Seattle 1978

Seattle 1978

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bill & Stella - Their Love Story

This post was inspired by the Valentine's card I came across recently that my Grandpa Hawes gave to my Grandma Hawes 50 years ago this month.  It prompted me to ponder their "love story":

The inside is here.

Stella Otelia Fredericks graduated Union High School in Bremerton in 1925 and went to work in Detroit where her older sister lived.

Sometime after Stella's return to Bremerton a year or so later, her parents took in a boarder named Mary Hubbell.  They went to a movie one night and behind them sat William John George Hawes with a friend.  Mary already knew Bill and introduced them to each other. Bill remembered Stella from school but Stella didn't remember him since he was a grade or two younger.  He would stare at her in Study Hall - he told people before they ever met that he was going to marry her. He ended up dropping out of high school – (more on that later).

A few weeks after the movie meeting, Bill asked Stella to the Crystal Ball - a dance for young Masons in DeMolay.  They dated for a year and were engaged for a year before they married.  When asked if there was a story of how he asked her to marry him, Stella replied, "No, no story - every time we went out he kept saying, 'so, when are we getting married?'"

Easter 1928

Bill was working at the Puget Sound Navy Yard as a Machinist at the time.  Apparently I’m in possession of stolen property; I hope the statute of limitations is up.  Grandpa used a little bit of metal and the machinist equipment to fashion these rings for the both of them - he even engraved her initials S. O. F. on hers.  Pretty romantic but illegal!

They eloped on January 26th, 1929. Stella worked Saturday morning (in the offices of Attorney Moore in Bremerton); they caught the ferry to Seattle and got married at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle. The newlyweds moved into their apartment Sunday and went back to work on Monday.

Grandma gave me a chocolate tin that she had kept.  I thought is was beautiful but I'm sorry I didn't ask questions about it.  I've been trying to find out more about Artstyle Chocolate Company but have not been very successful.  I have found their ads (in the historic archived Seattle Times) from the late 1920s which would coincide with their dating time frame so I kind of like to imagine this one pound tin box of chocolate was a gift he gave her when he was courting her.

She kept some random items in it and I've put a few more of her things in it - (White Shoulders is the fragrance I think of as hers . . . )


Backing up - Bill had dropped out of high school at some point – I think to be able to work more hours.  He started working at age 14 (1921) as a delivery boy and later clerk at Diamond Drug Store which was later named Jamison’s Drug Co. and later still Olbergs on 4th and Pacific in Bremerton.  He also simultaneously started picking up work as a messenger boy for the PSNY.  Sometime in 1930, Bill went to work as a salesman for the Western Gas Co., in Bremerton.  He then purchased the merchandising department about June 1932 and was the Manager/Owner.  He sold it May 1933 to accept employment again at the PSNY. After marrying and one son, Bill earned his high school diploma from Bremerton High School (same school as his wife but the name had changed) in 1935. Another son (my Dad) was born in 1936. 

Work and life happened.  They had a home in Bremerton but also purchased a vacation home on Hood Canal. My Dad remembers his Dad was always off somewhere saying, "I'm off to see a man about a horse".  Bill initiated the bingo games for the Bremerton Elks as one of their primary fund raisers.  He was a manager of their travelling band and raised funds to get them new uniforms.  One of his highest honors was being elected Exalted Ruler of the Bremerton Elks for a year long term in 1951.  He was also an active Mason (just like his father) he had been installed as worshipful master in 1938. He enjoyed annual hunting trips.  My Grandma also returned to work after my Dad started Junior High.  Life was busy - they were both children of immigrants and living an American Dream.

I thought I remembered Grandpa still working for the PSNY when I used to stay with them in the summer – I remember you could hear the Shipyard’s whistle which signaled 5 o’clock quitting time and meant Grandpa was coming home.  But his obituary says he retired there in 1965 (age 58).  I would have been three so I don’t think I actually remember him coming home from the Shipyard.  After the Shipyard, he worked for Larkin Realty until retiring in 1972 at age 65.

It  was about that time that Grandma noticed Grandpa’s memory deteriorating.  I’m not sure when we actually had the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s but it must have been heartbreaking for a wife of fifty years to be asked time and time again, “How often do you come to clean my house?” and other repetitive questions. For their 50th anniversary, my parents and aunt and uncle threw a party for them.  Grandpa had no idea why everyone was there.  He smiled big and kissed his wife when prompted.  But really didn’t know what was going on.

(My Dad's camera strap is visible standing above them - I've got my hand up to him)

Grandpa used to walk down the hill from his home to get his hair cut - he started getting lost returning home. They worried he would wander and put himself in danger.  It became obvious he needed to live in a secure facility.  I remember feeling like it wasn’t still a love-story if Grandma didn’t want to live and take care of Grandpa anymore.  They worked hard their entire lives but their Golden Years were robbed by dementia. Grandpa died in the nursing home in 1986.  Not really a "happily ever after" ending.  Just a real one.

If you're lucky enough to be "in love", take the time to enjoy and cherish it while it lasts.


Bev Johnson Hawes said...

Actually Bill Hawes Sr. started working when he was 12. His mother brought the family to Seattle from the silver mining country - didn't want her sons being miners - opened a boarding house at 85th and 15th near Ballard, and after school, Bill sold papers in downtown Seattle, coming home on a bus to 85th & Aurora, then catching a private bus across 85th after 9 pm. He "paid" for the shorter ride with a newspaper. Great-Grandma had left his dinner in a warming oven as she had to be up very early to feed her boarders. Aunt Myrtle told this story.....

Jana said...

Thank you, Mom! I don't think I remember that story. And it explains finding the family in the 1920 Census at 8329 15th AVE NW Seattle. They list Fenwick as a Riveter - I'd love to know where he worked in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

What a great story. My grandmother and her siblings lived in Bremerton at the same time. I know my grandfather went to Union High School, a couple of years ahead of your grandparents. I wonder if they knew each other? There were nine Wagner kids (my grandmother's family). Good chance they knew at least some of them. Thanks for the post.

Jana said...

I have three of my Grandmother's yearbooks - The "Booster". There's an Edward Wagner class of 1924 - is that one of yours?

Anonymous said...

No, oddly, no Edward. Maybe he was a cousin or something? There were a lot of Wagners.

Jana said...

From "Bremerton and the PSNY" Fredi Perry 2002 I found "Wagner, Otto. (1875-1944) retired as coppersmith in the PSNY where he was employed for 27 years. Born in Germany and lived here for 40 years. Wife Irena. Daughters Eletha, Lillie, Rovina, and a Mrs. Rowell; sons Warren, Leon, Donald, Ronald, Willis."

Anonymous said...

lljuam 714Jana--Wonderful ,creative work. It was a pleasure to read. Can you believe that I just now read it while catching up on the emails. Just one comment though, I believe after being the exalted ruler for the Elks club in Bremerton he went on the do the same for the state chapter. At least that was my understanding. He was always gone when I was in high school traveling to different chapters in the state. Thamk you again for your labor of love. Love Bill

Jana said...

Thank you for commenting, Uncle Bill! I'm sure glad Grandma lived to 98 and I got to ask her a lot of questions. But of course, there's lots more I wish I'd asked. And I defintely wish I'd had more conversations with Grandpa before his memory went.