Recollections of Lynn Beedle by Carol Healy, provided on October 10th, 2003:
Recollections of Lynn
My earliest memories of Lynn’s early childhood are hazy at best, as I was less than a year and a half younger than he. We had just moved to San Francisco from our birthplace in Orland, CA (a small farming community in the Sacramento Valley]. For a short time we lived in a second story apartment where the only play space was an empty lot reached by a long flight of outside stairs, which were frightening to me initially but Lynn didn’t hesitate. I followed – that time anyway.
After several temporary moves in the Bay Area, our family settled in Mill Valley. I was 3-years old, Lynn about 41/2. One day Mother said that she wanted us to go to the store for her, a first-time experience for us. In Mill Valley a trip to the store was not simply a matter of running down the street to the corner grocery. We lived on a rather steep hillside covered with redwood trees with a switch-back trail leading to the road below and on to town, a distance of 3/4 mile. We had made that trip as a family numerous times, so we knew the way, made our purchase and returned without incident. As an adult I suspect that the trip was more a way to prepare Lynn for going to school on his own in the near future than a need for supplies. Or perhaps it was a way to keep us both occupied.
When Lynn did begin school, he sometimes was distracted by the proximity of the creek that flowed alongside the road and would stop to explore a bit along the way. One day a neighbor saw him playing in the creek and told him he must hurry on to school or he would be late. Lynn hurried, presumably in time, but when he came home, he asked Mother, “what is late”? “Mrs. Connelly said if I didn’t hurry, I’d be late”. That is one lesson that has lasted a lifetime. He is very time-conscious.
After a little more than two years in Mill Valley, our father’s office was transferred to Los Angeles. Soon after we were settled in home and school (Lynn in 1st grade and me in kindergarten), Mother gave us another lesson in grocery-shopping. The trip was much shorter but the shopping list longer. I think we had some doubt about remembering all the items. Mother said, “If you forget, you’ll just have to go back again.” We didn’t forget. Aside from avoiding a repeat trip, there prob ably was a bit of competition involved. Neither of us wanted appear forgetful to the other.
We had been in Los Angeles for only a short time when Mother became ill with a severe case of diphtheria. She survived, but with damage to her heart which kept her in bed for what seemed like a long time. And for years afterwards she would have bed-rest prescribed periodically. Of course, we had to have household help, but finding a reliable person could be difficult. Sometimes they failed to come at all. That is how Lynn and I learned about washday. There was a critical need for clean clothes and nobody showed up to work. So Lynn and I were enlisted. Mother was a good instructor, but there was much running to the bedroom with questions. Fortunately, we had an electric washing machine with a wringer on top. (This was 1926; nothing automatic about it). Then came the real challenge – hanging the clothes on a line in the backyard that was much too high for an eight-year-old to reach. Lynn took charge, found a wooden box to stand on while I handed him each item to pin on the line. It was a reach for both of us, but it worked fine for the smaller pieces. Some of the larger ones didn’t escape an accidental dusting.
In 1927 we moved to Hollywood – 1426 N. Normandie, “four doors from Sunset Blvd.”. I think it was there that Lynn’s curiosity became apparent. One day he suggested that we should experience total darkness. He had already chosen a likely spot for the experiment – the front bedroom closet. We were intrigued, so all five of us crowded into an already full space. So far, so good. But as Lynn pulled the door completely shut, the doorknob fell off in his hand and landed on the floor. Still no panic. We were all busy trying to find the missing parts. Mother, who was in another room, confined to bed-rest, noticed the sudden silence in the house. But, fortunately for us, at that moment our father arrived home from work and soon liberated us.
Another time he wanted to make a plan for a village and asked Mom for exclusive use of our large sandbox for the purpose. She agreed, but with a time limit. As I remember, the first thing he did was to buy a large box of strike-anywhere matches which he lit and extinguished one-by-one. He assembled other suitable materials and proceeded with his construction. I never knew what his purpose was, but he seemed satisfied with the experiment.
Our house was one of the few in the neighborhood that had a back yard. Most lots had two houses. And ours was by far the most active. With five children in the family – and frequently a visiting friend or two – it was a busy place. We even played lively games of baseball. Contrary to major league rules, “over the fence” was “out” as it sometimes resulted in a broken window. I suspect that Lynn was one of the culprits..
Lynn and I started taking piano lessons when I was about 10 or ii Lynn was always the first one up, either for piano practice or to deliver his early-morning paper route. Mrs. Kay, our teacher and a neighbor, came to our house, but when her family moved to Van Nuys, so did our lessons. On Saturday mornings Lynn and I would walk down to Santa Monica Blvd. to take the streetcar, a.k.a. “Big Red Car” to Van Nuys. It seemed like a fairly long trip, but we usually took a book or some homework to pass the time.
For a school project, Lynn chose to make a carving of the Santa Barbara Mission, using a laundry-size bar of Ivory soap for the facade with a partial bar for the covered area alongside. Our grandparents lived in Santa Barbara and we visited them often. Lynn probably used one of our grandfather’s photographs as a guide for his model. He did a good job, as usual. We had the Ivory mission for a long time, until it finally turned yellow and was “retired”.
Our grandfather also introduced us to photography. Lynn was the most interested at the time and learned how to develop and print film (using a very makeshift arrangement for a darkroom). I don’t think Lynn did much photo processing as an adult, but anyone who knows him well can tell you that he usually has a camera at hand.
Dad (as we called our grandfather) also taught us to swim, and later, to drive. He was a good teacher, calm and patient. Lynn had a special driver’s license at age 14 because Dad thought that there should be another driver available if Mother was unable to drive in an emergency. He wasn’t allowed to drive alone, of course, but he had the license!
In junior high school Lynn belonged to a boys’ chorus, the Troubadours. Mrs. Nightingale was the director. I don’t remember their performances – only their uniforms which were royal blue with boleros trimmed with gold braid. A school photo of the group in front of LeConte Jr. High somehow wound up in my possession. I’ve offered to send it to Lynn several times but he always declines.
Also in Jr. High, yo-yos became popular, at least with Lynn. He’d be practicing whenever he had a chance, even on the school grounds at lunchtime.
We moved to Glendale about the time Lynn started high school (10th grade in those days). We had a much larger house and yard –and lawn to mow, which was Lynn’s job much of the time. One year he decided to plant a vegetable plot in a vacant space behind the house. I don’t remember what success he had, but I do recall that he spent a lot of time arranging a system of ditches to irrigate the plot.
When Lynn came home for Christmas during his first year at Cal, he’d already decided on a gift for the family – a full-size table tennis table. (the dining room table had served the purpose previously) He tried to keep the project a secret but without much success. At any rate we had our tennis table ready for action on Christmas morning. And for years after.
The next spring the Golden Gate Bridge was completed. Our uncle was a part of the publicity team working on the opening day activities. He invited Lynn to participate in the first walk across the bridge. And when the ceremony started, Lynn was in the front row – a special event for him!
On the 50th anniversary of the bridge opening, Lynn came out for the event. Not only that, he rounded up family and friends in the area to join him. And what a crowd that was! I remember Lynn saying that as he stood in that mass of people, he did a rough calculation of the weight of all those people compared to the load of regular traffic and decided it was within safe limits.
Lynn majored in architecture during his first two years in college but decided his real interest was in engineering. When he consulted his advisor about changing his major, he said he was advised to reconsider. The advisor said he had had many student transfer out of engineering but none who wanted to switch to that major. But Lynn was undeterred, although it meant an extra year to complete the required courses. So both Lynn and I graduated from the University of California in May, 1941.
Soon after, Lynn received his commission as an officer in the navy and was sent to the U.S. Naval Academy Postgraduate School, a move to the east coast which proved to be permanent. It wasn’t long before he made his way to New York where he gave his three sisters a real surprise. He sent each of us a hat! I think all were black velvet but different styles. It must have been an interesting experience for the salesperson! We were impressed.
Back to graduation. Lynn and I were traveling together a couple of years ago, perhaps to our 60th Cal reunion. He pointed to his travel kit, saying, “Do you remember that?” I didn’t. It was, he said, a graduation present. He said that he had taken it on every trip he’d made since, including eleven around-the-world trips in addition to countless miles of travel during his career (He can probably give you a fairly accurate estimate, He keeps records.) One time I asked whether he had visited a particular city. His reply was, “If it has a tall building. I’ve been there”.
During a trip to La Conner, Washington, in the Spring of 2003, Carol Healy and Jane Hildebrand were talking about their recollections of family happenings, parents, and grandparents. Liz Healy took notes as Carol and Jane talked and laughed.
Screen door incident with Jane and Lynn: Lynn told Jane to push her nose into the screen on the screen door. Lynn was standing on the opposite side of the screen door. When Jane did so, Lynn punched her. What a nose bleed! But not as severe as the one Lynn got after mom demonstrated on his nose.
Experience in Total Darkness:
Lynn insisted that all his sisters and brothers should experience “total darkness”.
He talked everyone into going inside the clothes closet. Oooops! It was scary in there enough, but what was worse was when the children were grappling to find the handle…the handle fell off the door. Now there were all locked in the dark closet. When Pop came home…Mom who was experiencing “bed rest” mentioned, “It’s much too quiet Pop! You’d better check on the children.” Well Pop heard the kids pounding on the door and liberated them.
Waking Up Early With Lynn:
Lynn got a paper route which was very very early in the mornings. As soon as he would finish the route he’d play “Country Gardens”. Lynn delivered the Saturday Evening Post Magazine early as well. Jane remembers waking up to hear Lynn practicing his piano. She remembers Lynn waking up the kids to “see the snow”.
Creating A Village:
Lynn propositioned his mom to let him create a village in the sandbox. He needed the whole sandbox! He started with “strike anywhere matches” which he struck. He layed down the matches to build his intricate village. The rest of the children had to leave the sandbox ALONE!
Santa Barbara Mission:
Lynn used soap to carve a model of the Santa Barbara Mission. It really looked like it when he got finished!
Once the Beedle children had a turtle that sat in the sugar bowl on the buffet. It would get out in the closet. There was a wonderful box of toys in the closet, besides the turtle. Jane and Carol remembered the games in the front closet as well.
What games did the Beedle’s play?
Baseball until they’d break a window or should I say windows. Lynn seemed to be the culprit breaking most of the windows…the girls remember. Mrs. Fowler wouldn’t want them to get the baseballs on her roof. Old “Sour Puss” they called her. She would usually have her husband go up and retrieve the balls. Mom was “gentler” However Mom lost her temper once… She didn’t handle it right.
Jane was teased unmercifully by Lynn: She learned to let the flack go by. Sometimes she’d cry though. Mom’s Advice: “If you can’t play together go off by yourself.”
Both Jane and Carol remember their mother as a “VERY GOOD MOTHER!”
However there was one memory about mother that wasn’t so good. Carol’s doll along with some other things got put in the fireplace! The kids weren’t keeping their rooms straight and Mom decided that this was the way to demonstrate what would happen . Carol did get her doll back, but Jane who was 3 years younger didn’t approve and remembers the horrible incident.
Mom seemed to sense when school was enough for the time being. Once when Gin was having a rough go…Mom kept Gin home for one semester.
Mom kept Carol home after a bout with appendicitis. Carol got FAT???
Carol almost died in the hospital. Her appendicitis ruptured after Thanksgiving Carol wasn’t able to return home until nearly Christmas.
Learning the Important Things in Life:
Mom (Carol Enid) was in bed recovering from diphtheria yet she would teach 12 year old Carol from her “bed rest”.
Carol learned to cook bread, carrots and cake.
Carol decided to enter a “cake baking contest” in Hollywood.
She decided to practice for a solid week. For a solid week the family had CAKE. The cakes seemed to get progressively worse, falling apart.
Did she win the contest?
Carol remembers Angel Food Cake with only one fork to whip it. It took one hour to whip up the egg whites. Carol decided to read a book to break up the boredom which she did.
What about Jane? She wasn’t allowed in the kitchen. Mom thought she’d get hurt for sure. So she never learned to cook, but she learned to throw a ball just like a boy!
Mom sent Carol to shop on Hollywood Blvd. Carol the older sister took Jane to get new shoes. Boy was she mortified when she found a big hold in Jane’s socks.
Send Jane to Sunset to get a haircut? The finger manicure gal sent her home with spit curls. Jane couldn’t wait. She’d play with the curls. They were too tempting. Mom didn’t like the results.
Mom would send Lynn 7 and Carol 6 to Maraposa to get groceries. Lynn was 1 ½ years older than Carol. Mom would never give them a list. They had to remember all the items. At least 5 or 6 items. Carol sounded a little competitive. She would never let Lynn remember and herself forget. The kids took their wagon to the Grocery store.
Maraposa: Four people came to visit. Jane was sitting in the daybed, sitting and leaning on the window seat next to the screen (not latched). She fell out the window. Along came a cat and licked her on the face. Pop came around the corner just at the right moment.
Mom was just getting over diphtheria and was supposed to take a nap. Lynn was always stirring the pot around. We had to behave or “YOUR MAMA MIGHT DIE!” When mama unexpectedly opened the door to the kids who weren’t napping… Lynn yelled, “Don’t die Mama ! We’ll be good!”
Lynn going to Kindergarten:
Lynn was pretty casual about getting to Kindergarten. Mrs. Conley saw Lynn playing in the creek. Don’t you worry about being “late” to school? she asked. Lynn and his friends scooted off to school. When they returned home that day Lynn asked his mommy. “What does “late” mean?
Lynn and Bath Time: Lynn’s not getting ready! Finally he started disrobing. “Where’d you get the underwear?” asked mom. Traded with someone in the creek was his response.
Mom’s Advice: Keep Lynn busy or he’ll “stir the pot” or get into trouble.
Carol and Lynn were returning from piano lessons one day. Carol had carried the music half way and thought it was Lynn’s turn to carry it. So she put the music on the sidewalk. On they both walked. Carol was determined not to go back and pick it up. Finally Lynn went back and picked up the music. The morale: Carol is stronger than you think.
One night at the dinner table everyone was trying to lead the discussion. Mom finally interrupted that “how could she have raised all chiefs and no Indians?”
Jane in 5th Grade:
Jane wanted to sew herself a dress. Mom’s Advice: Get the material and pattern. Read the pattern and DO IT! If Jane whimpered that she didn’t understand. Mom insisted ” Go Back READ THE PATTERN and DO IT!” Eventually she got it right.
So Jane wore her dress to school. When she arrived at school she told the teacher that SHE MADE HER OWN DRESS. The teacher casually said “Oh, how nice. To this day Jane said “I don’t like that Home Ed Teacher! She didn’t believe me.
After her appendicitis…Carol made a dress for Jane’s doll. Carol made another dress . She learned to knit. She was fascinated with knitting. Mom didn’t know. Mrs. Kay showed Carol and Carol went to the needlework department and asked for help if she needed it. Boy was mom surprised.
Lynn learned to drive at 14!!! Dad (Lynn Carrol)l thought Lynn could drive the car in an emergency . You could get a license. Lynn tried to teach Carol. Dad was GREAT. He’d scrunch next to the door and let Jane or Carol do the steering.
Carol Learning to Drive:
Dad (Lynn Carroll) had to go to Santa Maria. Coming home Dad asked, “Carol YOU CAN DRIVE !”
Carol remembers ALL THOSE CURVES! But she did it!
DAD (Lynn Carroll):
Used to discussing things (like debate topics from the newspaper)
Natural born teacher.
Just a dear.
Swimming lessons! Who wants to go swimming in the morning? If you said yes then YOU WENT wet, cold, wool swimsuit at 6AM!!! Soaking sandy wet cold very cold swimsuit.
Climb in the quiet water.
Jane was a ‘sinker”, Dad bought her water wings.
Great G/’pa Simpson debated different topics in the newspaper business.
Such as “the need to go to school for more than 3 months!” Agricultural methods should be different.
I only knew her as an old person.
She would insist that we scrub the pots with sand !!! Or weed!!
Once she said that she’d pay Carol for weeding. Carol kept weeding and weeding. 1 cent per weed! “That’s enough!” She did pay Carol.
After the appendicitis Carol got fascinated with needlework. She made blue mats. “I paid Mammee back for all those weeds. I still have the frame and needlepoint.”
Mammee hid the chocolate. She pulled out a drawer and hid it on the side.
Lynn’s Exercise in the BACK FORTY:
All sorts of little tests to pass. Obstacles! Vegetable garden.
Lynn invented a watering system so he could irrigate the plants.
What about after college?
Lynn decided to have a ping pong table. He used the bedroom portion, not the dining room table. Jane didn’t play much ping pong.