Note: Bill Todd's autobiography written for his 100th birthday ----
I was born on a farm near Tekamah, Nebraska, February 28, 1902. When mother went into labor, father drove to town to get the doctor. By the time they arrived, a midwife had delivered me. My mother died when I was two years old, from the effects of pneumonia which developed into tuberculosis. Sixteen years later my application for life insurance was denied by The Foresters because of that.
In December 1904, I was taken to Onawa, Iowa to live on a farm with my grandparents Todd. Onawa was a farming town of about 2500 population. The school that I attended was one building, having classes from kindergarten to the twelfth grade.
These are my earliest recollections there as a child in Onawa. My grandfather and I were going across the frozen Missouri River to Nebraska and back one winter. He drove a team of horses with a wagon. I remember hitching my sled to wagons hauling huge blocks of ice to the town ice-house. I hitch-hiked back home with wagons making the return trip to the lake where the ice was being cut. I would ride bareback on an old mare kept to pull the buggy. I had to mount her in the stall, or from the top rail of a fence. She was so fat and I so short, that my legs would stick out sideways. One time grandfather and I had driven to town using a colt hitched to a two-wheeled cart. On the trip home, something scared the colt, which promptly ran away with us. Although the nose strap on the bridle broke, grandfather was able to keep the colt going straight down the road instead of turning into our barnyard. Otherwise, we could have been badly hurt. In the winter when we drove to town, I would be put on the floor of the buggy with some hot bricks wrapped in newspaper, and covered with a blanket. In the summer, the two-seated buggy with the fringe around the top was used. One day when I had started to walk to town, a young man in small red automobile gave me a ride. It was a roadster with no top, and the gear shift levers were on the outside on the left side. That was sometime between 1908 and 1912, and was quite a thrill for me, as in those days an automobile was a rarity.
My grandfather had originally farmed on the banks of the Missouri River, living in a log house. When he bought the farm near Onawa, the log house was moved there also and used as a house for the pigs. At the time I lived in Onawa, there were about twenty acres left. Sometime in the late 1970's I visited Onawa. At that time, none of that acreage was left, but was probably on the Nebraska side. That is a natural occurrence along that river, as the channel changes from year to year.
In 1912, my grandparents moved to California. I was left with my father in Portland, Oregon. He had taken a new wife who had a son, Lloyd. Lloyd and I were made to swallow a dose of castor oil every night at bedtime, whether we needed it or not. My father was working as a foreman for a paving company, so was out of town for different periods of time. One fall, I was made to wear shoes with worn-out soles to school. That was because it was MY fault they were in that condition. However, when my father returned home, the school authorities contacted him. I soon had a new pair of shoes. Another very embarrassing event (to me) was when Lloyd fell down in a wading pool and got his clothing soaking wet. As my stepmother was afraid he might catch cold, she took us into the ladies rest room (past a bunch of giggling girls) so we could go in a stall and exchange clothes. I wore the wet clothes until we returned home.
In 1914, my Aunt Kate (cousin Quinton's mother) and Aunt Ethel (cousin Zella's mother) visited us in Portland. Upon then visiting my grandparents in California, they reported I was being neglected by my stepmother. So in January 1915, I joined my grandparents in Inglewood, California. There I attended school through the tenth grade. My Aunt Beulah and I pitted apricots in the Piru drying sheds one summer. The second day I learned that apricots are a VERY good diarrhetic!
On finishing the tenth grade in school in 1918, I joined my father in Pocatello, Idaho. I worked under him for the paving company. At first I made periodic tests of the mixture of different sizes of dry material used in mixing with the asphalt to insure the finished product met standards required. I also kept the firebox stoked with coal. The dry materials and the asphalt had to be heated to a particular temperature before mixing. Later I became the mixer-man, who measured the correct amounts of dry material and asphalt into a huge mixer. When properly mixed, it was dumped into a waiting truck below. From there we went to Beaver, Utah, then Burley, Idaho. As winter weather closed down the work, we joined my stepmother and Lloyd in Bozeman, Montana. I worked in a drug store, mostly delivering medicines to victims of the influenza epidemic, until December.
In December, my father and I went to his homestead, near Sixteen, Montana. Sixteen was a flag stop on the electrified Chicago Milwaukee Railroad. It consisted of housing for a track maintenance crew, a combination grocery and post office, and a couple other residences. The mail clerk on the train threw off the mail sack as the train passed through. Outgoing mail was picked off a hanger with a hook. In going to the homestead, we detrained at a siding three miles from Sixteen, then a mile up the hill to the cabin. To leave, we had to go to Sixteen and have the train flagged down.
The cabin was of one small room, heated by a small wood stove. A spring was nearby, from which we carried our water. We kept a side of mutton hanging on the outside of the cabin, where it remained frozen. We would hike the mile down to Sixteen Mile Creek, where we caught trout through holes cut in the ice. A log building was built into the side of the hill where we kept a borrowed team of horses. While there we hauled logs from a national forest several miles away, to start a storage building. It was never completed, as father sold the property when he had proved up on it. To "prove up" on a homestead, a person had to live on the property a certain number of months per year. Also, a certain amount of improvements had to be made. At the end of three years, an affidavit was issued, giving title to the property. This homestead included 318 plus acres of land.
My father left in April to set up equipment for the summer paving job in Billings, Montana. I stayed another month to herd sheep for a neighboring rancher, Mr. White. I had a sheep dog to help, and a pony to ride if I needed to. I spent a lot of time trying to knock off prairie dogs with my .22 caliber rifle. At the end of the month, I returned the sheep to the home ranch for shearing and "nutting" (castrating). I stayed for supper and breakfast. Pie was served at breakfast, something new to me.
That summer, we worked in Billings, Montana, then in the fall we were transferred to Butte, Montana for the rest of the season. I returned to Portland to work in the company's maintenance shop. During that time I lived in a house where I received room and board. The proprietress was from Boston , so we had baked beans and brown bread for breakfast every Sunday.
In some towns where we worked in 1918 and 1919, we lived in a tent along side the railroad tracks, near our operations. One evening, for dinner, my father made a vanilla pudding. When finished, he discovered he had used iodine instead of vanilla. I thought it was funny - HE didn't! Another time, we went to a barber shop to get baths. A bath usually cost a quarter, but when father got through he was charged fifty cents because it was Saturday. He paid it, but I had MY bath in a wash-tub at the tent.
The spring of 1920, I was sent as a header man to a job at Beaver, Oregon (near Tillamook). I was to be a header man at a wage of Five dollars per eight-hour day. When I arrived, my pay had been raised fifty cents a day. A header man laid the forms between which the mixed hot asphalt was placed, insuring the correct width of the road, and the correct thickness of the pavement. As the material was dumped between the forms, rakers leveled it, and the steam rollers would compact it and smooth it. This was the original pavement on Highway 31 in that area. The crew working on this project lived in tents, and paid one dollar per day for three meals a day in the mess tent. While there, it was spawning time for the salmon. Although there was hardly enough water in the creek by the camp for a fish to swim in, they were trying. Many of the men speared the fish any way they could, and we had them in our mess. One week end, my assistant and I took a hike to the top of nearby Mount Hebo. Much of the trail led over fallen logs. Our hob-nailed boots were helpful in traversing that part of the hike. We spent the night in a ranger's cabin we found. In the morning, for awhile, we could see only the tops of other mountains because of the fog. When that dissipated, we had a wonderful view of many miles. When rainy weather closed this job, I was sent to a small town in northwestern Oregon to finish the season, where I worked as a mixer-man again.
That fall I returned to Inglewood, California and again lived with my grandparents. It was shortly after an earthquake, and the fronts of brick buildings along Commercial Street (now LaBrea Blvd.) had all fallen exposing the interior of second-floor rooms to full view. For awhile I delivered groceries for a grocery store. Next was a job with Western Electric Company, installing and checking relays in telephone offices. Starting wage, while I learned the color coding of the wiring, was thirty-nine cents an hour, then was raised to forty-two cents an hour. Sometimes we had to work a night shift. At that time, the new dialing system was being installed. However, there were still plenty of jobs for telephone girls. The telephone operators sat on high stools on the other side of the equipment where we were working. There was nothing to keep us from seeing where many of them kept their money. Then I had a tour of work in the shipyards in San Pedro as a drillers helper. We were converting a navy ship to a ferry to be used in the San Francisco bay.
In about August of 1924 I was hired by the Los Angeles Post Office as a substitute mail carrier. I was paid fifty cents an hour when I had work. When extra help was needed at a postal station, a substitute would be assigned from the main dispatching station. Luckily I was able to qualify as a truck driver. At times I would be sent, with a truck, to a station to deliver parcel post. I also was assigned to an evening collection route picing up mail deposited in collection boxes. This took about two hours. Immediately after completing this route, I spent another one and one-half hours on a collection route in the central business section of Los Angeles. Model T Ford trucks were used for the collection routes. Trucks of different sizes were used in the delivery of parcel post. Some weeks the only work I had was the collection routes. In November 1924, I received my assignment as a regular carrier, receiving $175.00 monthly. After thirty-two years and four months of service, I retired at age fifty-five on February 28, 1957. At this time I was being paid $350.00 per month. As a hobby, I usually played in a couple of bowling leagues during the winter. Vacations were spent camping or trailering.
Also in 1924, while working at Western Electric, I had enlisted in Company B, 160th Infantry, California National Guard. Being discharged as a corporal after three years, joined Service Company for one year as a corporal. Upon discharge from Service Company, I joined Company C where I had friends. I progressed to platoon sergeant.. Usually I was in command of the second platoon, as there would not be a lieutenant assigned. Besides the usual summer two week encampment, we often went to a rifle range for practice. On these weekends, our families would accompany us, taking along picnic lunches. During the last two or three years, I requested duty as supply sergeant. In 1940, I went on inactive duty to complete my current three year enlistment, as I had now served sixteen years. In 1941, after Pearl Harbor, the regiment was called into Federal service, but I wasn't recalled to active duty as I had flat feet.
In 1927, there had been an earthquake in Santa Barbara. On our way home from the summer encampment, the troop train stopped while the rifle companies paraded along State Street. As I was in Service Company, I was free to sight-see some of the damage.
Sometime in the period 1934 to 1936, the longshoreman's union in the San Francisco Bay area went out on strike, and there had been bloodshed. The 160th regiment was called into state duty to back up the city police. Our street patrols never encountered any problems. We were quartered in warehouses on the waterfront for about two weeks, when the strike was settled.
About 1930, a friend (Floyd Mellor) and I opened an ice cream and sandwich shop on West Pico Blvd. We only made expenses - no net profits - so we traded it for a small house at 701 W. Kelso St. in Inglewood, California. I moved into it, and eventually bought Mellor's interest. Several years later, as this was a corner lot, I built a one-bedroom house on the rear for income. In 1944 this place was sold, and the family moved to 604 E. Kelso. Years later, the property became part of a city park. The construction of the 405 Freeway had used the rest of the property in that block.
In 1933, there was a big earthquake centered in Long Beach. There was a tremendous lot of damage. Many residents were camping in parks, etc. The National Guard installed soup kitchens in different parts of town to feed the displaced people. At that time I was taking eight millimeter movies, so, as a member of the Guard, I was able to pass through the barricades to take pictures. It is too bad that those old black and white movies eventually deteriorated with time.
In 1933, I became acquainted with a young lady working her way through business college. She was Rose Marie Kempton, nineteen years old. After about six months, we were married on April 1, 1934, which also happened to be Easter Sunday. We were married in the home of a Methodist minister in Fullerton, California. Attending were Rose's mother, Ella Kempton; my father, Herbert Todd and wife, Mary; my Aunt Beulah with her husband, Ernest Payne. On the thirteenth of January, 1937, Marilyn Ann was born. The following year on March 25, Joan Marie arrived. Many happy years were spent in this marriage with Rose. Her death on October 24, 1980, left a great big void.
Sometime in the 1940's, a group of mail carriers, including me, started a group buying uniforms at a discount. The following year, we incorporated as a company and I became the president. We first obtained a contract to furnish uniforms to the members of the Los Angeles Transit Company. Later we received contracts with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, the City Fire Department, and numerous guard companies. We bought property and constructed a two-story building. We then expanded by buying another company store in Los Angeles; another in Van Nuys, California. Sometime in the 1960's, I retired from operations in the store. A few years later, Rose and I were asked to return to work in the store. We did, I as credit manager. Later we opened stores in Santa Ana and San Diego, California. I was required to make periodic trips to each store to audit the charge accounts. In 1988, I retired from that position, and eventually liquidated my shares in the company.
Upon retirement from the Post Office on February 28, 1957, I learned the sport of lawn bowling in Hermosa Beach. From about 1960 to 1965 I served as secretary-treasurer of the club. I played on a number of club teams in tournaments, winning some, losing some. In 1964 we purchased a condominium in a newly opened senior citizen country club in Newhall, California called Friendly Valley. We were about the fiftieth couple to become residents. When the property was fully developed, there were approximately 2500 residents. The sports available included lawn bowling. As Rose and I were the only lawn bowlers, we obtained some recruits and started a lawn bowling club. In 1995, I was made an honorary member as I was moving to San Diego.
In 1975, I became the circulation manager for the Bowls Magazine, which was published by the American Lawn Bowls Association. I held that position until December 31, 1995 when I resigned. During this period of time between 1958 and 1996, I played in many tournaments. I ended up with many dust-catching trophies, and many friendships with bowlers from all parts of the United States and Canada. In 1995, I was honored with an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Association.
Also during the time in Friendly Valley, Rose and I aided in starting a square dance club. For about five consecutive years, we attended a big week-long rally at Penticton, B.C., Canada. Plyboard sheets were laid on the local baseball diamond, where in the evgenings over three thousand dancers would do their thing. Also, during the day, the city would close one block to traffic, and spread ground rubber. There volunteer callers would call the dances. The local Safeway market wold put on a free pancake breakfast on one morning. We always went with a caravan of other club members, and placed an entry in the parade which preceded the dancing each year. One year we also attended a convention at the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
In 1985, five years after Rose's death, I became reacquainted with Dorothy Jane Yeager Mumma. Rose and I had known Dorothy and her husband, Bill, since early lawn bowling days. On May 20, 1985, we were married in Las Vegas, Nev. with our friends Dean and Lois Cegavske as witnesses. Dorothy moved from her residence in Riverside, CA to Friendly Valley where I bought a larger condo. We were both active in lawn bowls and enjoyed card games and other games with different friends.
While in Friendly Valley, the Mumma family hosted Dorothy's 90th birthday in the auditorium. Also my family hosted my 90th birthday in the Auditorium. Previously, my 80th birthday was a surprise party at Joan and Jim Budd's home in Newhall, CA. My 70th birthday was also a surprise party at the home of Marilyn McCoskey's in Hawthorne.
In the summer of 1995, we learned of a "continuing care" establishment in San Diego, CA. After investigating, we moved to Casa de las Campanas (House of the Bells) on the 4th of October, 1995. In December of 1995, Dorothy became ill and was hospitalized in January of 1996 and passed away on February 17, 1996. We had enjoyed nearly eleven years of companionship. Again I was left with a void in my life.
Addresses: 1931 701 W. Kelso Street, Inglewood, California 1944 604 E. Kelso Street, Inglewood, California 1964 19237 Avenue of the Oaks, Newhall, CA 91321 1985 26733 Winsome Circle, Newhall, CA 91321 1995 18655 W. Bernardo Drive #456, San Diego, CA 92127 1996 910 Victorian Drive, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814 1998 4808 NW 129th Street, Vancouver, WA 98684 2000 14514 NE 81st Street, Vancouver, WA 98682 ***************************************************** The Oregonian Obituaries William H. Todd 07/24/03
William H. Todd died July 21, 2003, at age 101.
Mr. Todd was born Feb. 28, 1902, in Tekamah, Neb. He served in the California National Guard for 16 years. He was a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 33 years, retiring in 1957. In 1934 he married Rose Kempton; she died in 1980. He married Dorothy Mumma in 1985; she died in 1996.
Survivors include his daughters, Joan Budd and Marilyn McCoskey; stepsons, Doug and Larry Mumma; four grandchildren and nine step-grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and 15 step-great-grandchildren.
Remembrances to the American Lawn Bowling Association. Arrangements by Hamilton-Mylan.
************************************************* Vancouver Washington, Columbian Thursday, July 24, 2003 compiled by Columbian staff
A Vancouver resident the past four years, William H. Todd died Monday, July 21, 2003, in Vancouver. He was 101.
Mr. Todd was a retired mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. He was born Feb. 28, 1902, in Tekamah, Neb.
He was preceded in death by two wives, Rose Kempton in 1980 and Dorothy Yeager in 1996.
Survivors include two daughters, Joan Budd of Vancouver and Marilyn McCoskey of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; two stepsons, Doug Mumma of Livermore, Calif., and Larry Mumma of Riverside, Calif.; four grandchildren; nine step-grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and 15 step-great-grandchildren.
Mr. Todd was a life member of National Association of Retired Federal Employees and an honorary life member of American Lawn Bowls Association. He served 16 years in the California National Guard.
There will be a private burial in Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall, Calif. Hamilton-Mylan Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ WILLIAM TODD - Hermosa Beach, Friendly Valley, Various (CA) - 2000
Bill Todd held and defined the position of Circulation Manager of BOWLS Magazine for twenty years, 1975-1995. He took up bowls in 1957 at the Hermosa Beach Club in Southern California. At different times, Bill also held memberships at lawn bowling clubs in Friendly Valley, Holmby Park, Riverside and Lake Hodges. He was Friendly Valley's first president. In 1975, Bill was asked by ALBA's president to give-up his position as ALBA Public Relations Committee Chairman-which took him to greens that had been newly installed to help locals organize-to take the circulation management position. In an era before computers, Bill worked with thousands of index cards to keep the magazine subscriber rolls current. He was well into his eighties when he transferred his massive subscription files to a computer, deftly learning how to operate modern technology in the process. He was 93 when he called it quits with the Magazine. Bill's first wife, Rose, was a top Southern California bowler. Dorothy Mumma Todd, whom he married after the death of Rose, founded the American Women's Bowls Association in 1973, and was AWLBA's first president.
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