October 13, 2003
Hanson: This is an interview with Mr. George Inman at his home in Highland. Today is October 13, 2003. Good morning Mr. Inman.
Inman: Good morning.
Hanson: How are you today?
Hanson: Good, I'm glad you're here too. Let me ask you, I know you came to San Bernardino you said in 1950. How long have you been in this area though? It looks like you lived in Redlands before that.
Inman: I think we moved here in 1952, lived in Redlands.
Hanson: So you've been in this area roughly since 1950. What brought you here?
Hanson: Okay, and you came here from where?
Inman: Taft, California.
Hanson: Where is Taft, California?
Inman: Nobody knows where Taft is.
Hanson: Well I'm new to the area, so tell me anyway.
Inman: It's about 35 miles west of Bakersfield in a miserably, hot, dry area. But there's oil there.
Hanson: Well that makes it important then.
Inman: Yes, but we didn't own oil, my father just worked there.
Hanson: Well somebody's got to do it. So what brought you here?
Inman: Well technically my cousin, my older cousin. How she got here I don't know. She was a year ahead of me in school and there we were. We were close. The families lived in towns close by. She came here and was having a good time so I came down to the U of R. That's how I got here. I had no plans, any particular college or anything like that.
Hanson: So after you graduated what did you do?
Inman: Well I went up to, this is in four years, I went up to Grants Pass where my folks were then living and that's in Oregon. This is right after the war and jobs weren't too plentiful. But they wanted, the school system needed teachers and they hired me on an interview that's all. I had no education courses, no nothing. No plans to teach, except that my mother had been a teacher. They were desperate, they took me.
Hanson: I'm sure they weren't that desperate, you had to be qualified.
Inman: Well no, I had no credentials.
Hanson: Okay, but you were educated. You had your college education.
Inman: Yes, Yes, I had a degree.
Hanson: So tell me about some of your early memories of San Bernardino and living here. What are some of the things that kind of stand out in your mind?
Inman: Smudging. When I was in college I know that I was living with... I came here in the mid-term so it was winter when I came and I always had the windows open. We woke up one morning and here was smudge all over our faces. I don't know, you haven't seen the smudge?
Hanson: I haven't seen it.
Inman: It isn't like you are black or anything, but where your nostril was there would be black showing you'd breathed and that sort of thing. Then the desks were covered with this fine soot and the like. That was my introduction to smudging.
Hanson: So there are a lot of citrus fields and orchards around here?
Inman: Oh yes, that's what it was for. See when it got down, I think below maybe at 32 they started and there used to be a fellow on the radio and he'd announce the temperature. And so they would just keep announcing the temperature drop and then when it became 32 well then you would have to start lighting the smudge pots, and this was a good job for college kids. That's what we did, was find some orange grower who needed people and then we'd wait until we got a call and then we'd dash out and light smudge pots. The place would be a thick, yea, that's right... it was messy.
Hanson: A thick layer of soot then?
Inman: Yes. You must not be from the east.
Hanson: I'm from the east, not from the west.
Inman: It seems, well I remember a train ride and going up the east coast, Pennsylvania, and all the soot and stuff.
Hanson: Oh yes. I'm not from that area.
Inman: And we had to keep the windows open because it was so hot when we got done.
Hanson: Yes, if you were around Pittsburgh where the steel mills were.
Inman: They were filthy.
Hanson: Yes, it's terrible. So it was the same thing here then, but for oranges.
Inman: Except it was cold. That's better than being hot.
Hanson: What else comes to mind when you think about the '50's here in San Bernardino?
Inman: The '50's here. I taught out in Rialto and I remember where the school was, the old Red Car used to come by two or three times a day and that's what I can remember is that Red Car. I don't think it stopped there because it seemed like it always went roaring through town. I taught at Rialto Junior High and it was a small little town, a nice little town, nothing like it is now, just a nice little town.
Hanson: When your family was here, I assume you were married by then.
Inman: I got married I think the first year I taught, but I was employed and then that Thanksgiving we were married.
Hanson: So when you were dating, what did you do? Where did you go? What was the hot spot for dating?
Inman: Oh gee, there used to be a placed called the Cave down on Third Street where we used to go.
Hanson: Now see I've never heard about this, so tell me about it.
Inman: Well we only went there once or twice and it was jam packed with people. It was a popular place.
Hanson: Was it a restaurant?
Inman: Bar. And then there was a bar out here that we went to later. And of course as far as going out to eat and stuff... oh you're talking about the '50's; this is after I graduated. Where did we go? That's a little bit of a mistake because after we were married we didn't go the Cave and stuff like that. You know I was still going to school so we didn't go out much. We lead a pretty humble existence. We lived in Redlands and I really can't think of anyplace. Hudlow's in Redlands, if we did have money we'd go to a restaurant there and also a drive-in, Hudlow's Drive-in which we frequented when we could. That's about it.
Hanson: What did kids do for fun? I mean the kids you taught, did they talk about going places or? Nothing huh?
Inman: I guess I wasn't real chatty with them. I can't remember.
Hanson: Let's talk about teaching. What did you teach?
Inman: For three years I was a junior high school teacher. I taught for a year in Oregon and then I came down here and got my credential and I taught junior high two years in Rialto. And then the principal said that he would not be able to make me permanent because parents had complained about my speech. So I decided to go back to school to get a special credential and then I went to a man who specialized in communicative disorders with the University of Redlands back where I'd done my graduate work. I took therapy from him and also took classes, so I got my secondary credential in the area of Speech Communicative Disorders.
So, then the system hired me back as a speech therapist, and that's how I spent 32 years. When I first taught I was in elementary most of the time and I really didn't want to be down there. I think my first boss, she was eventually saw to it that I got just in secondary and the next fella that came in honored that and so for about 30 years I worked in the secondary school, which is what I wanted. No complaint.
Hanson: It was really for you a very brave thing to do, to turn what was a problem into a career.
Inman: Uh huh, yes I guess so. I really think it bothered some people more than it did me, because I know there was a parent complained because her daughter said I had trouble. And I remember once a kid mimicking me, but heavens to Betsy, a teacher had never been mimicked you know? Never been laughed at. And they hired me back. It was just this one principal that it stuck in his craw that this parent had complained. But anyway, with this girl, I was having a test and I did a stupid thing, I threatened. I said, "Anybody I see cheating, I'm taking their paper away." Well this girl, who was one of the sharper kids in class, turned around and said something to the person behind, so I took her paper. Now why is this important? Anyway I took her paper and so of course the parents were not happy. I said look, "She didn't follow my instruction or it wouldn't have happened. As the parents say, "What are you going to do?" Yes, that's right I do that, but I shot my mouth off.
Hanson: Well you have to follow through.
Inman: With a threat. So you learn to cage your conversation a little more. Circumspect I guess you would say.
Hanson: Yes, the problem with threats is that you have to follow through with them.
Inman: Oh yes.
Hanson: Otherwise you lose all respect.
Inman: Oh no, it would be, no. Boy because if you didn't do that with the age of the kids I had, it would be, just it wouldn't work.
Hanson: Yes, absolutely. So tell me some other things about San Bernardino that come to mind. You were active in what kind of clubs or organizations?
Inman: Well, my first one, I think it was the same girl that I was telling you about, her father, I got involved with him and he was in Toastmasters. I thought that would be a good thing for me to be in Toastmasters. That was the first, but of course I had belonged to the San Bernardino Local Teacher's Association and CETA and NEA. I was in that club for a year and I enjoyed it. It was an interesting club.
Hanson: Okay, tell me what they did?
Inman: They gave speeches. It was with Toastmasters and you had three main speakers a night and this was once a week. There was a topic assigned each night and then you went around the table and each of you said maybe a minute. I think they even timed it so you wouldn't go over your allotted time. Really, it was a good thing. I only stuck with it for a year because you've got to prepare speeches and I'm sure you've prepared a speech and it takes some time.
Hanson: Yes, lots of time.
Inman: And so that's, but I enjoyed the experience and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who's willing to put the effort and time in. It just helped.
Hanson: Well it sounds like it would be interesting and helpful to people who had to go out in public and write speeches. It makes you really think about things.
Inman: The only thing of it is though you get to know the guys and then it's a lot easier. It isn't like getting up before that crowd for the first time. But still you get the practice standing on your feet a lot. That's the only real club I was in.
Hanson: Oil field roustabout. Tel me what you did as a roustabout.
Inman: Well about half the time I was what they call a welder's helper. They were primarily dealing with pipelines, oil going through these pipelines. On the pipelines itself if you were welding pipelines together you always had to dig what he called a bell hole. I don't know why it's called a bell hole, but anyway you had to dig around so he could get all the way around this, lying on his stomach...kind of stuff like this out in the desert, dirt you know. So it was my job to dig the holes and anything else. I had to move the acetylene and oxygen bottles around and this sort of thing. You know, a gopher, the flunky.
Hanson: The grunt work.
Inman: Yes. It was a good job for a 17-year-old kid. I got a buck an hour. That was in 1941. That was pretty good pay for a 17-year-old kid. Of course the oil fields I don't think felt the depression like some places did. I remember there were some people out of work but I really don't think it was like other areas.
Hanson: That's interesting. I never thought about that.
Inman: Well how would you know? We had what we called Hoover City outside of town where the shacks were, but I'll bet there wasn't more than 15 families living out there. Everybody I knew the dad had a job. Both my folks worked so we were living high on the hog.
Hanson: It's interesting because most of the information that we have for history is usually around the cities and the industry where people lost work.
Inman: Oh yes, my mother's brother lived in L.A. and had a good job. The job disappeared and he couldn't get another job. They came and they lived with us. My parents put down the money so he could buy a service station. He didn't have anything, I'm sure he paid them back eventually or something like that, but it was tough for him. I'm sure you've heard depression stories.
Hanson: I've heard a lot of depression stories from this area about what went on here.
Inman: Of course this was up in the oil.
Hanson: Yes, but still, it's something that I haven't heard before, so that's interesting.
Inman: Now I think, I'm sure my father told me this. They had to have a reduction in force (this was even in the oil), so the company gave them an opportunity to go on half a day or lay some off and they chose half a day. During the depression, where were they going to find another job?
Hanson: Right. Half a day is better than no day.
Inman: That's right, you gotta eat. And then of course I lived in a company house. Hey man great, and they didn't charge us rent.
Hanson: Yes, that would make it easier.
Inman: But my story is not typical.
Hanson: You're right, it's not typical, but it's an interesting story. It's a different point of view on what happened.
Inman: Well, when you say point of view, I was lucky. That's the point of view.
Hanson: Then you went into the Army.
Inman: From school.
Hanson: What did you do in the Army?
Inman: I have to tell you this because, I wanted to be a pilot. The Marines turned me down, the Navy turned me down and the Army Air Force turned me down because of my speech. They would ask, "Do you have a speech problem?" I'd say, "Yes." I think now maybe I would have said, "No," but then I might not have been alive either. It was WWII, so maybe it worked out for the best. They Lord was watching me. He said, "George be honest." So I didn't get what I wanted. I had three cousins around my age, all were in the Air Force. I was the only dogface, which was infantry. Two of them were killed and the other was a prisoner of the Japanese, so it worked out all right in the long run at the time. But I'll tell you, when you're in Washington D.C. You ever been there?
Hanson: Just came from there this week.
Inman: Did you, I wish I had of talked to you a week before you went. In the Air and Space Museum there's a picture painted on a wall of a B-17, you probably aren't even familiar with that stuff. But the next time you're there I want you to go in there and see that. There's a picture of this B-17 painted on the wall of this Air and Space Museum and this artist couldn't just draw a picture. He had to have a plane. There's even a spot of a German Messerschmitt in the back. He even interviewed that pilot who survived the war. I don't know if it makes sense. And then my cousin was a pilot of this B-17, except he was killed later. But there's his picture down below and on the explanation the full thing's there. So it makes a nice memory. It's a cousin I dearly loved, a good man.
Hanson: So you were in the infantry.
Hanson: Where were you? Were you in Germany?
Inman: Between the South Pacific and Germany I was very glad to be in Germany. We were there during the winter, the ground was frozen and all that kind of stuff and I was a dogface in a combat infantry, a machine gunner. But I'd still rather been there than the South Pacific.
Hanson: My dad was in the Navy and he was in the South Pacific. Well he was there late though, '44-'45.
Hanson: Yes. When you came back from the war, what was it like here in America? What had changed? What stayed the same?
Inman: I felt nothing had changed particularly. Well you're just so glad to be back home. I was eager to get back into school. I kind of want to emphasize this. I had a fairly close family in the sense I told you two were killed, one was a prisoner and I was wounded. So I think we paid our dues. And I spent about two months out before the sent me back.
Hanson: When you came back, did you have your GI bill?
Inman: Oh yes, U of R.
Hanson: So, the GI bill got you through school.
Inman: Wonderful, wonderful thing.
Hanson: Tell me about it.
Inman: Well, I mean the government let us go back to school and they paid all our tuitions. I don't remember if they paid for our books or not, but they paid for a bunch of stuff and they gave us $65 a month to live on.
Hanson: That was a pretty good deal. Well I mean you paid for it really. I mean you were wounded.
Inman: Well did the WWI guys get this? They had a thing during the '30's, they got a little bonus or something like that, but nothing like this. And they paid for me to go to the University of Redlands, which is a private school. They could have insisted that I go to junior college an then to a state institution. Quite a magnificent thing really.
Hanson: When you got out of school and got married, did they help you with the mortgage for your house or was that available?
Inman: Yes, but I don't think I qualified for the GI loan. I think I had paid too much down on my house that I couldn't. California had a little thing and after I was teaching awhile and I think I needed some credentials or wanted something more and they paid for a summer session at S.C. So I mean I was treated very nicely.
Hanson: When you looked for a house, were there houses available or was it hard to find one?
Inman: There were houses going up all over, tracts. We bought a tract home.
Hanson: Where was that?
Inman: East 26th. I'm trying to think, it was a corner house, but I've forgotten the other street. Anyway it was in San Bernardino here.
Hanson: And was that area then all newer tract houses?
Inman: All new, we were all planning, everybody shared their problems and planting lawns and all that dull stuff. But we got them in.
Hanson: How big was that first house? How many bedrooms? How many baths?
Inman: I gotta think, one, two, three. That would be two bedrooms and a den or three bedrooms, kitchen, service porch, patio (somewhat covered), cemented. That's about it. It was a good house, $15,000.
Hanson: You won't find that anymore. Do you have any children?
Hanson: Were they born when you were in that house?
Inman: Yes, they both were born while we were in that house.
Hanson: Tell me about the neighborhood with the kids and the families.
Inman: It was good because it was practically a new neighborhood and a lot of people our age. They all had little kids. We lived on the corner here. Then the other side of the street came up here and then there was what they call a cul-de-sac I guess and just a great place for the kids to play. They'd play baseball out there and argue and fight and fuss you know. It was playing on the street, but there was this bulb here that gave them a little bit of protection. If you were going to live in the city it was a good deal. They spent a lot of time out there arguing.
And they had one poor lad that everybody picked on you know. He'd get to crying, but he wouldn't go home. I've heard them say, "Go home, go home!" That poor kid.
Hanson: When your kids were growing up, what kind of city events were there for them? Were there parades here?
Inman: I suppose so, I don't remember.
Hanson: I was just wondering, because sometimes some neighborhoods have like Halloween parades for the kids or there's 4th of July parades or something that would go on for kids.
Inman: I can't think of anything like that.
Hanson: I'd assume there'd be the regular trick-or-treat kid of stuff.
Inman: Yes, they went around the houses. When they were young I went out with them, the dutiful father out there.
Hanson: Father's still do that. So tell me about your activities in the church; you were a youth leader. Little league officer too?
Inman: Yes, that's right. I don't like baseball.
Hanson: How did you get in little league if you don't like baseball?
Inman: Kids. My older son isn't too into it, but my younger son likes baseball, but they both wanted to play. You know they're kids. If I'd been there age I would've wanted to be on the team too just to be a part of, you know with other guys. So I was a V.P. for a while there simply because they needed it you know. They needed someone. I think Ruby Lee was treasurer too. I don't remember, it's been some time. But that's all I can say about little league.
Hanson: It's amazing what we do for our children isn't it?
Inman: Yes, but you met people and you had, and I don't know, just the neighborhood, I'm not a sports nut so.
Hanson: Tell me about the church youth group. What did you do there?
Inman: Well we were what they call sponsors... well Ruby Lee [wife] taught summer school before we were married and then after we were married a few years she began teaching again in Sunday School and then a little later I began teaching in the junior high. I did that for three or four years and then I took some time off. Then she and I became sponsors of the high school youth group for Sunday mornings. While I was sponsor we would take the kids to Yosemite during Easter vacation for five days. That was something I wouldn't do now. A little side lecture, but I think sponsorship - no, what do you call it when you're in charge of a group of kids?
Inman: Chaperone. Chaperoning is really an important thing to take on. One time when I wasn't involved in it, but they lost a boy up there in the Sierras. Well he was intelligent, he had gone off by himself, which is wrong, went up the trail too far and darkness came but he sat there, he sat the night there and came down the next morning. Now you know the sponsors were frantic all night long, I mean, but he came down. He was intelligent. He didn't walk that trail at night, so it worked out alright, but that's... I sponsored two or three trips to Disneyland and I lost a kid one time. I didn't even know the kid. I think this was with little league or something and I was just going along because they needed someone. I didn't know the kids. They were from Hawaii; you know they came over. Finally we decided well - Disneyland won't help you a bit.
Hanson: The happiest place on earth?
Inman: When you lose a kid that's our problem, not theirs. So we finally had decided, well we can't keep these kids here all night, so we went home without him. The clincher is as we driving in to the spot to pick up the kids I see this kid walking across in the headlights of my car. I didn't let my feelings show, but I just said, "Well where the heck have you been?" "Well I came home earlier, didn't so and so tell you?" But it still worked out all right. Then I think I lost another kid one time, at Disneyland again.
Well actually, if they think about it, they're not going to take off from Disneyland. They're having all kinds fun so they're going to be hanging around there. But anyway we eventually found him too. He wandered off with I think with the bus driver or something. I said, "Nope, I'm too old for this." Kids have to have chaperones, but it's not going to be me. I figure I'm too old anyway.
Hanson: Well it gets to the point where they really need people who are younger who can keep up with them too.
Inman: It's too bad because they always need people, but I think I've done my share there. Maybe not my share, you really can't say that, but as much as I'm going to. My wife isn't willing to do it anymore, so they got to find youngsters.
Hanson: That's right. Time for somebody else to step up to the plate. So how long did you live in your first house there on West 26th?
Inman: Thirteen years.
Hanson: And then where did you move from there?
Hanson: So this is only your second house. I'm used to people being very mobile in California.
Inman: I don't like to pack.
Hanson: I'm with you.
Inman: I imagine I'm lazy. Well of course we took a job. I guess one of the reasons I didn't look around maybe for another jobs. Well packing is a pain to my way of thinking. All this has to be packed carefully and all you know. Old stuff all stacked around and you know.
Hanson: So if it were up to you you'd just throw it in a box and say good luck.
Inman: Well my mother had a set of dishes that I think she purchased before World War I. I guess you call them China or something. So they're fairly, I would say, maybe not, maybe an antique now.
Hanson: Oh yes, definitely an antique.
Inman: And they're delicate to my way of thinking. I can remember my cousin throwing them. We used to, when the families would get together the grownups would go in the living room and then we would have to clean up. They would kill us kids if they knew what... You had to pack it carefully and I didn't want to do that. We're not planning to move anyplace else. If we do, it will be over to Plymouth Village. But heavens to Betsy, I pay to have the yard mowed, the house is paid for. We'll stay here awhile.
Hanson: So is there anything else you want to tell me before we end here?
Inman: There was something, oh yes! My great tragedy. It was tragic to me. I was in the infantry and they sent some of us to colleges to become engineers and I went to Texas A&M which was an all boys school. I couldn't have a worse assignment. But anyway I'm no engineer. I had a flunked out of that because of all these formulas and junk like that. Now you're a college Prof. Let's see if I can remember, we took English, we took geography, we took geometry, we took, I think we even had algebra there. We took chemistry and we took physics, six days a week.
Hanson: That's a heavy load.
Inman: Yes, and I'm no student. You know the Lord, as far as I'm concerned, He looks out for the more humble. I saw on the bulletin board one time, it said you can apply for cadet training and be a pilot. Well I knew I couldn't last in Texas A&M; engineering, chemistry, all that baloney. So I applied. This is where I think the guy asked me about my speech problem and I said, "Well I stutter." He says, "Say Methodist Episcopalian" and I said it. He said then don't ever mention it again. Good. So I got through and I was a cadet. Have I told you? Have I told this story?
Hanson: No, tell me.
Inman: God, happy as a lark. Going to be a pilot you know. But they sent us to Crayton University. Have you ever heard of it, in Omaha? What you'd call pre-flight. We took English and geography, same thing over again. Here again I was happy. This is on the side; you've got to realize I was a G.I. Omaha, they would set up stuff for us. We got Saturday night off from 5:00 o'clock and they would have girls already lined up you know. Jiminy Christmas I can't remember what we did. It must have been dances or something. But that was great, because the rest of the week you couldn't go anyplace. You were 24-hours.
Hanson: You couldn't meet anyone.
Inman: Yes, I met a nice little girl there. We had two or three Saturday night get-togethers. We had no car or anything, but anyway one day they called about half the detachment into the auditorium and they said the reason you're here is because you've had previous ground force experience. The Army needs ground force people more than they need pilots right now. So all of us who had come from the infantry, artillery, whatever it was; we were sent back to our original branch. We were a bitter bunch, very bitter, because we didn't want to be in the infantry. You've got to be a nut to want to be in the infantry. But the good thing is I told you I was sent to Europe and not the South Pacific. Although it wasn't a picnic I'm sure glad I was in Europe. It was nice there after the war. I spent six more months there after the war as an M.P. For some reason they picked me out and made me an M.P. Well I had a jeep to ride around in you know. That was a good deal.
Hanson: So you got to see a lot of Germany then?
Inman: Oh no, oh no. No, that jeep you took out of the motor pool for your job and then you turned that jeep back in at the end of your shift. I mean there was no way.
Hanson: So they didn't want you to go around.
Inman: No way, I didn't get out of Stuttgart. I was there six months, I never was out of Stuttgart, but at least I drove around Stuttgart on duty, because you couldn't drive them out. But I was glad. I was glad to be out of the infantry. It was a good job. I didn't have any police work, maybe one or two times I had to be a policeman you know, but that's good duty.
Hanson: Well that's an interesting life you have.
Inman: Oh wait a minute. I was in business for 15 years too.
Hanson: What were you doing in business?
Inman: Well this other guy and I got a one-hour Martinizing Franchise. Now we didn't work at it, we hired people. But I value that experience. All the salaries have to be paid, the government has to be paid and they don't care about your problems one single bit. You could be in the hole $500,000, but you still have to pay unemployment insurance and their taxes. That's where people get into trouble. So that's an education that I think is valuable and we made a success of it. So I think that was a worthwhile experience. Fifteen years we had it.
Hanson: What years were those, from when to when?
Inman: 1964 to December 31, 1979, fifteen years. It was just a good experience. There were times when I walked around at night just not knowing what to do. This is business; this isn't classroom stuff. You know, where are we going to get the money and so on and so on. But I really think it was highly worthwhile to experience being responsible for other people's livelihood and the like. So that's my little praise.
Hanson: Thank you very much.