The Life Story Outline for Eli Kelsey Ferguson & Mary Helen Creer
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
The Life Story Outline for
Eli Kelsey Ferguson & Mary Helen Creer
(and their family of five children)
Pieced together in 1991 by their daughter, Helen FERGUSON McEuen
The story of ELI KELSEY FERGUSON begins on 16 July 1883 when he was born in Lake Shore, Utah. He was the 5th child of 12 children born to his Parents Eli Brezee Kelsey Ferguson and his mother, Christina Orick. There were 5 sisters and 7 boys. Their names & birthdates are:
1. ANDREW FERGUSON 1 Jan 1875 7. Robert Archibald F. 2 Sep 1887
2. John Angus (Jack) F. 15 Aug 1876 8. Christina Orick F. 11 Apr 1891
3. Betsey Hislop F. 16 Sep 1878 9.(twin daughter) died
4. Catherine Douglas F. 13 Sep 1880 10. Wilford Arthur F. 7 Feb 1894
5. Eli Kelsey F. 16 Jul 1883 11. Agnes Blanche F. 24 Sep 1895
6. William Watson F. 28 Jul 1885 12. Bruce Darrel 31 Jan 1898
Mary Helen Creer and I were born and raised down the same country lane in Lake Shore, Utah. Our families were longtime friends. My formal schooling ended after the 8th grade. This was pretty normal in those days.
CHILDHOOD MEMORIES for Mell were: Her parents brought her home shoes from town (in a buggy) and she wore those pointed toed, high buttoned, no-fit things. She had corns, bunions, and sore feet until the 1940's when they started X-raying feet to fit them properly. She went to a foot Doctor and finally got her feet remedied. Therefore, she was very picky about the fit of her own children's feet. We used to spend hours in Mrs. Orrin Lewis's shoe store in Spanish Fork getting just the right fit. Her kids never had the foot problems she endured.
Mell's Dad (Edward "Ted" Creer) had a Lake Shore farm, a Mapleton farm and a home in Spanish Fork proper. He gave us part of his town lot to build a home on in Spanish Fork. It was a nice purple brick & stucco home with a full basement. It was finished just after Helen was born in 1922. Our family, consisting of Reed Creer, Gordon Angus, E.K., Helen and Jean grew up there. Mell took china painting lessons, music, etc. She sewed well, crocheted a lot, embroidered, tatted, but didn't like the feel of wool, so she didn't knit. She was very orderly, practical, & put together a comfortable, clean home for her family. She believed in owning 1 fine article, instead of a lot of junky things. Things lasted a long time for her, because she stressed taking care of everything. Her motto was "When it's the best you have, you respect it."
In the early years of marriage, we lived many places. We were married in Pocatello, Idaho. We lived in Bancroft, Idaho where our 3 little boys were born; in Soda Springs, where Mell's brother, Reed, lived; in Kemmer, Wyoming, where J.C. Penney got his start; and in Missoula, Montana. I worked in Tacoma, Washington during World War I. While there the Mormon missionaries were at our home a lot, and our little boys would really show-off for them when they'd come to eat or visit. Mell and I did get married in the Logan Temple as soon as we could get down from Idaho to Utah. Mell was pregnant with Reed by then. We'd been married over a year.
While working in the Todd Shipyards during WWII learned to be a steam fitter, read blueprints, etc. This provided me with the basic "Know How" for my future career in Construction.
Mell told of riding the train with the little boys to join me in Tacoma. She had bought them new coveralls, and by the time they arrived, they had worn holes in the knees crawling up & down over the seats. They were also black from the windows being open, and the coal fuel smoke coming in on them.
After that there was work on sugar beet factories in Burley, Idaho, Scipio, Utah, etc doing plumbing, etc. I took my tools in a knapsack over my shoulder, and walked however far to work and back. I tried to be diligent, and honest and my handshake was my word.
MEMORIES OF CHILDREN GROWING UP IN UTAH were that we lived in a "little" brown house in Spanish Fork while building our home. It was "kitty-cornered" from Grandpa Creer's home. The children all went to the Thurber School on Main Street, then on to the Central School for their middle years, until the new Junior High was built. Helen was the first child to go to that school. Then on to Spanish Fork High. I did feel good about living where we had so many relatives.
At first, I worked awhile for Horace Feredy, another plumber, until I could go into business for myself. I had a plumbing and heating store on Main Street, and remember having green, pink, and even black bath fixtures displayed in the windows. Even put together a float for a parade once with the latest in bathroom fixtures, etc.
As the boys grew older, we did the plumbing work on a new high school gym where they had gone to school. Both Reed and Gordon were student body presidents of Spanish Fork High. Both also played basketball, ran track, etc. K. was not that well during his high school years, he was getting over having a serious case of spinal meningitis. Gordon wound up marrying his high school typing teacher, Jennie Jones. This was after he'd gone up to the University of Utah, like Reed. They both lived in apartments in a big house up the street from our home which was at 157 West 3rd North. It was up near the Root Beer stand. About this time we did big waterline jobs in Price, Utah (Gordon), and St. George (Reed and K). While in St. George, Rowena, Reed's wife, lost a baby prematurely. They named him Phillip Scott. A few years later she was diagnosed as having diabetes.
My birthday and Jean's were the same day---July 16---so we always made that time our "special-family-vacation-event-times". Usually we went to Salt Air, Lagoon, plus saw the 24th of July Pioneer Days rodeos, parades, in Salt Lake & Ogden. We'd stay in a hotel during those days, and then go to vaudeville shows at the Orpheum, etc. We ate at an automat type restaurant in Salt Lake a lot. It was unusual in that food went by on a conveyor belt (in a long glass case), and we'd reach into a glass door grab a pie, sandwich, salad, or whatever we wanted. The kids loved it! It was fun! I loved to eat, and I always knew in each town where the best buckwheat hotcakes, ice cream, dinners, etc could be found. My kids would wait till I ordered, and order the same thing. If they ordered something that didn't look as good as mine, they'd ask if I'd switch. I usually did. Being I was in restaurants and hotels all week, I grew to hate green beans. They were on every plate that was served in those days. My family also enjoyed going to the Blackhawk Encampments in Utah.
Being in hotel lobbies a lot, I became an expert on "people watching". One day I'd notice only noses, next day ears, next day bow legs, etc. It took away the monotony of being away from home so much. I was like Will Rogers (whom I loved as a political comic) in that I “never met a person I didn't like".
I also felt the Lord blessed me in the fact that I could pay taxes. That meant I wasn't on the breadlines. I also firmly believed men should make a living wage. I never fought Social Security, old age benefits, and minimum wages, etc as an employer. I knew it was good for everyone and the whole USA.
When I was at home, I always liked to help in the kitchen. Food fixed at home was a treat after all the restaurants. I always made the gravy, and had lots of variations on it, one that included tomato juice that made it very tasty. I helped peel potatoes, apples for salads, etc. And when Helen was getting ready to get married in 1942, I paid her to make special dishes for me, like rice puddings, etc. (It was really to help her learn more about food preparation, although she'd had it in school)
Through the years I owned lots of cars, trucks, large & small, but I never owned one with air conditioning. Mell always said "Fords will get us any¬place but in Society", so we owned a lot of Fords. Bishop Smith who I served with in the Bishopric in Spanish Fork 3rd Ward was the Ford dealer. We had a deal that for X amount of $$$'s a year, he would keep us in a new passenger car, so we got a new car every year. I put lots of mileage on them going from job to job, where the boys were working, each and every week. The boys did buy their own passenger cars. K liked Oldsmobiles, Gordon got a Packard, and Reed went with Fords, and later Pontiacs & finally Lincolns. We were also waiting for TV to be "perfected," so therefore, we didn't own one. I did listen to lots of radio, especially the Oakland Oaks when Casey Stegel was their manager. I had a season box seat after we moved to the Bay area.
I enjoyed cowboy movies a lot, also. That's what was on Saturday nights when I'd get home. There was Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tom Mix, Gene Autrey, etc that we saw a lot in "serials" that ran each week. They always ended with a "cliff hanger" so you just had to go the next week to see how they made it out of their predicament.
I loved baseball and played a lot. I was eventually on a championship team that traveled to the Midwest (Missouri- Iowa) for the playoffs. I did eventually break my elbow of my right arm, and had to have a country doctor set it. It turned out to be a bum job, so I did not have full motion of my right arm the rest of my life. I had about 50% movement in the middle of the normal extensions. I had to bend my head forward to eat, or scratch my head, etc. I still accomplished anything I had to do in my life, however. My active baseball days were over.
I was spiritually minded most of my life, but did some backsliding in my early years in Idaho. I liked to play cards. My wife, Mell didn't like me to do this, so one night when I brought home my winnings, she went to our upstairs apartment window (Bancroft Idaho, on Main Street) and threw all the money out onto the street. That shocked me enough to never play cards again ---and after that, I was very much against cards. I never allowed my kids to play cards when I was around. I knew from first-hand experience it was Satan’s Workshop.
I was a Democrat and thought Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were great Presidents. My boys "teased" me about FDR being the "Great White Father", but he did put the U.S. back on its feet after the big crash, and depression. The civic improvement projects of sewer lines, water lines, PWA projects kept me and my boys so busy, we hardly knew there were 'bad times'. I always maintain the Lord blessed us through those days. I did become Supt of the Spanish Fork Water Dept. at one point to help have more cash on hand as Reed and Gordon were married by then. I enjoyed overseeing the distribution of irrigation water all over the city. I had to check early and late on who had the water, where, and make sure the head-gates in the Canyon were set right. I also had to warn & cite people who took ditch water too long, wrong day, etc.
I went through all the Priesthood Ordinances, and served in the Palmyra Stake for years. I usually had a night light on my headboard, and read the scriptures before going to sleep. I gained a lot of gospel knowledge that way. We always knelt in family prayer around the breakfast table each morn. I believed with all my heart in God, and Jesus Christ, and I accepted many callings, and always enjoyed giving service. Mell said I had "too willing" a spirit. Helen was the only one of my children who was active in the Mormon Church after she reached adulthood. I would always ask my family to go to church with me, but they'd always say, "Oh Dad, you go and save us!". I would always answer that they had to "save themselves!" I couldn't do it for them. However, none of my family was ever against the church. I tried to live my religion very faithfully, & tried to encourage them to participate. I served as a Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Scoutmaster, in a Bishopric, and I was in charge of re-doing another denomination's church building into a Mormon Church. (In the year 1951, the last year of Dad's life, he donated 900 hours to this project.) We also converted an older home next door into a Junior Sunday School chapel. My boys came over and blacktopped the parking lot, etc. It was one of the first Mormon Churches to have velvet long cushioned pads for the pews. I always wanted to go on a Mission to Scotland, but never did.
Mell served in the Primary as President, loved working in the Mutual, and was a devoted Latter-day Saint. She lived her religion till the day she died. She was very fair-minded, and made certain our gifts to kids equal.
I was always pleased with the things we helped build. There were bridges for Highway 89 in Southern Utah near Bryce Canyon, schools and post offices, (1 P.O.in Cedar City, & 1 Post Office in Elko, Nevada, etc) Later we spent our time in utility lines, work in the California Parks, etc. We did work in Utah, Arizona, Texas, and California and loved moving to all those places. Found wonderful people everyplace we lived.
MEMORIES OF LIVING IN ARIZONA, TEXAS, etc. I always said they'd turned a ******* loose in Arizona, and wherever it wandered, they built the highways. About 1937 we got a big water line contract for Safford, Ariz. to go 35 miles up into the mountains to Bonita Creek for the water. By this time we had trenching machines, caterpillars, jack hammers, big trailers for hauling all this, etc. We also did gas lines in Pima, Thatcher more work, some work in Silver City New Mexico, etc.
While in Safford, Arizona, K and Helen both found their future spouses. The family all found fine friends, and had good times there. The people were very friendly, wholesome, and we all loved the small town ways, as well as its progressiveness. Safford's claim to fame was that Apostle Spencer W. Kimball was called to be a General Authority, and our kids enjoyed the Kimball kids, who were extremely bright, etc. Shining examples!
We also had a famous gold mine (the Powers Gold Mine, where the Powers Boys holed up to avoid the draft of WWI and were shot). During the "In between contracts" time in Safford, we went out there and put in ball mills, roads, etc, and had fun getting out some ore. It was a real Old West Adventure. We all fantasized about the luxuries we'd buy when the gold mine struck it rich. Mell wanted a 'sound-proof' room because my snoring was pretty bad by then.
Mell and the girls loved to shop in Phoenix, or El Paso while living in Safford. Helen would drive them over to El Paso, and they'd shop, then drive the 200 miles home after dark. Fords were not known for their headlights, so Helen would find a car or truck with bright lights, and she'd follow it and wing on home. In El Paso & Phoenix they had fine big up-to-the-minute department stores, etc.
K met and married Clarice Roach (Lehmann) while in Safford. Clarice's folks owned a big lumber yard, a medical building, the place where the PO was, and the Gila Valley Laundry, etc. In fact, they owned almost a solid commercial block of businesses and buildings. Clarice worked in the Valley National Bank. K learned to fly, and play golf while living there. They had a nice wedding over at the Roach's lovely home.
Helen had been going to Gila Jr. College after graduating from Safford High. Andy decided to go to the University of Arizona his first year, so they had a long distance courtship for awhile. She did go over to Tucson with his parents to see the long awaited movie, "Gone with the Wind." There were some college dances with big name bands (Benny Goodman, etc) that she managed to get to also.
Jean was busy doing her work for high school, etc. She had some nice friends. Jean was very shy, and enjoyed being the baby of the family.
The threat of war was getting stronger and stronger, and the U.S. was gearing up. At Helen's graduation they were told they'd be “cannon fodder” by the Commencement speaker. Mell was very upset about that, but it turned out to be very true. This was in 1940.
We got a big contract at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. All of us were excited about moving there. It was exciting to live in Texas, as everyplace you went they'd sing "The Eyes of Texas are Upon You"!!!!! and they were 1,000% loyal to being the biggest and the best!!!. Juarez, Mexico had beautiful night clubs with big floor shows, so we went over there a lot because the food was so cheap. It was an "experience" for us coming from small towns.
Jean was still in high school. She would wind up going to 4 states to high school, Arizona, Texas, Utah and California, where she graduated from Washington High in Los Angeles. Helen had been going to Gila Jr. College, so when we arrived in El Paso, she decided to enroll in the College of Mines there. It was then they discovered she had a heart murmur (damaged heart valves from a bout of rheumatic fever she'd had in the 6th grade. We didn't realize it had happened when she was having stiff knees, etc at the Central School). They would not let her register.
By the way, in El Paso we lived on Montana Street, right on the highway out to Carlsbad Caverns. We always said we were going over there, but the work was so rushed at Fort Bliss, that we never did make it. There was a lot of double time, and a time when we worked right "around the clock" to get boilers, etc ready for more soldiers, etc. Lots of money was made by working day and night. Felt patriotic to do so. With the extra overtime pay Reed and we both got new cars. Reed got a new Pontiac, and we got a new Olds. Fluid drive was just coming out (automatic shifting).
Met some fine people at Church in El Paso, and they really lived their Mormon religion to the highest degree. Many had lived in the Mormon Colony in Old Mexico, and were very devoted members. Helen met Joseph Chapman at Church dances there. He wound up marrying one of her best friends in Safford, Merna Layton, and turned out to be her Stake President in the Ventura California Stake. Andy was his Counselor in the Stake Presidency. Small world!!
As we were finishing up in El Paso, Mell and the girls moved back to Safford for a month or so. Helen was missing Andy, I guess. They lived in a little home in a court in back of the Graham County Court House. We then got a nice contract at Hill Field in Ogden, Utah so Mell, Helen and Jean took the new Olds and went out through California. It was a leisurely vacation move to Salt Lake City. They stayed in Los Angeles with my brother, Bruce, and his wife, Vera. (They had 1 child, Joy)
While there, Helen had a small wreck while trying to make a left hand turn. No left turn pockets in those days. They had to stay longer to get the car fixed at the Olds dealership in downtown LA.
They then went on up to San Francisco, and stayed in a several storied hotel. The car was piled high in the back seat with silverware, fur coat for Utah's cold weather, and Helen's new luggage she's earned by doing alterations in a "sweaty" cleaning shop in Safford (no air cooling) She'd sweltered thru the summer in that place. That night in San Fran¬cisco there was a big fire across the street from the hotel. This was in the middle of the night. The car was parked below their window on the street. It was broken into, and Helen's luggage with all her shoes, clothes, etc, were taken. The thieves missed 1 piece of her luggage, plus the silverware, fur coat, etc.
When they arrived in the colder Salt Lake, the girls needed new clothes for school. Mell decided they could share clothes. They were never allowed to do this before. After Reed and Rowena heard about the robbery, they sent extra money, thoughtfully, to help replace the stolen things. They got some special cashmere sweaters, etc for high school and college. Helen was able to pass the physical for the University of Utah, and Jean was at East High. Helen had to take "adaptive" P.E. Because of that bad experience of being robbed in San Francisco, they were totally in the latest styles, and fully coordinated that fall for school.
As to the wars during my lifetime, I was too old for World War I, and WWII, also. My boys, Reed and Gordon, and my son-in-law, Andy served. E K. could not register for the draft with only initials for a name, so he had to become Eli Kelsey, Jr. K had had rickets as a baby, spinal meningitis at 16, and tuberculosis while working in Arizona on the trenching machines, etc. He was not a really healthy child. He went to Calif. where Bruce's wife, Vera, arranged for him to have TB care for several months. He got better, and returned to Safford.
To do our part in the war effort, everyone worked long and hard hours. War was declared in Dec 1941 after Pearl Harbor. Helen heard President Roosevelt declare war at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah, and when his speech was over, most of the young men on campus walked off and enlisted, and never returned to campus.
I should state that Reed & Gordon served in the Philippines, Andy served in Europe, and K and I did lots of crucial defense work in the Bay area (mostly at Mare Island) while the war was going on. Helen and Jean worked in the offices for Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyards. They built big transport troop ships that were later made into cruise ships for the President Lines.
That winter in Salt Lake had been a very severe winter. Lots of snow, and it didn't thaw for about a month. It was difficult to get all the trucks, cars, etc in a safe place for the frigid nights. The walks at the U of U were like tunnels, the snow was piled so high, and icicles hung for months. Trucks had to have chains put on and taken off---a messy job. One bad night we were working to get trucks put away, and we got soaked to the neck being down in the snow. I got disgusted, and upon entering our home, I yelled, "Mell, you've always wanted to move to California, let's go!" The Hill Air Field job was completed for my part, so in 5 days we were in Los Angeles near Bruce's home, at Manchester and Western. It was Helen's birthday when we decided to leave, and it was Reed's birthday Mar 3 when we bought a home. It was a new development, so we bought the model home, unfurnished. I took Helen with me to the Bank of America at Vermont and Manchester, and we walked in and I paid $5,000 cash for that home. It was FHA with patio all landscaped, etc. Andy and Helen were to be married in May, a little over 2 months. Mell and Helen got busy and got that place carpeted, draped, our furniture out of storage, etc. while Jean was finishing up her high school year. We didn't live in that house very long because most of the defense work in LA was airplanes and air defense. The boys had gone to San Francisco and had gotten all kinds of work in our field. It was mushrooming up there. As soon as Jean graduated, we had Mell and Jean join us. Andy was working at Paramount Pictures, so he and Helen stayed in LA until he went into the Army in December of 1942.
About their wedding ... our Church met in a dull, older home in that area. Andy and Helen decided to be married in the unique "Scottish" "Wee Kirk 0 the Heather" in Forest Lawn, Glendale. Andy's Maywood Bishop married them. The reception was held at our new home. The whole family came, Clarice and Rowena. (Gordon and Jennie were divorced 3 years after they married.)
Lots of Ferguson relatives that lived all over the LA area came. So did Andy's folks, who lived in Norwalk by then, and a lot of his brothers and sisters lived in the area also. Many of Andy's friends from Paramount also came. A good time was had by all. One regrettable thing, though, in all the rush of getting settled, etc, we forgot to get a photographer for wedding pictures. Helen had made her own wedding dress as well. Just too much to do in too short a time! After the reception a lot of us went to Hollywood to some of the night clubs like Earl Carroll's and Florentine Gardens. We were all enjoying living out of the snow once more. We'd gotten used to no snow in Arizona and Texas. I was sorry it wasn't a temple wedding, but there were no temples in California. They'd talked about 1 in LA and 1 in the Bay area, but the war pushed such things aside. A few years later I did help select the site for the Oakland Temple as a Committee member. (Helen and Andy did marry in the LA Temple as soon as it was dedicated by President McKay.)
After the defense work and the war was over, we did many contracts for the State of California Parks System. We did work at Big Sur (Gordon), Richardson Grove (Reed), Donner Park (all of the boys), to name a few. Our working relationship had a good "mix". Reed was a graduate engineer, Phi Beta Kappa, so he took care of qualifying for California work. He was especially wise with money, and investing. Gordon was very good at selling and promoting our skills to cities, etc. in their utility areas, and K had outstanding "natural" ability as a mechanic. He could put anything together to perfection, and could design machines to do specific tasks. We were blessed with a well rounded team effort that lasted for about 55 years. The boys called me the "BOSS", and so I was always in charge. We did change our name from E.K. Ferguson & Sons to Ferguson Bros. With Reed getting our license in his name, this title was more advantageous. We did lots of work with Stolte, INC, a big construction firm, and also Monterrey Plumbing. This widened our contacts, etc.
In 1951 Dad died as a result of an auto accident. Reed had been seriously hurt at the asphalt batch plant we had in Truckee, Ca., and was in a body cast from under his arms to his knees (with a rod brace between his legs to hold his broken pelvis in place). Dad was going down to the train to pick Reed up in Oakland and get him to a hospital. The train had to remove a window to get him in and out. Just two blocks from Reed's house, (mother was there) a kid was rushing to school, and broadsided Dad in an inter¬section. His new car had those clear plastic seat covers, the passenger
door flew open, Dad slid across the seat, and out onto the street, hitting his head on the curb. (No seat belts in those days). Mother did hear the ambulance siren down the street, glanced out the window, but did not see Dad's car. Dad died at Highland Hospital before any of us could get down to help him. Dad had robust health for his age of 68 years. Reed, of course, did not make it to his funeral.
Dad's funeral was held in the church he'd worked so hard to re-do for the San Leandro Ward that past year. At that moment, Mother, Dad & Jean were living at Reed's house to help him after Rowena's death. Reed was not home very much. Rowena had died very young, 39 years, in a diabetic coma.
Mother's health had never been quite the same after Dr. Hughes in Spanish Fork did several major surgeries on her all-in-one operation. After Dad died, she decided to move into a lovely apartment where there weren't so many memories. Reed and Jean lived with her, and his home stood locked up. This apartment was on Mac Arthur Blvd where there was a woodsy look. She loved it there for her last year of life. During that last year she had dizzy spells, so was afraid to ride the busses, etc. It was discovered she had a massive heart block, and her heart was beating at 12 the normal rate. She had to use oxygen, etc for the 3 or 4 months she lived after she got out of the hospital. She died in August of 1953 at age 70.
I've never heard any of us say any unkind words about Mother or Dad. We all knew Dad was a totally good and kind person, and we all respected (and were proud of him) for his spiritual ways and living the gospel so completely. He was a very gentle and stable influence in all of our lives. The boys and their wives truly respected him for his high standards.
Mother was a lot of fun and was also very practical. She was a very keen household manager. She kept up with the latest music, jokes, and was lively to be around. In her later years she had not been able to be in church a lot, but she insisted on Priesthood blessings during her illness, and always responded well to them. She outlived Dad by only 21 months. They were buried on Mother's Dad's Pioneer Plot in the Spanish Fork Cemetery. Once deaths started in our family, they took a relentless toll, and our ranks were thinned in a hurry. We did not have long lifelines!! Even the in-laws died young, as well as 2 grandkids. In 6 years Reed lost his wife, Rowena, in 1948, Dad in 1951, Mother in 1953. This turned him into a complete workaholic! When Gordon died in 1959 and left a young son, Don, Reed made sure that this child had a chance for a good future by dividing the company, even after death, with Gordon. He didn't have to do that.
Gordon was my free-hearted brother, but he did have a fiery temper. He'd fire off, and 5 minutes later everything was "hunky-dory", He would promptly forget and forgive. His first marriage to Jennie Jones, his typing teacher, didn't last long. She was used to being single, and was more of a career person, not a homemaker. After 3 years of it, they parted as friends. Dad liked Jennie a lot, and she could get Dad to do anything for her. There were no children involved, so they didn't have that obstacle. Our family left the area and Jennie did go to Southern California where she met, and married, Harvy Weaver.
After our family settled in the Bay Area during the war, Gordon met Beth Locatelli. She ran a nice dress shop in the Hotel Alameda, where Gordon was living. Beth had been married before, and had a little girl named Beth. She and Gordon married, and when their boy was born they were living in Napa, CA. His name was Don Angus Ferguson. Beth and Gordon lived together 9 years, and they, too, got a friendly divorce. I know Gordon loved kids, and that he was a good Dad to his little boy. Gordon was a "free-spirit" and was difficult to live with, I imagine. Too many hotel rooms, etc made it hard for him to settle into normal home-life. He did love to cook, and did lots of it. Beth was a wonderful homemaker. Her homes were clean, well put together, and organized. She worked quite a bit both before her marriage, and afterward. There was not a lazy bone in her body. Gordon got malaria when he served in the Seabees in WWII, and had recurring bouts with it. He died at age 47 (1959) and left his little boy, Don, who was 82 yrs. Gordon had promoted our Sealite products to cities all over the West, and its use was specified in many cities utility work.
Kay's wife, Clarice Lehmann Roach was an only child from Safford Ariz. Her stepfather, Charley Roach, helped raise her and provided for her. Her real dad was from New York City, and she hardly knew him. Clarice was a good wife to Kay, and was a devoted mother to her 3 children. The Roaches were also very doting grandparents, and were very giving people. They even chartered private planes for Clarice to fly to Safford to visit them when the 3 were little.
My husband, Andy McEuen, was also from Safford, but he was from a big family of twelve children. His Dad was a rancher, and Andy spent lots of his leisure time out at the Diamond Bar ranch helping. Our family escaped death for many years, but once it started, it seemed like it just wouldn’t end.
K's oldest son, Kenny, was the next to pass away. He was in Vietnam and was killed on July 4, 1967 at 23 years of age. That was a terrible blow for K and Clarice to face. Clarice only lived a few years after that. She died at age 55 of stomach cancer in 1971. The Doctors told her she only had about 3 months to live, so she hired a friend of hers from Safford, a decorator, to re-do their home so that it would be nice for K and her remaining 2 children. She lived almost to the day the Doctors had predict¬ed. She had alot of courage through all that. We had a few years rest, but then in 1982 K was in the hospital and was expected to go home the next day. During the night he started bleeding internally, and died very unexpectedly. Reed was in Florida at our Sealite Plant, and we couldn't locate him to give him the word. We finally had to get the Highway Patrol to get the message through. He had stayed in a different motel that trip. Reed was stunned. Two years later, K's youngest son, Bob, died unexpectedly of a severe seizure of some kind. He was only 34 years old. He left 2 little boys. In 1985 Reed had been over to the San Leandro plant (Saturday) and had done some welding, etc. Later on that eve around 9:30 he had a terrible pain just behind one of his ears. Jean rushed him to the Emergency Room, but after walking in, they put him in a wheel chair, and wheeled him away. Before the Doctors could attend him, he died. This was July 6, 1985.
Because K's Kenny had been buried in the Veteran's Cemetery in South San Francisco, K decided he and Clarice should be buried in the Bay Area also. They, along with Bob, are buried in Hayward near their home in San Lorenzo, C This leaves our family with Gordon's son, Don, K's only survivor, Susan, and Jean Ferguson and me, Helen Ferguson McEuen, still roaming the earth. It gives you a very "alone" feeling to not have much immediate family around. After our parents died, Jean moved back over to Reed's home with Reed, and she lived there with him, working at Sealite. She & Reed lived in his home for 32 years, until he died. Jean has lived there 6 years since then. She plans to move one day.
With Reed dying so abruptly, it made it hard to know what or why about the business. Thank goodness, Jean had worked for the boys for 30+ years so she knew a lot of the ins and outs. Andy and I went up to help dissolve and clear out the warehouses, the office building, and about 55 years of business records, etc. It was a huge job to sell off the three manufacturing plants, one in Jacksonville, Florida; one in Houston, Texas, and the main plant in San Leandro, California. I am thankful for such a hard working family, and for their goodness to me. My family life was rock solid, and I thank my Heavenly Father for such a reassuring blessing.
We had a 'little' Ferguson Reunion on Memorial Day in 1990 at Zelda's and while getting a roll, with all names & addresses of those present, I asked them of some memories of our parents, Mell & Kelsey Ferguson
This is what they said:
Mary Tippetts Meier: I told her Mother truly loved her, she may even have been her favorite. She told me Mother had a lovely home, & was very dedicated to having things "just so". (Mary, along with several other neices, did housework to help mother out as we were growing up. This gave them some spending money.) She said she train¬ed her how to keep an immaculate house. Mother wanted Mary to wear lipstick, said nowadays no boy would date her, etc. She also said her dad, Uncle Wilbur, said K was an ugly baby!! (He was chubby) & Mother shot back, Your Mary is no ravishing beauty, Wilb!
Lois Tippetts Rasmussen: Aunt Mell trained me how to iron shirts perfectly. Lois said she had 3 boys, and whenever she ironed tons of shirts, she thought of Aunt Mell. Lois loved my Dad, said he was perfect in her eyes. He didn't smoke, he was religious, and always tried to get Uncle Wilbur to go to church. (She said her Dad didn't go because he had no clothes to wear.) Dad always told him the Lord wouldn't care what he had on, it was what was in his heart! She lamented her Dad always provided "dumps" for her Mom to live in after they left Grandpa's house. She wondered why!? She said her Mom did try to make nice homes for them out of not much---and she taught them beauty was an "inner" thing. All of Aunt Bess's family were serious about their religion. She also told of a fancy settee Mother & Dad had inherited from Grandpa Ferguson. Mother had it upholstered in a beautiful velvet. Dad gave it to Aunt Bess because she needed a couch. Aunt Bess loaned it to Erma, Aunt Christy's daughter, for use in a school play. It disappeared from off the stage, and was never found.
Hazel Tippetts Holm: Hazel said they made their own mascara with soot black off the lids of their wood stove. They used ivory flakes and sugar with it. She remembered us walking to visit them in the evenings--long before the days of TV. She remembered my mother's perfect quilting, and said if my Mom was coming, her Mother knew the quilt would turn out perfect. She also said she loved her beautiful clothing, and the gorgeous china sets, etc that Mother had painted.
Glen Ferguson (Aunt Lizzie's son): His mother, Aunt Lizzie, said that Dad always knew the right things to say ---- in a caring and loving way. He remembered Dr. Hughes telling about Dad going to the hospital the night Reed, Tony Clayson & Bill Bowen were hurt in a Train accident. Reed was not driving, and no one saw the train coming, so the car was hit, a door flew open and caused the car to be dragged down the tracks quite a ways. He told the wonderful way Dad told them the car was of no import, just the fact they were alive was what mattered. He taught them a lot about manly goodness that night!
Beth Ferguson Anderson: Beth said Aunt Lizzie's kids loved to come to our house for lunch during school. Mother always had lots of good food and treats in the hse. She said we didn’t have those things.