heart failure. She donated her body to the Medical School at the State University of Iowa.|
Her biography is given in History of Marshall County Iowa by Gerard Schultz, 1955. (Sutro Library), p. 242. Mr. Schultz has a copy of her Houghton Genealogy.10,2
- Author: Vivian Imogene Morgan was contributed to the research in the "Morgan Genealogy 1816-1955", a 223 page genealogy, of her Morgan family, compiled by E. Beulah Hauser, her cousin in 1960.11
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 16, 305.
- [S990] E. Beulah Hauser & Vivian Imogene MORGAN (28), Morgan Genealogy - V. I. (Morgan) Uran, p. 157.
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 305.
- [S3] Vivian Imogene Uran, Houghton Genealogy - V.I. Uran, p. 308a.
- [S1399] Unknown subject.
- [S96] NEHGR, 108 : 71.
- [S187] Unknown author, "unknown short article title", 6 : 94; Mrs. J. A. Uran.
- [S22] E.V. Uran, Family Genealogy, p. 9.
- [S36] Letter, from Myrle Houghton to Imogene Uran, 1963.
- [S37] Schultz, History of Marshall County IA, p. 242.
- [S990] E. Beulah Hauser & Vivian Imogene MORGAN (28), Morgan Genealogy - V. I. (Morgan) Uran, p. 1.