Written History of Bert N. Whitney
The duplex I rented was nearly new, so it was a nice place to live for $50 a month. It was located at 1117 Roosevelt St. and the lots all around it were vacant. The few weeks I spent there alone seemed very long, and the weather was really cold, so I especially welcomed that Thursday, about February 18th, when I picked up Anne and Joy at the airport in Phoenix, and we again became a family with all the love and warmth that goes with it. The schooling I received was to my liking, and I was able to maintain a full schedule all year round, get good grades, work part time at a dry cleaning shop, and fill a couple of church callings (Sunday School superintendency and teacher’s quorum advisor).
Anne kept a nice home, cared for Joy, worked in the Relief Society, typed my college papers and did lots of those nice things she has always done for others. We also had many friends, learned how to make stacked enchiladas, went on many picnics in the surrounding desert, and were generally busy and happy.
A very wonderful thing, more important than any other thing that happened to us while we were in Tempe, occurred on July 21, 1949. Jill was born! We had planned to name her Beth, but when we saw her she just didn’t look like a Beth, so we came up with Jill, and it has seemed to serve her well these many years.
We were hard pressed for money in those years, and all we could come up with was $20 dollars with which we made a deposit at the hospital in Mesa, and at that time they let me know in no uncertain terms that I could not take Anne and the baby home until I had paid them the balance of $50. (I guess they were planning to keep Anne on as a maid and put Jill up for adoption.) I would also owe the doctor (T. J. Hughes) $50 for his services. The local bank agreed to loan me $100 for three months if Rial Randall (my cousin) would co-sign, which he did, so on July 25, I paid the $50 to the hospital, the $50 to the doctor, and we all went home as a family of four. (We repaid the bank on the Oct. 21 due date; the interest was $1)
Anne’s mother stayed with us for a while until Anne was able to care for the two girls herself. The Christensens returned later for Jill’s blessing which was on September 4th, 1949. Her grandfather (M.J.) actually gave the blessing and the bishop and I stood in the circle. (Along with others.)
By transferring credits from military schooling and from Cal Poly, I was able to graduate May 23, 1950 (with distinction) and received a Bachelors of Science degree. At the Baccalaureate, on May 21, J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency of the church was the speaker. Anne’s parents were there for the ceremonies. How we handled the details of our next move to Upland, California to attend graduate school in nearby Claremont, California has escaped my memory – but we did move.
While Anne and I were living in Upland, California and I was attending graduate school, the construction company I had worked for in San Luis Obispo somehow got in touch with me and asked me if I could go to work for them again as their timekeeper and payroll clerk. They told me they had a highway job about fifty miles from Upland, towards Redlands, all freeway driving. I told them I had the afternoons available, and I thought I could do the job by working four hours each day, and would take the job if they would furnish my gas to drive to and from the job. They agreed, and I drove our brand new $1,800, 1950 pea-green Plymouth fast-back 2-door sedan that 100 miles each day until the job was completed. We used about one-third of my pay from that job to make the car payments and finally paid it off a few months early. In the meantime the mileage had rolled up on the car until there were 35,000 miles on it and I thought it was about worn out. (In those days 50,000 miles on a car was considered the life of the car and usually was.) Of course we used it for all other driving too, including several trips to and from Las Vegas, nevertheless I was reminded of the high school bicycle incident and wondered if I were a slow learner. We did however trade it in on a new station wagon, and thought we were pretty classy.
The house we rented in Upland was just off Foothill Blvd. at 13th and Benson. It was a remodeled fur salon with the full length mirrors still in the living room. Except for the landlord’s house a short distance away, there were no other near neighbors, and the place was surrounded by lemon groves. Claremont Graduate School was a few miles west on Foothill and the church was a few miles south in Ontario. The whole area was well planned with many beautiful trees and flowers along the streets. Most of the area was residential and citrus groves.
It took me about a year to complete my graduate classes, at which time I was informed that I would need to be registered in a special thesis class and remain on campus while I did the research and wrote my master’s thesis. I disagreed with this requirement, was burned out with school, was tired of being poor and was bull-headed, so I took a job as a teacher at Vina Danks Junior High School thinking I would do the thesis later. It was a lot later when I finally received my masters’ degree.
Anne was busy caring for Joy and Jill and also was expecting another baby soon. On August 5th, 1950 at 11:48 a.m. our first son, Kenneth, was born weighing in at 6 lb. 10 oz. A few years later he had to return to that same hospital in Upland to have a congenital inguinal hernia repaired. He was so tiny and fragile it was of real concern to us, but he eased the tension for us as they brought him from the recovery room all smeared with bright red Merthiolate, and he said “I all gween.”
Even though I had worked on part time jobs while I was in school, it really seemed good to be getting a regular check of $320 a month (for ten months each year). Soon after I started teaching, we got the urge to have our own home, so we contracted to buy a new three bedroom house with a detached double garage for $10,000; the payments were $60 a month. The home was located at 633 East Hawthorne, in Ontario, right next to an orange grove. It was near the church and not far from where I worked. We bought our first and only new television set while we lived there.