“Old-timers” tea at the library

“Old-timers” tea at the library


April 1974

Mrs. Helen Zimmerman:

Well, after hearing all these people talk about 1912 and 1911 we feel like babes in the woods because we’ve only been here 44 years. We did come out in 1930. We were from northwest Missouri. Zim was a farmer and I was a farmer’s wife. I’ll let Zim tell you about the churning of the butter, because he did all of that. While we were still in Savannah, Missouri, we had a very, very cold winter, 23 degrees below zero. One day a man from Whittier came to our church. His wife was in a hospital there that treated cancer. Incidentally, she was the aunt of Richard Nixon and her name was Harrison. He had come to our church to see if there wasn’t someplace where he could go to see some livestock. Evidently, he had had a dairy out here. Someone said, “Yes, we do know just the right people. They only live a mile out of town, so you can walk.” He had no car, of course, because he had come on a train. To make a long story short, the next day he came out to our house. I can see them yet, he and a minister from Texas. As I said it was a very cold winter. There was snow piled high on the road. They each had on hats with a scarf down over their ears to keep them from freezing off. I said, “Well, here comes your jolly farmers.” Zim took Russell Harrison out to the barn to show him the animals. Russell said, “I know right now I want to stay here.” Zim said, “well, I can take you to the barns, but that’s my wife’s department there. I don’t know about that.” So I said, “well it would be very silly for me to tell you we didn’t have room. The house would take care of three families. But we are busy farmers and we don’t stand on ceremony here. You will have to be willing put up with what we do.” He thought that would be real nice. He came out there and stayed. He had such little time he could be with his wife through the daytime. He had stayed at a very meager hotel near the sanitarium. When he came out to our house we just dipped the cream out of ten-gallon cans. So living as pretty high according to his standards at the hotel. Then he would go down and tell the people who were there with other relatives in the hospital what he had had for dinner. We really had a terrible time with him. But one night a very wonderful thing happened. We said, “Now Russell you are to invite everybody that you want to, we have lots of room, and we’ll have a party. We’ll furnish the transportation and you just pick out everybody you want to have.” So he did. We had people from eleven states there that night. All of them had seriously ill people in the hospital. We just had a wonderful, wonderful time. It’s a time I’ll never forget because it was just like ships that pass in the night. You would never see them again. But one unusual thing did happen. In later years when our son Bob was in the service, he met a man in Wisconsin. They got to talking about Savannah, and this man told about a party he had gone to at somebody’s home in Savannah. Bob said, “Well that was my folks and we had it at our house.” So it’s a small world. Then through the Harrison’s we met the Brown’s and thereby hangs a tale. Because otherwise we never would have known about Yorba Linda. It’s been a very pleasant friendship through the years. The first night we came out here they told us how to get to Yorba Linda. It was after dark and we drove right up to the gates of the portal of the Berkenstock ranch. But we finally found the right place. Zim worked for Brownie here until Brownie moved to Whittier. Then he worked up there awhile. Then he finally started forking for Hurless and that did it. We’ve been here ever since and I expect we’ll stay right here from now on.

Mr. Lloyd Zimmerman:

Well, Helen mentioned about churning the butter. Somebody said we lived on a farm. It was actually, a dairy farm and generally stock farm. At times before we left that area, we churned up to 225 pounds of butter a week. We would deliver the butter once a week and that was quite a chore when you drive 12 miles in horse and spring wagon. Finally we got nerve enough to drive an old EMF car but every morning we had to fix it. We kept that up until we came out here. As Helen mentioned, we met the Harrison’s there and through them we drifted into Whittier. There we met Brownie and Esther and that started my career of work in Yorba Linda. Of course, I have another thought right now, hearing the rest of you talk about the time you arrived. Here we feel like second generation old timers here. But we’ve sure enjoyed it. So I worked here and there and I got to be a king of a jack-of-all-trades around town. I put up a shingle for this and that and I worked for the lemon house for several years. Then I had a job running the irrigation pump down below Atwood. Finally, Hurless got a hold of me. I don’t know why. But he wanted to know if I would drive a truck. I said that I had driven an old Model A truck. So he wanted me to deliver stove oil. So it developed that through Hurless I kept all of southern Orange County heated up with heating oil during the war. And I made a lot of good friends. Hurless was kind enough to keep me on for 20 years. Not that I got tired of him or the job, but I decided to retire. Of course, then I had to work harder because I went out to help Helen with the shop and that was harder work than delivering stove oil.

Mr. Whit Cromwell:

Well, my thoughts are happy thoughts because Yorba Linda has been my life and my home since 1922. The first time that I can remember hearing of Yorba Linda was through letters from my uncle, Taylor Brown, who lived where Don Frisbee now lives. The house was east of the school building. The first school building I remember in Yorba Linda was where our fire department now sits. We decided that California sounded so wonderful, that my father and mother had a sale in Mississippi. We went to Memphis, Tennessee and then took a train to California and my uncle picked us up. That was actually about the second time I had a ride in an automobile. My uncle brought us to Yorba Linda and I can remember the first sight of the Yorba Linda area was coming down Palm Drive from Placentia and seeing the beautiful palm trees along the roadway that led into Yorba Linda. I was fortunate enough to stay with my uncle for a very few months. Our family stayed at Taylor Brown’s place and it was only a short distance to school. I had already attended two years of school in the woods of Mississippi and had learned to read and write and even use some numbers. But yet when I arrived in Yorba Linda, in the crowded city, they decided that I belonged in kindergarten. Well, after some tears they finally put me in kindergarten. The first person that I met at that time was Genevieve Townsend of the Townsend family. They were out neighbors on Lakeview for many years. And, of course, the Townsends later were close neighbors to my boys. They were almost like Grandpa and Grandma. That’s one family that I haven’t heard mentioned yet. But I was lucky enough to go from kindergarten through 8th grade in the Yorba Linda schools. From there I went to Fullerton High School and from there to Fullerton Junior College. There were several people I can recall quickly that went from kindergarten all the way through the elementary schools here. I think there were 13 total. Then going beyond that before I started to high school, I was involved in the packing houses selling pop, candy, and chewing gum as an 11 or 12 year old boy. My brother Robert also sold in the packing houses. I remember the days when my mother and father worked for 30 and 35 cents an hour. And there were days when Toby and I actually made as much money by selling pop and candy as they did by working by the hour. So we had a wonderful experience in those early days. We learned to do business with people. The people we had in Yorba Linda were those who worked with the soil, were honest, and they cared for others. Seeing Mrs. Zimmerman here and hearing her talk, I recall there was a real concern that the Yorba Linda people had for others when the Zimmermans had a fire and their home burned down. I remember that it was no time that Yorba Linda gathered around and helped them. I could quote many, many times that people were concerned for others and took care of them. I wish we had the time to tell these stories. But going further, after completing high school in 1935, I went to work for Faye Young on Main Street in a little restaurant. I worked for $10 a week and my food. I soon found that that was a losing proposition. At the end of the summer I was then asked to go to work in the Yorba Linda post office. In those days the postmasters made a change every time you changed Democrats to Republicans and etc. I was trained by Mrs. Staler even though her husband was the postmaster. The post office at that time was a two-story building, which now stands on Main Street across from the Bank of America building. It was a fairly new building in those days. So Mrs. Staler trained me. The first day I walked in the office she told me how to write money orders. Stamps were being sold at that time, I believe, for 3 cents possibly 2. She said, “Now you know how to write these money orders don’t you, you know how to sell stamps, and you can make change. Now I take a nap, so here’s a broom and if something comes up that you can’t handle why then you just knock on the floor. I’ll be upstairs and I’ll come down and help you.” The first money order that I attempted to write in the post office I spoiled. So I had to call Mrs. Staler down to show me how to handle it. But actually those were very good days. Then Mr. Staler retired as postmaster, and Mrs. Ollie Beard, who had been a friend of our family in Mississippi years ago, was appointed as postmaster. I worked for two years at the rate of $43 a month. She had me work three hours at night, and six hours on Saturday. So that career, as it turned out to be , starting in 1935 followed through in many different positions as clerk, carrier, finally as the postmaster, and the last couple years of my life as a public relations and customer services man. I was with the post office for a period of about 38 years. I just now have retired as of the first of this year. It has been a wonderful life. In that time I married a Yorba Linda girl, Awandi Lebelle. Here father here in the early, early days as the manager of the old orange house. He went back to Indiana and married an Indiana girl and Awandi was born while they were there. Then they returned to Yorba Linda and as soon as she hit Yorba Linda I knew that was the gal for me. I married her and we’ve been married 37 years. Two boys have come into our home. The oldest boy is married to a local girl, Ruth Ann McIntyre and they live in Yorba Linda. We have two grandsons who are also enjoying Yorba Linda. I would recommend Yorba Linda to anyone, anywhere in the world, because there’s no place that has more concern for the people who live in Yorba Linda than those who live here. As I look out the window right now, I can see the hills that I have enjoyed hiking on with Warren Shaw many years ago. I can see the Diemer plant, which treats the water that comes from the Colorado River. The water is distributed throughout Orange County. If it hadn’t been for the foresight of many, many fine leaders of Orange County and our cities of this county, we wouldn’t be enjoying all the wonderful new people that have moved into our city of Yorba Linda, which now amounts to about 20,000 people. So we can say thanks to many of the old-timers not only of Yorba Linda but of Orange County for the wonderful city of Yorba Linda, the cheer and the fact that they provided for the large population that we have here today. It has been my privilege to serve as a councilman and see the city of Yorba Linda born. I hope the good Lord will let me be here as long as I live, and be able to watch Yorba Linda become one of the finest cities of the United States.