November 12, 2003 and February 4, 2003
Hanson: This is an interview with Lyle Jensen in his home in San Bernardino on Parkside Drive. This is November 12, 2002 and this is Joyce Hanson. Good afternoon, Mr. Jensen.
Jensen: Good afternoon to you.
Hanson: So you are a long time, your family is long time residents of San Bernardino. How far back do you go here?
Jensen: My great grandfather came to town after the Mormons left because of the lawlessness in town. They brought him in. He was a professional Indian fighter and they brought him in in1880 and made him the sheriff. From 1880 to1888, and he homesteaded the property at Baseline and I Street, which is where the freeway and the railroad now go out there, and he was the sheriff here from 1880 to 1888. And my grandmother was born there at Baseline and I Street. She lived to be 93 years old. Incidentally, she was one of the first nurses when Patton hospital was a big old red brick building that opened. Somewhere I have a picture of her or I gave it to the library of her and her very, should I say, tightly starched uniform the nurses wore. And my mother was born here in town in 1888 on 3rd Street where the Wells Fargo bank now stands. It was a small home in there and it was just east of the Allen and Sons old original Iron Works there on 3rd Street near D. However, I was not born in San Bernardino. I arrived a few weeks earlier while my mother was visiting in Los Angeles, so my records were down there but I was back here in San Bernardino from about the age of one month or two months, lived here all my life.
Hanson: When is your birthday?
Jensen: The fourteenth of July, 1913. We lived here in San Bernardino near by what was called the Maryland and St. Augustine Hotel on 3rd and H Street and I started school there, but I didn't go to Kindergarten. I went right to the first grade. I remember my first grade teacher. Her name was Mrs. Tracy and the principal of the school was Anna B. Luengood [Sp?]. I think the school system uses that now as a warehouse, but that was the original I Street School. Later on we moved over to a house on what was called Rex Avenue between F Street and G Street, and they later renamed it Kingman, that street no longer exists because it is part of the downtown shopping area, the Stater Brothers and all that area, so that that street ends out. I lived there and went to the old F Street school up on the corner of 5th and F, which was back of the old original YMCA. By the way, my mother also went to that school; the F Street school and they tore that school down, it was a brick school, they tore it down and they built Harding School. They saved all the old bricks and hauled them up and made the gymnasium at Sturges Junior High out of the old bricks from the F Street school. And so after 6th grade at Harding School, I went to Sturges. Which has now been torn down. It's just now the auditorium, and while I was going to school there they built that auditorium, and now the auditorium still stands but the school is torn down. Let's see--those years there had been some earthquake damage up at the San Bernardino High School, so I had to spend my first 6 months of my tenth grade, my sophomore year of high school down at Sturges because of the lack of classrooms up at the old original San Bernardino High School which by the way was built in 1916. So I went to San Bernardino High School and I graduated from high school there in 1932 which wasn't the best time of the years for employment and before I even graduated I managed to get a job at the old Warner Brothers Ritz Theater which later became the Pussycat Theater and that was on the east side of E Street just north of 4th. And prior to that time it was called the Strand Theater and Warner Brothers bought it and they named it the Ritz Theater and I was an usher and a doorman there while going to school. I'd walk down from high school and go to work. And get off at 11 o'clock a night and go to school the next day in that day, 7 days a week, in those days I got a dollar a day and that was great money back then in the '31.
Hanson: Yes, during the depression, definitely. So they let, they let young people work that late at night back then?
Jensen: Oh Yes, oh Yes.
Hanson: No rules.
Jensen: Some of the nights we would be out of there at 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock after the second show started, but if you had to change the marquee out in front, then you had to wait and change the old fashioned marquee and get that changed out before you left. And I had a very good friend working with me at that time here in San Bernardino by the name of Norman D. Weiss, the Weiss family. His brother later became a member of the police department. Norman went on and became a professional baseball player and spent some time in the big leagues and then when he was released he went to college and became a minister. And, he was in Texas and he has since passed away. But interesting things at night, and one of the nights that we had to work late at the theater, those were the days they had the balcony and they had the loge seats for the special young ladies and the young men they liked their loge seats. So they'd sit back on loge seats, so Norman and I, after the show, we'd go through and lift up all the seats and you'd be surprised how much spare change we would find, and then I'd split that and go about a half a block and get a bowl of chili or a hamburger or something. That was a lot of extra money there, from the old Warner Brothers Theater. So, and then I left Warner Brothers and went over to the California Theater for a short time- two weeks or a month as assistant manager over there. And then I got a job with Webb Products Company, those, they made Arrowhead liquid cement and wood dough down on south G Street, and they later sold out to Plough Chemical Company, but anyway it was Webb Products at that time. Sixty cents an hour for an 8 hour day mixing wood- plastic wood dough and liquid cement, putting it in tubes, shipping at sixty cents an hour. Big money.
Hanson: Yes, that isn't bad.
Jensen: Yes, in those days. And--then--later on I sold shoes; two or three different shoe stores here in town and then went to work for the gas company in 1934. Delivered bills from door to door. Cheaper than postage. Eighty-five dollars a month, you worked 6 days, well five and a half. You had a half a day off on Saturday, but it was cheaper than the 2 cents postage to pay somebody to deliver anything from four to eight hundred bills each day. And in spare time I would a, I mean extra time, if it was an area where it was too rural, means you couldn't walk it and they had to be mailed, and in those days I would read the meter so I got pretty well acquainted with every home, every house, every location within the area here in San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Colton, Rialto--all those places. After about a year of that. That's when Costa County and the Storeroom department and I was there, let's see, about five years, and then I became a collector out of the Riverside area for a rural area: Corona, Perris, Highgrove, West Riverside, clear out to Etiwanda, places like that. And then later I came in to customer accounting in Riverside. It was there when I went in the military service in '43. I came out of the military after 3 years, '46. Went back to Riverside for about 6 months and transferred to San Bernardino and got in the customer accounting department and then later moved to the sales and marketing department and that's where I retired. Now what do you--well let's see-
Hanson: That's the nutshell. Let's talk about being in high school. Let's go back that far first.
Hanson: What kind of things did you guys do for fun in high school? What kinds of things did the guys do?
Jensen: Well, in those days, they would have a dance about every month or six weeks in the gym. Of course there was all the athletic contests. Colton was our big competitor at that time. We had Ernie Pinkert, who later went on to USC and became All American and Colton-->phone ringing<--O.K. In high school, depression days there wasn't a whole lot. Most of the time it was, oh there was city recreational leagues in basketball, and night ball. That was very popular at that time, night ball games, and I said we had dances at high school, and Saturday night- movies! 'Cause back in the thirties that was before cruising E Street. Us kids didn't have cars. We walked to school. No matter where you lived in town you walked to school, so, there was only one high school there.
Hanson: What was your/what was the favorite movie theater for kids to go to. Was there a particular one or was there--did you have choices?
Jensen: Oh no, there was the old opera house here in town and that was on the corner of Court and D Street and when they built the courthouse, the one that's now standing, in 1927, they cut Court Street too, so they tore down the Opera House. My stepfather was stage manager there for 36 years and so every Saturday night of course, even when I was going to elementary school, what have you, I was always down there for the vaudevilles shows on Saturday night, and a whatever was because we had great access to the theater there. But, there was the Opera House and the Strand Theater and that was owned by Don Knight-Nep [Sp?], Don Nep and his son and the owned the Temple Theater up on 3rd Street between F and G on the North side, and of course there's no sound pictures in those days, there was all black and white with the subtitles, and--so if you didn't have--there was also the old Rialto Theater which is across on 3rd Street, across from the Allen Iron Works, that was between Arrowhead and D Street, on the south side next to the old Cooley Hardware, and there was Saturday matinees for a nickel, and of course that was the Max Sennet comedies and a--and a--Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan and those names. And going to the theater was the big excitement for the high school kids.
Hanson: How much did it cost to get into the theater? I know matinees were a nickel, what if you went on a Saturday night? Was it still a nickel?
Jensen: If you went on Saturday night--if you went to Opera House for vaudeville it was twenty-five cents. They had all the floor acts of vaudeville plus the picture and that was twenty-five cents. Over at the Strand Theater, they had vaudeville, too, but it was not what they call first run vaudeville, it was a second run and a picture so that was only fifteen cents. Temple Theater was ten cents to go to, and later on they built the West Coast Theater in the Platt building out there and they had some remarkable stage shows there, there on the corner of 5th and E Street where the state building is now. Yes, the Platt building. That's where President Lyndon Johnson had the elevator.
Hanson: You're the 3rd person who said that. That must be true. When was that?
Jensen: Well, I can, I can, pretty well--it would be right around 1934-- because when I was working I got a dog bite, and the gas company doctor at that time was over there and I think he was the elevator operator that took me up to the company doctor on the fifth floor. So I think it was right around '34.
Jensen: Now what else do we need?
Hanson: We need to talk about the different areas. What did downtown look like? What were the main businesses down there?
Jensen: Well, Harris' was the big store at that time. That was on the south side of 3rd street between D and E, I'm going-- that was back into the early '20's, the Harris' store. It was across the street from the old city hall. You go west coming up, it was the Harwood's Men's Store on there, Sal Anchor had a men's store, and on the northeast corner of 3rd and E was the Katz building which was doctors and lawyers offices, and the main floor was a drug company, and on the south east corner was the bank and the Stuart Hotel, and then on the south west corner was a cigar store, pool hall, and that was bought up and torn down by the Harris company in 1927 and they built their Harris company store there in 1927. And across the street on the north east corner of 3rd and E Street was a bank that later became a Bank of America, just west of that going up 3rd street, on the same side of the street was a-- late '16, 1916, '17, was the Crystal Saloon and that was owned by my grandfather, and he was associated with Ingersoll, Essler, and Jensen, who were liquor distributors. My grandfather ran the Saloon; the Crystal Saloon, and Ingersoll was the one who wrote the history of the San Bernardino Valley.
Hanson: Yes, I've seen that.
Jensen: Ingersoll, and if you can find one of those original books you have a fortune-- And then when prohibition came in, that became the Chocolate Palace, ran by Ralph Pease, and that was the big hangout for the high school kids for their entertainment, go down to the Chocolate Palace there, in those days. And going up street, E Street; Court Street was Montgomery Ward and across the street was Brooks Clothing for men, Marquell's for women, the Red Front for women, and Kress right by the Anderson building, the old Kress' store, and that's where all us guys used to go meeting because our girlfriends worked Saturday at Kress'. My wife worked in the candy department. I'd go down and meet her at nine o clock-- and that was in the 30's after--oh she was in high school, I was out of high school, but I would meet her and take her home, things like that. And going on up E Street the California Hotel was so beautiful. I believe that's where Tennessee Ernie Ford got his start there on the KFXM radio station that was inside the California Hotel.
Hanson: Oh. I didn't know that.
Jensen: The Lee brothers built the new radio station at KFXM. Prior to that time of course all the radios we had were Crystal sets us kids would build and you'd get KFI out of Los Angeles, then they built KFXM and boy were we in glory because it the Crystal set would pick it up real easy. And so that has been torn down and now is a parking lot in there. So, yes there was the old Iron Works and the old stores downtown and that's before they built the mall and tore out 3rd street, it was small mom and pop stores, shoe stores, clothing store. Penney's was on 3rd Street between E and F, and-Chaffey's had a market up on 3rd Street near F, and that's, I guess about the first supermarket that ever came to town, other than that you had little individual grocery stores scattered around, and Chaffey came to town, and then later on, Safeway built a big market at 3rd and G Street. They tore that down and built over at Sierra Way and Baseline and it's now a tire shop, an automotive shop- that was a Safeway store. So, the town has changed.
Hanson: Yes. Yes--when you were growing up, how far north did the town extend? I mean, what was the absolute limit towards north?
Jensen: The basic limit: Marshall. When I was growing up in the '30's the outer edge of town was Marshall. That was a dirt road and some areas, like on Arrowhead Avenue or D Street and E, they were building some nice homes, but the Pacific Electric Red Cars used to run on 3rd Street, north on D to Highland Avenue, and then east to Mountain View, and then up Mountain View, and then run up to the Arrowhead Springs Hotel. So later on, the Mountain View developed, and then--Oh, in the early '30's anything-- Sierra Way wasn't even paved above Highland Avenue, the cemetery was there and across from that was the granite tombstone works. That's where CoCo's is now, and-- but Marshall was not paved, you could go through Marshall to Valencia on a dirt road. The country club was there but that was not part of the city.
Hanson: Oh. It wasn't.
Jensen: The city. They had their own water wells and everything else so they did not go into the city and Al Jolsen's brother built a nightclub on Valencia over near the country club in prohibition days and seemed to get away with it for quite a while, that nightclub.
Hanson: What was the name of that club?
Jensen: I don't the name, but it was owned by Al Jolson's brother. It was on Marshall and of course that's been torn down and the homes there on Valencia have built there since then. And Marshall used to, to go, cut the golf club in half, you could drive through it but then the city gave that part of Marshall to the country club so it's closed off now. What else do we need to know about the town? Santa Fe Depot?
Hanson: Oh Yes!
Jensen: Very active. That was the part of town because the Santa Fe employees got paid the fifth and the 24th or the 25th, I think, of each month and they had a couple of cigar stores up there and they always cashed the Santa Fe employees, the shop employees checks for them, there was a shoe repair shop, and across the street from the Santa Fe was the Santa Fe athletic baseball diamond, the apprentices had a baseball team and a football team and they'd play out a "sit down" and that was part of our entertainment, going. And one time someone.>phone ringing<. But anyway, that was part of the entertainment on the weekends, going to the Santa Fe apprentice football or baseball or the Class D baseball up there which was right across the street. Later that was all torn out and Fedco built in there and Stater Brothers built a big market there, and its now, I think, called a Mercado, but the Santa Fe was very active, had the Harvey House and, where you could go for real excellent food. The chef was a fellow by the name Olvert- O-L-V-E-R-T, and he came from Switzerland and he bought some land out in Harlem Springs, which it no longer exists out there in Baseline, and he planted grapes and had his winery.
And if you knew him you could go out there and you could get a gallon of wine. Good Swiss wine for fifty cents or so, and his assistant there was a fellow by the name of Sterns who came from Germany, and when Olvert retired, Sterns took over as a chef of the Harvey House, and his wife is a noted painter. As a matter of fact, I have pictures that she painted for our house, Preta Sterns, and she used to sell the pictures in Perris Hill Park. When Harvey House closed down, they opened a big eating-house up in Devore, and they specialized in Sauerbraten and other German foods. It was very, very good. Santa Fe was really very, very active with the shops, with the west coast shops there, and the Brown House, the big steam house, and the--of course, the switching yards where they switched the trains heading for San Diego or to Los Angeles they come in from the east. You see, San Die-- go back to the 1800's when the railroads first came to town here, the Southern Pacific crews came in and they got land grants across the desert. One section of land around Palm Springs went to the railroad and one section of land went to the Indians. And that's why Palm Springs grew up kind of spotted, because the Southern Pacific Railroad could sell their land but the Indians couldn't. The Indians had a big travel house there on Indian Avenue right in the center of town, but nobody could touch it because that was--they would lease you a plot of ground for 25 years and you could build a house but you'd never owned it. That's all torn down now and that's a big gambling casino.
Jensen: But, as I say, I remember working that area there. Palm Springs. So--but the sectioned lands same as coming down the Cajon Pass when Fred Perris, the engineer, designed and brought Sante Fe down too. By then it was Perris Street; Perris Hill, it was named after Fred Perris, came down. Every railroad had to have a seaport, that's, that was their ultimate goal was to reach a seaport, the Union Pacific had control of the seaport up at San Francisco, the Southern Pacific had the Los Angeles, that only left one thing for the Santa Fe coming through Cajon Pass was to get to San Diego. So they had to go through Colton and that was blocked because the Southern Pacific would not allow them to cross their tracks. As a matter of fact, they, they put a train there, with Wyatt Earp on the train, armed with a shotgun. So Sante Fe got to run their tracks up but they couldn't get across. Governor Waterman, which Waterman Avenue was named after him, issued an edict. It was sent down to my great grandfather who was sheriff. He formed a posse and went over and read the edict to Wyatt Earp and said that he either had to climb down and get that engine moved so the Sante Fe could cross otherwise-- in those days, they meant business. The posse was going to take care of Wyatt right now and then. Period. So they did move the engine. Sante Fe had their crew. They put what they call a frog in and got across and then they went on down through Railroad Canyon and Temecula, which later washed out in the flood, so they had use the coast.
Hanson: That's an interesting story. I didn't know that.
Jensen: Another interesting thing, as a kid I used to like to hang out, there was a horseshoe shop, across the street from where I lived. Old Billy Landon, and-- I'd hang out over there watching him shoe the horses, and things like that-- and about down in town around 4th everybody had a pump. It was a well, and good cold water. Oh, old well, of course you had city water, but before the city water, there everybody got in town had their own little well and a pump, and there was all kinds of water. Water--I mean, Meadow Brook Park flowed the year round and there was even springs between 3rd Street and Waterman Avenue where the springs would flow into--and you could go into Meadow Brook Park and catch trout, good trout fishing in there as a kid growing up. Let's see, before they named that Meadow Brook Park, way back, years ago my mother was telling me it was called Squaw Town. The Indians had come in camped there and south of that down Allen Street and Waterman Avenue there was called Chinese Gardens where all the Chinese had their individual gardens. They all had a horse and wagon, and they'd sell their vegetables 'round town. And every Chinaman would go stop to house to house and their name was either Charlie or John, I remember my mother going out and buying vegetables and his name was either Charlie or John. (laughs) That's the only names that these Chinese had. They didn't care. You called them Charlie or John. But they'd peddle vegetables that they raised on their Chinese gardens on South Allen Street between Allen and Waterman Avenue, Chinese Gardens.
Hanson: Do you remember a China town being here?
Jensen: Oh yes.
Hanson: Where was that?
Jensen: Chinatown was down on 3rd and Arrowhead, and the mayor of China town was Wong Nim. As a matter of fact I was down at the park fishing one time and was coming back and I stopped to talk to Wal and he had a young pigeon fall out of the nest so he gave me this pigeon. And I brought it home and we hand fed it and whenever I'd go downtown, which I lived on 5th Street at the time, I could walk downtown, this pigeon would follow me. Fly from awning-to-awning-to-awning-to-awning, and then followed me back home. This pigeon just flew, why just, just like a dog would follow me down to the town and back again. And across the street from Wong Nim's place there was a Chinese [inaudible] houses and even a Chinese lottery, which they worked out of there. And when I'd read meters for the gas company, at that time, the meters were always inside the front door and you had to knock and they'd have to inspect who you were, what have you, very carefully, identification, before they could let you come in and read the meters. About the same as over on D Street, that was a red light district. D Street and Stoddard. And, of course I was working for the gas company, and the girls didn't come up town to pay their bills so I would go over there and say, "Your bill is x number of dollars", no argument they just paid cash right now. But they scattered that out because that was part of the army's requirement to build Norton that we had to get rid of, rid of the red light district. Which my ex-boss was mayor of the town at that time, and he retired, elected mayor, Hiram McAllister.
He was the division manager of the gas company so-- the girls never really left, they went out here to the Waterman Gardens and places like that, but anyway, it was enough to satisfy the army so they went ahead and Okayed the building of Norton Air Force Base. So--
Hanson: It amazes me that the army would have that sort of requirement.
Jensen: Well, before that they were using the Orange Show building. It was called the San Bernardino Air Command or something. It wasn't called Norton and they were using the Orange Show building, which later burnt down, the big building, and those grounds and storage facilities and so forth and so on. And they, and they wanted to build Norton, which was all right, Spud Morrow, of Morrows Nut House, he had a little landing strip out there on 3rd Street where, about where it curves into 5th. And he used to fly his plane out of there. I used to go up there and go rabbit hunting as a kid. Depression days, you know, a good cottontail went a long ways. Take your twenty two and bring home a couple of cottontails and that was, saved going to the market.
And of course, Morrow when they made him the [inaudible] and then they built an airport over on Valley Boulevard just east of Riverside drive out of Colton. For years he operated an airport out of there. That was Morrow's Nut House and he had--all types of nuts, roasted, big distribution system and that was-- his plant was over in Colton at that time. So--So, I go back to the Allen Iron Works and the horseshoe time where they were shoeing the horses--
Hanson: Yes--Yes--well, you've seen a lot of changes here.
Jensen: And--of course in those days, they didn't have the big breweries like Coors and distribution. Each town had it's own brewery. San Bernardino's Brewery was called Bublitz, B-U-B-L-I-T-Z, which was up on 3rd Street, on the south side of 3rd Street, just west of I Street, just about where the Sante Fe loop line crossed, that was a Bublitz Brewery, and that had been there for many, many years. As a matter of fact my grandfather raised barley on his homestead for the Bublitz brewery. And later prohibition, Parker Iron works took that over and made large commercial refrigeration equipment. It's all been torn out now, of course, but--anyway--that was there--At 3rd and H Street was the Augustine Hotel on one corner and across the street was the Maryland Hotel, which had not only individual rooms, but had apartments, so--was like a little apartment hotel. The Augustine Hotel was--has-an Eichenberg's diner, which in those days was one of the finest, way back in the 20's, people went there. But after they built the California Hotel and the big dining room there the hotel didn't do too well, so it was going down.
Hanson: Yes--there seemed to be a lot of hotels back then--in the area--
Jensen: Well, San Bernardino was kind of a commercial town. It--because of the fact that we were the center of railroad, warehousing and there was shipping here, and--of course all the navel oranges, they went by railroad. We had a big pre-cooling plant down where the Intermodel department is now, a big ice plant where they made ice, and they would pick up the oranges over in Redlands on the old loop line, that railroad went out through Highlands, East Highlands and bring them in and take them down to the pre-cooler, and then they would open the hatches above, those--they were boxcars made out of wood but they were all cork lined, they packed oranges and then they would spray ice all over the top in there--crushed ice, and then they would take the orange, the oranges east. The nice choice oranges would go east, the big oranges, from Redlands, Highlands and of course that was Sante Fe--Colton southern Pacific also had a shops also that they could ice oranges that they would pick up from the west end like in Ontario and places like that where their line went through and they would bring them over to Colton and iced down and ship them, Southern Pacific down through the desert.
Hanson: Yes I had never thought of it like that. It just occurred to me, all these hotels--and you're absolutely right--
Jensen: Well in those days, you know commerce, they had what they call drummers.
Jensen:-- Later--like first, is Harris'. They have a buyer. They'd send the buyer back to New York and they'd buy certain merchandise from the showings in New York, maybe two or three times a year. But before that the manufacturers would all have the people come to the stores and-- they were drummers--so each--they'd come to the Harris' company. They'd buy so much; they'd go to Robinson's next door and show their line on men's coats, jackets, suits, and the same thing--we were the commercial hub. Redlands was--well Redlands was actually two towns, one laid out by Brown, the other laid out by [inaudible]. Lugonia Avenue was a separation part. Anything north of Lugonia was called Redlands and that was laid out in squares like San Bernardino was. I don't know if you know San Bernardino was laid out by the Mormons.
Hanson: Yes, I knew that, yes.
Jensen: And 8 blocks to the mile.
Hanson: That, I didn't know.
Jensen: It was 8 blocks to the mile and Sierra Way was A Street. Mountain View was B Street, Arrowhead Avenue was C Street. And then there was First Street, which is now Rialto Avenue, 2nd and 3rd and so forth and so on. Baseline would normally be 12th Street but because of the fact that the original monument laid out from the top of Mt. San Bernardino, which is the baseline for all property for Southern California, goes right down the center of Baseline; they called it Baseline. As a matter of fact you can go down into Woodland Hills out of Santa Monica and places like that and you'll find stakes with a number that says 'Baseline, SB', which is a direct line for a survey for the property down there--
Hanson: I didn't know that--
Jensen: I've been down there and seen it, and then Highland Avenue they named that 22nd Street, they named Highland Avenue, back there, early days. Used to be wildflowers and a lot of grapes. Lee Miles had his new airport; flying Jenny out the corner of Mount Vernon and Highland Avenue. See, Mount Vernon was the original Route 66.
Hanson: Yes--I heard that.
Jensen: Before the freeway, that was the Route 66 running down through there, Mount Vernon. Later on they built Kendall Drive, come over Shandin Hills and down E street to bring the traffic down through town. As a matter of fact the state when they built the 215 freeway, they wanted to cut off around Devore and go over to Colton and through that way, but Harvison, who was on the commission, and also the owner of the San Bernardino Sun and Leslie Harris in town were influential enough, they did not want to lose the traffic so that's why we got the freeway right down through the center of town. That's the only place that you're going to find that you have to get on the freeway on the fast ramps--
Hanson: Yes, I've noticed that--(laughs)--
Jensen: But that's the reason it was there is because Harris company and Harvison--
Hanson: Got it--(laughs). See, something similar happened in Connecticut with that when they built the Interstate. One of the owners of the department stores, Fox's Department store, said, 'The off ramp comes here'.
Jensen: That's right.
Hanson: And they got their way.
Jensen: That's why we have--you try to get on the freeway, you got to merge into the fast lane.
Hanson: Yes you do--I was wondering why anyone would design that--
Jensen: That basically divided the San Bernardino, which prior to that time, nobody thought San Bernardino being divided. There was a railroad track down there, but that didn't make any difference. You know, you just look up and down, and if there wasn't any train coming, you'd just go across the street.
Hanson: You're right. Cut the town in two; the city in two.
Jensen: The freeway really cut the town up. East to west.
Hanson: The flood, the big flood in '38--
Jensen: That was a doozy!
Hanson: (laughs) Tell me what you remember about that doozy. You were a young man then.
Jensen: Yes, I was working for the gas company at that time, 1938, on their old plant on Arrowhead Avenue just south of 3rd, and that's back of the old motor transit people, the old motor transit depot originally was a swimming pool, but it didn't do too well or so, so they took and quickly made a ramp, and the old buses could come in and go down the ramp, and--and people getting off the bus could go out Arrowhead Avenue. But anyway, the gas company plant and they had holders there too because they used manufactured gas, but later on we went strictly natural gas. I happened to be sitting at my desk and the gauge on the pressure, it was so old, so it varies, so-- we got us a whole bunch of pressure. I watched the needle all of a sudden drop. We've lost everything. Because the main transmission line is out of Santa Fe Springs, which was furnishing the natural gas at that time up through Colton and was suspended from the railroad bridges, and these were 6, 8, 12 inch lines, washed out the bridges, took out everything. So everything went flat. The whole town, as far as the gas company was concerned, went flat. So then you had to go around, had to turn off every meter. Restore service back again. Purge all the lines for air, and get the air out and go back and turn on every meter throughout the whole Inland Empire, clear out to Palm Springs, everything. Three days and three nights I didn't get home.
Warm Creek overflowed came, well, in some areas, it did come clear up to 3rd Street. Santa Ana River and went clear up and on Mill and E Street. Five Points in there was under five feet of sand from the Lytle Creek overflowing, and I think they found four or five bodies there when they moved the sand out, and there were cars buried there, front of the Orange Show. But, everybody in that part of town down there had to be evacuated for days until the water went down in there, so that really raised a lot of--now they had another flood prior to that in the-- 1904-1905 in the Santa Ana River overflowed and came clear up to 3rd and Arrowhead. And, where Chinatown was and later became a Chevrolet agency was called the Stark Hotel, and that flood just took that out, at 3rd and Arrowhead. So, we've had floods here--
Of course, those days, we didn't have cement lined flood ditches or what have you, as a matter of fact, where the flood control on south Waterman comes down out through there, that was a--pretty boggy, and you could go out and dig peat. A lot of people dug peat and burnt peat in their fireplaces and in their little stoves at that time--off of Waterman Avenue. And below Orange Show Road and E Street that was all swamp. Cattails, beautiful birds were in there, all ducks, but that was all swamp. The Orange Show parking lot, there was a stream that came right across Arrowhead. We had the all-natural streams. They didn't put the parking lot in, and the trout would come up center of Warm Creek and up that creek. Good trout fishing up there at Arrowhead Avenue. Back there at the '20s.
And, also the little plot of ground in that area was owned by the Cooley Hardware company and it was made out of brick and that's where they stored all their dynamite, because that was way out of town, and it had an iron door, and they locked it, but all their, all their dynamite and everything with TNT was stored in that little brick building sitting out in the middle of no where in there. And of course, us kids never paid any attention to it. It was right by the creek. We'd fish and go right on by it. So, yes, there's been some big changes in town.
Hanson: Sure has been.
Jensen: Can't stop progress.
Hanson: Is it progress though? (laughter)
Jensen: Whether it's right or whether it's wrong; it's still progress.
Yes, that's before they had the decent land, these steam engines, middle of the orange season, they'd have long parades. Sometimes have to have big five engines to pull the trains, to honk, pass, and they'd start building up their steam pressure, and their speed as they would go out I Street, and man you could hear them rumble through for blocks and miles away as they would go out there and get, get their momentum, make a honk, pass and steam--There was no freeway through Cajon Pass.
There was a road there and there was a beautiful campground up at the top and there was up there and they had little fire pits and tables that were put in by different lodges and the flood of '38 took all those out, they recovered the tables and they brought them down and used them on Perris Hill Park for years, cement tables and benches, when the campground up at Cajon was washed out.
Hanson: I read something recently in the paper about that. They had talked about the benches, or the tables in Perris Hill Park, and bringing them down--
Jensen: They were from up there and there's still some out there. But they're on the west side of Valencia. Still there. When I was young we used to up there for picnics and things.
Hanson: That was the gathering place for families then.
Jensen: Yes, in the summertime, and you could make it in the Model T Ford up there. Some places you had to go into second gear then, but you could get up there. And there was fresh water, creeks, things like that. So you go up for picnics up there.
Hanson: Things have changed around here.
Jensen: Oh yes. Stores in town, you know, now it's all big department stores. In those days it was, the big department store then was Harris'. But, there were a lot of individual men's stores and a lot of individual ladies stores, all up and down 3rd Street, clear up as far as G Street. Let's see, from G Street on 3rd there was a lumberyard, then the Augustine Hotel, across from that was the Chinese laundry. And, there was a neighborhood grocery store, and some homes; one time on the corner of 3rd and G Street there was a laundry, a commercial laundry. They later tore that down and built over on Court Street, the laundry was on Court Street between E and F, and just next to the Montgomery Ward warehouse, and Nicholson Furniture was on the corner. So, all that's all gone now, that's all Carousel Mall.
Hanson: Yes, it looks like pretty soon the Carousel Mall will be gone. I don't think they're doing very well.
Jensen: I don't think it's got much of a future.
Hanson: No, it doesn't look very promising. It really doesn't.
Jensen: Yes-- It's very odd. The Carousel Mall; how it got promoted.
Hanson: How'd it get promoted?
Jensen: It was-- promoted--I think the name was Corsi. C-O-R-S-I. Out of San Pedro, a developer, and he backed several of the politicians, played the political game, so he got to build a mall. He also owns some land out here right now that originally Warren Hodgson owned; he gave it to the Campus Crusade for Christ. And Campus Crusade for Christ has sold it to Corsi, and he's cut a tract of plans for three hundred and some odd homes, but it's been planned there for years there all going to be terraced, and of course every for two years or so, cause I lived out that area. I kind of noticed they'd go in for renewal, so he hasn't built yet but he still owns the land. There are two lakes out there, and that's where they dip the water from the helicopters when they have a fire, his land. So-fella by the name of Corsi promoted that mall. Still, still has his finger here in town. Yes--it was--it was a political deal. As a matter of fact, the gas company wasn't allowed to run any lines in there.
Hanson: Why not?
Jensen: Pay off from the Edison Company. Everything had to be all electric.
Hanson: I didn't know that.
Jensen: Well, I did, because I had the original plans then they changed. Edison. But there is a Carl's Jr. in there, but they couldn't make their electric grill work, so after several years Carl's Jr. paid and got permission to run a line in, so they do have a gas grill, a gas fire grill is in there. I don't know what any of the other stores did, cause I retired. But anyway it did. And that's how Fedco out on Mill Street, same way. Edison paid off for that. Did you, were you in town when Fedco was out there?
Hanson: They closed up right after we got here. We were there a couple of times, but not very often.
Jensen: Oh, the delicious meat and everything Fedco had. See, they had one lamp up above furnish light, pink fluorescent that furnished the heat, and if you looked in their meat case, oh, that meat looked so good, you look back up underneath, they did not have white fluorescent lights, they had a pink fluorescent light which changed the color of the meat. (laughs) Good salesmanship.
It was a part of my job. I knew what was going on in there. I did a lot of that planning. That was a secret of marketing, the planning and the layouts. That's why I do, I knew what was happening, who was getting rich, who's hands were out, who's hands weren't out.
Hanson: Well, I think we're going to end here because the tapes almost done. And--
Jensen: Any other questions that you think of or want to know.
Hanson: Yes, what we'll do is in January, I'll give you a call and I'll come back out--
Jensen: Cause I'm here--
Hanson: Then I'll come back out and we'll go over questions, or we'll add more stories.
Jensen: Whatever you want.
Hanson: That's wonderful, thank you.
Lyle Jenson Tape 2
Hanson: This is an interview with Mr. Lyle Jenson at his home in San Bernardino. This is Joyce Hanson for the San Bernardino Oral History Project. Today is February 4, 2003. Good Morning, Mr. Jenson.
JENSEN: Good morning to you, Joyce.
Hanson: Today we want to talk about depression years; the thirties, twenties and thirties.
JENSEN: I have memories.
Hanson I know. What was it like here in San Bernardino?
JENSEN: Bad memories, because, well, I was in high school at the time and my father was unemployed so I, last year in high school, I got a job as a usher down at the Warner Brothers Ritz Theater. And as soon as school was out, I'd walk down, and seven days a week, I'd have to work during those times, for a dollar a day. And, then after to the WPA, high school, worked on the- WPA, I was assigned to several projects; the Del Rosa Flood Channel was one of them I worked on, and the flood channel on 40th and, between Valencia and David Way after the heavy rains. And that was a particularly bad time because it happened on New Years Day and I wanted to listen to the ballgame, but I was called out to go out and work on the flood channel. Also they sent us out to Chino to work on flood channels, and this was work by hand, you know, you couldn't do it- you got paid so much at the end of the week and several bags of cornmeal, and this and that, and that was your pay, but, growing up as a teenager, it was, it was a tough time. It really is bad memories because of the fact that other kids and their folks were working, they had cars, and wherever I went I either walked or, well, I did have a bicycle, by the time- it was stolen, so, the depression days were bad here. I recall when they had the Veterans March on Washington came through here and they camped overnight, all these veterans. I assumed it was three hundred or more were walking from Los Angeles to Washington to protest and ask for more assistance and they camped overnight down at Meadow Brook Park, so I
Hanson: That's a great story.
JENSEN: Yes, so a- yes, the depression was, was very bad. The railroad cut back and even those on the railroad had to take- still had their jobs- had to take wage cuts and a- of course, those who got laid off were in the same thing. You got on the WPA the best way you could and try to earn a living, and a couple of bags of cornmeal, on Saturday you go to the Municipal Auditorium and they hand out the old food rations for you, and so, everything else got- those memories are very vivid.
Hanson: There was a CCC camp here-
JENSEN: There was a CCC camp up out of Highland and it was the Forestry Service Camp up there but at that time a CCC camp that I was familiar with was built in what used to be called "Dutch Johns" on the old grade on City Creek because the Brookings Lumber Company, which Brookings [inaudible] was named after it, the family, did the logging around Ferdalva [sp?] and Running Springs, and Dutch Johns was a halfway either point, up or down as they brought their wagon loads of wood down, and he had a little weigh store. There was quite a bit of space on flat ground and that's where they built that CCC camp. I think there were others. I think there was one over back in Redlands in San Timeteo Canyon but I was familiar with the one up in a that area, I did not join into the CCC.
Hanson: Do you know anybody who did?
JENSEN: Nobody locally here I know of. I have friends that a- yes I do. I can't think of the name right now, he's over at Laurel, Howard Bates, his father was city attorney and when he graduated a year before I did from high school and he joined the CCC camp, and he stayed with the group, worked his way up as a supervisor and went right directly from that and into civil service during World War II and, so a, he's living at Laurel Place right now. He graduated from high school in '31, one year ahead of me, so he may be another source of information for you. Go see him over there. His father was an attorney here in town, also City Attorney.
Hanson: Let's go back to when you were working with the WPA, for the flood control, you went out actually with shovels?
JENSEN: Oh yes, pick and shovel and a most of the time it was on a dump truck, you just climb on a dump truck. It might be pouring down rain, but you put on whatever kind of clothes you can put on. The base I was working out of was the old county garage on Sierra Way where the YWCA is now, that used to be the county garage and the old Pacific Electric Railroad Line that went out to Highland dissected the county garage there but they only ran one or two streetcars a day and they came through the county garage there where they kept all their trucks and road reading equipment in those days back in the thirties. But see, it's now the YWCA and the city recreation building.
Hanson: Let's jump ahead. You said that when you were with the gas company when this university was put in that you had planned out all the gas lines, that you were involved in that?
JENSEN: Yes, I met with John [Pfau?] and we went over the blueprints and the buildings that they were actually building under construction at that time and the potential future and so I did the layout where the lines should go so they that they could be used- tapped into in the future and the engineer took into account the equipment that was to be used and designed the size of the lines and the pressures that they should be operating at that time. I drew all the blueprints on the most practical and economical way to get in and serve the building than to extend lines out through the future plans in there. So, we had a, oh, two or three meetings with John on the layout and I guess that the blueprints went to the plumbing contractor who did the layout, as far as I know, it was done that way.
I did the layout where the lines should enter the building and where they should come out and go to the next and, and as I say, after you design the size, based on the equipment that each building was going to be using and needing in the future, that could go to the next building, and so, it was in their plans.
Hanson: Do you remember anything about the debates about where the university was going to be? There seemed to be a lot of controversy.
JENSEN: No, I don't recall that. I don't recall any of the controversy about it but I know at one time, prior to, well, going back into the Mormon times, that was their barley fields, and part of the Mormon ditch to irrigate that is still visible at 54th and Electric Avenue. The Mormon ditch that they brought water from Twin Creeks over to that area back of Little Mountain where the Mormons planted barley and wheat, they raised their grains back of Little Mountain, and later on, where the college is, Regina- not Regina- brothers from Etiwanda, a leased or rented that and they planted wine grapes and so before the college went in there that was all wine grapes in there at that point. Little Mountain, which was a now back there was sold as one acre ranch lots and laid out, and in that time the back of Shandin Hills, or Little Mountain, as it was called, and then further up north where the university is now located was the Regina Brothers wine grapes. They a, they pick them, take them over to Etiwanda, where they had their winery, but they raised their grapes here, and I remember they were very considerate, but they left a lot of the big native sycamore trees. There were a lot of the sycamore trees all through that area and they left them standing even though they had to put their wine grapes in there.
Hanson: The area must have changed dramatically since the beginning.
JENSEN: Oh yes. Oh yes, as a matter of fact during the depression days, which you mentioned earlier, some of the ones were even mining gold out of the area of Devil's Canyon, which is just west of the university. The water department, office gave them permission to mine gold and it was not a big operation. The only way they could retain enough gold was to take the ore and burn it and then reclaim it with quicksilver or mercury because it was a poor grade, but they, some of the men worked it and oh, even up until the late thirties, forties. In fact, burners and things were still out there just west of the university, there's a road going up to Devil's Canyon.
Hanson: I didn't know about that.
JENSEN: Yes, yes, they would take the quartz and burn it and then reclaim the, with the burners, so- but it wasn't economical. The people during the depression days, they didn't make enough to maybe buy a couple of loaves of bread or something. So, that area grew up.
Hanson: Did you ever think anybody would build up there? I mean, with the winds, and the problems, was there any idea?
JENSEN: I never gave it much thought. Of course, I knew the expansion of San Bernardino, there was only one way it could go would be north because Highland was to the east, Rialto was to the west, so the only direction it could go would be north, and but today, to me, I'm really surprised how much growth has taken place up there. I remember as a kid, my next door neighbor was related to the Myers family up at Verdemont and we would go out there and they had horses and we get to ride the horses at the old Myers Ranch up on the bench on Verdemont. Now it's homes, as a matter of fact, the Myers that owned the ranch at that time even worked with me on the WPA because they were having a tough time too, so it was part of the WPA crew.
Hanson: Universal problems. A lot of people in San Bernardino were hurt by the depression.
JENSEN: Yes, they was hurt, yes, badly hurt, yes. So, what now?
Hanson: Well, when we were at the lunch in January, and we were having lunch and you were talking about some of the things that you did as kids, when the winds blew and how kids played out.
JENSEN: Oh. Yes, you take gunny sacks, yes, you take gunny sacks and you took your sticks of wood to make sail out of it and you go- I lived on Hugh Street at that time- of course there was not a lot of automobile traffic and we'd walk up three or four blocks up there with our skates. Put on our skates, put the sail on the back of us and, and, and go sailing along on skates because we didn't have the modern scooters and the things that the kids have today, that was our entertainment during the north winds. And a, of course, I also remember as a kid when they'd have a forest fire in the mountains. They'd come through with their trucks and this man was on the street, he'd get on the truck. They didn't have organized fire fighting. They just take them off the street, take them up and fight forest fires. They'd go into the bars and, and get them on to the truck and go fight forest fires.
Hanson: Were there a lot of big fires back then, or smaller?
JENSEN: Oh yes, they had some pretty good size fires in those days. I was going to say they didn't have the heavy duty equipment and the tractors as the have today and the trained crews, they just have to take and cut a swath of trees down and put cables on them and they either used horses or little light tractors to pull them back and that way they could contain the fire within certain areas.
Hanson: Yes, putting in a firebreak.
JENSEN: Put in a firebreak that way. Yes, and that's what they used the manpower they picked up off the streets. As a matter of fact, they used to tell me that before they came through the trucks they come through with horses and wagons and take them up to the fire, to fight fire. Same way, take them off the street and take them to fight fires. I remember in the thirties when the Arrowhead Springs Hotel burned, the fire burned clear down to where the college is now. Burned out part of over behind Little Mountain, it was about '38, the same year as the floods, and it burned several structures, this fire burned clear back of Little Mountain. Fire came down from the hills.
Hanson: Was that before or after the flood?
JENSEN: It was after. It was the fall after the flood. So, it was, it burned, destroyed Arrowhead Springs Hotel, then they later rebuilt.
Hanson: Yes, the first Arrowhead Springs Hotel. I've seen pictures of some of the development in that area. It really didn't look too much like a hotel. It looked more like, I guess, little bungalows or- it wasn't quite as obvious.
JENSEN: Yes, originally it was a Dr. Smith came out from the east and found out that they had the hot water and it was designed for Tuberculosis patients so they had the main hotel, then they had a lot of little out cabins were the Tuberculosis patients could stay so they weren't exposed too much to the others and they were treated there with the warm water and the warmer, dryer air than they had form the east, and the Arrowhead Springs Hotel became so popular that eventually Pacific Electric built a streetcar line up to the hotel. You could ride this streetcar line. It cost you a dime to go to the hotel. I don't know, they ran like two or four trips per day out there and they had their power house up there because the power house down on second street here didn't, couldn't send enough power to get the car up there so they built a power house right there up on the side of the road and used the Edison lines going into the hotel for their generators because they, the streetcars operated on DC current rather than the AC current and then later on the discontinued the streetcars and they would haul the water out, two trips a day with the electric freight water cars, going up, going back and they took the water into Los Angeles and bottled it. Later on, those springs at the hotel there did not furnish enough water so the water company lent the canyon back of the hotel and the old Cliffhanger. They drove a horizontal well instead of one all the way to Crestline and build a well. They build down a horizontal and tapped in the water and then ran a pipeline down, so a lot of that Arrowhead Springs water today is coming from up near the top of the hill that they ran it down to where they could fill their tank cars by pipeline.
Hanson: How long did those tank cars run?
JENSEN: Oh, they were running, let's see, as late as probably '58, '59 was here and then they took out the streetcar line and put the street up Mountain View and it used to go Mountain View and up Electric Avenue. That where the name Electric Avenue came from.
Hanson: Oh, I wondered about that.
JENSEN: Because the streetcars went up Electric Avenue and then the grade to turn west and some of the homes up in the north end of San Bernardino, up and after that you would still see the old route where the streetcar line went, going over to the hotel.
Hanson: I'll have to go up there and look for that.
JENSEN: Yes, yes, they hauled a lot of water out of there. They still are.
Hanson: Now, that's a natural spring?
JENSEN: It was natural springs, yes.
Hanson: I always wondered about that.
JENSEN: Yes, they, as a matter of fact, as a kid we used to take the streetcar line on Saturday and go up there and the creek, there was good fishing. There was natural trout in there. You could take a can of worms and go up there and, and catch trout out of little, little Mormon Canyon creek.
Hanson: Where they rainbow trout?
JENSEN: Yes, they were rainbow, yes, regular.
Hanson: I don't know much about fishing.
JENSEN: In the creek, they weren't large trout. They were about maybe eight to ten inches long but it was a day of fun. As a matter of fact, you, when I was a kid, we used to fish in Meadow Brook Park. Warm Creek had trout and we could catch trout out of Warm Creek, a lot of trout in there.
Hanson: Natural trout, not stock trout.
JENSEN: Yes, they weren't stock, they were just natural trout.
Hanson: Yes, because I know my husband's done some fishing but all the lakes are stocked now.
JENSEN: Yes, oh yes, all stocked now. Well these, these were all natural trout, you know, trout season in those days was different that it is now. It was from the first of May up until the first of October and those were the days you could fish for trout. Other than that, it was closed during the winter season, see, so I don't know what the fishing season is now.
I remember my stepfather and I going fishing in Warm Creek. I was young enough that I didn't have to have a license but he had to go buy a license. I think it cost a dollar at that time, and first of May week, walk down to Warm Creek. Sometimes we'd start at 9th Street and start fishing down. Other times we'd walk up 5th Street and start fishing down through, catch two or three trout. Of course, those days they tasted pretty good. They were dinner, yes. Just like rabbit hunting. You go out and get yourself a cottontail, in depression days the thought of rabbit tasted pretty good.
Hanson: It sounds like kids had a lot more freedom to go, to move around and go a lot of places. Not a lot of problems. Parents knew where their kids were going, like going fishing up at Arrowhead.
JENSEN: The parents took more responsibility for their kids in those days than the parents today, I think, I think that's the problem. Parents today have kid and say, 'Well, I didn't have much supervision when I grew up so why should I supervise my kids?'
It's a different attitude, a different world. We pay taxes, let the school teachers teach them morality, let the school teachers teach them the difference between right and wrong and that is the detour where I think it is creating a lot of the problems that we're having today.
Hanson: For some of them life was very different back then.
JENSEN: Well, life was different. Life was completely different. You got a fast food spot on every corner right now. In those days, you ate home cooked meals, and a it was a treat to go out and have a burger or to go out and have a milkshake or McDonalds over on E Street just north of 6th- no, no, not McDonalds, Murrays had his ice cream factory there and you'd get a what would today be a double milkshake for a dime, made with homemade ice cream during depression days. So if you worked and earned a dime, that was where you'd go in the evening and go to a local bar or buy on cigarettes and things like that, you'd go over and hang out with the kids and drink milkshakes. Or go to the stand and have a root beer.
Yes, so those were the growing up days back then here in town and you know we had a couple of miniature golf courses and I think it's very reasonable, fifteen cents for a few sessions, to play a round of miniature golf. That was, that was your entertainment.
Hanson: If you had a quarter, you could play miniature golf and go have a milkshake?
Hanson: And that was your Saturday night?
JENSEN: Yes, and that was big Saturday night deal. If you had two quarters, you take your girlfriend. Plus, you didn't have a car, you walked, and they walked, too.
Just like my wife. She walked to school from where she lived. I walked to school because they didn't have buses in those days. You weren't bused to school, you walked to school and a I remember I lived on 5th Street at that time going to high school. And so everyday, up walked to school. Now, some of the kids that lived out, out towards the middle streets and places like that, they, they took the streetcar, which was only a nickel, but if you lived, I guess from 3rd Street north up to San Bernardino High School, which was the only high school at that time, you walked to school. You walked. So, maybe that's, maybe that's the difference in the obesity problem.
Hanson: We have to stop and turn the tape over.
JENSEN: Depression days. The city recreation department would put on softball games on Saturday mornings, various schools. They didn't have lights for the schools, but you could go play, pick up teams and play a couple hours of softball through the city recreation department. And they had them on, oh- different schools so the kids could meet and play softball and things like that. But the kids today, I don't think are interested athletically. The majority of them wouldn't even consider it, that as entertainment, or something to do.
Hanson: What about other sports? Did they have basketball?
JENSEN: Oh yes, they had basketball-
Hanson: It was just ongoing?
JENSEN: Yes, it was outdoor courts, and you played basketball. Of course, I was fortunate enough I lived up, oh maybe four or five houses away from the YMCA so I could participate in YMCA programs. My, of course, during the depression days, I couldn't pay my dues, but I worked as a locker room attendant and took care of the locker room and cleaned up and, and, and then on where they have the rental rooms, like a hotel at YMCA at that time on 5th and F, on days they tell you, you weren't up, or afternoons after the basketball games were over and the swim sessions were over and things like that, you'd go paint a bedroom and that's how you earned your membership at the YMCA.
Hanson: You had a lot of different kinds of jobs. You went out and worked and worked, apparently.
JENSEN: Well, you had to be. Because if, if you didn't take that job there was ten lined up in back of you that would, so no matter how tough it was, you toughed it out because if you said, 'Oh, to heck with it,' there was ten more that would take it. So that was the early part of the thirties. Let's see, later on I kept that between-I was fortunate to get a job with the gas company in 1934 and started working there. It was temporary, just over the summer, others went on vacation, and then when vacation time was over, they decided to keep me, and so I stayed there and was there over 44 years.
Hanson: That was some temporary job!
JENSEN: Yes, a temporary job. So, but those days, there weren't what they call the forty hour week. I remember working Saturdays, so forth and so on, we because if you didn't do the job, there was ten more lined up ready to, to go, to take it. Eighty-five dollars a month. I was in clover. Boy, my wife and I, we did real well on that time on that eighty-five dollars a month in '34. But-
Hanson: Did things get better eventually? Or towards the end, things picked up?
JENSEN: Oh, yes, things got better-
Hanson: More opportunities?
JENSEN: We came out of the depression you know, and a, things got better, of course, it's just like everything else, as things get better, places go up. Instead of being able to buy a quart of milk for a dime it went up to fifteen cents and things like that, but you earned a little more money too. Of course, I was fortunate that after about eleven months, I got promoted to another job and then and another promotion and so, so I was lucky enough to make a living.
Hanson: And then you went into the navy.
JENSEN: No, no, I was in the army in '43. I went in the army in '43.but I know I know I mentioned it in there.
Hanson: Yes, you did. I mixed it up.
JENSEN: I eventually ended up stationed out at Yuma at the Imperial Dam with the Italian prisoners of war. I was in the technical service unit with a team of engineers and our mission was- first mission was to build a bridge to cross the Rhine River at Remagen and that was what I did, and I was one of the twenty two in that crew that built the bridge, designed the bridge, or designed the bridge, built the bridge, tested it there on the Colorado River. The Italian did the labor work, they did all the heavy labor work, the assembly work, using the tractors and the things like that, but, my basic assignment was seeing the procurement and purchase orders and things like that parts of the bridge and also, well, also, all the clothing and all the food, whatever requirements for the soldiers.
Hanson: And then they got shipped over to Germany?
JENSEN: Well, no, they formed a special battalion of engineers that came in where we were and drove out for two weeks, maybe a month, they worked during the day to put the bridge across and then take it apart. The next day they would take- carry the- it was made out of aluminum instead of iron, or wood, and they would assemble the bridge again the next day. Each man would carry a part out and come back, and that was their training, their job to put that bridge. Eventually they assembled their trucks, went up to the Columbia River, they tested it on the Columbia River and that thing was shipped to Europe and as I understand, when the time came, they put the bridge across the Rhine River, and they were through. That was their one assignment. The Italians engineers put that bridge across the river.
Hanson: That was important.
JENSEN: Oh yes, because of the- what do they say, I was one of the twenty two technical service unit that, that worked on the bridge.
Hanson: How long did that project take?
JENSEN: Well, let's see, I got there October of '44 actually, we started on that in 1944 or '45. We had the bridge built. Most of the aluminum casting like I beams and "box" and things was done by a foundry that usually did it in iron, they did this in cast aluminum so each man could carry parts of the heavy iron bridge that was made out of aluminum, cast iron and put together. A lot of the components of that bridge was done by an iron company in Phoenix, right close by, and they did the cast, the "Box" of the I beams, things like that. Necessary. I don't know where the- the army called them ponts, we called them pontoons. I don't know where they were made, they were shipped in by, by railroad to Yuma, and then we brought them up by truck, so I can't tell you where they were made, but it was laid on top of the pontoons.
Hanson: Important work.
JENSEN: Yes. Yes, we ran quite a few tests. We were between Imperial Dam and Laguna Dam and the bridge was designed, evidently, they knew the flow of the Rhine River where it was because this was designed to withstand the flow of six miles per hour and by opening the gates of the Imperial and closing and opening the gates at Laguna, we could, or vice versa, we could control the flow of water three miles an hour up to about nine miles an hour, and the bridge was designed to handle, designed for six miles, but we tested three up to nine. Well, water would speed by opening and closing the gates of the dam. And then as soon as that, our next project was to design and make a stream and swamp crossing equipment and rice paddy, and so one of the project out there at the Laguna Dam was we had a complete rice paddy at all times, and we found out that we could put pontoons on tanks "on arms", lower them down and float them across the river and holding two by fours out about five feet to the tread on the tank, we could go right through the rice paddy, but we never invaded Japan, so didn't so that, but that was our project after the bridge- the equipment across the rice paddies and things. Of course, when the war was over, we came home.
Hanson: When you came home, you went back to the gas company.
JENSEN: Yes, I did.
Hanson: San Bernardino different when you came back?
JENSEN: Not a whole lot, not a whole lot. I came back, I was married before I went into the service and I had my home here, so I right back to my home. And the one, the one unusual thing was that when you came back, your job was held for you to find. But you came back, the same job you left, even though others had been hired or gone ahead, you came back at the same job and the same salary as when you left and, sometimes it didn't seem fair, but within thirty days, you got maybe a twenty dollar a month increase, another thirty days you got to pretty soon you were up to the later hires and then eventually passed them.
Hanson: So they took care of you.
JENSEN: You did have to come back to your same job, that was one of the requirements.
Hanson: But they did take care of you?
JENSEN: Oh yes, oh yes, they took care of me.
Hanson: Did a lot of people move into this area after the war?
JENSEN: Well, yes, because of Norton. The expansion of Norton. Yes, what is it called, San Bernardino Air Material, was it Air Material or something, and it wasn't named Norton until after-
(Unfortunately, the remainder of tape is unintelligible.)