Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Henry Richard Emanuel Wessman: A Biography, Part 3

This respect for womanhood has carried on in more ways than one. Liz's son Willy asked Gam one time, "How come you treat ladies special?" Gam replied, “Because they are." The children were not allowed to sass or talk back to their mother without their father's wrath coming down on them.

Jean usually got up early in the morning (as everyone did back then). At times when her husband got off early in the morning from his night job, he would take her out for breakfast before they got the kids up. That was a benefit of having a large family. There was always someone to pitch in when necessary to help out with the daily events.

They would go out to dinner with friends or by themselves. The older kids would take care of the younger ones. They made many good friends among Henry's co-workers from the newspaper.

Henry loved to eat. He loved ice cream, candy (so did Jean), cheeses, fish, etc. One of his favorite foods was kippered salmon. It is a preserved fish that is almost like beef jerky. It would be cooked in water until it was tender. He also liked anchovies. He would open up a can and plop the anchovies in his mouth. His mother and brothers all liked it too.

Henry had certain political ideas. In those days, there were quite a few Democrats in Utah. He was a staunch Democrat. He definitely was not a Republican. He liked to learn about what was going on in the political arena of the society. He was pro-union and was a union man himself. This was partly due to his occupation. He felt that was the way to better his life and occupation in general. This was before "the right to work" philosophy. He never ran for office but he kept up on political events and voted. He always talked about things such as who was running for president and whom he would vote for.

Henry had a great sense of humor. He was always kidding. He usually had a good joke to tell. He enjoyed telling his wife jokes because she could never figure them out very fast. It would take her awhile. She then would start to laugh. Henry thought this was funny and cute. He liked to see how long it took her to understand the joke.

He was argumentative in the sense that he had his beliefs and he would argue his point. However, it was not just to argue for arguing sake. For instance, some of the kids and Henry were watching a baseball game. The catcher cheated by holding the batter's bat with his mitt so he could not swing. Henry went right up in the air and got in the game. He was told it was none of his business and he had better get out of there. He said that it was an unfair thing to do and it should not have been done. The excuse given was that everyone did it. Henry said, "Where have you seen that done?" The noncommittal reply was "all over." That did not happen again during the rest of that game.

Henry and Jean are described as hard working trying to raise their family. They were both family oriented. They enjoyed spending time with the family tremendously and worked at having a relationship with them in one way or another. The children also enjoyed it. His daughter Jean does not recall him ever being sad.

Jean and Henry's son John at Black Rock, c. 1940

One struggle that the Wessman parents had was feeding and clothing all the children. They always had the bare minimum. The clothes would be bought from the Wright Brothers or the J.C. Penney store. The girls got dresses and lace-up shoes. It was usually overalls and a blue shirt for the boys. The bib on the overalls would protect the shirt from getting dirty so fast. They usually got tennis shoes. They cost 50 cents. The better quality shoes were 75 cents to a dollar. Many of the neighborhood kids wore the same thing. Of course, the younger children would get the hand me downs from the older kids.

To be continued...

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