“The state department announced today the names of 250 Americans who left Shanghai aboard the Dollar liner President Hoover bound for Manila. Francis Berndt and son, Chicago........ Embarked at Shanghai, China. Arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia on the Empress of China........address c/o District Attorney Office, Los Angeles, California.”
Frank and Junie crossed over into Seattle and boarded a train headed for Los Angeles. “God bless America, Land of the Free, Stand beside her and guard her from the night to the Light from Above. From the mountains to the praries to the ocean white with foam. God bless America, my home sweet home. God bless America, my home sweet home.” Kate Smith sang this quite frequently....
to Chapter One
This page was last updated: May 26, 2013
Trains in the late thirties were largely comprised of an engine, passenger cars, a sleeping car, a dining car, a bathroom car, a parlor car and a caboose. Dad and Junie were fortunate to have had these accomodations by auspices of the American Red Cross which also furnished the trip by ship from Shanghai to British Columbia as were those provided to other refugees.
Most remembered were the engine car in front and the caboose trailing after all the other cars. If you were stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing and happened to count the cars to pass the time until the crossing guard went back up, one would start counting at the engine and eagerly await the caboose to close out counting and then the crossing guard would go up and one would be allowed to continue driving the auto on the road to the final destination. Whew !
Attached to the rear of the engine would be the coal car and then on backward to the passenger cars which would be numbered from one car to many depending on the number of passangers using the respective train.
The passenger cars had seats on both sides of the aisle as designed like busses of today. Passengers who did not want or could not afford to spend the nights in the sleeping car would sit in the seats or move about the train during waking hours and sleep in the seats overnight similarly as we do today on board airplanes on long journeys such as from Los Angeles to Hawaii. They were cramped as sardines and doing the best possible to grab a few winks until destination is arrived or waking hours force their eyelids to view another day.
The dining car had tables on both sides of the aisle and each table could seat up to four. We would wait patiently in the passenger car until the waiter would go to each car playing the chimes in his hands alerting us that there was room in the dining car for more hungry individuals.
The bathroom car had some sinks and plugins for shavers and hair dryers and several stalls.
The parlor car was for socializing, snacking, drinking and smoking and a break from the passanger car.
Now, let me tell you about the sleeping car. Let's start with our familiarity of modern day bunk beds for our children or adults. This was the design of the upper berths and lower berths which were positioned over what would normally be the passanger seats. These berths were on both sides of the aisle and had a heavy curtain on the aisle side of the berths. There were walls at the head and foot of each set of upper and lower berths for privacy as well as the heavy curtain on the side opposite the windows which when parted provided for entry and exiting the berth. Junie had the upper berth and dad the lower berth. Let your mind dwell on instances where a trip to the bathroom during the night might be a chore.
We arrived in Los Angeles and proceeded to our home to be for about 4 years. 5166 Ruthelen Street. Herman and Buzzy's boarding home. A single story tract home with 4 small bedrooms, one bath, a dining room, kitchen, front and back porch, a front and back yard and a cellar, a 2 seater swing on the porch adjacent to one of the bedrooms, a banana tree at the side of the house and 2 date palms in the front separating our neighbor's property from ours. The fenced backyard had a garage. Herman and Buzzy's bedroom was off the dining room as well as the bedroom for dad and Junie. Other borders were Tom who had the off-porch bedroom and Dorothy was in the bedroom next to Tom and the bathroom which had two doors. One bathroom door led to the dining room and the other to Dorothy's room. Most meals were served in the breakfast nook in the kitchen. The back porch was where the laundry facilities were located. The cellar was for storage of homemade canned products and shelter from any storms.