Kent: George grew up in a predominantly German community next to the Missouri River. Germans poured into the area in the mid to late 19th century to find a better life. George’s grandparents spoke German. They attended churches in German. In fact George’s original birth certificate was written completely in German.
He grew up in an agricultural time. His father and grandfather Philipp were farmers. This was an agrarian community. George grew up doing chores related to the farm. But George also learned the carpentry trade. People at the time had to have a wide variety of skills to survive. George’s father built homes both in Falls City, where he rented one out, and Portland. George also had the example of his grandfather August Weinert. August built beautiful pieces of furniture like baby cribs, dressers and tables. August built most of the barns in the area. George’s garage on Golden Gate even looks like a barn with it’s quaint cupola and barn like attic entrance. I remember standing next to George in that garage as he cut wood on his table saw. The saw whined as George shoved wood through the sawdust cloud. He kept his store of wood in the garage attic. George believed in quality tools and solid construction. His razor sharp saw sits above his sturdy bench in my garage today.
George made a good living as a carpenter. At first he built houses in Portland and Los Angeles. Later he worked as a studio carpenter. Audrey told me he worked on some of the sets for Laurel and Hardy. When he got older and needed less income he worked odd jobs and Audrey said he did well at that too. He also built for family. Besides building a fence at 1366 Cleveland road he also built foot stools and headboards for each of his grandchildren. The headboard had sliding doors so you could hide your important stuff.
George like being a father and grandfather. When Emma left for Utah he often kept Audrey behind, took her to school, made her meals and taught her how to drive a car. I remember how he talked to my mother Elaine. It was always in kind tones. You could tell there was a lot of affection between the two of them. There would be a knock at the door and there stood George with a smile on his face and a watermelon in both arms. We looked forward to his visits, not just because he might have a gallon of carrot juice, but because we like being with him. George was kind, gentle and quite.
Spiritually George grew up in a time when church was very important. It was important to him. His grandfather August was a Catholic by birth and upbringing. Evangelical preachers came through Falls City and held camp meetings. Jane Weinert, August’s daughter, attended and converted first. Then the other girls, Minnie, Fannie and Anne followed. This upset August, particularly when Fredericka, who grew up as Dutch Reformed, joined. They convinced August to come to a revival meeting, He had a religious experience and joined. The Weinert’s were believers. In 1910 when George was 24 in Portland he lived with August Weinert Jr., who was a set apart reverend. In the 1940’s when George became interested in religion again he adopted the Presbyterian faith. It was an eight minute walk from his Golden Gate house to the Bethany Presbyterian Church.
Being naturally friendly they liked him and he felt accepted by the congregation and became a dedicated member. As a youth I remember going to church with George. They used grape juice for the sacrament which seemed unusual for a Mormon boy who was used to taking water and the bread . George helped with carpentry work at the church and held church socials in his home.
George was a man of great patience. Emma seemed to have a wanderlust in her she couldn’t control. She took yearly trips to Utah that often lasted from spring to fall. To do this she needed money. Where did it come from? I’m sure George gave her money for food, transportation, rent and her daily needs. This he did for a largely absentee wife. Emma was a woman of great talents. She kept a detailed journal of her life which included life with George. She was considered a good cook by George and her son-in-law James Gardiner. She was a hard worker who canned hundreds of quarts of peaches and cherries every year and brought them back to George, Audrey and Elaine. When she was in town she lived at Golden Gate but much of her focus was on helping Elaine and Elaine’s children. Emma was a dedicated latter day Saint. At one time the bishop of the ward wanted Audrey to go on a mission. Emma was in favor. But when the bishop asked George for his permission he said, “No.” George couldn’t see the advantages and blessings of being a member of the Mormon church. This was in spite of the fact his wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-laws were devout church members.
George always looked good. Almost all adult photographs of him are in a suit and tie. He was about six foot tall, slim, blue eyes, and brown hair. In his youth he wore a straw hat which was in fashion and later he wore a felt hat. People dressed formally back then. He even went to the beach in a suit and tie before he got married. When he came to visit in the 1950s us he came in a suit and tie.
What kind of a man was George? Patient, yes. Kind. James Gardiner knew George for 25 years and said he never heard George say a negative thing about another person.
Toward the end of his life George became contemplative. When he came to Sunday dinner at Audrey’s he was very quite. He looked a little lost in the middle of so many grandchildren. Like most kids we were unaware. He just seemed old. As I think about it now, it would have been nice to sit and ask George questions about his growing up. What farm chores did you have? Who was the funniest person in the family? What classes did you take at the Normal School? Did you help build barns with August? What was it like working as a studio carpenter on a Laurel and Hardy set? Sadly these questions will have to wait until the next life. You are an important person in my life. I love you, Grandpa.