The Grim Family


From a handwritten note to Charies A. Bear dated Feb. 6, 1996

Before we go any further, we are not sure how Grimm (or Grim) is supposed to be spelled. On a birth certificate for it is spelled Grim, however on writings from Mary Jean, she spelled the last name Grimm. We may never know.

The document was an informal note. I have transcribed it without editing. [Sentences or phrases in brackets are added from my own (imperfect) knowledge, C.B. 1211/99].

From James Edward Bear ... "Henry Judson Grim" children before he married Carolyn (Carrie). "Bobbie (whom I know only from bits & pieces that I heard). I think that she and grandma [Grim] were close of age. I know she married and had many of children. While living at 1325 54th avenue, there was a Mr. Lazerth, who was an honest to God sea captian on wooden sailing ships as well as others, and had been around the horn. He lived well into his hundreds. Jim (James Edward Bear) says, Mr. Lazerth was always in love with Grandma Grimm. They used to sit in Rocking Chairs on their own porchs, rocking and smiling to each other. The Oakland Tribune wrote biography on Mr. Lazerth.

Gerry had another perspective of Mr. Lazerth. He was a grizzly, nosey old man, who used to sit out on the porch covered with vines snooping from behind them watching people with binoculars. This was especially frustrating for her mother Lilian who was a single mother and quite striking. Lilian wasn't very keen on Mr. Lazerth.

Henry was a very intelligent man. He was a carpenter by trade and built two houses right next door to each other in Oakland on 62nd Avenue. He used to make and figure out jig saw puzzles. Charles (Ted) and Mary, Puzz and Don lived in one. Henry, Carrie, Lillian, Bob and Gerry lived in the other. They lost both houses in the depression. They moved into a rented house after that.

(from oldest to youngest)

"Bessie" (Grim previous marriage) was the oldest. Gerry never met her. Always heard about Bessie's kids.

"Frank" (Grim previous marriage) who married & had a son & daughter (all deceased). They all lived in San Diego. Jim stayed overnight with their oldest son once. He had an old Model A with a rumble seat. Jim got to sit in the rumble seat and they went to the San Deigo Zoo. Jim said he was very nice.

"Ida" (Grim previous marriage) married a man with the last name of "Ritchie" lived in Chicago, Ill. No children. They both worked for the B&O railroad. Whenever they visited, they always brought lots of presents. She was a secretary for one of the higher ups. She retired from B&O railroad. Jim remembers that whenever they would go back east via rail, they had to change stations in Chicago, cause there was no direct train back east. Whenever they were back there Jim's mom (Mary) would call and talk to Ida.

[Add note by C.B: While on a trip to Franklin PA, mom. (Mary Bear), and brother, Don, stayed with Aunt Ida in Chicago in 1936. I was 10 years old that year. I thought they were "rich" apparently taking their last name in error. However that was during the depression and both had good jobs; so I might not have been wrong after all.]

"Nell" never married. She worked for PG&E and retired from PG&E. She invested in PG&E stock and did very well. I remember her coming to dinner always wearing a fur coat which I loved to stroke. It was so soft. She would never bring any food when she came over and mother would be ticked off at that. She lived in San Francisco.

"Aunt Nell" (who lived in San Francisco, was the only one of grandmother Grim's sisters I ever saw other than Ida. My memory of aunt Nell is of how good she smelled. Lots of perfume or powder?]

"Kate" married a man very late in life with a man named Arnold Vanderweird {Sp.?} No children. Carolyn Arnold mamed a man last name Eddy. Arnold worked in the Maire Island ship yards building submarines. He had a 34 or 35 4 door Ford sedan. In town he would never drive more than 15 miles, but once on the open highway, we would go as fast as the car could go.

They had one son, Harry, he married Edith and had 3 children. Harry, Jr. was killed [while parachuting] during WWII, at the "Battle for Market Gardens" [and was buried on the Dutch farm where he fell. The German family (living in Holland) later wrote Harry and Edith to tell them the fate of their son. I don't know if he is still buried them or was moved to a U.S. national cemetery. C.B.] Another son, Arnold I think, is still living (1996) He had not married as of the last time I heard from him, about 1986. We exchanged Xmas cards for many years and then one was returned with no forwarding address. Virginia married George Ruhl and had several children by him. A very strange person, after her mother died she changed her name to Edith, which was, of come, her mother's name. I have no idea why she did this. Was she angry with Mary Bear) or Lillian Alves? Who knows? I receive unusual letters from her about every 5 years to which I attempt to respond. I believe she is working on a family tree. Her address (1996) is 3928 W147th St., Hawthorne, CA 90250. She might be able to fill in some family history that I don't remember. I think that Harry was Grandma's (Carolyn Grim) only child when she married Henry Grim. [Anyone corresponding with Virginia would be wise to eliminate the foregoing information if this paper is sent to her. She might be a help.]

Henry & Carolyn Grim's children: Mary (b.Nov. 18, 1904. D.Feb. 1, 1996). [ I believe that she came from Indianapolis, Indiana. Somewhere there is a photo of her with her elementary school class in front of a red bnek schoolhouse in Galt Calif., dated 1912, so they must have resided in that town at some time. Mary dated a fellow named Max Baer, who became a heavy weight champion boxer. His son was the same Max Baer that was on the Beverly Hillbillies. Another, very yellow and fragile, newspaper column that "Grandma Grimm" once showed to me referred to the death of a Mr. ??? Grimm the founder of the town of Grimm, Indiana. I have never been able to locate a town of that name in Indiana. C.B.] She married Charles McGriff Bear of Franklin PA.(b.July 23, 1906, Connellsville, PA. d. Dec. 5, 1964, Oakland, CA)] Lillian b. 1907 d. 1991

Clarence, was the youngest. He played the drums. He married Charlotte, a descendent of the Donnerworth family of the Donner Party. They divorced.

Charlotte re-married and had a family.

[Clarence was a butcher by trade and owned his own shop. His customers thought highly of him in spite of his liking for strong drink. He was an alcoholic, but like many of that persuasion, an easy going, pleasant guy who used to take my brothers, Don and later Jim, to the Oakland Oaks baseball games. Alcohol finally caught up with hun and he died at the (for this family) early age of 37. I saw Charlotte once on a bus during WWII. She was quite pretty and a nice person. C.B.]

Mary married Charles McGriff Bear from Franklin PA. He was in the Nave on a submarine. They stopped over in San Francisco. During leave be met Mary, didn't return and got a bad conduct discharge. This was during a time where no war was going on and wasn't that big of a deal. After only four days, they were married. He worked with the Southern Pacific.

Lillian married Victor Alves. [They had two children: Robert and Gerry. Victor was killed in an automobile accident when Robert was 5 years old and Geraldme was only 8 months old. That left Lillian Alves a widow at the age of 21 with two children. This was at a time when California was joining the rest of the country in the "great depression" of the 1930's. C.B.]

Gerry continues:
I (Gerry) was born Viloet Claire Alves, but when I was born I had red hair. Mom (Lillian) thought that since I had red hair, Violet was not an appropriate name. There was a movie star at the time names Geraldine, and that is where she picked up the name Geraldine. I was never called Geraldine, but Gerry. When I went to get my social security, I discovered that my name had never been legally change, so I had it legally changed to Gerry. When I asked my mom, she said "I guess I never got around to it."

Jim (her cousin) said that she worked at his junior high school. Jim would stop by to say hi to her.

We came to Oakland and moved in with Grandma and Grandpa. We lived with them until I was 12 years old. When I was 12, she (Lillian) married Albert Martin [A marriage that lasted for the rest of their lives. C.B.] They had no children together. He had no previous children. He was 45 when they married. He lived at home with his folks until he got married. I remember so many things during the years on 54th St. [Just below E14th St.] I don't know where everyone slept. [We had 4 in the Bear family; 3 in the Alves, 2 for Grandma & Grandpa. C.B.] At one time aunt "Kate" and uncle Clarence also lived in the same house. Kate died of cancer

[while still in her thirties and Clarence also died while living on 54th Ave. A grand total of 11 people. I can only agree with Gerry how did we all manage to sleep? But we did. A deep financial depression is a stern task master. We also managed to co-exist quite amicably, as well as I can remember. We always had a formal Sunday dinner with either a roast or chicken 'n dumplin's. One of my memories about the Sunday dinners is of Grandpa's brief, but to the point, grace: "Bless o Father thy gifts to our use and us to thy service. Amen". After marrying Joyce, an Episcopalian, I found that it was from the Book of Common Prayer .C.B.]

[A little about the Bear family during these years by C.B: Dad, Charles McGriff Bear, continued to work for the Southern Pacific on the "extra board" picking up as many hours as he could during those hard times. He soon moved us (and cousin Robert Alves) up to Calaveras County where we camped in a tent on a creek that runs in a small canyon between Mountain Ranch and Sheep Ranch (two very small towns). Dad apparently located a large abandoned house in Sheepranch, and we moved in as squatters while dad continued working in Oakland while visiting us whenever he could. The house was located by a large mine that had been one of the sources of the Hearst fortune. It made a great, and extremely dangerous, playground for the young boys of the town. We, of course, took advantage of all the "adventures"" this mine with its shaft, and the oar cars with which we could play railroad by shoving them around. There were tracks and switches leading from the shaft to the crusher. Also, there were large beams 50 feet up in the crushing mill on winch we could play tag. How we survived in this impromptu playground, I don't know. For me (Charles A.) Moving to Sheepranch was a lucky break. In addition to the mine we had a swmnmmg hole down where we first camped, Brown's reservoir for small mouth bass fishing and all the woods of the Sierra to explore. The most fortuitous, and long term advantage of Sheepranch for me was the one room school that I entered in the 1st. Grade.

The schoolhouse was located upon a small hill overlooking the town and the house where we lived. The house totally disappeared several years ago. The last time looked @ 1965 one could not believe that a house had ever stood on the site. However the schoolhouse still stands to my knowledge. There was only one room at that time. Sheepranch must have had a renaissance because a second room was added after we lived there. It had a belfry and it was considered it an honor to ring the bell at the start and end of the school day. It was also an honor to "turn the bell over" on Halloween night so that someone had to climb up to the belfry and unwind the rope.

The room was heated by a large potbellied stove in the rear corner. There were three pictures on the wall: Geeorge Washington, Abraham Lincoln and, God bless him, Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was revered at that time as literally the savior of our country. A man who the people believed was not only was going to lead us out of the depression, and had ended prohibition. I flunk that he was appreciated most for the latter. On cold days we would gather around the stove to do our work. Some days when my friend, Eddie, and I were too hungry for lunch, we would ask Mr. Valente if we could go home early for lunch. He invariably said yes. You can't do that in our large, centralized schools where home may be a bus ride away.

It was easy for the entire student body to gather around the stove because there were only about eight pupils in the entire eight grades. I say "about'because I was too young to count noses. In the first grade was myself and Eddie Williams, who, of course was my one and only friend because he was the only one near my age. UnfoAunately, when I last heard of Eddie, about 1948, he was in the care of the California Youth Authority. The middle grades bad a couple of pupils and then there were the "big kids", three of them in the eight grade. Among the three was my cousin, Bob Alves. All the "big kids"" went on to high school in San Andreas during my second year in Sheepranch. In the Calevaras County Museum in San Andreas is a group picture of the entire student body, all seven of us and Mr. Valente taken about 1933-34 outside of the school house.

I believe that my education in this little one-room school was excellent. It was almost individual schooling. The teacher, Mr. Valente, had a box seat in a large, pleasant window overlooking the pine woods. His method was to call each pupil up too sit next to him and show him what we had been working on. He would correct the work, give us our next assignment and move on to the next pupil. The success of this method may be seen that when I was ready to start the 3rd grade in Sheepranch we moved back to Oakland where they promptly put me in the 4th grade. C.B.]

Back to Gerry's notes:

My brother, Robert born Sept. 19, 1923, married Jessie Milne in May of 1942. They had a son, Paul, who I think is now 45 years old (1996). Paul married Kathy and now has a son, Bryce, born 1980, and a daughter, Elizabeth, born l982. Jessie died in August of l995. They had 52 years of married life.

I Geraldine, "Gerry", Alves was born Sept. 26 1928. On. Nov. 23, 1947 I married Richard Bernard. We have three children: Jill (b. Nov. 1952). Jill married Frank Russo (b. 1952). They have two daughters: Kari (b.May 1978) and Gena (b. 1986). In 1955 we had a son, Richard Jr. He was a full term baby, but never left the hospital, but he lived for only one week, (April 1, 1955-April 8, 1955). Another son, Robert (b.Dec. 1959). Robert married Denise Schwenning in Oct. 1980. They have two children: Allison Rose (b. 1989), and Samuel, Sammy, Cole, (b.Feb. 1994).

Charles "Puzz" Arnold Bear - The oldest son, was born in Oakland. Graduated from SF State, and played the French Horn in the Oakland Symphony. He married Joyce and had 4 children. He worked for a short time for the Post office. Puzz became a teacher in Lovelock Nevada and taught band. They eventually moved to Sacramento. He left teaching for a short time and went to work for McCllen Air Force base. He returned to teaching at a High School right outside of Sacramento. He built a boat from a kit, and which his brother Jim enjoyed driving up the river. After retiring from teaching, be bought a milk route and became a milkman like his son Hank. Today he and his wife Joyce live halftime in their home in Sacramento with their daughter Mary, and half time in their retirement home in Duinsmuir. Puzz and Joyce are very much into Square Dancing.

Donald Robert Bear - The second son, graduated from SF State with a bachelor of Arts. He married Marion, and worked for a few years for Southern Pacific Railroad. His dad helped him get the job. He later went to work for Carnation as a milkman. He acquired his teaching credentials from UC Hayward, but never really used it. We went to work for Sears and retired from there. Today, he and Marion enjoy retirement, being very active with their church, and being grand partents.

James Edward Bear - The youngest, graduated from SF State after being in the army and returning from Germany. He went to work for a number of candy companies, Beachnut, Nestle and a number of years for Brachs. He married Laura and in 1966 they family moved to Glendora California in the Los Angeles County. He left the candy business to work for Itech for a couple of years. He was very active as a cub master in the cub scout pack his sons joined. He became a candy broker in 1978 and move the family back north to Pleasant Hill, Ca. He now represents Calico Fudge and lives with his daughter Becky.

End of notes by Gerry Alves as copied by Charles Bear: Fall 1999 and spring 2000. Second interview of Gerry performed by Edward J. Bear May 20, 2000 and interview of James Edward Bear performed on May 27, 2000.