It occours tome that I have often mentioned my Grandfather Christman whom I loved so much, but have failed to mention other members of hid family. There was of course my stepmother who was the second of the four children born to Evert Christman, I fail to remember his wife’s name if I ever really knew it. She was known to my sisters and me as Granny Pedori for some reason I do not know. I do know that she was eleven years older than grandad. And both parents of each of them were German Emigrants, making them and their four children pure German stock, and each had strong German features. I believe I have stated earlier that for many years grandad was a section gang foreman on the railroad and my mother and siblings spent many years living in boxcars on sidings along side railroad tracks, with periods of farm life interspersed in there. By the time my father married us into the family granddad had settled into the farm life for some time.
The oldest child was a son who had moved to California and had been on the Vernon, Ca. Police Dept for some time by the time I became a member of the family. The was a big guy tall and bulky, well over the two-hundred pound mark. His one of those swarthy skinned Germans who would have made a good German Sargent or officer in a movie. When we moved to California in 1955 he was a motorcycle officer for the Vernon force. I do not know how it is today but at that time he owned his own bike and the city supplied the lights and equipment and paid him a maintenance fee for it’s upkeep. He brought it home every-night and parked it in his garage. This I know because in my first summer in Cal. they went on vacation an arraigned with my youngest aunt who lived with them at the time to pick my up and have me mow their lawn before they came home. Well being sixteen and with time on my hands I spent some time sitting on the bike in the garage before mowing the yard (being sixteen in 1955 was a lot different than sixteen in 2007, we were a lot younger then). His name was Artie Christman. He was married to a Italian woman named Rose, a good Italian cook I suppose, but she would not learn to cook the farm food he loved. So the story goes, they were in a nice restaurant and he noticed cornbread on the menu. Asking the waiter if indeed they had the corn bread and receiving the affirmative he ordered a hugh chunk of the bread, a large bowl and a small picture of milk. His wife begged him not to but he said no and proceeded to crumble the corn bread into the bowl and pour the milk over it. For those of you not from the south or the farm this is a common meal and greatly loved by those who are accustomed to it, my dad included. She was mortified and crying with embarrassment. He told her you learn to make me corn bread and I won’t be forced to go out to eat it like this. I’m told she could make corn bread with the best of them after that.
Now once again, I was just a lowly kid in those days and was regulated to sitting back and listening to my elders talk. However I overheard many stories, I believe I might not have witnesed had I made my presents known. Like the story of the fire on Palos Verdies Hills which Vernon sent some fire trucks to help fight. Uncle Artie and another motor patrolman were riding escort in front and they hit a patch of wet pavement on a curve. The other guy went down and slid on the asphalt for a number of feet on his rear and pealed away the double seat of his uniform and some hide requiring a ride home face down in a ambulance. Or the night when a few of them got drunk after their shift at night, and I know the area because I worked in Vernon for 43 years, got to shooting their service revolvers along side of the RR tracks. (Steve this was at Fruitland and Downey Road). Other officer were called out to calm them down they all ended up on report as I overheard. Then lastly on the way home after work on the 3rd shift they stopped a a bar called the Chit Chat in Bell Gardens, this was one of the roughest bars in the county, even into my day. I was told you could have heard a pin drop even the live band stopped until they left. Artie eventually retired as a Captain and relocated back to a small farm in Missouri after his retirement. Oh yeah he had divorced Rose long before this and married her cousin??
The second child was my step-mom and the one who I received most of this history from, however a lot came from the youngest daughter who really was more of a friend and buddy than a aunt who I’ll mention later. Of her youth other than living in the boxcars I do not know much about. I do not know where or how she met her first husband and the father of my stepsister. I do know he came from North Carolina and she lived there for a while with his family. He served with the Army in Germany in the second world war. I was told he assisted in the capture of a German Captain as he searched him he was removing his watch when he asked in English if he might keep his watch. I don’t know his answer to him. I was also told he was wounded in his rear in such a manner that he had two entrance and exit wounds. After the war he and my stepmother and their baby came back to Noel, Mo. for awhile to the Christman farm. He sent to No. Carolina for his coon dog and when it arrived it had apparently been fed something too hot and it had ruined its nose and could not run the coon’s. In his anger he refused to have anything to do with the dog. It is my understanding when he returned to his home he went alone. I know that when the little girl became my sister she was only three. My step-mom left the child with her patents and moved to Carthage to become a waitress at Boot’s Drive -In, where she met my dad, and the rest is history.
The third child was the pride of the family he was a tall (well over six feet) strikingly good looking guy, who had been the star basketball player on the high school team, and had joined the Navy, and served during the Korean conflict. He served on board a Air Craft Carrier, and had a love for planes ever after. Uncle Eugene was on of those guys that people instantly liked. He was the one who had picked out the old dog I talked about earlier and the dog was devoted to him. I do not know just where he fell age wise after my mother she was only fourteen years older than me and he was younger. they told the family story as to how he got spoiled and would not go to sleep at night unless they took him for a ride in the car, as far as I know that was the only fault he ever had. After his release from the Navy he went to work at a aircraft plant in Topeka, Kanasa where he worked for a number of years and met and married a devorced woman named Vi. She had two children a girl older than me and a boy near the same age. Of course everyone thought she was not good enough for him, who knows, I didn’t I was too young to have a opinion, although I did not like her. Much later after we moved to California they moved to a town near Noel and tried farming, with him doing plumbing on the side. Like many of the good ones life dealt him a cruel blow, he got Muscular Dystrophy in his forties. Granddad told me he never let it get him down he kept trying. At the end he still was trying to grow a garden he planted in wide rows, so he could drag himself along between to try to weed. He was a truly a likable guy.
Thelma!! There was a gal! She was only fourteen and I was nine when we met. It was love at first sight on my part. she had a million freckles and pigtails, mostly bare feet and only owned levies and flannel shirts. I expect she could beat the the crap out of any guy twice half her size she was formidable. She could drive the truck and tractor, pitch hay like a man and I expect she could probably spit further than the guys too. But she was fair and always a friend and pal. she was chief guardian and protector of my soon to be little sister who loved her with no bounds. She was also a straight A student, something I never would compete with. After she graduated from high school she came to live with us for a while displacing me from my bed to the couch. She worked at the Big Smith Overall Factory for a short time before moving on to California with her older brother Artie for a while. She then moved out on her own with some other girls before meeting the jerk she eventually married. Well if you spelt looser in capital letters you came close to describing him. What attracted her to him no ever figured out. He had been married and had a son just young enough below me to get drafted to Viet Nam where he lost his life, I believe his name was Billy also like his father. Also the name my aunt named her first son. After she married this guy she had three sons in rapid order barley more than a year apart. The father had a gambling addiction and had a resident bookie who showed up on paydays to get his cut before the money went home to the family. I truly loved Thelma and didn”t understand why she stayed with him. She finally forced him to move back to Noel, where he got a job as a mechanic in the small dealership in town, whether this helped with the gambling I do not know. Thelma had another son and finally a daughter in Missouri. How any of them turned out I do not know as she was not one too write. I used to joke with her that she was like the hillbilly gal that went to the Dr. for advice on how not to get pregnant. He told he sleep with your feet in a ten gallon crock! Next time he saw her he asked what happened? She said I couldn’t find a ten gallon so used two fives instead.
There is more I could have written and antidotes I could have added, but this is a chapter not a book so am going to quit before eye strain and brain over load burns me out completely.