Life History of Ivan E. Lauper

Chapter 6

Returning to Southern California

When returning to Southern California, following my Mission to England, the Depression was over. After difficulty, I secured a job with Pay N' Pakit Grocery at Pomona. In thinking back about Safeway policies, I say, "If it hadn't been for Harold Fair, who was managing a Safeway store in Indio, California, and who wasn't able to balance his records, resulting in my being pulled out of the store in Pomona to go into Indio and oversee and check up on Harold, I would have probably never have met Helen, who became my wife." Harold was a well-liked manager but could never 'make an inventory '. I was sent there to stay at least two years. At this store, Mr. Fair and all his crew were great friends of Helen Burke, a frequent customer. I was presently keeping company with a girl in Pomona, and was all ready to drive over to see her in my little jump seat Ford one evening, when Helen and I stood talking at the store. She tells me now that she deliberately planned to keep me from going back over to Pomona. Helen and I really socialized for the first time at a dance where she was doing some judging in a contest. She herself, was a very good dancer and we both enjoyed this activity. Our first date was when she was to take a group of girl scouts to the Salton Sea for an outing, and I accompanied her. As summer came on, the weather in Indio was extremely hot and I would retreat toward the mountains of Idyllwild on my time off, going with Helen; for her brother had a cabin there. When I was away from that locale, Helen wrote letters, and we kept appointments pretty regularly. It was not too long before we knew what our plans were, and I had asked Mother and Alice to visit, to become acquainted. They came down from Ventura and Helen showed them all around the area and they liked each other. In due time our marriage plans were made and arrangements were also made for a release from our jobs in that locale. Helen had been working as a secretary for a large date grower, known as Shields Gardens. She was very influential there and well thought of, having full charge of rather a large operation in packing and shipping dates. They were reluctant and sorry to have her leave.

The climate at Indio was a 'different world' ---l24 degrees for four successive days at one time, and no air conditioning! I lived with a roommate in what was referred to as a submarine. It consisted of an ordinary house covered with a burlap canopy and water running over the burlap (this was over a tin roof). The water running off it was so hot that if you walked outside (which happened once) and came in contact with this water, you were scalded. It was HOT! Here, one day at work, I experienced my first heat prostration. I would become so warm that I would drink constantly. A fellow worker kept count one day and stated that I had taken ten glasses within one hour. These were large tumblers of very palatable water; and this was too much! We didn't know too much at that time about retaining salt in our bodies. I had felt that a strong headache would indicate the onset of heat prostration, but learned in this instance, it was not always the case. I was sick! The submarine living was stuffy and uncomfortable, and yet the nearest to livable manner we could obtain.

When Helen's and my plans leaned toward marriage, it became necessary for Helen to become a member of the Church, as we had talked only of a Temple marriage. Helen had known something of the Mormons through a former friend back in Kansas City; not a great deal, but enough to give her proper leanings; so it was not too difficult to have her taught and understand the Gospel. In due time she became a convert and I have said often, "She is a much better member than I". On our way to Helen’s baptism at Matthews Ward, Los Angeles, we stayed over night with friend, Cleone Skousen in San Bernardino; and then, within the proper amount of time, we applied for a Temple recommend. Eventually, both of us became released from our jobs and we parted with good recommendations, although it was difficult later to regain an equal earning power. We had Dad come from Ventura to join up with us and Mother and Alice proceeded to Salt Lake on their own to meet us there, for our Temple marriage on June 28, 1934. Mother and Father came through the Temple with us. (I recall with some amusement how Father found himself a few times in situations where the worker said he shouldn't be, and on one occasion was told, 'We’re going to marry you, old man, if you don't move out of here". Father had had few opportunities to attend temple sessions and I can remember some of the difficulties in the dressing routine. The shirt we had purchased for him just prior to our entry that day, was filled with a dozen or so pins, and in the dressing room he muttered, "Of all the times, of all the times". These are memories that stay with me, as with Helen, along with our personal excitement of our wedding day.

Helen and Ivan
Helen and Ivan, year?

We had previous thoughts about going home by looping up through Boise, Idaho, but I discovered our time too short, finances too low, and even though I had purchased some tires before setting out from California, we had a bit too heavy a load on our return (Alice and Mother were with us now); and our tires were showing signs of too much wear. We dispensed with some of our plans ---money was very scarce. I remember walking on the South Temple Street with Dad, when he asked, "Son, do you have a little money?" I gave him a couple of dollars and I always think softly of that request for we still have the little cookie jar which Dad went forth and purchased to give to Helen. After foregoing further tripping, we quickly returned home, and I soon re­ceived an assignment as Relief Manager of different stores for Safeway, starting at Riverside, Rialto, and other spots; and finally was assigned as Manager of the Safeway Store in Claremont, California, a town made up of Professional people and school teachers. Four colleges were there. We there, had more friends and belonged to more committees ---and were with less time and money than any place we've ever been since. Helen joined me in working this store and it was rather an uphill job during those depression years. Our store did not fit the area requirements. We had many invitations to clubs, committees, and I became vice-president of Chamber of Commerce, as well as secretary of the Kiwanis Club.

All of this at about the time I was taken into the Ontario Ward Bishopric, where I later became Bishop, serving for three years. The demand on our time was quite severe and our money as well. We found it necessary to help many people in the Church. There were only three or four phones in the whole Ward, thus requiring constant travel on Sundays and during evenings. Helen became Relief Society president, which was quite a challenge. I've often wondered how a newly converted member, and a bride, could accept the challenges of these few years. It was quite a strain. Although we were most welcome in the town of Ontario, they were frugal spenders, which didn't help our business. At the same time, to supplement our income and to help Helen's brother, we opened a cafe just across the street from our store. This went on for about 6-1/2 years, at which time I was ambitious enough to want to go further in the Company and kept insisting that I be given a better store or a new one. I was finally granted privilege to locate a new site, and after many hours spent on the weekends, I did center on a new location, which the Company accepted. But somehow by this time, I had lost enthusiasm and spirit for the future of that town. I couldn't see where that area offered a basis for a successful operation so I had the Company dismiss the idea and abandon the site.

I still continued on with the Company but was glad to leave Claremont --where I had found the 'retirement dollar' along with the 'professional dollar' to be the two toughest dollars one can ever get. For a short time I helped out in nearby Pomona, and then I received an assignment to go to a store in Baldwin Park. The manager there was well liked, but again, he couldn't cut the inventory, and he hadn't kept a very clean store, so the Company sent us in there. The business volume was better and I was gaining advancement, but I still wasn't satisfied. I wanted one of their best stores, or even aspired toward being Supervisor. During those years the top district managers were changing positions often, and by the time one became acquainted with one or gained a promise, he would be transferred or otherwise dislocated. I was secure in my position, but the depression added an extra workload. The system re­quired the balancing of payrolls on the weekend and this was mine. The depression allowed for only poor wages -- 40 cents per hour for helpers, until a strike took place at Vultee and then we were able to increase my helper's wages to 50 cents per hour. I had been trained as a meat co-manager and I had pretty good knowledge of the meat business, which I had used in Claremont. That came in good stead here; however, it was at this location that the Pearl Harbor incident occurred. I had already been able to see indications that there was a climax near, when my vegetable man said his truck had been conscripted. We entered that period of war; and one by one, I lost my help. I certified my best man to become a flier and I remember him starting to eat quantities of carrots to assure his 20/20 vision.

In due time I was able to secure a store ---one of the newer ones, with all the latest facilities in Rosemead. By then the war pressure was heavy and I couldn't get sufficient, nor satisfactory, help. I was one of the first of two stores to introduce girl clerks, and this was an entirely new venture. One by one, the men were replaced by girls as the men went either into the service or into defense plants. This was an added burden, and I found myself working harder and longer hours. To keep one girl, I had to raise her salary four times within one month. It was kind of interesting thing, however, not pleasurable, that when I finally made the decision to break --- was a long, hard problem to resolve, but the pressure of the defense plants, when their officers continually tried to recruit me, finally brought this decision on. I finally told Mr. Tanner that I thought I would resign. As he queried me about wanting out, he then began looking for a replacement; and that which I refer to as amazing is the fact that it took him three months to find someone. I recalled when I had started work with this Company, I had seen them check men out over and over within ten and fifteen minutes time, for they reasoned that if the employee were no longer interested, they were untrustworthy to have around. The times, and the manpower, had changed drastically. I left with good relations, but with a great deal of reflection, because I had thought seriously of making this my career.

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