Monday, May 24, 2010

Henry Richard Emanuel Wessman: A Biography, Part 4

The family lived in a number of homes. The first home in Ogden was on 30th and Grant Street. The smaller children attended Pingree Elementary School. Soon after moving into this house, measles spread through the family. A big quarantine sign with big black letters was nailed to the house.

The Wessman family stayed in that house for three months (spring of 1924). In the early summer of 1924, they moved to 24th and Madison. John woke up one morning and said he was not feeling very well, especially his throat… He had the mumps and the quarantine sign was hung back on their house.

Last of summer or winter of 1924, they moved one-half block from their previous address. It was on Quincy or Monroe Avenue. The smaller children attended Madison Elementary School while Harry and Dick went to Central Junior High. This was not an exactly favorable house even though it was newer. An irrigation canal ran under the house. When the cold air and wind got under the house, the floor would get sooooooooooooooo cold. It was awful. The family stayed upstairs as much as possible.

The spring of 1925, the family moved from 36th and Jefferson to another house at 3145 Adams Avenue. It was one block from their other home.

Henry was the disciplinarian. One had better behave or if Dad found out about it…

He had a short temper, very strict and one had better obey what he said. Discipline to the offending culprit usually consisted of a little boot with the side of his foot. Right in the bottom. It was not hard enough to hurt but enough to know that one had been chastised. Henry also believed that it was not acceptable to sit on the dining room table. Norinne remembers sitting on it anyway and her father nudging her gently off with his boot. Ernie said his dad never disciplined him.

The family had talent for music. Henry and Jean used to enjoy music together. He had a tenor voice that was pretty good. Especially when he sang with Jean. He learned music by studying with the Tabernacle Choir organist and other teachers. They were very enthusiastic about their playing and probably could be heard blocks away. If Henry heard a piece of music, he could play it by ear. He had perfect tone pitch. He liked to sing to his daughters the song called “Daddy's Little Girl.”

The family liked to get together to eat, play some music and sing. In the early years (1930s), Dick, John, Jean and Betty used to play music together. Dick was on the guitar or ukulele. John played the mandolin or accordion (which he got for Christmas 1930 or 1931) and Jean played a pretty mean mute and piano. She and Betty sang. The girls took piano lessons. When Norinne was younger, Henry held her up to a phone so she could sing while John played the accordion behind them. Jean had fun memories of her mother and father. There was music every night. Usually the classics were played. Her father played the popular songs of the time. Her mother and father enjoyed playing duets.

The children inherited their musical talent from their parents. In fact, some of the children had a music combo that played on the radio. In the group, were Jim Nerden, Carl Mansell, and Dick and John Wessman. Carl and Jim were singers. Jim played the harmonica. It was a 15-minute program once a week. The Wessman family did not have a radio during much of this time to listen to them. Around 1930 or 1931, they got a radio. That was a very popular thing. Elizabeth Ann Hayward gave her grandchildren their first radio. It had a battery set. It had to have wet cell batteries for it and a trickle charger. There were three dials on it that had to be tuned. It was complicated.

To be continued...

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