Wilbur

Wilbur was born July 20, 1904, in Moorehead, Minnesota, eleven months before I was born so for one month each year we were the same age. In 1907 the family lived at 11 E Polls Street as we found out when we were in Moorehead.

When he was very young he had a white fur coat. One day he went for a ride on a truck carrying coal. He wasn't wearing a white coat when he got home! His mother always laughed when she told about it, but I wonder if she laughed at the time.

When he was six or seven the family left Seattle where they had been living. Wilbur had been in the first grade. They went to Attica, NY, and lived with his father's parents. When we traveled through Attica, we found their home and the Presbyterian Church where Wilbur went to Sunday School.

While Wilbur was still in grade school the family moved back to Washington and Wilbur's father got a job on San Juan Island as a bookkeeper for the Friday Harbor Packing Co.

Back then one could buy a salmon for very little - it was either $ .15 or $.50. I can't remember what he told me. They lived there until Wilbur was graduated from High School. Their home is a short distance from the ferry on Nicholas Ave and B Street. For the last few years it has been a restaurant. When they lived there Wilbur's mother kept boarders. She also cleaned and packed pheasants and ducks for Seattlites who went to Friday Harbor for the hunting season. One man who came was Joshua Green and Mother laughed as she told how he chased her around the table trying to kiss her.

While he lived in Friday Harbor, Wilbur and his friends spent lots of time on the beach and rowing between the islands. Mr. Moran, who lived on Orcas Island, owned a huge home and the Boy Scouts were often invited there. It is now Rosario Resort.

Wilbur remembered coming to Seattle on the ferry to visit his grandmother, Aunt Libby and Aunt Marie. They often went to Woodland Park.

Mr. Washburn gave up his job at the cannery and the family moved to Anacortes for a short while. The boat named The Neriad took them and their belongings. The Neriad is still sailing.

Wilbur's father then got the job of managing the theater in Mt Vernon so they moved to 912 Cleveland Street. (Today the Mt. Vernon library is there.)

My first date with Wilbur was to see Charlie Chaplin in a movie. We got to sit in the loge seats where I slept for most of the show. It's a wonder Wilbur took me out again.

Wilbur had enrolled at Washington State College in Pullman and attended for a year. But because of his mother's illness he had to leave and help at home. When the cannery opened in Mt Vernon he worked there and that is where I met him. While he was at Pullman he had appendicitis and was in the hospital at Colfax. His mother visited him there.

After the season closed at the cannery, Wilbur stayed at home and I returned home to Seattle. Wilbur wrote to me every day, and I to him. We didn't have a phone at the time so he phoned me at the next door neighbors', Mrs. Chimelik. I got kidded an awful lot about it.

Wilbur finally decided it would be cheaper to move to Seattle and be near me. For quite awhile he lived with his grandmother north of Greenlake at the end of the trolley line, just outside of the (then) city limits, beyond 85th St.

From there he would walk to our house at 1324 Allen Place through Woodland Park or around Green Lake and I often would meet him. Sometimes we took the trolley which ran through the park on a trestle.

Until Wilbur got a job in Seattle he visited Mother quite often. They thought a lot of each other and I fear Mother warned him of some of my bad habits. Dad liked him, but didn't want to see me married and leaving home. Often Wilbur and I laughed about Dad's calling him a "snake in the grass" when he learned we were going to get married. All through our wedding ceremony Dad sat with his head down. He wanted me to have a big wedding. After our marriage Dad forgot his misgivings. Wilbur was not a person one could dislike.

His first job was City Buyer at Dorhman Hotel Supply Co. Unwanted dishes, chipped ones and samples were tossed in barrels so we had quite a few odd pieces of china. In fact, so many I gave some to Frances Rosenquist. I saved one cup, just to remind me. I think it is still in the basement.

When we were first married Wilbur attended the University of Washington, while we lived at 3711 University Way. The Depression ended his college career, and he wouldn't let me help him. He bought a window cleaning business from two graduates and for a time had quite a bit of work. But as the Depression got worse people washed their own windows or just left them dirty.

After Viola was born Wilbur worked nights as a janitor for the Gas Company, then located on 4th Avenue. His Uncle Fred Towle, a P.O. supervisor urged Wilbur to take an exam and apply for a letter carrier's position. He passed with "flying colors" and carried mail until his retirement in 1967. At that time he was the highest paid carrier in the city. In this position he had to know a number of routes in the downtown area and had no route of his own. He declined the job once for he thought a younger man with a family should have it. A younger man tried, but was unable to do it, so Wilbur took it over.

Wilbur always took care of the vegetable garden and if I had time I planted the flowers. He subscribed for years to "Organic Gardener". I have never been sure whether he deliberately dug up any vegetable I planted, like the asparagus, or if it was a mistake. One year I bought a Sweet 100 tomato plant and it did better than his regular tomatos. He didn't appreciate that a bit. He was so proud of his garden...and so was I. The neighbors profited from it for we always had a surplus.

One day we went to SeaTac to meet some missionaries who were scheduled to speak that night at the church's Wednesday night dinner. After dinner we were invited to the Collingham's but Wilbur said he didn't feel well. That night or the next day he was in the hospital and had an operation on his intestines. He had to have a colostomy which was a nuissance and very uncomfortable. He was always healthy so it was a surprise to both of us. He was in and out of Group Health Hospital for over a year. Wilbur died of cancer at home on Bagley Ave, May 23, 1981, the year Lincoln High School closed its doors.

Wilbur's story wouldn't be complete without telling about his involvement in the Literacy work. He was the first chairman of the Seattle Literacy Council. He had charge of the textbooks which were kept in our basement. We never went anywhere that on the way we didn't have to deliver a book, or mail one. For quite a while he tutored. Gardening, church and the Literacy council kept him busy in his retirement years. Wilbur taught a church school class, was Superintendent of the Church School, was on the Deacon's Board, was Missions Chairman, and on the finance committee.


Dedicated to Jace.