We Thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for keeping us in your thoughts and being a part of Martha’s life!

Martha "GG" Louise (Buxton) Fancher

August 12, 1921January 21, 2019
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Martha “G.G.” Fancher, age 97, of Auburn, CA, passed away peacefully after a brief illness, surrounded by her loved ones.

Martha “G.G.” was best known for the times she shared about her experiences, and her memorabilia she kept, from World War 2, with local high school’s history classes. She is preceded in passing by her brother Richard Buxton, and her husband Llewellyn Fancher.

She is survived by her Daughter Lyn Fancher, Granddaughter Patricia (Steve) Spangler, Grandson Robert (Jennifer) Davis, Great Grandchildren Carolyn & Elizabeth Davis, Tatiana (Miguel) Santamaria, Lonjino Gastelum, William (Tatiana) Gastelum, and numerous Great-Great-Grandchildren.

A memorial service for Martha “G.G.” will be held on Saturday, February 16, at 1:00 PM, at the Newcastle United Methodist Church; 410 Buena Vista Ave., Newcastle. An online memorial has been set up through Chapel Of The Hills.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, February 16, 2019

Martha "GG" Louise (Buxton) Fancher

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I was born on August 12,1921 in East Liverpool, Ohio and some people keep telling me I should write a book about my life so I am going to tell as much as I can remember.

East Liverpool was a town on the side of a hill above the Ohio River. The downtown area was near the river. The house we lived in was about ¾ of the way up the hill. Because it snowed in the winter and you couldn't push a baby carriage in the snow, my parents had a little sled with sides on it that they pulled me around in during the winter. One day my father hit a rock and I was slammed in the snow and the sled ran over me.In 1925, my parents decided to move to California where my grandparents were establishing a court of 7 housekeeping cottages in Calistoga. Since people didn't travel far in those days and they thought they might never have the opportunity to see the country again, they sort of zig-zagged up and down trying to see as many interesting places as they possibly could. We visited my father's cousins in Michigan and an aunt and cousin in Chicago. My father's sister, Iris, and her husband (Ray Bopp) were also traveling with us and they and my father were driving 1924 Chevrolets (Open touring cars with side curtains that could be attached when it rained). We left Chicago and had dirt or gravel roads the rest of the way. There were no bridges (except over very large rivers) and we had to drive through small streams as we came to them. One time we had to sit and wait until a swollen stream receded after a rain so we could drive through it. We had camping equipment with us and had to find a campground each night to stay. Sometimes we found a nice campground where we could have a shower and wash clothes but that wasn't
very often. As I remember from reading a diary of the trip my parent kept, we were on the road about 25 days and had at least one flat tire a day (rim pinches). Once someone hit my Aunt's car and we had to stop while my father repaired the damage. Another time my father, who was an excellent mechanic, had to grind the valves, change oil, etc. Some of the sights we took in along the way were Yellowstone Park, The Cliff Dwellers Park, Starved Rock and the Bad Lands.
We finally arrived in Calistoga 2 days before my 4th birthday and had our last flat tire and last rain storm just as we crossed from Oregon into California. My father found work at a garage in Oakland, California, and for a while we lived in a housekeeping room in a big old house near downtown. Eventually we moved into a little 4 room bungalow style house on Bancroft Way in Berkeley where we lived for several years. The only heat was a fireplace and a portable kerosene heater. While we lived there, my father brought home a gunny sack one night, opened it and let out a beautiful white cat with orange tail and ears we named him Mitzi. Later they bought a larger 2 bedroom home on Channing Way in Berkeley where we lived until my father was hired to teach auto mechanics in Pittsburg, CA. One day, shortly after we moved to Channing Way, one of my father's customers told him he was too good a mechanic to be struggling to make a living (the depression was just underway) and told my father he should go to the University of California in Berkeley and take the Smith Hughes Course and he probably could get a job teaching auto mechanics. My father took his advice and when he finished the course he was hired to teach at Pittsburg High School at $100.00 per month.( I know I'm skipping around, but I am trying to cover everything I can remember and when I think of something, I have to go back to something.) While we were in Berkeley, I attended Washington School on Grove Street (now Martin Luther King St.) Which was about a mile from our house. I had to walk both ways rain or shine. In first grade I had a wonderful teacher named Miss Benteen. Mother didn't understand about the school savings accounts and there was a contest among classes to have 100% participation. Miss Benteen paid me a few pennies to help her in class to I would have some money to bank. Later, mother gave me some money when she found out more about it. Once we move to Pittsburg and my father started teaching, things were a little
better since he had that $100.00 a month we could depend on. When we moved to Pittsburg, we had to make several trips there to find a suitable place to live as housing was scarce. We finally found a large I bedroom apartment in a 4- plex on West 10th Street, It was best we could find. I remember one of the times when we were visiting my grandparents in Calistoga. My grandfather and father were listening to a football game being broadcast. I think it was the Rose Bowl game. All of a sudden they started yelling " no, no, turn around". I couldn't figure out why they were so upset. It seems that was the game which the University of California player had become confused when he was bumped and ran the wrong way scoring for the other team. He became well known for his error and it has been talked about for years. Before the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridges were built, the only way to get to San Francisco was to go down to San Jose and back up the other side of the bay or take a ferry. There were ferries running from Berkeley to San Francisco, Alameda to San Francisco, Berkeley to Sausalito, Richmond to San Rafael, Crockett to Vallejo and Martinez to Benecia and also San Francisco to Sausalito. All the ferries carried both cars and walk-on passengers. As I remember there was also a slip for the auto ferries to dock at the Ferry Building. One night we were on a ferry returning to the Berkeley pier. Unfortunately, the lights in Berkeley had gone out and the deck hands were out on the front of the ferry with flashlights trying to find the darkened pier which stuck out into the bay for about a block . They finally found it and we docked and with a sigh of relief drove off the ferry. Before the depression was well under way we were able to afford a camping trip for a week to Yosemite National Park where we enjoyed hiking to various points of interest and side trips to Glacier Point and the Wawona Big Trees. One of the things we particularly looked forward to was the nightly "Firefall". A huge bonfire of a special bark
was started each morning on the Glacier Point and allowed to burn all day until there was a huge pile of red hot coals. Each evening there was a program at Camp Curry at the foot of Glacier Point and at 9: 00 PM, the master of ceremonies would call out "Hello Glacier Point" and the ranger up there would reply "Hello Camp Curry" Then the master of ceremonies would call out "Let the fire fall" and the ranger would use a big pusher and shove the red hot coals over the side and there would be a beautiful, red, fire fall. Unfortunately, the firefall became so popular that people would be trampling and parking in the meadows to get a good place to see the firefall and destroying the plants so it had to be discontinued. We made the trip to Yosemite several times and were intrigued by a BIG monument beside the highway through Merced. After I married Lew Fancher in 1942, I learned that his great grandfather ( or great uncle) is buried under it.
On one of our trips we went to Washington, D.C. and went through the White House, Ford Theatre, Smithsonian, Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon.
We also went on to Atlantic City and spent 3 days there. The weekend that the Germans invaded Poland we were at PineCrest to close the cabin for the winter. The next morning we closed up the cabin for the winter and our neighbors were doing the same. We decided to make a last trip to the lake and told our
neighbors goodbye as we left as they were almost ready to leave. We came back to the cabin for the final lockup and the neighbors were still there. We said "We thought you would be gone by now" They replied that they couldn't leave because "Frank, Jr. is on the bottom of the lake." He had taken their boat for one last trip. It had stalled and he stood up to start it. It started with a jerk and he was thrown out and didn't resurface. It was a terrible shock. In high school, I took a college preparatory course. in hopes of going to study to be a kindergarten teacher. In my junior year, I decided it would be too hard on my parents to ever help me through college so I added typing and shorthand to my program. When I graduated in January, 1939, I continued to study typing and shorthand until June. In those days we were allowed to do what they called post graduate if we wanted to. In the fall of 1939, I enrolled at Armstrong Business College in Berkeley. I was able to commute to school there with 2 boys from Pittsburg (one was the son of Mrs. Daley) They would rather not have had me as a passenger (it cramped their style) but were glad to have the money my parents were paying them. I sat in the back seat and did my homework so I could get it done and so I could ignore their driving which scared me. They discovered they could make me jump if they took their foot off the gas in a hurry and delighted in doing it at least once a day. My parents purchased a lot on Maple Street and had a larger home built on it which we moved into in July, 1941. On December 7, 1941 I went to church as usual and came home. Mother's Aunt Nina and her son Ed (the used car dealer) arrived about 1 :00 PM as we were expecting them for Sunday dinner. The first thing they said when we opened the door was "Isn't it awful?" We didn't know what they were talking about as we hadn't had the radio on.
They had listened to their car radio on the trip from Berkeley and heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed that morning. Of course we turned our radio on then to hear the latest news as it was broadcast. President Roosevelt declared war on Japan and Germany the next day in a speech to congress.
When the war started, work had begun on an army camp on the edge of Pittsburg. While the camp was under construction, the Chamber of Commerce was desperate for housing for the workers. Mother moved my brother into an attic storage space off the upstairs hall and 2 men occupied his room. Still more beds were needed so she set up 2 beds in the garage. A little later we had 2 men taking turns on the bed davenport in our family room. One on Monday and Wednesday and one on Tuesday and Thursday. (One of those men was Karl Stein- more about him later) They went to their homes or elsewhere on the other nights and weekends. When the camp was finished the telephone company begged for rooms to house their women switchboard operators who worked at
the camp so mother had 4 girls (2 in my room as I was married by then) When the telephone company finished building the special place for their girls, mother rented to soldiers wives who were here to see their husbands before they were shipped out to the Pacific Theatre. Boats were docked at a wharf on the river at Pittsburg and soldiers were taken by truck from the camp to the boats. The Delta King and Delta Queen and some old Ferry boats were used to transport them to troop ships in San Francisco Bay The wives stayed as long as their husbands were at the camp. Some were there for a few days and others for several months. Mother wisely applied all the money she received from renting the rooms to the mortgage on the house. By the time the war was over, the house
was paid for and she still had some money setnaside she invested in wisely. Soon after the war started the Metallugy Department at the mill decided that Bill
Sattler and his job (typing and distributing Standard Practices they prepared) should be in their building instead of Industrial Engineering and so he was moved to their building. Since there were no facilities for women, they wouldn't let me go with him. They found another job for me in the Engineering Dept. which had just installed a girls room there. In order to move me to another department they had to give me a raise (too bad). I had just got settled in that job when Bill Sattler received his draft notice. The Metallurgy Dept. panicked. I was the only one besides Bill who knew the job and unless they could get him deferred there was no time to train someone for the job. Soooooo I was asked to move again to be his assistant once more and in order to do that they had to give me another
raise. They had decided the girls room in the Engineering Bldg. Was close enough for me to use. When he was drafted, after one deferment, because of an agreement with the union, they had to give me the starting wage for his job so I received another raise. About that time there was one man who had to come into the room I shared with another man to receive all the phone calls for him. Then one morning when I was walking to work, this same man and I happened to meet at the corner and we walked the rest of the way together. During the conversation we had on the way, talk came around to the collection of old records I had that my grandmother had given me. He said he would like to hear them sometime and I said he was welcome to come any time later that day he asked if he could come that night and I said sure. He came over quite regularly after that. I had already signed up for a trip to Mexico City for my vacation and left but didn't go as planned. I called my boss and asked if I could come back to work and take the rest of my vacation later and he said yes. I called the man who used the phone in my office and told him I was back. He was happy to hear it and asked if he could come see me that night and
I said he could. That night Lew Fancher asked me to marry him. We picked out a ring a few days later and he gave it to me for my 21 st birthday on August 12, 1942. I wrote to my parents and listed the presents I had received for my birthday and finished the list with "and Lew gave me a diamond ring. We will be up this weekend." Lew had an old Dodge which ran pretty good but had very bad tires. He had a flat almost every time we went out in it. Because of tire rationing with the war, you couldn't buy new tires or tubes. When we went to Pine Crest that next weekend, my brother woke us up with the announcement "Lew has 2 flat tires." I haven't mentioned too much about the war as yet. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, we had lost most of our Pacific Fleet so we were practically defenseless on the west coast. Fortunately, the Japanese didn't come on over to California although we were afraid they would. A submarine did surface off Santa Barbara and shelled near it. We had blimps patrolling the coast watching for more submarines. Another submarine brought an airplane and a pilot dropped incendiary bombs near Bend, Oregon. (After the war the pilot apologized to the people of Bend and they made him an honorary citizen. When he
died he had requested that his ashes be spread where he had dropped the bombs and this was done.) The Japanese also rigged balloons with anti-personnel and incendiary bombs and sent them across the ocean. They had bags of ballast on them which were slowly dropped off so that the balloons would stay aloft. Some of the balloons went quite a way inland (Kansas or Nebraska, I think) Fortunately, the incendiary bombs landed in Oregon during the rainy season and no harm was done. However, a Sunday School teacher and some of her students were having a picnic in an Oregon forest and found one of the antipersonnel
bombs which went off and killed them. They were the only civilian casualties of the war on the mainland of America. We had to fix one room of our house so that we could have lights on during an air raid alert without any light escaping to the outside. My father fixed some frames covered with tar paper that fit the windows in our family room. We kept them by the windows and when an alarm sounded we went to that room and put the frames in the windows. They worked fine. We had people stationed on top of the tallest building in towns and on towers in the middle of fields between towns. There job was to watch for unidentified airplanes and sound an alarm if necessary. They were volunteers who worked in 2 or 3 hour shifts 24 hours a day. When an air raid alarm sounded you were to seek shelter immediately and cars could not use their headlights. Once a girl friend (Jessie Hall) and I were walking home when the alarm sounded. We were a block away from a gas station where one of the boys from our bunch worked so we decided we would go there. But when we got there he wasn't working and we didn't want to stay in the dark with someone we didn't know so we kept on walking. We came to the theatre just as people were starting to come out. The police were there making everyone go back in (including us) We hadn't seen that movie so we stayed to see it, but we didn't phone home. When we finally arrived home, we were met by some very upset parents. We didn't do that again. There were a couple of other air raid alerts when I was walking home from choir practice but I just kept walking. It was very scary to walk alone in pitch dark. There were no street lights, no porch lights and all the houses were pitch dark. I didn't have too far to walk but I listened for any sound that could be an airplane. One of the first things rationed was tires. The only people who could get new tires were people who were very vital to the war effort or the home front (police, firemen, doctors) Some people could manage to get retreads if the ration board would give permission. Otherwise you did without. Anything made of rubber was rationed or unobtainable. This included rubber pants for babies. Canned food and meat were next things to be rationed and we had victory gardens to grow as much as we could so our ration stamps could go for food to put away for winter. Sugar and shoes were also rationed. You could get extra sugar from the ration board to can your fruit if you had a fruit tree. Once in a while the ration board would let the shoe store sell some shoes without ration stamps if they had some styles that weren't selling well. Those were about the only shoes I was able to get during the war as my growing brother used a lot of our shoe stamps. Gas rationing started late in 1942. Lew was scheduled to be drafted November 1, 1942, so we set a wedding date of October 23 . We had a nice ceremony. Don Thorpe was best man and my girl friend Jessie Hall was maid of honor. I wore a white watermarked taffeta gown with a net overskirt. Jessie wore the same dress in aqua blue. The 2 sons of our minister were ushers (Stan and Elmer Benedict were in our bunch of friends from high school). My Aunt Mary played the organ and the daughter of my mother's cousin Rose Wallace (Hazel Wallace) sang Oh Promise Me and Because. We had had to go to Martinez the week before to apply for our wedding license and there was some kind of mixup in getting it back to us. Fortunately, my parents knew someone who worked in the court house who lived in Pittsburg and they brought it to us the day of the wedding. Nail biting time. Because I had been so active in church and Sunday School, the woman's auxiliary of the church volunteered to serve the cake, coffee and ice cream at the reception. My parents furnished the refreshments and flowers. I have mother's account of the cost - the grand total of $64. 00. I paid for my wedding dress which I imagine was about $10. 00. We left the reception and went to the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. We went to San Francisco for dinner and to a stage play "Arsenic and Old Lace" with Boris Karloff. We returned to the hotel that night. The next morning we visited Don Thorpe and his wife Ann, for a few minutes and then returned to our apartment in West Pittsburg. We were back at work at the steel mill the next day. We got a ride to Martinez where we applied for our wedding license and then took a Greyhound bus to Berkeley and bought the car. No more flat tires. We sold the Dodge to an officer at Camp Stoneman who could buy tires. That weekend we went to visit Lew's parents on the ranch they lived on 15 miles beyond Merced. His sister had just arrived from. Hawaii and was on her way to live in Utah until the war was over. I was given 5 showers before our wedding and received quite a lot of lovely gifts. One of the showers was given by the church choir and one by the Sunday School teachers, one by our maid of honor, one by a friend (I had given her a shower when she was married) and one by Mrs. Daley. My poor mother, of course, was invited to all the showers and had to come up with a gift for each one. In a couple of months, Lew and I were able to rent a 2 bedroom house across from the West Garrison of Camp Stoneman for $50.00 a month. I purchased some furniture and a refrigerator ($11. 00 a month). The refrigerator could only be sold to us because we worked for a war industry. We were able to rent the spare bedroom to
the telephone company who paid us $60.00 a month for 2 girls. They gave up the room just as I made the last payment on the furniture. I rented the room to soldier's wives until Lew got a job in San Francisco early in 1944 and we moved to San Francisco. Because of gas rationing, we could only get a moving van to move us if they had a load coming to Pittsburg. We were unable to find a place in San Francisco so we put our things in storage and stayed with Don And Ann Thorpe in their apartment. It was a little crowded as our daughter, Lyn was about 6 months old. When my grandmother offered to rent us the 2 bedroom unit of the duplex she owned in Berkeley we snapped it up. Again we moved after one month. This time we hired 2 men who had a van and moved people on nights and weekends. They arrived at 5:00 PM. Lew ate downtown before he came home and I had fed Lyn and I. The van was loaded and we took off for Berkeley where they unloaded and set up the beds and we went to bed. Lew went to work the next morning and by the time he came home that night, everything was under control. I had no washing machine although I could use my grandmothers if I wanted to. There were no Laundromats then. My father took a short course at the University in Berkeley in 1944 and they were spending a. couple of days with us. It was about 1O:OOPM and I had just taken Lyn to the bathroom and was putting her back to bed when there was a terrific shaking. We thought it was an earthquake but it wasn't. We listened to the radio and heard that a munitions ship that was being loaded in Port Chicago (between Pittsburg and Martinez) had blown up. It was a huge explosion. The engine of the train that was beside the ship was found on an island in the middle of the river. There was very little left of the town of Port Chicago. A window in my parent's home in Pittsburg was broken and the garage door was blown open. At the time, the ships were loaded only by black soldiers but after the explosion they mutinied and said they would load the ships only if white soldiers loaded ships too. Some of them were court martialed and dishonorably discharged. Sometime in the 1990's the decision was reversed and a memorial was built at Port Chicago. There were 2 neighbors I became friendly with. Iva Mulhall had a boy, Dugie, 4 months older than Lyn and Margaret McMeekin had a boy, Charlie, who was 2 months older. Neither of the mothers had a car so every once in a while we would load strollers in the trunk of my car, line up 3 car seats in the back seat and take off for a day at the zoo. One day I took Lyn and Charlie down to the train station so they could see the train. While we were there a train stopped at the station and water from the steam was dripping off the trail). Charlie, who was being-toilet trained, said "Choo Choos wet their pants too." I just thought of something I want to go back to. When I went into labor with Lyn on August 25, 1943, I went to the hospital in Antioch. They asked for my ration book to use some of the stamps but I had already used all of the ones that could be used. I was there for 36 hours when the doctor decided a caesarian was necessary and as there was no surgeon who could do it in Antioch or Pittsburg, I would have to be taken to San Francisco. He sedated me and put me in the back seat of his car. My mother rode in the car too. Lew followed in our car after he changed a flat tire (I thought I said no more of them but I forgot that one) Lyn (Elaine Lynette) was born on August 27, 1943. She weighed 8 .lb. 3 oz. Lew stayed the weekend with Don and Ann Thorpe but had to return to work and with gas rationing no one could make the trip to see me. My grandmother came over on the train once. My Pittsburg doctor came once and the surgeon who operated on me came once. Jessie Hall also came once. After 2 weeks I was discharged and went to my parents home to recuperate. In 1943, you had to stay in bed for 2 weeks after surgery and then allowed up a little longer each day. After about 2 weeks I was
finally able to go home. Two days after I arrived at my parents home, Lew had to go to San Francisco to testify at a trial about some scrap iron he had rejected as part of his job at the steel mill. He was there for a week. On July 5, 1945, I had another caesarian operation for the birth of Alan Ross Fancher. He was 6 weeks premature but weighed 5 lb. 14 oz. Unfortunately, it turned out that they thought he was a little baby but then he developed erythroblastosis and died
on July 8. They determined that it was because I am Rh negative. Two months later almost all the women's magazines had articles about the discovery of problems arising from Rh blood factor. I never got to see the baby. I had the same doctor that mother had had for my brother and as I said he was a character. He came to the house to remove the stitches when it was time. He cut the stitches and then told me I could pull them out myself as I had more time than he did,
My sister in-law, Violet Fancher, came to stay with me when I came home from the hospital (by ambulance after 1 week but confined to bed for another week) Violet and Lindsay were living with Lew's parents until they could nave a place of their own. My parents had picked up Lyn when I went to the hospital and taken her home with them to care for her while I was unable to. As soon as I could travel, Violet went home and I went with my parents to Pinecrest for 2 weeks. The war situation had improved so much jn the spring of 1945 (war was over in Europe) that gasoline rationing was over. When I heard the news over the radio, I went to the car, got in and went to the nearest gas station and said "fill her up." The Japanese surrendered in August, 1945 and the war was over.
When Lew first went to San Francisco he and Ken Peer worked for Ragooland-Broy Laboratories. Then a new company, Multiphase Inc., was underwritten by a group of investors and Ken Peer was president and Lew was vice president. We purchased a little 2 bedroom house in Lafayette and moved into it in November, 1947. Employees at the steel mill voted to go on strike and I knew we couldn't survive without my income (Lew and Ken were still struggling to get Multiphase out of the hole) I applied for and was hired as attendance secretary at Acalanes High School in Lafayette. I happened to mention to a clerk in a store that I had just started to work for the high school. She said she had applied for the job but couldn't afford to work for the amount it paid and quoted the same amount I had been told by the principal. When I received my pay check at the end of the month, it was less that he had told me and the other woman it would be. I asked him about it and he got quite huffy and said he didn't know where I got the idea the job paid more because what I got was what he said I would get. So I asked him if my work was ok and he said he was very pleased with my work and he had no complaints about it, but the students didn't like me consider this your notice. I had no actual contact with the students other than walking through the hall when I came to work. I ran into his private secretary soon after and she said she couldn't believe he had fired me. Actually, he had done me a favor. About 2 weeks before that the woman caring for Lyn and myself had come down with a very bad cough. Lyn had a slight cough several weeks earlier. We went to Lew's parents for Thanksgiving and Lew's sister Arlene heard me coughing and told Lew that I had whooping cough. He said no but she said her kids had had it and she was sure that was what I had. When I went back to work at the school, I told the school nurse that I had been told I had whooping cough. She said she thought I had it too but didn't want to scare me and let me keep working. Lyn had a whooping cough shot when she was a baby but had not gotten the booster shot so I guess she had a light case and passed it on to me and the baby sitter. As I said, the principal did me a favor I applied for unemployment and received more than he paid me and didn't have to pay a baby sitter. I collected unemployment in Berkeley and asked for work in Contra Costa County. When I felt I was over the cough I applied at the employment office in Martinez, was sent on an interview at Richmond Martinez Title Company and was hired as a policy typist. There was a State Nursery 2 blocks from the office where Lyn could go. I dropped her off in the morning. She went to a nearby school and then back to the nursery school until I picked her up. Soon after I started working for the title company we sold the Lafayette house and bought a little larger 2 bedroom home on Chaucer Drive in Pleasant Hill. While Lyn was at the nursery school, I received a call one day that she had fallen from parallel bars at the school and they thought her arm might be broken. I left work a little early and took her to our Dr. Rush in Pleasant Hill. He took one look at it and sent me to Walnut Creek for X-rays. I rushed home and fixed dinner and waited for results of X-ray. The doctor called me to bring her back for a cast. It was almost 7:00PM and Dr. Rush's nurse had gone home so I ended up having to help him put on the cast and then we went to the Shepherd's for the rest of the evening. I looked out the window the next morning and saw Lyn walking on top of our fence. In the fall after the camping vacation, Lyn was able to start 4th grade in Pleasant Hill as they were now going from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. About this time one day when Lew went to work at Multiphase, he found fire engines there extinguishing a fire. This was the last straw for the company. Lew heard of an opening at Staufer Chemical Company in Richmond, CA, interviewed for it and was hired as a research chemist. Ken Peer continued on by himself and somehow was able to sell the business to EKKO company and was with them until he retired having worked himself up to a fairly high position with them. Lew started with Staufer in 1952. Lew was the first research chemist Staufer had and he was hired with the idea that they would gradually build up the department and concentrate on developing formulae for insecticides and herbicides. By the time he retired in 1979, they had a large research laboratory. Lew had over 80 patents with his name on them for insecticides and herbicides. Two of them were developed commercially. On October 23, 1955, (our 13th wedding anniversary) at 8:05 PM, the house began to shake, rattle and roll, the lights went out and things were falling out of the kitchen cupboards. The bird cages, which were on hooks attached to ends of cupboards, were banging. Lew thought we had been bombed and wanted me to get in the hall but I was trying to find the top to my fountain pen in the dark, which I did. Lyn had been in the bath tub and ran and ducked into her bed as a picture over it fell off the wall. We grabbed keys to car and backed it out of garage and turned on the car radio in time to hear that we had been hit by a fairly strong earthquake. We got the flashlight to survey the damage. The piano was out a foot from the wall, fish aquarium was ½ empty and the plum jam I had just made was all over the floor. There was broken glass from the French door all over the patio. Lew asked me where Jerry (our cat) had been. I remembered that she had been sleeping on the floor by my feet. The electricity came on again but ours didn't. When we checked the fuse box the next morning, we found a copper penny behind one of the fuses. We kept our bedroom window open all the time at night for Jerry to go in and out and about 2:00 AM I heard her on the window sill. I shone the flashlight on her face and she was all cut. She had gone through the French door. She had 10 stitches in her face the next morning. The pattern of the earthquake had been on a narrow diagonal line through our area. Houses on either side of us had no damage but one diagonally across from us did have some. Also a nearby grocery was a mess with everything on shelves was on the floor. Downtown Walnut Creek had a lot of damage. In 1956, Staufer wanted Lew to present a paper on his work at the American Chemical Society Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We arranged to pick up a new Chevrolet at the factory in Flint, Michigan. In those days you could save a considerable amount of money by picking up a car at the factory as the price of a car increased by the amount of money it cost to ship the car to your town. The further you were from the factory, the more the car cost. We drove across Canada to Niagara Falls where we stayed all night and saw the falls with the flood lights on them and then in the day light. We drove across the International Bridge and viewed the falls from the American side. Then we drove south through the Genessee River Country to Atlantic City. When Lew was done in Atlantic City we drove to New York City where Lew was to visit Staufer offices and laboratories in Dobbs Ferry. We all took the boat ride around Manhattan Island and visited Rockefeller Center the first day and walked down to Times Square to see the lights that night. When Lew was done with his business, we left New York and drove to Washington D.C. with a stop in Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We stayed in the same motel I had stayed in with my parents (in 1933 or 1936) This time it was much noisier as it was under the flight path of planes landing and taking off There was not much air travel before 1940. We spent a day at the Smithsonian, visited the Capitol, Ford's Theatre, the room where Lincoln died, the Lincoln and Washington monuments and wanted to go through the White House but it was closed. We left Washington and went to Arlington National Cemetery and down to Mount Vernon where we toured through the house and grounds. From there we went to Williamsburg, Va. and walked through the town and the old buildings. It gave you a weird feeling to know you were walking where our famous forefathers had walked. We reached Cincinatti and stayed all night there. Our next stop was Ogalala, Nebraska. In 1933, when my parents and I stayed in a tent cabin in that town, my father asked if there was any hot water. The manager pointed to a water tank on a tall tower and said "Yes, it's heated by the sun." We continued onto Provo, Utah, and stopped there to visit Lew's sister Lila. We had driven through quite a storm in Provo canyon with lightening striking around us. We left Provo at 5:00PM and drove to Wendover on the Utah-Nevada border. We sold our house on Chaucer Drive in November and bought a lot in a new subdivision in what I sometimes referred to as no man's land. We had a Walnut Creek phone number, a Lafayette mailing address, were in Concord school district and were
actually in Pleasant Hill. The address would be 1662 Foothill Park Circle. The people who bought our house were in no hurry to move as they were going to keep the house they were in and rent it out so we were able to stay on Chaucer and pay rent to the new owners until our new house was finished in April, 1957. In 1953 (I think) we decided to take a rare week vacation. Lew loved his work so much it was difficult to get him to take off more that a day or two at a time.There was a time we drove up the Redwood Highway to the Oregon Caves, Crater Lake, Lassen Park and Burney Falls. We also took another trip to Seattle to visit Lew's sister Arlene and family. We spent 2 days at the Seattle World's Fair. Lew's cousin Justin Marchant had a boat and took us for an evening ride. Another time Arlene and her husband, Wayne Stark, took us to see the boats going through the locks between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. It was very interesting and we saw everything from boats not much bigger than row boats to huge yachts. I think this was in 1964 or 1963 (?) we went to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. Knotts Berry Farm was our favorite. We had also stopped in Palos Verde on the way, stayed at a motel right on the ocean there and went to a Marine World next to the motel. Lyn met Bill Merrill at the ranch where she was boarding her horse and colt and after a short courtship they were married at Hillcrest Congregational Church in Pleasant Hill on May 10, 1965. Soon after the wedding, Lyn and Bill moved in with us so Bill could go to a trade school in Oakland. They brought their kitten, Buttons, with them and he became ours. He lived to age 16. Bill decided he wanted to return to Maine and lobster fish with his father so they packed up and left in January, 1966. Lew started to build an organ by buying and assembling one part at a time. It would
need a larger living room so I went house hunting in Orinda which would also be closer to Lew's work in Richmond. I found a house just as our Foothill Park home sold. Unfortunately, we needed to remodel it so we rented an apartment and stored what furniture we couldn't squeeze into it. The organ was never completely finished although it was to the point it could be played. A man we met helped Lew work on it but they kept wanting to add more to it. I called it the guilded Lili. We had to sell it when we moved into the apartment we are in now as it was much too big. In November we met Lyn and Pat at the airport and Bill drove out in December to join them. Lyn found work in Moraga with the owner of several radio stations. She decided that she had had enough of bouncing back and forth across country and asked Bill for a divorce. Bill said he had found work in Hawaii and we loaned him money to buy equipment he said he needed and he left. Several months later he called and said the job had fallen through and could we send him money to return. We told him he had managed to get there and he could manage to find his own way back. Somehow he ended up working for Salvation Army and was with them for several years. Eventually he was
transferred to Alaska, Oakland and then Texas. In the meantime, Floyd Davis called. He had been engaged to Lyn before she met Bill but she had broken it off before she met Bill. When he found she had been divorced he started dating Lyn again and they were married in February, 1970. It was a simple wedding in the living room of our home in Orinda. They moved into an apartment in Lafayette and I continued to care for Pat while they were at work. On January 17, 1971, Robert Llewellyn Davis was born. They moved into a house in Gregory Gardens in Pleasant Hill and sold that and purchased a condominium in Lafayette where they stayed until Floyd' employer moved their office to Sacramento in 1979 and they bought a home in Pilot Hill, CA. In the meantime, after "Chip" was born, I learned to bowl. They had free baby sitting and I had both Pat and Chip. I started in one league and I enjoyed it so much I started bowling in another league which I became secretary of and I was substituting in a third league. While we were in Orinda we took Pat and Chip to "Frontier Village" south of San Jose several times. It was an amusement park with a western theme geared for young children with a few adult rides. It was so neat and safe that as the kids grew older we could let them go about on their own. They loved it and it was our favorite place to go. There was the usual train ride that was held up out in the wilderness and the usual western style shoot out when the bank or the post office was robbed. It was in a beautiful forest of trees on land that had been the grounds of an estate of a wealthy family. Sad to say when Great America was established Frontier Village could not compete with the bigger park
and it was closed. It was a sad day. I am going to go way back again. One of the men who stayed with us while Camp Stoneman was being built and I became quite friendly. Karl Steinbrugge was his name. He married Betty Farnsworth in June, 1942 and when Lew and I became engaged the 4 of us made plans for things we could do together after Lew and I were married ( overnight trips to Monterey, San Francisco, etc.) As luck would have it, Karl was transferred to
Seattle, Washington the week before we were married. Soon after we moved into my grandmother's duplex, they were back and in an apartment in Berkeley and we were able to visit each other. Then fate intervened again and Karl was drafted into the Navy and Betty went to stay wherever he was stationed. Then one day, I went into our bank in Berkeley and there was Karl opening an account. He said he was opening an account so if he heard of an apartment, he could send a check to hold it as he had been discharged from the Navy and going back to work in San Francisco. I told him that an apartment in a building next to us was for rent. He looked at it and rented it and we were now living next door to each other. We got together almost every week to play pinocle. Sometimes Lew and Karl went to a nearby tennis court to play a game or two. We quite often pooled our Sunday dinner. We took turns furnishing meat, vegetables and dessert. While we were there we started a tradition of going on a 4th of July picnic. When we moved to Lafayette and to our other homes, Karl and Betty came to our house every 4th of July or on weekends closest to it. Betty always brought potato salad (which Lew loved) and I furnished the rest of the meal. We continued this get together until 1998 when Karl could no longer travel. He died in 2001. Until they moved to Los Gatos in 1999, Betty and I still tried to meet once a month for lunch and shopping. I call her on the phone occasionally. One time we took the Steinbrugges to PineCrest for a weekend in the snow. My parents went too. There was a heavy load of snow on the roof and the men started to shovel it off but unfortunately, were unable to finish the job before dark. We all went to bed and were just barely settled when there was a loud crack. One of the rafters had cracked. Four people and a child (Lyn) made a hasty retreat down the stairs from the loft we were in. The men got dressed and went back out and finished shoveling the roof in the dark while Mother, Betty and I cringed every time there was a loud noise. In 1978, we purchased 11-½ acres of pear orchard on Old Oak Road near Newcastle, CA in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The house was finally finished (or almost) and Lew gave his final notice. When we moved to Newcastle, we started taking a 2 mile walk every morning
before breakfast. All went well until early in 1984. We had barely started when Lew complained of pain in his right arm. He had also had slight pain the day before but it went away and we continued on our walk. This time the pain got worse and he had a severe pain in his back so we turned around and started home. I told him to/sit on a rock beside the road and went to get the truck. I took him back to the house and he decided to lie down for a few minutes. I checked on him and he was white as a sheet and clammy. We had a man living in Lyn's apartmentt (she had moved to Sacramento) so I had him look at Lew. He said he thought we had better get him to the hospital. It was all we could do to support Lew and get him down the steps, through the greenhouse and into the back of the truck where he could lie down. His legs were like rubber. It was a pea soup fog so I couldn't drive too fast. Will Keller rode in the back with Lew. We arrived at the hospital and they found Lew had had a heart attack and he was in the hospital for 2 weeks. He recovered and has had no more since. I am going to go way back in time again. Christmas was always a very special day for my parents. I would help set up the tree and hang up my stocking and then go to bed
so Santa Claus could come trim the tree and fill my stocking. My parents would be up late finishing the preparations and of course I was up bright and early the next morning. Our tree was never put up before Christrnas Eve until the year my father had hernia surgery just before Christmas and was brought home from hospital in an ambulance. Because he would be confined to bed till after Christmas, I put up the tree and decorated it so he could see it when they brought him into the house. I had never seen a Christmas tree before Christmas morning until then. We always had a snow scene under the tree and had a little red and green picket fence that went around it. My father was very particular about the shape of the tree and if there was a bare spot he would sometimes take a lower branch off and drill a hole in the trunk of the tree and insert a branch in the bare spot. He was also particular about how the tinsel was placed on the tree ( and later I was also very careful to place the tinsel just right, one strand at a time) and the tree was always beautiful. After Christmas the tinsel was carefully removed and kept for the next year. There are a couple of Christmases that stand out in my mind. The first one was the Christmas my grandmother Owen became engaged to marry Henry Trantham. He gave her a watch. My father gave my mother a watch. My mother gave my father a watch and my parents gave my Grandmother Buxton a watch. It was her first wristwatch and she was thrilled. The second one was when my brother was 6. He sneaked down the stairs
before anyone woke up and had found his presents and opened all of them before the rest of the family knew he was awake. We weren't very happy with him.
My father had Parkinsons and his health was deteriorating and we felt it was to hard for mother to care for him. My brother was in San Diego and I was in
Newcastle. It was difficult for us to do much for them. My father was becoming too much after they moved to Auburn as he had developed the dementia that went with Parkinsons. She finally agreed to move him to the convalescent side of the apartment complex. He refused to eat or get out of bed and developed pneumonia and died the day after his 85th birthday (February 18, 1985). Mother looked l0 years younger after she no longer had to worry about him and did
well until she fell and broke her hip early in 1987. It healed ok but she was afraid she might fall again so she used a walker or a cane. She did fine until she broke her shoulder in 1994. It didn't heal well and she had trouble using her walker. It was decided she would have to give up her apartment. We couldn't find anything in Auburn but Richard's wife Gayle found a nice place for her in Concord. I went once a month a to pay for her room and visit her. Things had been going fairly well, but 1995 sort of dealt a few low blows. Lew had hernia surgery in July. Went to the hospital at 6:00 AM and home by 12:30 PM. I Had to carry all our meals downstairs to our bedroom for 2 weeks as he could not go up and down the stairs. He made several trips to the hospital emergency room for reactions to medicine. Then he developed edema in one leg and I had to learn to put on elastic stockings on his leg. It was a horrible struggle. In the meantime, the county decided that mother was now non-ambulatory and as there was no sprinkler system or outside entrance to her room she would have to be moved. Gayle hunted and found another home in Danville (20 miles further for me to go) This time she shared what had been the huge master bedroom. She couldn't have her own bed but still had her bureau, favorite chair to sit in and her own TV which sat on the raised hearth of the corner fireplace. She again had her own bathroom. There was a door out to a real nice patio. She had her meals in the dining room with the other residents of the home. Mother was moved there in 1996. In April of 1997 I arrived at 10:00 AM to visit her. I tried to wake her but she was apparently sleeping soundly in her chair. Her caretaker said she had heard mother talking quite a bit during the night so probably hadn't slept well. I kissed mother and told them to tell her I had been there and left. I visited my brother, Richard, for a few minutes and then went on to meet a friend for lunch. When I arrived home later that day, there was a message on my answering machine that mother had given a big sigh at 1:45 PM and quit breathing which was the way she wanted to go. We had a memorial service for her in Walnut Creek. Richard gave a brief talk about her life and I sang the same two songs she had picked for me to sing at my father's memorial service. I had started to learn sign language in 1984 in hopes my father could also learn as he was frustrated because we couldn't understand him when he talked. He did learn some
signs. In 1997 I was offered the opportunity to work with a 5 year old deaf girl just starting school as her interpreter. I would have loved to do it. I think it would have been fun and the pay was good. However, I did not feel I could leave Lew for the length of time I would be gone. I am still continuing to go to sign language classes one night a week. The teacher is terrific and there are several people who keep coming like I do. I say it is my bridge club. I have been going for 10 years. In June of 1997 my grandson Chip married Jennifer Barnes in a ceremony in the Mormon Temple in Oakland, CA. I couldn't go because I am not a Mormon. I was able to attend the reception later that day in Sacramento, CA Something else I have done for years is to talk to the United States History classes at Placer High on life on the home front during World II. When Pat mentioned to her teacher in 1984 that I had ration stamps, grocery ads, air raid instructions, etc. to her teacher, he asked me to come to school and talk to the class about what civilians did during the war. I got a nice note after from the teacher saying the class had enjoyed it so much that they voted I should come back again the next year. When that teacher retired, the other history teachers asked me to continue to come talk to the students. It usually takes me 2 days and I usually talk to 6 classes although I have done as many as 10. I have had all my material laminated so it can be passed around for the students to get a close look and most of them seem to enjoy it and are real interested. It has been 20 years since I
started. (Back in time again) I didn't get my drivers license until after I was working at the steel mill. My girl friend, Jessie Hall, took me to any event we were both going to but I decided I should get my license so I could take my turn driving. I had started to learn when I was in high school with my father's 1925 Chevrolet touring car he had converted to a truck. We lived on a narrow street and sometimes when I backed out of the drive, I would back into a tree on the other side of the street. When I was ready to get my license, mother took me to City Hall and I took the written test and passed it but the examiner said it was too late in day to go out so come back next week. He was there only one day a week. We went back the next week and again we were told we were too late. So we went back again the next week. He said "Can't you get here any earlier?" I said my boss wouldn't let me off any earlier so he said ok and we left for the test drive. He did not speak but signaled which way he wanted me to turn with his finger. When I made the last left hand turn back to the City Hall, I cut it a
little close. He asked "What would you have done if there had been a car coming?" I said "I would have been on the right side where I belonged." I parked the car, went back to his office with him and he signed off and gave me my license. After we moved to Orinda, I began to have trouble with my hands and arms going numb during the night and hurting so much I would have to walk the floor with it until the numbness and pain subsided. Dr. Rush sent me for tests and the diagnosis was carpal tunnel in both hands, severe, as he had suspected. I went to a surgeon in Orinda and it was decided I needed surgery and I said I would like them both done at the same time. Dr. Rush said I was crazy to have them both done at the same time. He had just had the same surgery and had to wait 6 weeks after each one for them to heal. I had the surgery on July 2, 1976. It was the weekend of the big Centinial Celebration of July 4, 1776 and I was able to just sit and watch it all on TV. The parade of the tall ships in New York City Harbor was spectacular. ( Back to the present) In August, Lew suddenly fell and hit his head on the wash basin in the bathroom and raised quite a bump on the back of his head. He had been falling quite often when he was just standing so when Pat heard him fall again, she came to help me get him on his feet and back on the bed. This time we had him on his feet and almost back to the bed when he passed out and quit breathing. Pat, who is a certified EMT gave him CPR and I called 911. The ambulance took him to emergency room at the hospital. They found the reason he had been falling so much was that his heart was stopping for 6 seconds every so often and if he was standing he would fall when it stopped. He was admitted to the hospital for 3 days while they started him on medication to regulate his heart. He had also broken his thumb when he fell.
October 5 Lew started acting funny. I called Pat to come and watch him for a few minutes and then she said to call the ambulance. Another trip to emergency room. We were there about 30 minutes when he started have small seizures which gradually increased in intensity to gran mal type. He was in the hospital 5 days while his medications were adjusted until he seemed to be seizure free. He didn't know which end was up for a week or two but gradually improved. However the seizures wiped out part of his memory. He can't remember his music and most of his chemistry knowledge. At first the doctor didn't want him left alone for more than 30 minutes at a time so he either had to go with me or someone had to stay with him. He went with me to church a few times and also went with me to Concord to have lunch with high school friends. We also managed a trip to Chowchilla to visit Lew"s brother Lindsay and wife Violet. It was becoming increasingly hard for me to keep up with taking care of the animals, mowing a large lawn area, irrigating and taking care of Lew so it was decided we would have to change our living arrangements. Lew could no longer go up the stairs to the kitchen for meals so I was having to carry our meals up and down the stairs. When I was home, I spent most of the time in the bedroom with him. As I said, it had been decided that we had to do something so I started looking for
another place to live. I finally found a 4 unit apartment building in Auburn, CA, which could be modified to fit our needs. We put the house up for sale on a Thursday and had 2 offers by Sunday and we accepted one of them. Lyn moved into the lower unit under the unit Pat and Kurt occupied. Lew and I are in the 2 units that are joined together. We have 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 living rooms and 2 kitchens. I use one bedroom for sewing and computer room, one is for storage and one great grandchild sleeps in it when he is here. At present, great granddaughter Tatiana is sleeping in the other bedroom as she is staying with us. The extra kitchen is a laundry room and freezer room. However, I use the oven in that kitchen so that kitchen we eat in stays cooler. We had 7 cats at the time we moved so Lyn kept one she had, Pat took two in her apartment and we kept 4 in ours. Since the apartment is on a fairly busy street, near a railroad track and a short distance from the American River Canyon, they had to become indoor cats. Lew held up fairly well through the move. He had one seizure before we moved when doctor tried to change medicine he was on because it was thought it might be causing a chronic cough he had developed so he had to go back to the original medicine and live with the cough. He had a couple more seizures after we moved but no more since then. In August, 2001, Lew spent a night in the hospital for seizures and then had a bad occurrence in October and was there for 7 days. He had to stay longer because a nurse thought he was having more seizures when he was actually reacting to the medicine and she kept giving him more medicine. He went out of his head. When the doctor saw him in the morning he knew what had happened and stopped the medicine but it took 3 days before he recovered from it and could go home. In 2002, our 19 year old cat, Boots, became ill. I did every thing to try to keep her going but finally decided it was time to take her to vet and made an appointment for the next day. When I got up that morning, I found she had died during the night. Although I am sure there were other things of interest in 2002, I can't find a copy
of our Christmas letter for 2002 or 2003 to jog my memory. I do know that our group from high school continued to meet in Concord for lunch each October since 1998 although our number is getting smaller. Only one man is still able to attend and 3 of the girls have died in last 3 years. Lew has had no more seizures but is becoming more unstable when he walks and it is very difficult to get him to the car to go to doctor or dentist which is only time he leaves
the house. Our friend Ray Wong has come and taken us out to lunch 3 times. Lew enjoyed it but it was a struggle to get there. In October, 2002 we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. We didn't have a special party but I had a special cake made and the bakery included the cake topper from our wedding cake in decorating the cake. We invited all present at church that day to stay for refreshments and a piece of our cake. Lyn, Pat, Steve,Tiana, Lonnie, Billy, Betty
Peer, my brother Richard and Gayle all attended the church service. Chip and Jennifer came in time for a piece of cake as they went to their church first. We had had a minor tiff between our minister and pianist and neither of them were there that day. Our choir director played the guitar to accompany the hymns. It was my regular Sunday to sing a solo so I sang and signed the Lords Prayer as I could do that without accompaniment.