Written History of Bert N. Whitney
So have fun, be happy, and you’ll never get on each other’s nerves as long as you’re more interested in each other than you are in yourself. And if you do have troubles, and we can help without butting into your business, we would like to.
Enclosed find a little wedding present.
Lots of love, Mom and Pop
We were able to rent a little apartment of sorts, which had been made over from an abandoned service station. We later moved in with a single mother who wanted someone to tend her baby for part of the rent. We never did get used to the idea of sharing the kitchen and bathroom with someone else, so when we heard of a little two room cottage for reasonable rent, we made the move. This became our home in San Luis Obispo, and we really enjoyed the comfort and privacy.
I enrolled in California Polytechnic College on September 11, 1946 with a major in electronic engineering. I struggled with the courses in electronics, but did well in the math, physics, drafting and the electives. After two semesters I became discouraged and decided I had selected the wrong major. In looking back, the real problem was probably that I had not learned effective study habits, and that I was reluctant to ask for the help that I needed. Academics had always been easy for me, so I didn’t know how to handle this problem effectively. I was fascinated by the study of psychology and sociology, but Cal Poly was an engineering and technical school and did not offer majors in other subjects.
We had become quite involved with the branch of the church in San Luis, which was in the Las Flores district of the California Mission. We met many fine people there, including our life long friends, Bob and Millie Stevens. We served in the Mutual presidency (YM, YW), and I was also scoutmaster. Anne put on the play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and cast me in the leading male role. Everyone seemed to enjoy the performance.
Our income was quite small, so our social activities consisted of church functions, picnics and swimming at the beach with Bob and Millie. I worked at the Wineman hotel (managed by Bob) as relief clerk on the night shift once a week, and most other evenings as bell hop. This gave us a few extra dollars each week. My Aunt Iris and Uncle Lou Rester lived in San Luis, and they were very good to us. One thing they did was take us clamming at Pismo Beach and abalone hunting at Morrow Bay. It was not only fun, but it provided us with lots of clams for chowder, and delicious abalone for steaks.
After checking out of school in the spring of 1947 I took a job as a time-keeper for a highway construction company. Our income increased and we saved our money in anticipation of the birth of our first child. Anne struggled for a long time giving birth, and I agonized with her and grieved to see her in so much pain for so long. But when we greeted that beautiful dark-haired, brown-eyed baby girl, the trauma of her delivery was soon forgotten. We named her “Joy” after Anne’s father, and what a joy she was! Her birthday, June 7, 1947, changed our lives, as anyone who has had that first child may well remember. Anne’s parents came to visit and to see their first grandchild, but they weren’t able to stay long. The full time missionaries serving in the area became our baby-sitters so we were able to get out occasionally. They said they liked a quiet place to study.
In the fall of 1947 Anne stepped off the stage at the church in a wrong manner and broke her foot so was unable to care for Joy while I was at work. She decided to call her mother in Las Vegas and ask her if she could stay with her while her foot healed. She thought her younger sister Adele could help care for the baby. As soon as it could be arranged, I put her on a plane for Vegas and that pretty well ended our stay in San Luis Obispo. I kept working a while longer but was very lonesome, so I loaded up everything we owned and hurried to be with Anne and Joy.
Rentals in Las Vegas in 1947 were hard to find, so we stayed with Anne’s parents for a while. We finally found an apartment we could rent, but we had to buy the furniture for $500. We didn’t seem to have any other choice, so we borrowed the money from a bank and became a party to the “scam,” by paying $500 for about $50 worth of furniture, and moved in. We later were able to obtain low-rent city housing when we got to the top of the “list” we were on, but needless to say, we never recouped all our money from the furniture deal. I went to work for Anne’s uncle Max re-finishing furniture, making deliveries, and hanging draperies. Our life in general seemed quite uneventful at this time. Of course we did a lot of things with Anne’s family and visited my parents on the ranch frequently.
After more than a year my desire to return to college was growing stronger. With encouragement from Anne, we decided to move to Tempe, Arizona, where I would attend Arizona State College, as it was known then, and major in psychology with a minor in sociology. I went on ahead, rented a duplex, got enrolled in school, and then Anne and Joy flew down to join me.
In preparation for the move to Tempe, Arizona late in 1948, I remember going with my father out on old highway 91, south of Las Vegas several miles where he showed me the frame of a burned out travel trailer which had been abandoned. I moved the frame, which had wheels and an axle, but no rims nor tires, to the vacant lot behind the Christensen’s on the corner of 7th and Charleston. There I spent most of my spare time for the next several weeks, fixing it up to move our belongings to Tempe. (We used this trailer for all of our moves until we arrived at Boulder City, Nevada in 1955. I improved it each time we anticipated moving.)