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Tales Of Parents & their generation

by Ed Thelen with additions/corrections by sister Reta
and a bio by my mother's sister, Marion Mattern

Table of contents:

Also see Goode Ole Dayze

Mother's Tales - a few of many
Mother's father (Nathan Shepard) had been a child laborer in the cotton mills in Massachusetts. He saw the life there could be tragically short, and if longer, not good. Somehow he broke out and headed west for a better life. Somehow he acquired some fraternal order pin and wound up in Minneapolis, broke and knowing no one. He was hired by some farmer who figured someone belonging to that organization should have good character.

He worked on that farm ("truck farm", produce for grocery stores) for some years. Ever super thrifty, he acquired enough money to (?put a down payment?) on a neighboring "truck farm" and start "on his own", eventually marrying Bertha Bates. Bertha was a seamstress in the Boston area (after growing up in Nova Scotia, another hard life place). I believe they met out East, and when Nathan got established in Mpls he sent for her.

They had two daughters, and by then some hired help. One of their hired maids was caught bathing in milk hoping to improve her skin. She then had to seek other employment.

My mother (Reta) told of planting cabbages. Someone else would ride/drive the horse and she would sit in the cabbage planter machine, on the flat floor moving a few inches above the earth. Being next the earth, she could stick cabbage seedlings (sprouted and raised in their "hot house") into a furrow cut in the prepared soil, just ahead of the furrow closing discs. There was a long lumpy wire laid next to the long row that was sensed by the machine to tell the operator when to insert the cabbage and it also caused the release of a little water onto the just planted cabbage plant. Dawn to dusk in season.

Early crops brought the best prices. Warmth for early group of crops such as asparagus etc. was provided by planting such on beds of rotting manure in greenhouses.

Thrift was the order of the day. One Christmas they got lucky - a sleigh filled with boxed candy for some little town tipped over in front of their farm house. They went out to help, big mess, boxes of candy all over. They helped the sleigh driver get picked up and re-started. He gave the family a box of filled chocolate candy for thanks.

Now - we have a box of candy as part of our Christmas. What to do to make it last. Each Sunday each member got one piece of the filled chocolate and a tooth pick. You eat the chocolate and filling with the tooth pick to help it last. Mother told that story any time her family (us) got extravagant ideas.

As a result of the above hard work and thrift, the two farm girls were able to go to college for four years each, Marion to Wellesley College in the Boston area, and Reta to the University of Minnesota.

And even though there were apparently few frills, at the end they lived in a large white house on the property. That house and much land were taken be eminent domain by the State for a "highway intersection", but later became part of a large shopping mall.

Father's Tales - a few of many
(A few more details at So you would like to know about your grandparents

As a kid, Father (Edward Thelen) was out plowing on the Nibes place (remote,wooded). He saw some "dogs" playing. When older brother Will came by to drop off lunch, Father told him of these "dogs". Will went back home, brought back a rife, and shot a wolf, one of the "dogs".

There is little play, but lots of work, on a farm. No little boys coming over to play. One day my father was driving a horse drawn something - and the horse team bolted and ran, dragging then upsetting the vehicle. My father was not hurt, but some equipment was broken. Later, when his father was surveying the damage, his father noticed a baseball in the debris. Nothing was said, but if looks could kill ...

When driving horse drawn wagons through the little town of Houlton, on the way to Stillwater, the four brothers were plagued by the town dogs snapping at the frightened horses. One day the brothers brought rifles and shotguns, and reduced the snapping and the dog population.

The farm was three miles from the Stillwater high school, and involved crossing the St. Croix river. But a proper education was serious business - after a summer of working the farm. One fall boy's red stocking were on sale, and Dad's mother bought a year's supply. As the story goes, Dad sat in at a front row table, red stockings very visible to the teacher. Did the teacher wonder if Dad ever changed stockings??

During several high school years, to avoid the transportation problem, my father lived with the King family (about 2 blocks from the high school). He was living at King's home as a companion for one of their son's who was unstable and threatened suicide. Years later, only Mrs. King and one son were alive, but the son was living in Texas. As our only remaining grandparent was living on the west coast, Mother and Dad adopted Mrs. King as "Gramma" and included her in most family events.

Dad's older brother John was going to the University of Minnesota Law School, captain of the Debating Team, cheerleader at football games, ... One weekend the rest of the family went the 30 miles to a football game. Dad's father was grumpy during the whole game. How did so many people have so much time to waste ??

As in my mother's case, although there were few frills, including a nice Victrola, my father's family eventually lived in a large two story home (with large attic ). They cleared and carved a flat area in the west side of 100 foot hill, about 50 feet up on the west side with a good view of the west 80 acre field, and sunsets. There was a porch on the west side with chairs. Previous to that they lived in a log cabin.

Parents honeymoon
In his younger days my father was a serious prankster among his friends.
Apparently a number of them figured they owed him one (or more?).
One of Dad's favorites was a trick pulled on a guy going on his first date with some - today we would say "Hot Chick". Somehow Limburger cheese was placed in the the young man's hat band, to start stinking and oozing after it got warm from wearing it.

Parents courting:
Because of the pranks you mentioned, no one would introduce Dad to the new girl (teacher) in town. He finally persuaded "Grandma King" to throw a party at their cabin on the river and invite the new girl. She (Reta Shepard) arrived a bit overdressed for the casual affair and her date was no where in sight. After an awkward period of time the love smitten "Ed" jumped a fence and arrived.

Oh - the tales -
Ed wanted to have older brother John (prosperous attorney in Great Falls, Montana, with well paying boot-legger clients) meet Reta, his significant other. The meeting took place in the St. Paul Hotel, St. Paul, Minnesota - THE place to dine at the time. Dinner arrived, and Reta's chicken was a tough old bird, a struggle to cut. Suddenly the chicken shot off her plate onto the floor nearby. Not a blink, conversation continued as if nothing had happened. Soon a waiter removed the escaped bird, and placed a much more tender bird on Reta's plate. Not a comment or expression concerning the events disturbed the un-ruffled diners. I guess "cool" is not just recent - Reta was impressed.

Also at the bachelor party Ed's "friends" arranged for an ambulance to ride him through town (properly secured to prevent escape). A spot light shined on Ed so all could see.

The tale:
The wedding took place at my mother's family home. Maybe a dozen of my father's friends were among the attendees. After the wedding, as my parents were leaving, it became evident that my father's friends intended to accompany the honeymooners. Fleeing the pursuers, my father headed for a rail road crossing, with a handy train approaching. Fortunately the honeymooners crossed before the train arrived - and the frustrated pursuit was evaded.

The honeymooners had sent a canoe and supplies to a small town in Wisconsin, on the Namekagon River which flows into the St. Croix River which flows past Stillwater. They started married life in a tent.

Along the way, in the canoe, they intended to hunt and fish a little to supplement their store bought supplies. Dad shot a loon, maybe be thinking it would be like a duck. That turned into an "interesting" experience. (Background, a duck eats under water insects and what ever on the pond bottom. Loons catch and eat fish.) That loon was tough no matter how long cooked, and tasted of unpleasant fish oil no matter how spiced. "Interesting" lesson.

During their honeymoon they camped on an island and encountered some moonshiners (during prohibition). The moonshiners wanted the bride to cook for them and were reluctant to release the honeymooners (who might report them to authorities). Happily the lovers escaped, broke camp quickly and paddled away to the sound of gun shots.

After maybe two weeks they arrived at Stillwater and civilization.

In 2019 I discovered a ?draft? by my father of his Honeymoon. The OCR is a little rough. I added maps from Google Maps.

Tale of two pictures

OK - a tale of the pictures

Just called my sister, wishing her a happy (belated) birthday -
   She was the detested and feared "little sister" -

So - on to the tale as related by her and mangled by me -

( first, quick background )

Long ago and far away,
   before TV, in the alternately icy then mosquito ridden land of Minnesota -
Starving (way too honest1) attorney, Ed Thelen,
was appointed by the governor to fill the suddenly empty position of
    Judge of the Probate Court, Washington County
and oh, by the way, you are also the Juvenile Court Judge.

(This source of steady sufficient income,
    encouraged Mother and Dad to start a family, just in time.)

The court was a high ceiling slightly oversized office
and really plain - the county was "thrifty" -
with an attached small (two person) office including a secretary2
   crowded with lots of books and file cabinets.

The access doors to the office were steel,with security features,
   and the windows barred against intrusion.

Yes, it was a court room - in one corner was a raised floor thing,
    on which was a large (plain - nothing to remember) desk
    and a bare wood swivel chair.

I imagine3 the petitioners just stood there in front
   with  interested parties seated in the rear ??
   There were maybe 20?? chairs.

In most human judicial systems, the Authority Figure in Fancy Costume looks down
  on the surrounding unwashed ignorant peasants, listens, and makes pronouncements.
(Think Judge Judy and her large fancy TV court room.)

I don't remember any fancy costume for my father.

The District Court Judge, upstairs, used black robes, had much larger facilities,
    but had to travel to different courts. (Not enough "action" in our little county.)

( now the tale, hopefully not too tall, nor long )

The decorations for my father's new court room were two large calenders -
  - from legal supply firms
  - with (scantily clad?) women to attract attention.

My mother was a rather proper lady, in a good sense,
   - sympathetic to human failings
   - but trying to improve things.

However, she did not approve of those calenders !!
   - certainly not suitable in her husband's court room.

But money was tight, and she had been raised in thrift.
(No word of consulting with husband, but being proper,
    I'm confident  considerable dialog occurred.)

However, at some uncertain date, enough was enough !!

She went to St. Paul? to an art gallery,
   and purchased two painting of northern Minnesota forest scenes.
The "inappropriate" calenders came down
    and the peaceful (probably thrifty) art went up.

When my father died, I was in the Army, and somewhat not available,
   ( and not eager to hang about in any case.)
My sister and Aunt Vera Louise (daughter of Uncle John) helped
remove personal effects from the court house, and I received one of
the above mentioned two pictures.

( end of the tale )

I really don't have many keepsakes/heirlooms and feel an attachment
to the subject picture ( or thoughts ) - would like to keep it relatively handy -
   like a couple hundred miles?  

Ed Thelen

PS  (1) I suppose I have told you too many tales of
           your Uncle John (attorney in Great Falls, Montana)  ;-))
         (Excessive scruples interfere with "the good life".)
    (2) Mrs. Sockness ever since I was little kid, a friendly motherly woman
         with a morphine addicted husband (bad accident) and daughter to support.
    (3) Probate actions seem to be by invitation only?
        I was never invited and saw none.

a bio by my mother's sister, Marion Mattern added May 5, 2014

I am writing a record of my life so that my grandsons will become aware of the sharp contrasts between the "horse and buggy" days and the present.

Young people accustomed to "rock and roll" music background, even when studying, will be surprised that during my early childhood our only music was the songs of the meadowlarks in the grassy fields that stretched for about a mile behind our house. We didn't even have a phonograph, and neither radio or television had been invented.

When I was young, my play included dressing up with Edna Fuller in dresses that her mother had worn at weddings. My mother had been a dressmaker and made over all her clothes, so after I was married I saved my party dresses for Rita and her friends to dress up in.

When I was about ten years old, Marie Watson and I used to catch frogs along the bank of a drainage ditch past their property, then fry frog legs over a fire between bricks in her backyard. We also started collecting stamps. My old album was copyrighted in 1899 and the population records and geography are surprising. My interest in stamp collecting has continued over the years.

During high school years our interests were school and church centered. We considered it pleasant to have a boy walk home with us after evening Christian Endeavor meetings, then sit with us in the parlor and visit. Our Christian Endeavor monthly business meetings were held in homes, and after the meeting we played games or sang.

When at a houseparty for a week at Lake Minnetonka, the summer of my Sophomore year in high school, I learned to swim using the breast- stroke, then later enjoyed swimming in Minnehaha Creek about three- quarters of a mile from home.


When I was 13 and Reta 15, Mother went East for six weeks in the summer to visit relatives. We kept house for Father, Grandmother and three hired men. We even baked bread twice a week and had breakfast ready by 6:30. Father was proud of us and showed his appreciation by taking us to Saturday evening band concerts at Lake Harriet and occasionally for a buggy ride on a Sunday afternoon.

One Easter vacation when we were in high school, Reta and I trans- planted plants in the greenhouse from seven o'clock until noon and from one until five o'clock for six days. Father said that we did better than the men and paid us each $5.00. Our pay was similar to the men's. They received $30.00 a month plus board and room. During marketing season they worked Sunday mornings also.

On weekends in the springtime we bunched radishes, beets and asparagus. In the summers we packed tomatoes in bushel baskets. Father said after we had gone to college, "Some of the neighbors used to feel sorry for the Shepard girls, but I notice they didn't put their children through college".

In the winter we occasionally had sleigh rides and then an oyster stew at someone's home. One of our ministers used to entertain us at Maple Wax parties after a fresh snowfall. He had maple syrup sent to him from Vermont and would boil a kettle of syrup until it was thick enough to form a waxy consistency when dropped from a spoon onto snow.

In summers we occasionally had hayrides and we always had an annual Sunday School picnic at either Lake Minnetonka or Minnehaha Falls.

On Fourth of July, several market gardeners' families would have a picnic on one of the member's big lawn. Each family brought favorite to dishes - ours were potato salad, sweet beet pickles, angel food cake and homemade ice cream. Then we played baseball.


I am grateful to have grown up in a small town (St. Louis Park, just west of Minneapolis). We didn't think we had to be talented to take on leadership. I taught beginners class in Sunday School when I was a Freshman in High School. In my Senior year I was president of our Christian Endeavor Society and went to a state convention at Hastings - a small city about 30 miles south of St. Paul. The keynote of the convention was, "What I should do, I can do. What I can do, by the Grace of God, I will do". This has influenced me ever since.

When I graduated from high school my oration was on Juvenile Court, which had recently been established. I visited a detention home and thought that the problems of youth were being solved for the future. The oration of a classmate was on settling international problems by arbitration rather than war. We thought that the injunction in the Bible to "turn swords into pruning hooks and spears into plowshares" was about to be fulfilled. That was in June of 1914. Then when war broke out in August, we accepted the slogan, "This is the war to end wars".

My sister had commuted to the University of Minnesota for two years, but the three-quarters of a mile walk to the streetcar and hour ride was too tiring for her, so Father consented for us to board near the campus five days a week and go home on weekends. This was fortunate for me as it gave me a chance for sports. I played field hockey, basketball, baseball and swam. We lived at the boarding house near the campus for one semester then moved into a co-op house that alumnae had just established on the campus. We had a faculty chaperone and a cook. The rest of the work was divided among residents. Reta was the first president and I the treasurer and we roomed together.


We joined the "Trailers", an elective hiking club that often went on Saturday hikes and had a houseparty for a week each summer at some lake. Members became lifelong friends, and we entertained them for a corn roast on our side lawn each August until the Highway Department bought our house in about 1935 and established a picnic area there.

There was unusually heavy snow during the winter of 1916-1917. A blizzard kept the Milwaukee and St. Louis train from getting through to western Minnesota for a week. That winter on Sunday morning, February 21st, I telephoned to find out if streetcars were getting through to St. Louis Park. Since the St. Louis Park cars were not running but the cars to Hopkins were, I took a Hopkins car to Woodale Avenue and started walking north from there. Since the snow was deep and the north wind strong, I stopped after about three blocks at the last house along the road for over a half mile. The woman who opened the door said, "My dear, your nose and cheeks are frostbitten". She scooped up a handful of snow in a napkin and thawed out the frostbites and asked me to come in. I telephoned Father to ask if he could come for me with the farm sled, but he said he wouldn't be able to.

The hospitable woman asked me to stay over night. Her two young sons entertained me with magician tricks from a kit they had received for Christmas. The guest room was elegant, and the breakfast of corn meal mush and honey made me feel I had reached the "land where milk and honey flowed".

Monday morning the wind had died down, and the sun was bright, so I walked on home. When I was about a block from home I met Father and his hired man in the farm sled. I walked on home while they shoveled a clearing so they could turn the sled around.


Cars were often stuck in snowdrifts on Excelsior Boulevard near our house and Father would hitch up a team of horses and pull them out. We were especially pleased when Father pulled Mr. Goudie's truckload of candy out of a drift and he gave us several boxes of candy.

Constance Woodford roomed with me during our Junior and Senior years, and after graduation we each got a position teaching at Austin, Minnesota for $75.00 a month. Since Connie had college debts to pay off and I was saving money for clothes for Wellesley College, we lived very frugally. On weekends we picnicked as long as weather permitted. On Friday nights we had supper prepared on an electric burner and played bridge with two friends.

The big event of that year was Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. Students and faculty rushed into the streets considering this the victory of the "war to end wars".

I went to Wellesley College that autumn for a two-year graduate course in Physical Education and Hygiene. I roomed with Jessie Baltezore who has become a lifelong friend (now Jessie B. Conroy).

On Saturday evenings several of us usually went into Boston for dinner and theatre. We often went to Faneuil Market, famous for excellent and inexpensive meat. My Father had eaten there when he was a butcher in Boston before he was married. On a few occasions I ate there with his former chum, George. I enjoyed getting acquainted with my parents' relatives and friends.

I spent my first Christmas with Ada Chartier's family in Wakefield and my next Christmas with Mother's favorite cousin, Margaret Jones, in Greenwich Village, in New York City, where she was resident nurse at a settlement house. I took Christmas boxes to Italian families and was treated to wine and holiday cakes. I went to Christmas Eve service


at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I shared with a friend from Minnesota enjoying a box of goodies sent from home and attended a symphony concert.

A distinctive experience was visiting Grandma Shepard's only wealthy relative. I spent one night in the Clement's home and was impressed by their elegant home with life-sized oil paintings of family members. A trip around their estate revealed a conservatory, a golf course and stable of riding horses.

I spent New Year's weekend with the family of a classmate, Marnie Phillips, in Goshen, New York. They were very hospitable, and I had a delightful time. Then we returned together to Wellesley.

The summer after my first year at Wellesley, I was Recreation Director at a new Y.W.C.A. Conference Camp at Lake Okoboji in northern Iowa. Old army barracks were used for dormitories. When leaders arrived for pre-camp organizing, we all pitched in tacking mosquito netting on the windows. Willingness to work together on anything that needed to be done was characteristic of the spirit that summer. Carson Cobb, the handyman, and I marked off the tennis court.

An outbreak of scarlet fever sent the first delegation of girls home, and the swimming teacher also left. I was left with responsibility for teaching swimming. Vera Barger from National office helped me plan for classes and our first swimming play day. Experience gained that summer and life saving instruction that Effie Scott gave me when I visited camp the next summer, prepared me for teaching beginning swimming at the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1922.

At Wellesley we received training in gymnastics and a wide


variety of sports including even hurdling, to prepare us for teaching boys and girls in elementary school and girls in high school and college. We also received training in corrective physical education, massage and hygiene.

Reta came to my graduation. We were impressed by having Madame Curie as the honored guest at Wellesley graduation that year.

While I went as a counselor at a camp in Maine, Reta visited relatives in Boston and Nova Scotia, Then we returned home by the Great Lakes to Duluth and then home by train.

After graduation, I taught for one year at Oneonta, New York, in the Normal School for training elementary school teachers, and I supervised student teachers. A young man who had just returned from war coached the eighth-grade basketball team, and I enjoyed going to their games when they played high school teams in small nearby towns. I coached a Normal School girls' basketball team, and we won a close game with the team in Binghampton, New York, and also teams in smaller towns.

The next year I took a position at Southern Branch of the University of California teaching methods of teaching physical education in elementary grades - two hours a week of theory and one of practice and also two classes in swimming for beginners.

I supervised student teachers at the University Elementary School. We held a very successful children's circus. My account of it was published in "Mary Hemmingway Alumnae Association Graduate Department of Hygiene and Physical Education Wellesley College Bulletin", March 1931.

Several of us who were new members of the Women's Physical Education


Department ate at the same boarding house and enjoyed going on camping trips leaving after our last Friday classes. We went to Lake Arrowhead (then called Little Bear Lake), Big Bear, Tijuana, and Palm Springs (when there were only two hotels there). Some folks who were born in California said that we saw more of California in a few years than they did in a lifetime. During Christmas vacation we rode to San Francisco, going by the coast and returning over the Ridge Route where travel was restricted to 15 miles an hour along the crest due to the many sharp turns. To those who now resent a 55 mile an hour speed limit, it may seem queer that then 35 miles an hour was considered high speed.

Bertha Hall, who came from Oneonta with me, lived with me, and during 1928 we drove to Vancouver taking two friends with us and then went to Alaska by boat as far as Skagway, then along the trail followed in the Gold Rush days. A mining engineer and his wife who had come from England during the Gold Rush entertained tourists during the summer, and we were there on the Fourth of July. We were served rhubarb wine and sandwiches of homemade bread and sang "America" and "God Save the King".

Bertha Hall had worked too hard toward completing her B.A. Degree and had a relapse into T.B, which she had had in her youth. After she passed away I felt the need of a change and went in 1930 to Teacher's College, Columbia University, for a Masters Degree. The best result of that was meeting John Mattern.

We were both members of International House. A friend who was not a member asked me to take her to the Thursday evening social gathering. I protested that because we would be an hour late due to a dance recital practice, we would find them all divided into national


groups. John had been asked by Rabbi Tratner, of Los Angeles, to take him to the meeting. His reply was similar to mine, but he went. As Ruth and I entered the hall we paused at the door. The Rabbi and John were sitting directly in front of us and asked us to join them. After the meeting John took me and the Rabbi took Ruth to our dormitory. John called on me each following evening after his classes at Fordham. At the close of the semester John and I took the daytime boat up the Hudson River to Albany. I stayed with Marie Swanson whom I had known at Oneonta, and John stayed with his family. John took me canoeing and to the camp he had on a creek near Albany.

I was on a year's leave of absence from UCLA and returned there, stopping on my way to visit my family in Minnesota. John had lost his job as the supervisor of boys selling Collier magazines in Troy, Schenectady and Albany, due to the depression, and was out of work. He visited me in Minnesota, and Father was aghast that we were considering marriage. I promised not to marry until John had a secure position.

John went to North Dakota getting subscriptions to publications. Due to shortage of money, he accepted produce from farmers then took it to a warehouse at the end of each day. Colliers needed added subscriptions so as to keep companies willing to advertise in the magazine.

Mrs. Hayward, a friend of my parents, liked to go to California each winter and rode out here with John sharing car expenses. John stayed at the YMCA, in Hollywood, and we went together to Sierra Club suppers and programs at Cliftons Cafeteria, in Los Angeles, each Friday evening, and we frequently went on the Club's weekend camping trips.

John got a job supervising boys clearing firebreaks in the hills


in San Fernando Valley. These boys had left homes and bummed rides to California, and then L. A. County probation officers took charge and put them to work. When they had earned enough for their passage they were sent home. Although John's pay was only board, room and $50.00 a month, we decided that it was a secure position, and we were married July 1st 1933. We had a dear wedding at the Grunwalds' home in Pasadena, then went on a weekend excursion trip to Catalina Island. On the Fourth of July, John was in charge of boys from camp at a picnic on Santa Monica Beach. I engineered pyramid building for the boys .

I rented an apartment on Normandie Avenue for $50.00 a month. Weekly cleaning and fresh linen was provided, and there was a roof garden where I had a party for Sierra Club friends. John joined me Friday evenings and returned to camp Monday mornings.

John had worked in the Railway Mail Service and applied for re-instatement in the Postal Service, but chose local mail delivery so as to be at home. He started in as a temporary employee at $0.67 an hour, sometimes working only a half day and sometimes as long as 12 hours. How delighted he was when he was assigned to West Los Angeles and delivered our own mail at 1518 Bentley Avenue. He was on this route when Rita was born, and she received a number of presents from people on his route.

I stopped fulltime teaching at the end of the semester before Rita was born but taught extension classes in badminton and swimming until we went to Desert Hot Springs the second semester when Rita was in the third grade.

There had been snow in the desert that winter, and after it melted and soaked in (instead of running off quickly after a rain storm),


there was an unusually beautiful display of wild flowers, including desert fillies that only bloom after deep soaking moisture. John and I went out exploring and taking pictures almost every day. One could usually see artists painting picturesque scenes. We returned to the desert the next year in October and the next year in September and stayed until Memorial Day, which was the end of the school year.

We rented our house while we were away, and the third year the tenants wanted to stay in the summer, so we rented a cottage at Lake Arrowhead and enjoyed canoeing and hiking. One weekend while we were calling on the Thayers at their mountain cabin, three of Rita's school chums, Susan, Sandra and Joan, arrived at our cabin and surprised us when we returned.

We returned home when Rita entered the sixth grade. Her activities included Girl Scouts and ice skating. I used to enjoy skating with her after school at Sonja Henie rink in Westwood.

This concludes my account that contrasts sharply with later times and I hope that my descendants will find it interesting.

Marion Mattern
December 1980



Since I have been emphasizing contrasts over the years, I will include contrasts since Southern Branch of the University outgrew its site on Vermont Avenue, between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, which later became the site of Los Angeles City College.

Several locations were being considered, and in order to attract the University to Westwood, Jans Real Estate Company sold 300 acres to the State at $2,000 an acre and 75 acres at $7,500 an acre. The value of this property for subdivision was $3,500,000.

I rode out with friends on the red street car line and walked over the grassy fields in the spring of 1926. I was present on September 21st 1927 when Ernest Moore turned the first shovel of earth at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The first classes were held on the Westwood campus in September 1929. There were four permanent buildings at that time, the Library, Royce Hall, Physics and Chemistry buildings. The Men's and Women's Physical Education Departments each had a temporary wooden shack with two showers and dressing rooms. Classes were held on the athletic fields. Effie Shambaugh taught a folk dancing class on the driveway to Royce Hall and had a violin accompaniment. I was teaching classes, Methods of Teaching Physical Education in Elementary Schools, and held theory classes two hours a week in Royce Hall and activity classes one hour on the athletic field.

When the Women's Gymnasium was completed in 1931, I had charge of the swimming program. I enjoyed this thoroughly as I felt that everyone living so near the ocean should be able to swim, and I was glad to be able to grade confidently and to students' satisfaction on endurance, speed, variety of strokes and diving. I taught lifesaving classes and made an occasional rescue in our pool.


Colorful Sayings - Earlier Years

  • He would skin a louse for hide and tallow and spoil a $0.25 knife doing it.
  • He knows what side his bread is buttered on.
  • You can't make a sealskin purse out of a sow's ear.
  • Waste not, want not.
  • My room looks like the devil had an action and the auctioneer was drunk.
  • If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well.
  • Penny wise, pound foolish.
  • Early to bed and early to rise makes man healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • Too late to lock the barn door after the horse is stolen.
  • That's putting the wagon before the horse.
  • You don't need that any more than a cat needs two tails.
  • He doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • He would cheat his own mother.
  • Work before pleasure.
  • Great oaks from little acorns grow.
  • Smile and the world smiles with you. Weep and you weep alone.
  • Handsome is as handsome does.
  • Pride goes before a fall.
  • All is not gold that glistens.
  • He acts like the cat that swallowed the canary.
  • There are two sides to every coin.
  • My sister Reta remembers a ghost story - added Nov 21, 2016
    Oh you unbeliever. Science spoils all the fun!

    So what do you think made the scrapy, groaning noises in the old tavern/way station basement at the farm?????
    Remember Grandfather Thelen waited by the opening floor access with his lantern under a bushel to find out? Heard the noises...opened the trap door...uncovered the bushel...held the light down in the opening.....
    What do you think he saw???????????? Nothing.

    Grandma Thelen's melon patch was always raided by neighbor kids just when the melons were ripe.
    Major agravation....solved by who else...??? Andrew!
    The solution...a new garden plot hidden in the woods. At the time the melons approached perfection, Andrew rigged a wooden cross covered with a sheet and attached with pulleys, rope etc to the top of a nearby dead tree. He waited patiently for visitors who did not disappoint. They arrived, leaving promptly as the ghost swooped from the tree with ghostly sounds. Melons were safe!