The Life and Times, Page 11

As Told to Dan Reddell

plans to move to Los Angeles. We had visited Mom and Pop, who had already moved to L.A., and I had gotten a job at Paramount Movie Studios as a set erector. Since the war was still going, you had to have gas rationing stamps to travel. I wrote to L.A. and after a 30 day wait, they sent me enough stamps to get there. We were packed up and ready to leave when the war ended. It was a wonderful moment for all of us, but since we were living so far out of town, we didn't see any of the big celebrations. We celebrated by moving. We got to Stockton before we needed gas. I was driving my old Plymouth pickup I had bought for this move, and Dorothy was driving the '41 De Soto, and we were packed to the gills. The first gas station we pulled into the attendant said, "We don't take those stamps anymore, the war was over last night." We were surprised we wouldn't need the ration coupons. The attendant in the gas station laughed and said there was a guy in a little earlier and when the attendant told him he didn't need the stamps, the man said angrily, "What do you mean I don't need those stamps? I paid a dollar apiece for them on the black market." He was going up to Oregon and Washington on vacation, and he was very upset. Dorothy wanted to buy some sunglasses, so we stopped at a little town called Greenfield, just out of Bakersfield. Dale was riding with Dorothy, and she had left her keys in the DeSoto, so she told him to go get them. He got them, but put them in his pocket. She was busy buying the sunglasses, and didn't notice. The boys decided to trade cars, so Gene rode with Dorothy and Dale, and the car keys, went with me in the pickup. Dorothy realized Dale had the keys after I had driven off. She went over to a couple who were just getting ready to leave and explained the situation to them. 

They said they would do what they could. As they passed me, a few miles down the road, they yelled that I had the keys to Dorothy's car. I knew I didn't have the keys, but I looked over and Dale was crying, miserable because he had remembered he had the keys just after we pulled out from the station. We were already part way up the steep ridge-route grade, and I didn't want to go back down in the loaded old truck, so I pulled over, caught a ride on a northbound truck and took the keys back to Dorothy. She was happy to see me with the keys, but mad because I had left four-year old Dale in the pickup by himself. We arrived in Los Angeles and moved in with Mom and Pop because there was nothing to rent. We could have bought a house with the $5,000 we had saved, but Pop wanted me to wait until we could buy a lot and some lumber and build our own. Pop was selling real estate at the time, and about six months later, he bought a small, one-bedroom house and rented it to us. We needed two bedrooms, but we were happy to be in our own house. Gene was in the fifth grade and Dale was in the third, and Dorothy had become pregnant with our third son, Dan. By the time Dan was born, I had built two more two-bedroom houses next door to where we were living, and we moved into one of them. I was working full time at Paramount Studios at the time. I worked there three years, building sets. I saw a lot of movie stars, and they were all nice to me. I talked to some of them, like Fred McMurray. Bob Hope was making "Monsieur Beaucoup" when I got there, and Heddy Lamar was making "Sampson and Delilah." The work was hard on my back, and I longed to get away from standing and working on the studio's concrete floors. In fact, I had been going to their doctors nearly every day, but my back still hurt.

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