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INTERVIEWS AND CONVERSATIONS
PRO:  Paul Russell Oram
NSO: Nancy Susan Oram
DRO: Dorothy Ruth Oram
DPO: David Paul Oram
PAH: Paul Allen Hoy
DSH: David Scott Hoy
NSO: The story about your dad losing a watch in the field, and then coming -- would you tell that one.
PRO:  Okay. I often tell it this way. I meet somebody and I say, "I can tell you a story that you'd say, 'That's a damn lie,' and then prove to you that it's the truth." My dad used to say it that way. He'd say, "I lost a watch 20 years ago and I found it 20 years later and it was right on time and running."
NSO: Still running and keeping the right time.
PRO:  And it was right on time. And so then he'd tell it was like this. He was mowing -- he used to keep his watch on a leather fob -- chain, and it was in his upper overall bib, and he was scything with a scythe, the weeds, and he hooked it and it flew out. And he thought, that thing --
NSO: Hooked the watch and it flew out?
PRO:  Yeah, it come out on the -- but it hung on the leather chain, so it didn't get lost that time. So he said, boy, he said, I'm lucky. He said he just undid it and set it on a stump there where he was, and went on down along the fence scything these weeds where you couldn't get up close to the fence with a mower. And then he went on into the house and forgot about it. And when he went back out there, the watch was gone. And so he forgot all about it. He just said, well, that's lost. And so about -- it was 20 years later, within give or take a year. And he saw a guy stuck in the mud there. And he was working there in the field right there on the same field with a team. And he came over and said to the guy, "I guess you need some help." And the guy said, "Yeah," he said, "I got stuck." And they talked, chatted a little bit before he pulled him out. And then he said something about his name. And Dad said, "Well, we went to school together years ago," you know. And he said, "Yeah, we did." He said, "So you've been here. You're working here." "Yeah, I'm right here." And they talked a little more. And the guy said, "Well, I've got to get going." And he pulled out a watch. And Dad said, "My gosh," he said, "I lost a watch like that. Is that an Illinois?" He said, "Yeah," he said, "that's an Illinois watch." He said, "I lost one like that 20 years ago." He said, "I was scything along here, and I set it on the stump." The guy said, "I come down this road and saw something glistening in the sun, and I went over there, and there was a watch. And I picked it up, and I've had it ever since." And the watch was running and right on time.
NSO: Right on time. Found it right where he left it.
PRO:  Right where he lost it.
NSO: That's the greatest story.
PRO:  Yeah, and it's the truth. Now, some other time when you've got this thing, I've got a story, but it's a lot longer and we need five or ten minutes.
NSO: Well, go ahead.
PRO:  But, how I met your mother.
NSO: Okay. Because that would pick up where we left off when you came from New York to California.
PRO:  In October 17, 1936 I went -- my boss took me to a dance at the Internos Club on Foothill Boulevard in Oakland. And there was a Halloween dance, and some people were in masquerade. But I wasn't. I was just in a suit. And he said he was going to introduce me -- he asked me what kind of a girl I liked. I told him 5'2, eyes of blue, brunette, not too fat. But I didn't want a skinny girl. I wanted a gal that had a little meat on her bones. He said, "I've got just the girl for you. I'll bring her and introduce you to her tonight."
And I said, "I know what a card Mr. King was." That's the man I'm talking about. He was my boss. I was his helper. He was a carpenter at Rylock Company in San Leandro. And so when I got to the dance -- I took a girl with me. I took my girlfriend with me. She was kind of like a sister. We didn't -- never were really -- anything like that. It was just got along real good together. So I brought her with me, and I bet her a nickel, and I said, "I'll bet you a nickel this will be the homeliest gal you ever saw in your life."
So we got in the dance hall, and we sit down and looked. We didn't see Mr. King anywhere. But across the way we saw Mrs. King sitting, and sure enough, there was what I would call a "Poor Maude" girl. Big, long face, and as ugly -- well, as plain as they ever made a woman. And I thought, oh, godfrey, there she is. And she was about 5'8" or something, or 10. She was real tall and skinny. And I said, Oh, that son of a gun, he sure did get everything just backwards of what I wanted.
So I danced with my partner I brought there. And we had one dance.
NSO: What was her name?
PRO:  Spears, but I can't think of her first name now. It was like Beth. Beth Spears. I believe that's it.
PRO:  Anyway. So she went off then and danced, or sit down somewhere, and I went off to sit down by myself. And she started dancing with other people, and I was going to dance with other people. And things had changed, and I looked across the hall, and there sat a girl all by herself, the cutest little gal that I ever saw. And I knew immediately that that's the girl that I was going to marry. I thought -- if I can. And so I went over and I said, "Would you care to dance with me." And she said, "Okay." And we got up and started dancing. And as we were dancing around the floor, this old woman kept bumping into us. This woman was dancing with another woman, and she'd bump right into us. And I kept getting a little irritated. I finally turned, and it turned out to be Mr. King with a wig and a dress on, dancing around there like a darned fool. And he said, "I see you've met." I said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "That's the girl I brought for you to meet." And I -- oh, my goodness. And here I'd been -- Bess, it was, not Beth. I'd bet her a nickel. And so I lost that bet.
NSO: And so was the homely girl Mr. King that was sitting --
NSO: That was just somebody that you thought was --
PRO:  He was out dancing on the floor, and I didn't ever know where he was.
NSO: Okay. I thought it was the dressed up --
PRO:  But that gal was sitting down by King's wife, and so I thought that was her.
PRO:  And Dorothy had been over with her mother, and then somebody had asked her mother to dance, and so she was over there all alone.
NSO: I see.
PRO:  Anyway, as we danced together, she had a bracelet on, and it kept falling on the floor, and I picked it up. And about the third time I picked it up, I said, "I'll just put that in my pocket so it won't be falling." And she said, "Okay." And I said to myself, that's a good excuse to call on her later, because I'll just keep that and then I'll have to return it to her. And I thought, ain't I smart.
So twenty years later -- this was October 17th, '36. About '56 or there, somewhere after 1951, I was a 70 and member of the church. We had a 70s party here in the yard, and everybody was telling how they met. And I told this story. And I found out -- Dorothy finally informed me that she was dropping that on purpose so that I'd have to come and meet her --
NSO: And it took you four or five times to catch on.
PRO:  And I didn't -- and it was her ploy to grab me to come to see her again.
NSO: So the feeling was mutual.
PRO:  And I never even knew it for twenty years.
NSO: The feeling was mutual. That was great.
PRO:  That's all I wanted to say. That was the story I wanted to get out.
NSO: Okay. I wanted to ask you about -- you have a few stories about when you, you know, rubbed shoulders with famous people, like maybe starting in New York a little bit, George Raft, for one. And then I remember something about giving Victor Mature a ride when you were in Southern California or something.
PRO:  He gave me a ride.
NSO: He gave you a ride. Okay. So do the George Raft.
PRO:  Well, I worked in the Walgreen's 42nd Street Times Square Walgreen's Drugstore, and the 42nd Street Theater was there, and there was a lot of movie stars came there. George Raft was one of them. He was a nice guy, but he was kind of an aloof guy in a way. He was never any kind of a warm kind of an individual, but he was a -- he had that habit of flipping that dollar, keep flipping that dollar, you know. And he wore his spats, and his stripped pants, and his top hat. Had a cane.
NSO: About how old a guy was he then?
PRO:  I don't know. I thought he was quite old. You know, I mean I thought he was -- he probably was only about 30 or 35, but I mean --
NSO: And you were what, 14?
PRO:  Yeah. Less than that.
NSO: So do you think that they incorporated that look in his movies, or that he got that look from his movies?
PRO:  Oh, I think he was that way, and they just -- that's just something that was just him. In the early days of all those movie stars, they were themselves, and then the stage developed them. But later on, of course, there was this imaging business started. They'd produce an image, and tell them what they wanted them to be like, and that's what they'd be like. But in those days a star was a certain star, and that's the way they were and -- I don't doubt that they exaggerated things at times and all that, but that's the way they were.
But Gloria Swanson was there. She was just a very lovely person, and awful nice.
NSO: She just died recently, didn't she, Gloria Swanson?
DRO: Ten or fifteen years ago.
NSO: Oh, that long? I'm thinking of someone else, then.
PRO:  And Mae West was there, you know. Her mother -- and Milton Berle, and all that -- all those guys from the Borscht Circuit, which was all through -- what was the name of that town up by Albany, Dot? What's the name of -- Adirondacks -- where they had -- like now you have like Las Vegas and Reno, and all those kind of places where all the stars go. Well then there was the Borscht Circuit that went up through the Adirondacks and all these inns out in the countryside that hired the stars to put shows on, and all the people would go there. All the Jewish people, especially with money, would go there and stay, and see the shows on the weekend. And that's where those guys came from.
Henny Youngman, and what's his name. Mammy, you know.
NSO: Al Jolson.
PRO:  Al Jolson. All of those -- Jack Benny. All those -- and most all of them were Jewish, you know, had what you call hudspa, meaning they had nerve. But they'd get out there and act, and people would laugh at them, and throw fruit at them, and everything else, and they'd just keep on going. And especially Milton Berle's mother would get out there on the stage, run out there on the stage, and throw the stuff back at the people. "Leave my son alone. Leave my son alone."
NSO: Did you go see them?
PRO:  Oh, yeah.
NSO: You did?
PRO:  Well, I didn't have to -- what you say, "Go see them." You mean, did I buy a ticket? No, I didn't. I got there for nothing, because I served them stuff backstage.
Well, being I was right next door at Walgreen's, why I blew up a bag and run up to the -- got a cigar from Sparky, the manager of the Walgreen's store there, and blew up a paper bag, and run up to the doorman, and said, "Gloria Swanson." And he just let me in. I handed him a cigar, and he told me where her dressing room was. I went back there. And I didn't have anything for her. She hadn't ordered anything. But then I got in there, and then I asked her if she would like something, any refreshments of any kind. So she ordered a -- we had a forty-cent lunch. I brought it on a tray with a cloth towel over it, and everything, and had tea -- and I forget what she ate, what we had.
And then she started asking me what I was doing at such a young age there, and so on, and then it all come out about me running away from home, and so I told my story. And she was real good at getting it out of me, you know.
NSO: Oh, interested enough to talk to you?
PRO:  Oh, yes, yes. She just had a million questions. But there was a lot of other stuff that went on there that -- George M. Cohen was a great piano player, and song writer, and so on. And he helped out on all the -- set up the acts for them, and everything. Max Baer won the championship -- that was about 1935, I think. Became the world's champion. And he had a brother, Buddy Baer, who was a wrestler. And they were two just big -- two Jews -- goofballs is what they were. And so they got George M. Cohen there to -- going to make them look good on stage, and one thing and another. When they showed up there, why somebody said, "Mr. Cohen this is Max Baer, champion, and brother Buddy."
And Max Baer, the stupid SOB, went over and he put his arms around little George M. Cohen, and took him up in the air like this, and spun him back and forth, and back and forth, and then sat him down. And his glasses were crooked, and he was wobbling all over the stage. And he grabbed his coat, and he said, "I'm out of here." He said, "Go ahead and look like damn fools. That's what you are." And so he didn't help them a bit. And they got out there, and they tried to sing, and they tried to -- they couldn't do anything, and people laughed them off the stage.
And I know when Max Baer lost the championship to Jim Braddock, I had left Walgreen's and was now in the Governor Clinton Hotel at 31st and 7th Avenue, which is -- that's 42nd down to 31st. And here come Buddy -- no, Max Baer, with about five blondes, drunker than a lord, on the evening before they fought the next day. And goofing around, and couldn't even stand up. And he just threw the fight when they fought. He couldn't fight. He just got out there and got knocked down. So there was no question about he threw the damn fight, lost the championship. Threw it away.
Oh, there's a lot of stuff like that. I can't remember everything.
NSO: Well, at Walgreen's, at 42nd Street, and the theater was right next door?
NSO: Okay. And then how many years did you work there?
PRO:  Around a year and a half.
NSO: And then the Governor Clinton, that was -- was that the same kind of situation? What kind of people did you serve there?
PRO:  Well, it was -- the Governor Clinton was a residency hotel. That is to say, it cost thirty dollars a night to stay there, and in those days --
PRO:  In those days that would be like $3,000 a night now.
PRO:  But anyway, the people that lived there were really rich. I remember one character lived there, the most outstanding character of the bunch, would come down Seventh Avenue to 31st Street, drunker than a lord, driving his car, just wobbling from side to side on the street. And he'd run out about, you know, like the middle of the street. There's maybe three, six lanes there, or maybe more than that, I guess. But anyway, he'd just park right straddle of the middle line, and get out and slam the door, and walk into the hotel and hand the keys to the doorman. And the doorman was used to him by then, because he knew what it was going to create. And by the time he'd get there and give him the keys, and the doorman would get out there to move the car, there would be traffic blocked for 40 or 50 blocks, just a complete jam. Everything jammed up around that. Not only they couldn't get around them, some of them, but the others were stopping to see what the hell was going on. And that's all it takes in New York, something like that and it's just -- and here come the cops riding down the street on their horses, with sparks just flying off their hoofs off the sidewalks. And they'd run down there, and they'd -- then they'd make the people -- here's somebody coming here, "Go on back. Go on back." Turn them away. Make them turn around and leave. Go anywhere they didn't want to go, but get them off that block so that they could get that damn jam broke up. And this guy would go right on and stagger on up to his room and plop in bed. And the doorman would go take the car and park it in the garage.
And there was a lot of people there -- well, and another thing, come to think of it, the World Series took place there, and the winners of the World Series came there, and the St. Louis Cardinals once came there and stayed at the hotel.
NSO: What year would that be about?
PRO:  I can't remember the year exactly. It was '33, '34, or '35, one of those three years.
NSO: Okay. Good enough.
PRO:  But anyway -- I always have trouble remembering his name. The third baseman for the Cardinals was a real joker. I mean he was one of these -- he'd go to any length to -- I can't think of the term now. What do you call it when somebody plays a joke on you all the time.
NSO: A practical joke?
PRO:  Yeah, practical joke. He'd go to big expenses to put over a practical joke. I saw him one night, I was standing there as a bellhop with my arms folded like this, watching his table. And he looked all around like this. And everybody in the hotel, little old ladies that had been staying there for years, you know, their husband left them a fortune and died -- they started watching him and then he looked at his plate. His plate was sitting there like this, a flat plate, you know, with some food on it. And he started looking at the plate like this, you know. And they looked over there. And the plate goes --
NSO: Raising up and down.
PRO:  Yeah. He had gotten a thing, and he had it in his pocket, and he was blowing it up with air on a piston, and it was raising the plate and lowering it, and raising the plate and lowering it.
NSO: Oh, for heaven's sake.
PRO:  And then -- so, but anyway, he was always doing something like that. He had different jokes that he played. He had a squirting flower, you know. He'd squirt people with it. All that. Well, he played a -- the final night of him being there in the hotel he got thrown out. He went and set off a stink bomb right in that hotel, with beautiful music playing softly, and everybody dining, and soft conversations. And pow, here's this stink bomb, just smelled up the place. And they come down there, and they got him, and they told him, "Get your baggage." And they went up and grabbed the baggage, and threw them and the baggage right out in the street.
NSO: The whole team, or just him?
PRO:  The whole damn team. "Don't come back. Don't come near this place." They didn't want anything to do with them. I mean, after all, they're just a bunch of ball players, and these people in here have money.
NSO: They might be there that year, but the next year they might not come back.
PRO:  They wouldn't even let them in the door after that. What the hell was his name. I keep wanting to say Lefty O'Doul, but that wasn't what it was. He ended up being the manager for the San Diego team.
NSO: You know what, I think we've probably -- that's ringing a bell. We've probably did -- talked about that before when we tried to cover as much time in New York as we could, so I might have the name.
PRO:  But I'll tell you, he -- it must have been '34 or '35. It was not '33. No, it had to be '34. But anyway, I came out in '35, July 4, 1935 I came to California. Landed out here on the 4th of July.
NSO: Were you working at that hotel when it was decided you would come west?
PRO:  Yeah, I guess I was.
NSO: Did you work anywhere else besides those two places?
PRO:  Oh, yeah. When I first went to New York I sold five articles of soap for a quarter on the streets, just peddling them.
NSO: Were you staying with one of your sisters then?
PRO:  Well, no. I only stayed with Iola and Carl for a little while at their place, and then I got a rooming house.
NSO: So you were making enough money to support yourself.
PRO:  Made my own way.
What was I going to say? Oh, yeah, the guy -- the reason I could figure the time out was, I came out here and I wasn't out here very long, and I went to the old Oakland Oaks ball park and saw these -- the team that were in the World Series just a year or two before, came there and played exhibition games. And here was this same third baseman, you know. And he's out there and said something -- oh, this guy, I was sitting right here and this guy was just a little to the left of me and in back of me. He kept calling this guy by his name. Let's say -- I'll call him Lefty O'Doul for a minute. I'll remember his name. It's like Ginger or something like that. I can't think of it. Anyway, he'd say, "Hey, Lefty, you dumb son of a bitch, you couldn't catch a ball if it come right to your glove." And blah, blah. Oh, he was obnoxious. And every once in awhile you'd see him tip this bottle up, and stick it back inside his pocket. You're not supposed to drink in the ball park. But he had it there, and he was just making a damn nuisance of himself.
And pretty soon this third baseman said something to the pitcher, and the pitcher turned around and put the ball in his glove, and put his hand down. And he put the -- what do you call it -- the third baseman put his glove down on the bag, and just come walking up through the stands. He come right over me, you know. There was kind of a crowd, and he would get space between us and climb up there. And this guy was laying back by this time. And this guy said something to him, and the guy --
NSO: Pulled his bottle out of his pocket?
PRO:  Yeah. He took the [unscrewing the top], handed it back to the guy, and went back down and resumed the ball game.
NSO: Oh, so he just took a drink from him and then gave it back to him?
PRO:  That's all he had to do. All he said was "Where the hell's that bottle you got?" And, well, he went back there and started playing. Now this guy's standing up, "Hey, Lefty, my buddy, you can do it. You're the best player."
NSO: Won him over.
PRO:  And that was the end of all that trouble. But then the pitcher was -- the two brothers, what was their names? Two famous pitchers. They were brothers, and this was the best one of the two.
DRO: Dizzy? Dizzy Dean?
PRO:  Dizzy Dean. Dizzy Dean.
NSO: Oh, Mom knew.
PRO:  And Dizzy Dean, the batter come up of the Oakland Oaks team, and his -- he was -- I can't think of his name right now, but he was a long ball hitter. I mean, you know, he had like a 350 batting average. So when he came up, the pitcher threw a couple of balls there, strikes there, and got two strikes on him, and it made him look silly. I mean he threw one ball there and the batter swung and fell down and watched the ball just go floating over the bag. That ball was coming in there, and he swung for it, and then he was laying there and then the ball went over. That ball went out there like this, and just slowed down and then dropped down like this. And he was laying there, and it was too late.
Anyway, the pitcher, Dizzy Dean turned around and said something to the guys, and then he turned and said something to this batter. And the batter, all the guys come in. Threw their gloves down on the bases and sat down there on the bases. And Dizzy Dean wound up the pitch and it wasn't -- I couldn't tell, you know, I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but I figured he must have said, "This one's coming right down the pike for you."
And so the batter got ready, and he put it down the pike, and he knocked it clean out of that ball park. A home run. And all them guys come running in, and Dizzy Dean kept acting like he was mad, you know. That whole damn club was a bunch of. . .
[End of Tape.]
NSO: Okay. I've got to change the tape. We're on the other side, and today is Sunday, June 9, 2001. And I'll try and keep an eye on the tape so I don't run it out.
PRO:  Well, what I was saying when that went off was that of course this just tickled the hell out of the Oakland fans, because here their team had won the ball game against the World Series champions, and they had never got anywhere near the World Series, and they hit a home run off of Dizzy Dean, the guy that could pitch a ball so fast or slow that they couldn't touch it. And boom, they hit it, and oh, boy. And of course they just roared, and they were really happy about that. And of course, it didn't make Dizzy Dean mad at all. He was just putting on an act.
But then when you talk about -- you mentioned about that, when I was in the Navy, me and a buddy was hitchhiking up the Pacific Coast Highway --
NSO: So this is jumping ahead to what year?
PRO:  Yeah, to 1945 or 44.
PRO:  And we were based at Seal Base Ammunition Depot out there, and that's down by Santa Ana. And we were going up to Hollywood or the L.A. area on leave. And then this guy in a big convertible with a big dog in the front seat in the car with him stopped, and here it was the guy you mentioned --
NSO: Victor Mature.
PRO:  Victor Mature. Just as big as life, sitting there driving his convertible, and said, "Can I give you boys a ride?" "Yeah," and we hopped in in the back there. And go up a little further, and here's a big accident. Somebody had a big accident, and there was people hurt. And he stopped and got out, and told the dog stay right there, or just stay, and he stayed. And he went over there to see if he could do anything to help anybody, but they already had cops there and stuff, and they were getting the people there and taking them on. I think he did help pull somebody out.
And then we got back in the car and went ahead and he said, "What are you boys going to do?" We said, "Well, we're just going up there and going to play -- go bowling." Oh, he says, "I'll tell you where's there a party. You can go to the party," he said. And he told us where to go. And we went there. And they gave you all the drinks and all you wanted to eat, and everything else for nothing, you know. They were having a bunch of stars there in a Hollywood party. And I always thought -- up to then I always thought that Victor Mature was just a braggadocio idiot. But after that I thought, no, no, that guy's, he's with people. He knows who other people are other than himself. He's not that egotistical.
But -- I can't remember the stars that were there. They weren't all that many. There's an awful lot of people hang around the stars that get the free eats and the free drinks and all --
NSO: Like you?
PRO:  Yeah. Yeah. So he -- a lot of, when they had those parties, a lot of the stars just popped in to help out whoever it was that gave it, and are gone, and you don't even see them hardly.
NSO: There's one other, somewhat of a celebrity I wanted to get on tape, and that was -- I can't remember his name, and I don't remember if it was in New York or back here in California, is the rich guy with the car, he let you drive his car.
PRO:  Well, see he's not Hollywood stuff. That was here in San Leandro.
NSO: When you first got out here?
PRO:  I'd been here a little while. And I worked at the Venetian blind company -- Rylock, it was a lock company first, and then they took up making Venetian blinds. And C.P. Berlzheimer owned it. He owned twelve other big corporations in California. California Cedar Products, that made all the pencils. I don't know if I can remember the names of any of the other companies now, but I always remembered that one because it was on all the pencils.
And anyway, he kind of took a liking to me because, again, I was very young. And so he lent me his car. And he had a place on Tahoe that I'd go up there and run all around those woods, and swim in the lake, you know. And I couldn't swim very good, but I'd dunk myself in the lake. And then I just -- let's see, I know when this was, because I'd only been working there -- I started to work there, and I worked as -- Mr. King, who introduced me to your mother, was his apprentice, his helper. And I helped make all the cabinetry when they started making the locks --
NSO: This was still Rylock?
PRO:  Yeah. To put away all the locks.
NSO: How do you spell Rylock? Is it R-y, or --
PRO:  And I, right today I can recite the numbers of the lock that goes and slides into the door that the latch is there that when the door closes it catches on the latch. The case is a 7001 and it's --
PRO:  And the end plate is a 7002. I knew all the parts and the numbers. And I hadn't been working, hadn't no more than put away the stuff in there, and made the bins, and put the stuff away, when boom, this guy killed himself that was in charge of receiving and shipping and storage for Rylock. He had embezzled a lot of money, and he just shot himself and died. And they had started the Venetian blind company, and the manager of that put me in there because I knew where everything was. He said, "You get in there and hand out this stuff and keep us going here."
And so they'd come and want this and that. I'd just get it right away and give it to him, and put it up on the steel counter there with the -- you could open and close a wire gate that shut -- that closed, dropped down, and put up and work over that counter. And then when they would come and deliver the tape for making the Venetian blinds, I'd accept that and sign for it and everything. I was just -- in no time at all I was receiving shipping for them.
And then come the date -- it was like in October of 1936 or something. Because -- anyway, social security started on January of 1936. I think 1936. Anyway, it was in September before the January that was coming up.
NSO: So it would be '35, September of '35.
PRO:  '35, probably. And by damn they had to have a birth certificate. So I wrote back to Dad and said send me a birth certificate. Well, the records had been lost. So Dad went to Aunt -- oh, I can't think of his sister's name, now, but she made out an affidavit and swore that she was there when I was born, and my mother, and April 6, 1919, and issued that certificate.
When that came down, oh, the shit hit the fan. Here I was called up there, and I went up there, and here's the treasurer of the company, the attorney for the company, Berlzheimer himself sitting there, and this manager of the Venetian blinds company. And they were just going at it hot and heavy. "How the hell could this happen? How could this happen?" And so they just jawing, jawing, jawing, jawing, and I knew I was up. I thought well, now what am I going to do? Where am I going to go to work? And so they -- Berlzheimer put his hand up, and he said, "Just a minute." He says to the attorney, he says, "Is it legal for him to work here now?" "Yeah, but," he said, "he was only -- " whatever I was when I got there. I think you had to be 16 to be able to work or something, and I was now -- well, let's see. That's the way to tell. 1935.
NSO: So you had turned 16 while you were working there.
PRO:  Yeah. And he says, but he says, "It's been illegal all this time," and he said -- he stopped the attorney and the treasurer and said, "You go on back to your office." In other words, you're no help at all to us. Get out of here. The treasurer went back -- Berlzheimer was a man that, he wasn't tough, he was a real nice guy.
NSO: He was practical, it sounds like.
PRO:  Yeah, he didn't waste time. He'd sit there in the theater there in San Leandro in an old jacket that he rode horseback through the brush, and it was just all snagged and everything. He and his wife would sit there and watch the movies. And I'd be sitting in there watching it too, you know, go to the movies in the evening or something.
Anyway, then he turned and he said to this -- my boss, this superintendent of the blind company, "What kind of a worker is he?" "Oh," he says, "he's a hard worker." He says, "He's just there -- he works till 5 or 6 o'clock at night and never gets -- we don't pay any overtime." And he said, "You go on back there and do the job that we hired you to do."
I stood outside the door and listened. He said, "I don't care what happened before." He said, "I had no -- no knowledge of it. I can't be included as a law breaker because I didn't even know about it. But we're not breaking the law now. He's a good worker. Just leave him alone." And I was -- I went back to work, and got busy putting stuff out and working away. I thought that is great, you know.
But then Berlzheimer said to me, "Don't you dare -- don't you -- you're not driving my car no more. That's still illegal." And I was driving the company truck down to get ice and everything, you know. Whenever anybody needed anything I'd run down and get it and come back, and making deliveries, and all kinds of stuff. No, that's all got to stop.
So then I wrote, and Dad sent me and signed an affidavit that he'd give permission to drive, so I got a license.
NSO: Did you have to be older than 16 then to drive?
PRO:  No, but if you were under a certain age you had to have their permission. So I had that. So anyway, Berlzheimer come back there. We had a department in there. In the lock company they made door handles for locks. Like green, carnelian, and red, and orange and all colors that you'd turn a circle in them and put an insert in that would be yellow or something else that blended nice with it. There was blue. And made these knobs, and there was big sticks of Catalin about that long about this big around. There was all the most beautiful colors in the racks that I built for those.
PRO:  Yeah, it was called Catalin. It was the forerunner of plastic. You had no plastics in those days yet. Hadn't invented plastic. This is a plastic, though. And anyway, that was such a beautiful [display] that whenever I'd see Berlzheimer bring in his friends there or anything to show them through the plant, the first place he'd head for is the area to show them that Catalin.
And he'd say, "Now, I want you to meet this young man." He said, "He's discovered the fountain of youth." He said, "When he come to work for us, he was 14 years old and he's worked here for three years and now he's only 16." Or something.
NSO: He probably said when you came to work you were whatever the legal age was and now you're only -- yeah.
PRO:  Yeah. And they'd laugh and look at me, you know. Whatever made him happy, I wanted to do it because he paid my money, check. It was fun in those days.
NSO: So that was shortly after you came out to California.
PRO:  Yeah that was before I met your mother, I guess.
NSO: Right before, yeah.
PRO:  Because in 1936 in comes social security. Then in October of 1936 I met her --
NSO: Right, and you were still with that company?
PRO:  Yeah, I was still there. And King said, "What kind of girl do you like?" I said, "Oh, I'd like a brunette." He said, "What shape?" I said, "Oh, I don't like too tall a girl, you know, like not over 5'2, pretty girl. Not skinny. I want a girl that's got a little meat on her bones so that you can put your arm around her." And he says, "Well, I've got just the girl for you." And I said, "Yeah, you do, you son of a bitch." He said -- he's always putting something over on somebody.
So anyway I got -- I was going with a girl named Blanche. And I never did really -- I don't know -- oh, I kissed Blanche, I guess, like goodbye or something, but I never kissed her like where you kiss some girl -- she was more like a sister, you know. And I said, "Hey, you want to go with me tonight. I'm going to a dance, the Internos along Foothill Boulevard. It's a dance there, but it's a masquerade, but we don't have to masquerade, we can just go anyway -- either way you want to go." "Okay, I'll go." And I told her about King going to introduce me to the girl of my dreams, and all this, that, and the other. I said, knowing him it's going to be somebody that I wouldn't even dance with.
So we get there and we look across there, and there's King's wife sitting there. I can't see King no where. But I see his wife. I knew her. And sitting next to her is a gal that's about 5'8. I mean she's tall. And she's got that, sits straight up, and she's got a face like a "Poor Maude" face, you know. Oh, geez. I said, "There she is. There she is. I bet you a nickel there it is." Blanche say's, "I'll bet you a nickel." I said, "Okay." So we were out there dancing, and boom, somebody bumps into me. It was an old lady. And bam, bumps into me again. I said -- I was about to say get off me. And I recognized it was King with a wig on and a woman's dress, and flouncing around there dancing. He loved to dance, but his wife didn't like to dance, or didn't know how to.
And so -- I think I got ahead of myself here now. But anyway -- I don't think I was dancing with Blanche then. Anyway -- but after awhile I quit dancing with Blanche and was looking around. I had just danced the first dance with her, and then she was going to dance -- we just used to do that all the time. She would just dance with who she wanted to. I looked across the hall and there was a break in there. It wasn't where Mrs. King was sitting, but over here was her. Geez it just hit me right between the eyes, and I said, "Oh, geez, there's the gal I'm going to marry."
And so I walked over and I said, "Would you care to dance with me," or something. And she said, "Okay." And we started dancing. That's when I run into -- King kept running into us. Pretty soon he says, "I see you've met." And I didn't know what he meant, you know. And finally it dawned on me after awhile that that's who he -- this is who he brought for me to meet. And that surprised me all to heck.
I guess King liked me, although I never could tell that he did. And I knew he liked her, and I knew she was a good Mormon gal. And so I think -- I thought he didn't like me because I used to gamble. I didn't have any reason not to. I wasn't a member of any church or anything. And he seen me sitting in a game, and I would bet $100. And he told her -- he told her, "Don't ever marry that guy. He'll gamble your house away." And I would have. You know, I'd gamble anything if I thought I'd win. But anyway, I didn't think he liked me that well. But apparently he did, because he introduced me to her, and by damn, he had no business introducing if he thought I was as bad as I thought he thought I was, he wouldn't have introduced me to her.
NSO: What was his first name?
NSO: I thought it would sound familiar because all these years I thought well, I must know his first name. But you've always just said King. Oswald!
PRO:  Yeah. Well, you didn't call him by his first name because --
NSO: No, I've never heard it.
PRO:   -- he was my boss, you know.
NSO: Yeah. Yeah. Mr. King.
PRO:  Yeah, a lot of people called him Ozzie. I think his wife called him Ozzie, didn't she?
DRO: Ozzie, yeah.
PRO:  But it was Oswald. He had grand mal, what do you call it?
NSO: Oh, seizures? Epilepsy?
PRO:  Yeah. I was riding in the back seat, and we were going home one night, and he started one of those. And I had to climb over the seat and pull him off the wheel and push him over, and his wife held him while I drove him on home. And after that he never was as friendly with me anymore because --
NSO: You'd seen him.
PRO:   -- I'd seen him have it. But he was a hell of a nice guy.
NSO: Well, one thing I've never done, as many times as we've heard this story, is ask mom what her impression was when she met you.
PRO:  Oh, now wait. Let me tell you -- let me quick tell you something.
NSO: Oh, are you going to tell about the bracelet?
NSO: Because it's on here. It's on the first part of this tape.
PRO:  Oh. Okay.
NSO: So we got that.
PRO:  All right.
NSO: But I just want to hear mom a minute. When dad came and asked you to dance, he just came over and asked you to dance?
DRO: Well, he and -- what was the girl's name?
DRO: Oh, Blanche, was it? That doesn't sound familiar to me. Well, he and Blanche were across the room, and I thought, "Well, there's a good looking man over there." Good looking --
NSO: So you had noticed him?
DRO: Oh, yeah. I had noticed him. I was -- I had been dancing, and I had seen them dancing, and then they sat right directly across the room. And I was sitting a dance out when I looked over and saw him. And I thought oh, gosh, he looks clean cut. He had on an oxford gray suit, almost black, and he -- his hair was just real blonde at that time. Still is, if he didn't have to have something to keep it down, you know. But it was real blonde. And I thought, I'd like to dance with him.
And it wasn't long before he came over and asked me to dance. So my first impression is of -- a good impression.
NSO: Were you making any eye contact with him?
DRO: I don't remember. Maybe.
NSO: Maybe just keeping track.
DRO: Yeah, just looking at one another from across the room. But he introduced himself while we were dancing, and said, "My name is Paul Oram." And I said, "Ormand?" I didn't hear him right the first time. And so we exchanged our names and ages. And he was 21 that night.
NSO: Oh. What was he really, 17?
NSO: Still at it, huh?
DRO: But he had to go along with what his job -- to hold his job. So to me he was 21, until that following January when he talked about the social security, and then he had to tell me that he was younger, for which I was glad. I don't remember now why I didn't want him to be 21, except maybe talking about him at school or something to others, I didn't want to be going --
NSO: Were you still in high school?
DRO: Oh, yeah. I was 16.
NSO: So 21 was a lot older than 16.
PRO:  I had two more years of high school.
NSO: Yeah, when really he was only a year older, or less than a year older than you.
DRO: Yeah, that's right. And there were other kids in school who were going with older people -- with both ways, boys and girls. And we didn't think too much of them, because they were too --
NSO: Over their heads.
DRO: Yeah, over their heads, and too knowledgeable to the rest of us. They kind of put on aires about it, and I didn't like that -- I didn't want to be thought of that way. And that's all I can remember that was the reason. I can't remember any other reason, because -- but he acted 21, and he was out of school and had a job, so he could very possibly be 21. Until later I found out.
PRO:  Well, I was born in '16.
NSO: That's right, you were born -- so you're what now, a hundred and --
So he asked you to dance, and you exchanged names, and finished that dance.
DRO: Finished that dance, and then Mr. King came along, as he said, and -- then I don't think we saw Mr. King again that night until that night he -- we were staying at his house. Because Mother and I would go the weekend. And of course he had invited us both, and fully expected Little Grandma to pick up a date at the same time. He was thinking of three of us, actually.
NSO: Having a good time.
DRO: Yeah. He was making matches for people. And so -- and on the way home -- on the way to taking Dad home, he started singing, "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." And we all --
NSO: So you were all in the same car?
DRO: We were all in the same car, because --
NSO: And he's taking you home.
NSO: What did you do with Blanche? You didn't drive Blanche?
DRO: That must have been the next time, I guess.
PRO:  The next time.
DRO: Yeah. Oh, I'm --
NSO: Okay, so now you had a date, I guess.
DRO: That's right. But Blanche -- I just never heard Dad mention a Blanche. Juanita, I remember, and somebody else. If I heard the name. But never a Blanche. That seems new to me anyway. But that's okay. Her name was Blanche. And so --
PRO:  I wouldn't swear to it being Blanche. I just remember it that way now.
NSO: We may see another narrative of this and see a different name. But that's okay.
DRO: So it wasn't that night, it was the next -- it was the next dance that --
NSO: But he had your bracelet.
DRO: That was the next dance, too. That wasn't that night.
NSO: I see. I see.
DRO: It was at the next dance, and he didn't bring Blanche to that dance.
NSO: Oh, he didn't bring anyone to that one.
DRO: No, but we hadn't seen one another in between. We just met again at the next dance.
NSO: How much time went by?
DRO: A month. It was a monthly dance, and it was called the Internos Club. And in Latin it means Friends -- Friendly Club, or the Friends Club. And he belonged to the club. And he was a great dancer. His wife didn't dance, but he danced with every woman and girl in the hall. He just took them all and danced with them, and a very friendly person. But at the next dance, the theme was a country dance, and it was a barn dance, and all those country dances.
PRO:  Virginia Reel.
DRO: And the ones where you do dos-a-dos and --
NSO: Square dances.
DRO: Square dances. And that's where I kept losing my bracelet. And he picked it up and put it in his pocket, and I just left it there, decided if he had it maybe he'd come see me. He hadn't called or anything in that month.
NSO: So that month between the two dances were you kind of hoping to hear from him?
DRO: Sure. I think I had even given him my telephone number, and hadn't heard a thing. And so I was glad that he came to the second dance, and we --
PRO:  What did you say, we were all in the same car going from that dance?
DRO: On our way home. Dad lived in San Leandro, and the Kings lived in Castro Valley. Which, San Leandro was halfway between Castro Valley and where the club was in East Oakland. And so we dropped dad off at his house in San Leandro. But between the Internos Club and his house, we were singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." And so for a long time we just kind of felt that was our theme song. And of course Mr. King instigated that by starting the singing. And then we went on to Castro Valley and stayed the weekend and had done so the first time, too, in October. And we did that quite often just to give us a weekend away from home. And so that's how it all started.
So then he called, I think the next time was clear in -- it was like after Christmas in December before we -- and he finally called, and wanted to come and see me, said he had this bracelet.
Now, you tell her about getting to the wrong house that --
NSO: Well, before I do it -- because I'm going to move the tape over there to pick up Dad, there --
[END OF TAPE.]
NSO: . . . or the Heermance family that somehow knew the Kings?
DRO: It runs in my mind that it was my Uncle Ed who might have worked with Mr. King someplace and got to know him. It was through work, whether it was my dad or Uncle Ed.
NSO: Okay. Did they work for Rylock also, or a different --
DRO: No. No. That was long before that.
NSO: Before Mr. King worked for Rylock.
DRO: Yes. He had a chicken ranch, as well as that he was a cabinetmaker. And he kept chickens, and had long chicken houses about -- how long would they be, about 50 feet long, those places? Because he still had them when Dad knew him, too. And he used to buy -- well, he bought one that I know of -- a whippet dog that had been in races. Like even now people are buying them rather than have them put to death after they --
NSO: Finish their race career?
DRO: -- their racing career. And he did that way early, bought a whippet. He called it a whippet.
NSO: Interesting. Okay. Now you're on again.
PRO:  Well, it wasn't until we were having a party out here, and we were sitting out here -- it would be after 1951 when we moved here, sometime, it would be like '53 or '54 that I found out that she was just probably sitting over there making eyes at me and that's what caught my attention. And I thought I had just spotted her without her even knowing I was alive. And then the bracelet business, that she did it on purpose, kept undoing it and making it fall on the floor.
NSO: Yeah, see, all these years I've had the impression that you saw her and didn't let go. And now I'm finding out it took you a couple of months.
PRO:  No, it didn't take me a couple of months. I saw her, and that's the way I felt. But like all men, I took all the credit for it. I thought that everything that was done, I did it. And actually she was sucking me in and I didn't know it. But --
NSO: I want to back up. This is going way back, but I didn't catch it before when we talked about, you know, way back before you -- you know, your childhood, and that's the silo story.
PRO:  Oh that -- yeah, that story is -- it's funny, the way I remembered it, and the way it really was -- of course two different stories altogether. And I was telling my side of it one time, and I was also listening. And Willard was sitting over there saying, "There wasn't even any silo on the MacKenzie farm. He's just a damn liar." And I couldn't figure out how he could say that, and why he would say that, and be that mean about it when I fell off the silo. But then when I was back with Tom to Taylorville, Illinois, and we were standing on his mother's father's grave, I got a chill feeling. And I looked over there, and there stood a silo. This was nowhere near the MacKenzie farm. And I saw that and said, "That's the silo I fell off of."
And it was -- what it was was my -- I was a lot younger than I thought I was when I fell off that silo. When I was on the Tom Cross farm, over on the bend of the road there. I forget the highway number now, but that's where the cemetery is, right over through -- about 200 -- about 100 yards, 300 feet, where the silo stood in there, and it was between the house and the barn -- I mean was next to the barn. There was a red shed between the house and the barn, halfway down there. All of that I had put on the MacKenzie place, and it wasn't. It was -- I was only four years old. I thought I was maybe six or so. But no, that was way, way back. Because I remember there was a water trough -- a round metal tank about so deep, three feet deep, 20 feet in diameter, that we watered our horses and stock at. And that's where Dad threw me in there after I fell in the silo. Because I went over, and Willard was always crawling up the cupola of the silo, and sticking his head up out of the top, and the wind would just whistle up there. I'd done it, followed him up there, and stuck my head up, and got scared and come down.
But he would get up, and there was a plank across the top of the silo where they hooked the shoot up there that blew the silage in to fill it. And he'd walk across that pipe, walk halfway around that circle, come back across the plank, then come back down the thing.
So I went over there one day and I said, "Oh, what the heck. I can do that." I got up and I walked around over there, and I got to the plank, and I stepped on the plank and I thought, geez I'm doing it and nobody will know it. So I hollered, "Hey, look at me!" I stepped off that damn thing and missed it, and fell all the way down there, 50 feet down, to the bottom of that damn silage. It was about five foot of water in there. And I went in head first, and just buried myself in that damned rotten alcohol. It becomes like corn liquor, because the silage -- corn makes alcohol.
And Dad come when he heard me holler and saw me fall off there, knew I had fallen. Why, he run and climbed down in there, and pulled me out, and shoved me up out of there, and come and threw me in the water trough. Because I was just -- the silage went all the way up into my lungs and my head -- I couldn't breathe. And the damn stuff made me sick. For two days after that if I took a drink of water it would just activate this and make me drunk again.
So anyway, that's the reason -- and I never did get to talk to Willard about that -- I never did understand it until he was already beyond reach. But had I done it, he -- see it didn't happen to him, and there was no silo on the MacKenzie farm, so it just didn't happen, as far as he was concerned. I was just making up a story. But it did happen. And but when I saw that thing across the cemetery yard over across the fence there, I mean I knew that was the one I fell off of, too. Certain things you just don't forget very easy.
NSO: No, that would be one of them.
PRO:  Yeah, that's -- Willard always was a very unforgiving person. He never did forgive my stepmother for the way she treated us kids. She'd send her kids to school with a bread and butter sandwich, you know, and put jelly on it. And we'd get bread. Stuff like that. He didn't ever forgive her for that.
But when you stop and think, she was only 18 years old, and married my dad with five kids, and moved out in the country from there, and had to tend an acre patch of garden; plant it, and seed it, and make it grow, and pick it, and cook it, and all that stuff at her age, that was quite a --
NSO: Well, and also -- you know, I never thought about it before, but her kids, by the time they went to school, you kids were a lot older. So in her mind she might have been giving more nourishment to the younger kids, or something, you know.
PRO:  Yeah. Well, it was -- the point is, that it's very understandable that she would know the difference between her own kids and the ones she was just helping raise, and would treat them differently. So what. She was a human being. But he never could see that, because he was old enough when my mother died -- Aunt Ida said he just cried and said -- Iola wanted to -- said, "We're going to be late for school. I want to get to school." And Willard said -- grabbed her and said, "Don't you understand, our mother's dead." And just shook her.
NSO: How much older than you is he?
PRO:  Two years.
NSO: Yeah, he was just at an awful age.
PRO:  Yeah, terrible fours.
NSO: Well, you would miss it and not understand it, and at your age, two, you just wouldn't know what was going on. You wouldn't even know enough to kick up too much of a fuss about it.
PRO:  In fact, I guess I figured Aunt Lou was more my mother than my mother was. She took me in. They scattered all the kids around through the family, and brought them back together again when Dad married Mom. Ah, good old days. A whole different world.
I was talking to Dave. You know, Dave is -- I told you about he says he's got a Rolls Canardly -- that's his new car, a Rolls Canardly. It rolls down one hill and can hardly make it up the next one. He says that he was watching a movie yesterday, and all the old cars were in it. I told him, I says, "You notice that vase down there in Josh's bedroom." He said, no he hadn't seen it. I said, "Well, I walked into a shop." Dot was with me. And the guys, I said "Oh, my gosh." I said, "Where in the world did you get this?" And I picked up this vase. And the guy says, "I don't know. But I'll tell you what. You tell me what it is and you can have it. I've been wanting to know what the hell that is."
NSO: What did it look like?
PRO:  Well, it was about this square. And not that thick around the top, and then it indents, and comes down here --
NSO: Oh, I know what you're going to say. I've seen them. Yeah.
PRO:  It's got a ball on the end, and it's all crisscross cutting -- about that --
NSO: Cut glass.
PRO:  Cut glass, green tinted. I told the guy, I said, "It's just for a vase that hung in the back of the nice cars like the Cadillacs or the Packards, and the valet would see that a fresh rose was put in there with water in there every day, and take the madam down to the shops for a ride. with all the plush upholstery in those old cars." That's when they were really making them for $5,000 when you could buy a Ford for 500. But anyway. Those are the real good old days. That was before my time even. But I knew what that was the minute I saw it. I said, "I'll be damned." I hadn't seen one for years.
We had an old El car. It was a big car. It would have been expensive at one time. I don't know how old it was when Dad got it, but --
NSO: Who made it?
PRO:  I don't know. I imagine it was made in France or something.
NSO: I see. Just the letter L?
PRO:  I think they called the El car.
PRO:  But that thing would roll right on through -- the guy who lived across the road from us got stuck in the mud. And Dad come along and stopped back up on high ground, and said, "Well, I see your stuck." "Yeah." "Well, get in and steer it. I'll take you out of there." And Dad backed up, and just run into those ruts, and run right into his car and bounced it a few times, and just pushed it right on out of there. Because the wheels on our car were about half again as big as the wheels on the Fords. More powerful engine. Just push him right out of there. Trying to think of what his name was. Henry something. I started to say Henry Ford, and I know it wasn't Henry Ford, because that's the car he was driving. But --
I'll never forget. I went up to his house one time. I think Mom send me over there to get a cup of sugar or something. Just as I come walking up there, wham, a glass flew out of the window, and this gas iron come flying by my face, and hit the ground there. And she was ironing the damn thing, and all the gas started leaking out and got all over and started up a fire, and just flew it right through the window.
NSO: Which was the thing to do.
PRO:  She didn't know who was coming. She didn't know anybody was coming. Scared the devil out of me.
I remember the first people that -- Ella-something was their name. But they got a toilet inside the house. We'd go over there and play with all the poo-poo in the toilet and everything. Couldn't imagine it sitting there in the water, or even being in the house like that. Everybody was always going out and dropped it down in the hole way down there and threw lime on it.
I know her name was Ella because Dad used to pick up the phone and, "Uh-oh," he said, "the ETA Society's going again." He called it the ETA, "Ella tell Agnes." And they would be on there for hours.
NSO: Did you always have a telephone from the time you can remember?
PRO:  Yeah. Long, short, and a long. That was our ring.
NSO: And was it a wall phone?
NSO: That you had to crank?
PRO:  Yeah, you picked up the receiver [unintelligible]. Everybody on line got on there, that was in their house that weren't out in the yard somewhere.
NSO: Was it where you could reach it?
PRO:  Yeah. Oh, you mean as a kid? I'd just have to stand on the chair, is all.
NSO: And you had electricity?
PRO:  Well, let's see. When did we first get electricity? We didn't have it on the MacKenzie farm, I know that. On the Seamans farm I think we did have electricity.
NSO: And these are farms that you lived on where your dad worked. So he was kind of a farm hand?
PRO:  Yeah. Farm -- tenant farmer, they called them.
NSO: So he had some of his own land? No, he just worked theirs? But there was some kind of house on there to live in?
PRO:  Yep, that's the way they did it, they would furnish them an old house. And most of the places didn't have any facilities at all. But I think when we got to the Seaman place we had -- I can remember an electric light bulb hanging in the barn. We'd go out and pull the chain on that and light it, and then go around feeding the stock, and everything, and throwing down some hay and oats in front of the horses, and corn for the cows.
NSO: So did you have any playmates from the people who owned the farm?
PRO:  Well, we didn't mix too good. Although when we'd go over to Seaman's place, I guess it was his grandson or something that had a car that you could -- pedal car, and you could play with that and stuff.
It was on the MacKenzie place that we broke the ponies. Charlie MacKenzie had a mule barn in Taylorville, Illinois. He bought and sold a lot of stock, and had auctions there and stuff. He'd get us these shetland ponies. And as soon as we'd get them broke, he'd take them away and he'd get us another pair. That's what Willard and I did. That's how we got to handle ponies, because we'd break them for us so he could sell them to these other guys for three and four hundred dollars and they'd be tame enough to ride.
Shetland pony is one of the hardest things to ride there is.
PRO:  Oh, yeah. Mean little buggers. We'd go out for a ride, and Tom and Dean and Jim, Uncle Jim, you know, they thought it was real funny. They were our step brothers and sisters, and they'd, when we'd ride down towards the mailbox down the lane, as we called it, they'd slip out and undo the gate to the yard and leave it open. We'd come jogging back the ponies. We'd got them pretty well trained by now, and they'd be just dogging along. And they'd see that gate open and we wouldn't notice it. Boom, they'd just take off, and go under the clothesline, and just whip us off their backs just clean as a whistle, throw us just as far as they could get us, and then run on back down to the barn. And them kids would stand there and just laugh and hoot. They thought that was so funny to see us get whipped off of them ponies.
When we'd get a new one, a fresh one that was really bucking, we'd get them right in the middle of where an old straw stack had been, you know, where they had used all the straw and now it's just a mirey mess where the rains had got in it and everything. Get right in the middle of there, and get on them, and if they threw you off it was a nice and soft splash.
NSO: Not so bad there.
Hey buddy, what are you doing?
PAUL:Watching TV upstairs, the Lakers and [unintelligible] are playing each other and the Lakers are winning. Koby Bryant got 22 points for the team.
PRO:  Here, give me some ice, will you?
NSO: And then get Mooma something, please.
Well, I don't want to keep you going if you -- it sounds like your voice is getting a little worn out.
PRO:  Well, it's just that I can't think of anything much that -- of course when I was. . .
NSO: What decided you -- we'll just jump around. What decided you to move to Pleasant Hill?
PRO:  We took a course. Ben Sweetland had a course. He was a radio psychologist. And it was one of these motivational courses, you know. He would -- he said if you -- "Whatever you want, you can have. Just remember this." And he said, "It's as true as the day is long." He says, "There's no limitation on anything in this world of what you can have. Neither time, nor space, nor money. If you want a million dollars and you want it in the next five minutes, you can have it. That sounds ridiculous to you, but it's not." He said, "The only limitations, you put them on you yourself." And so he said, for instance, "Supposing you wanted a nice big house on the highest hill in town; the biggest home on the highest hill. You could get it." "But," he says, "it's an absolute wrong goal. Somebody will come along and see that, and you'll see them place it just a little bit higher somewhere. They'll build one a little bit taller. Now you've got the second highest house, and the second rated. You're in the second -- you're gone. Your reasoning was wrong to begin with."
"Now," he says, "if you want a nice home in the country where you could raise your children with lots of fresh air, and so on, things like that, you move out there, you've got it. And you've always got it. That's --" he said, and he talked and talked and talked. And he said, "Take a pencil and paper, and write down exactly everything you want. And in six months' time, you'll have it."
So I did. I was working at Marchant for twelve or thirteen years. I wanted to be in selling. Tried to get them to give me a job in selling, and they wouldn't do it.
NSO: At Marchant?
PRO:  Yeah. And so this house came up for sale out here, and it was way more than I could afford. I believed him -- if you want it you'll get it. You can afford it. You will afford anything you want. So we bought the house. Bought new clothes. I wanted better clothes, nicer clothes to wear. And a different car -- I don't think I bought a new car right away, although I did start buying new cars not long after that.
Anyway, we moved out here for the right reasons, and it worked out fine.
NSO: How did you afford it at that point? What happened that made it so you could make the move?
PRO:  Well, it happened just the way he said it would. I said, I'm going to move out there, and then I'll find a job out there, and get the hell out of this city. "Oh, Oram, they'll have to burn this place down to get you out of here. When they close this place down you'll be the one that puts the lock on the gate and shuts it." And I said, "Oh, no it ain't." So I moved out here, and I thought, I'll take any kind of job I can get. I don't care if it's garbage man. I'll take any job. I even took the mail job for awhile because as a mailman I'll see something better or something. And then the insurance thing came along --
NSO: That was with Prudential.
PRO:  Yeah, and I told you about this kid that said -- he hung around all time, and everybody used to razz the hell out of him. He said, "Boy," he said, "Who's your friend, who's your friend," because nobody would talk to him. He was kind of a dummy. And we were talking one day, and I said I could get a job at Prudential Insurance Company, but I don't have a high school diploma. He says, "Oh, I can tell you how you can get a high school diploma." I thought, "Oh, you dummy." But I thought -- I had always listened to the idea -- and Sweetland had taught that idea, that the dumbest guy in the world knows something you don't know. And if you listen to him you'll learn something. So I come home, and he said -- he couldn't convince me. So he said, "Just a minute." He went over to the phone booth. It was right beside my desk where it was there. Pretty soon he called me, and he said, "Come here and talk to my brother." I talked to his brother. And his brother says, "I understand you want to get a high school diploma." I said, "Yeah." And you know, it sounded like you might as well say I wished I was president of the United States, you know. He said, "Well," he says, he gave me a name and an address in Berkeley. He says, "You go there and you talk to them about the GED test. If you can take those tests and you can pass them, you'll get a diploma."
NSO: And they still call them GED.
PRO:  General Education and Development, yep. And so that's how I got my diploma. And once I had taken the test and passed it, Prudential hired me knowing that I would have it, and they didn't have to see it, or see the graduation or anything. In fact I was hired before I graduated. I graduated by -- Bonnie and Pat, was going to have them come and say, "That's my dad," when I come off the stage. Get a class ring, and all that stuff.
NSO: Did you actually go to a graduation thing?
PRO:  No, I didn't.
NSO: Send it in the mail, right?
PRO:  They sent it to me, and I didn't bother to get a class ring either. But he told us -- Sweetland told us about -- he taught this course back east for years. And he had a minister, told him, he said, "Well, I want a million dollars within the near future so I can start a school to help a certain type of school," you know [unintelligible]. And Sweetland said, "Yeah, you can have it. Just decide you're going to do it and you'll do it." So the guy next Sunday preached a sermon on that very subject, and said what he thought he wanted to do, and why he wanted to do it. And the steel magnate, Carnegie, was in his audience, and came out after and wrote him out a check for a million dollars and handed it to him. Within a week he had a million dollars, and he started up the school, and he started doing all these good works.
He said there's no time -- only the time that you -- if you say, "Oh, well, it's impossible. Maybe in six months I could." Then you're not going to do anything for six months. But if you say, "I can do it, and I can do it in the next week if I want to," and set out to do it -- he fell short of saying the Lord would see that you did. He never did --
Did you ever hear him say anything like -- did Ben Sweetland say that the Lord caused all this to happen or anything? I don't think he was very religious. I don't think he ever attributed it to the Lord, unless he did it offhandedly, but he wasn't --
DRO: During that time -- there's more reference to God and Heavenly Father and the Lord now than there was during that time.
NSO: Yeah, it was kind of buried.
DRO: If he felt that way I don't remember that he mentioned it in any of his talks.
NSO: Did you go to his talk, or -- it wasn't a radio thing or --
PRO:  I paid -- I paid him --
DRO: We went to the conference.
NSO: You both went?
DRO: It cost ten dollars for the course.
PRO:  How much?
DRO: Ten dollars each.
PRO:  I thought it was more than that.
NSO: And you both went. That's great.
DRO: We both went. Yeah.
I just thought of one of your girlfriend's name. May.
PRO:  That's who this was. May.
NSO: Not Blanche?
PRO:  Not Blanche.
NSO: May, not Blanche.
PRO:  Yeah, it was May. I couldn't remember that name. I kept thinking it was something else, and I said, no, it's just a common name, Blanche.
NSO: So May was the buddy.
PRO:  I remember the first hand gun I ever had was -- May's mother had said, "I want to show you something," and she took me in and pulled the pillow up over her son's bed, and there was this .22 pistol laying there. She said, "I don't want that in my house. I want it out of here. Will you take it and get rid of it?" I said, "All right." You know, I was always willing to do a favor for anybody. So I took it. I took it down in the basement at Aunt Phil's house there, and I touched that trigger and that thing shot six times, and it was pointing up by the time it finished.
NSO: Oh, my gosh.
PRO:  I mean, it was a dangerous weapon, that little .22 automatic. You just -- you got to learn how to just touch it and get your finger off of it and it will quit. But if you just lay your finger on there it will be empty before you can -- and by the time you get your finger off of there it's all empty. So when I saw what kind of thing it was, I -- I don't remember now what I did with that .22. I don't know what I did with that. But I got rid of it.
You don't remember me having it, I don't suppose?
PRO:  Because that was --
DRO: I remember it, but I don't know how you got rid of it. It scared me.
PAUL:Now that thing [tape recorder] is going to hear crunching in that.
PRO:  Hey, you hungry? Good boy, get something to eat. [Singing] Eat when you're hungry and drink when you're dry, and if the Lord's willing you'll live till you die.
NSO: So, back to moving out here. How did you choose here, this direction?
PRO:  Well, I bought the property across the street.
NSO: Okay, so go back to how you came to buy that.
PRO:  Dr. Ranker.
NSO: And he was in your ward?
PRO:  He was the stake president.
NSO: So you had some money to buy property.
PRO:  We were building this Overlook Drive chapel.
PRO:  And me and Merve were working on it --
NSO: Well, wait, wait, wait. I have a question, then. Because you were building it when I was three years old, and I was born before you moved out here. So that would be a long time to be building a chapel.
PRO:  I don't know what you're talking about.
NSO: Well, how long did it take to build the chapel?
PRO:  Oh, I don't know.
NSO: It didn't take four or five years?
PRO:  A couple years, I guess.
NSO: Yeah. Maybe they were just kind of developing the land or something.
PRO:  No, no, no, no, no. When we were -- and this would be in 1951. Well, before March 17, 1951, sometime prior to that. Me and Merve were working on the chapel inside doing some electrical work, and Dr. Ranker was up on a ladder on the inside of that Overlook Drive place putting in the moldings all around the glasses and stuff. There was thousands of feet of stuff, there was so many long glasses up there, and molding work to be done, that he was putting them all in by sawing them, and putting them in, and nailing them.
NSO: I remember those, you pull them and they open, the louvers open up.
PRO:  Yeah. And me and Merve were talking, and I said, "I want to get a piece of property out in the countryside where we could raise our families, and I want it to be not right on a main drag, but just off of a main drag," and so on and so forth. And Dr. Ranker said, "Son," he said, "I've got just the property you're looking for." I said, "Yeah?" And he took me over here and he showed me this property. It was two acres, and it had the house on the right-hand side and the garage on the left-hand side of the sort of driveway that was going in there, dirt driveway. And -- off of Pleasant Hill Road. And I said, "Okay, I'll buy it."
And I talked Merve into taking the house -- no, the house we sold this young kid, and we moved the garage over there by it. And Merve took the front third of an acre on the right, and I took the whole piece of property on the left all the way going back. And then I developed it into those homes there. I got a real estate guy that gave me $1500 for the lot on the left-hand side, which more than paid for what I put into it. And moved a house in from down there that used to be Louis Stores, that house is still sitting there on the left side. And then we built one, two, three houses down there after that, and sold them. But that's how we got out here.
Oh, and then while we were doing that, I was going to build on that 2/3 of an acre left there on back on that side, and this place here opened up. These four houses on this street. The end of the street was right here where our -- just before our driveway. From then on it was all mud up the way. And so I bought into that. Bought that. And we moved in here when we didn't even have a driveway, you know. There was just mud out there.
NSO: I remember mom talking about the mud. And one time you told me about how it was the plan you wanted, but it was cheaper, that it was already built, than to have someone build it.
PRO:  I had drawn up some plans, and geez, they wanted like -- I don't know how much they wanted to build it.
DRO: Twenty-six thousand.
PRO:  Twenty-six thousand to build it.
NSO: And what did you pay for this?
PRO:  Seventeen-five, or something like that.
DRO: Twelve-five, plus closing costs.
NSO: I see.
DRO: And it was the same --
PRO:  Floor plan.
DRO: Same plans. Same plan. A little different.
PRO:  The funny thing was, I built this house, I said, I want to get enough property, and long enough and wide enough -- you know, the little lots in town would be 25 feet. This is 100 feet by 100 feet almost. And if you need more room, you just spread out and build on and you don't have to go upstairs or anything. And I ended up building that place upstairs. But like they say, "Well- made plans of men and what? The well-made plans of men and something --
DRO: Mice and men.
NSO: Mice and men.
PRO:  Mice and men have aft have gone a-glay. It means in Scotch went astray. Gone a-glay. Have aft have gone a-glay.
NSO: Well, when something turns out so well, it's interesting to hear how it all started.
PRO:  Yeah, it's amazing how much affect people have on you, like Ben Sweetland. I've often thought why that man, I wonder how many people have lived much better lives because of him. Because he just told me you can do it, and do it.
He went and took us to a dance when we completed the course, he went to a dance, and we all danced at the ballroom in Oakland there.
What was it? The ballroom where we went to the dance when Ben Sweetland closed the course?
DRO: Oh, yeah, Sweet's Ballroom. It just happened to be Sweet's, but he liked -- well it was the only ballroom in Oakland at that time, and he took us all. He loved to dance.
PRO:  Yeah, he was a fine man.
NSO: Was he like a local person, or --
PRO:  Well, he lived here.
DRO: San Francisco radio. He was on radio in San Francisco.
NSO: I bet you could put him on the Internet and find out some stuff, you know, have it come up, and --
PRO:  Dr. Ranker, Emery Ranker was his name. We looked down there, and looked at the property, and I stood on it, and I said, "I'll take it." He said, "Okay." And I handed him six or seven hundred dollars, I think it's all I had that I had borrowed from Grandma. And he went over and gave it to the girl in Martinez at the -- he took it over there. He gave it to her, and the papers. And she said, "Well, Mr. Oram." He said, "My name is not Oram. My name is Ranker, Dr. Emery Ranker." Oh, she said, "You're the one that's going to get the money when it comes out of the escrow." And he said, "That's right." And she said, "Well, how come you're putting it in escrow?" He said, "Mr. Oram gave it to me. We shook hands on the property, and that's -- " She couldn't believe anybody would hand over $700 on just a handshake and an agreement, gentleman's agreement, to do it, and then do the paperwork afterwards. She couldn't believe that. She never had had that happen, and it just couldn't hardly be true. And anyway, that's the way it was done, and that's the way it worked out. Those were the days when you could trust somebody. Nowadays, if it got into escrow it would be half the amount. It would be $350 by the time it got to escrow.
But I never regretted buying this place. And paid a mortgage on it 25 years -- Well, I think it was about six months before the 25 years were up. I just paid the rest of it, because I didn't -- the interest rates were so low, and everything, it was foolish to pay it off early.
NSO: Was it that long, Dad, because I thought you paid it off when I was in high school?
PRO:  Well, I'll tell you when I paid it off.
PRO:  I had 25 years from '51, that's '76 --
PRO:  And it was just before that.
NSO: Some other big event happened when I was in high school that I relate to paying this house off, and so I was telling myself it must have been a 15-year loan, you know. But it was a 25-year --
[End of tape.]
PRO:  . . .Magleby's Mortuary sitting on these 14-by-16 redwood planks, 20 feet long. They were all used -- the government just took and build barracks up there. That was the foundation they just set them on -- on blocks. Well, we got all those and helped build this, and when we got through with that we were building the cannery out in El Cerrito, and we took them out there to use a lot of them and helped build that big cannery. I mean, we had a lot of material from that. I think we took down two or three barracks. Anyway, we got them --
NSO: And that was Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg?
PRO:  Yeah. And then I got that truck, and there was supposed to be a crew of four or five guys helping me put the big planks, those timbers on the truck, and we were going to move them over to help build the Claremont Ward. Well, I was out there, and I was lifting the end of a plank, and I'd put it on the end of the truck, and I'd go back and lift the other end up, and shove it down and fall onto the truck. And Dr. Ranker, I saw him watching me. And I thought, well, geez, I wish he'd quit watching and come and help. And he said, "Hey, that's quite a job, isn't it?" And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Where's your help?" And I said, "Well, they're supposed to be here, but they're not here." He said, "You mind if I show you an easier way to put those on there?" And I said, "Anything that's easier than this would be better for me."
He said, "Well," he said, "When I was working my way through surgery school up in Oregon, I worked in the lumber camps to make fees." And he went over and he got a horse like they use to put up sheetrock. Not just a little horse like this, but it was a horse about that high. He set it beside there, and took the stakes off the side, set it beside there. He lifted one end up and set it on that horse, pushed down on it, and the other end came around, and he set it on there and he flipped it on.
PRO:  Geez, I loaded the rest of those on up and hauled them on over and dumped them off. It was easy to get them off over at the Claremont Ward site. So that's how I met Dr. Ranker. But Dr. Ranker was putting the molding in the Overlook Chapel when he told me about the property out here and I come out here and bought it.
DAVID: We're going to play baseball outside.
NSO: Okay, I'm going to put you on the spot, now. Pretend that every one of your grandkids and great grandkids were in one room --
PAUL:Grandkids; we're your grandkids.
NSO: As well as your dad, and your mom, and all those that have passed on, and what would you say to them?
PRO:  Well, that's such a mixture, that --
NSO: Just start anywhere, whatever comes to mind.
PRO:  It would be hard to say anything to them, because I've got grandchildren that are smarter than I am, and I've got adults that are dumber than I ever was. And to try to give any advice or anything like that would be impossible.
But the only thing that I could tell them is that the gospel is true. There's principles established on this earth before it was ever made, before it was ever formed by Jesus Christ, and those principles are true. And you might as well go out here and shovel crap into a tide and it will come right back in your face, as to try to go against those principles. On the other hand, if you go with them, you can succeed -- like Ben Sweetland said, you can succeed no matter what comes along, you'll over come it. Any obstacle will be overcome and you'll succeed.
But other than that, that's all I can say. That, I know is true. And I recognized it from not only the fact -- I never heard about the gospel until I met Dorothy, but -- and she didn't -- didn't just say -- argue I should join the church. If she had of, I'd have said, "Oh, yeah?" But I set out to prove it was wrong. I said, "Any damn fool could prove that that's wrong, that no angel appeared to a man, and all this happened." But after you investigate it carefully and thoroughly, you'll see that it's the only thing that could have happened, is what did happen. It's impossible for it to just have been thought up and dreamed up and lied about. So that's all I could say. But --
See, you included in that room talking to people that -- well, like my mother, that when she had me she didn't -- she didn't belong to the church. She was what they called a Bible -- American Bible Society follower, and turned out to be Jehovah's Witnesses later, and stuff like that. But all kinds of people that didn't believe in the church.
NSO: Well, I think about -- the reason I asked you that was to get your testimony on tape. But you're such a bridge. I mean, of all the people in your family, you were the one that found the church, and have brought it to your ancestors. And then also I have to see where you have such influence on my kids and all the other grandchildren and great grandchildren, that you're really the bridge between all that, and that's a great responsibility, to bring the gospel to a lot of people.
PRO:  Yeah, you're walking the bridge of truth and that's a solid bridge. There's no loose planks in a bridge of truth. The truth is all not constant, it varies. It does not vary. It does not vary at all. The truth is the truth, and it's always the truth. It's just our concept of it varies.
I've often used the expression, if you're sitting leaning against a hill talking to a friend, and leaning up against a hill, and the hill moved and shook you and pushed you, you would say, "Geez, somebody on the other side of the hill has just shoved this hill." And you would say, "That's right, they must have." Well, that would be the truth as far as you knew it. But it isn't true. And you could say,"Well, what caused it was that there was an earthquake and shook it." That could have been true. Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't. There's so many ways to look at it that it could have been. If somebody came along, a big giant, and stepped on top of the hill, and caused the sides to bulge out and that's what pushed it. Well, you could think of a lot of different things. That's concepts, but that's not truth. You find out later on, that the gosh damn bear was in a cave coming in from a different side, and he rolled over and bumped the side, and that's what shook you a little bit, and that that's what happened. Then that would be true. But every one of those concepts might or might not have been the truth.
Truth is not changing. It's something -- if a certain thing is true, it's true. And that's what I found out about the church, is those principles are true. I used to say -- Ron Talbott said, when I'd start up, he'd say, "Oh-oh, here it comes. Lesson No. 26: 'As sure as the sun comes up in the morning and goes down in the evening these principles are true.'" And they were. They're still true. After all this time they're still true. And I don't take any credit for it at all.
It's like I was telling this couple here the other day -- not Benson's -- not -- the gal that likes my carvings. Jenson's, not Benson's. I said to her, I said, "I can read pages, and I'm one of the fastest readers you ever saw. I can read pages I haven't even turned yet." And she said -- she got off on something else, and finally she said, "All right. What do you mean you can read pages you haven't even turned yet?" I said, "I can, and I can prove that you can. And it's nothing -- I'm not -- nothing unusual about it at all. Anybody that reads a lot it would happen to, and has happened to, and I can convince you of that." And she said, "Well, what do you mean?" And I said, "Well," I said, "Writing is a very poor medium of communication. A picture is a better one. You don't even have to say a lot of words, just look at the picture and say, 'there it is, that's what happened.'" "But," I said, "a writer sits down, and -- if you were going to sit down and write to your brother today, you'd say, 'Dear John, I saw Mary the other day, and she was -- ' and in a few instances you can think of a whole bunch of things to tell him. But how long will it take you to write it out and put it on paper? And so then if you write a book, and somebody sits down to read it, how long are they going to struggle with the words on that book to try to figure out what you're trying to tell them? And then don't you ever find yourself saying, 'Oh, I get the idea.' And you think ahead, and you say, 'Sure,' and then you turn the page, and 'yeah, that's what they're saying.'"
And she said, "Oh, that happens to Dave all the time," she said, "he does that." I said, "See, I told you, there's nothing unusual about it. It's just a common principle, and it will happen to anybody that reads a lot. You call yourself a fast reader, well, it's not that, you just -- you've got an adept mind that grabs the thought."
Then, of course, when you run away from home when you're 12 years old, you better get an adept mind or you ain't going to eat at night. You're going to get pretty damn cold when it's snowing.
NSO: Also called street smarts, huh?
PRO:  Yeah. The homeless.
NSO: Well, you sure have a home now.
PRO:  Yeah, and we've shared it with people -- I was thinking of somebody we shared it with -- oh, Pop. When we lived there on Fremont Street, not only did the Bytheways come and live with us upstairs, and stuff, and different ones we shared a home with, but we built in downstairs for those -- to rent it out, and then Pop and Grandma moved in there for awhile. We sold her house for her, then she moved on up to Gertrude and Jack's when Pop -- when Pop got sick, he took sick up there, and they put him in bed there, and he died there at their place. But that was -- we shared --
NSO: It started as soon as you had a house to share, and it hasn't stopped. That's quite a legacy. Kind of a theme.
PRO:  Well, I dreamt one time that the only thing you'll get out of life is what you give away. [In the dream] Bishop Criddle come to me, and he said, "Oh, Brother Oram," he said, "We've got this couple in the ward that needs something badly, and wonder if you could help us. Have you got any food that you can give us to take to them?" And so I went out to the garage. And I had the canned goods out there, a lot of it. I took a couple cans of peaches, and a couple cans of string beans, and a couple cans of corn, and a couple cans of something else, and put them in the bag, and handed it to him. And he said, "Oh, that's so nice. Thank you so much." And he left. Pretty soon he came back and he said, "I hate to bother you again, but," he said, "we've still got a problem," and he said, "if you just knew these people, I know you'd just -- your heart would go out to them, and you'd just--" And I said, "Okay. Okay." So I went out and I got one can of this, and one can of that, and one can of this, and one thing and another, and I gave it to him and said, "There you go." He left. And he came back again. Third time. And I thought, geez this guy. I'm not ever going to get rid of him. So I went out, and I had an old can of Dinty's Beef Stew that we had out there, and it got dented, and we just -- it didn't look good, and we didn't ever open it up and eat it. I took that, and put it in the bag and handed it to him and said, "Here." That's all we can afford to give them now. So he took it and he went away. Well then in my dream, I dreamed that me and Dorothy were the ones they were gathering this up for, and when we got to the spot where we needed everything, they handed it to us, and here was this can of Dinty's Beef Stew. That's when I realized, it's what you share and give away that you get back, and you better make it generous.
But the Lord doesn't -- he doesn't put any limitations on. He gives us every damn thing you get.
NSO: That's the concept of tithing.
PRO:  Yeah, you only give him back ten percent.
NSO: People think they're giving ten percent, and they're not even giving ten percent. They're, you know, getting everything.
PRO:  Like the guy says, I get my check and I cash it, and get the money, and I throw it up and I say, "Lord you keep what yours, and I'll take what comes down." And he gets it all. Or write out a check for tithing, and don't mail it.
I should talk, I used to get to the end of the year and come up with what one of the Apostles said was trying to get one tenth out of one-twelfth. You figure out how you can do that. You wait until the end of the year to pay your tithing, and all you've got around is but one-twelfth, the last month's wages of the year. You want to get one-tenth of the whole year out of that and pay it. You can't do it. There's no way. And yet it's so easy when you pay it just as soon as you get it, you pay it, it's really not that hard.
NSO: Well, somehow you got that across to me, because there's no where else I learned it, and I've always done it first or it wasn't going to get done.
PRO:  All you kids do. Yeah, and I always felt good about that, because although I slipped up a lot of times -- in fact, I caught myself just crying when I come to the realization, when it come tax time or whatever, that I hadn't really paid a full tithing. And I felt so bad, that I guess I was saying do what I tell you, and don't do what I do. But I'm not a complete hypocrite. I mean, I'm hypocritical like everybody, but I'll admit I'm a hypocrite when I am.
NSO: Well, nobody's perfect, and we're here to correct and do better and go on.
PRO:  Yeah, and that's the beautiful part of it, you can see your children and grandchildren -- that's what I was saying awhile ago when you put all of us in that room, the children and I've got grandchildren -- I've got great grandchildren that are doing far better than I'd ever do. And I've got grandchildren that are goofing up. And then I've got grandchildren that goofed up and have come back and are doing good now.
But you know who I worry a little about right now, [unintelligible]. But he's losing so much by not accepting the principles. The only one that's losing is him, not the church or anything else. He's losing.
NSO: It's interesting that you're coming from a perspective of not having any of that, at almost the same age, you know, and finding it. And then we've got kids that had it all their lives and they're not valuing it.
PRO:  Yeah. They say familiarity breeds contempt. You don't -- you've got to lose it before you appreciate it, really appreciate it.
There's one thing I did learn and done me in good stead all my life is like two and two is four. It's just four all the time. It's not something else. It's four. If you want to eat, you better go where there's some food and where there's people who will give you the food. If you want warmth, you better get to a fire and stay as close to it as you can get. It's just -- that's the way life is, and you can't get away from it. There's no way to get around it.
I can remember wrapping up in cardboard boxes, climbing up high up under a bridge, you know, get up there where it's close, the cement's close, and the ground's close, and that so the wind can't catch you, and get warm, and getting down by the --
You know, in the countryside these elevators where they take all the grain and store stuff. They have to have conveyor belts to keep moving the wheat and stuff so they won't combust and cause a fire. And blowers blowing the air through the -- aerating the wheat, you know. You get down by the vents where the blowers come out, and it's warm because it's dissipating heat out of there to get it out of the wheat. You get down there by those when it's snowing and it's cold, and you get up close to there and keep your hands all bundled up and everything, and you can breathe -- I notice then, too, that the screen that's on there, it's a wire that's so big around, criss-crossed there, the soy beans that they have in there that they're doing it, the powder from them sticks on that from the moisture, and the warm air heats the cold air and it forms a crust on there. And I pulled that off and ate it, and oh I'd have a delicious --
NSO: Probably the most nourishing thing you ever had.
PRO:  Yeah, soy beans. Soy bean powder.
NSO: Yeah, they -- that's what protein powder is.
PRO:  Yeah, I was just eating pure protein powder. That was long before --
DRO: It might have been the thing that kept him alive right then.
PRO:  That was long, long before what's his name, the soy bean guy that got his picture on a stamp, Booker T. Washington. Before he ever discovered the value of the soy bean to humans. They always knew it was good for cows and horses and --
NSO: Oh, it's in all the health --
PRO:  There you go. See, there's a guy, I don't know, he might have been a graduate of a big college, but I doubt it. Supposedly ignorant black guy, and he studied out something and gave to the public a lot of good information about the subject. Many a white guy that pissed away his time in college and drank and chased girls and did nothing, and here's this guy that comes along and accomplishes so much. That's what Sweetland had to say in his messages, was that the potential of any human being is -- you never, never can use ten percent of it. You could work the most efficient possible ways, and you'd never get more than -- accomplish more than ten percent of what you possibly could have accomplished.
Well, I'm going to have to take a pain pill pretty soon.
NSO: Well, and I'm sure this is towards the end, and your voice is going to give out.
[End of tape.]
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