|An early picture of Ernest Ellsworth Coffman, Jr. AKA Uncle Ernie|
Although I am intrigued by the mysteries of my Uncle Ernie Coffman's DNA, I am even more intrigued by the stories that he has told me over the years. He has been my most faithful correspondent and has done most of it through email. Receiving his thoughts and memories through email has enabled me to copy and paste this information to his notes field in my family history database. For me, words are the window to the soul. So here you have a collection of the words of Ernest Ellsworth Coffman, Jr. born in 1932 in San Francisco:
!RESIDENCE: 1932 at birth 511 Waller Street, San Francisco, CA
!MILITARY: From : "Ernie & Jo Coffman" To : "Nick Cimino" Date : Tue, 25 Sep 2001 20:34:29 -0700 I worked with nuclear weapon target lists during Korea, down in the vaults of Ford Island, north of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. The Pearl Harbor run, if you recall if you saw the flick, Pearl Harbor. I worked on Operation Plans for bombing the targets that had been identified on mainland China, North Korea, Hainan Island, etc.
I would have thought you had seen the flick, so that's why I was commenting on Ford Island--that's right next to Battleship Row, and where the Air Corps (in the olden days that's what it was called) had their hangers, runways, barracks, etc. It always amazed me that the Air Corps guys had to take a launch to get to their island, after visiting Honolulu and Waikiki, but that's the way it goes. The Navy had their airplanes way north of Pearl and on the main island--not across a stretch of water. And, the Marines were over on the other side of the island, called Kaneohe. "
!MILITARY: FROM: Nick TO: Ernie-- That must have been an interesting time. Preparing to launch the "big ones". How was military life in Hawaii? From : "Ernie & Jo Coffman" To : "Nick Cimino" Subject : Re: Ford Island Date : Sat, 29 Sep 2001 12:52:06 -0700 Dear Nosy Grand Nephew (NOT!), I thought military life in Hawaii was great! I didn't have a problem with it, but I know others did. We had public transportation and a lot of the guys had vehicles--some were really nice ones, too! Thus, we went all over the island and did things, such as to the Makaha Surfing Championships, where we had a blast. Used to swim at various holes, and really had a great time hanging out in the Waikiki area. Ah, yes! Them were the days--or is that "daze?" Had a lot of letter writing home and to friends around, including my buddies over in Yokosuka, Japan, where I went before on the aircraft carrier, Philippine Sea (CVA 47). That, too, was good, but again some thought it was awful.
I remember the day we had to look all over for the guy that ran off the #2 hanger deck, so...for some, it was awful.
Saw a lot of places, although missed out on going down under and to a couple of countries in the Far East, for I was transferred to Pearl Harbor on the 1st of April. Can you imagine that date? I even went to the Executive Officer and asked to stay on board, for I knew where we were headed, but...nah, they needed my talents at Pearl. Oh, yeah! Big time! Worked with SEATO, which was pretty nifty, watching all these big shots coming and going and entertaining them. As for "preparing to launch the 'big ones,' nada! But, the plans were there, except that's about as far as they went, I guess. Never got into the privy part of that, after we were finished with it.
Our unit, under CINCPACFLT, had all four services working together, including the CIA.CINCPACLFT means Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. That was the biggest Admiral in the whole Pacific Fleet. Bigger than any of the other admirals, I dare say. Wonder what he's doing now? Probably pushing up daisies. "Swabbing involved," ha, ha! Not since Boot Camp. That was done by the Seaman in the Gunnery and Deckapes. Ah, yes! Korean Conflict and then the Cold War period.
Definitely longer than a three hour cruise! Only four years, though, with four more in the reserve. Now...let me tell you, they were quite a group. I was cleared for Top Secret-Restricted Data, but could only go so far in their office and that was it. Period! No farther, and a lot of less. After hours, we never ran into them, either. But, after hours for us, was dances, bowling leagues, lots of swimming together, parties, basketball team where we played various small teams, such as the University of Hawaii at Hilo--saw 24" of rain when we flew in there and that was a whopper, to say the least. Lots of walking the beaches and thoroughly had a good time, but I also missed the carrier. Don't want to bore you, so will sign off for now. Take care and thanks for letting me share some of my life. Ha! You young whipper snapper, you! Asking silly questions of me. Ha! Uncle Ernie
From: "Ernie & Jo Coffman" To: "Nick Cimino" Subject: Thanks for your beautiful story on the teacher Date: Sat, 7 Apr 2001 12:32:26 -0700
Good afternoon Nick, Thanks so much for sharing that beautiful story on the teacher. It's interesting how things happen, for I had lost your email addy when I had a crash and have been meaning to call you for it, so...getting your message saved me and now I can write you my question. I'm still working on the class reunion, which is going to be in Danville, May 12th. We're still missing a huge number of folks, especially the gals, naturally! Do you have any special places to go on the Internet, to locate folks? I've got messages on four different boards, dealing with missing classmates, i.e., ClassMates.com, HS Alumni, Alumni Net, GradFinder, etc. I've also hunted names and phone nos. down on various sites, but know there must be something more powerful out there that could assist us, for one of the sites leads us to a paid detective business and know there are ways of doing it, but...we don't want to pay for each of these missing classmates. Needless to say, we're missing a huge number of folks out of our class of 533. If you have any ideas, I'd surely appreciate hearing back from you.
Hope things are going well for you and Robin. We're fine and doing well, up here in the Territory of Oregon. Ha! It even snowed on the passes, yesterday, so spring has definitely sprung, but we're going to have big problems with drought this year, would you believe. Our water resources are only at 38% of normal, so we're back to '77 figures, so they say. Definitely a major problem! And...PG&E is a problem down there, 'eh? Whew! Never thought that company would ever be in a problem like what I've seen and read about. Take care and again, thanks!
----Original Message Follows---- From: "Ernie & Jo Coffman" To: "Nick Cimino" Subject: Thanks for the info Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 20:21:40 -0700 Nick, Thanks for the info on Aunt Viola. And thanks for sharing Jane's info on her, also! I missed out in not remembering to introduce myself to her, when we were in Danville these past two weeks. Darn! I used to be in love with her mother---Yeah, yeah, yeah! A cousin, I know. But, she was sooooo beautiful and she was always so nice to me...and just a few years older than me. Ha! Many a tale there, guy! Her husband, Jean Ridley, was a big football player and coach, eventually. Played for UOP (then, COP) and played in the Hula Bowl, I believe it was. An Air Force officer, too! Ah, memories, memories. Good ones, too!
From what I can recall on the discussions, it was Uncle Dave who took his horse and buggy and drove up there--where'd he meet Viola is the big question?--and courted her. Wow! That was really going a distance, 'eh? Wonder if Jane's mother has any of her grandfather's goodies...or did her grandmother toss all that stuff out when Dave Jr. passed away? She was quite a mean person on things like that. I don't know who else, today, would have any info about her for sharing. Everyone has passed on. Maybe Helen Wulff might have some info, so I'll call her and try and glean something from her, now that I think about it. I'm due to call her, anyway, for she's really laid up with that dreaded disease, Macular Degeneration. Last year, she and her son John, almost got her onto a computer, but...something went astray. I can't contact John, whose back in NY, either, for his email changed. I'll see if Helen has it. Take care and glad to get this information. Ernie
----Original Message Follows---- From: "Ernie & Jo" To: "Nick Cimino" Subject: Haven't heard from you Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 20:49:49 -0800 Hi there Nick, I was down in the Bay Area last Saturday, but at our caving pre-convention meeting with 38 others, so couldn't stop by. As I was driving down to Davis, where I met Morley, I was able to stop in Red Bluff. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend a lot of time in the library, for I arrived there at 11:30 and hit the County Courthouse to no avail. They sent me to the library, but...it wasn't open until 2 p.m., so I had to kill a lot of time...wandering around to various antique stores and reading a good book that I'm into. Finally, got into the historical section of the library and didn't find clue one on Aunt Viola, but...did find some interesting items that might need further checking on. Ernie
----- Original Message ----- From: Ernie and Jo To: Nick Cimino;Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2006 9:20 PM Subject: The Hughes clan pictures....from way back Nick, Here's the message and the pictures to click on in the Attachment area. Ernie = Hi there Jane, Was pleased that you answered back, so soon, and thanks much for your mom's e-mail addy. Hopefully, we'll be able to communicate with her, again.
Well, let's see if I can bring to light everyone in the top photo...or maybe I should let you guess who everyone might be. Ha! Anyway, beginning from the Christmas tree and going clockwise, there's your grandfather David--who gave me my first Baby Brownie camera--talking with one of our cousins, Wesley Ferguson. Center front is your mom, Joyce--who was one beautiful cousin of mine...but a few years older, so...kids can dream can't they? Hee hee! Then, a little off center and in the background, is your great-grandmother Viola Hughes--my aunt...and who had a lot to do with raising me, so she was "Mom" to me. Next to her is your Grandmother Mae...looking up at someone and don't know who that would have been, although it probably was Alice Ferguson...or possibly your dad, Jean, or even Great-Grandpa Hughes--who was my uncle and "Pop" to me, as I was being transferred from my mother's abode, a block away, and then back and forth. Why I didn't become a juvenile delinquent is beyond me, but believe it was because of the Hughes family morals that they instilled in me. And, then in the very right corner, is Buddy, your uncle, who lost his life tragically in a crosswalk, if I recall correctly.
The next picture is of Great-Grandmother Hughes, at my wife's home, in Berkeley, where we were having dinner. And, then, the lower picture is of her and your Great-Grandfather David Hughes, in front of their home on 46th and West Streets. Ah, what good memories I have of that home...and those wonderful relatives. We just returned from Chatteroy, Washington, which is a little north of Spokane, where we were visiting our daughter and family. I had driven to SEA-TAC and we stayed there on Friday, a week ago; and, then Jo boarded the plane for the eastern side, while I drove farther north to Bellingham, where I had a caving conference, at Western Washington College, along with 755 others, for the week. On our way, after Chatteroy, we stopped at a nice B & B in Mosier, OR, on the Columbia River, near the Dalles, so...now we've caught you up with how we're doing, which is great! And, I hope this finds you and yours doing well, also! Best regards, Ernie Coffman
Merry Christmas 2008! The year has flown bye. Wasn't it only yesterday we were addressing our Christmas cards? This year has been an active one for both of us. Emie is still active with Search and Rescue for Jackson County. There were many searches this year, along with rescue training classes. Jo has been enjoying her quilting activities, as well as serving as President of her P.E.O. Chapter. (Philanthropic Educational Organization for women.) We've enjoyed musical programs in the Medford area. The Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater provides many wonderful venues.
We were delighted to have our daughter, Carol, visit for a week in February. She and Jo did a lot of quilting activities, and going through the family photo albums. We drove Carol to Yreka, CA to stay with friends. They then drove to Reno, NV to meet Carol's husband, Roger, at the Rocky Mountain Elk convention.
In March we traveled to San Jose, CA to celebrate 100th birthday of Helen Hoover, Ernie's cousin. This occasion was held at a lovely hotel. This turned out to be a mini-reunion of relatives he hadn't seen in years. We, also, visited our friends, Chuck and Billie Shinn, in San Jose, and our friend, Gerry, in Danville, CA. And then, back to Oregon we celebrated at the Search and Rescue Banquet, and Emie received the Presidential Volunteer award, along with others.
We flew to Houston, TX, in May, to see our granddaughter, Jennifer Watson, graduate with honors from the University of Houston. Carol and Roger, along with granddaughter, Erin, celebrated this wonderful endeavor. Jenn is now teaching 3rd grade, not too far from UH. She has had many hurdles this first year of teaching. Hurricane "Ike" damaged the school, and Jenn and Ryan had damage to their home in Texas City. Later in the month of May, we enjoyed visiting with our friend, Carolyn Self, in Brookings. While there we enjoyed the annual Azalea Festival.
June found us traveling to Turlock, CA, where our daughter, Heidi, married Roy Shearer, in a beautiful home garden wedding. It was a joyous occasion, as Heidi had been widowed three years ago, when her husband, Stan Periera, passed away with cancer. Jo attended her Oregon State P.E.O. convention in Salem after arriving home from the wedding.
Our travels in July took us to the Spokane, WA area, via Leavenworth, WA. We enjoyed two-days there, and enjoyed the production of "The Sound of Music." The venue was done in a beautiful, outdoor setting with the Cascade Mountains in the background. We then drove to have a weeks visit, in Usk, WA, with Carol and Roger Olson.
We celebrated a "Mile Stone" in September with a cruise for our pre-50th wedding anniversary, which is coming in December. We flew off bright and early for New York City, after staying the night in Portland. We stayed the night in NYC, and then the next day we boarded a Princess cruise ship, for a ten-day cruise up the eastern states into Quebec City, Canada. The night we sailed, from NYC harbor, we were able to see the Statue of Liberty, which was all lit up. It really brought good thoughts of being here in America to both of us. We had wonderful table-mates-A daughter and her mother from Florida, and two newly retired teachers from Ohio, both of whom were delightful and fun table partners. Our last day was in Quebec City, Canada, which we found most enjoyable and wished we could stay a few more days. Our trip ended the next day, at the crack of dawn! Off to the airport to fly via Toronto, Seattle, Portland and then drive the 4-1/2 hrs. home to Grants Pass. All in all, it was an adventure that had great moments visiting other places in our states and our neighbor Canada.
Throughout the year, we had friends staying with us, including Chuck and Billie from San Jose. They stood up for us when we were married. Also, our good friend, Carolyn, from Brookings, paid us visits during the year. And, as this message ends, we also had to say good-bye to friends that passed away this year, too. Best regards for a happy and blessed New Year, 2009. Jo & Ernie
|Elaine Coffman Kelly and Ernie Coffman, half siblings at Lake Tahoe|
|Ernie and Joanne Coffman at Lake Tahoe|
!BIOGRAPHY: Ernie updated the Schools and About Me sections of his profile. Jun 29, 2009 I grew up in Oakland, with my mother and step-dad, who had problems; thus, I lived with Aunt Viola and Uncle Dave--who I called "Mom" and "Pop"--a lot as their place was just a block away. They lived next door to the Andersons and across the street on the corner of 46th St. and West, is where Lou lived when he was younger. He married Vivian in 1946, but I'm not sure whether he was still living at that corner house or not.
I had a rough time growing up, as I was born with a hernia and then got a second one, when I was with another boy who tickled me under the arms--I was very ticklish--and I flew up backwards from this large trike and then I had this double hernia, where I had to wear a truss and all. Yuck! I finally went in for an operation when I was in the 4th grade and missed out on a lot of school that year. In those days, I was in the hospital for two weeks--today, you are operated on and if you can walk, you're on your own to heal. No half way point on dealing with it!
After I got back in school, I was making up for a lot of lost things, I guess, and had a great 5th and 6th grade. I was not the puny kid, anymore, I guess you could say.
In 7th grade, though, I had a rare disease in my left arm, so ended up in the hospital, again. But, finally got that repaired and enjoyed 8th and 9th grade. I was really interested in photography, so took a lot of pictures then of our class party and all. Big guy on campus, I guess!
On to high school, just up the street from junior high and we had a lot of good times. I became the school photographer, using a 4x5 Speed Graphic and that was the cat's meow. I was the president of the Camera Club, also! A lot of kids had me knicknamed, as "Bugs," so I would get their attention, I guess, and take their pictures.
When Hal Matson, the professional photographer for our yearbook, came on campus, he and I worked together a lot of the time. So much so, that I took a lot of pictures at Helen--my cousin--Ferguson's wedding, at the 20th Century Club in Berkeley. I was on the track team, as well, and participated in a lot of other activities, too.
After graduating, I went to work for Southern Pacific, in San Francisco, as Wesley Ferguson--Alice's husband--was a great guy and he set me up to work in his Law Division, but I didn't know about that until he started phoning around to see where I ended up, after taking a bunch of tests for the personnel officer. Hmmm? My first big problem, finding out about a lack of communications.
Anyway, I stayed where I was, for I was kind of dumb not wanting to go up into the law office, but that's life. I was in Accounting and then went into the computer section, where I worked with a lot of the new equipment that was coming out in those days.
My buddy, Clint Dean, who ice skated with me at Berkeley Ice Rink, was a hair older than I was--I guess--and the draft was breathing down his throat to join the Army, but he wasn't interested. I was going into the Marines, as some of my other buddies were, also; thus, Clint talked me into joining the Navy with him, as he didn't want anything to do with the Army, for they were headed to Korea.
While in the Navy, Clint went to Yeoman school and then was transferred to Yokosuka, Japan, whereas I was in Out-Going Unit just north of San Diego about twenty miles, in a place called Elliott Annex. It was a good start and I learned a lot there, including driving 5-ton dump trucks, as well as the smaller ones, working for the beautification of the base--which was more or less, in the desert, so...'twas a head shaker, but we did what we were told. Ha!
I was assigned to the air base on Coronado, which was across the bay from San Diego. And, from there, I eventually was assigned to an aircraft carrier, USS Philippine Sea (CVA-47); and, then spent fourteen months at CINCPACFLT in Pearl Harbor, which was pretty neat duty, working with all four services--Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. My particular assignment was in Atomic and Psychological Warfare, so...learned a lot. And, just down the hall was that high affluent group, called CIA. Even though I had very high security clearance, I still could only go into their first office, and never into their "think tank." Was released from the service at Treasure Island, back in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I immediately started work at Southern Pacific, again, but had my eyes on beginning college, which I started in Oakland, as it was just up the street from Aunt Viola's--Pop had passed away while I was in boot camp, and that was pretty traumatic for me, especially in those trying times of trying to get through boot. I did JC in 1.5 years, but stayed on for six more months, as I missed getting into SF State by some minor point; thus, that six months, I was able to take some great courses, including Criminal Administration from the Berkeley Chief of Police, and also got great grades, which really helped my GPA. :)
I started going around with my ex-girlfriend, Joanne, who I married. We met at the ice rink way back when, but we had a spat before I went into the service, so...she went her separate way and married, had two girls...and I went my way with the service, writing to several girls, but nothing serious until I got out of the service. But, when Jo came back on the scene, after a divorce, I fell back in love big time and adored her two girls, Heidi and Carol. Thus, we went through the usual dating routine, visiting her folks and all of those neat things, happy married couples do with two children. That was fifty years ago and we celebrated our 50th, with a great party and lots of friends and relatives, put on by our daughters and their husbands. Unfortunately, a few people couldn't make it through the rough storms, as this past December, 2008, was some of the worst on record. Those who did make it, we really were flabbergasted and included them in our family dinner after the big celebration.
Basically, that's my life...for the most part. There are other things like ice skating, where I was into figure skating, dancing, barrel jumping, and working at the ice rink, including driving the Zamboni's that clear and cut the ice, as well as spread a new hot layer on the ice as all of this process is going on.
My photography skills kind of disappeared, although I still took a lot of pictures, but with a much smaller camera. Nothing like everyone thought I was going to do, commercial photography.
My education was that--directed into education. First, I was studying to be a coach and then switched my major to elementary education; and, eventually, I earned my MA in elementary curriculum and another one in administration. I was hired by Mt. Diablo USD on my first interview and stuck with them for 32-years, although I did apply for some administrative positions later on, when I figured out that I wasn't parting my hair the right way and probably wouldn't make a full-time principal in our school district. I was a teaching VP and did several years of summer school, as a principal, but when Title 9, ERA, NOW, and all the push that women had their equal rights, etc. I was nailed to the wall when interviews came around, so...accepted that fact and finished my last three years as a 4th grade teacher.
Not too long after Jo and I got married, we did the usual apartment living, but wanted our own home and found one in Concord. And, at the same time, I got into caving, which has been a good chunk of my life. Jo used to call herself a "Cave Widow," or would say "BC"--Before caving! She went a few times, as well as the kids, but they really didn't like it much. It was too dirty! Ha! The girls learned more than Jo did, for she didn't want anything to do with going into vertical caves on a single rope and such, so Heidi and I did a lot together that way. Carol was more like her mom, getting into Girl Scouts and such.
After the "empty house syndrome" when the girls were off and on their own, we did a lot of traveling in the U.S. and I became interested in computers, finally. I don't know why I wasn't interested, as such, from the beginning, but...taught some of it at school and all, but never had my own until just before I retired...maybe a few years or so. Thus, I've been on computers ever since and am now the president of our computer club, which I helped get organized seven years ago, by doing the Constitution and Bylaws, and such.
Coming around to what's happening now, Jo is off to Washington state this July 18th, while I fly down to Texas for the NSS/ICS caving convention, where I'm involved with the security of the campus, etc. And, for now, that's about it. Family pictures
From: Ernie and Jo Sent: Fri 4/16/10 11:09 PM To: = In response to: Was that hard not really knowing your Dad very long? Did you have a surrogate Dad? = Hell's bells, Nick! I didn't know my dad at all. I was too young to know him. My mother re-married somewhere along the line and I had a step-dad, who tried to be a male influence on me, but he and I had our squabbles, etc.
I remember going to a lot of news flicks when I was young, with he and my mom. He drove truck for Acme Beer for awhile that I recall, but recall that he drove truck most of WW2 down at the Naval Center in Oakland. I recall one time when he came home, telling us about the ammo that someone was getting in Tracy to bring down to the ships and it exploded. He was pretty close by to that, so...it was pretty impressive. I remember a time when just he and I went downtown Oakland and our pictures were taken, as we walked on Broadway--I believe it was--and then we headed on down to China Town to purchase a bunch of fireworks for the 4th of July.
I remember he purchased a Studebaker coupe and the three of us went on short trips together. He came up with the idea of putting a "Stop" light in the back window of it and if he would have pushed it, he probably could have been a millionaire considering it was a number of years later that stop lights finally were placed in the back window of vehicles. He and my mother went through a divorce or separation and then they got back together, and then they got a divorce. I was living with Aunt Viola and Uncle Dave while that was going on. She moved on down to Hollister, CA and I went on the bus once to visit her; and, then I got my driver's license and drove down several times to visit with her. She lived above the old J.C. Penny's right in the center of town; and, then she got a job as a waitress at the Ding-a-Ling Restaurant just down the street. Then, George "Pop" Garcia came into the picture. They "courted" and finally went up to Reno and got married. We had a huge celebration on the ranch and I took Jo down with me on that drive, as we were going around together then.
Pop was close to me and I wish I would have known him earlier in life, for he was a whiz at being mechanically inclined, but only had an 8th grade education. He knew a lot of things that college graduates didn't know, so when they moved kind of into town, away from the big ranch that was in their family for a long time--another story that would take awhile to write about--he started working for the county so he could get social security quarters. Then, when these young bucks right out of school would come there for training, the boss fixed them up with Pop, who couldn't understand why this was happening. They got almost twice the pay that he got and he was a little perturbed about that. I tried getting him to understand about this, but he wasn't tuned in to all of that and besides he had his job to do. Ha!
As time marched on, I helped him to invest a little of his bank money, which was way too heavy in a bank and since he had gone through the Depression big time, he wasn't sure of the stock market, but after the first year and seeing that he got 48% rather than the 3% bank was paying, he gave me some more checks for investing and that year, we gained about 75%. And, this went on for a couple more years, but then he became pretty sick, so ended another individual to cancer. Mom stayed there on their little walnut ranch, which was a lot different than the big one that was 14 miles NE of town--sometimes they were snowed in and couldn't come down to Hollister to shop for a week or more. Mom stayed there until she was pressured into selling the acreage because Pop had never changed his will as he kept saying he was going to do; thus, it was divided up with half going to Mom and the other half going to his two daughters by a former marriage, which he had been divorced from for ten or fifteen years. That's about it for now. Hope I haven't bored you too much. :) Ernie
Schools College/ University: San Francisco State College BA 1958-1961 San Francisco, California College/ University: Oakland City College A.A. 1956-1958 Oakland, California High School: Oakland Technical High School 1948-1951 Oakland, California Junior High: Woodrow Wilson Jr. High 1945-1948 Oakland, California Elementary School: Santa Fe 1937-1945 Oakland, California
Interests: search and rescue; caving; photography; reading
Activities: search and rescue; caving; photography; reading; driving cars/trucks
People/Heroes: So many I don't know where to begin
Cuisines: lobster tail; large shrimp; Mexican food;
Quotes: "So that others might live."
Movies: Freedom Writers; Valkyrie; Angels & Demons; Australia; Blackboard Jungle
TV Shows: Jeopardy; CSI; Law & Order; Cold Case
Music: classical; light opera; music from the 40s and 50s; not today's junk
Books: good mysteries; books on search/rescue;
Sports: watching golf; football; basketball;
1932 DEC 24 Birth of Ernie Coffman San Francisco, California
1937-1945 Age 4 Ernie started attending Santa Fe Oakland, California
1945-1948 Age 12 Ernie started attending Woodrow Wilson Jr. High Oakland, California 1948-1951 Age 15 Ernie started attending Oakland Technical High School Oakland, California
1954 APR 13 Age 21 Birth of Heidi Shearer
1955 DEC 30 Age 23 Birth of Carol Olson
1956-1958 Age 23 Ernie started attending Oakland City College Oakland, California
1958-1961 Age 25 Ernie started attending San Francisco State College San Francisco, California
1958 DEC 19 Age 25 Marriage of Ernie to Joanne Larson Pleasant Hill, California
Alive and Kicking! From: Ernie and Jo Sent: Sun 11/14/10 4:30 AM To: Nick Cimino Well, a good evening to you, Nick! We just got back from seeing a cute flick, "Morning Glory." What a surprise to get a response so soon and newsy, too! :) I was updating our Christmas list and saw your addy still in California, so seeing that I hadn't heard from you in a spell, I put down Nicole's addy for you; thus, only had to change the house and street address. Had the city and state already there. Ha! Thinking ahead, 'eh what? Just around the corner, so that must be quite a place, from what I recall with your pictures from the wedding. I'll have to Google you in and see what your place looks like, but I'm sure it's fantastic.
Jo's still doing her quilts, although small ones right now. I'm still in SAR and just picked up a young guy's uniform from, before we went to the movie. Hate to see him go, but he's a young dad and doing very well in his construction business. His wife is studying to be a nurse, so David is being the sitter for their 3-year old, so he just couldn't carry-through with the SAR activities, even though we're much slower than Jackson County. I guess I wrote and told you that I switched SAR counties in February, so...that's about it.
We're heading down to Turlock for Thanksgiving--early, naturally--this coming Wednesday and will return back on Monday, the 22nd. Have to count money at the church, for it's my turn for a month. Ha! Jo quit the Presbyterian church and is now going to the Methodist, which is just a little ways from the other church, and I believe the oldest in GP. Kind of hard being separated in something like this, but Aunt Viola and Uncle Dave did it--she being a Friend (Quaker, if you will) and he a Presbyterian. Most of the time, he would walk all the way downtown Oakland to attend, which is really something. He'd go to the dinners and such with "Mom" for it was just up the street, etc., etc. Ah, here we go again with good memories.
Best regards to you and Robin...and we'll look forward to you being Grandpa and Grandma soon. Best to Nicole and hubby, David, also! -Ernie and Jo P.S. Jo noticed your cell phone prefix was the same as in Pleasant Hill. Thought it would change, but guess with a cell phone it's different, 'eh? Ah, cyberspace and electronics. Ha!
|Ernie and Jo Coffman|
From: Ernie and Jo Sent: Mon 5/09/11 10:56 PM To: Nick Cimino Re: Interview Questions
1.What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname? Ernest Ellsworth Coffman
2.When and where were you born? December 24, 1932 San Francisco Children’s Hospital
3.How did your family come to live there? My mother and father were living in a flat, near Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco. That’s all I know.
4.Were there other family members in the area? Who? As for the area, in SF, I don’t believe so. Across the bay in Oakland, yes. Aunt Viola and Uncle David Hughes.
5.Where was your house and what was the house (apartment, farm, etc.) like? How many rooms? Bathrooms? Did it have electricity? Indoor plumbing? Telephones? The flat was at 511 Waller Street. Don’t know anything about it, since I was a new born infant. I would assume it had electricity and indoor plumbing. Don’t know about a telephone in those days. I guess we moved over to Oakland shortly afterward and might have lived up the street from Aunt Viola, but all I can remember is living with Aunt Viola for several years; and, then with my mother and step-father, as my real father passed away when I was 1.5 years of age.
6.Were there any special items in the house that you remember? None!
7.What is your earliest childhood memory? Hard to believe, but I can remember being in a wicker baby buggy at my mother’s small home. Then, I remember sitting and eating in my high chair, that’s now in Vivian’s home.
8.Describe the personalities of your family members. That would be a tough one, so will skip and maybe come back to it, if you think it’s important.
9.What kind of games did you play growing up? Marbles; Rubber guns; Match guns; Hide-and-go-Seek; war since WW2 was on; hop scotch; jump rope; Kick the can; typical games that I don’t see kids, today, playing.
10.What was your favorite toy and why? I don’t believe I had a favorite toy, unless it was the small lead toy soldiers that we used to play with. A b-b gun? A book on magic. A crystal set.
11.What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)? Play with the kids on the block. Playing down in Temescal Creek and building forts. Movies, yes! This is a difficult one, for the age might make big differences.
12.Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite? Washing and drying dishes; taking the garbage out; mowing the lawn and keeping track of the yard. I don’t know if I had a “least favorite.”
13.Did you receive an allowance? How much? Did you save your money or spend it? My allowance, that I recall, was a quarter a week, and as I grew older, it increased when I was living with my mother. When I was living with Aunt Viola, I mowed lawns for earning money from various neighbors and Cousin Alice and Wesley.
14.What was school like for you as a child? What were your best and worst subjects? Where did you attend grade school? High school? College? Too big of a question. Elementary? Jr. High? High School? If you want to take that down to a particular time, I’ll answer it.
15.What school activities and sports did you participate in? Again, too broad of a subject. Get it down to a grade level or at least a school level.
16.Do you remember any fads from your youth? Popular hairstyles? Clothes? Wearing Levi’s and white t-shirts. Duck tail hairstyles…or a butch, like the servicemen.
17.Who were your childhood heroes? Various movie stars. 18.What were your favorite songs and music? Not sure! Listened to a lot of classical with Uncle Dave. As I grew older, I liked jazz, especially Dave Brubeck.
19.Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names? Had a small dog for awhile at Aunt Viola’s; had a black and white rabbit at my mothers, as well as a black cat that I named “Blackie.” Then, later on I had a Cocker Spaniel, named Jerry, that had her puppies on me and my friend, when we were sleeping in our sleeping bags in the backyard.
20.What was your religion growing up? What church, if any, did you attend? Christian. Friend’s Church up the street from Aunt Viola and Uncle Dave’s.
21.Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper? When I was President of the Hi-Y at high school.
22.Who were your friends when you were growing up? Donald Schwartz-tried looking him up in Ancestry, but could never find him, although I found his brother, Stu, who was deceased. (Finally found Don, down in the San Jose area, a couple of years ago. Visited with he and his wife, Ruth; and, correspond via email.) Several others at elementary, like Allen Moresi, Norman Gucker, John Svenson, Roy Schwatka, Bob and Billie Sutherland, Eddie Larkin, Claire Jensen and her sister. Marlene Ogilvie. Warren Miller, Sybil Byrum, Kay Byrum. Gerald Edwards.
23.What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family? WW2, making me think that we’d never see anything so horrible, especially the holocaust. Cousin being killed when he was flying.
24.Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods? Boy, oh boy! That sure is a big order-pun intended. I’ll just say we all ate together, yes! Mom did the cooking…or when I was with the Hughes, Aunt Viola did the cooking. Favorite foods were ham, turkey, Angel Food cake, and I ate most of my foods that were placed before me, so other than these, I believe most were my favorite, although there were a few that I didn’t like. :)
25.How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions? Depending on where it was. At Aunt Viola’s or my mother’s. Both celebrated in a similar fashion, with all the decorations and a lot of hoop da ra…or whatever. I don’t believe we had special traditions, although Christmas was pretty special, as well as some of the birthdays, especially at Aunt Viola’s.
26.How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child? More complicated! It was much easier back then, I do believe. We had everything, but we were pretty poor when you think of it. At my mother’s house, on 45th St., we lived in a little home that we paid eight dollars a month for, I believe it was. At the Hughe’s residence, they owned it, outright, I believe. But both incomes were very modest. My mother worked as a grocery clerk; and, Cousin Alice used to bring over some money for Aunt Viola.
27.Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them? Uncle Dave, although he had a couple of brothers who might have been a little older. I remember a lot about Uncle Dave, as he was “my pop.” What do you want to know and how much time do you have?
28.What do you know about your family surname? Not much, although it probably came from Kaufman.
29.Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather? Definitely not! Believe that went out with high buckle shoes. Ha!
30.What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors? Mainly about my parents, I recall hearing stories about my real dad, but never verified things, and relatives wouldn’t say much. Needless to say, anyone who would know, are all deceased. Grandparents, I don’t know much about, except for my mother’s father, who lived in Santa Rosa and was an arborist.
31.Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family? Aunt Viola always referred to a cousin who abdicated the throne of England, back in about 1937 or so. We saw his pictures and the lady that he married, when we were in England this past month. On my mother’s side, we were supposedly related to John Bozeman, who was married to a Blackfoot Indian who was killed by some Indians. The city of Bozeman, Montana was supposedly named after him, as he was one and the same of the Bozeman Trail that came west. Never could prove it.
32.Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members? My mother gave Jo some recipes that I’m dying to have her make, but so far, she hasn’t. Ha!
33.Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family? Don’t believe so…unless it’s being bald, as my dad was bald around 22 years of age. Uncle Otis was balder, yet, so…maybe that.
34.Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family? Some photos, yes! I don’t know of anything else. The bible that my mother had, I gave to the lady across the street, since it was one of those huge ones and don’t believe it went back farther than around the Hollister area, but…I could be wrong; and, I couldn’t prove anything, for that’s gone. Period! I do have my birth announcement that was cut out of the paper in 1932. Whoopee!
35.What was the full name of your spouse? Siblings? Parents? Joanne Carol Larson
36.When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates? At the Berkeley Iceland, where we used to ice skate; and, then I worked there for awhile. Getting a little personal, ‘eh? Ha! Skate, naturally! Movies. Dances.
37.What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel? Which time? When we were younger or when I got out of the service? If you want more, ask.
38.Where and when did you get married? December 19th, 1958 in Hillcrest Congregational Church, Pleasant Hill, CA.
39.What memory stands out the most from your wedding day? Probably to find out the best man’s cat had walked across our wedding cake and they smoothed it over, but didn’t tell us about it for a long time afterward. Ha! Driving down to Carmel and stopping in Monterey for a sandwich before proceeding.
40.How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them? Easy to get along with, for the most part.
41.What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage? Be able to communicate and discuss things.
42.How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time? When I started seeing Jo, again, after she had been married before and I was in college. Two girls! This was a family-marriage all the way.
43.Why did you choose your children's names? I didn’t! They were already chosen, although we did have their last names changed to Coffman down at the Court House, across from Lake Merritt, by a judge, after going through the process with a lawyer.
44.What was your proudest moment as a parent? Many, so this needs to be thought out. Having the girls getting married, but then when they got divorces, that was just the opposite. Having the girls becoming parents for the first time was pretty special, too!
45.What did your family enjoy doing together? Trips to Yosemite. Swimming on the river above Antioch. Visiting friends. Going on hikes, especially to Lake Tilden, in Berkeley or to Mills College to catch tadpoles and watch them grow into little tree toads.
46.What was your profession and how did you choose it? Education! Chose it because of seeing so many in the service without a HS diploma and worked with getting them diplomas through the GED school in Madison, Wisconsin.
47.If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice? Probably a park ranger or park law enforcement member; or a police officer. They were all in my Kuder Preference list, but my choice was because of what I wrote in #46, above.
48.Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable? It would have to be a variety of things, as you know, I lived with my mother and step-dad; and, then with Uncle Dave and Aunt Viola. Thus, to be civil with people as they spoke and did things. A lot of other people had influence upon me, like Alice and Wesley Ferguson, my cousins, who I adored.
49.What accomplishments were you the most proud of? That’s a difficult one. Getting my two MA degrees was pretty big, since I worked my butt off for them. Seeing Carol, our youngest, finally, getting a husband who knew the value of her abilities. Seeing our oldest doing well in her way of living, although I would wish that she can move up further in the pecking order.
50.What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you? Hard to say, but I guess that I worked with a lot of people and gave of my time and effort for them, from education to search and rescue.
Ernie, Thanks! Those are great responses. I was struck by the fact that we would drive by the Hillcrest Church pretty often and did not know that you folks were married there. Why did you choose that church? We had been attending services there before we were married there, driving in from Oakland/Berkeley. And, our pastor at that time--Ray Petty--was the cat's meow as far as we cared. He was great!
I would be very interested in hearing more about Uncle Dave and Aunt Viola memories. Did they teach you any skills or lessons in life? I have a whole slug of memories from Uncle Dave and Aunt Viola, but don't have the time right now to bring them up. As for teaching me skills or lessons in life, hard to say. Nothing out of the ordinary, I don't believe. They were easy going, but if we acted up, they could bring us to attention. I remember one time when a bunch of us were fooling around down at Temescal Creek--47th and Grove Streets (that would be Martin Luther Jr. today)--and I slipped and fell in behind the dam, so was soaking wet. We had some appointment with Aunt Viola, which I don't have a clue on, so we thought we'd better head on home.
Carlene--one of several gals that Aunt Viola took in for extra income and for helping others, I guess--and several others rolled me in the brownish lava rock under the small trees on Grove St., in front of the big laundry that was on the corner. Needless to say, some of that dust came off on me and my clothes and we still didn't accomplish drying me off very much. Ha! Got home and Aunt Viola was having a conniption and really laid the conversation into both Carlene and I. Whewee! I believe that was the time that we laughed and Aunt Viola started chasing us around the dining room table with a switch of some kind. That just made it worse!
Did Dave or Viola take you any place? You've got to remember this was the Depression Era so we didn't get out much. I remember when I was about four--could have been younger--we drove up north, somewhere--and stayed in an Auto Court and Carlene and I walked down and looked at the watermelon fields. From there, we drove up into the mountains, somewhere, and Uncle Dave got the car in a predicament, with Aunt Viola came unglued. He jiggled and jaggled the car around and finally got it turned around on this old dirt road that looked way down into a canyon.
That evening, I guess, I was sick for some reason--don't know what the problem was--but Uncle Dave gave me an aspirin, which I barfed up. He then picked me up and tried forcing it down my throat and needless to say, I barfed that one up, too! I think I got a swat or two from him, but that all runs together. And, we would drive to various friends or cousin's places, like in Marin County or San Francisco.
Went up to visit your Grandmother in Sacramento and all of us went out to a Chinese Restaurant; and, that's when I got my thumb caught in the car door, so I was screaming to high heaven. I remember going to Fisherman's Wharf with a whole slug of relatives to celebrate something--that would be Alice/Wesley, Dave/Mae Hughes, maybe Don/Helen Hughes, and maybe one of the friends/cousins from Marin County. Needless to say, I was like one of the clan in those days.
We would visit Alice and Wesley various times when I was growing up, and of course, that's how I got my grass mowing job with them when I was 12 or 13. We went out to Hayward to some lodge doings of Uncle Dave's and I remember there were a lot of chickens and a lot of people around that place. Carlene and I saw a bull in the fence area and we climbed over. Needless to say, he started chasing us and so we got caught; thus, we were told to sit in the car for a period of time.
Did they introduce you to anyone or anything that impressed upon you? Not that I can recall. The only thing like that would be Aunt Viola's story about being related to the King who abdicated the throne to marry his sweetheart.
Do you recall Dave or Viola talking about places or people or things in their past? Not that I can recall, 'cept for Aunt Viola talking about teaching somewhere near Red Bluff and that Uncle Dave drove a surrey up to court her. They spoke a little of Aunt Hattie who would visit them, coming from the Chicago area, I believe.
Did they have any photos or memorabilia in their home that had a story behind them? Oh, yes! Lots of photos, but where they went, I don't have a clue. I wasn't invited into the house when Aunt Viola passed away, for the distribution of items, like the cousins and so forth. Thus, Vivian was, and got the quilt that Aunt Viola made for us, which Viv knew was in the making. She, also, took the high chair and made or had made a little pad for the seat. I'm hoping that Mike won't want it and I'll get it, but...that's a delicate thing to ask at the time being. Who was the cousin killed in WW2? A cousin by marriage, on my mother's side. Ernie Tanzi-- believe that's the spelling. He was married to my cousin, who was the daughter of Ida Volkerts.
As you can see, Uncle Ernie Coffman has been very helpful to me in responding to my many questions over the years. He has led an interesting life and he writes about it with a wry wit that I love. I will always treasure these words.
Here is a list of other articles from this blog that refer to the Coffman family name:
Jan 9, 2017 ... The oldest one belonged to my grandmother, Elaine Blanche Coffman, 1910- 2010. This book is over 100 years old and is a treasure.
Mar 7, 2016 ... My grandmother, Elaine Coffman Mayne and my mother, Jill Mayne 1937 Reno, Nevada When copying old photographs be sure to include the ...
Nov 24, 2014 ... Eventually they were rescued by Mae's fiancé, Ernest Coffman and taken to live with his aunt, Viola Coffman Hughes in Oakland. One way to ...
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