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Chapter 8
The Schad Family Arrives in Oklahoma

I worked for Mr. Hopping and Mr. Evans keeping books for their farm loan company. I was also taking organ lessons at Kendall College. I had permission to practice on the organ at Tate-Brady Convention Hall. The manager of the convention hall asked me whether I might consider taking a a job at the hall booking the various shows since I liked music so well. He said he could teach me the job very quickly. I jumped at the offer! I was thrilled that all the operas and artists that I had always wanted to hear (and could seldom afford to on my salary) I would be able to hear free. I worked at this job for three years before my marriage.

By the time that the shows which I booked my first season for the theaters in Tulsa were over for the winter, I began to look for a place to get away for the summer because of the hot weather Tulsa always had in the summer. I found it in an ad for school teachers to earn money while training on the job.

I went to J. S. Hopping and Mr. T. D. Evans (then mayor of Tulsa) and Mr. Hunter. Mr. Hopping was president of Producers National Bank and Mr. Hunter was a lawyer. All three were in the farm loans building. I went in to talk about my going away and ask whether they considered this type of summer job to be good for me. 

Mr. Hopping said it wouldn't be very good to go so far alone but to write if I needed any money. I could cash a check made out simply to our bank and I could have any amount I needed. Then I could pay back the amount out of my next check in the fall when I returned to my booking job.

I had a week's training in Kansas City where I met Mr. Hopping's sister and also spent some time with my cousin Eathyle. While there we even attended a meeting of friends of a political party. My training included learning everything I could about the Standard Dictionary of Facts. I then decided that due to the summer heat I would like to try my hand at selling these dictionaries in a lake area where it would be cooler. 

I chose Wisconsin. When I reached Milwaukee, I stayed all night at a hotel. The next day I went to Plymouth, my assigned area, and stayed one night in the hotel there. I went to a Lutheran minister and asked where I might rent a room in a nice home. He directed me to his neighbor Mrs. Franey. She rented me an upstairs bedroom. Jim White rented a downstairs bedroom. There also was one other male boarder. Mrs. Franey and I sometimes played cards with the two men.

Once I started to go upstairs and opened the door to the basement and fell spraining my ankle. Often I would go buy the meat and Mrs. Franey and I would cook our dinner. One Sunday I met a couple of girls who had come up from Milwaukee to visit a couple of the local young men who ate at the same boarding house as I did. 

They asked me how my book sales were going and I told them the book wasn't selling too well. They said they could take me to their company. I did apply for a job there and in a few days I got a long distance call telling me I had gotten the Milwaukee job. It would be working in a moving picture theater.

In the meantime, I had heard about an innovative new instrument known as the radio. This interested me very much because I had been told that there were actually two of these radios in Plymouth. Two young men had built one of these two and I was curious to see it. My landlady knew the young men and made arrangements for me to visit them and hear it. This was my introduction to radio--and my introduction to Erwin Schad.

The first thing I said about the radio was, "It smells like something dead." Erwin explained that the smell was formaldehyde. It wasn't unusual for people to some listen to the radio. It was such a novelty. The radio power was a Ford battery and we used earphones to hear. KDKA Pittsburg was the main station we could hear in Wisconsin.

It was a couple of days after I had met Erwin and had seen his radio that he came over to see me. He asked me to a Lutheran church dinner. From then on we went some place together every night. He came down to Milwaukee every weekend after I took the job there. I didn't work in the theater very long. I quit to take a job in a dress shop within walking distance of where I was staying. I stayed at the YWCA which was right on the lake.

Erwin and I went to all the parks around Milwaukee. One evening we were sitting on a bench and it began to get dark. We sat for a few minutes longer and a policeman shined his light on us. We were just enjoying the sights but we decided it was time to go back to town.

In October I got a call to go home to again book shows for the theater circuit. The week before I left, I was a guest of the Schad's, Erwin, his sister Nelda, and their mother Catherine. It was time to make a break. Erwin and I were getting pretty serious. It was during that week that Erwin quoted the old English verse from Canterbury Tales to me. I knew then for certain that he was the man for me. 

I had already written my dad about the young man I had met and must have made apparent my feelings about Erwin, because my father wrote me a letter referring to Erwin as "the young man you have decided to marry." Well, I hadn't really decided until he wooed me with Chaucer.

When I reached Tulsa in October, I was immediately sent to Enid where I was put in charge of the booking office. Everything was in my name. I hired and fired the people. From Enid I went to Bristow in the same capacity. Then I was sent to Henryetta. This was the last place I worked. Erwin had sent me my engagement ring to Henryetta. 

I worked through the winter saving my money to put together my trousseau and hope chest. Because Erwin worked for a cabinet company in Plymouth and had a good job for the times, we decided the only practical way to get married was for me to return to Plymouth for the wedding. Here I was going north to Wisconsin to marry a young man my parents had never met and was planning to live there instead of Tulsa. They had always been understanding parents and realized they had raised a daughter whose head was filled with practical thoughts.

I was married to Erwin Albert Schad on June 14, 1923. His sister Nelda was my maid of honor and Mrs. Franey's boarder Jim White, Nelda's future husband, stood up with him. Erwin's mother Catherine was also present. The wedding ceremony took place in the parlor of my future mother-in-law's house.

I had married into a German family and at times was at a loss to know what to think. Most of them spoke German to each other. This left me out of the conversations. When they would laugh in the midst of their talking, I couldn't be sure whether it was at me or with me. I eventually learned enough phrases to at least get the trend of their topics. 

Plymouth, Wisconsin is made up of basically English and German people whose grandparents such as Erwin's, were actually immigrants. The main street, "Mill Street", seemed to be the dividing line of the two cultures. In '23 when we were married, the church that the Schad's attended still gave its services in German. Although I couldn't speak German, I learned enough to sing alto in the choir. The songs were familiar so I had to concentrate only on the words. The services were very much the same as the protestant church I belonged to in Tulsa.

When we went back to Plymouth for a visit in 1948, the church was giving two sermons, one in German and the second in English. In 1964, when we returned for a visit, we found that the church members had built a nice brick building and had a membership of 900. The name had been changed from "German Reform Church" to "Salem Evangelical". All services were now conducted in English.

Our first son Harry was born in Plymouth on May 12, 1924. When I was able to go to town (no three days in bed and up and going as today) I bought an electric washer. The tub was copper with a burner on the bottom to heat with gas. We didn't have gas in Wisconsin. Piping artificial gas from Sheboygan had not yet been completed so the heating gadget was of no use to me. We did have sinks and hot running water. This washer had three cups that looked like plungers on short handles that were fastened to the center post and were lifted up and down as the post turned.

The clothes were clean, but the washer only washed and then you had to have tubs for rinsing. There was a roller that turned and squeezed the water out of the clothes. You had to hand-feed the items being careful to have no knots or bumps in the clothes. There were no dryers at this time so in summer you hung the clothes on outside lines and in the winter lines were hung in the basements or attics. The snows in Plymouth were deep enough to hide the clothes lines. At times we were unable even to get outside. Temperatures could drop to well below zero.

In Tulsa a lady who rented an apartment from Dad did our washing and ironing. Oklahoma usually had enough pretty days that clothes could be dried outside summer or winter. Two types of washers were available in Plymouth. One was powered by an electric motor, the other by a gasoline engine. Many farmers used the gasoline powered washers.

Erwin's mother, Catherine Schad, had a washer even older than the one I bought in 1924. I don't know how long she had it, but it was a big improvement over the rub board type of washing. The rub board was a board about 2 or more feet long with raised metal or glass grooves at the top, a place for the bar soap which many people made. The board had two legs about 6 inches long at the bottom on each side. You placed the board with the feet in the tub and leaned it back against the tub. The clothes were in the warm water and you rubbed soap on them, then pushed the clothes up and down on the board to get them clean.

At this stage of washing most people had copper boilers. They filled the boiler with water and put the white clothes in it. The boiler was of course put on top of the stove. It was heated until the clothes boiled. A stick was used for pushing the clothes back down into the water. Clothes were clean and sanitary.

My mother-in-law's washer had a wooden tub on legs. She filled this with hot water and soap and clothes. There was a stick that came out of the covered top of this washer. Pushing or pulling this stick back and forth was much less effort than the rubbing of each piece separately on the rub board. In the washer a tub load was done at one time.

Also while we lived in Plymouth, we had a Pathe phonograph which had to be wound by hand. It sat on four legs and was about two feet tall. The phonograph took half the cabinet; the other half held records. We had too many records to put into the cabinet, so I piled them in 2 stacks on the floor underneath the cabinet. These records were breakable and the red seal records were expensive, according to our prices then. In those days a record with a red seal label indicated the best quality available.

When Harry learned to crawl, one of his favorite tricks was to make for those records and start throwing them. Harry has always moved fast and, although I was only 24 years old, he could beat me to those records. Also during this period electric refrigerators were unheard of. We had an old fashioned (new then) ice box. Ice was cut out of the Mullet river in winter and stored in a building with sawdust for insulation. Our ice was sold by the month. We paid $4.00 a month to keep our box full of ice.

The drip pan was another of Harry's favorite spots and in spite of my careful watching he managed to beat me to the ice box at least one time a day and flip the pan upside down. Due to my mother's failing health, Erwin, Harry and I moved to Tulsa arriving on Oct. 1, 1925. On the 13th of October, Mid-Continent Oil Company hired Erwin and he started to work on my birthday, October 19. When he told the company he worked for in Plymouth that he was resigning, they offered him a salary increase to stay because they thought he was such a good employee. He told them, "No. I shouldn't have to quit in order to get a raise."

When we moved to Tulsa in 1925, we brought our radio with us. It still was new to people and, as it was in Plymouth, people came here to see it. My father would say, "I don't know how that gets in with no wires." This radio had a horn like the old Edison phonograph and so earphones weren't used.

Streets were not paved when we lived on Frisco or Detroit. In fact Detroit and Fairview were not paved when I was married in 1923, but were when we moved from Wisconsin in 1925. While we were in Wisconsin those 30 months, the hill on Fairview was mutilated by the cutting of the street from its natural status to 6 feet or more below the front of Detroit also making a monstrosity of the road on the south side of Fairview leaving houses high above the street.

But one good thing happened. Spavinaw Lake water was piped into Tulsa flowing by natural gravity the full 75 miles. Upper Spavinaw has since been built and 2 lines of pipe come into Tulsa. Also other man-made lakes have been added to get enough water for the ever-growing city. Piping the good, clear water from Spavinaw to Tulsa gave new life for cleaner and better living. Both the foresight of getting the railroads to include Tulsa and finding a way to get plenty of good water have helped make it possible for Tulsa to grow to the city she now is.

Our second son Charles was born January 13, 1926. Dr. J. E. Webb was our doctor and officiated the birth. Charles was born at our home on Standpipe Hill. We lived on Standpipe Hill with my parents until April 1928 when we moved to a house Erwin and I had built at 1235 South Florence Place. The city was around 75,000 population when we moved here in 1925. We were so far from "downtown" that our friends asked if we were moving to Broken Arrow. Where Skelly Stadium is now, was a pasture with a cow staked out grazing.

When Mid-Continent went into retail of gasoline, the accounting department of the retail section consisted of three people--Erwin, head accountant, Clint Wood, assistant, and one secretary. The retail business grew and grew. Erwin was commissioned to write the accounting procedure of this department.

Erwin worked for Mid-Continent Oil Company through its merger. His department was DX Sunray (Sun) when he retired after 38 years with the company accounting department. He was 65 years old.

Not long after we moved to Tulsa, my husband's sister Nelda and her husband and family and Grandma Catherine Schad moved too. About three years after they moved here, they rented a house north of the Sand Springs Inter-urban tracks with an option to buy. It was a new addition to Vern Station about half way between Tulsa and Sand Springs. My dad and I tried to tell them it flooded there sometimes. It was several blocks north of the river and they couldn't believe it would flood that far away.

They were in the process of buying the house when one night we had a downpour. The river was already high from the spring melting of snow in the mountains so, with the local rain and raining upstream, the river overflowed its banks. They had gone to bed when the storm came and Nelda started to get up, but when she put her foot on the floor, she stepped into water. 

Jim, her husband, managed to get his hip boots and carried the children and Nelda to the car. They had to vacate the house taking the two children and going to a friend's place in Tulsa for the night. Jackie, their daughter, was small but says she remembers her dad trying to catch some pet ducks but that was impossible. What surprised them most was the amount of water that came down those hills. Needless to say the house deal fell through and they bought a place in a new addition about the 300 block of N. Evanston in Tulsa and several miles from the river.

We could go several years before the river overflowed again and you could not convince newcomers that it could get as bad as it did. I do not know when the dikes were built along the north bank of the Arkansas River, between here and Sand Springs, but it was some time after this flood. Now with the Keystone Dam and the dikes, the flooding problem has been solved in that area. The river now is navigable to the Mississippi River and so to the Gulf. Catoosa is the location for the port.

In the 1890's, the trip from Tulsa to Mounds to visit my mother's sister Leone was made by horse and buggy. If there had been a rain around Red Fork, people would have to stay there until the mud dried enough to drive through. Also Polecat Creek between Sapulpa and Keifer was often bank full and another wait was needed for it to go down. The Tulsa-Mounds trip with no mud or river overflow took a full day. As it takes from 30 to 45 minutes at the most by car today, a full day seems impossible.

In my time you could make the trip by train. The Harvey House, a national chain of restaurants connected with train depots, was a nice place to grab a bite to eat. Trains made at least 20 minute stopovers in order for the passengers to take advantage of the restaurant facilities. This Harvey House in Sapulpa was still in existence in the late thirties.

For a long time Sapulpa seemed to be the place that would grow to a city. They had the roundtable, or turntable, for railroad engines to be turned around so the trains could go in the opposite direction. Sapulpa was the railroad town. But when the first refinery was built in West Tulsa, the roundhouse was moved to West Tulsa. 

Sapulpa had a slowing down, but Tulsa had a boost. In the late twenties, the streetcar that came from the East 11th Street and crossed Main at 4th went to west Tulsa and on to Sapulpa. Here you could board another streetcar that went through Keifer and on to Mounds, 14 miles from Sapulpa.

The mud and dirt roads are long gone now, but in those years during our hot dry summers the dust was terrible. All the weeds and grass along the highway were covered with dust and you dreaded to see a car approaching as it meant fighting the dust, making breathing hard at times. Cars still were open top and not air-conditioned. Tops could be put down and side curtains fastened onto the top when it was up. If it started to rain, you had to get out of the car to do the fastening. 

If the top was down, it was double-trouble--no pushing a button to have the top come up into place as convertibles have today. Not only was there no air-conditioning, neither was there heating. We used to heat bricks sometimes and put them on the floor of the car to keep our feet warm. I do not know when self-starters came into use, but the early cars had to be cranked from the front to start the car. It was no easy job. Sometimes a car would have to be cranked several times before it would start.

Harry was about 2 1/2 years old and Charles was not yet walking when my mother wanted to go see her sister Leone and my sister Princess in Mounds for a few days. Needless to say I had my hands full. Mother, Harry, baby Charles, and a suitcase. Everything went fine on the streetcar from Tulsa to Sapulpa, but, when we got on the streetcar to Mounds, things began to happen.

A couple got on with a small sack of bananas. Harry kept watching them eat the bananas, so they gave him one. I watched to see what he would do as he never ate them at home. He peeled the banana and took the peeled banana back to them. Of course I had to explain why he didn't eat it.

While this was going on, my mother decided she wanted something out of the over packed suitcase. So here again I had a problem trying to close the suitcase on a moving streetcar, manage two babies and pacify Mother. I got it closed just in time to get off the car at Mounds. I never tried that trip on the streetcar again.

My sister and her husband had sold their Keystone farm and bought another one two miles south of Mounds on Highway 75, which was a dirt road then. We went to Mounds and my brother-in-law was to get us in their two-seated Ford. One of our quick rains came up and we really had a downpour. It was impossible to drive the car because of the mud. My cousin Florence lived in Mounds so we spent the night with her.

Another short quip may be of interest. While my sister and her family were living on the farm near Mounds, one of their neighbors, a farmer, died. Princess and her husband Tracy thought they should go to the funeral even though they didn't neighbor with them. 

There were very few people attending the funeral. The dead man wasn't very well liked, but a remark the preacher made has stayed with us. There wasn't much the preacher could say about the man. However, this outstanding sentence made an impression. "This man was an example of what you shouldn't be."

I'm not going to try to write much about the famous "Ma Barker and Sons," as about the only thing I actually remember is that the family lived in a small house on the east side of North Boston just a few houses south of Easton. Henry Starr was a notorious outlaw. 

One time when my father had been to see my sister and family on South Quaker, he was coming home by the way of the Katy tracks. He actually passed Starr and of course spoke to him as they knew each other by sight. Later, Dad remarked that he hoped Starr didn't get caught because he might think that Dad had turned him in to the authorities.

I have talked about the Dalton brothers' cave at Keystone. Several members of the Dalton gang were killed in gun fights, but in the late twenties Emmet Dalton was appearing at the Lyric Theater in the old Lynch building, supposedly, a reformed man. If Emmet was a reformed man, he certainly didn't look or act like it.

In a downtown drug store, where I was handling an advanced sale for an Ethel Waters show, Emmet and a Negro man came in and bought canned heat. Because prohibition was of course nationwide during the twenties, many people drank this stuff which made them crazy, or so it seemed to me. A famous attorney from New York used to buy it also. Those who drank this canned heat could be spotted by their extremely red faces and eyes that seemed to bulge. 

I was used to seeing the attorney buy the canned heat, but he was a respected man so it didn't bother me. But when Emmet Dalton and the Negro bought it and sort of stood around, I, as well as some of the drug store employees, was nervous. The police came and the two--Emmet and the Negro--left to the relief of all of us. That was the last I saw of any of the Daltons.

When we moved to Florence Place, after putting a picket fence around the back yard from the back of the garage to the side fence, we had a garden again. This was in 1929. Dad took much pleasure in the garden. Our tomatoes were so plentiful that I made arrangements with the neighborhood store to let them have what we couldn't use. To our surprise the grocer paid us 15 cents a pound for them, a very good price in those days.

We had a screened-in back porch with the bottom half made of wood. Where the screen fastened onto the wood was a ledge. We put especially nice tomatoes not ripe enough to eat on this ledge. Our ice box was on this porch. I told the ice man to take a tomato whenever he delivered ice. This he did. Harry and Charles were small, but whenever the ice man came, they would go on the porch and watch him like a hawk. For some reason both boys resented his taking a tomato.

At this same time my father and the boys were in the back yard a lot in the summer as it was shady in the afternoon. One day I had been to the neighborhood store on 11th street and saw several trucks go by loaded with scrap iron. When I got home, I went out in the yard where Dad and the boys were and asked my dad where that scrap iron was going. He said, "Japan."

My remark to Dad was, "Don't they (the government) know they will shoot this scrap iron back into our boys?" If I could see that, no smarter than I am, why couldn't the Congress and ones in power see it? In the early thirties before the short wave, on the porcelain table in the living room we had a Brunswick all-band console radio. The soap operas were on the radio at that time. Ma Perkins, sponsored by Oxydol soap, was a favorite with Grandma Schad.

Jimmy Allen and Speed Robinson and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy were shows that Harry and Charles liked. The first portrayed two boys traveling from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by air. They had entered a contest to try to be the first airplane to reach the west coast. It took them days as they traveled such short distances each day and experienced all kinds of trouble and interference.

My boys didn't want to miss a single installment of Jimmy and Speed. If they were playing in the yard at the time it started, I would let them know it was time and here they came. Like the movie serial about Pearl White which I had loved when I was a girl, this program left Speed and Jimmy in some kind of trouble. Harry and Charles had to listen each day to see how they got out.

My father at first said he wasn't interested in the radio, but when Erwin and I would go to a show in the evening, we would return to find him sitting in the living room with earphones listening to the police calls. Everyone else had gone to bed. He even became interested in the Jimmy Allen show and, when he went to my sister's house for several weeks, I had to listen to the show each day and write him what had transpired that day.

The black face comedians Amos and Andy were a favorite show for most. My husband and I belonged to a bridge club consisting of eight couples. The men were department heads for Mid-Continent. We met once a month at the various hotels. Each couple paid $5.00. This included the dinner for two, a private room to play bridge in, and table service. Since Amos and Andy was a must, most rooms had speakers to the radio and the program was piped into the room where we played cards.

Reproduced by 
Kathie Harrison
Ancestral Whispers
Copyright 2012 
All rights reserved.