Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stories from the life of Walt Lorig, part 3

Walt Lorig, ca 1922

Here are a few other things from the life of Walt Lorig. Warning: This post has some warts as well as roses. After all life does have thorns every now and then.

When Walt was born

“When I was born my mother and father lived in West Seattle but I was born in Ballard at her Aunt, Bestemor’s [Karen Landaas] sister, Gabriel Hansen’s wife, Gurine. My mother was supposed to have a midwife. The midwife was evidently out on another case when this happened and they didn’t get a hold of her. And my mother was alone when she had me. My dad came and he went back down and got the midwife, but by the time he got back my mother had taken care of the whole thing. But I never, ever remember living in West Seattle. We always lived in Ballard as far as I can remember.”

Meeting Clara Estelle Cole

Clara Estelle Cole, ca 1922

“We met at a dance. And I got a penny that she had. I had a locket made out of it. I’ve still got it. I knew the man who was with her girlfriend. So the four of us kind of spent the evening there. And then we went down after the dance and had a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Of course, in those days you didn’t have automobiles so we had to take streetcars to get there. Her friend lived at a different direction. Clara lived up by Woodlawn [Woodland?] Park. We took the streetcar and I took her home up there. And I asked her again sometime and she said ‘Sure.’ I called her up about Tuesday, I guess, and asked her what she was going to do Saturday and she said her and another girl were going to go to the fair. So I said so much for that, and I’ll call you, but I didn’t. I thought that was, you know, . . . she wasn’t interested.

“So time went on and I finally met her up at the dance again. Took her home that night, too. And from then on we started going together. We went together for a year. Then we were married [1923] Sixty-five years. Everybody has a little rift every once and awhile. But nothing bad. I knew that if you want to get along with somebody you have to give and take and I was willing to do that and she went overboard with doing it. Even lots of times when I knew I was wrong, but wouldn’t admit it. She was one in a million.

Walt and Clara Lorig at home, 1988

About his brother, Harry

Walt and his older brother Harry were 15 months apart in age.

Harry Lorig in top hat, ca early 1900s

“Harry my brother, you know, he had a better disposition than I did, but he was fighting all the time. Yeah, all the time we was growing up I had to do the fighting for him. He couldn’t lick his grandmother.* But that’s the kind of guy he was. He’d pick fights that he had no business doing. And my dad told us one time if one of you kids gets into trouble and the other one don’t help, then I’m going to take care of it when you get home. So, I used to think I had to help him.

“I was bigger than Harry when we was growing up. But he was like my Dad; he could do anything with his hands. He and another fellow started an automobile repair shop. Boy, they got more work than they could possibly do. Even the undertaker business and stuff like that. It was the liquor, you know, that got him, got the best of him and then he quit [the auto repair shop]. My dad gave him these tools from the machine shop that he [Harry] needed, beautiful tools, that he had, and he never even got them back. Harry sold them and bought booze with it. Then he learned the plumbing trade. The first house I was telling you about, I got a picture of it someplace, but I don’t know where it is, well, when I got it finished

"Harry asked
‘Who’s going to do your plumbing?’

"I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ll get somebody over there to do it, I guess.’

"He said, ‘I can do it for you.’

"I said, ‘Well, if you want to sure, come over and do it.’

"Oh, he spent a week plumbing our house. Oh, he done other little things that had to be done. And then I had to have it inspected.

"And he told me
‘Now when the inspectors come up there you tell them you done the job. Don’t tell them I done it because my license.’

"He had a license in Seattle, but it wasn't good in Bremerton. I’d be fined for it or something. Here comes Lent from the Lent plumbing company and the city inspector together and they went all over the house. I walked around with them. They looked at this and tried that, finally the inspector asked,

‘Who done your plumbing?’

"I said, ‘I did.’

"He asked ‘Where did you ever do any plumbing?’

"I said, ‘Not in Bremerton. I used to do a little in Seattle.’

"He said it was the finest job of plumbing he’d ever seen. They congratulated me, I never let on. But I did have a bottle, I always had, but I knew Harry was going to be working so I hid it. That night when they’d finished the plumbing job, I thought I’d bring the bottle out and give them a drink. He’d had the fellow across the street come over and help him when he needed help. And I knew that fellow liked to drink too. So, I thought I’d bring that bottle out and give them a drink, and it wasn’t there. And I told him, I says,

"I told Harry,
‘I had a bottle here somewhere, somebody got it.’

"And they started laughing. Hahahaha. They found the bottle. That was the end of that. But that’s what he would do, he’d never quit until he’d finished it.**

“I remember before I was married, my dad, I was telling you about the moonshine, in the winter time I’d go to a dance and get home maybe one o’clock or 1:30. There was a bottle sitting on the kitchen table with a glass there. He’d hear me come in, and he’d ask me, to find out who it was. I’d tell him it was me and he’d tell me to have a drink. Maybe that’s why I don’t care for it now. I’ll say one thing, I have a drink but it’s a pretty good size one, just one and it give me an appetite, actually the food tastes better. After I get through, dishes done and everything, I never thought about it.”

About his sister, Clara

Walt's sister, Clara, ca 1900

"I wouldn't say that she was a really good looking girl. She was pretty and she was a nice girl. She kept herself up good. She and my mother, they got along fine. No that part was fine. Anyone could get along with my mother, though. [When Clara wanted to marry Dick Thompson] they waited until he [Edd] was up in Alaska. Dick wasn't his type. I, myself, think my sister could have done better. Dick was a clean man, he kept himself up and didn't drink or smoke. He had a lot of good things about him. But there was something about him, I don't know. I never had anything against him, but . . ."

Clara Lorig Thompson, ca 1917

Home life

The Lorig and Landaas families were close and had many picnics and parties together but they were not particularly demonstrative.

Landaas/Lorig family picnic. Back row: Trygve Landaas, Harry Oliver, Wilhelmina Landaas, Maggie Landaas Lorig, Harald Landaas. Middle row: “Ina” [Tryg’s wife], Petra Landaas Lee, Sigrid Landaas Oliver. Front Row: Walt Lorig, Harry Lorig, I.C. Lee, Clara Lorig, ca 1908

Walt says, “I kissed my folks good night or goodbye when I went out, or something like that but they never put their arms around me or anything like that. Never remember my dad putting his hand on my shoulder. He just made sure we had everything we needed but nowadays you see people hollering at their kids. Don’t do that or you can’t do this or that. He’d just look at us and we’d cool down quick. We got the strap lots of times too.

“Yeah, [my dad] he was too stern. He didn’t know how to take care of kids. Well, he didn’t have any bringing up, leaving home that early. He didn’t know how to take care of kids. . . . I think, but I’ll never know for sure, but from what I heard when Harry and Clara came, you know, they decided that that was enough. Along I come and I wasn’t wanted. . . . That’s what I heard. Well, my dad, when we were out and he’d meet people he knew, he’d say meet my two boys, one of them. He wouldn’t say, meet my two boys, let’s see what it was . . . met Lorig’s two boys, one of them. What he meant by that, I don’t know. When I grew up I never thought anything about it, you know, never thought anything about it. After I got older I began to think, what the heck does he mean. I know that anything that Harry did was perfectly all right, even if it was off color a little bit. Boy, I’d better not do it. And I got a whipping a couple of times when he done something and my mother said

‘What’d you lick him for, he didn’t do it.’

‘Well, if he didn’t it’s because he didn’t have a chance,’ he’d say. There was something in there he didn’t like. I don’t know.***

"I've got a temper. Yeah. It hasn't done me any good either. If a person could just stand back and say nothing until you can think about what you're going to do or say. My dad a little temper too. People he knew, but people he didn't like he didn't like them. I remember one time he was down in the shop. He done some work for a big Swede, a fisherman, and he should've been able to pick my dad up and put him in his pocket. And I don't know what the argument was about, but finally my dad said for him to shut his mouth or he would shut it for him. Yeah. And the Swede stuck out his face and said 'Do it.' And my dad did it. Oh boy, really wacked him. And then he knew he was dead in the wrong, so he ran up to the police station and told them what had happened. So they said Okay, and I forget now what charges they put against him and fined him ten dollars and the case is closed. That was the end of it. The guy couldn't come back on him then. He'd been to trial. That's the only time I ever knew he done that."****

* I’m not sure anybody could lick his grandmother!

** It is quite evident from the way Walt spoke about his brother that the two of them were good friends and good brothers despite seeming differences. They would do anything necessary to help each other and to stand up for one another. Walt and Clara did not have any children of their own yet after his sister Clara died they helped Dick and they helped with Harry’s kids too. They had a small rental house that they let Bessie and her children live in and I don’t think they charged rent or very little rent anyway. Walt’s wife, Clara, worked at a department store and they got clothes and shoes for the kids too. From what he told me all these kindnesses were done quietly and I doubt that the recipients knew that Walt and Clara had done them. They also helped I.C. Lee’s nephew financially so he could go to school. I don’t know why Walt told me these things after all the years of not telling anybody else but I was glad he did. Walt and Clara were very generous goodhearted people.

*** Yet on another occasion Walt told me about the time when he was a boy and he wanted to keep pigeons, Carrier or Homing pigeons, I think. At any rate his dad said okay and then he [Edd] built a special coop or cote for the pigeons. This would have been no small task. Demonstrating, I think, his dad did love him very much he just had a hard time showing it.

**** An abbreviated account of this story was posted earlier but then I found that I had recorded Walt telling the whole thing so I thought I'd put it here anyway.

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