The Gueffroy Saga

(As told to me [Bonny Knott] by Rose Pannell and William Gueffroy in Spring, 1995, and my recollections of my father, Fred's stories as told to me as a young girl.)

Early years in Germany - abt. 1896 to 1912

Hermann Gueffroy's first wife died giving birth to Joachim (Jim) and he then asked his first cousin, Anna, to marry him so that his baby would have a mother. Anna had a schoolgirl crush on her schoolteacher, but agreed to marry him because she fell in love with the baby. During the next fourteen years, she gave birth to six more sons: Werner, Erich (Eric), Friedrich (Fred), Walter, Herman, and Wilhelm (William). All were approximately two year apart excpt for the last two; there were five years separating Herman and William. Since William was the seventh son, they applied to Kaiser Wilhelm to have him become the Kaiser's Godson (they had named him after the Kaiser), but the application was denied, since the oldest son was only a half-brother. This was a big disappointment to the family.

Hermann's brother Emil has three daughters (Ilse, Johanna, and Charlotte - all exceptionally pretty) and the family was a large and close one, attending picnics in the park and entertaining each other at large dinner parties. The children were always included in the festivities. Food was important in Europe in those days; they ate five meals a day: Coffee and sweet rolls upon arising, a large breakfast at 10:00. The big meal was at 2:00, featuring a roast with all the trimmings. At 5:00 everyone had coffee and a selection of cakes and pastries. At 8:00 in the evening, they enjoyed a light meal of soup and/or salad, bread and butter and fruit.

They lived in a large stone house in Finkenkruch, in what was to become the east zone of Berlin. Anna had maids come in to do the housework, the laundry was sent out. Anna's mother lived with the family to do the cooking, because Anna helped Hermann in his business. She kept the books and did the other clerical work. Grandfather, Hermann, had a prosperous book-binding business there; it was the official book-bindery for the University of Berlin. He was exceptionally talented at his work, but he only took one book with him when he left Germany. No one knows what happened to that one volume.

Hermann only had a grade-school education (his brother Emil had attended University) but when his son Werner tuned twelve, he was sent to "Gymnasium" in preparation for University. They boys also started their physical training there in Germany.

The boys were a lively lot; once when Werner was about twelve, he, Eric and Fred went to the railroad yards to fool around. They found a railroad car at the top of a slight grade and released the brakes. The car started down the hill and crashed into some other cars at the bottom, and, I believe, did some damage to the cars and perhaps some to the car barn. The boys were caught and taken home and Hermann had to pay for the damage.

Werner and Erick were out looking for trouble on another occasion and saw a carriage driver in fancy livery waiting for his master or mistress. They had bought some cherries and proceeded to pelt the chauffer wirh the ripe fruit, getting cherry juice all over his uniform. Erick took off, but Werner stood his ground and was again taken home to face the music.

In Berlin at that time, areas of open space were divided up and rented to individuals for growing whatever they pleased. The Gueffroys rented a garden plot in which to grow their own vegetables. A neighboring plot belonged to a rather strict lady who had neatly edged it with white-wahsed stones. She had cold- frames in the center, covered with glass for starting seeds in the early spring. This lady didn't care for the naughty Gueffroy boys and invaribly chased them away if she saw them playing there. They waited until she was gone one day and used her own decorative stones to break all the glass in the cold frames. They were severely punished.

Fred was the "good" one usually, but once he did something naughty and was brought to his father for punishment. He broke away and ran upstairs to his room, locking the door behind him. Hermann got a ladder and got in through the second story window. He got a thrashing twice as severe as usual.

Anna badly wanted a little girl, and when Walter was born she was botterly disappointed. He was a very pretty baby and she kept him in girls' dresses until he was five. He had long, blond curls, and in the elaborate dresses of the time, he did look just like a girl. I guess this satisfied her, because neither Hermann, Jr. nor William were subjected to this indignity.

Emigration to Canada - 1912

The Gueffroys lived in Berlin until 1912. Hermann was worried about the war clouds gathering in Europe, and he decided to move the family to Canada. Jim, the half-brother, was sixteen then, and decided to stay in Germany. He joined the Navy as a cabin-boy. The rest booked passage on the Titanic, but Anna got sick and they cancelled the voyage on the ill-fated ship. Two weeks later, they took another steamer, making the rough Atlantic crossing in the middle of winter. On the voyage, Hermann met a "tout" who had been hired by the Alberta Government to entice immigrants to Alberta instead of Saskatchewan (which was excellent farming country). Hermann was gullible, and made arrangements to go to Edmonton instead of Saskatoon as he had originally planned. On the ship Anna was terribly sick and spent the entire voyage in her bunk with the baby, William, landing at Ellis Island in January, 1912.

The Gueffroys were almost turned back at Ellis Island, because William, a baby of 22 months, had eczema and the officials thought it was a disease. There was a three-day waiting period and it cleared up somewhat during the critical time, so they let them in. (Since they were in transit to Canada, I feel this was very high-handed!) They took the Lackawanna Railroad train to Montreal. Anna said, upon sighting the sign in the station, "Oh, what a terrible language!" in German, of course. ("Lackawanna Railroad" does sound terrible in German!)

The boys enjoyed the journey on the train from Montreal heading West. Each car had a little pot-bellied stove for heating, upon which the occupants of the car could do their cooking. At stops, Hermann would dismount and buy the food they needed. Once the train was shunted to another track when he was gone, but somehow he managed to find it before the train left the town. Poor Anna was terrified each time he got off after that.

Edmonton, Alberta - 1912 to 1919

They landed in Edmonton in February, 1912 and rented a small house there. The house had a big backyard with fruit trees in it and was quite nice. Grandfather opened a produce market in Edmonton and did quite well, but he had a hankering to farm. He sent Werner, age fourteen, and Fred, age ten, to homestead a quarter section, 160 acres of stony ground along the Pembina River at a place called Park court, north and west of Edmonton.

The two boys lived there in a cabin on the property alone, Werner clearing the land and Fred doing the "cooking" and housework, and helping Werner. At first Fred was very homesick and cried every night for his mother, but later he got used to it. Fred always looked up to Werner after that - the older boy was almost a father figure to him.

In late 1912, Hermann moved the family to the homestead. The two-room cabin they moved into was the one they had found there when the boys homesteaded the land. It was in very bad repair and they had to do a lot of work on it, making a loft for the boys to sleep in - the parents and the baby, William, had the small bedroom on the main floor. The originl old log house had been built on a high piece of land that sloped down to the east about fifty feet to a low area where there had once been a lake. The lake had overflowed its banks, creating a drainage ditch which drained the lake, leading only a little pond which attracted ducks and frogs. The lake bottom covered about 40 acres with the pond in the middle. On the east side there was a little beach of sand where once the lake edge had been. Between the pond and the beach only cranberries would grow because of the boggy soil. The house, being fifty feet above the lake bottom, was high and dry. The barn was built into the side of the bank, where the earth back and sides would keep the team of horses and the cow warm during the severe winters.

In the winter, William and Hermann had a lot of fun with their sled which Hermann had purchased for them in Edmonton. The snow would blow over the edge of the bank and pile up, becoming packed. The boys sledded on that, pushing themselves along. The two little boys dug caves in the snow - it was deep enough that they could make quite a good-sized room.

Because Hermann's market had been quite successful. When they got to the farm he started growing vegetables; beautiful big cauliflowers, potatoes, rhubarb and cabbage, but there was no market for anything but the cabbage, from which he made sauerkraut for local sale. Hermann grew his own tobacco (he smoked a pipe) and at first, though the tobacco ripened and looked quite good, it was too strong and harsh flavored to smoke well. A neighbor told him to layer the dried tobacco leaves with dry horsemanure in the barn and let it age for a few months. After that, the tobacco was very good.

The family picked berries; wild raspberries down by the river, and wild strawberries on more barren ground, in addition to the vegetables they grew. They tried twice to dig a well but were not successful, and their water supply was the drainage from the former lake. There was a copious spring near the house, but because Hermann developed boils on his buttocks soon after they arrived, he throught that the water was bad, so they had to carry buckets of water about 200 yards, a real hardship. Fred got curvature of the spine from carrying heavy buckets of water, which they all had to do. Once William ran into a big skunk on one of these trips and was terribly frightened. He ran home and was teased by the rest of the family for being afraid of a skunk.

In the deep woods toward the river there was a good-sized creek, which still had ice in the summertime. They could get really ice cold water from that, but it was a long way away.

The mosquitoes were bad during the summer. The family burned rhubarb leaves to make smoke to keep the mosquitoes down so they could sit outside in the evenings. Also, in the summer the boys could swim in the Pembina River - skinny-dipping, of course. The older boys all hired out all summer long to farmers in the praire halfway between Edmonton and Calgary. They would only be home in the wintertime. In the winter all the boys hunted deer and birds. Herman had a wonderful shotgun that he'd brought from Germany, and they all used that.

Werner was the hero of the family: he could and did do a man's work at the age of fourteen, and he almost single-handedly supported the family at first by cutting ties all year long. When eventually the war came along in 1914, because of local bad feelings towards Germans, Hermann had to give up the sauerkraut business, and he was forced to go to work with Werner cutting ties. His work wasn't up to standards because of his age, and Werner did his own work and enough of Hermann's for both of them to be paid full wages by the railroad.

In the winter most of the family stayed on the homestead, and they used the Pembina as a highway into town. The river provided them with something else: heat. A seam of coal was exposed on the bank of the river, which could only be reached in the wintertime. The boys used to take the sled onto the river, stick a couple of sticks of dynamite in the seam and blast pieces of coal out.

Later the family built a separate building 100 feet from the main house. It was a two story building; the first floor was a room built to store grain and feed. There was an outside stairway to the second floor - one large room with a sloping roof. The boys slept up there. There was a little heater they could load up with coal and it used to get red hot.

The younger boys has 2-1/2 miles to go to school. They would look at the thermometer in the morning. If it was near 20 degrees below zero, they wouldn't go to school. It happened several times that it would be 17 or 18 below and they'd get ready for school, but when it was time to start out, the thermometer had dropped to below 20 and they'd have to stay home.

Before they had a thermometer, during the first winter, Werner decided to take the horse sleigh into town with Fred. It was terribly cold out but they thought they could make it, but when they got to the nearest neighbor's place, the neighbor came running out to tell them it was 60 degrees below zero and they must not continue. Werner was stubborn, and he insisted they had to go on, but the neighbor made Fred stay at his house with him and his wife. Werner continued alone for a short way, but then realized he was getting frozen, and he returned to the neighbor's. They stayed there until the temperature rose enough to allow them to continue their trip to town.

Another very cold day Werner had gone alone somewhere and he found himself freezing, so he got out and ran alongside the horse-drawn sleigh to stay alive.

Once in the late fall, the river was mostly frozen, but there was a rapid that still had a stretch of open water. Herman Jr. and William were fooling around the edge of the river when Herman saw a big fish. He ran around to the other side where the ice was thin. He tried to grab the fish and broke through the ice. He managed to get out with William's help, but he nearly froze before they got home.

They had a wonderful dog named Peter. He was a sporting dog, a retriever, black and white. They all loved him. He would not allow any hawks or animals near the chickens, and he was very protective of the family. There was one neighbor, a man with a questionable reputation, who always carried a gunnysack, and who sometimes dropped by. If Hermann was home, the dog would growl and worry the man's trousers the whole time he was there talking to Hermann. If the old man wasn't home, the dog would not allow him to approach the house. Acceptable visitors rated only a few barks to announce their arrival.

The boys were "pretty nasty guys", according to William. They wanted Peter to be a fighting dog, so they would "sic" him onto any stray dog around town. Peter always won. He was known as a tough dog, but he was wonderful to the boys. He always accompanied them when they went out, especially when they went hunting.

The family raised pigs, chickens, and had a cow, probably a mixture of brown Swiss and other breeds. She gave good milk. The chickens were large white ones and a few reds, giving both white and brown eggs.

The boys attended school in Park Court only as long as it took them to learn English, then they had to go to work. Most of them were about fourteen when they left school. Since they knew no English when they arrived, they were put in the first grade, then worked themselves up as they became proficient in the language. They had a lady teacher, who was probably in her 40's. She was very strict, and once when Fred had inadvertently offended her, she told him to hold out his hands so she could cane him with her yardstick. He was a big boy, nearly fourteen, and taller than she was. He protested that he hadn't meant to misbehave, but she refused to listen to him and insisted that he hold his hands out. Instead, he grabbed the yardstick (with her hands still holding it) and broke it over his knee. When he got home he was beaten by his father and forced to apologize to the teacher.

The same teacher was invited to the farm one Sunday in the afternoon. After tea, Hermann decided to show her the farm. The first thing that happened was that one of the horses peed, and then the pigs did the same thing. When the cow also peed in front of the guest, Hermann, thinking that she couldn't understand him, said in disgust,

"Ach, die verdammtet Kuh pisst!"

He had no idea that German is often very similar to English. They boys were convulsed.

One time, Eric and Werner were working on a ranch on the prairie, and Hermann went to visit them. They had an extra bed upstairs in the bunkroom, and "Father" was asleep next to the boys. He woke up in the middle of the night needing to relieve himself, but he was embarrassed to go downstairs, so he peed into one of Eric's rubber boots which was sitting conveniently next to the bed. He forgot to mention this little detail to Eric, with unfortunate results!

One winter all the boys and Hermann got jobs cutting ties; the timber on the property was good for them. Werner and Eric were expert at using a broad axe. First they would have to shape the sides, then smooth them with a broad axe. Then they would haul the ties to the river and pile them up on the frozen river. They were piled up all winter long there. To get them to the mill, they took them up the river before the ice melted. The railroad had a steep bank and they had to use a roller and pulley with ropes so they could pull the sled up the bank, four ties at a time. Werner, Eric, Fred and Walter worked every day there. They built a little cabin with a sod roof. Inside they built a platform bed where they all slept.

One night Hermann reached under the bed for a pail he kept there to pee in, and got a stove pipe elbow instead. He peed into it and it all ran out on Eric's bare foot. Poor Eric was the one who always ran afoul of his father's night-time mishaps!

Vancouver, British Columbia - 1919 to 1921

The war brought along a lot of anti-German feeling, and one day some of the local boys threw stones at William on the way home from school. This was one of the reasons the family finally decided to move to British Columbia in 1919. They arrived in Vancouver by train, and had their lunch in a restaurant near the station, leaving the dog, Peter, outside. While they were inside, he disappeared. They looked everywhere for him, and searched for days, but couldn't find him. They felt terrible about it, but nothing could be done. They moved into a nice rental house on Prince Edward Street. It had a big backyard with fruit trees, currants and berries. After about a week, one of the boys went back to the restaurant in a last attempt to find Peter, and he was there waiting for them. Naturally, they were extremely glad to find their dog again, but he wasn't very happy in Vancouver. He was used to the farm and missed the open country. Eventually he bit a little boy because the kid teased him and had to be destroyed.

They lived on Prince Edward street for two years and then moved to Knight about two blocks south of Kingsway. It was about this time that the oldest brother, Jim (Joachim) immigrated to Canada, coincidentally settling down in the same general area where the family had lived.

Hermann got a very good job cabinet-making with McLaughlin Buick. He was a good carpenter but didn't enjoy the work, so he was somewhat careless. One day he forgot to shut off the iron he was using to keep glue hot, causing a fire. Although it didn't do very much damage, he was fired.

The boys, who were by then young men, joined the YMCA and became expert gymnasts. They were great hikers; one day Erick and Fred had gone to a movie and when they came outside, it was still light, so they decided to hike up Grouse Mountain. They took the ferry to North Vancouver and hiked up Grouse wearing suits and street shoes. It was dark when they got back.

All the boys worked at laboring jobs in Vancouver, and they turned over every cent to their father to feed the family. They kept nothing for themselves and made do with only the barest necessities in clothing and shoes. This became the pattern for the Gueffroy family; Hermann made all the decisions and had complete control of the finances.

Vancouver Island, British Columbia - 1921 to 1922

They moved to Vancouver Island in 1921. They bought the equipment for a sawmill at Cowichan Bay and with the help of Owen Pannell's team of horses, moved the entire mill to Doney Road in Cowichan Station. The family moved to a small cabin on Doney's property across from the Shaw house. The boys slept outside or in a shed when it rained, because the house wasn't big enough for all of them. The mill had a single-cylinder engine that burned crude oil and was difficult to start. (They had to heat a plug with a gas torch in order to get the engine to turn over.) It was supposed to sit on a cement platform, for it was very heavy. Hermans insisted that the cement could be made with sand and gravel from the nearby creek. The boys argued against it but could not change their father's mind. He was an autocratic man and had to have his own way. They spent a great deal of time and effort making the foundation, but it wasn't strong, and the first time the engine was started it collapsed. Then they all had to go down to the Koksilah River and carry up good, clear river gravel in buckets, and start all over again. This did not sit well with the older boys - at this time Werner was twenty-three and knew a great deal more than his father did.

Hermann decided to relocate the road leading to the mill, but there was a gully they had to cross, and it would be necessary to build a bridge over it. The boys didn't agree that the road should be relocated, and refused to help. Hermann forced William, who was only eleven, to help him build the bridge. William's job was to hold the timbers that would brace the bridge, and he was on top, holding the rope so his father could nail the timber in place. William's grip on the rope slipped and the timber hit Hermann on the head. He sat down and held his head for awhile and then got back to work. An hour later they stopped work for lunch, and then Hermann beat "the Hell" out of William.

The older boys were very angry about this and told Hermann they would no longer work for him. He was furious and spent the days complaining about the ingratitude of his sons. He must have taken it out on Anna, for it was at that time that she developed mental problems. One night she ran out of the house and up the hill to the house of a couple of Englishwomen, whom she begged to help her. They called the RCMP and Anna was sent to Riverview in New Westminster on the mainland. This incident provided the final straw that caused the older five boys - Werner, Erick, Fred, Walter and Herman, to leave home. They decided they could not go on providing free labor and unquestioning obedience to their father, and now that their mother was gone, they had no reason to stay. They moved to Vancouver and all got jobs.

Meanwhile, Hermann had a lot of logs lying around, so he hired a neighbor, Ozzie Doney, and with William's help, they got the heavy engine started and proceeded to saw the logs into planks. William had to leave school - he was eleven years old and in the fifth grade. It took months of hard work to saw all the logs, and Hermann made a lot of money. William's pay for all the work was a bicycle Hermann bought for $10 from Mr. Michelin, a neighbor.

After the mill was sold, Anna came home, seemingly cured, and they moved closer to the station (still in Cowichan Station), to the Victor Price house, and William went back to school. One of his classmates was Rose Pannell, who was a few months older than he. William used to bird hunt with Hermann's fancy German shotgun. He often walked to Duncan along the railroad tracks, and once he went in the late afternoon and knew he'd need a light coming back. He punched a hole the size of a dollar coin in a lard pail and set a candle in it. It concentrated the light almost like a flashlight, and he used it all the way home.

Seattle, San Francisco, and Stockton - 1922 to 1925

In early January of 1922 just before William turned twelve, the family moved to Seattle, pleading Hermann's ill health (he had just discovered that he had late-onset diabetes). In those days the border officials would let people in on compassionate grounds. In Seattle Hermann looked for work, and was offered an excellent job as a bookbinder, but he refused to consider it, and so they moved from there to San Francisco by ship. They landed in San Francisco in February, 1922.

Meanwhile, Werner decided to leave Vancouver and go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He got a job with Harley Davidson there and sent for his brothers. Only Herman decided not to go - he liked farming and wanted to return to Alberta by himself, to join the oldest brother, Jim. The rest got jobs with Harley Davidson in Milwaukee and each bought a motorcycle.

Hermann, Anna and William opened a produce store on Clement Street in San Francisco. It lasted just a week, in which they didn't get a single customer. They lived in a hotel at 11th St. and Clement. William attended John Swett school, next to the Parkway. Hermann went to the USF hospital at this time because of his diabetes. William caddied at the Presidio Golf Course and managed to work himself up to "A" Caddy. He supported his mother on 85 cents per round of golf.

When Hermann got out of the hospital, he had been inspired by the doctors, he said, to work hard. He went to work painting the undercarriages of cars, first scraping them clean, very hard and tedious work. He worked "like a fool", and the family were able to live well for a change. They moved to an apartment in one of the old houses at Geary and Octavia, near the Japanese district. The Black district was only a few blocks away to the south. William still attended school at Swett. He rode his bicycle to school, which was out of the district, but the authorities eventually found out and he was transferred to another school downtown. He had moved so often he was upset that he couldn't continue at the same school, but there was no help for it.

Hermann then got a job working for a car dealer on Van Ness. The "Cole Arrow 8" car company was just going out of business and the dealer got a franchise to sell Chevrolets. Hermann painted a tow truck with Chevrolet emblems which he duplicated using a spray gun and a good new kind of paint. He learned the new systems of painting cars there. In the springtime, when the dealer, a Mr. Menzie, moved from San Francisco to Stockton, he asked Hermann to move there as well.

The family went to Stockton on a river steamer, boarding in the late afternoon and sleeping aboard in the wooden seats. In the morning, when he awoke, William thought the river delta was the most beautiful place he had ever seen, for the trees had just got their new leaves, and the birds were singing in the early dawn.

The family moved into a large boardinghouse in the downtown section of Stockton, but Anna soon became dissatisfied with the arrangement and started showing symptoms of becoming ill again. Hermann was getting along well and making a good salary. He decided to buy a car, a 1919 Chevrolet touring car in good condition, the first he had even owned. One Saturday a mechanic taught Hermann how to drive, and William learned how by watching from the back seat. (The car had a "grabby" cone clutch, and Hermann found it hard to master.)

They then moved to a nice little house out in the Delta that had once been used for illegally making whiskey - the still was still there. It was close to what is now Hammer Lane on the West side of I5. A canal ran alongside the property and led to a lake where William used to swim and also do a little fishing. At this time Anna was getting worse, with delusions of persecution and other classic symptoms of schizophrenia, made worse because she was lonely out there with no women to talk to at all. Of course the continual moving made life very difficult for her, and she undoubtedly missed her other sons so far away in Milwaukee. At any rate, Hermann decided to move back into town to see if that would help.

The new place was a tiny cabin behind a large house. It had city gas and was right across the street from the school William had been attending. Anna discovered a gas jet in the bedroom and decided to commit suicide, but was found right away by Hermann, who had smelled the gas when she turned it on. She was taken to a private sanitarium for a few weeks, after which she seemed to be better. Hermann wrote to the older boys in Milwaukee about her condition.

The family moved to a better apartment in town and for a while things seemed to improve, but one afternoon when William came home from school, the hosue seemed very quiet. He found her in the bedroom bleeding badly; she had cut her wrists. They took her back to the sanitarium, and shortly thereafter, all four of the boys arrived from Milwaukee. When they visited her in the hospital, she persuaded them that she was sane. She told them Hermann and William had caused her illness. They took her with them to San Francisco, where they rented a flat and all four of the boys got jobs. Erick tested Hudson cars on San Francisco's hills.

Hermann and William stayed in Stockton, but Hermann quit working for Menzies and went into business for himself, but did not do well. After a few weeks they got a telegram from San Francisco asking them to come to the city, for Anna had got sick again, exhibiting some quite bizarre behavior. The four brothers finally realized that she required hospitalization, and she went into Napa State Institution. She stayed there for three months. In February of 1925 she was transferred to the Stockton State Hospital. She responded to treatment quite well, and was released after two months in Stockton.

On the road and on their own - 1925 to 1926

That summer, Hermann decided to take a vacation in the new car. They bought new clothes and obatined camping equipment, and William left school, never to return, at the age of fourteen. They headed for Clear Lake, taking a side road which turned out to be very rough, and they hit a pothole and broke a spring on the car, which disabled it completely. They towed it to a little town nearby and the local blacksmith worked on it, making a new spring, while they camped nearby. They continued on to Clear Lake and stayed there most of the summer. William remembered getting badly sunburned while playing on a raft in the lake. At this point they ran out of money.

They tried Santa Rosa, but there was no work available, so they proceeded to Petaluma. There they ran into old friends from Vancouver, the Pilchers, and Hermann managed to find a job painting cars. They remained in Petaluma for the rest of the summer, but then Hermann lost his job and they moved to Lodi. There they met a "slave driver" by the name of England. He owned several acres of the finest tokay grapes, and William and Hermann went to work picking and packing them. The grapes were shipped back east and had to be packed in tissue very carefully - they brought big money back east, but brought peanuts for Hermann and William.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Walter got a job at the American Can Company as an office boy. Fred was learning to play the violin; his ambition was to play in a symphony orchestra. Werner was studying to be a civil engineer at ICS. They all attended Heald's to get their mechanic's papers. Walter studied at an International Drafting school and Fred studied along with him. Fred was also working repairing vacuum cleaners at Sluter's, and incidentally met a Mrs. Wiseman there. Werner and Fred left the flat and moved to a boarding house where they rented the attic room so Fred could practice the violin.

Werner had saved a good bit of money and he decided to visit the Pannells on Vancouver Island for a vacation. When he returned to the United States, he was detained at the border because he hadn't paid his head tax when he'd first entered the U.S. some years before. He went back into Canada and simply walked across the line illegally, which eventually led to his deportation. Several years later he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped to Hawaii. (I remember him when he left; he came into my bedroom to say goodbye. I stood up in my crib and he gave me a hug. He was a handsome man, though very short, and he looked very much like my dad. I was only a little over a year old when this happened. He was arrested in Hawaii and given the choice of Germany or the only other country that would accept German citizens: Chile. He chose Chile because war clouds were gathering over Germany - this was in 1935 - and was deported there. He worked as a civil engineer for many years there.

Meanwhile, while most of the boys lived in San Francisco, William was still with his parents in Lodi, working for Mr. England, picking Tokay grapes. Shortly afterward, the grape business failed and both William and his father lost their jobs. They had been making $5 a day, satisfactory wages for the time, with William turning his salary over to his father. Anna was getting along fairly well at that time, and when the jobs dried up, they all got in the car and went toward the Bay Area, stopping in San Jose, but no jobs were available. They got to San Mateo and a man by the name of Crause hired Hermann to paint cars. By this time, Hermann really knew car painting and the manager was happy to have him. William worked as an apprentice for $2.50 a day. They rented an apartment in Burlingame, and worked there until after Christmas, 1925. Finally Hermann lost his job again - he hadn't bothered to clean up the outisde of a fender, but just painted over it. From there they headed south in early 1926. Work was very hard to find in those days, but they had saved enough money to get along. They went to Los Angeles, and then to Pasadena. William, at the age of 15, was fascinated with movie posters and wanted badly to see a movie, which in those days cost only a dime. He asked his father for ten cents, but Hermann refused to give it to him, and worse, Anna backed him up. After all his work, William felt he should have been given the money, and after seventy years, the memory still rankled.

Their next stop was Baskerfield, where the rest of the boys visited them in their tiny apartment next to a car-painting shop, where Hermann had at last found a job. The young men and William went up the Kern River Canyon and rolled rocks down the mountainside for recreation. That visit remained in William's memory as a wonderful day.

Naturally, Hermann soon lost the job in Bakersfield and they traveled to San Luis Obispo and then Monterey. There, William was hired by a car-painting shop that was using the new laquer method of painting cars. He worked there for over a month and made $25. When he got that paycheck, he left home. He hitch-hiked along the highway, carrying his suitcase, and was picked up by a man in an old Chevrolet. The man started the car again and somehow broke an axle. William got out and walked on. He was picked up by an old farmer who was a tobacco chewer. Thinking the window was open, the old farmer spat a stream of juice against the glass, which tickled William. The old man took him to Fresno, where William found a boarding house and a job in a paint shop. He was only 15. He worked there for a month and went to a movie every night. During this month he was offered a 1920 Maxwell touring car for $15 and he bought it, his first car. (William had a life-long passion for cars, and he always had a new or nearly-new car for the rest of his life. He owned one of the first streamlined cars, the Chrysler Airflow. I think it was a 1935 or 36.)

After only a month on his own, he got homesick, quit the job, and drove to San Francisco in the Maxwell. The whole family (except Herman Jr. and Jim) were now living there. Hermann and Anna were living in an old apartment on Geary just west of Van Ness. Hermann had been unable to find any but poor part-time work, so William moved in with them again. William went to work right away car painting, but his work was judged not good enough, and he lost it in one day. Then he found another on Pacific Avenue, in a shop specializing in Limosines. They had a new method of applying a varnish finish that was like a mirror (though the finish wouldn't last longer than a few months). The shop even had a dust-free drying room. He was hired as an apprentice, and on this job he learned the fine points of painting. He learned to mix and match his own colors and became an expert on car finishing. The shop had several Packard limos, when Packards cost $5,000. (A Chevrolet or Ford could be had, new, for $500.)

One day in 1926, William came home from work and smelled gas. The landlady got the keys, and let him in. Hermann and Anna were sitting side by side with the gas on. Hermann was dead, but Anna was still alive. William shut off the gas and dragged her, still sitting in her chair, into the other room. A nurse happened to be living in the house and she same in and tended to Anna. William called Walter and Eric, who were boarding near Golden Gate Park, and they came right away. Fred and Werner arrived a little later when they returned to their attic apartment and got the message.

Anna recovers - 1926 to 1929

Anna recovered in a few days and Walter moved in with her and William. Eric continued to live by himself, and Fred and Werner remained in their attic room. During Hermann's funeral, William met a salesman by the name of Wiseman, an acquaintance of Fred's. This man demonstrated washing machines (a new invention in 1926) but had trouble getting himself admitted into the homes of housewives who might otherwise be interested in a washing machine. A three-way conversation ensued, also involving a Mrs. Holkam, a good saleslady. She suggested to Mr. Wiseman that they go into partnership together, because as a pair they would have no trouble getting admitted into homes. (This proved to be a successful and lucrative partnership, and before long Mrs. Holkam divorced Mr. Holkam and married Mr. Wiseman. This lady, who made a career of meeting and marrying men, was the mother of Harriet Holkam who eventually married William.)

In 1927, in the house where Eric was living, there was a young girl about sixteen years old, a Mildred McKenna. Fred was interested in her, but she would not marry him because she had tuberculosis. That year the boys took Mildred to Omo Ranch in the Sierras near the Cosumnes River. They camped there with another family, the Lawlers. Then the boys went on to Lake Tahoe over Tioga (a killer road in those days) and into Yosemite on their motorcycles. Werner had given William his old Harley Davidson, the first of five for William.

In 1928, Eric and Fred decided to visit Vancouver Island, where Fred met Rose Pannell again. She had only been twelve years old when the Guefforys left, but now she was seventeen and Fred fell in love with her. They became engaged and Fred returned to San Francisco, where they continued their courtship by correspondence. They were married two years later, in 1930, when Rose was nineteen. Fred brought Rose to San Francisco, where they lived in an apartment owned by the Resnicks, who had a daughter Bernice who became lifelong friends with Rose. Rose became very homesick after a year in San Francisco, and Fred decided to move back to British Columbia for her sake. The depression was advanced by then, and the only job available was in a tannery. This was dirty, disgusting work, and after a few months he and Rose returned to San Francisco. Fred, Eric and Walter all had been working at American Can Company, but the company had a policy of not rehiring anyone who had quit, and Fred had to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. He said later that he became quite a connoiseur of carpets as a result of that job. Eventually the brothers pursuaded the company to rehire Fred.

Weddings - 1930 to 1950s

In 1930, on the same day - June 14 - that Fred and Rose were married in Vancouver, Walter married Dolly Brown in the Bay Area. Erick married Ida James around the same time.

One day in 1930, Fred and Rose met Mr. Wiseman at an outing at Land's End. He was accompanied by the much-married Mrs. Holkam, and Rose invited them and her daughter, Harriet, to dinner. William was also invited, and immediately became interested in Harriet, a very pretty girl of fifteen. The two couples, Fred & Rose, and William & Harriet, hit it off immediately. They went on several hikes together, from Mill Valley to Mt. Tamalpais, to Muir Woods, and Green Canyon. William and Harriet made plans to wait for two years before getting married, when she would be nearly eighteen. Since it was during the drpression, William was making journeyman's wages of $1 a day, not enough to get married on, though it was a good job.

One day, only a few weeks after they met, when William went to Mrs. Holkam's house to pick up Harriet on a date, Mrs. Holkam said, "I think you are going to have to change your plans, because I am going to divorce Charley, and you will have to marry Harriet if you want to see her again. Otherwise I will send her to Washington to be with her father. I don't want her around any more. It's up to you." Some mother.

She had chosen an awkward moment, because William had just bought Harriet an engagement ring, which he planned to give to her at Christmas, and he was still paying for his newest motorcycle. After making these payments, there wasn't much money left. But he loved Harriet, and he sold his new motorcycle to pay off his debts and finance the wedding. (He had paid $420 for it and sold it for $200.) The pair lived on potatoes for the first few months after they were married.

In Alberta, Jim married Evelyn, and Hermann married a Carol; these women's maiden names have been lost in the mists of time. Werner remained a bachelor for many years, but in his forties, he met a German woman, Lidia, through a "lovelorn" column, and married her, producing a son, Walter, who eventually returned to the U.S.

"Recent" history - 1953 to present

Anna Gueffroy lived by herself in San Jose, California, until her death in 1953. She was a very kind grandmother to her many grandchildren, never failing to give them gifts on every occasion: Easter and Valentine's Day as well as Christmans and birthdays. I remember her as a tiny, little old lady with hair scraped back into a bun and old-fashioned spectacles. She was never able to converse comfortably in English; she and her sons always spoke in German. She lived on a tiny stipend provided by her sons Werner, Eric, Walter and Fred. Jim declined to contribute to her support on the grounds that she wasn't his mother; Herman was dead. William felt he could not afford to contribute, especially since he had supported the family for several years. (Of course, all six of her sons had done that for years.) Werner's share was necessarily tiny - the three middle sons cheerfully supported their mother as long as she lived.

Jim had three children: Harry, Elsie, and Fred. All remained n Alberta. Evelyn died sometime in the 1970's and Jim died at an advanced age sometime in the late 70's or early 80's.

Herman's story was a tragic one. According to Rose Gueffory, his wife Carol was a slovenly, dirty woman who did no housework and barely looked after the children. They had three, Annie, the oldest, was nicknamed "Slopbucket Annie" by her schoolmates (Annie herself told this to Rose when she and Fred visited them in 1948.) The younger two were Clarence and Sheila. They were smart, pretty children. Poor Herman committed suicide sometime in the early forties; He drank rat poison. A year after his death, Grandmother Anna received a letter from Carol, announcing "a new grandchild for you!" The child was the local minister's, and Anna declined to consider the unfortunate baby one of her own. Tragically, Clarence was killed in a farm machine accident when he was only eighteen.

Werner produced only one son, Walter, who escaped Allende's Chile on a fishing boat and defected to America. He eventually won the right to stay in the U.S. His parents remained in Chile, visiting America only once, in 1980. Werner eked out an existance repairing umbrellas and hand-making violins for the last few years of his life. He died in 1982.*

Eric rose to the position of Manager of the Closing Machine Department of the American Can Company in San Francisco. He and Ida had two children, Donald and Joyce. They lived in San Bruno, California. Eric died in 1982*, of heart failure. Ida died in 1991*.

Fred was the traveler of the family. He continued to work for American Can as Chief Checker in the Drafting Dept. until he retired in 1962 at the age of 60. In the 40 plus years he worked for the company, he only missed two or three days because of sickness. Upon retirement, he and Rose traveled extensively through Europe, especially in Germany where he still had cousins, and where he could use his fluent German. They also cruised the South Pacific and did extensive traveling in the U.S. He and Rose had two daughters, Dorothy (Bunny) and Betty, in 1934 and 1936, and lived in San Francisco until his retirement, when they moved to the Sierra foothills. He died in 1977 of Legionnaire's disease complicated by leukemia and diabetes. Rose continued to travel with her daughters and friends for many years, visiting India, Japan, and Southeast Asia as well as her favorite vacation spot, the "Big Island" of Hawaii. At this writing (fall, 1995) Rose is living in a retirement apartment in Concord, California.

Walter was the big success, business-wise, of the Gueffroy family. He eventually moved to New York to become one of the Vice Presidents of American Can Co., in charge of the Customer Services Department. He and Dolly had twin sons in 1932, Lawrence and Gordon, and later, in 1947* adopted a daughter, Barbara Lynn (Lynn). Walter and Dolly returned to the Bay Area in the early '60's, settling in San Jose. Dolly died of cancer in 1977. Subsequently, Walter married Emma, Dolly's closest friend. At this writing both Walter and Emma are still alive at age 91, but he has advanced Parkinson's disease. He is in a nursing home near Walnut Creek, California.

William and Harriet moved from California to Washington state in 1943, with his first two children, Ray and Ann. Susan was born shortly afterward. He continued in his profession of car painting the rest of his life. He and Harriet built their home in Richland, WA, utilizing a housetrailer as the bedroom section. They later moved to Grayland, on the coast, to a beautiful house built by the two of them, that had a sweeping view of the ocean. When he retired from car painting, he took a job as guard for Weyerhauser, patrolling the logging roads on weeekends, before moving to Vancouver, Washington. Harriet died of diabetes in 1994, and William died in 1995 of bone marrow cancer after a shockingly brief illness.

I remember them all (except Jim whom I met as an old man, and Herman, whom I never met) as wonderful men. They were all blond, all handsome, all very kind. They were wonderful husbands and fathers, their wives were happy women. There is a picture of Eric, Walter and Fred standing in front of the American Can Company. They were all, characteristically, smiling.

* Year Approximate.