The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

THE 1930'S

Louise and I first met at the Riverside Grange, in the early winter of 1930. My family had moved to the Thoms farm, east of Three Rivers, in the Spring of that year, and sometime during that winter we joined the Grange. Louise held an office in the organization, and as such, had a role to perform in the initiation of new members. She led me around to the various stations, during the ceremonies, and has been leading me around ever since. I thought at the time that she was a pretty nice young lady, and I still, after almost sixty years, haven't changed my mind.

The Shivelys lived a short distance south of the Three Rivers Airport which, at that time, was all farm land. Their home was about a mile south and a mile east of the farm where we lived. Even though I didn't have a car, it was fairly convenient for me to call on her by cutting diagonally across the fields. It was sometimes a pretty cold walk in the wintertime, but I didn't mind it then.

Louise and I were married on Saturday June 17, 1933, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Fern and Willard Beck, my aunt and uncle stood up with us. We spent the week end with them, at their home, on Logan Avenue in Oakwood. The next afternoon they took us to my parent's home in Sherman Township, where we had rigged up a makeshift, upstairs apartment.

I did not have a steady job, but was working most every day for neighboring farmers. In fact, right at that time, I was working, almost every day, bailing hay. We made out, somehow or other, until early in August, when with the help of Louise's father, I got work in the Eddy Paper Mill Powerhouse. That was strictly labor work, no brains required, rebuilding nine, 300 Horse Power Wicks Upright Boilers. It was hot; it was dirty, and it was hard work, but it paid good; forty cents an hour. It was also temporary. All nine of the boilers were to be rebuilt, however for some reason, there would sometimes, be a lapse of time between the completion of one and the starting of another. During the interim I was supposed to be laid off, and technically I was.

During those lay offs, I would go to the Mill at each shift change so that if someone that had a steady job, didn't show up, the Tour Boss would put me on in his place. That system proved to be quite effective and I was usually able to get in a full week, besides learning considerable about the paper making process. As a result of my persistence I was able to work in most every department in the mill. Never, at any thing other than common labor, but it did give me an opportunity to see how most of the mill operated. That maneuvering went on for a few months and then I was given a steady job as a Turbine Room Oiler. As I remember, that job paid forty five cents an hour and it was forty two hours per week, whether the mill operated or not.

When I first started to work, at the Paper Mill, Louise and I went to stay at her parent's home while they went on a couple of weeks vacation. During that time my working hours were from six o'clock in the morning until twelve noon, seven days a week. It was at least three miles from the Shively home, to the Paper Mill, and I had to get up in time to go down the lane, get the cows, milk one of them, eat my breakfast and ride a bicycle to work, because we did not have a car.

During the time that we were staying at Shivelys, we made arrangements to rent a three room, upstairs, apartment, within three blocks of the Mill. As time went on our financial position became such that we felt that we could afford an automobile, so we bought a 1923 Model T Ford Sedan. I think that we paid thirty five dollars for it. Now we were in high cotton, as they say, down South. We could drive out to Fisher Lake to go swimming and we didn't have to carry those two big bags ($5.00 worth) of groceries home from the store each week. That was about the time that prohibition was repealed, and I remember, a few times, after returning from swimming we spent our last twenty five cents for three bottles of Tivoli Beer and had lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches with beer, for supper. That's right; beer was three for a quarter at DalPonte's Store.

Our next move was to a small, rented, house on West Street, that was owned by Carl Roush's father. We were not there much more than a year, as I remember, when we moved to a larger, and much nicer home on North Main Street. That one was owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Comar who lived in Flint, Michigan. That is where we lived when Todd was born. Our rent was eight dollars a month. We lived there, on North Main Street, until the spring of 1937.

Harold and Fern Kline were moving to Plymouth, North Carolina, where he was going to work at the new Pulp Mill that our Company was building, so we decided to rent their house. It was owned by Claude and Effie Felcher and was located at the north end of North Lincoln. I guess that the Comars thought that they had a sure thing, because we never missed sending them the rent each month, so they advised us by letter that our rent would be increased to ten dollars per month. We had already made arrangements to move so we wrote them, at once, to advise them that their house would be available the first of the next month. We received another letter from them, almost immediately, telling us that they had reconsidered and our rent would remain at eight dollars per month.

We lived on North Lincoln only until November of 1937 and then we moved to North Carolina.

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