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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Memoirs of Lloyd Read, part 5


1 Introducing Ancestors

2 Childhood and Youth

3 Responsibilities

4 Shifting Fortunes

5 I Retired and Retired and Retired . . .

After Port Orford
Lloyd’s Last Word on Politics
Association of Retired Federal Employees: Traveling Read Style
Further Travels for A.R.F.E.
Lloyd’s Last Word on Church Service

6 The Ending

5 I Retired and Retired and Retired . . .

Lloyd Read, age 92
When I think about retirement, I have to say I retired and retired and retired, and so on!

After Port Orford

I gave the building supply business to Alice and Claude to run. January 1, 1960 I turned it over to Earl Dinman on a contract. He owned a saw mill near Pacific High School and this would be an outlet for his finished lumber. He hired a nondescript to operate it and that man ran it into debt. Then the building was wrecked in the October 1962 storm. The insurance gave us a total loss and this gave us money for the bills. We reconstructed, replenished, and then turned it over to Alice and Claude under contract in 1963.

Dan Andrews in front of the Mill Creek house in Turner that Lloyd built
Meanwhile, we built a house on Mill Creek three miles east of Turner in 1961. After the Big Wind on October 12, 1962, we had to recondition it because part of the garage roof was ruined by a tree that had come down on it. We also had to recondition the house in Port Orford.

We sold the Mill Creek house and the Port Orford house within a few days of each other in March 1963 and bought a house in Portland at 626 SE Spokane St., near the east end of Sellwood Bridge, also near Sellwood City Park and the Oaks Amusement Park. There was an old pioneer church just down on the river front, built in 1857. It stood in Milwaukie until public-minded citizens bought it and moved it down to the river front. Anybody can rent it for weddings, funerals, receptions, museum displays, etc. It’s on Spokane St. three blocks toward the river from us. Below us was the old Oregon City and Estacada electric railway line Gulf Junction. It was still used for freight (diesel now) and was used for passengers. I advocated a highway across there twenty years ago and I see now they’re going to do it. I made traffic surveys on Sellwood Bridge and told the city engineers that a two-lane bridge can’t accommodate the traffic that needs to cross there.

In Sellwood we worked with the Sellwood Christian Church where George Springer was minister. Later, when George left Sellwood Church, we went to Milwaukie Church where I became minister of visitation for nearly two years while my son Herbert was the minister.

Lloyd’s Last Word on Politics

I voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960. On November 22, 1963 when I heard of his assassination over the television that night, I couldn’t believe it. What would have happened if the man could have finished? He was innovative in his ideas, like Roosevelt. He proposed legislation with dependent children and retired people in mind. The nation was set back due to his assassination.

I favored Lyndon B. Johnson in the election of 1964; I voted for him. There were some in our family who were in opposition to him. Letha’s son and wife, James and Eldora, were among them. They sent a vicious attack on Johnson, and I put them in their place. The Republican party has a superiority attitude that has to be fought all along the line. The Democratic party is not all angels either. Both parties have human beings in them with frailties. Neither has the moral or legal right to attack the other.

Richard Nixon was the victim of a very crooked political situation. The Democratic crooks crucified him. He was ambitious to be sure; he left no stone unturned to attain the presidency and to achieve his fortune. But I don’t believe he was responsible for Watergate, as it existed as a means to an end long before him. It began in the Eisenhower administration, this subtlety and deviousness in winning the election. There was a price placed on the presidency, all who sought that office had to subscribe to the machinations that produced Watergate.

And we still have it today. An honest man cannot attain the presidency of this country; it has to be bought. A Watergate type deal has to be struck, as if all is fair in love and war, or elections. What each party considered fair was considered unfair by the other. The Republicans were caught; the Democrats went free. Yes, Nixon should have resigned as he did because of his involvement, but there were crooks on the Democrat side who went free because they weren’t caught. I wonder what they had that was so valuable? Nixon was smart; I admired him for that, but not for what he did with his intelligence.

Association of Retired Federal Employees: Traveling Read Style

While I was on Spokane St. I was active in the Portland chapter of the Retired Federal Employees. I was president of the chapter from 1967–1968. After retiring from the Railway Mail Service I became secretary of the Retired Railway Mail Service Clerks of Portland for ten years.

In 1950 I collaborated with Alvin Chase Baker to organize Portland Chapter #29 of the Retired Federal Employees Association. February 13, 1950 was our charter date. I helped organize it and was one of 17 members at the organization meeting. Most of us who signed the roll that day were retired Railway Mail Service clerks. We held the meeting at the home of Charles Rhodes. Alvin Chase Baker was the president, Lloyd Read was the secretary. Charles Rhodes was the vice president. We were all mail clerks. We carried the load of this organization for a number of years. We had not much trouble enlisting other departments. The national organization furnished us with the names of members in the outer area and we canvassed the area ourselves. Baker and I helped organize the chapters in Milwaukie, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Vancouver. There are 4,000 members in Oregon now.

Baker and Rhodes would first send a penny postcard or make a phone call to contact the prospective member and then would visit. In the first six months we got 150 members. We got our national charter on June 30, 1950 and then closed our original charter.

I’ve done a lot to promote that organization. It was my “baby”—I put in a lot of the hard work. Alvin Baker and I would finance those who couldn’t pay their second year dues. Only two of us original 150 members are left, me and a lady in LaCenter, Washington. At a meeting a year ago we sat together and had a picture taken.

In 1952 I was a delegate to the national meeting in Washington D.C. We left Portland June 7 or 8 and took Barbara with us. I had been an elected delegate and had paid my way to this convention, but once there they gave us each $100. On our way we visited Marjorie and her family in Ohio and left Lillie and Barbara there. When I got to Washington D.C. I met a lot of officers and interesting folks. Senator Olin Johnson of North Carolina sat next to me at the banquet table. I had written to advise them that I was an ordained Christian minister and a soloist. I got no word back, but there I heard my name being announced as the one to give the invocation! I went up there and met Elmer Johnson, the president, and the vice president was across the table from me. They knew my name! I gave the invocation and felt I was inspired. The U.S. Senator from Maryland afterward shook my hand and told me that that was one of the finest invocations or prayers he’d ever heard. It was a highlight of my life, a mountaintop experience for me. I was inspired! Amen.

Elmer, he was a dear old man! I’ve never met a man that caliber since. To me he outshines them all. He was soft spoken, kind, gentle, would put an arm around the shoulders to express a thought and persuade. He had a gentle wife. I met a lot of people on the convention floor and had a wonderful experience there overall.

Back in Ohio Marjorie cashed that check for us and we visited the Andrews family over the 4th of July for four or five days. They had a big celebration. We had a ball game, and I played ball with them. It was hot out there too! Marjorie had three boys at that time. It was the first time I’d seen them. We all went to Detroit one Sunday to visit Woodward Ave., and another time to Toledo and to the shores of Lake Erie. Detroit impressed us as being an older city. It has a lot of brick buildings, some 100 years old. Some have lost their edges and the bricks are rounded. They appeared very old to me.

We went to Cleveland. We got lost there and went east along the shore of Lake Erie. We had engine trouble along there and thought the motor had failed. I shoved the starter in and broke things. Ooops. We got something to eat while it was being fixed. We went to see Buffalo, New York, and Niagara Falls. Beautiful! The sightseer boats go up the river and under the falls. They give you a slicker and a hat and still you get wet. We didn’t go because we didn’t have enough money, but we walked around and saw all this. One of the boats was called Queen of the Mist, another was called Queen of the Falls. We stayed the night there and then drove through Rochester and Albany, going north at Albany and over the Hudson into Massachusetts, where we stayed the night in Worcester.

We bypassed Boston and drove up to Portland, Maine. We bought view postcards and sent them to everybody we knew. We spent a day there. Portland is old, but they are keeping it up well. It’s a fishing port. Then we came back south and went through Boston. We couldn’t find a direction sign to Providence, Rhode Island and pulled up to the curb to ask a man. The man said, “You’re a stranger. Don’t go into any of these buildings around here. They’re fronts.” He gave me directions to get out of there! We came into Providence almost to the coast and then turned right opposite Sandyhook.

We drove on to New Haven, Connecticut, where we stopped to see Clarence and Myra at Yale. They had Beverly then. We weren’t able to visit long because they had classes. On Sunday we went to a Congregational Christian Church and I was recognized as a minister there. We went on up to Hartford and drove right past the Winchester Gun Company.

Monday morning we went down to Boston again and stayed the afternoon. We got in a traffic circle and got stuck. We’d see Faneuil Hall and the sights of midtown, go around once, miss the turn, go around again, and then stuck behind a woman whose car wouldn’t go. We pushed her and decided not to sight-see any more. We drove to Lexington through a thunderstorm with lightning and rain. We followed a streetcar, looking for a motel. We stopped to get directions from a fellow working to get statuary under cover. It wasn’t 6:00 yet. He gave me directions back over to Concord and I helped him get his artifacts under cover. That storm was in the paper the next morning; it had demolished houses in Worcester.

After our sightseeing experiences around Boston, we went down to New York City and stayed on the outer edges, on the east bank of the Hudson River. There was a ferry over to the New Jersey shore at Yonkers. We drove past Palisades Park and down to Fort Lee, where we got a motel. The George Washington Bridge crosses the river just two blocks away. We decided to walk across it, and we caught a bus into New York City. It landed us at 175th St., where we caught a 5th Ave. bus. We got down to Central Park on its south end at 60th St. You detour there off Broadway onto 5th Ave. We were talking to the bus driver and to people who wanted to help us see things. We had said something about the Empire State Building, so the driver had us get off at the right spot and told us to cross the street. We went up the elevators, and at the top there is a cage where there’s a lookout place. You can see all of New York City. You feel a little dizziness at first and then sit down. Automobiles look like toys. That was something! Visibility was 25 miles, the sign said that day. But it was a beautiful day and I guess you could see 100 miles. We identified all the buildings. The Empire State Building was the tallest at that time. We got ice cream up there, up there on that building in the sky. That’s a lot of town to see!
New York skyline, 1950s

We walked back down Broadway past Times Square. Central Park is really something. An oasis in the desert, a place to rest in a place where there isn’t much place to rest. We noticed the tenement houses facing the park, 40 feet wide and three or four stories high. Old-type buildings. On the south side is the Hudson River. Manhattan is where we were. We went through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood where even Safeway had all Hebrew lettering. We also went through an Italian neighborhood and a German quarter too. We took some bus back to 175th, got a bus across the bridge. We didn’t know which one, we just waited in a sophisticated manner like we knew what we were doing, and we stayed the night in Fort Lee.

I didn’t want to go to Philadelphia. All towns look alike to me, so we detoured north to Portland, Pennsylvania. Just beyond there the Delaware River goes through Pennsylvania. We went through the Delaware Water Gap and turned around due to poor roads. We went to Harrisburg, a beautiful place. We got onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike, 125 miles for $1.10. It goes through seven tunnels through the Appalachian mountains. One tunnel is a mile long. There are no twin tunnels, and the noise of the trucks is deafening. You have to use your own lights too. The tunnels were originally built by a railroad, the B. & O., but the railroads relocated their tracks.

Every so often we came to a rest stop occupied by a Howard Johnson’s. We got through the turnpike and went off to Pittsburgh during rush hour. We saw the Golden Triangle at the confluence of rivers. You get into Ohio before running off the turnpike onto country roads. We came to Akron, Ohio, where Goodyear and Goodrich companies are. We drove through out to a motel northeast on the highway to stay overnight. They brought in a roll-away bed for Barbara, $5. We thought we’d get to Ottawa but it was dark and late. The next day we went to Ottawa and to Marj and Fred’s. That was July 2nd.

We left there about July 5th or 6th. Lillie was affected by the heat and we almost put her on the plane home, but she wanted to visit Little Rock. We got down to Cincinnati about noon, and we drove to Covington on the Ohio River. We went through the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky that afternoon. It’s limestone country, and the stalactites and stalagmites are something. Oh it’s pretty, all those different colors. You go in on a tour every half hour. They turn lights on and off at different points as you go through to show you how dark it can become. It cost $1.50 apiece and the tour took an hour.

We went past Fort Knox but didn’t stop. We went past Lincoln’s birthplace but didn’t stop. We drove out of Kentucky and into Tennessee where we stopped at a motel in a little bitty town above Memphis. A little Southern girl waited on us in the restaurant, and her southern accent was something. In Memphis we drove right through the town. The highway didn’t connect with the bridge; it was two blocks over. They had a booth in the middle with a traffic officer. He told me I was going the wrong way on a one-way grid, and he directed me aright. Good thing it was early morning. We found the bridge and crossed the Mississippi to West Memphis, Arkansas. There’s nothing there.

We got to Little Rock in the afternoon. Lillie’s sister lived near Boyle Park. I used to go pitch horseshoes over there. We visited all Annie’s children and Annie herself too. We stayed there eight days.
Little Rock, Arkansas

From there we drove to Texarkana, Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. A 7,500 mile trip. [Some of this was later crossed out—a different trip, but I put it in here anyway.] We went from Eureka Springs to Tulsa and stayed overnight east of Tulsa. We drove through Oklahoma City to Wichita, Kansas; from there we visited Leland Friesen, an old friend and a professor at the Christian Bible College. He was a minister from the Stafford Church; I think he married Marjorie and Fred. Okeene is where we stayed the night. We stayed two nights there. On Sunday they had a men’s meeting at the Baptist Church at Okeene and I gave a half hour extemporaneous talk there.

We drove to Dodge City, Kansas, where there are a lot of tourist attractions based on Old West themes. It’s worth the trip down there. About 75 miles out of Dodge City we could see we were headed straight into a thunderstorm. We hit the freeway going into Dodge City, got our gas and didn’t have the sense to stop. We ran into that storm with thunder, lightning, wind, and rain. We kept going; the trees were blowing. We ran out of that storm and into sunlight. In Garden City we got a motel.

We headed toward Denver from Pueblo, going through Colorado Springs and then to Pike’s Peak. From Denver we drove up to Cheyenne and headed west through Rawlins and Rock Springs, and then northwest to Kemmerer and Montpelier, Idaho. We drove across Idaho through Pocatello, Twin Falls, and Boise. We drove into Oregon at Baker and turned off Highway 30 at Ontario and came across the desert through Burns and Bend. Claude and Alice lived in Burns at that time and we stopped to visit them. We used our last coupon for Mobile gasoline at Burns. We spent our last money but 75¢ to eat at Silverton. We got home mid-afternoon.

Further Travels for A.R.F.E.

After the convention, I was looking for business and for chances to preach too (I had been ordained to the ministry in April 1952). I severed ties with Chapter 29 in Portland when I went down to Port Orford. There were no opportunities to preach at that time. I attended a number of the national conventions for the Retirees. I attended the 1960 convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1962 we delegates met in Des Moines, Iowa.

When we moved back to Portland in 1963, I rejoined the Chapter and resumed my activity. I became the chaplain to the chapter for ten years. I was chairman of the Sunshine Committee, which visited members in their homes, nursing homes, and hospitals. I was on the Membership Committee. I could go in anytime since I was a minister. I never stayed more than 10 minutes though. My services were in demand for visitation, so I was quite busy. Some were confined to home and they needed to be visited. I thought a lot of that work. I always closed my visits with a prayer, except when I visited my former chief clerk who’d rather not. It was a very rewarding experience. I wouldn’t take anything for that gratitude. I was never able to plan or budget time doing this—this all was extemporaneous. There’s no greater joy than to serve other people.

My friend Everett Cain was elected president in 1962 but he had bad health and declined it. In the latter part of 1966 he was the chair of the nominating committee and was trying to find a candidate, sifting the ashes and so forth. He couldn’t get anybody to take the presidential nomination. He asked me, “Would you take it, Lloyd? You’re capable and willing, aren’t you?” I said to wait and find somebody else out of the thousand people we had available. He came back to me, “I cannot find anybody. Lloyd, would you take it?” I said, “I’ll take it, reluctantly, but I know I can do it.” I was nominated and subsequently elected president for the 1967–1968 terms. I conducted the presidency in a relaxed manner. I profited by other fellows’ mistakes and would devise plans to avoid that. My presidency, everybody said, was the turning point in the growth of the organization. In January 1967 we had 1000 members. In December 1968 we had 1200 members. The organization was financially stabilized. We had been using a mimeograph machine; in mid 1968 we bought an offset printing machine.

We attended the 1968 national convention in San Francisco, and while in that area we visited the Andrews family. Fifteen of us delegates went down to that convention. We had missed the 1964 convention in Buffalo and the 1966 convention in Jacksonville; they were too far to go.

Today [1980] there are 2,400 members. That’s my baby. I can get anything I want down there now. A former assistant secretary and I are going to write a history of the chapter.

Lloyd’s and Lillie’s home in Turner on Chicago St.
During the State Convention of 1969, we decided to make application to the Turner Memorial Christian Home. We moved to the Home in August 1969. We very much enjoy the Christian atmosphere of the Home.

I went back to the Sunshine Committee of the Association of Retired Federal Employees after my presidency expired. All this time I had been on the Membership Committee. We were not signing up anyone new, but we would visit members who were delinquent on their dues. I made gas money by contacting these delinquents as I got a dollar for each one. The same members wouldn’t be delinquent two months’ running, so I met a lot of people.

The 1970 convention was in Seattle, but we didn’t go. In 1972, twelve of our delegates went to Ft. Worth. I went with Floyd Powell in his Impala. He was a member from Roseburg. Three of us men went in his car.

The 1974 convention was in Portland due to Floyd’s influence. New Orleans had wanted it, but we got it first. We organized a hosting committee. Clarence Johnson came; he was the vice president of the national committee, and he appointed a chairman. I was on the committee, as was Clifford [his brother]. We noticed mistakes and provided solutions. It was the smoothest convention ever attended. If they said, We want a salmon feed!; we’d say, OK you’ll get it! We gave them scenery, salmon, and everything. The national organization had the recommendations of the Time and Place Committees, but Floyd and I and my vice president worked hard and got the credit.

In 1976 we went to Salt Lake City and met Karen Andrews. John McLeland was elected president of the national organization. There were lots of tours associated with that convention. They took us up to Snowbird on the bus, 28 busloads [a ski resort up Little Cottonwood Canyon]. We had a buffalo-meat dinner, which tasted a good deal like venison. It was very tasty and well served. They served the dinner over a counter, and you could either find yourself a rock to sit on outside there or sit at a table. We got a table. We didn’t go on all the tours. The convention was in the Salt Palace. Karen Andrews came down and had us paged so we could go out to dinner with her. “Oh! your granddaughter!” they said. “Yes, she attends BYU.” Sunday morning we went to Temple Square to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance. Our motel was on 300 West.

Once we went out to get some exercise, thinking we were going to walk two blocks down and back. We found out how big the blocks were—we weren’t sure we were going to make it back to our motel! [The blocks are five to a mile. This was the time Lloyd got so sick that Lillie arranged for them to leave early and go home on the bus. Their daughter Marj met them in Portland and said he looked like death warmed over; he had developed pneumonia.]

Lillie, Lloyd, and granddaughter Marci in Salt Lake City
[They went through Salt Lake City again in July 1978, on their way home from Arkansas with Viola driving them. The temperatures were near 100° F. Marci was there that summer, and she met them downtown for a tour of Temple Square and nearby historic places. They all went to dinner together and took these pictures.]
Lloyd and Marci

I was appointed a delegate to the New Orleans convention in 1978. I got $100 to help me get there. I went by Banff Airlines both ways. Lillie was appointed too but she didn’t go. That was the first time I was ever at a convention alone. It was a big thing to me. At the convention I was recognized as being among the oldest members.

I stayed in a hotel on Canal St., the LaSalle Hotel. There were no special tours, but I did a lot of walking around. You could walk your legs off. I visited the French quarter. It’s so different from any place else I’ve been. Much was old, but there are also new high-rise buildings. Canal St. runs north and south through town. It’s 170 feet wide from building to building. It used to be a canal from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartraine. Freight would go down the canal from the Lake, eleven miles down to docks in the business area. They would be trucked by hand or horse to the ocean. There were little tugs and boats in the canal that bought rice, soybeans, or other export goods from southern Louisiana down to the docks. With the advent of horse-drawn drays, they filled in the canal. There are two traffic lights to cross this street now! Between lanes of traffic in the median there used to be streetcars operating. Now the buses operate there. The bus zones are plainly marked. Bus numbers are plainly printed too. There are taxicabs, but not so many as we saw in Washington D.C. or New York City. There are lots of automobiles, but public transportation is relied upon heavily too. Lights are synchronized so you leisurely walk across the first 55 to 57 feet of the street to the next light, and then it will change and allow you to walk across the second 55 to 57 foot unit. They say a quarter of the population of Louisiana is colored, but to judge by appearance it’s two thirds. You have to be careful of the teenagers and kids or they’ll get to running and run you over. One little fellow ran into me and said, “Oh, excuse me!” I said, “That’s all right, you have fun.”

Once I was going to a restaurant for breakfast. I was going by a window washer who had stools. I asked him, “Would you tie my shoes? I’ll pay you for it.” He said, “I’ll tie but you’ll not pay me.” I said, “God bless you, sir.” Someday I may have to pay somebody to tie my shoes all the time.

When I arrived in New Orleans it was about 3:00 p.m. I hadn’t inquired about transportation from the airport to town. I asked an airport attendant about bus service and he told me, “You have to take a cab.” I got in a cab with another passenger. We went 28 miles into the west part of the city. He took me to the Lafayette Hotel; I had to redirect him to the LaSalle Hotel. A 35 minute trip took one and a half hours. I learned that you go down to the airport an hour early so that you can get a reservation. When I got my return ticket, I found out the limousine service was only $4. The day I arrived I went to an all-night drugstore place to eat. I had a roast beef sandwich and a cup of coffee. I couldn’t get a second cup; a second cup cost 35¢. It should have been free. The convention hotel breakfast cost $5.00 and something. I bunched these three things together and wrote to the new committee working on the convention for Albuquerque. The day we left Muhammed Ali was at the new coliseum training for a fight with the Sphinx. It was $3.50 to watch him train.

On the trip back we left at 3:30 p.m. and got to Ft. Worth about 4:30 or 5:00. We left there before dark. We got home to Portland just as people were coming home from work. That was my first round-trip airplane ride.

We made an application for the Albuquerque convention this year, September 14–18, 1980. Only the most affluent members can go to the conventions anymore. It’s not democratic. Abe Zigler said in our newsletter that this isn’t right. How many of our members can afford such expenses? The purpose of the Association is to hire lobbyists for retired people’s rights and privileges. It’s a pressure group. In local chapters the social side of things is stressed. We also write in regard to upcoming legislation to our local congressmen.

Lloyd’s Last Word on Church Service

In all of the church organizations we’ve been members, I’ve served in various capacities. We’ve been members of Kern Park Church three different times as we moved in and out of that area. We were charter members of the Multnomah Church and helped build their building. We were instrumental in organizing the original Milwaukie Church, and we later actively helped in the organization of the present church under the leadership of Mary Harding and Alger Fitch. I was one of the organizers of the Men’s Ninety and Nine and was active in the nearly sixteen years of its existence, serving on the state executive board during most of that time. I served as President of the Northwest district for two separate terms. During this time the Men’s Ninety and Nine were successful in establishing new churches at Parkrose, Southeast (new Midway), Willamina, Lake Grove, Southgate, Willamette, and Winston, besides helping in other places where help was needed. I’ve served as substitute minister, Sunday school Superintendent, choir leader and singer as well as soloist, leader of adult classes—mostly men—and also as janitor. We were members of Aumsville, Kern Park, Portland Central (original), Milwaukie, Multnomah, Oregon City, Canby, McMinnville, Port Orford Community, Port Orford Christian, Sellwood, and Turner churches.

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