|Yorba Linda History|
|Home | Donations | Digital Collections | Map of Yorba Linda Historical Sites | Reproduction Policy | Timeline | Links to local historical societies | Yorba Linda Star index|
Gerald ShawInterviewed by Jeff Jones, June 3, 1970
This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual.
Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, California, 92634.
Copyright (c) 1977
The Oral History Program
California State University, Fullerton
CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE, FULLERTON
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Richard M. Nixon Project
Life in Early Yorba Linda and Fullerton, California
by Jeff Jones
June 3, 1970
CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE, FULLERTON
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Richard M. Nixon Project
INTERVIEWEE: GERALD SHAW
INTERVIEWER: Jeff Jones
SUBJECT: Life in early Yorba Linda and Fullerton, California
DATE: June 3, 1970
J: This is an interview with Mr. Gerald Shaw for the Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project at California State College, Fullerton, at the Shaws' house at 9223 Fourth Street, Inglewood, California. The time of the evening is about 7:00 pm, and the date is June 3, 1970. The interviewer is Jeff Jones.
Mr. Shaw, could you tell me a little bit about your experiences in Yorba Linda, please?
S: Well, when I was a small kid, roughly about five years old, we moved to Yorba Linda. We came from Illinois to start with, and we moved out there to Yorba Linda, California. As we were in that neighborhood out there, why, right down the street was a family by the name of Nixon. It wasn't but a short while until we became pretty well-acquainted with this family. At the present time one of the boys is the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. And during our course of childhood, why, we were very friendly with each other and used to play with each other quite a bit, and we had quite a good relationship as young kids.
J: What kind of activities did you do?
S: We used to play in a place right close by. His home was across from a ditch which was, at that particular time, a drainage ditch that ran out to the Santa Ana River. We used to play down in there considerably, and we had kind of a boat built alongside of it, and it was a lot of fun to play in that rascal. (laughter) We used to make paddles  out of boards and think we were paddling with Tom Sawyer up and down the river. (laughter) It was quite a lot of fun,
J: How long did you stay at the ditch when you were there?
S: We would probably be there for three or four hours each morning, and in the afternoon, why, we would maybe wander off somewhere else. He had a cousin who used to come over there frequently. His name was Floyd Wildermuth. I don't know whether you have heard of him or not. But he used to come over to visit us, and the two or three of us used to run around in the back country in through there, because in those days it was quite primitive or open area, not like it is today.
J: What was this ditch used for primarily?
S: It was an irrigation ditch. It was used for irrigation throughout the orange groves which were quite plentiful there at that time.
J: How big was the ditch?
S: Oh, I would say it was roughly twenty or thirty feet across. It was just a plain old dirt ditch at that time, but now it is all cemented in and everything else. I don't know whether you are familiar with that area or not.
J: How long was the ditch in length?
S: Oh, it was miles. I don't know where its source was originally, but it came from the Santa Ana River and used to run on down through for miles and miles, which was way up into the mountains.
J: Could you tell me something about the red bridge, please?
S: The red bridge?
J: You know, the bridge that you used to cross to the Nixons' house.
S: Oh, yes. Oh, that was an old rickety rascal, man! (laughter) That was an old beat-up thing. If you made it across that thing, why, you were quite lucky! There used to be a bunch of pollywogs that were down there in the corner of it, and we used to play with those things. One day when we were playing down there--do you want me to tell you about that?
J: Yes, yes. 
S: One day when we were playing down there, I went down and got a jar full of pollywogs. He didn't like that and he wanted them himself. He was a little bit on the temperamental side that day, apparently. So he had this hatchet in his hand, and it's a good thing it didn't have a sharp head because he hit me on the head with the blunt end of it! I have a scar on my head to this day to show for it. (laughter) But other than that, why, it just shows that everybody has a temper. But he's controllable.
J: Who was the person that hit you?
S: Richard Nixon,himself!
J: Oh, wow, that's pretty good! (laughter)
S: One day when we were going to grow up, he said that he was going to be Vice-President. Then I said, "Well, then I am going to be President. " Well, he made both and I didn't make either on. (laughter)
J: What kind of use did the bridge have? Was it just used for foot traffic across?
S: Oh, no, you could drive a car over, but it was not the safest thing to drive over. But in those days, cars weren't the safest things to ride in. (laughter)
J: How many people in your neighborhood had cars?
S: Why, I think we were the only ones, because my father used to have the orange packinghouse here in Yorba Linda. He had the one in Fullerton, too, and then a few years later on we moved into the city of Fullerton. But there weren't very many cars. Most everybody was still on foot or riding around in horse and buggy.
J: Did Mr. Nixon have a car?
S: Yes. I don't recall the brand or the name of it or anything such as that, but it was an old touring car, and ours was too. (laughter) The Nixons had a pretty good lemon grove there if I remember correctly, and it was pretty good sized acreage.
Oh, we used to have another thing we had a lot of fun with. We had a cow in our backyard, Old Daisy. (laughter) We used to go down and try to milk that cow, and she never would let us milk her. My mother used to come down there and she would show us how and things like that, and Richard's mother came over there, too. We had a ball with that! That was a lot of fun. My folks used to like to go camping quite a bit, and we had a tent that we always put up. So  my father says, "Well, it's okay for you kids to play in it." We made a wooden platform for it, and then we put this tent up, you know, like they have in the cabins in the mountains nowadays for these scout camps and things like that. So that tent was almost a permanent fixture. We used to go in there, and man, that was the playhouse because we didn't have wooden structure playhouses then. (laughter)
J: What kind of activities did you people do, other than going to the ditch? What kind of games did you play?
S: Oh, just normal children's games of hopscotch and tag, and hockey with a tin can; you'd get an old stick and you'd beat it around to get the tin can going up and down the street there, and away you went with it! (laughter)
J: I heard that you occasionally had clod fights over there.
S: Oh, yes, we used to do that right now and then. And he used to get on one side of the ditch--that's when we would get mad at each other--he would get on one side of the ditch and I would get on the other, and we'd throw clods at each other. (laughter)
J: Oh, no! Who usually won?
S: Well, I don't know. It was just a draw, I guess, because we both survived. (laughter)
J: What kind of person did Richard Nixon seem to be when he was living in Yorba Linda?
S: Oh, he was a real nice boy, real good. I mean, everybody liked him and he was a very likable child, as far as I can recall.
J: What was he, a very quiet person?
S: He was quiet, and a very studious lad, I mean from the time he was, I would say, probably six, seven or eight. When he would find a book or something like that, he would like to read it. And we used to like to run down to the library--which was up in the big city of Yorba Linda at that time, which had maybe a thousand people in it--and we would go up and get a book out of the library, and we would go back and read it. Maybe we would read two a day. And that was pretty good for those little old--well, they were about the size of comic books for children today.
J: How far was the library from your house? 
S: Oh, it must have been four or five blocks.
J: And you walked to the library and back?
S: Yes, and that was up over the railroad tracks into down-town Yorba Linda.
J: Do you remember which railroad that was?
S: No, I don't remember the name of it.
J: What year did you start in school there? Did you start in the first grade there?
S: First grade, yes.
J: Were you in the same year as Richard Nixon was?
S: No, I was one year behind him. My sister was one year ahead of him, and he was in between us. He had three brothers, but one of them died when he was a young boy; he was about nineteen or eighteen, somewhere in that neighborhood. That was the oldest brother, Harold. Donald, the third oldest brother, is still doing right well for himself today. But I don't know about the other brother. I don't know where he ever got to. He was the youngest one of the family, if I remember correctly.
J: What kind of people did the Nixon parents seem to be, or did you have too much contact with them?
S: His mother, Hannah Nixon, was a very nice lady and his father, Frank Nixon, was just as strict as he could be. Oh, man, he was strict! He was an old Quaker from way, way back. (laughter) He really was. After we moved into Fullerton, his parents apparently--what the situation was I don't know, as I was too young to understand conditions in those days, and whether they sold out forceably or made a profit and sold out, I don't know. But they moved into Whittier. That was later on, after he got out of the grammar grades and things such as that. They moved into Whittier just a little ways up from a reform school. I was about two or three miles up the street. I don't know whether it's still there or not.
J: You mean Nelles School?
S: I don't remember,
J: It's still there.
S: Well, they lived just down from the street not too far from there, and they had a grocery store and a few other  things. We used to go up and visit them up there, probably a couple times a month. Richard Nixon's father and my father couldn't see eye to eye for some reason or another. What it was I don't know, but we would always go up there and my father would sit and wait in the car while we went visiting. And Richard's father was never around neither. He was a very strict person.
J: Getting back to Yorba Linda, could you tell me something about the reservoir up there in the hill?
S: Oh, that was up where the grammar school is today. That was a pretty good reservoir. We used to run up there and play quite a bit around that, too. Oh, the old things that kids always do! We'd throw sticks and rocks and everything else into it to see how far you could make them skip across the water.
Later on, my parents bought a cabin up in a place called Barton Flats, and one weekend my sister would take one of her girl friends up; my father would bring her up, and she would spend a week up there. Then the next weekend I would bring one of my boy friends up, and he would spend a week up there with me. We used to alternate that way, and Richard used to come up at least three times during the summer months because he was more or less one of our closest associates at that particular time.
J: Which sister are you referring to, Virginia?
S: Yes, Virginia, my younger sister.
J: What kind of activities did you do at Barton Flats?
S: Oh, we used to hike and swim. There was a lake not too far away--about a mile up the trail, as it was--and we used to go up there quite a bit. That whole area at that particular time was nothing but Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls and all kinds of church camps and such things like that. But now it's pretty well built up, I guess.
J: How long after you moved to Yorba Linda did you get the cabin?
S: Oh, I'd say possibly two or four years, maybe five, I don't recall exactly,
J: So you were about eight to ten years old when you got the cabin?
S: Somewhere in through there, yes. Well, wait a minute, no.  I would say I was probably ten to twelve, or something such as that, because we had just joined the Boy Scouts. That would make me twelve. We had just joined the Boy Scouts, and we wanted to go up to the mountains into the cabin and camp up there. This family by the name of Walker that was down the street from us already had a cabin up there, so they let us go up there a couple of weeks until we found that we liked the place and then built a cabin of our own up there. This lake was called Jinx Lake, and for children and things such as that it was a wonderful placer because we used to swim, catch fish, and everything else. Richard and I used to go down from our back porch; we had this tree that had fallen across the stream, and we got the game warden to bring barrels of fish and dump them into this pool just right below where the cabin was. Oh, it must have been ten or fifteen feet deep! And he would bring a great big barrel of fish and dump it in there.
And when we used to go hiking up to Jinx Lake, why, there was another lad that was a pretty good friend of ours, and he came up there for a week with us, too. We decided that we were going to go get a bunch of frogs and we were going to have frog legs. (laughter) And they were good! I mean, we'd had them before. So one lad, by the name of Ted Billafeld--and they lived out in the town of Placentia--came up there. He was a great big strapping lad for his age. Man, from what I can remember, he must have been about ten feet tall to me! (laughter) But he was the same age as I was. He was a big lad. And we had a whole great big bucket full of frogs. They were good frogs, not tadpoles or nothing like that, I mean, they were good eating frogs. I brought them home, and I was cutting off the back legs. This lad, Ted Billafeld, couldn't stand the sight of blood, and he fainted and passed out. So my mother made me throw them all way, because she didn't want him to get all upset and shook up. Poor Richard and I didn't get to have any frogs that night. (laughter) But he went back that weekend, and we did real good the next week. (laughter)
J: Were they bullfrogs?
S: Yes, regular . . . Like small chicken legs, you know. We had twenty or thirty of them.
J: How did you catch the frogs, just with your hands?
S: Why, no. We would get a stick and we would go out and frog stick them. Didn't you ever do that?
J: No, I've never done that
S: Oh, man, it's fun. (laughter) You get a stick and you go frog gigging, as they call it. You cut a branch off a tree  and put a point on it about five or maybe six inches long, tapered down, and you just go up and stab them right in the back. And there you had a frog.
J: Which one of you was better, you or Richard, at getting the frogs?
S: I don't recall. The only thing I know was that we had a bucket full of them, and it like to have broken our hearts because we had to throw them all away.
J: (laughter) How long did it take you to get the frog, when you did go out to get them?
S: It didn't take us too long. We could catch them in a couple of hours. That was a good afternoon's activity for us.
J: How many frog legs could you eat at a time?
S: Oh, man, it's just like eating chicken. (laughter) Have you ever eaten frog legs?
J: I've never had any yet.
S: Oh, man, they are better than chicken really. (laughter) A person could eat about a dozen if he really wanted to sit down and eat them. But half a dozen is usually plenty.
J: So it would take a lot of frogs to get out enough food?
S: Yes, you've got to get quite a batch. You see, there was two, four, five, or six of us up there, so we had to have this whole bucket full of them. And they were pretty good.
J: It would take over thirty frogs. (laughter) So how long did you have the cabin at Barton Flats?
S: Oh, my goodness, we had it until I got out of high school, I guess. When I got out of high school, I went into the service. In those days was when the Depression hit the country, and I figured that would be a good place for me to stay in the Depression years. (laughter)
J: Could you tell us something about the city of Yorba Linda, the layout of the city when you were living there?
S: That's quite vague, because the only thing I can recall is the street I lived on. There was probably half a dozen stores in the town. Where the present grammar school is now, up there on the hill, I guess there is still a grammar school, I don't know. I don't know if the reservoir is still there. But there was this street that we lived on, and as you came down, before you crossed the railroad track, there was probably twenty or thirty residential homes, and then you went over into the main part of Yorba Linda, As I say, there was possibly, oh, half a dozen stores in that neighborhood: a hardware store, a drugstore, and a food store and things such as that.
But when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, we moved from Yorba Linda to Fullerton. Then it was very, very rare that we ever did go back out to Yorba Linda because, well, the only thing was that my father had the packinghouse out there. It was an orange packinghouse, and then there was the one in Fullerton. As things got rough and the Depression hit the country and things such as that, the orange packinghouse . . . I don't recall what happened to the one in Yorba Linda, but my father only then. As I say, I don't recall who took it over in Yorba Linda, but it was broken down to one person for each one, then. They used to have a foreman of one, you know, and a foreman of another, and my father was the manager of the two of them.
But as far as the town is concerned, why it was quite small. There was only one main street, and there was only four or five streets where residential homes were.
J: What were your father's packinghouses called?
S: Mutual Orange Distributors.
J: Both of them?
J: When you went to Yorba Linda Elementary School, how were the classes run? How many classrooms were there?
S: We had one classroom for each grade, as far as up to the eighth grade, and then from there you went on a bus to Fullerton High School. They didn't have a high school at that time. I don't know whether they have one there now, or not. Does Yorba Linda have a high school now?
J: No, it doesn't, I don't believe. When you were in class, how long were you in school at one time? Were you there all day?
S: No. For the first two or three grades, from what I can recall, it was only up until possibly two or something such as that in the afternoon. I know we went there in the morning, and then we went home for lunch, and then we came  back for a short while and then home again. The school was only four or five blocks from the house.
J: What kind of education did they give you at school? What kinds of subjects did you study?
S: Just normal grammar grade subjects. As I say, I think it was much better than it is today. All they teach them to do today is draw pictures and fingerpaint. (laughter)
But maybe that's what they learn best from, I don't know.
J: What kinds of books did you use?
S: They were regular hardback books.
J: What was the English book called, or do you remember that?
S: I don't remember exactly what they did call them. Well, they called it a primer. I remember the first grade primer they used to give us to take home to read.
J: What color was it?
S: I think it was blue. Man, that was a long time ago. You know, that's fifty-three or fifty-four years back.
J: You said that you stayed at this school until you were in the fourth grade.
S: Yes. In the fifth grade I went to Fullerton Grammar School.
J: How did you feel the quality of the education was at Yorba Linda? Do you feel it was pretty good? Looking back at it, I mean.
S: Well, my first grade teacher was the one that really sent me. Boy, she was great! (laughter) Oh, she was wonderful. But that to me is what you might want to say is the basic foundation for a child going to school, really. If he or she likes their first grade teacher, from then on it's not too bad for them. But when you first start in school, everything being strange to you and all, someone if you have as a teacher that you dislike, why, you're going to dislike school the rest of your life.
J: Did they have one first grade teacher and then they had a second grade teacher?
J: So the first grade teacher would be the same for each group of people who came through, unless she quit or lost her place. Right? 
S: Yes. And this first grade teacher would teach the whole family from the oldest child on down to the youngest.
J: So Richard Nixon had the same teachers that you had.
S: Yes, we all had the same teachers as far as that was concerned. From what I can remember, there were only eight teachers there, because they only had eight grades there at that time.
J: Who was your principal there then?
S: I don't remember. (laughter) My goodness, you're taxing my mental cavity there a little too deep!
J: Okay, I'll ask you about some of the families that lived around your house in the neighborhood. Who were some of them?
S: Well, let's see. Almost across the street from us, down a little bit, was a family by the name of Pickering. One day . . . Oh, that was a sad situation. I don't know whether my sister told you about that or not.
J: No, she didn't.
S: Anyway, the father knew all about going out and picking mushrooms, and he went out and picked out a whole bunch of mushrooms up there on the hillside where they grew wild right where the grammar grades are now, up by the reservoir. He came back and he cooked up these mushrooms, and two of their children died.
J: Yes, that hurts. What happened to the family after the tragedy?
S: They moved away. I don't know whatever happened to them.
J: Did both the parents live?
S: Yes. It was just the two younger ones. Apparently the whole family was quiet ill for probably a week, from what I can recall, but the two little ones just couldn't, I guess, throw it off. They're the two that died. I think there were five children from what I can recall.
J: Who took care of the family when they were sick?
S: Oh, neighbors, sure. Everybody then, you know, helped everybody else. Yes, I can remember that quite vaguely.
We used to have an old swing on our porch, and at night in the summertime we used to get these fireflies around there. I don't know whether you've ever seen them flying  around in that area or not.
J: No, I haven't.
S: You'd see them quite a bit in the mountains. In those days, when the open country was that way, we used to sit out there on one of those big old porch swings. You'd get in and sit down, and it had two benches, one on each side, and the old fireflies would just light that place up around there!
J: (laughter) Do you remember a family called the Wests?
S: Oh, yes. But they didn't live there. No, they lived over a little ways farther. We didn't live on the same street with them. There was Carmen West and Merle West. They were his cousins.
J: How often did they come over?
S: They used to come over quite a bit. The boy, Merle West, was a redhead, a real redhead. He was a good friend of mine, too, and we used to play with each other quite a bit. But as I say, when we moved to Fullerton, the close contacts of the families weren't like they were, naturally, when we were living on the same street with each other.
J: How old was Merle West when you were over there?
S: He was the same age as we were. We were all in our . . .
J: And then there was the Marshburn family, wasn't there?
S: But I don't recall where they lived exactly, either. But they were right close by. They were within half a block or a block or something like that.
J: You mentioned the Wildermuths. Where did they live in proximity to where you lived?
S: Well, we didn't really get too well-acquainted with them until we moved into Fullerton, because we lived down on the same street in Fullerton. We were the first to move there, I guess we had the second house on the street, and they moved in there. Where they actually lived prior to then, I don't remember, but it was somewhere over in the residential streets of Yorba Linda. But they didn't live on our street in Yorba Linda. And then when we moved into Fullerton, why, they were about three doors down and across the street from us. Mrs. Wildermuth was a widow woman and had two boys, and they were--I don't know--first or second cousins or something such as that to the Nixon family. 
J: What were the boys' names, if you can remember?
S: One was Floyd and other was Merle. Merle was the big one and Floyd was the young one. But he was a big man. He must have been six feet six, I guess, and must have about three hundred pounds. Oh, he was huge!
J: How old was he?
S: Well, at that time he was, I would say, a man twenty-four or twenty-five or something like that, because he was the oldest child. Floyd was maybe four or five years older than we were.
J: Mrs. Wildermuth worked at the packinghouse, right?
J: What kind of work did she do?
S: She used to pack oranges. That was the biggest business, I guess, in the city of Yorba Linda at that time, that orange packinghouse was. And lemons were packed as well.
J: How many people were employed at the packinghouses?
S: Well, maybe a hundred. It wasn't too large.
J: Did they have only one work shift?
S: Yes, that was all. They worked probably from daylight till dark in those days. (laughter) It was seasonal.
J: How long did the season last?
S: Well, from what I can recall, during the summer months they had the Valencia oranges come in and then the navel oranges were during the winter months. Lemons were about the same time as the Valencia oranges were in.
J: How long did each of these different crops last, about two or three weeks?
S: Oh, no. I would say that there was probably about three months of work in each particular phase of the packing.
J: So it would be going about half a year at a time.
S: Yes, and let's say that if there were a hundred employees, there would probably be twenty-five of them that would be there the year around. The others were just packers, as they called them, that came in during the season. 
J: What would the twenty-five people do with the year around? Would they be doing the maintenance work?
S: Maintenance work and the strays of the fruit that would come in. For instance, there would be some oranges not quite developed in one area, and when they would go through and pick them at one time, then they would go back and pick them again.
J: So the season could last a whole year if they had strays?
S: Oh, yes.
J: How big were the orchards around the area?
S: Oh, they were good sized, twenty acres each. And I would say there was maybe thirty or forty orchards in through that area, because that was where most of the population of the city was, I mean, except for the few people that ran the little stores and such things that were in the actual downtown city of Yorba Linda. I doubt that there were five hundred people in that.
J: So most of the people were in the outside?
S: Yes. The area almost from the dividing line between the Fullerton city limits and the Yorba Linda city limits on down to the little town of Placentia, and in through that area, was all orange groves. And they all brought their oranges and everything else into the one packinghouse.
J: You said that there might have been forty groves of twenty acres each. Were those individually owned?
S: Yes. Each person owned their own grove at that time.
J: So it would be individually owned groves.
S: Right. But there weren't . . .
J: There weren't any really big groves. Do you know who had the largest grove in the area?
S: Well, that was up into Fullerton. The biggest grove was the Bastanchury Ranch. I don't know what they call it now. It's all subdivided now, isn't it?
J: Yes, most of it is.
S: It used to be the old Bastanchury Ranch that was just out side of Fullerton on the way to the city of Brea.
J: Did your house have a grove surrounding it? 
S: No, We had nothing but a few fruit trees and a cow in the backyard. (laughter)
J: What kind of fruit trees did you have?
S: Peaches and apricots and apple trees, just the normal backyard fruit trees, I guess we probably must have had maybe two and a half or three acres of ground there. I don't exactly recall the size of it.
J: What kind of fruit did you eat the most of?
S: Oh, peaches. I loved peaches! (laughter) We had an old peach tree, and man, if I can ever find a tree like that I'll buy one again today! (laughter) It was a saucer peach, and it was a little bitty old flat thing. It wasn't even two and a half inches in diameter, and it was flat, maybe an inch in thickness. It was the sweetest little peach! If you ever get a chance, get ahold of some, because, man, they are good! When those got ripe, the whole neighborhood used to come over there and eat peaches, I think. We had probably two or maybe three trees of each kind, you know, and then naturally we had all the normal things that you would grow: berries, a fence with blackberries, and things like that.
J: Who did most of the caring for the trees?
S: Gee, I don't know.
J: I mean the trees in your backyard.
S: I don't imagine I did too much. (laughter) I imagine that my father and mother did most of it. But my older brother--not my older brother, but the brother that was out here then and who died when he was probably nineteen or twenty years old--why, he was quite ambitious at that time, so he probably did a quite a bit for it, too.
J: How many children were there in you family?
S: There were six all total, but only four of us survived. One of them I never saw. He was the oldest one of the family, and he was six years old, I think, when he died of scarlet fever before we ever moved from Illinois out here.
J: Oh, what were the children in your family named? I know there was a Virginia.
S: My older brother, the one that I never saw, was named Vernon. Then my older brother who is living today--he lives out in the San Fernando Valley, in Canoga Park--is Harold. Then I have an older sister by the name of Doris, and my  younger sister is Virginia. Virgil was my other brother. He was the brain of the family, but he didn't live to use it. He was a very studious lad, and he was quite ambitious and everything. He got injured quite badly while playing football, and in about four or five years he died. But it was just one of those unfortunate situations
J: Where was he playing football?
S: At Fullerton High School.
J: (pause) Did your mother do any work outside of taking care of the house?
S: No. No, women didn't work in those days except at home. And that's where they worked. There were not so many modern conveniences as they have today. With four or five children always around the house all the time, they didn't get a chance to do much work except take care of the house. (laughter)
J: That's true. What did they do with the peaches that they didn't eat immediately?
S: Oh, they canned them. Man, the cellar used to be just packed full of peaches, pears, stringbeans and corn! Oh, man. Everybody canned their own leftover fruit and vegetables in those days.
J: How did they go about doing it, or do you remember?
S: They used to have a big old cooker that they put them in, and then they put them in fruit jars and cooked them up and sealed them and set them down there and ate them in the wintertime. Nobody ever heard of going to the market and buying frozen vegetables and frozen fruit.
J: How did you keep your perishables cool?
S: We had an icebox. I still call the refrigerator an icebox today. That's the way you can tell how old a person is. (laughter)
J: How did the icebox work?
S: Well, you always had a drip pan hanging underneath it, and you'd always forget it and let it run all over the kitchen floor--I know that--until finally we drilled a hole in the kitchen floor and put a hose down through it to let it drain down into the ground. It worked better that way.
J: Where did you get the ice for the icebox? 
S: Oh, there was an icehouse. There was one in Fullerton and there was one in Yorba Linda. The iceman would deliver, and if you forgot to get ice, then you'd have to . . you had a little card that you used to put in your window, and it said, "ICE." It was a square card, about a foot square. You don't remember any of this. (laughter) But you put that in the window, and the man would come and deliver.
Mrs. S: Tell him how you turned it for the number of pounds.
S: Well, it said on each corner twenty-five pounds, fifty pounds, seventy-five pounds or one hundred pounds, depending on the size of the ice that you had. We always used to use the fifty-pound chunk because . . .
J: How long did it last?
S: Two or three days, I guess. You could get ice twice a week.
Mrs. S: Tell him that it was tin lined.
S: Well, anybody knows what an icebox looks like.
J: Now tell me, what does an icebox look like? (laughter)
S: You don't remember what an icebox looks like?
J: No, I don't.
S: Well, it was a square wood thing and it had one big door, one long door, that held the ice. Depending upon the size of the icebox that you had for the twenty-five, fifty, seventy-five or one hundred pound chunk of ice that you put in, why, we could say that roughly it was four feet square.
J: Pretty good sized.
S: For a family, why, you used to have pretty good sized ones. It was tin lined on the inside, it had shelves, and it was insulated possibly by air, just in this tin lining between there and the outside. Air is a pretty good insulator, really. Then in later years, when they got into the modern icebox, they put this kind of a felt type of material in between it; it was what looks similar today to rock wool and things like that, only in those days it was just a felt kind of arrangement.
J: What kind of food did they store in the icebox?
S: Oh, you used to store your fresh meat and milk and open  fruit jars and vegetables that you had canned and opened so that they wouldn't spoil by the next meal or something. Normally, you used to just open what was needed by the family for that meal in the evening and leftover things were for lunch for the next day. (laughter) Nobody threw anything out then, like they do today.
They had a regular cooler, too, that was in your home, either on the back porch or somewhere else. The only cooling that that was from was from underneath your house. It was open to the underneath of your house and the wind used to blow up through there a little bit, you know, and kept things from being hot. But it didn't do too well. It was fine for wintertime, but in the summertime it didn't do too well.
J: How was this cooler constructed? Was it sort of a pit dug in the ground?
S: No, it was built in your home like a regular broom closet or something such as that, like where the disappearing ironing board is today, why, you would pull the door open and that would be your cooler. And it was shelved, and it had a screen underneath to keep the rats and mice or whatever would jump up from the bottom from climbing up into it.
J: So the food for each meal was bought or prepared that day.
S: Bought? You made it! (laughter) There wasn't much that you bought except meat and milk. And as it would be then, if a local farmer there would butcher a cow or something, why, then you would all go and pitch in and buy that. That would last you for three or four days. They would store the meat down in the icehouse and in these curing areas.
J: Did they have a big locker down there?
S: There were no such things as lockers. They just used to hang it up there and say, "That's my piece of meat over there." Nobody thought anything about it, they wouldn't bother it.
J: Oh, wow! then you just got enough meat for the day, and then would cook it and use it, right?
S: Well, they had a butcher there and he would cut it up for you. The meat itself that was used would be just, well, maybe you would get enough meat for three or four days. And they had regular butcher shops and things such as that through the whole markets and everything else. When we first moved out there, we didn't seem to like the meat in this one little market. I don't remember why. So we used  to go out to the people in the farms and things like that--that raised cattle, and we would do it that way. We would buy what you would call a quarter today, and take it and hang it in the icehouse. Then we would have the butcher cut it up for us. That way it would keep real good.
J: How far did you have to go to get the cattle when you did buy them?
S: Just out locally, maybe three or four miles, something like that, or five miles. But they weren't bad.
J: That's not too far.
S: Oh, no.
J: You did occasionally go to the store for supplies like flour and things like that, didn't you?
S: Things like that, regular staple things.
J: So did the wives make the bread and things like that?
S: No, they had bakeries.
J: They had bakeries?
S: Oh, yes, they had bakeries. That was getting way, way back, that was even before my time, when the wives make the bread, I don't remember my mother making a loaf of bread.
J: Now, how was the food that you had when you were younger?
S: It was good, I thought. (laughter) It was not near as good as what my wife cooks today, but it was good.
J: What kind of food did you have at a typical supper?
S: Oh, any kind of meat: pork chops, steaks, lamb chops, lamb or something like that, and then two vegetables or maybe three vegetables. People ate a lot of vegetables in those days, because it was cheap. You grew your own.
J: Potatoes and stuff like that?
S: Not very many potatoes, at least in our family, We never had them but once in a great while. I don't know why. But a lot of families used to have potatoes on the table every meal, whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner at night.
On Sundays we used to have a great big old Sunday night  dinner, in the afternoon or whatever you want to call it. They always had the big old Sunday meal. During the summer months--why, we used to get it about half as big again as this table!--they would make a great big strawberry shortcake. And that was it. I mean, that was all you got to eat.
J: That's a lot, though.
S: You didn't have what they have now, four or five strawberries on it. In your portion you would probably have a whole box of strawberries. And then we'd go out from the house, milk the cow, and scoop off this cream. Not skim milk like you get today, but thick, and in about two beats you would have whipped cream. They would put that over the top, and man, oh, that was good!
J: It was cool when you got it, right?
S: Yes, you had that in the cooler or in the icebox.
J: Did you grow the strawberries or buy them?
S: Oh, we grew them, right in my own backyard.
J: What kind of vegetables did you grow in the backyard?
S: Most anything; most all of them. Everybody grew their own fresh vegetables like green beans, corn, lettuce, cabbage, little green onions, carrots, turnips and whatever.
S: Oh, yes I had lettuce and tomatoes.
J: So you just went and picked your meal.
J: That's a good idea,
S: Yes, that's a fine thought, but nobody has the ambition today for it. (laughter)
J: My grandfather does still, though. (laughter)
S: Does he still do it? That's great.
J: How long did it take your mother to prepare a meal?
S: Well, she used to have all us kids do it. She was smart. She didn't have too much time for cooking. She would teach us all how to do the cooking and then she'd watch. And  that worked pretty good, because I didn't lose weight. (laughter) But always in the days of Yorba Linda living and things such as that, when Richard and I used to run home from school at noontime, why, my mother always used to give us both lunch. She did that, for, I'd say, five years. He would always want something like a sandwich for his lunch, but I used to eat two shredded wheat biscuits, just like people eat today for breakfast. Man, that was my lunch, and I used to love that. And the good milk from that cow in the backyard, that was real milk. It was an old Jersey cow.
J: What kind of sandwiches did he like?
S: Well, he used to like roast beef or roast pork. I mean, nobody ever thought of having cold cuts of bologna and liverwurst and salami. Things like that were quite rare. It was a real treat when you got something like that in a sandwich, because everybody had either roast beef or roast pork or things such as that.
J: Your family very rarely ate out, right?
S: Oh, that was quite a special occasion, maybe somebody's fiftieth wedding anniversary or something like that, (laughter) That was about every fifty years you got to eat out,
J: (laughter) What was the first time you actually . . .
S: Can remember eating out? Well, I can remember eating out about when I was a little boy and we went into the big city of Los Angeles, which was twenty-five miles through the Whittier Boulevard into downtown Los Angeles. We went in there, and there was a place there--I don't know whether it's still there in existence or not--a cafeteria called Boos Brothers. It was very similar to what Clifton's is today, if you have ever seen one of those Clifton's restaurants. It had the waterfall and everything else. We used to go eat at this Boos Brothers. That was a fine place to eat, boy! And that was the first time I went out to eat.
J: How did you go to Boos Brothers, was it by car?
S: We had an automobile.
J: How long did it take you to get to L.A.?
S: A little over an hour, because you probably might drive five miles and stop and change a tire. (laughter) 
J: The roads were still dirt, weren't they?
S: No. There were paved roads going into downtown Los Angeles. Whittier Boulevard was a regular paved highway. They started paving those roads probably just at the end of World War I. From what I can remember, those were all paved roads. The road that we lived on in Yorba Linda was a dirt road, and then they graveled it, and with great big gravel. Boy, it used to tear up the tires something fierce, so everybody in the neighborhood got their shovels out and covered it all up with dirt. The gravel and dirt all mixed together, and then when it rained, why, it was good! (laughter)
J: How long did a tire last under normal conditions?
S: Well, you didn't drive too far in those days. I mean, they might last you a year or two years, because if you covered five hundred miles in a year, why, you had driven your car quite a bit.
But I can remember one time when we were heading down from Fullerton or Yorba Linda--I don't recall which, exactly--going to Laguna Beach. It was a long haul. There was a family down there that we used to know. They were an old, old couple, as far as I was concerned. Well, they were my parents age, really, and they had married my parents way back in Michigan. We used to go down and see them, and they lived down in Laguna Beach. It took us at least three to four hours to go from Yorba Linda to Laguna Beach, because when we would get down to about where Tustin is, we went that route rather than to go down through Costa Mesa and that way. But anyway, one time we went down through Tustin and cut that way, and right about there we had a flat tire. They had old big timbers, like they use for railroad ties, that were for roads and things like that then. We used to drive over them. That's what they used to use for main thoroughfare highways.
J: You said that you went by way of Tustin. Which way did the road go? Did it go right on down through Olive?
S: No. You went through Santa Ana and you went out First Street in Santa Ana, if I remember correctly, and that goes down. It got down through there, and you turned and went past Tustin High School. Do you know where that is? Okay. Well, that was the road that took you right on down into Laguna Beach.
J: Tustin High School is right near the freeway.
S: Today it is, but in those days there was no such thing then. We went down there--because I can remember this--  and we dead ended on First Street, which dead ended in the city of Tustin. We turned to the right there and went down there maybe a mile, and there used to be an old garage right there where you turned left and went down towards Tustin High School. There was an old garage right there, and that's where we had our flat tire. Then you went along another fifteen or twenty miles and got out to look and see if the tires were good again.
J: Did you go through Laguna Canyon?
J: You said it would take about four hours.
S: And we went down through the Laguna Hills and things such as that. Boy, that is all developed in there now. That's beautiful. But it was just open road then. This time of the year down there was very nice--in the spring of the year when all the wildflowers would be out. They had these lupins and California poppies and the hillside was just covered with them. Very pretty! Now there are houses there. (laughter)
J: So how much rainfall did you get in Yorba Linda?
S: I imagine that at that time it was probably greater or less than it is today, I don't remember, but . . . (pause) I know those streets were pretty muddy when it rained, though
J: When it rained, was it impossible to go down the streets in the cars?
S: Oh, no, it wasn't that bad. It was a pretty hard road; I mean, it was pretty well-traveled as far as good weather was concerned, so there weren't any real ruts or anything in the street when the rain weather came along. It was pretty well-packed.
J: Did Richard Nixon go with you for rides very often?
S: Yes, he used to go with us quite often. We used to get in the back seat of that old Buick sedan or touring car, as it was called then. It was an old touring car. It was quite a ride.
J: What kind of ride did it have, real hard?
S: Oh, yes! It bounced you around quite a bit. And when we would get going along and it would rain, we would stop and put up side curtains on the car.
J: Oh, it had a top then? 
S: Oh, yes, we had a top, a California top as they called it. It had a top on it and had side curtains and it had little things where you could stick your hand out the side. They were little openings like sports cars have today, you know.
J: The kind that you push back and forth?
S: No, side curtains.
J: Yes, and you put them in when it rains.
S: And then you take them out and store them in the trunk and things like that. The reason I know that is because my daughter had one, and we used to have to do that with hers.
J: What color was the car?
S: It was black. And then we got another car after that, too. That was an old Durant. Oh, we had lots of cars. And then--I remember this very distinctly because Richard and myself had gone, or my folks had asked if we wanted to go--we went up into the big city of Los Angeles, to the Biltmore Hotel, to an automobile show. They had automobiles right there in the Biltmore Hotel like they have in the Sports Arena and things like that today, right there in the big old ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel. This was in 1922 or 1923, I guess. And we saw this old Kissel car. I don't know whether you've ever heard of them or not.
J: I have seen them before.
S: You have? At that time my father paid $3,300 for that thing. Why, that was like buying a brand-new Cadillac today! I never will forget that. Oh, that was a dreamboat. It was a brougham sedan and had two tires on the side of the fenders.
J: What color was it?
S: It was a maroon color. And it was really a dreamboat. It was the real fancy car of the day.
J: What kind of a transmission did the cars have in those days?
S: Gee, I don't know. I didn't pay too much attention to that
J: What engine did it have?
S: It had a Lycoming. Man, that thing was a power package if there ever was one. 
J: Wow! One of those little Liberty engines?
S: It didn't have a Liberty in it. No, it was an eight cylinder.
J: I was going to say that if it was a twelve, it was a Liberty.
S: No, it wasn't a twelve. Well, then, in later years--let's see, about 1925 or 1926, I guess it was, I had a date and I went down to Balboa to the Pavilion. I don't know whether that thing still exists or not.
J: You mean the Arcade?
S: No, this was a dance hall called the Pavilion.
J: It burnt down.
S: It did? Well, this place was so large, honestly, that in those days they had an orchestra at each end. This one family were real good friends of my parents, and I used to run around with their daughter. Well, I was supposed to be home by twelve o'clock because we were heading for the cabin in the mountains. I had my father's Kissel car down at the beach. Do you know where the arches are as you are coming back out of Balboa, crossing Pacific Coast Highway?
S: Well, the cop told me that if I hadn't slowed down for the arches he would have never caught me! (laughter) I had the old Kissel and I had her floored, boy. That thing was really winding up. But that's the only thing. And I've forgotten what it was--I think the ticket cost me ten dollars. Man, that was a lot of money then, to me!
J: I know. (laughter)
S: I must have been doing about eighty in that thing in those days.
J: Which route were you going?
S: I was coming from Balboa going, right through Costa Mesa. Right on up the hill. I slowed down for the arches because there was a crossroad there, you know. There used to be a sign there that said to slow down to fifteen miles an hour. I guess I slowed down to about fifty or something like that. (laughter) But I was going to get home by twelve so that I wouldn't get her in trouble and myself in trouble, because in those days when you told your parents you were  going to be in at twelve o'clock, you were home at twelve.
J: Did you ever take the Pacific Electric to the beach?
S: Oh, yes! Sure. We used to ride on that rascal. That was great. We had lots of fun.
J: Which way did it go?
S: Oh, man. I don't remember which way it went, really. I remember that we used to take the old Pacific Electric to Redondo Beach. There used to be an old bathhouse right down there on the pier. No, you don't remember that.
J: I've seen pictures of it.
S: There was an old bathhouse right down there where all this recreation area and everything is now. And we used to get the old Pacific Electric and ride that rascal down to Redondo Beach.
J: There was a line that ran from Huntington Beach down to Newport Beach.
S: Right, but I don't remember whether it went down to Newport or not. But that was an all-day trip, in order to go there and come home by the P.E.
J: Yes, because it went along the coast. I know that.
S: Yes, that followed right down through there. It was quite a haul,
J: How much did it cost to go on that, anyway?
S: Gosh, I don't know. Maybe a quarter.
J: That's not too bad.
S: No, that was quite reasonable. But a quarter was a lot of money then, too. It was like paying a couple of dollars now.
J: When you went to Newport Beach, how long did you usually stay?
S: Oh, in Newport Beach? Well, we always went to Balboa. That was where the kids used to hang out. Balboa was the place in those days. I guess it continued to be so until a few years back, and now it's changed considerably. I think the place is Palm Springs now, or something like that. But we would spend the whole day down there. There used  to be a family by the name of Weisel that lived just outside of Fullerton, and my younger sister, Virginia, used to run around with their daughter and I ran around with their son for a short while. Well, anyway, they had nothing but money. They had this beach home--not a cottage, but a beach home--down on the peninsula there, and they used to have this Chris Craft that we used to run up and down the bay in.
J: Well, that was at Newport Bay above Balboa, right?
S: That was at Balboa, near the peninsula.
J: Near where the jetty is now?
S: That was down past where the Pavilion is. I don't know whether it is still there, where you used to cross going from there over to Lido Island and things like that. They had kind of a regular ferryboat.
J: It's still there.
S: Still operating? I'll be darned! I haven't been down there for years.
J: I went up there a couple of weeks ago.
S: Oh, but we used to have a ball down there! Oh, man, they had maid service and butlers and everything else! See, they had nothing but money. That was a funny family. They lived under the same roof, but they had nothing to do with each other. In later years they had their differences of opinion, but they never divorced each other or anything such as that. While the kids were still home, I guess apparently they were going to have a home for them, and they never separated or anything else. But when the mother would take the children down to the beach during the summer months as soon school was out, why, the father would stay home. He was the manager of the Bastanchury Ranch. That's what his job was. And he used to run the ranch!
J: Do you remember their name?
S: Weisel. I don't remember what her daughter's name was. His name was Pete, I don't remember what her name was. I don't recall it.
J: Did Richard Nixon ever go down to the Pavilion?
S: Oh, sure! We all went.
J: Oh, you all did. Together? 
S: That's right. But as I say, when I got into about my sophomore year in high school, his parents were up there on Whittier Boulevard and things such as that, and we became quite distant from each other then. So we weren't really real friendly from then on. Then when I went into the service, you might want to say that I lost track, and my parents didn't go back and forth to visit them anymore. I don't know why, but they just never did. They just finally drifted apart. Then when his father died, my mother and father went to the funeral or something like that, and I guess that was the last time that we ever had anything to do with their family. He went to school in Whittier there and I was in the service, and from then on he went up, up, up as high as he could go! (laughter)
Mrs. S: Tell him about the debates in high school.
J: Yes, tell me about the debates in high school, if you want.
S: Well, they were his, not mine. He was always winning. That was a funny situation, because in high school and things such as that, in all the debating teams that he was on, I don't recall any that he ever lost.
Mrs. S: And he didn't even study.
S: Then when he was running for President against Kennedy, and they were going to have these debates, I'd say, "Why, man, he's going to win these!" Because he had never lost a debate in his life. But they never tell you the results of debates on television today. I mean, you don't go by points like they used to in the schools then. I don't know whether they do that today or not, but they used to have debates in the schools and they would go by the points of interest the individuals would bring up as far as the debate was concerned.
Mrs.S: He didn't even make notes, did he?
S: No. He always used his head. He never even had any script or anything like that to work from. He would just start talking.
J: Do you remember any of the debate topics that they used to have?
S: No, I don't recall any of them at all, really.
J: Do you remember some of the people that he debated with?
S: No, I really don't. 
J: Your sister said that they had prose readings in the different schools, and that she said something about Richard Nixon winning a contest in Yorba Linda when he was real young. Do you remember anything like that?
S: I don't recall those, really. She probably remembers those things and I don't. There was a lot of items that I don't.
J: Did they ever have any scholastic contests in the Yorba Linda Elementary School?
S: Not to my knowledge. They might have in the upper grammar grades and such as that, but in the lower grades we never had much to do with them.
J: Getting back to Yorba Linda again, what kind of social activities went on in the city in Yorba Linda, and where were they held when they were held?
S: Social activity? My goodness! I don't recall any. Anything social would be on Sunday afternoon when you would go visit the neighbors and have a picnic in the backyard or you would go to Orange County Park and have a picnic. That was the social activities. During the summer it was a big deal to go to Orange County Park. Is it still existing?
J: Oh, yes!
S: That used to be a nice place down near home. I guess that's still there, too.
J: How did you get to Orange County Park when you went there?
S: I think we went through Olive. Is that right? Yes. We went through Olive and on down through that way.
J: How were the roads when you went to the park?
S: They weren't bad. They were kind of like a blacktop is today, I think they called them tar roads or something like that. They used to mix tar and gravel together, and it made pretty good roads.
J: Your sister said something about going through the Santa Ana River to get to Orange County Park.
S: Oh, yes, you always had to cross that.
J: Could you tell me something about crossing the river? (laughter) 
S: You always crossed the Santa Ana River to get to Orange County Park. You had to get out and help push the car across because you didn't dare try to drive it through. Everybody would get out and get their shoes and stockings off, and we'd start pushing the old car over the boulders and everything for fear that it would fall in the drink.
J: How wide was the river when you had to cross?
S: Oh, twenty or thirty feet maybe.
J: How deep was it?
S: Not too deep, maybe a foot or two feet at the most.
J: Did you ever have any problems in getting across?
S: I don't remember ever getting stuck--only once. And then we had to get old big planks--not planks, but all of the old broken-down trees and everything else, you know--and the branches to get under the tires. Everybody would get out and push, and finally we got across.
J: How long would it usually take to push it across the river?
S: Oh, not too long. Normally, you would be across in fifteen or twenty minutes. But for some reason or other, from what I can recall, we never drove into the water to cross it; we would just stop at the water's edge, and there everybody would get out. Just the driver, which was my father or the driver of whoever's car we were driving, sat in the car, and everybody gradually pushed the car across the river. Today, I don't know why they ever had to do that, because the car could have gone across, I guess. Maybe it didn't have the power to, but there were pretty powerful automobiles in those days. They couldn't go very fast, but they had a lot of power.
J: How fast was the current of the water?
S: Oh, not too bad. I'd say at the most it was two or three miles an hour. It was just a nice, steady flow; it wasn't a rushing river or anything like that.
J: It was mostly just sand and gravel, wasn't it?
S: Yes. It was just a regular riverbed.
J: You would be crossing the river up near Olive, right?
J: You were coming this way? 
S: Yes, we would be heading southwest, I guess.
J: So where would that correspond to now, if you were crossing the river? Would that be near the freeway?
S: Why, I haven't been to Olive for thirty or forty years. Let's see, I am trying to place it in a certain area. I guess that was in Orange, or crossed the railroad tracks, and there was a depot there in Orange. In other words, instead of going into to Santa Ana, you went straight ahead, and after you crossed over here, there was a depot here, I think.
J: It's over here, and the Plaza is over here. So you would have Yorba Linda here, and here is Olive down here someplace.
J: The Santa Ana River is coming up this way.
S: Right, it used to run on down that way, right
J: So you had to come like this across the river, sort of diagonally.
S: Yes. Well, going out of Yorba Linda toward the Santa Ana Canyon now, do you know where you cross the river there, where the big long bridge is now?
S: Well, just before you start over the bridge is where they used to dump off all the cull oranges. Today, those are the oranges that you buy in the market. (laughter) But they used to dump them all out there just as you came to the riverbed. Oh, man, they used to stink when they started to rot!
J: Didn't they ever try to use some of the oranges as food for some of the animals or anything?
S: Not in those days, no. They used to get great big truck-loads and would haul them all down to the Santa Ana River and dump them there. Just a great big dump! There was a pile of them there that must have been twenty or thirty feet high and fifty or sixty feet long, just a big old pile of them!
J: It sounds like a waste.
S: Yes, it was. But nowadays they find good use for that. They take and squeeze them and make orange juice. 
J: And they use the pulp for something else.
S: Yes, and the peeling to make marmalade.
J: Yes, right. (pause) How often did you go to Orange County Park?
S: Well, that was once a month, I would imagine, or something such as that, because there was always some type of an activity, a picnic of some sort of organization, that went out there: church doings, neighborhood get-togethers or something such as that, or family reunions.
J: What kind of other activities did you do in the area?
S: In Orange County Park?
J: Yes, in Orange County.
S: Why, they had the old sandlot ball games, the sack races, and all the kinds of things that normally go with the old-time picnics. I don't know whether they do that today or not. We used to have a lot of fun. We had one-legged races--tie one leg and have to hop up and down.
J: Did you have burlap sacks, too?
S: Yes, and each one would go with one leg and without one leg. The two were tied together. Three-legged races, they called them. These two legs would be in a sack and these would be sticking out here, and you would have to hop up and down. And then we used to have pancake races, too.
Mrs. S: And hard-boiled races.
S: Yes. Well fresh eggs! You had a fresh egg in a spoon, and you had to run down so far and back with out breaking or dropping that egg.
J: Is Orange County Park the same as Irvine Park now?
S: Oh, I don't think so.
J: Where was Orange County Park located? What were the streets near it?
S: Streets? There was no street. You went down through canyons and everything else to get to it. The old Orange County Park, the one of years ago, was, I would say, about a mile from Ramona's Home. Do you know where Ramona's Home is?
J: Yes, I think so. 
S: But anyway, there was one road. If you were going into Orange County Park and if you went ahead about a mile or maybe two miles, you went into Ramona's Home.
J: Was there a road called Santiago going that way?
S: Oh, I couldn't tell you. Very possibly there was.
J: Did you go through Villa Park to get to it?
S: That must be new.
J: Well, yes. So you say you went to Orange County Park once a month?
S: Well, maybe more often than that during the summer months. I'm just saying that an average throughout the year, was that if you went down there once a month.
J: Were there a lot of rabbits out there?
S: Oh, yes, rabbits and squirrels--a lot of tree squirrels. They used to have those red squirrels and the gray ones and everything else. Chipmunks, yes, you had lots of chipmunks.
J: Did you ever feed the animals?
S: Sure! Getting back to the Barton Flats days, we used to go up there and catch all kinds of little animals: chipmunks, squirrels, and a few rattlesnakes now and then. We'd take the rattlers and dry them out. We got four or five little chipmunks and we put them in cages, in a little barrel in the cage, you know. Richard brought back two or three of them that I can remember, back when we lived in Yorba Linda, and kept them at home until the next year. Then we would take them back there and turn them loose again. They did real well; they had a fine time. You can tame those little rascals down real well. We did.
Mrs. S: You slept on one, didn't you?
S: Oh, that was when we went camping. We slept on one and smashed him. Poor little rascal!
J: Did you ever go for hikes up in Orange County Park?
S: Oh, yes, yes. We used to climb all the trees and everything else. You could hike from Orange County Park clear on up into Ramona's Home. It seemed like an awful long ways as a kid, but it probably was a short distance really.
J: Was there a lake in Orange County Park? 
S: Yes, and they had boats. And they had a kind of a pavilion there where they had I guess you would call it, the Sunday afternoon philharmonic orchestra of Orange County Park! (laughter)
J: They had a gazebo there?
Mrs. S: Yes, a gazebo.
J: How often did they play?
S: Oh, every Sunday afternoon. And they had kind of a little children's zoo there, too; they had a deer and other small animals like that, but there were no bears or anything like that in there. The largest animal would be the deer, and then there was some ducks on the lake. I remember those Lots of ducks there! And they used to have the squirrels and the chipmunks and things like that, and birds. They had a bird aviary there with real pretty birds. I don't know whether that still exists or not.
J: They had a road that went around the park, didn't they?
S: Yes, it went completely around.
J: Did you ever go bicycling around there?
S: If you took your own bicycle, yes. They've got them for rent out there now, though I guess.
J: Yes, they do
S: But you had to take your own then if you were going to go bicycle riding.
J: Did you have any bicycles that you did own?
S: Oh, yes. But we never took them. We were lucky to get the picnic basket and everything else in the car, and with all the kids and everything piled in these, why, it was pretty full. But some people used to bring their bicycles out there. The only thing that we used to take out there was the baseball bats and the basketballs and the things like that for activities. Then in the evening we would roast hot dogs, and everybody would go to sleep in the back of the car on the way home. As soon as it got dark, why, we would head for home.
J: Oh, yes, especially because of the river.
S: Yes. Everybody had to get across the river before it got real dark. 
J: What time did you usually leave to get home?
S: Oh, around six or six-thirty, something such as that. And that would get you home around eight or eight-thirty.
J: So it took about two hours to get out there and get back, each way?
J: It's about twenty-five miles or so, isn't it, to the park from where you used to live?
S: Roughly I would say that it was, yes. About the time that you got all loaded and headed for home, why, I know it was after dark. It was way after dark by the time we got home, and as soon as we got home, why, it was go wash up and take a bath and head for bed. That was the first thing that you did when you headed in the house. Everybody would have to fight for the bathtub.
J: One bathtub?
S: Oh, yes, one bathtub. Nobody had showers in those days like they do today. I don't know why they didn't have showers in the old days. The only time you had a shower was if somebody had one installed when they lived way out in the country, you know, coming down from the water tower. That was the only time I remember. They had one on the side that they turned on.
Mrs. S: They took a bath only once a week then. (laughter)
S: That's right. I guess they couldn't afford the soap and the water then, I don't know.
J: And it took a lot of time, too. (laughter)
S: But just like the old saying, Saturday night bath and that was it, boy! But this was Sunday, too. When we would come back from the picnic, it was Sunday night and we had had one bath that week already.
J: Thank you, Mr. Shaw,for your information on Yorba Linda. I would like to continue with your recollections while living in Fullerton. 
* * * * * * * * * *
J: This is the second interview with Mr. Gerald Shaw for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project, at the Shaws' home at 9223 Fourth Street in Inglewood, California. This is the evening of June 3, 1970 and the interviewer is Jeff Jones.
Okay, Mr. Shaw, could you tell me some of your experiences when you moved to Fullerton, please?
S: They are a bit limited because we were only there a short while, I guess we were there six or seven years before I went into the service. We moved there in 1924, I guess it was, and I went in the service in 1930, so that was six years.
J: What kind of a city was Fullerton when you moved there?
S: It was a nice little town. There were about twelve to thirteen thousand people, and they had real good schools. At that time, I think it was about second or third in the state of California as far as the rating of the schools were concerned. It was very high.
J: How many schools were there in Fullerton at that time?
S: Well, at that time there were about seven or eight. They had a high school and a junior college, which were both on the same campus--where the high school is today, I guess.
J: What was the main street in Fullerton at the time?
S: Spadra was the main street and then you went out to Commonwealth Avenue, which went east and west. Spadra went north and south. We lived on Jacaranda.
J: That was near the junior college, wasn't it?
S: No, Jacaranda was west of Spadra. You know where the Masonic Temple is in Fullerton and the Fox Theater? Well, Jacaranda is just one or two blocks north of that. It dead-ends at Spadra, or it used to when I was living there.
J: Oh, so Spadra would be where Harbor Boulevard is now.
S: Yes. Jacaranda continued west and it went way down to Lincoln Avenue. The street just south of it was Amerige. We lived in the second house from the corner of Ford Street and Jacaranda. There was a Ford Street School there that went up to the eighth grade, but then they finally broke it down to six grades.
J: You moved there when you were in the fifth grade, so you  must have gone to the Ford School?
S: No, they didn't have the Ford School then. We went clear over to the Amerige School, down there below the high school It had the primary grades and the upper grades, and it was in an old brick, two-story building.
J: How did you get to school? Did you walk?
S: Sure. Nobody had cars for children in those days.
J: It wasn't really that far anyway, was it?
S: No, I'd say it was about five blocks.
J: Yes, I've walked it before.
S: Yes, it's not that far.
J: What time did you have to get to school in the morning when you went to Amerige?
S: About nine o'clock.
J: So you left about eight-thirty?
S: Yes, it didn't take too long. We'd dilly-dally along the way.
J: Who were some of the people that you went to grammar school with?
S: Well, there was a fellow by the name of Hurt Harris. His father owned Harris' Drugstore, and when his father died, he took over the drugstore. As far as I know, he's still there. Do you know where Harris' Drugstore is?
S: There was a lad by the name of Fred Reese. I don't know whether they ever knew him or not, but he was a very good friend of ours, too. He became a druggist, and the last time I heard of him, he was running a drugstore in Hermosa Beach.
J: Did you know that Jimmy Grieves was over there?
S: Oh, yes. He was in my sister's class. There were a number of kids that we used to know, but it takes a little bit of time to recollect them all.
J: How did you find the Fullerton schools in comparison to the Yorba Linda schools that you had attended before that? 
S: Oh, they were on the same par as far as I was concerned. In those days, there wasn't too much difference in the primary grades. They had a regular standard procedure that they went through. They still do today, I guess, as far as California school systems are concerned. In primary grades they just followed a certain routine, and that's what they taught the children.
J: You say you went to the Amerige School until you got into high school, which would have been in the ninth grade?
S: Yes. They have junior high schools now don't they?
J: Yes, they do.
S: Back then you went through a full eight years of grammar school and then you went four years of high school.
J: What was the high school like when you went there?
S: Oh, it was a fine school! It was the best school in Orange County. And the junior college was one of the best in Orange County, too. It was really rated as a top school. There weren't very many junior colleges at that time, and people from all over Orange County came to Fullerton Junior College. I believe that Santa Ana started up a junior college shortly after that, which was in the mid-thirties or somewhere in through there.
J: What kinds of courses did you take at the high school?
S: Oh, I was just more or less taking up what today would be referred to as an engineering type course: minor mathematics, the basics of algebra and geometry, and chemistry and things which would tend to prepare you for engineering.
J: Did you have any class with Richard Nixon in high school?
S: In high school? Yes, we were in a history class, and we both started taking Spanish together. The only reason I took it was that I liked the teacher. Her name was Myrtle Klein, She was a real cute girl. I was fifteen or sixteen years old and she was just a young teacher then.
J: How did she approach teaching Spanish? Was it mostly conversational Spanish?
S: Yes. She used to teach Castilian Spanish, as they referred to it--not what the Mexican Spanish is today. In other words, it was like the King's English is to American English.
J: Yes, there is a big difference. In the history class you  had, what kind of student was Richard Nixon?
S: Well I don't know exactly what to say about that. It was just a regular normal history class. What in the world was that teacher's name? For the English class, we used to have old Ma Shep. She was our English teacher. She was a huge woman--she must have weighed 260 pounds--and she was about six feet tall, a big woman. Old Ma Shep, I never will forget her! The chemistry teacher was a big woman, too. She wasn't fat or anything such as that, she was just a tall woman. The one teacher that I never will forget is Ma Rumsey. (laughter) She was a funny old woman. But my favorite teacher all the time I was going to Fullerton High School was a little old bald-headed man called John Meano. I never will forget him.
J: What did he teach?
S: He taught us geometry and advanced algebra, and then we got into analytical geometry and calculus, and things like that. He was a good mathematician, as they would refer to him today. He was a little bitty, old fellow.
J: Did you have him for just the one class?
S: No, each year we would advance to another subject. We started out with plain old algebra, and then we went into geometry and then algebra II. Then we got into analytical geometry, and calculus, and things such as that.
J: Did you know Richard Nixon as just a friend on campus?
S: Yes, when I was going to high school. He was more of a studious type of person than I was. I wanted to have fun, so I joined what they used to call a local fraternity. It was called the Delta Sigma, and their head chapter was over in Santa Ana. Ray Jenkins was a real good friend of mine, and he's the one that talked me into joining the darned thing. I had a lot of fun with them, and it was quite beneficial in later years because when I went into the service at San Diego, that was the first thing I headed for. They told me to go on down to the fraternity house, and from there I could get acquainted with everybody in town.
J: You said that you knew Richard Nixon on campus. What kind of person was he in high school?
S: Very quiet. He probably worked too hard because he had to work at home as well as at school in order to keep up with his studies and everything else. He had to keep his nose pretty well to the grindstone. I don't recall whether he  had any outside activities, as far as earning money or anything like that. As I say, his parents then were living over in Whittier--I don't think it was quite in the Whittier city limits; it was just on Whittier Boulevard--and he used to go back and forth to Fullerton High School.
J: He lived with the Wildermuths in Fullerton, didn't he?
S: For a while, yes.
J: Didn't they live in the same area as you did on Jacaranda?
S: Yes, they lived right down the street from us there, the fourth house across the street.
J: Mrs. Wildermuth was still working at the packinghouse, wasn't she?
S: Yes, she was working for my father over in the Fullerton packinghouse then.
J: Were you still in high school when the Depression hit?
J: Did you have to go to work?
S: No, I went into the service right away. When I got out of high school, as I say, the Depression days had hit the country Since my father had lost his shirt in the stock market like everybody else had, I figured that that was the best source of income that I could find was the service.
J: What were the after school activities that most of the people indulged in?
S: Most all of the fellows were quite athletically inclined, when I was around there. Naturally in the summertime they would have their sandlot ball games, and they had high school football games and things such as that. Most everyone took part in all types of high school extracurricular activities, as they were called.
J: I know that you were a member of the B football team,
S: Yes, Nixon and I both were. A fellow by the name of Arthur Nunn was our football coach, I can't think of the C football team's coach, but the two of them had been in the Navy during World War I, and they were the ones that talked me into going into the service. I got pretty well acquainted with them, and when I was getting out of school I told them that I didn't know what I was going to do with myself because my parents were unable to send me any further in  school and jobs were quite scarce. So they said, "Well, we know just the place for you to go." So into the service I went and I didn't regret it. I got a vocation in the service, if you want to call it that.
J: What kind of-a person was Coach Nunn?
S: Oh, he was fine! He was a real nice man.
J: How much do you think he influenced the players who played for him?
S: Oh, quite a bit. He was a psychology coach more than anything, I think. He wasn't the greatest football coach or anything like that, but he used to be able to get people to do things for him rather than doing them because they wanted to be football stars.
J: Who were some of the more outstanding players on the B team?
S: That's so long ago, I couldn't remember that. I can remember the outstanding players of the varsity team, though. We had the Del Giorgio brothers, if you remember. No, you probably don't.
Yes, it shows them. There was Tom Mackelhanny; he was one of the most outstanding players that they had in that day. Then he had a younger brother who was on the B team with me; he later got up into the varsity. And there was a fellow there by the name of Kenny Poster, who was a little bitty man, but he was sure a fine little football player.
The biggest game of the year was when we used to play Anaheim. On the city limits line between Anaheim and Fullerton, at that time, there were a bunch of orange groves, and we'd get out there, and pull all the green oranges off the trees, and throw them at each other. That's what we used to do! (laughter) It was a bad thing to do, but we were kids in those days*
J: You also used to have bonfires, didn't you?
S: Oh, yes. Everybody went around and gathered up all of the old crates and everything else they could get that Thursday or Wednesday, and they gathered them all up and took them out on the back of the old football field, not the turf football field, but the practice football field. And they used to pile it up; the higher they could get it, the better it was. Everybody would haul boxes and newspapers and crates and any old junk they were trying to get rid of, and it all went into this big bonfire. Yes, and then all  of the student body of the school would get out there and have what they called big rallies. They would just parade around, like in today's demonstrations, I guess, just go round and round the bonfire. Then they'd go, as they called it, in a big old serpentine, and they'd go clear down through town and wander all down through the streets, hollering and screaming the high school yells. Man, they don't do any of that anymore.
J: This was always in the afternoon, wasn't it?
S: This was in the evening. Then if they won the football game that night, they would get in their cars, those who could afford a car--it wasn't theirs, but I mean it was their parents' car--and they would blow the horns. And the policemen in town would never bother anybody as long as we didn't get out of line. They would let us parade up and down the street and things like that, and they would keep the traffic moving and make us go on the sidewalks every now and then to let the cars through.
J: Where did you parade, on Spadra?
S: Well, we'd start coming up Chapman Avenue from the school, and we'd come all the way up there to Spadra and then scoot back and forth across the street.
J: That's when Spadra was still dirt, wasn't it?
S: No, no, it was paved, three lanes. Then after it was all over, we would end up right across the street from the Harris Drugstore, where there was an Otto Bevins soda fountain. That was where everybody hung out. There used to be a regular soda fountain in there, and that's where all of the kids used to hang out after it was all over with. He was one of all of the kids in town, and everybody liked him real well.
J: Where were the games held?
S: Well, they would be held at the individual big schools. We would play Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Brea. Then it became Brea-Olinda, I think, but at that time it was Brea. We had a varsity football coach called Shorty Smith and when he left there and went over to Brea, oh, man, that was really a rival football game then! Then the junior college football team, why, old Arthur Nunn, used to coach that, too, as well as the B football team. The junior college had a pretty good football team. They called them the Yellow Jackets. I don't know whether they still do or not.
J: The Hornets, yes. 
S: The Hornets, That's Fullerton City College now, isn't
J: FJC, Fullerton Junior College.
S: Is it still -Fullerton Junior College?
S: I thought it was a four-year college like El Camino down there.
J: No, just two. What position did you play on the football team?
S: I played left end. Poor little Richard used to play tackle or guard. He was a tackle, I think, and he got tackled every time he turned around. He used to be the dummy for everybody to tackle. He wasn't quite coordinated enough for a football player. He had two left feet, I think.
J: How big was he when he was in high school?
S: Oh, I'd say that he weighed about 125 or 130 pounds, something like that. He wasn't a big boy. I wasn't either, but when I was playing football with him-- oh, he might have weighed more than that, maybe 135 to 140 pounds--I weighed 150 to 160 pounds or something like that.
J: How tall were you?
S: About five foot seven or five foot eight, something like that. I was pretty firm.
J: How tall was he?
S: Roughly about the same, about five foot six, seven or eight-somewhere in there.
J: How often did either one of you play in the games?
S: Well, I used to play pretty regular, but he didn't do too well. As I say, he wasn't very well coordinated for that kind of an activity. He had it all in his head, I think.
J: He was pretty much involved in it, though, wasn't he?
S: Oh, yes, he was very interested in it, and he wanted to learn about it. But it just didn't seem to be for him, or something.
J: How often each week did you practice for the football games? 
S: Oh, you did that every night after school. It was about an hour to an hour and a half every night after school, and you had to hold a B average in order to play on the football team.
J: That's not like it is now. You only have to hold a C now.
S: Is it down to a C now?
S: Oh, my.
J: So you had to be a fairly good student and also be fairly well coordinated to be on the football team.
S: Pretty much. Some are just born athletes and some aren't. I mean, that's the way some things go. Even though you are quite interested in it, there are so many others that are just adaptable to that type of thing.
J: Could a person play when he was just a freshman?
S: Yes, you went out for the C football team. It all depended on your size, your weight, and everything else. They had you according to your weight and everything like that. I don't know whether they do today or not, but if you were a little bitty fellow, you played on the C football team, and as you finally got a little bit bigger, you graduated into varsity.
J: So Coach Nunn did influence the players?
S: Very much so.
J: He was a real pusher, wasn't he? He wanted to get people up?
S: Yes. Well, he was one of these people-- don't do it they today--who would get you and give you a good old pep talk and, as they call it today, brainwash you to get you to play football.
J: He'd give them a kill speech?
J: How many games did you play a year?
S: Oh, I'd say about seven or eight, maybe. The football season started about October, really. The first couple of  weeks of school you might have some practice games, and then about October you would play, and it would go until after Thanksgiving. You usually had about the last game then. It would be one game each weekend, so there were about eight or maybe nine games. Then we'd start playing basketball.
J: How do you think Coach Nunn influenced Richard Nixon in his makeup?
S: Well, I couldn't hardly say, because I was too interested in trying to play the game myself, I guess. I can remember the poor boy sitting on the bench a whole lot.
J: Were did he sit on the bench? Did he sit next to the coach?
S: Oh, no, he was just in amongst everybody. I mean, he'd usually sit there and watch everything that was going on. Of course, I sat there occasionally myself, you know, but I wasn't there all the time.
J: Were you both substitutes?
S: yes, oh, yes.
J: How many players did they have on the team?
S: Oh, I'd say probably thirty. A good group
J: What did you do just before the games?
S: Like the day before a game?
J: Yes. What would the workouts be like?
S: Quite light. I mean, there wasn't any physical contacts, because they were afraid maybe somebody would hurt themselves or something like that. Most of the activity would be passing and putting and things such as that in order to keep your coordination up.
J: Do you remember Vincent Dauser?
J: He was quarterback of the team, I think.
S: Mutt Dauser. They called him "Mutt" Dauser. Just a little bitty guy! Yes, he was a varsity quarterback.
J: Oh, he was? 
J: He was supposed to be pretty good.
S: He was real good. You can probably see his picture in the hallways over there yet at Fullerton High School.
J: What kinds of debates did Richard Nixon have while in high school?
S: Well, I don't hardly recall those too well. The only thing that I can remember is that he never lost any, because that was his most outstanding subject, apparently, because as he followed through on things such as that by being a lawyer. Why, debating was his most outstanding thing, I guess you'd say, in a law field, anyway, because you're trying to convince someone of something if you're a lawyer.
J: Do you remember any of the opponents he used to have, or any of his friends that were in the forensics?
S: No, I don't.
J: He was at Fullerton High School for two years, right?
J: And then he went over to Whittier. He didn't run for any political offices, did he, while at Fullerton High School?
S: No, not that I can recall. He was a member of a couple of the little bitty things, like the "Y" clubs and things such as that.
J: He was in a couple of plays, wasn't he?
S: That I don't recall. Let's see what we have here. (leafs through annual)
J: What yearbook is that, the 1927 one?
S: This is 1928. It's my sister's.
J: She must have come down to visit,
S: No, I've had this for years.
J: Oh, she had one at her house, too.
S: It was mine. I mean, it was my book, but it was her class. 1 don't remember what happened to my annual. I haven't been able to find it. I was looking for it. Now, this was the  junior class. Oh, Harry Livingstone! Doggone. You look through these doggone things, and they bring back memories. This was the class that I was in, right here, see?
J: What kind of a person was Mutt Dauser anyway, or did you know him?
S: Oh, he was a real nice boy. Here's old Richard.
J: Richard Nixon. Forensics. Who else was he with? Here are some of the topics right here. Oh, what about the tradition of wearing cords until they became so dirty that they would stand in the corner?
S: That was a fact! Everybody wore cords; they were kind of they would call them today. Everybody wore those rascals and would get everybody to sign on them, and they would write on them and everything else. Why, they stunk so bad, ooh, something fierce! But you'd wear those things until they fell apart. You could actually take your fingers and scrape grease and dirt off of them. But everybody would sign their name on them, all your friends, all over them.
J: I heard that Richard Nixon didn't indulge in that practice, though.
S: I don't think he did. He wasn't the nut type.
J: But it was a tradition at the school, wasn't it?
S: Yes, everybody did that. (returns to annual) Well here I was in glee club. I thought he was in that, too, but I guess he wasn't.
J: That was in what year?
S: This was in 1928.
J: He was definitely involved in forensics that year, though. What other clubs were you involved in?
S: Well, I was involved in a couple of them, but I don't remember exactly which ones. I know I was what they called the "Y" club or something like that. I'm trying to think of what the other one was. I wasn't in any band.
J: Richard was.
S: Yes, he was in the band.
J: He played the violin. What were the pep rallies like? 
S: Well, I don't hardly recall what they were about.
J: What day did they usually fall on. Was it the day of the game?
S: Yes, they always had some type of a rally just before the game, that evening or that afternoon or something such as that.
J: What about the assemblies that they used to have?
S: Well, we had those when something special would come up. (pointing out picture) Now, here is the little Mutt Dauser. He was a cheerleader then. Here were the real football stars; here were the two Del Giorgio boys, and here was Tom Mackelhanny. Here's old Arthur L. Dowden who was my C football team coach and the swimming coach that we had. I used to play water polo.
J: How many years did you play water polo?
J: You played basketball, too, didn't you?
S: Yes. I played basketball with two people who became professional baseball players. He (points out picture) committed suicide, I guess. I don't know. He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They claim he didn't, but he got drowned anyway.
J: Was that the same as Arky Vaughn?
S: Yes, that was Arky Vaughn. Oh, no, it was when Willard Hirshberger committed suicide. Arky Vaughn drowned, he was out swimming.
We played eleven games during the year. This is the Bs.
J: Okay, do you know who Hamner was?
J: Do you know his first name?
S: No, I do not. Here's old Mutt Dauser. He was a captain and a quarterback of the B team. See, here's old Arky Vaughn. That was the same year.
J: Then there's Willis Hatfield and some others, then Jimmy Grieves. You know James Grieves, don't you?
S: Yes 
J: I interviewed James Grieves.
S: You did? He didn't know much about Richard Nixon, did he?
S: I didn't think he would.
J: You said that the Anaheim game was the most important game of the year, at least psychologically.
S: Yes, because the two cities were so close to each other that you could walk from one to the other if you had to.
J: Was that still true even after Coach Smith defected to Brea?
S: Yes. They stayed pretty much that way for a while.
J: Anaheim was still the biggest rival even after that?
S: Yes. Anaheim stayed their rivals as far back as I can recall, for many years.
J: They still are, it's amazing. You'd think they'd be more against Brea after the coach defected.
S: I don't know what was the whole deal with that. There was something undesirable there that took place. The reason that he got fired or quit or whatever it was, nobody ever knew. Anyway, next year he was gone.
J: What kind of activities did you people do during the weekends? Did you go down to the beach?
S: Depending on the weather, mostly. If it was nice weather and things such as that, a lot of people went to the beach. (leafing through annual) Oh, here's old Ma Shep. See how big she is? A large woman.
J: Did you and Richard Nixon ever do anything together in high school, like just going someplace together?
S: No. No, after I left and moved from Yorba Linda to Fullerton, why, it was just more or less a past acquaintance. We were quite limited as far as friendship is concerned. We were still good friends, but it was not much of a close friendship like it used to be.
J: How long did the school year last? Did it begin in September?
S: Yes, and it went clear through to June.
J: Did you have a summer school? 
S: Yes, they had a summer school. If you were a little bit behind or something like that, in order to catch up for enough credits to get out of high school, why, you went to summer school to make them up. At that time you needed, I think it was twelve credits to get out of high school. Yes.
J: Was there a possibility of getting out of high school in less than four years if you went to summer school?
S: Yes, oh, yes. You could get out of there if you had enough credits, because we had a couple of "brains" that went to school there, and got out in three years.
J: When you were in high school, what kinds of activities did you do when you had free time?
Mrs. S: You went to the movies.
S: Yes, I did do that.
J: At the Fox Theater?
S: Right. I worked down though. I did that during the summer, though. I did that two years. I did it for one year long and then the next year I did it during the summer only.
J: You did it all year long, and you were in high school then, right?
S: It was just on weekends only, though. You didn't do anything during the week or anything like that. Movie houses then were all run by the movie house manager and the assistant manager, and you'd go down and be an usher there during the weekends when there were big deals. Then in the last year I became assistant manager of the Fox Theater in Fullerton.
J: What kind of pay did they give you in those days?
S: Pay? Well, if you got a dollar an hour, you were doing real good. But you didn't get near that much money. I think I got, oh, probably fifty cents an hour. It wasn't very much, I know that.
J: It's still pretty good, though.
S: It was then, But you'd only work about ten or twelve hours over the weekend, you know, that wasn't too much money for you. But it was quite a bit.
J: What did you do with the money that you did get from work? 
S: My gosh, I don't know. I bought clothes, if I remember. I bought a lot of clothes with it.
J: A lot of cords? (laughter)
S: (laughter) Yes, at twenty-five cents a day. Well, then one summer I got a job spraying orange trees, and that was the hardest work I ever did in my life. I mean, even for today it was hard work. But they used to have what they referred to as a rig. It went down between the rows in the orange groves; there was a man walking down each side of it, and it was pulled by a couple of horses or mules. Now they use tractors and things like that. Then they had a horse or a mule that would pull the cart. And they had a big old tank on this cart, and there was the one man who would sit on the tower and there were two that walked along the side of it. You had a great big hose, and you dragged this big hose along with it and held it over your shoulder. This cart never stopped. It just started, and away it went. You had to walk around that tree and spray all around it, and this fellow on the tower was doing all the topping, as they called it. He had to go on both sides; you know, he had to top these. This little tank that he was on had a little walkway around it that he could walk around on while hanging onto the rail, and he would reach over and spray the tops of these orange trees with a spray gun. You used to get fifty cents a tank for every one of those things that you put out. We used to put out twenty to twenty-two tanks a day. We were making awful good money in those days. That was a lot of money.
J: It was ten dollars a day or so.
S: Oh, I hope to tell you, that was pretty good money then! That's when I bought my first car. That was my last year in high school when I did that.
J: What kind of car did you buy?
S: I bought an old 1925 or 1924 Chevy roadster.
J: Did you remember going on the Pacific Electric down to the beach when you were in high school?
S: I don't remember it, no. I always rode down in a car of some kind. Never rode on a streetcar.
J: Did you ever go to Orange County Park after you had left Yorba Linda?
S: Well, we went there when I was still in Fullerton. After I got out of the service, I haven't been back there but  all during my high school days we used to go out to Orange County Park.
J: How many students were there at Fullerton High School when you went there?
S: I'd say probably about a thousand.
J: Did that include the junior college enrollment?
S: No, that was just strictly the high school. I think the junior college had possibly three or four hundred. I think they had the two of them listed as around fifteen hundred students. My gosh, that's about what one class is today.
J: That's not very big, is it?
J: About how many students were there in a class?
S: Oh, roughly, I'd say we had about twenty-five to thirty students in a class.
J: And how many classes did you have a day?
S: About six or something such as that. Let's see, I had English, history, some type of mathematics, mechanical drawing, and chemistry. It all wound out to where you had five or six classes. I think it was around six, because you had to have history and English--those were compulsory items--and mathematics, or if you weren't going into any type of an engineering type activity, why, you took whatever your extra was. Then you'd take a foreign language. I took Spanish. I took about three years of that, and I can understand it, but I can't speak it. (laughter) But anyhow, you had to get three full units each year that were compulsory. When most kids got out of there, they had sixteen full units, In other words, they had English, history, the mathematics or whatever it might have been, and a foreign language, which was four units.
J: So that would be four units for your four years, so that was sixteen,
S: And for four years it would be sixteen, but it was a necessity to get at least the three units for four years to get twelve units to get out of high school. What it is today, I'll be darned if I know, I guess as long as they get there in the morning and go home at night, why, they push them through. 
J: I think you have to have 200 or 180 credits,
S: It's so many credits for each class?
J: I think it's three for each class, as long as it isn't a study hall or something like that. You have to have 180 credits, I think, or 200 credits. In each graduating class, there were how many, 250 to 300 students?
S: Somewhere around there, yes, a good group.
J: What were the major businesses in the Fullerton area at the time?
S: Oh, my. They were quite small. I mean, there wasn't any big industry there of any kind that I can remember. It was all small shops that were just starting out in the world, I guess. The biggest activity was the Chapman Building in Fullerton, and I don't know whether it's burned down or fallen down or what.
J: Well, the packinghouses were pretty good sized, weren't they?
S: Yes, but that was just small, and that was way down alongside of the depot. That's probably gone by now. But there weren't any large businesses or industry of any kind over there that I can remember. Between Fullerton and Anaheim there used to be a great big old sugar mill out there, and during the Prohibition days and things like that, they turned it into an alcohol plant for medical alcohol or drugstore alcohol and things like that.
J: Was the central business district mainly on Spadra and Commonwealth?
S: Yes, it was all right in that area, and the majority of all industry that was there, I would say, was on the south side of Commonwealth.
J: Oh, just below?
S: Yes, because the other side was just small clothing shops and things such as that; men's shops and dress shops and things like that were all down in that other area. From Amerige to Commonwealth there was two blocks from the Chapman Building, I should say, and there was a church on the corner of one, and then there was this big kind of hotel I don't know whether it's still there in Fullerton or not. It had kind of a patio arrangement out in front, and it was divided. Is it still there? 
J: I don't know. I haven't been down Harbor Boulevard in a really long time. Do you know how many packinghouses there were in the Fullerton area?
S: There's only one that I know of, and across from it is where my older sister met her husband. He used to run that icehouse. It was called the Union Ice Company or something like that, and he ran that. That's where they get acquainted with each other, and finally he became a policeman in the city of Fullerton, and from there he left and went to first one thing and then another. Now they are up in Big Bear. I wished I had followed in his footsteps; I could be retired now. I don't know whether my younger sister told you or not, but my older sister and her boss are the ones that started up this Hawaiian Punch outfit. It became part of General Foods.
S: The Hawaiian Punch is in Fullerton?
S: Yes, but it's part of General Foods now, I believe, or a branch of it. But anyhow they started that up, and she gets an awful lot of money out of the stock. My brother-in-law worked for the City of Fullerton Police Department, and he was a sergeant there in the police department. He had his home there on Malvern Avenue. They sold that house; and they had two cars, and they sold them. They were new cars, practically. They went on up into La Habra Heights and bought an avocado ranch. They paid $30,000 for it. This was in 1934-35, somewhere in that neighborhood, and it was a six and a half acres or avocados. He lived there for a little over two years, and he went in hock clear up to his neck. He lived there about two years and picked the crops of avocados off that thing. He was quite handy with woodwork and things such as that, and they remodeled the home that they had there. He lived there for two years as I say, and he sold it for $60,000. From there they went out into the Santa Ana Canyon and bought a bunch of property and had contractors come in to "pre-fab" the homes, as they call it. Then they would customize them after that. He made beaucoup money there. He, my sister, and their three boys went up to Big Bear, and they bought this old broken-down motel there for around $70,000. They spent the summer up there, and the winter, reconditioning it, repainting it and putting it in shape. They didn't keep that thing until the next summer, when they got $125,000. In other words, they just jumped--boom, boom, boom! I mean, the old saying is that it takes money to make money, and that's exactly what happened to them. That, plus my sister's royalties from the Hawaiian Punch outfit . . . The last time I saw her, she says, "We have a very comfortable income from it." So when you refer to something as a "comfortable income"--man! And they tried to talk me into following along with them. 
J: You're probably kicking yourself now?
S: Oh, man! But my wife isn't the one that likes to invest too deeply in something, and she has that saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." So if you've got fifty cents in your pocket, why, don't throw it away and invest seventy-five cents of it or something like that. But if I had done it . . . And they had begged me.
J: So your family had a pretty large stake of the Fullerton area, anyway?
J: How long did your older sister and her husband live in the Fullerton area?
S: Oh, they lived there all the time, from the time we moved there in the early twenties until . . . I'd say about fifteen years.
J: And then Virginia lived in Anaheim for a long time, didn't she?
S: Yes, she got out of UCLA [University of California at Los Angeles] she went to Ventura to teach school, and that's where she met her husband. He worked for the Industrial Fuels Supply. She met him up there. She taught school in Ventura for about a year, and then he got transferred to an Anaheim office. He moved down there, and they lived there until they moved to Newhall.
J: (pause) How many of the streets in Fullerton were dirt roads when you first moved there?
S: Well, the main streets today that were there were all of what we referred to as blacktop. There was Amerige, Malvern, Chapman Avenue, Commonwealth, Spadra, and the street that we lived on Jacaranda. We lived in the 300 block, and the 400 block dead-ended down there. Then it was dirt. There were orange groves and everything else, and you had to kind of jog around a little bit, in order to continue to go west. But west, I would say, of the 400 block was dirt roads and things like that. But the east side of town was mostly paved, until you got clear out past about where Chapman College is today. That's out where the old Chapman estate was. Isn't that where they put the college?
J: In Orange?
S: No. You went out Chapman Avenue probably a mile or two miles east of Spadra. 
J: That's where the California State College is now.
S: California State College? Well, that's right in there. It was all paved until you got about there, then it was orange groves and dirt. The one road that went right straight on out toward Yorba Linda was a paved road, but anything off of that was dirt road.
J: So the road system was fairly well established by the time you got there.
S: Oh, yes, it was.
J: The majority of the area in Fullerton was mostly orange groves, wasn't it, though?
S: Yes, except for the actual downtown portion of it. All of Orange County was citrus groves and things such as that.
J: When you were going to high school and when you had gotten out of high school, did you ever go to the Nixon family store?
S: Oh, yes. We used to go out to their family store quite a bit.
J: Could you tell me something about the store, please?
S: About their store?
J: Describe it, yes.
S: You might want to call it a general store, like the old neighborhood grocery store would be called, and they had a few little miscellaneous items, a spool of thread or a ball of yarn or something such as that, that would be available for the neighborhood there. There wasn't anybody that had any money to buy anything with then, for what I can remember, and they didn't do too well. I can recall two or three occasions when we would go out there, and the comments would be that they didn't know where their next meal was coming from if they didn't make some sales and things like that, because that was kind of the tough portion of the country.
J: I heard that Mr. Nixon had arthritis. Did you ever notice that he wasn't able to move about normally?
S: Well, he might have had that in later years than when I knew him, because when he was in his fifties was probably the last time I ever saw him.
J: What kind of woman was Mrs. Nixon, when you knew her, when she was at the store? 
S: Oh, she was wonderful! She was a real nice lady. Everybody liked her.
J: Was she friendly?
S: Yes, very friendly. Did you read the letters that my sister, Virginia, had from Mrs. Nixon?
J: Yes, I read those.
S: She was a very, very nice woman
J: Was the Nixon family a religious family?
S: Quite, particularly the father. The mother was a normal days religious type of woman of those days, but the father was a very strict, religious Quaker.
J: When the Nixons moved to Whittier, Frank Nixon stopped working the oil fields, right?
S: He didn't work in them that I know of after he left Yorba Linda, because when we used to live in Yorba Linda together, that's what he used to do for a living. He had this lemon grove, from what I can remember, for their extra income or whatever it was when he wasn't working in the oil fields. There was quite a bit of oil around there in those days. A person who was working in the oil fields in those days, particularly as a driller and things such as that/made a fine income. I can remember myself, when I was a little bitty guy, that they used to talk of making sixteen and twenty dollars a day. That was an awful lot of money.
J: Going back to Yorba Linda again, what kind of family life did the Nixons have? Did they seem to be at the same level as your family?
S: They were on the level of about a $3,000 a year income which was just a shade above what you might want to call the middle income bracket. It was just a tiny bit better than the average income bracket would be today. They were doing reasonably well.
J: In Yorba Linda, all the toys that you had were just very crude toys, weren't they?
J: Something that you might make yourself? Very rarely, you might have something that was manufactured?
S: Outside of furniture and things such as that--nobody made their furniture in those days anymore, it was strictly a store-bought thing then. 
J: I think your sister mentioned the fact that the Nixons had a baby carriage, and that was the only thing that was manufactured that you guys could play with or use.
S: I can remember rolling that thing up and down the street. We used to put the cat in it; we would dress the cat up and put the cat in there, and the cat could always jump out.
J: How often would you do that?
S: I guess every time we could catch the cat. (laughter)
J: Whose cat was it?
S: I don't know whether it was theirs or ours. One of us always had a cat or dog or something like that, because my sister and myself both were animal lovers, and their family was, too. We always had a dog or cat or both--one or two of each, anyway--all around.
J: Going back to Yorba Linda yet again, was there very much alcoholic drinking that went on in there?
S: Well, it was Prohibiton then.
J: In Yorba Linda?
S: Prohibiton was all over the United States. The only place you got booze then was . . .
J: What years are you referring to?
S: The twenties
J: I was thinking of 1917 to 1919.
S: I don't ever remember anybody having anything to drink then. Of course, I wasn't old enough to use it.
S: But what I'm getting at is that I don't ever remember seeing anybody drinking anything then. I guess probably the worst thing that you ever got hold of in those days, if people had it, was hard cider or something that they'd sqeeze their apple juice out of.
J: What kind of apple tree did you have in your backyard?
S: I don't recall any by brand name, just local apples.
J: Were they good? 
S: Pretty good, yes. I remember we used to have a Jonathan apple tree back there; that was about the best we ever had.
J: Did the weather ever get cold enough to have apples come out right?
S: No, they weren't too good.
J: They weren't any good then?
S: They were all right. We used to pick them and eat them. But when we were heading up into the mountains, there was this place called the Stetson Ranch, and they had this big old apple orchard up there. That's when we were heading up toward Barton Flats up at the cabin. And every year, why, my father would get a dozen boxes of apples, and he would bring them home and we would put them in the icehouse, which was right across from the packinghouse that my brother-in-law was running. I've forgotten what they used to charge us--a dollar a month or some darn thing--to store these apples in there, and they would last us all year long, until the next apple season rolled around.
J: Were the Barton Flat apples pretty good?
S: Oh, my, they were wonderful! They were what we would call "mountain apples." What they actually were I don't know.
J: It got cold enough, though, up there?
S: Oh, yes, it was great. Well, you've got snow and everything else up there. It freezes.
J: That's what you have to have to have good apples.
S: I can remember one day when we were little kids--this is ha in Yorba Linda again--and we were out in this old tent that I was telling you about that was in the back of the house. The night before, I guess, my father had just brought home a whole crate of cantaloupes. He had put them out in the tent because they weren't quite ripe--I mean, they were good enough, but he thought he would let them sit there for a while, you know. So Richard and I and his cousin, Floyd Wildermuthf ate that whole crate of them, all by ourselves.
J: How sick did you get?
S: Not sick. We just ate them and liked them.
J: You mean, you didn't get overstuffed? 
S: I don't think so, and I remember eating them all. Maybe we didn't clean them out like you'd clean the first one out that you ate, but we cut every one of them open. Oh, man, I got a paddling for that, because there were no more cantaloupes left. I had to go and get some more. (laughter)
J: Getting fruit like cantaloupe was sort of a treat, wasn't it?
S: That was store-bought; you didn't get that in your backyard.
J: I was going to ask you where they came from.
S: I don't recall exactly where they came from. The only thing I know is that my father brought them home.
J: What did you usually buy in the store? I know you bought flour and stuff like that.
S: Oh, you'd just buy staple items that would be needed.
J: Would you get butter from the cow?
S: Nobody churned butter then; you'd buy butter. The only thing that you'd do would be to skim the cream off for making real good whipped cream or things like that. But other than that, you'd buy butter and milk. We always had a few chickens, so you didn't have to worry about eggs; we always kept those. We had a couple of bee hives in the back, too.
S: Yes, good old orange blossom honey. My gosh, when we moved to Fullerton and I went into the service, my sister got married.
J: Which one was that?
S: Virginia, my younger sister. My older one was already married then. When she got married and there was nobody home, we still had that-big old house there. Well, my folks sold that house and moved over into this duplex on Berkeley Avenue,
J: Right near the junior college?
S: Yes, it was about two doors off of Chapman Avenue, on Berkeley. Well, anyway, they moved into this duplex over there, and they lived in one side and rented out the other one, you know. It was income for them, and it was all right. Then my father died, and then when my mother died,  we cleaned out all that stuff there. And we still had five-gallon cans of honey from those bees in Yorba Linda. That stiff never spoils, that's one nice thing about honey. It will go into sugar, and all you've got to do is put it on a stove and bring the sugar back into a liquid. Unless there's water or something like that added to honey, it will never spoil.
J: I didn't know that. Did the Nixons have any fruit trees or anything in their backyard other than the lemon trees?
S: I don't recall. They possibly did. I know they used to grow vegetables right out on the side, which was probably 100 to 150 feet long and maybe 20 to 30 feet wide. It was bare ground there, there weren't any trees planted. They used to grow all kinds of truck gardening vegetables.
J: What was the most common vegetable that was grown in the backyard?
S: Beans, corn, and peas.
J: Which one did you use the most of?
S: I don't know. Whichever was available, I guess, or which you had the most of. If you had a good crop of beans that year, why, you'd eat lots of beans; if you had a good crop of peas or corn, you'd eat a lot of peas or corn. That's what it was. But we used to take the corn and roast it. Have you ever had 'roasting ears," as they call it?
S: Isn't that good?
S: Rather than put it in a pan of water and cook it, we'd take it and roast it. And oh, man, that was good eating!
J: Did you buy the seed for the different vegetables?
S: Yes, and then we'd just plant them or keep them from year to year.
J: You could just let it ripen, too.
S: Sure. They would get a couple of nice, good, fat ears of corn, and they'd save those.
J: That's all you needed?
S: Yes, that's all we needed to grow for the next year, because  that would make you half a dozen rows of corn.
J: Well, Mr. Shaw, on behalf of the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Program, I thank you very much for this interview. I thought it was very informative.
END OF INTERVIEW 
Top of page