The Life and Times, Page 8
As Told to Dan Reddell
This was the high point of my life up to this time: I had work, I was playing in a band, and I had enough money to buy a new car and didn't owe anybody anything.
Joe Dunn and I decided to go to San Jose to pick apricots. I sold my trailer, and we moved into a motel in San Jose, but the apricots weren't ripe. One day we were out for a drive and we saw two girls walking the other direction, so we turned around and asked them if we could give them a ride.
One of the girls wanted to know why we would give them a ride since we had been going the other direction, but they both got in and we drove them to a small town just this side of San Francisco and dropped them off at some relatives' house.
Then, it was July 2, Joe suggested we go to Sacramento to visit Joe's uncle, Jim James, or J.B. James, as he liked to be called.
J.B.'s first wife was Leo's sister. Leo and Lena Dunn were Joe's parents. They were our neighbors in Amherst, but before they moved there, Leo and J.B. used to teach music schools to towns all over the plains. Joe said everyone in the town would come to the school, sort of like a revival meeting and spend a couple of weeks learning how to read notes and sing.
On the way up to Sacramento, Joe told me about his Uncle Jim's 18 year old daughter, and I said, "that's my gal."
We pulled up to that little house and I never saw so many eyes looking at me in my life; three of J.B.'s daughters were there, along with a married daughter and her two kids. We had a good time, and I sure liked that girl Joe had told me about. Her name was Dorothy Mae James.
After we got there, the three of us packed into my new 1935 Ford one seat coupe and went to the picture show, probably the Senator Theater over by the Capitol, which was the nicest theater in Sacramento. It cost 25 cents to go to a show there.
It was the 4th of July and Joe wanted to light a big firecracker and throw it out while we drove through an underpass, and he did, but it went off in his hand and hurt it.
After I returned to Bakersfield, Dorothy and I wrote each other. On one trip back to visit Dorothy, we were driving down Fruitridge Ave., and she was sitting next to me. A little boy walking along yelled, "Why don't you marry the girl?" I knew I wanted to get married to her, so I asked her to marry me. She said yes, but the next day she changed her mind. I guess she didn't think she had gone with the boys enough.
J.B. wanted to go back to Bakersfield with me and pick cotton, so we packed up and left. We found work in a Bakersfield cotton field, living in a big tent I had picked up somewhere, and then I got a letter saying Dorothy had decided to marry me.
I don't remember much about what happened after that. J.B. and I drove back up to Sacramento, but I don't even know what happened to that tent, or my cotton sack.
The depression was still on and jobs were scarce, but I had about $200 in the bank from the crop I made in Bakersfield. I found a two-room cabin that was part of an old motel that was being moved and paid $50 for it and moved it to a one-acre lot I had bought in Gardenland.
This was a suburb of North Sacramento, and I bought the lot for $10 down and $5 a month. I loaned J.B. $10 to make the down payment on the lot next to our's and he and I managed to move the two units to our lots before the wedding.
Our wedding took place in the home of the Methodist minister that was performing the ceremony, but it started raining and Dorothy's best friend, Helen Cooper, and her husband, Don, didn't show up. They were riding a motorcycle and we figured the rain stopped them, so we went ahead with the ceremony.
They got there just as it was over. Our other guests were Dorothy's mother, father, and two of her sisters, Lea and Esta. We took off on our honeymoon from the minister's house and spent our wedding night in a motel near Fresno. We stopped in Bakersfield where I introduced my bride to Lea Etta and Gib. From there, we went on to Los Angeles.