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
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
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
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
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
Wilbur remembered coming to Seattle on the ferry to visit
his grandmother, Aunt
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
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.
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
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
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
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.