Your great grandpa, my dad, Lowell Evans, died in 1998, fifteen years before you were born. He was a very good man, and you should know a little about him.
Lowell was born on a farm in Ellensburg, Washington in 1921. He was the oldest son in a family of ten kids, and was raised to be responsible for himself and to care for other people. He held onto those habits his whole life.
When World War II started, he headed to California to work in the aircraft industry. After a hasty marriage, he was drafted and served in the Pacific, returning home to realize his wife had set up housekeeping with his paycheck and another fellow. Heartbroken, he went to find the only other address he had in California, his former co-worker at the plant, a lady named Billie. After several years’ courtship, he and Billie bought a house in Manhattan Beach, got married and started having kids. That was the beginning of our family.
Dad was always looking for a way to have fun. He’d start singing a made-up song, run out of lyrics, and finish with “…And that’s all I know of that one.” He’d call us all out of the house for a walk and end up at the ice cream shop. His evenings were spent planning camping trips or making furniture for the house. He made desk/dresser/ nightstand sets for all the bedrooms, a desk and coffee table for the living room, and even a playhouse for me.
He helped run the Pop Warner Junior football league, a Little League team, and was a Boy Scout leader. He attended every game, every show and every parade my brothers and I were part of.
He cared for his friends, too. He had become friends with an old bachelor man at work, Phil Conway. One day, Phil got hit by a piece of equipment and cracked some ribs, and the boss sent him home for the weekend. Dad knew that Phil would go home, lay down, and not be able to get up. Since my parents didn’t have a car, Dad took a cab and fetched Phil to our house and had him sleep in the big chair until he healed up.
There were lots of other folks he cared for, too. He walked three brides down the aisle before me, young women from work whose own dads were unwilling or unable to stand up for them.
Camping was how we spent all our vacations. Dad and my brothers loved it, and I did, too. It was a time of not too many rules… we weren’t expected to be quiet, go to bed early, stay clean, or eat our vegetables. We could spend hours walking in the woods or building dams in the river. Even Momma came to enjoy it, as Dad took over the cooking duties and she could read and relax more.
When Dad was fifty five, he developed rheumatoid arthritis. He hurt all the time and had trouble breathing. He got treatment and got better, but his doctor advised taking early retirement because “you don’t know how many good years you have left.” Dad spent two years remodeling the kitchen, learning to bake bread, and generally driving Momma crazy. He finally convinced her to retire, too. They sold the house and moved to tiny Lompoc, California.
And, believe it or not, that was just the beginning of a whole ‘nother set of adventures! More tomorrow!