Home Eleanor William Margaret Patricia Michael David
The following is my father's self dictated remembrances. I have tried to arrange them in chronological order so they will be easier to follow.
This first section was provided by Harold's mother prior to her passing:
Harold Edgar Grossie was born on February 24, 1907 at about 11:30 P.M. to Flora Sarah Quada Grossie and Louis Grossie, with the aid of Dr. Seifer and B. Maitrejean in a two room shack on the back lot of 1905 Fifth Street, (corner of Fifth Street and Lake Charles Avenue) Port Arthur, TX.
The property contained 2 lots. To the east was Tom Pizzaro, crane operator at the docks. At the end of the block was the Will James family, namesake of Harold's older brother Bill. Immediately across Fifth Street on the corner was Arthur Feehan, chemist at the Gulf Refining Company and adjoining was F. Lomax. West on Fifth across Lake Charles was Dunns Keith, cattle man, and Dr. Bledsoe, Physician.
Harold was about two years old, during which time a new house was built, when he caused the first catastrophe. Father was burning some grass in the yard when Harold fell off the back porch head first, hit a building stake on his way down and cut a three inch gash in his scalp. I screamed for father who left his grass fire to see what the commotion was about. While he was getting Harold indoors and calling Dr. Bledsoe who lived three houses down the street, the grass fire ignited the two room shack that had been converted to a workshop. By the time the fire wagon arrived the shack and all the tools were a total lost. The doctor (Bledsoe) put seven stitches in Harold’s head, wrapped it up and sent him to bed.
The first memories I have of the Fifth street place, when I was about four, then it was the garden. Mama was a gardener, and there was asparagus and rhubarb as well as fruit trees. There were shade trees around the yard called Chinaberry trees. Rain water was used for cooking and drinking because the city water was from shallow wells and contained salt and other mineral. Our cistern was on a high platform ten feet above the ground. The lower part of it was enclosed and used for a laundry. The water from the roof of the house went into the tank on the platform. It went through a charcoal and lime filter. One year Mama raised quite a few Bermuda sweet onions and stored them in strings in the wash house. As we three boys played around the yard we would dash in the wash house and pick off a sweet onion to eat. She was very upset because her onions were going so fast.
When trying to remember things about the fifth street house, the physical ones come up most vividly, like the gas lights. We had a carbide gas generator buried in the back yard. Or the kerosene range in the kitchen that almost set the house ablaze when mother put water in a pan of blazing grease that in turn splashed down into the burner and she dropped the pan on the floor. It was just lucky that dad was home in bed and came down and smothered the flames, and little damage was done.
There are other things. The house had big bay windows in the front both upstairs and down. Downstairs was a living room, upstairs was what today would be the master bedroom. In this room is where we boys, Bill and myself, learned of the Bible.
On Sunday morning, when Dad worked swing shift the night before, and he woke up, mother was down in the kitchen, he would get the Bible down and sit in bed and read stories from the Old Testament. We learned of Jacob, Joseph, and others.
September 1915 continued the hot dry weather of August. On the fourteenth the wind began to rise; by that evening it had gained gale force and rain was coming in torrents.
Because the house was so tall Papa decided the family should go to the Pizarro’s next door, their house was low one story. Papa started to work on his bicycle but had to abandon it and walk the three miles to the Gulf Refining Company plant.
By ten o’clock that evening it was established that a hurricane was approaching the coast bringing a wave ahead of it, and the low ground between the refinery and the town was being flooded. So the plant was shut down and the men told to go home while the roads were open. Public transportation had ceased to operate. Papa was five hours getting home.
By noon on the fifteenth the water was over ten feet deep in the low lands and over three feet around our house.
That night at the Pizarro house was hectic. I remember having been put to bed on the davenport in the front room, but no one slept that night. The roar of the wind, the pounding of the rain, and the leak in the dining room just fed the uproar that continued until morning. The wind died down and the sun came out on many houses in a placid lake. The storm had moved on into Houston and Corpus Christie area. A neighbor helped Mama and Papa carry us home. We were happy to find the place undamaged, however the next couple of days while the water remained, toilet facilities in the area at that time, since the hothouse was at the back of the lot some forty feet from the house, but it had floated away. It was part of the fence around the yard but not attached, so it floated into the alley and away.
Wind damage from the storm was relatively light as compared to the destruction by water. In the downtown areas the water was six feet deep or more, taking a heavy toll in merchandise and office furniture.
My first memory of school was to a temporary building near the high school on Lakeshore Drive and Stillwell Boulevard. We walked to school along Lake Charles Avenue to Lakeshore Drive, by the residence of a banker named Craig who it was said had a Chinese cook. We always loitered along the street hoping to see his “Chink”.
The only time I can remember having been in the high school was one night when some grade school pupils were putting on the play called “Hiawatha.” My brother Bill was one of the Indians. He caused some concern when he left his bow and arrow at home. Father was working swing shift and Mom was not well, so I, a seven year old escorted him to the school. I don’t remember how the play came off. After Christmas vacation the new school on DeQueen Boulevard was opened and I went there.
One day, at mom’s insistence, I wore my straw hat. She was very adamant that I dress like a gentleman. The wind was blowing so the hat went sailing into a big tank on the playground. To my knowledge it was a septic tank. Needless to say the hat was lost. I wasn’t unhappy.
The only incident at DeQueen school of importance other than that was I was in Mrs. Highes, Principal’s office because I was often tardy at lunch time. Later she married a Mr. Keith who was a cattle rancher and lived on Fifth Avenue two or three houses west of our house.
In late September, 1915 after the flood, mother decided to take the three sons (Bill, Vernon and I) to see her father in Arkansas, near the sawmill town of Hensley about 20 miles south of Little Rock. He farmed 80 acres of sand hill land in corn and cotton.
What I remember most was not Grandpa or his farm but the railway station in Little Rock. The station was built on a hill and the railroad yard was below it. A large deck extended east out over the tracks. The view from the deck of the activity in the rail yard and the country that extended to the river and beyond was fascinating. I remember seeing Vernon standing on one of the benches, looking over at the trains moving up and down the tracks. Mother was sitting near him. She was wiping her eyes; she had been crying. Something had happened to the money she had, I never learned what it was about. She was unable to contact Dad and we needed money for tickets to Hensley which was half way between Little Rock and Pine Bluff. She called a friend named Dennis who lived in Little Rock. He loaned her the money for the tickets.Riding the rails at that time was quite an experience. We traveled “coach” because we could not afford first class. That meant that we slept on the seats. The cars were not cushioned like they were in later years. There was much jolting and jerking and noise. The conductor in his dark blue uniform and billed cap came through checking tickets and cautioning parents about children running in the aisles. The porters wearing white jackets offered pillows for twenty-five cents. Mother rented one for herself and one for the sons to argue about. It kept us occupied and out of the aisle. And there was the ever present butcher boys selling candy, sandwiches, balloons and cracker jacks. They came on the train at every major stop
We reached Hensley about 11 a.m. I can remember very little of the town, except the chickens and pigs wandering through the yard. We went to the house of a friend of Aunt Clara to wait until Grandpa and Uncle Dan got there with a wagon.
It was seven miles out to the farm. This visit introduced into my life seven people - Grandpa, Uncle Dan, Aunt Clara, and cousins Alvern, Clyde, and Clarence.
The next couple of years slipped by unnoticed until we moved to the little house on Ninth Street. What makes this noticeable is that a former tenant at Fifth Street built a similar house next door. Mr. Shepard had several hives of bees and Vernon was always trying to catch the drones because Mr. Shepard said they, the drones, did not gather honey. Vernon was stung quite a few times for catching the wrong bee.
This location was of interest because it was part of land where the cows of the Mullin Dairy, that father and mother moved into the day they were married, grazed. Shortly after moving in mother decided the yard was too low. She had loads and loads of dirt hauled in. It was mostly yellow clay and she proceeded to take chunks of it and pound it down around the piers under the house as well as all around under the house. All of it she wet down thoroughly and as it dried the clay became very hard.We lived in this house about 18 months then we moved out to the farm. A later owner complained that he had to use a jack hammer to break up the ground under the house.
1925 - 1926 - 1927
During the Christmas seasons for several years Vernon and I worked at the Post Office in Port Arthur. We sorted mail, delivered parcels and ran errands in general.
In 1926, we passed the clerk/carrier examinations and were put on the employment list. After I completed my first voyage on the Gulf Oil Company tanker, it was about the middle of November so I stayed ashore so I would work during Christmas in the Post Office.
After Christmas I made another voyage in a tanker for about two months. When I returned to Port Arthur the superintendent of the post office, S. I. Dunn, was waiting on the dock. He told me that my name had come up and there was a position open for a foot carrier. So I went to work the following week. It was a rough route, covering a mile on four streets at the east end of town. I rode out there on a bicycle with my carrier bag and another bag of letters and small parcels. There were several drop or transfer boxes on the route where I picked up mail for delivery and left mail I had collected. The mail I collected on the last segment of my route I took back to the post office.
One day I was coming back to the office, and it had been raining lightly and as I made the turn into the post office drive, the bicycle slid across the street throwing me one way and the bag of mail the other. Letters were scattered all over the paving. I had to scramble to pick them up. Luckily several pedestrians stopped to help. That helped me to decide a few weeks later that I was not cut out to be a postman.
A few months later I went to work at the First National Bank as a bookkeeping machine operator.
I had visited Bill in Huntsville a year or so when he lived right by the walls of the state prison. He was still working for the power company. Mother had taken Chester there to go to the special school operated by the college. Chester was retarded the result of an accident when he was two years old.While I was there, I investigated the College.
The Sam Houston State Teachers College accepted me as a student in August, 1936. Bill had been transferred to Scot, Louisiana, located about ninety miles east of Beaumont on what is now U.S. Highway 10.
In order to keep Chester in the college training school he was to stay with me and she paid for our room and meals. The first year we stayed with a family named Palmer. I cannot remember the first name of the man or his wife, the two girls were Marguerite and Virginia. Although we stayed in the same house we saw very little of each other.
Mr. Palmer was a constable. He and Chester became close friends. Chester followed the constable everywhere when he was not in school, even at night when the old man would send him home to bed.
After the first semester, I found that if I was to get the school supplies that I needed, I had to find some employment. After searching the town several times, I stopped at Ben’s Eatery and he needed a waiter. I took the job earning little more than two meals a day.
I worked for Ben every school year until I received my degree in 1940, even one summer when I helped him build a dining room on one side of the building.
There were no full time workers at the diner; all were college students, mostly women. The only ones I remember were Juanita, a biology major and Billie Owens, a PE major, who later married an oil field roust-about before finishing college.
During my junior year I also worked as a bookkeeper for Moore’s Hardware Store for three hours 3 days a week. The owner Richard Moore was a disabled veteran of World War I. He was away from the store a great deal because of his injuries, so I had to double as clerk quite often. There was an architect in one corner of the store who was continually grouching at me about my work.
As I mentioned before housing was a problem for Chester and myself; every semester there was a reshuffling of rooms available. After the first semester at Palmer’s, because of Mrs. Palmer’s health, we moved to a house on the street corner where Jackson Hall now stands. Six weeks after we moved in and paid our second month rent, the landlord moved out in the middle of the night. I managed to persuade the owner of a women’s rooming house to let us stay in a room left vacant when the woman tenant left college. Mother was very upset about the arrangement when she came to visit, so she found us a place at Mrs. Cutchfield’s house for the rest of the semester.
In the summers during college, I worked at various places. One summer I was employed by Francis Dunn, who was a son of the family that lived across Lake Charles Avenue from us on Fifth Street. He operated a service station in Port Arthur. He had stopped at my station in Dayton several times. It was an all night operation, I worked from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. with his youngest brother. It was a 20 mile commute every night.
Greenlawn Memorial Park, located twelve miles northeast of Port Arthur on what at that time was the main road to Beaumont. It was owned and operated by F.E. Gifford, who also owned and operated a large hardware and furniture store in downtown Port Arthur.
I was hired as supervisor at the park, salesman of cemetery lots, and recorder of burials. The caretakers of the park and grave diggers were Pa Bedell, Monk, his son, and Leroy, a nephew. The park had two sections, the old part that had many old and large tombstones, the new section had only low grave markers.
My social life during this time was limited by looking after Chester, working at Ben’s and carrying a full class load. I went on several outings with church groups. I saw “Gone With The Wind” with Dorothy Cotton, whom I remember very little about except that she was Baptist and that her brother was a big basketball star.
I took Blanch, who also worked at Ben’s, to a movie. I cannot recall anything about her.
I called on Christine Carr a couple of times, to church once, Christian Scientist.
Through the full four years I failed only one course, Journalism, because I did not have the time to get some current event articles published. Mrs. Brown was very exasperated with me at times. My grade average overall was a low B. My highest grades were in business subjects. That was, of course, in keeping with my goal, a CPA certificate and J. Roy Wells was a forceful instructor.
Of the many instructors I had in four years only a few standout for some reason. Philosophy of Education 101 Professor Aydelotte was perhaps the most amusing; Professor Clark, History Class 204 most dramatic; Professor Huffor, English 304 for his authority of subject; Dr. Floyd, Physics 102 always with his innovative methods.
I did not become close to any students for two reasons; 1) We did not stay at one rooming place to become close roommates with anyone, 2) I was several years older than the average student in school, although the age range in my last year was from 16 to 70.
While we were staying at the Kutcher House, several of the other students decided to form a small band. Perry and Jackson are the only ones I remember. They asked me to join them. Since I knew nothing about music was hesitant, but liked the idea, so I went along to watch. Perry played trombone, Jackson sax and clarinet, one of the others trumpet and Cornet, but no one for the drums so I filled in on the bass and snare drums. We worked out in the college band room a couple evenings a week until the band instructor heard about it and closed the room in the evenings, so we gave up on the idea.
The happenings in the weeks after college graduation are a blur. I can’t remember where I stayed. The house mother and dad lived in was too small. It was during this period that the college placement office told me of the job opening with Sherman’s Lumber Company at Patroon, Texas. (SE of Henderson along Hwy 87)
I received my bachelor’s degree of Business Administration at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College in June, 1940. The economy was still affected by the depression of the 30's. Jobs were scarce and the few teaching positions were not to my liking, so when the notice came in that Joe Sherman Lumber Mill in Patroon, Texas needed a bookkeeper I thought I would give it a try.
Joe had just moved his mill from Centerville to Patroon, a small settlement of four or five old homes, no store, no post office, and no service station. He arranged for me to live with the Matthew family. I really did not get to know the family, other than the son who reminded me of my cousin Clyde.
At the beginning Joe arranged for me to go to a mill in Chireno (located nearly halfway between Nacogdoches and San Augustine on Texas Hwy 21) to learn some of the procedures in the sawmill bookkeeping that was good except that his partner, Mr. Sprink, had different ideas about how the books should be kept. Mr. Sprink was the timber buyer, Joe was the mill operator.
I struggled with the books, with Sprink buying more timber and Joe sawing more lumber. I asked for help and got a sot who was more interested in women and booze than getting work done. Then the mill got a contract to furnish lumber for Camp Hood. The war in Europe was attracting attention. The government had already set up the draft system and was constructing places to train the draftees.I asked for more help and Joe hired a man and wife team. So there were four people trying to work in a place too small for two. This created problems, lost payers, overpayments, payroll errors, etc. and I decided it was time for me to find something with a better future. I resigned and went home.
I do not remember much of what happened in Patroon, except the place began to build up, and I worked long hours, and that I was called when trouble appeared, like being called in the middle of the night because a driver overloaded his truck, was caught and had to leave part of his load at the weigh station. I had to find another truck to pick it up.
There were no eating places in Patroon.
Two months or so after the mill was operating a man, Walter something, put up a lean- to fast food place and I ate there when I was late for a meal at Matthew’s. Since I had worked at Ben’s Cafe during college, I would talk to Walter about food. I made the error of mentioning that I liked Limburger cheese and beer. This was before the day of the de-odorized cheese. One day I went into the place and he said “Come here I have something for you.” He took a foil wrapped package and held it to my nose. It was the rankest smelling Limburger cheese I ever met. “I will serve this to you tomorrow but you will have to drink Coca Cola instead of beer, this is a dry county” he said. The next day half the community showed up to watch me eat that Limburger cheese and drink coke.
When in Patroon I went to San Augustine, a few miles north and bought my first car. It as an old Plymouth coupe. I don’t even remember the color. When I left Patroon I took it back to the dealer and got a $160 credit slip on another car. When I went into the Army, I signed the credit slip over to mother because she needed a new car.
After three months of being told that I was of draft age and had only a small chance of being hired, I decided to have my draft number moved up, this was in April, 1941. In May, I was sent to Fort Sam Houston at San Antonio for basic training.Mother was rather upset when I joined the Army. We were not at war, and Vernon had been in the Army for two years during the depression. I did not feel that I could go back to the farm. Bill was in the area working for the power company. Vernon was working at the Post Office in Port Arthur.
The farm operation consisted raising a few cows, boarding others, and summer hay crop, that was done by a crew of black men from Port Arthur who had worked for us a number of years. In 1940, mother and dad sold the farm and bought some land just east of Huntsville. Dad had only a short time at the refinery before retiring so he stayed in Port Arthur and mother went to Huntsville where Bill had also bought some land after separating from the power company because of injuries.
I was inducted into the Army April 10, 1941 in Houston, Texas and sent with several inductees to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas by bus. I can remember little about my arrival at Fort Sam except that I was assigned to bunk in an old red brick building.
We were called out at 6 in the morning for exercise, where we ate or what I haven’t the vaguest idea. I was assigned to the platoon of a Sergeant Murphy, a 50 plus year old veteran of WWI. I was the little dog of the platoon, smaller than the rest and always screwing up the close order drill, so I spent a lot of time on KP and latrine watch. Late in May we went through a gas tent of mustard gas. Apparently, I had a defective mask because shortly after I spent 30 days in the hospital with pneumonia.
I was discharged from the hospital late in June. When I returned to the barracks the platoon was packing up their gear, it was being shipped out, no one knew where.
We were put into a Pullman car and told we were going to Seattle.
On July 5 the Pullman car was pushed onto a siding at Fort Lewis, about thirty miles or so south of Seattle. At Fort Lewis, we were loaded into trucks and driven through Seattle to Fort Lawton that is located on a peninsula in the Puget Sound. The Army had just completed a number of wooden floored frames with a tent over them. My unit was housed in several of them. Each tent was arranged for six men.At this time the unit had no specific identity.
I was discharged from the Army in September 1945. At Fort Lewis, Washington after a long boat trip and rough train ride across country from New York. We stayed at Eleanor’s home, we went by train to Texas. Since I was inducted in Houston the Army paid my way and Eleanor’s mother paid Eleanor’s fare south and for both of us back to Portland. On the trip Eleanor had her ride in a Jim Crow railroad car. I cannot remember what happened during our stay in Huntsville or when we arrived back in Portland.
We stayed with Eleanor’s mother and sisters at 1906 NE 47th St. for a while. Later we moved to an apartment on SW 12th Street.
We were both working, she at Tractor Training Service. Her boss was Fred Gordon. I got a job with an accounting firm of Sawtell and Goldreiner, for the income tax season. I can only remember a few of the men working there. Mr. Sawtell, who hired me because I was from Texas, Mr. Goldreiner and Al Neimi. I went out to other towns with some of the men. On one trip we went to Coos Bay on the Oregon coast to audit books for two large sawmills. While there I became very sick and thought I had appendicitis, they had to cut their time a day short at the mills to get me back to Portland. After the tax season was over I was released and was out of work for a few weeks.
Then I was hired by Dorr Quayle, a public accounting firm at 2000 NE Sandy Boulevard. I worked for Quayle about two years, during that time set up a branch office at NE 42nd and Hollingsworth where I sold bookkeeping service to local small businesses. However not enough work was generated to make the place pay so I closed it and went back to the main office. Dorr Quayle was a disabled veteran. He was confined to a wheelchair. He was having health problems, and the business had lost several major accounts when one of his accountants went out and set up his own office. One day he called me into his office and he told me I would be laid off. He told me I still had some time on the veterans training law if I wanted to go back to school.
When I left for college in 1940 my goal was to obtain a Certified Public Accountant Certificate. During my time with Quayle I learned it would be very difficult to do that in Oregon. Eleanor and I discussed the situation and decided that since I had a teaching certificate for the State of Texas I was in a good position to get the requirements for an Oregon Certificate under the Veterans Training Law. So I applied and was accepted in a masters degree program at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. I received degree in the spring of 1948, Master in Education.
On May 2, 1947 son William Archibald was born.
We spent the summer of 1948 looking for a teaching position. It seemed that Portland had no openings in my field, business courses. I had several offers none seemed satisfactory. One that we checked out was at Svenson, out near St. Helens on the Columbia River. There was a problem because the school had burned during the summer and I would be working in temporary housing.
In late July or early August I learned that there was an opening in Stevenson, Washington. So I hopped on a bus for Stevenson. I went to the office of Henry Rogers, District 3 school superintendent. Mr. Rogers and I talked for over an hour discussing my credentials. He said he had to submit them to the Board, and for me to look for a place to live. During this time daughter Margaret Eleanor was born August 2, 1948.
Finding a suitable house in Stevenson proved to be a challenge. There were not many. Our meager income made the selection even smaller. Dick Webster had some small apartments, too small for a family of four. Mr. Piper had a small house, as we walked into it the floor sagged under our weight.
One day at school another teacher Marion Crews told me that a neighbor across the street, Richard Goodrich wanted to sell his property. Eleanor left the babies with her mother and came to Stevenson, and we looked at the property. The house was small, two bedrooms, but we decided it would be adequate at that time. So we bought the house on 1.2 acres of land for $6,500 dollars.
We were buying a house in Portland at 2844 NE 55th Ave. Since we had lived there only a short time we had very little equity in it. So Eleanor stayed there and finally rented the house. During that time I was trying to arrange a loan for the Stevenson place. Because I was new and a teacher (they don’t stay in one school long), the local bank was reluctant to loan me the money. Eventually, pressured by Henry Rogers, George Christensen, bank president persuaded the board to approve the loan.
After the house in Portland was rented and we made a number of improvements to get it rented, the tenant became very demanding for other changes. Eleanor made numerous trips to Portland to try to satisfy him. The situation got to the point where the rent was not covering the monthly mortgage payments so we had the mortgage company sell the house at a loss to us.
Soon after we moved into our house on Chesser Road, a short street, about four blocks long beginning at Hot Springs Alameda on the south, up to Gropper Road on the north, all up hill, it became known as teacher row. There were four teachers in the first block. Don Leer, principal, with his wife Gladys and daughter Donna in the first home at the south end. Next up the hill was Bernice Keehn, English teacher with husband Erwin and daughter Bonnie. Then there was Marion Crews, English teacher, his wife Betty and son Donald and daughter Kathy who lived directly across the road from us. The other teachers at the high school at that time were, Jim Wright, Physical Education and Athletics Coach, Mrs. Marjorie Davis, English and Latin; Hal Cameron, History and Social Studies; Miss Gilkey, Home Economics; Ted Applegate, Science; Jan Nelson, Mathematics; Shirley Rogers, English and Physical Education; Gene Moon, Driver Training. I taught typewriting, shorthand and bookkeeping. During the first two years I coached the tennis team, not very successfully though.
Immediately after we moved into the house in Stevenson, we began to plan changes. The changes have continued through the years, making a living room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen house into living room, four bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and utility room. During the years I built forms, mixed and poured concrete foundations, put in concrete block foundations, replacing the uneven natural rock that was there or for the new additions.
During the early years the teachers who were here were very helpful in getting us settled, particularly those who had been here the longest. One told me during my first year, “Be careful what you say about the local residents, they are all either brother, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins of someone else”. As the years went on I found that relationships could be helpful, in one class I had an aunt, nephew, and two cousins of the same family. All proved to be excellent students.
Not long after we moved to Stevenson the family joined the Lutheran congregation, Shepard of the Hills Lutheran Church. For a number of years I was treasurer of congregation, which was a small mission church. Over the years a number of Pastors served the church, however, the one whom we liked best, was Pastor Milton Hunt. He came by our home often and helped me in remodeling the house.
During the first few years in Stevenson, the Grossie’s gave a dinner one day in the spring for the high school teachers. Sometimes it was picnic style in the front yard, or a sit down dinner in the newly constructed portion of the house.
Later the income from the timber product from the Forest Service, part of which went to the schools, became great enough for the school to add more programs thus more teachers. The dinners were discontinued because of the numbers and inability to arrange suitable time.
As a member of the local teachers association, that I helped organize, I was treasurer for a number of years. In that capacity I helped organize a health insurance group for the teachers of the county. Since the county Auditor did not make deductions for insurance premiums from the teacher’s salaries, it was my duty as treasurer of the teacher’s association, to collect the insurance premiums from the teachers and send them to Blue Cross every month.
I suppose the first major change in school routine and philosophy came when the high school moved into the new building up on Gropper Road north of town. The whole operation seemed to break out of the close knit circle into a more production line operation.
A year or two before the high school was moved from Vancouver Avenue up to Gropper Road, the students decided to raise money for student clubs and activities by selling soft drinks at the sporting events. Later, packaged food was sold too. At the new school building on Gropper Road space was arranged for this activity to continue both under the field stadium and near the gymnasium. Also in the new building space was arranged for a store where students could buy school supplies. It was staffed by students and any profit earned was shared by student organizations. This operation as well as the concessions became my responsibility. The student store was helpful as it enabled students to get necessary materials when needed since the closest store was over a mile downhill in town on the main highway. Even lunchtime was inadequate to go down the hill and back without transportation which few did.
Of the twenty-four years of teaching in Stevenson, I think the first six or seven were the most enjoyable even though room space in the old building was at a premium. The classes in general were small, the biggest class I had was typing, shorthand was 8 or 9; bookkeeping 10 or 12; general business 14 or 15. Activities outside the classroom was the school publications; the weekly newspaper “The Tattler,” and yearbook, “The Legend.” The newspaper was produced by mimeograph and was passed out during the last period on Friday. This was one place where I gained something from the Army, I had never produced anything on a mimeograph. In college I had seen stencils cut and seen the machines operated but it was on the ship going overseas that I really operated one. From my service record the Company Commander learned that I could operate a typewriter, that I had some knowledge of cutting stencils, and operating the mimeograph (scant as it was). So I was assigned to preparing the orders of the day and any other material needed printing during the voyage. In a way it was a cushy job in that I did not have to pull guard duty or latrine duty or KP or any other menial duty.
At that time “The Legend” was printed by a publishing company in Portland, Oregon. In order to keep the cost of the yearbook to the students down advertising space in the annual was sold to businesses around the area. Some afternoons after school I would take the members of the staff to the business where they would sell the ad space. In some years they sold space to places in Portland and Vancouver.
On a Saturday during the spring semester I would take the editor and another staff member to the University of Washington in Seattle for a yearbook workshop.
Besides these two activities I had to supervise the operation of the student store and the concessions at the athletic events. I tried to use these activities as teaching tools for some of my business students.
During my years at the high school I tried to give my students every possible insight into the world of business and economics. I arranged field trips into Portland and Vancouver to visit various businesses, Meier and Frank, J.C. Penney, U.S. National Bank to name a few were very helpful, by showing the students back of the scenes operations, what they could expect from the company and what the company expected of them.
In Stevenson I persuaded a number of businesses to employ as trainees, seniors during certain hours of various days of the week. Some of the students are still employed by those businesses thirty or so years later.
I supervised the handling of the Student Association books, and gave periodic reports of them to the school board.
After 20 years of retirement, that followed 24 years of teaching, I still see ignorant parents who think ignorance is bliss and students that are blisters on society.
Usually during the summer I worked at various places in the area for two months. The other month we either traveled or worked on the house except those summers I was required to go to school somewhere for several weeks. I went to University of Washington a number of times, as well as Washington State University, University of Oregon, and University of California in L.A. My first few summers after I started teaching was spent doing correspondence courses with the University of Washington. When I received my Masters Degree in Education at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, I received a teaching certificate for the State of Oregon, but that was not recognized by the education department of the State of Washington, so I had to take correspondence courses to qualify for a certificate, thus after completing these courses I was fully eligible to teach in three states, Texas, Oregon, and Washington.
During my teaching career, I often worked at various jobs during the summer months. The Chairman of the school board, Rudolph (Rudy) Hegewald did his best to find or arrange summer employment for the teachers.
One summer, 1956 I think, he gave me a job at his sawmill in Stevenson. The work consisted of guiding the logs in the mill pond onto the conveyor chain that would carry them to the debarking machine that removed the bark before they went into the mill. I had to make sure that only one log was on the chain at a time.
One day the pike pole I was using became hooked in a large log, it was in turn struck by another, and that caused the pole to jerk to one side. I was not expecting the pole to move so I found myself in the pond between the logs and near the conveyor chain, and an east wind pushing them and me toward it. Luckily I held onto the pole that caught on the platform that I had been standing on, and held my head above water. My calls attracted the attention of Ray Broughton who was operating the little motor boat he used to push logs around the pond. He came to the platform and stopped the chains then pulled me out of the water. I worked in wet clothes until lunchtime when he took me home to change.
I worked for Hegewald sawmill several different summers. Two or three summers I worked for the County. One summer I was a brush cutter for the County Surveyor as he checked disputed property lines. The first day on the job was rather embarrassing. I tried to slide the machete I was using behind my belt, the struggle only succeeded in cutting the belt. I spent the rest of the day chopping brush with one hand and holding my pants with the other.
One summer job was at the Stevenson Co-Ply plant that made plywood. I and a partner loaded green veneer into the dryer that removed the moisture before it was pressed into plywood.Working with the county road crew one summer I was called in to help fight a forest fire west of Stevenson.
It was some time in the late 1950's, the boys and I were going up to Hemlock for something. We were on a straight away section of Wind River Road so pushed the speed up to about 60 or 65 miles an hour. I looked in the mirror and saw a car about a mile or more behind me that looked familiar so I slowed down a bit. The other car followed a while then turned off and I thought nothing about it.
Later in the week I received a notice that I was to stop at the Sheriff’s office. After school I went there and a deputy at the desk said “Mr. Grossie, I followed you for quite a distance on the Wind River Road the other day and you were traveling at 80 to 82 miles an hour. When you saw me you slowed down. I am going to put on the record that you were exceeding the posted speed by over 20 miles so I am charging you with speeding and reckless driving.” As he was talking Sheriff Amos Reid came in and looked at the report. “Your car can’t go that fast, can it, Grossie” he said. I said “Not with me at the wheel, Sheriff”. He turned to the deputy and said “Oh, scratch it off deputy, he has better sense than to travel at that speed”.
Louis Grossie (Grossi - June 9, 1877 - parents Austrian) nephew of Nicholas Grossi. Nicholas Grossi lived in Toronto Canada in the early 1920's. He later went to Naples Italy. His sons operated a business in the Tempest Building in Toronto. Two sons or nephews were in western Canada. Arthur in Saskatchewan, the other in Edmonton.
Louis Grossie in early life lived in Philadelphia. Later lived with his uncle in Toronto and attended convent school for several years. At 13 he was driving mules on the Erie Canal. Somewhere along the way after the Erie Canal he worked in a butcher shop or slaughter house because he told us how they made sausage by putting in a long box or vat a layer of ground meat, then a layer of potato meal, then another layer of meat until the vat was full. It was left over night, in the morning it was stirred and mixed up, then put into casings.
Later he drifted back to Philadelphia. At about 22 he contracted to go to Nicaragua with a construction company. While he was at sea a revolution broke out there and the ship was re-directed to Galveston, Texas. He worked there a while, then was sent to Port Arthur, Texas to work in the construction of the Gulf Refining Company refinery. Gulf Refining Company became part of the Gulf Oil Corporation.
While working in construction 1904 Louis met and married Flora Sarah Quada. They were married shortly after noon - at 4:00 P.M. they were at their dairy two miles north of Port Arthur milking cows. The dairy phase lasted about a year, then Louis was back at the Refinery. During the Dairy phase the first son, Will, arrived in 1905, October 5.
Work at the refinery continued for eleven years during which time a house and two lots were acquired, 1906 Fifth Street, Port Arthur - son number two, Harold - February 24, 1907 and son number three - Vernon - November 9, 1909 made the scene. In 1916 the Grossie’s moved to a new residence on 9th Street on land that had been part of the early dairy.
Louis and Flora decided in 1917 to try their hand at farming. Flora had been raised on a farm in central Arkansas. Father Quada agreed to stock the farm, 72 acres twenty miles northeast of Port Arthur, near Port Neches, located on the Neches river. The farming phase lasted two years. Louis was away on a construction crew again that specialized in building storage tanks for oil companies at or near oil fields of Texas.
Flora continued to operate the farm, and Louis after four years on the road in construction was back at the refinery. During this time Dee Chester was born - 1922.
I think this loss of his many tools, (in the workshop fire) quite a few of them he had build himself, hurt him more deeply than any of us realized. He was definitely a tinker. One of the machines he put together was what we now call a scroll saw today, from a treadle sewing machine.
Another thing he built many of, was an umbrella clothesline. He built one for mother at the Fifth street house. It consisted of a large wagon wheel hub and five foot arms with clothesline wire every fourteen inches through the arms that were not fastened into the hub but fit loosely so when you pulled an arm on one side the opposite side raised up. When not in use the arms pointed slightly upward maintaining tension on the wire.
A short while after we moved to the farm he came in one day with a big wheel hub on his shoulder. He had walked three miles with it. Then he set about to make another clothesline. The clothesline was not original with him. He had seen one similar to it when as a boy he was working on the Erie Canal.
Flora Sarah Quada was born in 1883. Her mother’s maiden name was Winchester. They were immigrants from England to Winchester, Arkansas. Flora was born on a farm seven miles east of the sawmill town of Hensley Arkansas, that is twenty miles south of Little Rock. Flora worked on the farm until she was 18. She had one brother, Dan, and two sisters Clara and Lucille. At 29 she went to stay with an aunt, Mrs. Clarence Crumbie in Texarkana, Arkansas, where she worked in her aunt’s boarding house that accommodated railroad and construction workers. Later she moved with the Crumbie’s to Port Arthur, Texas to operate a boarding house. Port Arthur Texas is the southern terminal of the Kansas City Southern Railroad and an inland sea port. Flora met Louis Grossie at the boarding house.Flora’s father Charles Quada was born in Germany Prussian Principality. His father a mill-wright, sent him to visit an uncle in the United States to avoid his being drafted into the military (Prussian-France war 1870). Charles was seventeen when he came to the U.S. It is not known where his uncle lived. He worked in various jobs, at one time as a waiter in a New York restaurant. Why or when he moved to Arkansas is unknown. It is believed that he obtained a land grant for a quarter section twenty miles south and east of Little Rock, seven miles east of the sawmill town of Hensley. He married Sarah Winchester sometime in the 1870's and in 1883 daughter Flora Sarah was born. In the years that followed Clara, Lucille and at last a son Dan.
Harold E. Grossie passed away in March of 1997 during by-pass surgery. He is survived by his wife, Eleanor Grossie and children William, Margaret, Patricia, Michael and David.
A couple years ago a memorial brick was purchased at the Lubbock Area Veteran's War Memorial bearing Harold E Grossie's name. Photographs are below.
Home Eleanor William Margaret Patricia Michael David